Seagate Signs HAMR Deal with Showa Denko: Secures Second Source for HAMR Platters

Seagate this week signed an agreement with Showa Denko in a bid to secure a second source of platters for its hard drives based on heat assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) technology. Under the terms of the deal, Seagate will evaluate SDK’s existing materials for HAMR media and the two companies will jointly develop future materials. 


Seagate started to ship its Exos HDDs featuring HAMR inside its Lyve storage systems late last year. These hard drives use key components, such as recording heads with a near field transducer that heats up the media as well as glass platters with an FePt magnetic layer, developed and made entirely in-house. Being a vertically integrated company, Seagate has enough production capacities to continue building platters for HAMR drives internally, but having a second source for a crucially important component makes a lot of sense for high-volume products. 


Having spent over 10 years on HAMR pathfinding and research, Showa Denko formally began to develop its glass platters for HAMR HDDs in February, 2020. Back then, the company said that HAMR would achieve areal density of 5-6 Tb/in2 in the future, enabling 3.5-inch hard drives with eight or nine platters to store 70 TB – 80 TB of data. 


By now, Showa Denko has finished development of its first HAMR media material featuring a FePt magnetic alloy and technology to mass-produce hard drive platters. Under the terms of the agreement between SDK and Seagate, the hard drive maker will evaluate the material designed by the Japanese company. Going forward, Seagate and SDK will jointly develop new magnetic alloys for HAMR HDDs.


For now, Seagate will continue using its own FePt glass media inside its HAMR HDDs, but if it finds Showa Denko’s HAMR media good enough, it might use it for future hard drives.


The contract between Seagate and Showa Denko ensures that the hard drive maker will have two sources of HAMR platters in the future, which will be important if Seagate significantly expands usage of its HAMR technology. In fact, once HAMR media hits certain areal density (i.e., significantly higher than PMR’s 1.14 Tb/inch2), it will make a great sense to adopt the technology nor only for highest-capacity HDDs, but also for midrange HDDs to cut down their costs.


“[HAMR] is not only about the highest capacity point,” said David Mosley, CEO of Seagate, at a conference last year. “If we can save a disk and two heads in a 16 TB drive, we will look at doing that as well. So, it is really across the whole portfolio, which is why we think that this platform play is so important. We can introduce HAMR into the same platform. The cost increases are really nominal.”


Furthermore, Seagate will also ensure that SDK-made HAMR platters will be compatible with its HAMR implementation, which might become the company’s competitive advantage against Toshiba and Western Digital once they adopt this technology.


“We expect this alliance will further accelerate technological development pioneered by the two companies,” a statement by Showa Denko reads.


For Showa Denko, the world’s largest independent maker of HDD platters, it is important to maintain close relationship with all makers of hard drives. Nowadays the bulk of SDK’s shipments are platters designed for PMR and SMR HDDs, but it is also ramping up production of media for Toshiba’s MAMR-based drives. The pact with Seagate ensures that Showa Denko will also be a part of upcoming HAMR HDDs.


Related Reading:



Source: Showa Denko




Source: AnandTech – Seagate Signs HAMR Deal with Showa Denko: Secures Second Source for HAMR Platters

Xilinx Expands Versal AI to the Edge: Helping Solve the Silicon Shortage

Today Xilinx is announcing an expansion to its Versal family, focused specifically on low power and edge devices. Xilinx Versal is the productization of a combination of many different processor technologies: programmable logic gates (FPGAs), Arm cores, fast memory, AI engines, programmable DSPs, hardened memory controllers, and IO – the benefits of all these technologies means that Versal can scale from the high end Premium (launched in 2020), and now down to edge-class devices, all built on TSMC’s 7nm processes. Xilinx’s new Versal AI Edge processors start at 6 W, all the way up to 75 W.



Source: AnandTech – Xilinx Expands Versal AI to the Edge: Helping Solve the Silicon Shortage

An AnandTech Interview with TSMC: Dr. Kevin Zhang and Dr. Maria Marced

In the past week, TSMC ran its 2021 Technology Symposium, covering its latest developments in process node technology designed to improve the performance, costs, and capabilities for its customers. In this event, TSMC discussed its increasing use of Extreme Ultra Violet (EUV) lithography for manufacturing, enabling it to scale down to its 3nm process node, well beyond that of its competitors. TSMC also addressed the current issues surrounding demand for semiconductors, along with announcing that it is building new facilities for advanced packaging production. Joining CEO Dr. CC Wei as part of the keynote presentation was AMD’s CEO Dr. Lisa Su, Qualcomm’s President (and soon to be CEO) Cristiano Amon, and Ambiq’s Founder and CTO Scott Hanson.

As part of the proceedings, TSMC offered AnandTech a 30-minute interview with Dr. Kevin Zhang, SVP of Business Development, and Dr. Maria Marced, President of TSMC EU, as an opportunity to learn more about TSMC’s driving directions as well as cooperation with industry partners.



