AMD Hints Possible Price Drops for Current-Gen Consoles

We have already seen some price drops on the current generation gaming consoles, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, but it hasn’t been anything that major up until now. Consoles have a scheduled lifetime before the next generation of 5 to 7 years, so they’ll still be around for a while. We do however see optimizations along the way as it also happened in the past, the PS2 and PS3 both got upgrades along the way.

AMD has now hinted that there at least are opportunities in the current generation’s lifetime to develop new technology that will allow for a price drop without any impact on performance. This is most likely based on optimization of the production line and process along with the initial development costs starting to get back home and not have as big an impact as when a product is freshly launched. This news came out during a round-table talk where AMD’s CEO Lisa Su attended.

“The consoles work on a five to seven year strategy, that’s the lifetime for these consoles,” said Lisa Su. “Without talking about any particular party’s console; there will be opportunities to cost-reduce.

While Lisa Su didn’t mention any timeframe on this, it is pretty safe to assume that it won’t be far in the future. We are also approaching the mid-life of the current generation consoles that were launched roughly three years ago now and that was about the time where we saw upgrades in the previous generation Xbox and PlayStation consoles.

While some might argue that PC gaming is superior to Consoles, and it probably is, consoles have their merit and there is no doubt why they keep such a high popularity. A price drop on said consoles could further boost the sales by convincing more people to get it. A cheaper price is something we all like and I’m sure that they’ll quickly make up for the lost profit in that regards with the higher sales numbers and thereby more sales of games and peripherals too.

Thunderbolt 3 Coming to Gigabyte Z170 Motherboards via a BIOS Update

Thunderbolt 3 is capable of 40Gbps via a USB Type-C connector and able to power dual 4K displays or a single 5K monitor at 60Hz. This astonishing amount of bandwidth is integrated into Intel’s Alpine Ridge USB 3.1 controller on the H170 and Z170 chipset. As a result, any motherboard passing Intel’s certification can theoretically access the enhanced speed. Although, it is in the hands of manufacturers to offer a software update to utilize this added functionality.

Gigabyte is providing a firmware update for the GA-Z170X-Gaming G1, GA-Z170X-Gaming GT, and GA-Z170X-Gaming 7 to offer the enhanced speeds. As a result, Gigabyte’s supported range is becoming quite comprehensive. It’s impressive to see such a quick reaction to the potential of Thunderbolt 3.0 and giving early adopters improved functionality. Whether any affordable consumer displays support Thunderbolt 3 is another topic for discussion. However, the interface could become essential in the future when displays surpass the 4K resolution.

Thunderbolt 3 contains 100w of charging power which might prove to be more useful for the average consumer. Whatever the case, I’m pleased to see motherboard partners offering firmware updates and adding more value to each z170 motherboard. Sadly, the 1151 CPUs are quite expensive at the moment which is limiting the amount of people upgrading from older sockets.

MSI Introduces PRO Series Motherboards

With Intel opening up the CPU line up for all to see, motherboard manufacturers are now offering up the lower market motherboards to reside below the Z170 options. Following previous nomenclature for the Intel chipset, these motherboards will come under the H170, B150 and H110 chipsets.

MSI have now introduced multiple Pro series offerings with these chipsets, all featuring the best that Intel 100 series has to offer with the stability and reliability that MSI is renowned for. The new PRO series will span over 30 different motherboards of different sizes and also includes the Z170 chipset, which means we could see Z170 performance for not a lot of money.

Some of the features include DDR4 Boost, optimised memory channels for direct and uninterrupted memory signals for the best possible performance, Turbo M.2, SATA Express with Turbo U.2, CLICK BIOS 5, M-Cloud and many more.

MSI has received the renowned reliability status from years of motherboard productions with Military grade components. With the high-grade components also comes some incredibly simple user features, ED Debug LED, Overvoltage Protection and VGA Armor for the PCIe slots. These motherboards are a no-fuss option and great for system builders to create or even upgrade consumer computers.

Are you looking forward to the other chipsets from MSI? Let us know in the comments.

