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Submission + - Intel Launches Optane Memory That Makes Standard Hard Drives Perform Like SSDs (

MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Optane Memory line of Solid State Drives today, lifting embargo on performance benchmark results as well. Optane Memory is designed to accelerate the storage subsystem on compatible machines, to improve transfer speeds and reduce latency. It is among the first products to leverage 3D XPoint memory technology that was co-developed by Intel and Micron, offering many of the same properties as NAND flash memory, but with higher endurance and certain performance characteristics that are similar to DRAM. The SSD can be paired to the boot drive in a system, regardless of the capacity or drive type, though Optane Memory will most commonly be linked to slower hard drives. Optane Memory is used as a high-speed repository as usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the boot drive to the Optane SSD. Since the SSD is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume and works transparently in the background. Paired with an inexpensive SATA hard drive, general system performance is more in line with an NVMe SSD. In benchmark testing, Intel Optane Memory delivers a dramatic lift on overall system performance. Boot times, application load time, file searches, and overall system responsiveness are improved significantly. Setting up Intel Optane Memory is also quick and easy with "set it and forget it" type of solution. Optane Memory modules will hit retail this week in 16GB and 32GB capacities, at $44 and $77, respectively.

Submission + - Benchmarks Show Galaxy S8 With Snapdragon 835 Is A Much Faster Android Handset (

MojoKid writes: Samsung recently launched the Galaxy S8 series of Android smartphones to much fanfare but only recently did the handsets begin to arrive in market for testing and review. Though the high-polish styling of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ may or may not appeal to you, few would argue with its claims of significant performance gains and improved battery life. As it turns out, in deep-dive testing and benchmarking, the Galaxy S8 series is significantly faster than any other Android handset on the market currently, especially when it comes to graphics and gaming workloads. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor on board the GS8 is currently a Samsung exclusive, though it's expected to arrive in other handsets later this year. The Adreno 540 graphics engine on board the new Snapdragon chip is roughly 25% faster than the previous generation 820/821 series, though the chip is only about 10 percent faster in standard CPU-intensive tasks. Regardless, these are appreciable gains, especially in light of the fact that the new Galaxy S8 also has much better battery life than the previous generation Galaxy S7 series. The Samsung Galaxy S8 (5.8-inch) and Galaxy S8+ (6.2-inch) are expected to arrive at retail this week and though pricing is carrier-dependent, list for roughly $720 and $850 respectively, off contract.

Submission + - AMD Launches Higher Performance Radeon RX 580 And RX 570 Polaris Graphics Cards (

MojoKid writes: In preparation for the impending launch of AMD's next-generation Vega GPU architecture, which will eventually reside at the top of the company's graphics product stack, the company unveiled a refresh of its mainstream graphics card line-up with more-powerful Polaris-based GPUs. The new AMD Radeon RX 580 and RX 570 are built around AMD's Polaris 20 GPU, which is an updated revision of Polaris 10. The Radeon RX 580 features 36 Compute Units, with a total of 2,304 shader processors and boost / base GPU clocks of 1340MHz and 1257MHz, respectively, along with 8GB of GDDR5 over a 256-bit interface. The Radeon RX 580 offers up a total of 6.17 TFLOPs of compute performance with up to 256GB/s of peak memory bandwidth. Though based on the same chip, the Radeon RX 570 has only 32 active CUs and 2048 shader processors. Boost and base reference clocks are 1244MHz and 1168MHz, respectively with 4GB of GDDR5 memory also connected over a 256-bit interface. At reference clocks, the peak compute performance of the Radeon RX 570 is 5.1TFLOPs with 224GB/s of memory bandwidth. In the benchmarks, the AMD Radeon RX 580 clearly outpaced AMD's previous gen Radeon RX 480, and was faster than an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 Founder's Edition card more often than not. It was more evenly matched with factory-overclocked OEM GeForce GTX 1060 cards, however. Expected retail price points are around $245 and $175 for 8GB Radeon RX 580 and 4GB RX 570s cards, though more affordable options will also be available.

Submission + - 8 Year-Old Learns To Drive Watching YouTube Vids, Takes Sister To McDonalds (

MojoKid writes: An 8 year-old East Palestine, Ohio boy had a craving for a McDonalds cheesburger recently and took it upon himself to drive both he and his 4 year old sister in the family van to the golden arches, all by himself. Apparently the kid does not have an Uber account, but who needs one when you have access to YouTube? The video streaming site that is home to practically every kind of video under the sun is where this young man learned how to drive. The Ohio boy had to stand on its tiptoes just to jam the keys in the ignition. He was then off and running in the family van. Getting to his lunch destination involved making a right turn and going through four intersections. Remarkably, the kid avoided any collisions and stopped at every traffic signal. When the two arrived a their destination, employees at the drive-through first thought it was a prank but then decided to call the police when they realized there were no adults in the vehicle.