Source: AnandTech – An AnandTech Interview with TSMC: Dr. Kevin Zhang and Dr. Maria Marced

Computex 2021: G.Skill Trident Z Royal Elite With DDR4-4000 CL14, Tight Latencies

During Computex 2021, G.Skill has announced a couple of new memory kits featuring its regal-looking Trident Z Royal Elite heatsinks. Available with super tight primary latencies of CL14, the new Trident Z Royal Elite kits will be available in DDR4-4000 and DDR4-3600, with various capacities available, including 16, 32, 64, and 128 GB kits.


There are many different parts of a system that can add varying levels of aesthetic glamor, including the motherboard, CPU cooler, fans, anything with RGB on it, but almost everything struggles to be as bling as G.Skills Trident Z Royal Elite memory. Launched back in April, the G.Skill Trident Z Royal Elite comes available in gold and silver. Both color variants feature eight customizable RGB LED lighting zones, with a patented crystalline patterning across for that regal touch.



Touching on the specifications, the top kit features speeds of DDR4-4000 with CL14-14-14-35, at a larger-than-expected operating voltage of 1.55 V. It will be available in two varieties, including a 16 GB (2 x 8 GB), and a 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) kit. The DDR4-3600 kits come with equally tight CL14 latencies, with a slightly lower 1.45 V operating voltage, and will be available in 16 GB (2 x 8 GB), 32 GB with the option for 2 x 16 GB or 4 x 8 GB kits. For users looking for more capacity, there are options at 64 GB with 4 x 16 GB and a large 128 GB kit with 8 x 16 GB. 


G.Skill says the new Trident Z Royal Elite DDR4-4000 and DDR4-3600 CL14 kits will be available from June but haven’t provided us with pricing at the time of writing.




Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: G.Skill Trident Z Royal Elite With DDR4-4000 CL14, Tight Latencies

Apple Announces iOS 15 and iPadOS 15: The Highlights

Today at Apple’s 2021 WWDC event, the company unveiled the new iOS 15, iPadOS 15 operating systems. This year, Apple presented a large number of new features and improvements across both the main OS components as well as Apple’s core ecosystem apps. While we are just scratching the surface, we picked out a few highlight features that are looking forward to test later in the year once the new versions will be hitting consumers in their final versions.



Source: AnandTech – Apple Announces iOS 15 and iPadOS 15: The Highlights

Computex 2021: TeamGroup Announces its First DDR5-4800 Memory Module

Back in December 2020, TeamGroup announced its intentions for the switch to DDR5 memory on future platforms. During Computex 2021, TeamGroup claims it has ‘successfully taken the lead over competing PCB manufacturers’, with the first of its announced products for DDR5, the Elite DDR5-4800 16 GB module. Back at CES 2021, ADATA claimed that it has a DDR5 module in hand, but it sent us rendered images. We ultimately disapprove of this practice – don’t state you have it in hand until you are ready to provide us actaul photographs of the thing. Unfortunately, TeamGroup has done the same here, providing renders. not photographs.


The Road to DDR5


Over the last year, we’ve highlighted certain aspects of DDR5 memory and what users can expect, including features, memory latency, and technological advancements over the current DDR4 memory. Some of which can be seen below:



TeamGroup’s announcement hasn’t come as a surprise given how long DDR5 has been speculated and discussed over the last year. One of the first platforms to supposedly feature DDR5 support is Intel’s Alder Lake microarchitecture, which is expected to land in Q4 2021/Q1 2022. The first series of DDR5 from TeamGroup will be based on its ‘Elite’ memory series, with the first kit to feature speeds of 4800 MT/s, sub-timings of CL40-40-40-77, and will feature an operating voltage of 1.1 V.



One of the primary features of DDR5 is integrated on-die ECC, which is designed to improve overall system stability (but is actually more to do with yield). This is different to module-wide ECC, which DDR5 does not support by default (you still need a module-wide ECC module to support ECC technology). The information provided by TeamGroup say the Elite DDR5-4800 has double the banks compared to DDR4, with an all-black PCB. It is unclear whether or not the Elite DDR5-4800 will feature heatsinks, or they will operate with a bare PCB. We also know that it will feature 16 GB of capacity and will likely be sold as a dual-channel kit, and perhaps individually.


At present, there’s no information on latency timings or how much the Elite DDR5-4800 16 GB module will cost, but TeamGroup does state that it will be unveiling its ‘new generation’ of products in September 2021.



Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: TeamGroup Announces its First DDR5-4800 Memory Module

NXZT Announces N7 Z590 Motherboard For Rocket Lake

In July last year, we reviewed NZXT’s N7 Z490 motherboard for Intel’s 10th generation Comet Lake processors. Typically later to the market than other vendor’s key models, NZXT has announced its latest option which aims to benefit from the PCIe 4.0 support in Rocket Lake. Enter the N7 Z590. Some of the features include a full-cover panel across the PCIe slot area, Wi-Fi 6E, 2.5 GbE, dual M.2, support for DDR4-4600 memory, and is advertised with a 14-phase power delivery.