Thank you to TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

ASUS Z170 Maximus VIII Hero (LGA 1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction


The Z170 chipset and Skylake CPU’s have been around for just over a week now and we have seen pretty much everything that each manufacturer has to offer. We now know that the huge connectivity options presented by the Z170 chipset that some manufacturers have included not one, but two, sometimes even three M.2 slots and multiple USB 3.0 ports. Along with those, you also have USB 3.1 Type A and Type C as standard on the vast majority of the Z170 series boards.

Today on the test bench, we take our first look at an ASUS Republic of Gamers (RoG) motherboard in the form of the Maximus VIII Hero (M8H). If you’ve heard anything about the RoG range, you’ll know that it is the go-to motherboard range if you want the highest performance, best quality components, more accessories than you could ever use and some of the best looks available.

Specifications

The M8H follows a similar process to the RoG ranges of old with huge amount of features, but things have changed slightly, ASUS has decided to almost ditch the red colour scheme; I’ll let that sink in. So instead of the red theme, ASUS has gone for a simply stunning grey with subtle red detailing. I think this is a step in the right direction because of every manufacturer jumping on the red scheme recently.

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no exception and has crammed a huge array of features into this motherboard.

RoG Key Features

  • Extreme Engine Digi+
  • OC Zone
  • RoG RAMDisk
  • RoG RAMCache
  • RoG Overwolf
  • KeyBot II
  • UEFI BIOS

Key Features

  • Dual Intelligent Processors 5
  • ASUS Exclusive Features
    • AI Suite 3
    • USB 3.1 Boost
    • AI Charger+
    • Push Notice
    • Disk Unlocker
    • Pc Cleaner
    • HyStream
    • Media Streamer
    • Mobo Connect
  • EZ DIY
    • USB BIOS Flashback
    • Crashfree BIOS 3
    • EZ Flash 3
    • Mem OK!
  • Q-Design
    • Q-Code
    • Q-Sheild
    • Q-Connector
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
    • Q-DIMM

Packaging

The M8H is a key asset to the RoG series, the box itself is almost a direct replica of older RoG boxes with the changes to the features along the bottom and the name.

The back of the box has a small diagram of the board and the key features in detail.

Inside the box is a huge amount of accessories, including driver disk, install manual, door hanger, cable labels, case sticker and fan stickers.

Along with those are 6x SATA 6 Gb/s cables, 2 way SLI bridge, I/O shield, M.2 riser and screw, front panel connector riser and CPU locator.

Intel Core i7-6700K & i5-6600K “Skylake” Processors Review

Introduction


Skylake is finally here, after months of speculation that all leads up to a single date in the calendar. Based on the first truly successful 14nm process after the very difficult launch of Broadwell a few weeks ago. Today sees the launch of two of the Intel Skylake SKU’s; the i7-6700K and the i5-6600K and this review will focus on both CPUs. This is a completely redesigned CPU focusing on the gamers, overclockers and enthusiasts alike and embedded in this message was the fact that Intel are dedicated to traditional sockets; no soldered on chips for the future of the mainstream consumer range for Intel. When Broadwell was released and the rumours started swirling around Skylake, everyone was jumping for joy with full BLCK overclocking; we can finally and officially confirm that there is a full BLCK overclocking range in increments of 1MHz instead of being limited to the strap of 100/125/166 of previous designs.

With those new chips, also brings a brand new chipset and socket. Z170 is amazingly complicated and feature-packed, with up to 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes compared to just 8 on Z97, up to 10 USB 3.0 ports and almost all motherboard manufacturers will be introducing USB 3.1 Type A and Type C as standard. Not only that but the CPU can automatically switch between DDR4 and DDR3L support although it is to be noted that the CPU cannot do this at the same time so don’t expect any motherboards with 2 DIMMS of each. Take note of the ‘L’, as Skylake CPU’s cannot accept DRAM with a voltage of more than 1.35v natively; I guess under overclocking situations you could try it, but system instability will most likely occur. The socket in question has been redesigned and this brought the introduction of a single additional pin; that means you cannot upgrade your CPU or motherboard now and the other later. This may seem like a money making idea on Intel’s behalf, but when you think of the nitty gritty, Z97 doesn’t offer as much connectivity or overclocking capabilities as Z170 does; so putting a new socket on an old board would neglect the user of the full potential they could harness.