Submission + - AMD Launches Ryzen 5 Processors, Benchmarks Look Strong Versus Intel Core i5 (

MojoKid writes: AMD has lifted the review embargo on its midrange Ryzen 5 series of processors today. Unlike the Ryzen 7 series, which consists entirely of 8-core/16-thread processors, AMD's Ryzen 5 family has two tiers consisting of 6-core/12-thread and 4-core/8-thread processors, with varying base, boost, and XFR (extended frequency range) clock speeds. Ryzen 5's features and core architecture remains the same, however. The entry-level part in the line-up is the Ryzen 5 1400, a 4-core/8-thread CPU with base and turbo clocks of 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively. The Ryzen 5 1500X has the same quad-core configuration, but with base and turbo clocks of 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz with support for an XFR frequency range of up to 3.9GHz. The Ryzen 5 1600 is a 6-core/12-thread processor with 3.2GHz base and 3.6GHz boost clocks and at the top of the stack is the Ryzen 5 1600X. It has a similar 6-core configuration but cranks things up even further to 3.6GHz (base)/4.0GHz (boost). With XFR, the 1600X can also boost all the way up to 4.1GHz. AMD's Ryzen 5 processor line-up will work with the very same AM4 X370 chipset platform as the higher-end Ryzen 7, though AMD expects Ryzen 5 to be paired with the lower-priced B350 chipset platform most often. The two chipsets are very similar but the B350 has a different PCIe configuration and doesn't offer support for multi-GPU setups. Despite its lower price range of $169 to $249, AMD's Ryzen 5 family competes well against Intel's Core i5 series of CPUs, even current generation Kaby Lake chips.

Submission + - Dell XPS 15 With Kaby Lake Refresh And GeForce 10 Now A Competent Gaming Laptop (

MojoKid writes: Dell's XPS series of laptops have been garnering high praise of late, for their carbon fiber and machined aluminum design, along with Dell's near bezelless Infinity Edge display. Although the XPS 15, Dell's 15-inch variant, offered competitive performance compared to other ultrabooks in its class, historically it didn't have quite enough horsepower for much beyond occasional, casual gaming. Just recently, however, Dell revamped the machine with not only a quad-core Intel Kaby Lake processor option, but also NVIDIA's latest GeFore GTX 1050 mobile GPU. The result is that the Dell XPS 15 (9560) is one of the few 4-pound class ultrabooks on the market currently that is not only designed with a premium, thin and light build quality but it can also competently game in virtually any current generation title at 1080p with High image quality settings. It can even hit playable frame rates in a few games at 1440p. Finally, with a 97 Whr battery option available, battery life under standard non-gaming workloads has improved significantly as well.

Submission + - Ubuntu exits Unity & Mobile / Convergence strategy, Gnome to return with 18. (

Qbertino writes: A blogpost by Mark Shuttleworth lays out his assesment of the attempts to unify the desktop and mobile spaces with Ubuntus Unity. In general he states that the convergence thing hasn't panned out as expected but Ubuntu Desktop is going strong. Apparenty Canocical, the company behind Ubuntu, will now focus on that strength and drop the mobile and convergence ambitions.

Submission + - AMD Ryzen Game Patch Optimizations Show Significant Gains On Zen Architecture (

MojoKid writes: AMD got the attention of PC performance enthusiasts everywhere with the recent launch of its Ryzen 7 series processors. The trio of 8-core chips competitively take on Intel's Core i7 series at the high-end of its product stack. However, with the extra attention AMD garnered, came significant scrutiny as well. With any entirely new platform architecture, there are bound to be a few performance anomalies — as was the case with the now infamous lower performance "1080p gaming" situation with Ryzen. In a recent status update, AMD noted they were already working with developers to help implement "simple changes" that can help a game engine's understanding of the AMD Zen core topology that would likely provide an additional performance uplift with Ryzen. Today, we have some early proof-positive of that, as Oxide Games, in concert with AMD, released a patch for its game title Ashes Of The Singularity. Ashes has been a "poster child" game engine of sorts for AMD Radeon graphics over the years (especially with respect to DX12) and it was one that ironically showed some of the worst variations in Ryzen CPU performance versus Intel. With this new patch that is now public for the game, however, AMD claims to have regained significant ground in benchmark results at all resolutions. In the 1080p benchmarks with poweful GPUs indeed a Ryzen 7 1800X shows an approximate 20% performance improvement with the latest version of the Ashes, closing the gap significantly versus Intel. This appears to be at least an early sign that AMD can indeed work with game and other app developers to tune for the Ryzen architecture and wring out additional performance.