NZXT entered the motherboard market for the first time back in 2018 with the N7 Z370, which we also reviewed. Typically known more for its clean-cut chassis and cooling products, NZXT first tasked the job of providing the PCB and componentry to ECS for the Z370, and then switched to ASRock for Z490. It is unclear which vendor NZXT relies on for the N7 Z590, but we expect the relationship with ASRock is still intact, but we will confirm this when we know.



The N7 Z590 is similar to the previous model in terms of aesthetics, with models available in either matte black or white and uses a full cover PCIe slot armor and more armor covering the right-hand side of the board. Despite not including any integrated RGB LED lighting onboard, NZXT is using its CAM software to control the four RGB LED headers located on the board, with an integrated fan controller adding control of cooling with a total of seven 4-pin headers located on the board.


In terms of specification, the NZXT N7 Z590 has two full-length PCIe slots, one operating at PCIe 4.0 x16 and the other at PCIe 3.0 x4, with three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. In the top right-hand corner is four memory slots, with support for DDR4-4600 and a total capacity of up to 128 GB. Storage capabilities include two M.2 slots, one featuring support for PCIe 4.0 x4 drives and the second slot supporting PCIe 3.0 x4 and SATA drives. There are four SATA ports for conventional storage and optical devices that also support RAID 0, 1, 5, and 10 arrays.



The rear panel has a much better selection of input and output than the N7 Z490, with one USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C, three USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports. A Realtek ALC1220 HD audio codec controls the five 3.5 mm audio jacks and S/PDIF optical output, while wireless capability comes from Intel’s latest AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi. Taking care of wired networking is a Realtek RTL8125BG 2.5 GbE controller, while also on the rear panel is an HDMI 2.0 video output and a small clear CMOS button.


The NZXT N7 Z590 is currently available on NZXT’s website for $280.


Source: NZXT



Related Reading




Source: AnandTech – NXZT Announces N7 Z590 Motherboard For Rocket Lake

Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Heatsink Spotted at Newegg for $100

Back at Computex 2019, when we visited Noctua at its booth, we saw a concept CPU heatsink, a monolith, with a passive design. In many circles including fans of silent and passively cooled systems, this is a highly anticipated announcement, and although there’s nothing official from Noctua yet, the new NH-P1 has been spotted on a listing at Newegg by FanlessTech.


The Noctua NH-P1 features a completely fanless design, and although there’s no official word on its TDP rating yet, we saw the concept cooler at Computex 2019 keeping an Intel Core i9-9900K cooled in a test system. The 9900K for reference has a PL1 rating of 95 W, and a PL2 rating of 210 W, so we know it has some serious cooling potential for a passive cooler.




The Noctua Concept Fanless CPU Cooler at Computex 2019


As with other Noctua CPU coolers, it includes its SecuFirm2+ mounting system which is compatible with Intel’s LGA1200, LGA115x, and LGA1200xx sockets, and also allows support for AMD’s AM4, AM3+, AM3, AM2, and FM2 sockets. The finer specifics of the design are currently unclear, but Noctua does supply a tube of its latest NT-H2 thermal paste with it, as well as a limited six-year warranty. Noctua doesn’t recommend overclocking due to the limited cooling properties of a passive design, but it can also be used with Noctua’s fans, with grooves that allow users to add fans with its retention brackets.


At the time of writing, Newegg has pulled the listing from its website, which means it could have jumped the gun, but we do expect the Noctua NH-P1 to be announced imminently. The Newegg listing had the Noctua NH-P1 at $100, which means it’s not going to be cheap, but it targets a niche market.


Source: FanlessTech



Source: AnandTech – Noctua NH-P1 Passive CPU Heatsink Spotted at Newegg for 0

Computex 2021: TeamGroup Goes BIG, the Xtreem DDR4-3600 256 GB Memory Kit

At the all-digital Computex 2021 trade show, TeamGroup has announced a new high-capacity memory kit designed for the high-end desktop market and workstation use. The new TeamGroup T-Force Xtreem ARGB DDR4-3600 kit boasts a combined capacity of 256 GB with 8 x 32 GB modules.


Whether it’s ridiculous amounts of Google Chrome tabs or a more realistic use case such as video editing, the Xtreem ARGB DDR4-3600 256 GB kit aims to provide a premium solution for workstation users on compatible platforms such as AMD’s Threadripper 3000 series or Intel’s Cascade Lake-X. The memory itself has a rectangular mirror finish on its illuminated heatsinks, designed to produce a layered effect that TeamGroup says is ‘dazzling.’



Regarding the specifications, the 256 GB kit has eight 32 GB sticks that operate at 3600 MT/s (DDR4-3600) and have primary latency timings of CL 18-22-22-42. There’s no information available on the specific memory chips this kit is using, nor does TeamGroup specify the operating voltage of the kit. It has the speed to satisfy gaming demands, with AMD Threadripper using its Infinity Fabric interconnect in parallel with memory frequency.