Year on year Intel promise up to 10% more performance compared to the last generation processor; it is the same this time around. To put things into perspective, a 1-year-old PC would hold an i7-4790K, 2-year-old would be an i7-4770K and 3-year-old would be an i7-3770K. For those of you holding out with your i5-2500K, you would probably be considering Skylake as your next upgrade.

Devils Canyon brought 4GHz to the masses and Skylake looks to build on that with the i7-6700K starting at 4GHz and reaching up to 4.2GHz and the i5-6600K starting at 3.5GHz and boosting up to 3.9GHz. Both come with a TDP of a mere 91W and start at an MSRP of $243, or approximately £190 in the UK.

ASUS Z170 Pro Gaming (LGA 1151) Motherboard Review

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging


Today is the day that the Z170 chipset and Skylake overclocking processors are here and we can finally show off these great products. The Z170 platform has taken a somewhat minor upgrade to the untrained eye, but to those who know what to look for will notice many subtle changes. Probably the most notable is the addition of DDR4 memory and obviously the socket change to 1151 over 1150. Beyond that, you also have very subtle connectivity upgrades such as the possibility of up to 10 USB 3.0 ports, USB 3.1 Type A and Type C as standard and up to 20 PCIe 3.0 lanes; yes 20! What this means to the end user is the possibility of having multiple M.2 ports being featured onto a single motherboard and much more.

ASUS are currently one of the largest motherboard companies in the world, just outselling the closest competitor by a few hundred thousand units. With motherboards ranging from the budget pleasers all of the way up to the renowned Republic of Gamers variants; there is a bit of ASUS for everyone. This includes the brand new Pro Gaming motherboard that we’re looking at today.

Something that ASUS has done with the Pro Gaming motherboard is to take key features from the RoG series and incorporate them onto a motherboard at a reduced price. One of the key features is the RoG Extension header, which enables the ability to utilise the RoG Front base; a dual bay monitoring and overclocking piece of hardware. With RoG features at a cut price, would the performance be lower or are we looking at another GTX 980Ti vs Titan X scenario? Let’s take a look at the benchmarks and put all of the puzzle pieces together.

Key Features

Manufacturers nowadays need to find innovative ways to stand out from the crowd, ASUS is no exception and has crammed a huge array of features into this motherboard.

  • Gamer’s Guardian II
    • DIGI+ VRM
    • DRAM Overcurrent Protection
    • ESD Guards On VGA, LAN, Audio, KBMS and USB 3.0/ 2.0
    • Highly Durable Components
  • Dual Intelligent Processors 5
    • 5 Way Optimisation:
      • TPU
      • EPU
      • DIGI+ VRM
      • Fan Xpert 3
      • Turbo App
  • RAMCache
  • Media Streamer
  • EZ DIY
  • Push Notice
  • UEFI BIOS EZ Mode
    • O.C. Tuner
    • CrashFree BIOS 3
    • EZ Flash 3
  • Q-Design
    • Q-Shield
    • Q-DIMM
    • Q-LED
    • Q-Slot
  • AI Suite 3
  • Disk Unlocker
  • AI Charger+
  • ASUS CPU-Z

Packaging and Accessories

As the Pro Gaming motherboard series is new to Z170, the box styling had to recreated. The feature image is a snippet of the World of Warships game which has a premium account bundled with this motherboard. The styling is very ROG-esq thanks to the ROG heritage and features incorporated within this motherboard.

The back of the box has a small diagram of the board and the key features in detail.

Inside the box is a conservative amount of accessories, driver disk, manual, and cable labels

Along with those are 4x SATA 6Gb/s cables, SLI bridge, I/O shield and an additional M.2 screw and riser.

ASUS has designed a great solution for the Z170 range. This new CPU holder enables the user to handle the CPU as minimal as possible. This holder aids the prevention of bent pins and can be left on when the socket latch is secured.