Submission + - Intel Details Cannonlake Advanced 10nm FinFET Manufacturing Process Technology (

MojoKid writes: Intel is readying its 10 nanometer Cannonlake processor architecture for release later this year and has begun touting advanced manufacturing process technology that it's built on. This comes on the heels of major competitive announcements, like Samsung at 10nm with Qualcomm, for example, which is already shipping Snapdragon 835 processors based on Samsung 10nm FinFET tech. The chip is rumored to make an appearance tomorrow at Samsung Unpacked in New York in the Galaxy S8 smartphone. Regardless, Intel stated at its Technology and Manufacturing Day presentation today that its 10nm technology is a full generation ahead of the "other guys." Intel also claims that it has the highest feature density at 10nm and is leveraging the use of it to better ensure that it stays well ahead of competitors like Samsung with regard to performance and costs (which are claimed to be 30 percent lower than its rivals). Intel was able to shrink its minimum gate pitch from 70nm to 54nm, going from the 14nm to 10nm process nodes. In addition, the minimum metal pitch has shrunk from 52mm to 36mm. As a result, Intel's logic transistor density at 10nm is 2.7x higher than its previous generation 14nm process, and claimed to be another 2x greater than its closest competitors. Intel also claims that further refinements at 10nm mean its upcoming Cannonlake processors will provide up to a 25 percent uplift in performance, while consuming 45 percent less power than 14nm counterparts (i.e. Skylake and Kaby Lake).

Submission + - Intel Unveils Optane Memory For Desktop And Notebook PCs (

MojoKid writes: Intel took the wraps off its Optane Memory devices for client PCs today and the product looks just like current generation 80mm M.2 "gumstick" type solid state drives. However, Intel Optane Memory is based on the company's 3D Xpoint memory technology and is meant to be used as an accelerator for systems with relatively low-speed storage devices, like hard drives. Intel Optane Memory products and associated software are designed to cache the most frequently accessed bits of data on a compatible system, which can significantly increase performance and responsiveness of slower drives. The SSD can be paired to any standard hard drive or SATA drive for that matter, regardless of the capacity. The Optane memory is used as a high-speed repository of the most commonly accessed data blocks (not necessarily complete files). Usage patterns on the hard drive are monitored and the most frequently accessed bits of data are copied from the hard drive to the Optane drive. Because it's is used as a cache, it is not presented to the end-user as a separate volume. The first products in Intel's Optane Memory line-up will be M.2 type NVMe SSDs, with capacities of 16GB and 32GB. Note that Intel Optane Memory will work only on Windows 10 64-bit systems with Intel 7th Gen Kaby Lake-based processors and 200-series chipsets, or newer systems. 16GB and 32GB Intel Optane Memory modules will be available initially through retailers with MSRPs of $44 for the 16GB part and $77 for the 32GB model. There are already over 130 motherboards on the market and systems featuring the technology will be made available soon from all of the major players, including Dell, Lenovo, HP and others.

Submission + - Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Performance Unveiled In Benchmark Preview (

MojoKid writes: Qualcomm is lifting the veil on performance benchmark numbers for its new Snapdragon 835 processor today (or Mobile Platform, as Qualcomm is referring to it now) and it's looking like a notable improvement over the Snapdragon 820 and 821. The Snapdragon 835 is expected to provide up to 11 hours of 4K video playback and also serve up hours of VR gaming on a single charge, along with performance increases of up to 25 percent in both CPU and graphics/gaming related workloads. The Snapdragon 835 SoC is built on 10nm FinFET technology, which results in significantly lower power consumption, though Qualcomm notes most of the power consumption gains were realized in the 8-core CPU block — an ARM big.Little design — for efficiency. Four larger, semi-custom Kyro 280 cores are clocked at 2.45GHz and the smaller, lower-power four cores are clocked up to 1.9GHz. Though proving battery life claims will have to wait for retail shipping smartphones that employ the new Snapdragon SoC to ship in market, benchmark numbers taken from Qualcomm prototype devices show impressive results. Actual gains north of 20 percent in gaming and graphics tests were observed, but more modest gains of 10 — 15 percent were realized in CPU-centric tests.