At present, we don’t know when the TeamGroup T-Force Xtreem ARGB 256 GB (8 x 32 GB) kit will hit retail shelves, nor do we have the pricing. One thing is for certain; it’s not going to be cheap as a similar kit in the Xtreem ARGB series with 64 GB (2 x 32 GB) retails for $420 at Newegg.



Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: TeamGroup Goes BIG, the Xtreem DDR4-3600 256 GB Memory Kit

The Apple WWDC 2021 Keynote Live Blog (Starts at 10am PT/17:00 UTC)

As things slowly get back to normal, Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference is taking virtual place this week in its traditional early-June slot. As always, Apple kicks off WWDC with their big keynote event, which though aimed first and foremost at developers, is also used as a venue to announce new products and ecosystem strategies. The keynote starts at 10am Pacific (17:00 UTC) today, and AnandTech will be offering live blog coverage of Apple’s event.


A rapid-fire, two-hour run through Apple’s ecosystem, WWDC keynotes cover everything from macOS and iOS to individual Apple applications and more. On the hardware side of matters, last year we saw the official announcement of Apple’s shift from x86 processors to Arm processors for their venerable Mac lineup of computers, and while it’s unlikely Apple is going to have anything to top that for WWDC21, the company is not even half-way through its transition to Arm SoCs. So this year’s WWDC gives Apple ample opportunity to reflect on the Arm transition thus far, as well as what’s coming next for the company’s more powerful Macs.


So join us at 10am Pacific to see just what Apple is working on for this year and beyond.



Source: AnandTech – The Apple WWDC 2021 Keynote Live Blog (Starts at 10am PT/17:00 UTC)

After Selling HyperX to HP, Kingston Resurrects FURY Brand for DRAM and SSDs

Last week, we reported that the highly anticipated acquisition of Kingston’s HyperX gaming brand by HP was completed for the sum of $325 million. As we noted, the terms of the deal did not include any of the HyperX branded DRAM, flash, or storage products, which is Kingston’s bread and butter, as the deal focused more on the gaming accessory business as well as the brand value. We have now learned that Kingston is rebranding the DRAM and storage products it retains as the FURY series.


Although Kingston is planning a formal announcement of the brand on the 19th of July 2021, it shared details with us on some of its new key ranges. The FURY series isn’t new to Kingston, as it debuted back in 2014 as one of its more affordable memory ranges designed for gamers on a budget. Kingston has rebranded its own series in preparation for a new start and marketing strategy for its consumer-focused DRAM and storage products.


From the new product lines, the Kingston FURY Renegade memory series will feature speeds of up to DDR4-5333 MT/s, with both RGB and non-RGB options available. The rebranded FURY Beast series will sit as the new entry-level in its gaming-centric DRAM products, with DDR3 and DDR4 products with speeds of up to 3733 MT/s. Its FURY Impact range offers competitive options for laptops, NUCs, and other types of small form factor systems, with DDR3 and DDR4-3200 SO-DIMMs. Kingston has yet to unveil any details about its impending FURY storage products at this time.


There’s no word on availability or price at present, but we expect to find out more on the 19th of July 2021, when Kingston officially unveils its new FURY products to the public.


Source: Kingston



Source: AnandTech – After Selling HyperX to HP, Kingston Resurrects FURY Brand for DRAM and SSDs

Computex 2021: ASRock Announces Mars 5000U Series Mini PC

During Computex 2021, ASRock unveiled the latest series in its Mars mini-PC range, the Mars 5000U. ASRock claims it’s the thinnest AMD mini PC globally and comes equipped with AMD’s latest 5000 series APU. It features support for DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM memory, one PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot, a 2.5″ SATA hard drive bay, and an Intel Wi-Fi 6 interface.


The ASRock Mars 5000U series comes in a svelte and very slimline black brushed aluminum chassis, with dimensions of 194 x 150 x 26 mm (W x D x H), making it a single mm thicker than a regular chassis fan. Due to there being very little wiggle room for space inside, at just 0.7 liters, ASRock uses a proprietary fan and heatsink combination to keep the AMD Ryzen 5000U APU cool. For memory, there’s a pair of memory slots that can accommodate up to 64 GB of DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM memory, while storage capabilities include one PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA M.2 slot and one 2.5″ SATA hard drive bay.



It is powered by a 65 W/19 V adaptor akin to a laptop charger and includes a decent selection of I/O. Included are four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A (two rear, two front), one USB 3.2 G1 Type-C (front), and two USB 2.0 (front) ports. The Mars 5000G also includes a 3-in-1 card reader including SD, SDHC, and SDXC support and two video outputs consisting of an HDMI and D-Sub. Networking options include one unspecified Gigabit Ethernet port with an Intel AX200 wireless interface offering Wi-Fi and BT 5.0 connectivity. An unspecified audio solution also powers a 3.5 mm microphone and 3.5 mm headphone jack combination.


The ASRock Mars 5000U series looks very similar to the previous Mars 4000 series mini-PC series. The only difference is that the newer model supports the upcoming Ryzen 5000 APUs based on AMD’s Zen 3 microarchitecture. ASRock hasn’t stated which APUs it will offer. Pricing is currently unknown.



Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: ASRock Announces Mars 5000U Series Mini PC

Computex 2021: GIGABYTE Server Updates MZ72-HB0 For Dual Socket 3rd Gen EPYC

During Computex 2021 in Taipei, although the event is all-digital due to the Coronavirus pandemic, GIGABYTE Server has showcased its newly revised MZ72-HBO dual-socket motherboard with support for AMD’s 3rd generation EPYC 7003 processors. The GIGABYTE Server MZ72-HBO boasts support for up to 128 cores and 256 threads (64c/128t per socket), dual 10 GbE Base-T Ethernet, up to 4 TB of DDR4-3200 memory, and five full-length PCIe 4.0 slots.


In the server workspace, the use case for high-core count processors includes data centers, cloud computing, and MPI parallel programming. This is where the GIGABYTE Server MZ72-HB0 comes in, with support for up to 280 W TDP chips. This means it can support a maximum of 128-cores and 256 threads of powerful Zen 3 EPYC 7003 goodness across both AMD SP3 sockets. Each of the SP3 sockets includes eight memory slots (sixteen in total), with support for up to 2 TB of DDR4-3200 memory per processor operating in eight-channel, with RDIMM, LRDIMM, and 3DS memory types all supported. 



The GIGABYTE Server MZ72-HB0 Revision 3.0 boasts a wide variety of features, including lots of storage, with one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, four 7-pin SATA ports, and three SlimSAS ports offering support for either twelve SATA or three PCIe 4.0 U.2 NVMe drives. Included on the board is an ASPEED AST2500 BMC controller, which allows access to GIGABYTE’s Management Console (GMC), and includes a Gigabit Management LAN port for remote access. Other networking capability includes a pair of 10 GbE Base-T LAN ports powered by a Broadcom BCM57416 controller. On the lower portion of the board are five full-length PCIe 4.0 slots that can operate at x16/x16/x16/x8/x8, while I/O on the rear panel includes two USB 3.0, a COM port, and a D-sub video output for the BMC.


At the time of writing, we are unsure when the GIGABYTE Server MZ72-HB0 will be available at retail, however the company has started channel distributions and we actually have a review unit in-house on our Milan test-bench. However, the previous MZ72-HB0 (revision 1.0) model with support for EPYC 7002 processors retails between $700 and $900 depending on the retailer. Due to this, we expect the newer revision 3.0 model to fall in a similar price bracket.


Source: GIGABYTE Server




Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: GIGABYTE Server Updates MZ72-HB0 For Dual Socket 3rd Gen EPYC

Computex 2021: ASRock Unveils New X570S and B550 PG Riptide Motherboards

Back in July 2019, when AMD unveiled its X570 chipset for its Ryzen processors, it captivated enthusiasts and PC users as the first desktop chipset to feature PCIe 4.0. This brought many vendors wondering how to keep the chipset cool, and all but one (GIGABYTE X570 Aorus Xtreme) came with some form of active cooling. Fast forward to 2021 and the latest iteration of new models dubbed X570S does away with the chipset fan altogether. In lieu of this, ASRock has announced the new PG Riptide series with both an X570S and B550 model designed for gamers.


Starting with the more premium of the two, the ASRock X570S PG Riptide has dual PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 (one with SATA support) and six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays. There are a total of three full-length PCIe 4.0 slots that can operate at x16/x0/+x4 and x8/x8/+4, with three PCIe 4.0 x1 slots sandwiched in between. Other connectivity includes a front panel USB 3.2 G2 Type-C header, two USB 3.2 G1 Type-A headers (four ports), and two USB 2.0 headers (four ports). 




The ASRock X570S PG Riptide motherboard


Aesthetics on both models are practically identical, with the X570S featuring a larger square chipset heatsink, with the chipset heatsink on the B550 resemblant of a shield. The ASRock B550 PG Riptide has three full-length PCIe slots, with the top slot operating at PCIe 4.0 x16 and the other two operating at PCIe 3.0 x4/x1, with three PCIe 3.0 x1 slots. Regarding storage, the B550 model has one PCIe 4.0 x4 M.2 slot, one PCIe 3.0 x4/SATA slot, and six SATA ports with support for RAID 0, 1, and 10 arrays.


The ASRock X570S PG Riptide supports DDR4-5000, while the B550 PG Riptide supports up to DDR4-4933 out of the box. Both have four memory slots with support for up to 128 GB of capacity. Both models are also advertised to feature a 10-phase power delivery with Dr. MOS power stages. Both models also come supplied with ASRock’s patent-pending VGA holder.