Insert the CPU by whatever your usual handling means; I found it easiest to push the CPU by the centre until it latched.

Simply place it onto the CPU socket, there is only one way you can do this.

And finally close the socket. You may hear some slight creaking of plastic, that is to be expected on some installations.

Has VIA Sold a Portion of its Company Assets to Intel?

VIA Technologies has announced part of the company will be sold under a new branch entitled, VIA Telecom. The deal is estimated to be worth $100 million and has already been completed with an undisclosed buyer. VIA used to be the world”s largest manufacturer of motherboard chipsets and produces other components including CPUs and Memory. Intel are the most likely source of the investment with enough capital to expand their stronghold in the PC and mobile sector.

According to VIA’s official statement, the takeover should be completed by the fourth quarter of this year barring any last minute disagreements. We reached out to both Intel and VIA but neither commented to deny or confirm the alleged agreement.

Hopefully, more substantial evidence will emerge in the coming weeks but I highly doubt any other major technology firm are interested in VIA. As with any unconfirmed reports, it’s important to remain cautious but I’m fairly confident that Intel are the purchasing party. Does this mean Intel’s dominance is becoming a complete monopoly? Only time will tell, and the lack of real competition is hindering any kind of price wars or significant increases in compute performance.

I do wonder what the future holds for VIA and if they are considering selling off even more assets so Intel can use their financial resources to develop upcoming technologies.

iGame Reveal Worlds First 100-Series Skylake Motherboard

Intel’s new Skylake CPU series is almost here and with the launch just a few months away now, it’s about time one of the big motherboard manufacturers revealed their next-generation motherboards. The Skylake compatible motherboards will welcome the new Intel 100 Series chipset, bringing a host of new features along with the new processors, such as the capability of supporting either DDR3 or DDR4 memory; something that will no doubt please most consumers, given the current price of DDR4 modules.

The Colorful iGame Skylake 100-Series motherboards come in three editions and don’t look too dissimilar from the ROG TUF series of motherboards from Asus.

The new boards come will all the high-end features you would expect, such as a 14-phase power circuit, GamerVoice, Nichicon Audio Capacitors, Killer E2201 + Intel I211-AT dual NIC, CrossFire / SLI three-way (8x + 4x + 4x), PCI-E M.2 slots, six SATA 6GBPS, two SATA Express, USB 3.1, USB 3.0, DDR3L / DDR4 memory compatibility and more.

The new motherboards certainly look great and they’ve got all the usual high-end features and overclocking support one would expect from a high-end gaming motherboards. With this motherboard now out in the wild, let’s hope other manufacturers step up and reveal their latest products. All eyes will be on Computex 2015 to see the next-generation Skylake hardware, excited?

Intel’s Skylake and 100 Series Chipset Details, Universal Overclocking Is Back

We don’t have to wait long until Intel releases their new and 6th Gen Core Skylake processors. The new generation is scheduled to arrive in the second quarter and Intel has shown a lot of new systems utilizing the new chips before and during the IDF 2015 in Shenzhen, but the full specifications for the new generation have eluded us so far.

New slides have changed that and we now know a lot more about the new Skylake-S LGA 1151 platform as well as the new Intel 100 series chipsets. The processors are split into three groups for power consumption: dual cores from 35W to 65W quad-cores from 35W to 65W, and enthusiast quad cores at 95W TDP. The will come with support for both DDR3 and DDR4 memory.

The iGPU supports the latests APIs such as DX12, OpenGL 4.4, and OpenCL2.0 and also support acceleration for HEVC, VP8, and VP9 media codecs. You can connect up to three independent displays and run a resolution up to  4096×2304.

One of the highlights is for the unlocked K-series processors. They will get enhanced and full range BLCK overclocking for a more precise and better overclock. The new processors will also need a new chipset and that is the new Intel 100 series and they are a little highlight in themselves.

The new chipsets come with increased port flexibility with up to 40% higher input/outputs. The Intel RST 14 technology has PCIe storage support for up to four M.2 and two SATA Express connections, so you won’t be short of high-speed storage anymore.