Submission + - Intel Unveils Optane SSD DC P4800X Drive That Can Act As Cache Or Storage (

MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled its first SSD product that will leverage 3D Xpoint memory technology, the new Optane SSD DC P4800X. The Intel SSD DC P4800X resembles some of Intel's previous enterprise storage products, but this product is all new, from its controller to its 3D Xpoint storage media that was co-developed with Micron. The drive's sequential throughput isn't impressive versus other high-end, enterprise NVMe storage products, but the Intel Optane SSD DX P4800X shines at very low queue depths with high random 4kB IO throughput, where NAND flash-based storage products tend to falter. The drive's endurance is also exceptionally high, rated for 30 drive writes per day or 12.3 Petabytes Written. Intel provided some performance data comparing its SSD SC P3700 NAND drive to the Optane SSD DC P4800X in a few different scenarios. This test shows read IO latency with the drive under load and not only is the P4800X's read IO latency significantly lower, but it is very consistent regardless of load. With a 70/30 mixed read write workload, the Optane SSD DC P4800X also offers between 5 and 8x better performance versus standard NVMe drives. The 375GB Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X add-in-card will be priced at $1520, which is roughly three times the cost per gigabyte of Intel's high-end SSD DC P3700. In the short term, expect Intel Optane solid state drives to command a premium. As availability ramps, however, prices will likely come down.

Submission + - AMD Announces Ryzen 5 Processors, 4 And 6-Core Chips Starting At $169 (

MojoKid writes: Today, AMD unveiled additional details with respect to the entire Ryzen 5 processor line-up. Unlike the Ryzen 7 series, which consists entirely of 8-core / 16-thread processors, the Ryzen 5 family has two tiers consisting of 6-core / 12-thread and 4-core / 8-thread processors. The entry-level part is the Ryzen 5 1400, a 4-core, 8-thread CPU with base and turbo clocks of 3.2GHz and 3.4GHz, respectively. The Ryzen 5 1500X has the same quad-core configuration, but with base and turbo clocks of 3.5GHz and 3.7GHz and also has support for an extended XFR frequency range of up to 3.9GHz. The Ryzen 5 1600 is a 6-core / 12-thread processor, with 3.2GHz base and 3.6GHz boost clocks. And at the top of the stack is the Ryzen 5 1600X – which has a similar 6-core configuration – but cranks things up even further to 3.6GHz / 4.0GHz. With XFR, the absolute maximum frequency for all of the Ryzen 5 processors will be somewhat higher, but AMD hasn't disclosed specifics for all parts. AMD's Ryzen 5 processor line-up will work with the very same AM4 platform as the higher-end Ryzen 7. Ryzen 5 series processors will be launching officially on April 11, with prices starting at $169 for the Ryzen 5 1400. An additional $20 will get you a Ryzen 5 1500X, while the 6-core Ryzen 5 1600 and 1600X will sell for $219 and $249, respectively.

Submission + - AMD Offers Ryzen Performance Update, Rebuts Claims Of Windows 10 Threading Issue (

MojoKid writes: A couple of weeks ago, AMD launched its Ryzen processor line in conjunction with its AM4 platform. The feedback has been mostly positive, save for lower-than-expected gaming performance at 1080p. AMD noted most games are not optimized for AMD hardware currently, and that 1080p gaming performance will improve in time as developers take advantage of Ryzen's architecture. Some have attributed the problem has to do with a conflict between Ryzen and the Windows 10 thread scheduler. However, AMD claims there is no merit to that theory. "We have investigated reports alleging incorrect thread scheduling on the AMD Ryzen processor. Based on our findings, AMD believes that the Windows 10 thread scheduler is operating properly for 'Zen', and we do not presently believe there is an issue with the scheduler adversely utilizing the logical and physical configurations of the architecture," AMD said. AMD also addressed reports simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) is causing performance to dip in games. The company said it expects games to either benefit from SMT or see no change at all in performance. According to AMD, this is the case in several popular game titles. However, AMD isn't leaving things entirely in the hands of developers, noting: "We have already identified some simple changes that can improve a game's understanding of the "Zen" core/cache topology, and we intend to provide a status update to the community when they are ready." AMD also addressed several other areas of concern in their update and it does appear the company is getting a better handle on a few of the anomalies with Ryzen performance.

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