ASRock PG Riptide X570S (top) and B550 (bottom) rear panels


The ASRock X570S PG Riptide has one USB 3.2 G2 Type-C, one USB 3.2 G2 Type-A, four USB 3.2 G1 Type-A, and two USB 2.0 ports on the rear panel. In contrast, the B550 PG Riptide includes the same but with two additional USB 3.2 G1 Type-A ports. Both rear panels include a Killer E3100G 2.5 GbE controller, with space through an M.2 Key-E slot for users to add a Wi-Fi module, while both also use a Realtek ALC897 HD audio codec which adds five 3.5 mm audio jacks and a S/PDIF optical output. There’s one HDMI 2.1 video output and a PS/2 keyboard and mouse combo port on both models, while the X570S includes a small BIOS flashback button.


At the time of writing, ASRock hasn’t said when the new PG Series X570S and B550 will be available or how much either board will cost.



Source: ASRock



Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: ASRock Unveils New X570S and B550 PG Riptide Motherboards

Computex 2021: MSI MPG Gaming Maverik Bundle with i7-11700K

At an all-digital rendition of Computex 2021, MSI has unveiled a new bundle designed for gamers looking for a comprehensive and optimized gaming system. Based on its performance gaming series, the MSI MPG Gaming Maverick bundle comes complete with an Intel Core i7 11th generation Rocket Lake processor and special edition components, including G.Skill Trident Z Maverik DDR4 memory, an MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Edge WIFI SP motherboard, and an SP edition Coreliquid 360 mm AIO. All of this comes inside of an MSI MPG Velox 100P SP special edition chassis.


The MSI MPG Gaming Maverik is a premium bundle offering gamers a semi-prebuilt system (minus storage, power, and graphics), with a set of special edition “MSI SP” componentry. MSI hasn’t specified what the SP stands for, but the general theme follows black, with pink, purple, and blue accentuation throughout. The motherboard of choice for the system is the same specification as the regular MSI MPG Z590 Gaming Edge WIFI, but with the SP design. It includes plenty of premium features, including three M.2 slots (one PCIe 4.0 x4), six SATA, USB 3.2 G2x2 Type-C connectivity, as well as Intel’s I225-V 2.5 GbE controller, and an Intel AX210 Wi-Fi 6E CNVi.


The Gaming Maverik bundle also comes with 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) of special edition G.Skill Trident Z Maverik DDR4-3600 memory. The memory itself has latency timings of 18-22-22-42, with an operating voltage of 1.35 V. It operates in dual channel mode and is only available as part of the Maverik bundle itself.



At the heart of the MSI MPG Gaming Maverik bundle is Intel’s Core i7-11700K Rocket Lake processor, with eight cores, sixteen threads, and a boost frequency of 4.8 GHz. Keeping it cool is an MSI MPG Coreliquid K360 SP 360 mm AIO CPU cooler, with everything preinstalled before shipping. The CPU cooler itself uses a 2.4″ LCD on the pump for visual effect and comes with three 2500 RPM ARGB cooling fans. Everything within the bundle is preinstalled for users to drop storage, a power supply, and a graphics card in, with the case of choice being MSI’s MPG Velox 100P Airflow SP. The bundle has matching hardware throughout and uses a gaming-inspired and futuristic design, quite similar to the look of the original ASUS ROG Strix series.


The MSI MPG Gaming Maverik bundle will be available to buy from June, with only a limited quantity available. At the time of writing, MSI hasn’t given us any pricing information.


Source: MSI




Source: AnandTech – Computex 2021: MSI MPG Gaming Maverik Bundle with i7-11700K

NVMe 2.0 Specification Released: Major Reorganization

Version 2.0 of the NVM Express specification has been released, keeping up the roughly two year cadence for the storage interface that is now a decade old. Like other NVMe spec updates, version 2.0 comes with a variety of new features and functionality for drives to implement (usually as optional features). But the most significant change—and the reason this is called version 2.0 instead of 1.5—is that the spec has been drastically reorganized to better fit the broad scope of features that NVMe now encompasses. From its humble beginnings as a block storage protocol operating over PCI Express, NVMe has grown to also become one of the most important networked storage protocols, and now also supports storage paradigms that are entirely different from the hard drive-like block storage abstraction originally provided by NVMe.



Instead of a base specification for typical PCIe SSDs and a separate NVMe over Fabrics spec, version 2.0 is designed to be a more modular specification and has been split into several documents. The base specification now covers both locally-attached devices and NVMeoF, but more abstractly—enough has been moved out of the base spec that it is no longer sufficient to define all of the functionality needed to implement a simple SSD. Real devices will also need to refer to at least one Transport spec and at least one Command Set spec. For typical consumer SSDs, that means using the PCIe transport spec and the block storage command set. Other transport options currently include networked NVMe over Fabrics using either TCP or RDMA. Other command set options include Zoned Namespace and Key-Value command sets. We already covered Zoned Namespaces in depth when it was approved for inclusion last year. The three standardized command sets (block, zoned, key-value) cover different points along the spectrum from simple SSDs with thin abstractions over the underlying flash, to relatively complicated, smart drives that take on some of the storage management tasks that would have traditionally been handled by software on the host system.