Motherboards utilizing the new Intel 100 series chipsets are expected to start selling in June, so that’s just around the corner. They are divided into the usual three categories with Z170 for performance, H170 for the mainstream, and H110 as the value option.

If you want it all, you have to spring for the performance series and Z170 chipset and you’ll get three PCIe 3.0 connections (1×16 or 2×8 or 1×8 + 2×4) and the ability to overclock the processor. The two H-series chipsets only give you one x16 connection and you can’t OC your processor. The Z170 will also give you a total of 10 USB 3.0 where the H170 only has 8 and the H110 has 4. The two 170′ chipsets both feature six SATA 3.0 ports where the H110 only has four.

We’ve also got the first leaks on actual processors, both i5 and i7 versions of the new 14nm technology. The i7-6700K have a 4GHz base frequency and a minor turbo up to 4.2GHz. It has four hyperthreaded cores and 8MB cache. The i5-6600K only has a 3.5GHz base clock, but the turbo takes it to 3.9GHz. The i5 only has four single cores and 6MB cache, but both chips support the same DDR3-1600 and DDR4-2133 memory and also come with the same 95W TDP.

MediaTek’s Latest Helio SoC Will Let You Record 4K Videos at 120 FPS

The Taiwanese mobile chip maker, MediaTek, is reportedly working on a high-end SoC lineup named Helio, which the company states will compete with its rivals, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The company has revealed its latest SoC at a recent conference in Beijing, where the company’s executive explained how MediaTek is going to grasp the high-end SoC market with its new Helio lineup, which is comprised of the Helio X and Helio P versions.

While the Helio X is stated to be used in high-end smartphones, the Helio P will help the company grasp the budget smartphone market as well. The first Helio lineup is stated to be made up of the MediaTek MT6795, featuring an octa-core package, and the second will come with the ARM Cortex-A53 CPU clocked at 2.2 GHz.

Mediated is said to be creating more chipsets in the future, which will feature ARM’s Cortex-A72 processor that will allow users to record 4K videos at 120 FPS.

Thank you Etagnet for providing us with this information

Voice-over-LTE Set to Launch in the UK on Three This Summer

The UK is laying the ground for an intense competition between carriers this summer. Three, the 4th largest mobile carrier in the country, has just announced that it will be launching its VoLTE feature in Q3 this year.

This means that Three will be competing with carriers such as Vodafone, who has already announced that it will be launching VoLTE, and EE, the UK’s largest carrier, who has similar plans in enabling the feature on its networks this year as well.

VoLTE is similar to VoIP, but operates over the 4G/LTE networks as data, compared to the previous “closed-circuit” calls on 2G and 3G. The result is said to bring faster call setup and crystal clear audio, while in turn making better use of the available spectrum.

This sounds pretty amazing, but there have also been a lot of battery performance issues with 4G smartphones in the past using this type of feature. However, new chipsets are said to be rolling out more optimized than their predecessors. But questions regarding what handsets will be compatible with the VoLTE networks still remain.

Three has not stated which devices will be compatible with its future VoLTE network, however handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 onwards should have no problem in connecting to it once it is launched.

Lightning Tube ‘Treatment’ given to Avexir RAIDEN DDR3 Memory Modules

The RAIDEN DDR3 memory module series is known for their high performance and apparently for their unique feature. The modules are using the world exclusive patented technology of plasma tubes in order to mimic the lightning effect for gamers seeking a more unique look and something to brag about when presenting their rigs to friends.

The high-performance memory modules are said to pass 16 Avexir Ic Sorting Technology processes and 14 memory module functional, burn-in and compatibility tests on Intel chipset 7, 8 and 9 series before shipping, adding a heavy layer of confidence for customers looking to buy reliable memory for their PCs.

Avexir also built the memory modules with 8 layers of performance optimized design-printed circuit board and industry grade resistors and capacitors, making the RAIDEN series one of the top-level specification modules. They also feature the Intel XMP technology, allowing users to tune the memory modules to the rated speed with ease.