 

Many of the new features in NVMe 2.0 are minor extensions to existing functionality, making those features more useful and more broadly usable. For example, partitioning a device’s storage into NVM Sets and Endurance Groups was introduced in NVMe 1.4, but the spec didn’t say how those divisions would be created; that configuration would either need to be hard-coded by the drive’s firmware, or handled with vendor-specific commands. NVMe 2.0 adds a standard capacity management mechanism for endurance groups and NVM sets to be allocated, and also adds another layer of partitioning (Domains) for the sake of massive NVMeoF storage appliances that needed more tools for slicing up their pool of available storage, or isolating the performance impacts of different users on shared drives or arrays.



The NVMe spec originally anticipated the possibility of multiple command sets beyond the base block storage command set. But the original mechanism included for supporting multiple command sets is not adequate for today’s use cases: a handful of reserved bits in the controller capabilities data structure are not enough to encompass all the possibilities for what today’s SSDs might implement. In particular, the new system for handling multiple command sets now makes it possible for different namespaces behind the same controller to support different command sets, rather than requiring all namespaces to support all of the command sets their parent controller supports.


Zoned and key-value command sets were already on the radar when NVMe 1.4 was completed, and now those technologies have been incorporated into 2.0 with equal status to the original block storage command set. Future command sets such as for computational storage drives are still a work in progress not ready for standardization, but the NVMe spec is now able to more easily incorporate such new developments. NVMe could in principle also add an Open Channel command set that exposes most or all of the raw details of managing NAND flash memory (pages, erase blocks, defect management, etc.), but the general industry consensus is that the zoned storage paradigm strikes a more reasonable balance, and interest in Open Channel SSDs is waning in favor of Zoned Namespaces.


For enterprise use cases, NVMe inherited Protection Information support from SCSI/SAS—associating some extra information with each logical block, which is used to verify end to end data integrity. NVMe 2.0 extends the existing Protection Information support from supporting 16-bit CRCs to also supporting 32-bit and 64-bit CRCs, allowing for more robust data protection for large-scale storage systems.


NVMe 2.0 introduces a significant new security feature: command group control, configured using a new Lockdown command. NVMe 1.4 added a namespace write protect capability that allows the host system to put namespaces into a write-protect mode until explicitly unlocked or until the drive is power cycled. NVMe 2.0’s Lockdown allows similar control to disallow other commands. This can be used to put a drive in a state where both ordinary reads and writes are allowed, but various admin commands are locked out so the drive’s other features cannot be reconfigured. As with the previous write protect feature, this command group control supports setting these restrictions until they are explicitly removed, or until a power cycle.


For NVMe over Fabrics use cases, NVMe 2.0 clarifies how to handle firmware updates and safe device shutdown in scenarios where the shared storage is accessible through multiple controllers. There’s also now explicit support for hard drives. Even though it’s unlikely that hard drives will switch anytime soon to natively use PCIe connections instead of SAS or SATA, supporting rotational media means enterprises can unify their storage networking with NVMe over Fabrics and drop older protocols like iSCSI.


Overall, NVMe 2.0 doesn’t bring as much in the way of new functionality as some of the previous updates. In particular, nothing in this update stands out as being relevant to client/consumer SSDs. But the spec reorganization should make it easier to iterate and experiment with new functionality, and the next several years will hopefully see more frequent updates with smaller changes rather than bundling up two or three years of work for big spec updates.


 


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Source: AnandTech – NVMe 2.0 Specification Released: Major Reorganization

ASRock Announces AMD X300TM-ITX Motherboard: Thin ITX For Ryzen APUs

Once upon a time, the term ‘bigger is better’ was a marketing slogan that many companies adopted for its products, but sometimes ‘bigger’ isn’t necessarily practical. For use cases where size (smaller) actually matters, ASRock has unveiled a dinky little motherboard designed for use with its Ryzen based APUs, the X300TM-ITX. Based on AMD’s AM4 chipset and the Thin Mini-ITX form factor, it includes one M.2 slot, dual HDMI video output, and support for 64 GB of DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM memory. Thin Mini-ITX in this case means a reduced overall z-height, and the rear panel IO is limited on how tall it can be.


The ASRock X300TM-ITX includes support for most of AMD’s Ryzen APUs (all except the new Ryzen 5000 series APUs are listed). This includes Ryzen 2000, Ryzen 3000, Ryzen 4000, and the associated PRO APU parts. On the slender yet unassuming black PCB is a pair of memory slots capable of supporting up to 64 GB of DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM memory. For storage, ASRock includes a single PCIe 3.0 x4 M.2 slot with support for the faster NVMe based SSDs and a single SATA port for conventional storage and optical devices. The X300TM-ITX is designed to harness the integrated Radeon graphics within the APUs it supports as it does away with any full-length PCIe slots.