While prices for the modules are still unknown, it is said that Avexir will ship the modules with speeds ranging from 1866 to 2400 MHz and 4 to 8 GB density.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information

MSI Unveil X99 Range of Motherboards

With Intel’s latest X99 chipset launch upon us, MSI have given us a full insight into their complete stack of motherboards featuring the newest iteration of Intel features dubbed under the X99 moniker.

MSI have segmented their products into different ranges across the gaming and OC products and more information can be found on them below:

You can find individual product pages below:

We are currently rigorously testing the X99S XPOWER AC so expect performance figures and a full review of that in the next coming days.

Are you an MSI fan? What board would you end up buying? Let us know in the comments below!

ASRock Extreme4 – Worlds First Windows 8.1 Certified X99 Motherboard

While many of the details of the upcoming Asrock X99 motherboard remain shrouded in secrecy, it is now clear that development of this new motherboard is coming along nicely as the board has gained Windows 8.1 certification, making it the first certified Intel X99 chipset based motherboard.

The new Intel chipset is to be released over the coming months, bringing with it a new wave of features and while we are unsure what specific features Asrock will be implementing to their new board, you can bet it’s going to be pretty incredible, especially given that the current Z97 Extreme4 is already packed to the brim with premium grade features.

Asrock can’t tell us exactly when the board is out, but they have teased that more information is coming very soon, so stay tuned!

Thank you Asrock for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Asrock.

Apple’s A8 Processor Rumoured To Hit the 2 GHz Clock Speed for The First Time

While Android devices have been passing the 2 GHz clock speeds for some time now, Apple’s gear and its latest 64-bit A7 has been steadily hanging at the 1.3 – 1.4 GHz speeds. Rumour now has it that the company’s latest SoC, the A8, will change all of this.

It is said that Apple’s latest iPhone 6 and iPad Air 2 featuring the A8 chips will be able to reach the 2 GHz speed for the first time in the franchise’s history. There has been word that the iPad Air 2 will be available with a processing speed of 2.6 GHz, but that is to be expected since the iPad devices are the company’s ‘heavy gear’ compared to the iPhone devices.

The A8 chipset series is said to sport two cores and a 64-bit architecture as the previous A7 SoC. People might say that three, four or even eight cores are the future, as found in the Android devices, but the truth is that the extra core support is not noticeable in terms of a mobile handset’s speed. In time, as developers continue to make more and more complex mobile application, we will see the need for more than two cores on a handset. Until then, the extra cores are said to be there for ‘bragging purposes’.

The chip is said to be made by TSMC, having Apple replacing its Samsung supplier. The SoC is rumoured to be based on a 20 nm architecture, which would indicate a visible increase in performance and a decrease in power consumption compared to the current 28 nm chips. Other than that, Apple is said to release the handsets powered by the A8 chip this fall.

Thank you Phonearena for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TabletGuide.nl

Intel’s Haswell Refresh Processors Are Now Available

The time has finally come, the Intel Core “Haswell” refresh processors are now officially available from retailers. The LGA1150 compatible processors bring with them support for the Intel 8 Series chipset with BIOS updates, as well as the new Intel 9 Series chipsets. The Haswell refresh brings a speed boost over the current Haswell lineup, but the price points will remain the same.

The Core i7-4790 runs at 3.60 GHz, with a Turbo Boost frequency of 4.00 GHz, 8MB of L3 cache and HyperThreading. The new chip will be priced at $319.99, placing it between the i7-4770 and the i7-4770K. The Core i5-4690 features a clock speed of 3.30 GHz and a 3.90 GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB of L3 cache, but lacks the HyperThreading features at a price of $224.

Both of the new CPU’s lack upwards unlocked base-clock multipliers, so overclocking is going to be all but none existent on the new hardware, so those wanting to get into the extreme end will want to wait until mid-June when the K series “Devil’s Canyon” silicon launches.

Other options hitting the market this week include;

  • i5-4590 quad-core, 3.20 GHz / 3.70 GHz, 6 MB L3, $199.99
  • i5-4460 quad-core, 3.20 GHz / 3.70 GHz, 6 MB L3, $189
  • i7-4790S quad-core, 3.20 GHz, 8 MB L3, HTT, $314, low TDP
  • i5-4690S quad-core, 3.20 GHz, 6 MB L3, $224
  • i5-4590S quad-core, 3.00 GHz, 6 MB L3, $199

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp.