Due to its smaller than usual Thin-ITX frame, the ASRock X300TM-ITX has less space for larger connectors such as 24-pin 12 V ATX which typically power motherboards. Providing power to the board is a 19 V DC power input on the rear panel and a 4-pin 19 V connector on the PCB itself. Interestingly, ASRock includes an LVDS header, a COM port, and dual HDMI 2.1 video outputs. Regarding USB connectivity, there’s USB 3.2 G1 Type-A and a single USB 3.2 G1 Type-C port, with two USB 2.0 front panel headers providing support for four additional ports. The X300TM-ITX uses a single Realtek RTL8111GR Gigabit Ethernet controller. It includes a single M.2 Key-E slot for users looking to add Wi-Fi modules, while audio is handled by a Realtek ALC233 HD audio codec providing a 3.5 mm headphone and 3.5 mm microphone jack pairing.


We expect the ASRock X300TM-ITX to be available to purchase soon, but there’s no available pricing at the time of writing.


Source: ASRock



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Source: AnandTech – ASRock Announces AMD X300TM-ITX Motherboard: Thin ITX For Ryzen APUs

HP Completes HyperX Acquisition For $425 Million

Back in February, we revealed that HP was set to acquire the HyperX brand, the gaming subsidiary of Kingston Technology. HyperX has been the gaming branding for Kingston Technology over the years, with memory, flash, SSDs and peripherals all marketed under the HyperX banner. Like many companies with its own gaming-focused brand, Kingston has kept the brand as a disaggregated entity in strategy and marketing. Today, the acquisition by HP of the HyperX brand has been completed for a fee of $425 million, with the acquisition accretive on a non-GAAP for the first full year of ownership.


HyperX has been synonymous with the gaming industry for years, from its popular and well-priced Cloud series of gaming headsets to its SSD storage drives and all the way to its sponsorship of some of the biggest personalities in gaming. This includes popular streamers such as Pokimane, Dendi, and some of the most notable teams in professional eSports, such as Cloud 9, Reign, and Panda. Current sponsorships will remain with the HyperX brand, and transfer over as part of the acquisition.




Some of the features on the HP Omen 30L Gaming Desktop with an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3080


HP and Kingston/HyperX jointly announced the acquisition back in February 2022. HP quoted that the PC hardware industry is set to be worth around $70 billion by 2023, and the global peripherals market to grow to $12.4 billion in 2024. HP currently retails and markets its OMEN series of gaming desktops and laptops. The HyperX brand could potentially be a big part of that in the future, with a view to a larger gaming ecosystem. Tapping into both elements of the gaming and PC hardware market seems a highly desirable choice by HP. It could be one of the key reasons for the acquisition and bolster its visibility and presence as a gaming-focused brand.


One of the most notable aspects of the buyout is that Kingston is retaining the DRAM, Flash, and SSD products. Kingston may intend to focus on the memory and storage markets, although it’s also plausible to rebrand its current DRAM memory and storage lines. All this remains to be seen, but the acquisition does see the transference of all the other HyperX elements such as peripherals, audio, power supplies, console accessories, and apparel to HP.


How HP intends to market and amalgamate HyperX into its business and existing product ranges remains to be seen. Still, these are questions that HP should answer in time with any brand reorganization likely to be addressed relatively quickly.


Source: HP



Source: AnandTech – HP Completes HyperX Acquisition For 5 Million

Micron Announces PCIe 4.0 Client SSDs

In Micron’s keynote today at (virtual) Computex, the memory manufacturer announced they have started shipping the companies first PCIe 4.0 SSDs, using their latest 176-layer 3D TLC NAND flash memory. The two new product families are the Micron 3400 and 2450 series client SSDs.


The 3400 series is their high-end client SSD, with double the read throughput of their preceding Micron 2300, and 85% higher write throughput. The 3400 uses Micron’s latest in-house SSD controller design, and Micron is touting performance and power efficiency that make the drive suitable for applications ranging from notebooks to workstations. As is typical for high-end client PCIe 4.0 SSDs, the capacity options start at 512GB and go up 2TB.



The Micron 2450 series is a more entry-level design but still featuring PCIe 4.0 support. This one uses a third-party DRAMless controller, likely the Phison E19T (also believed to be used in the recently-announced WD Black SN750 SE). The 2450 is available in three different M.2 card lengths from the usual 80mm down to the 30mm card size suitable for extremely compact systems. The Micron 2450 series covers the more mainstream capacity range of 256GB through 1TB.


The most highly-awaited products with Micron’s 176L 3D TLC might be the upcoming refreshed Phison E18 drives that threaten to dominate the high-end market segment, but Micron’s own 176L SSDs will help bring this latest generation of NAND to a wider range of products, including pre-built systems where OEMs seldom offer options quite as high-end as a Phison E18 drive. Micron’s new client SSDs are already in volume production and shipping to customers.



Source: AnandTech – Micron Announces PCIe 4.0 Client SSDs

TSMC Manufacturing Update: N6 to Match N7 Output by EOY, N5 Ramping Faster, Better Yields Than N7

As part of a regular TSMC Technology Symposium, the foundry published updates on its status on it’s current leading-edge manufacturing technologies, the N7, N5 and their respective derivatives such as N6 and N5.



Source: AnandTech – TSMC Manufacturing Update: N6 to Match N7 Output by EOY, N5 Ramping Faster, Better Yields Than N7