Haswell Refresh CPUs Launch Date Revealed

While many have suspected that Intel will launch their new Haswell CPUs at this years Computex 2014, word has it now that the chips could hit the market sooner. Some sources within the industry are pointing towards May 10th for most markets, meaning the wait for the refreshed Haswell hardware may be a big shorter than you were expecting.

The new hardware is mostly just tweaks and adjustments to the current range, but with the Core i7-4790K at the top of the new list, May 10th could still be very exciting. Expect slightly better performance from the bulk of the refresh hardware, but also expect them to keep the same price points as the current offerings. What we’re really excited about is the support of 9-series chipsets, bringing M.2 SSD support which will see the launch of 1000 MB/s SSDs and more!

If you’re about to upgrade to Haswell, it may be worth waiting just a little longer for the refresh hardware.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechPowerUp.

Intel 9-series Z97, H97 & X99 Chipset Specifications Finalized

Final details of the new Intel 9-Series chipsets has appeared online, giving us the first full look at what we can expect from the chipset platforms. The upper end of the new sets will be the LGA1150 package, and a sole chipset for the LGA2011-3 HEDT platform. This means that we will be getting two new chipsets for LGA1150, the first being Z97 Express and the other being H97 Express. Z97 will be the focus for top-end hardware platforms, so will obviously come with support for the current Haswell line up, the upcoming Haswell refresh and Devil’s Canyon processors. There boards will feature up to three PCI-Express 3.0 slots wired to the CP in configurations of x16/NC/NC, x8/x8/NC, and x8/x4/x4. The Z97 chipsets will feature support for overclocking and while the H97 is similar in most respects, it will lack overclocking support and the PCIe configurations of the Z97 chipset.

Both the new chipsets will come with a range of up to date features, this includes support for super quick PCI-Express M.2 storage, six SATA 6Gb/s ports (with AHCI and RAID support), Rapid Storage Technology, Smart Response Technology, but only the Z97 will feature Dynamic Storage Accelerator. The H97 will offer Small Business Advantage (SBA) exclusively. With both chips packing 8-lane PCI-E gen 2.0 root complexes which will run onboard devices, 14 USB ports and six USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports.

Ready to kick things up a notch? Good! The X99 Express hardware is designed for the upcoming Haswell-E HEDT platform and feature the next-gen LGA2011-3 socket, which is unfortunately incompatible with current LGA2011 chips, but it looks like the upgrade may be worth it. X99 chipset motherboards will support up to five PCI-E 3.0 X16 slots wired to the CPU, this will allow for x16/NC/x16/NC/x8, x16/NC/x8/x8/x8, or x8/x8/x8/x8/x8 configurations. This means you’ll be able to have a PCIe SSD as well as a quad-GPU configuration in your system. If that isn’t enough for you, then you’ll also find a staggering 10-port SATA 6 Gb/s with RST and SRT support coming from the storage controller and SSD TRIM will be supported on RAID 0 configurations. The 8-lane PCI-Express gen 2.0 root complex will be used to run onboard devices like it does in the Z97/H97 hardware, and comes with support for 14 USB 2.0 ports and 6 USB 3.0 ports.

Expect to see the new chipsets and motherboards hit the market Q2-Q3 this year.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of TechPowerUp.

GammaTech Announces the DURABOOK R8300 Fit For Extreme Environments

It looks like GammaTech Computers Corp. has just announced a new rugged notebook, the DURABOOK R830, addition to its notebook lineup. It is said to be certified with MIL-STD-810G and IPS65 specs, for short to withstand abusive harsh environments and is suitable in areas of operation normally encountered in military, utility and public safety sectors.

“It is easy to produce a computer that works well in a climate-controlled environment, where Mother Nature is held at bay,” remarked Jen Chen, GammaTech president. “It is something entirely different, however, to engineer a computer to withstand long exposure to wind, dust, rain, and extreme temperatures as well as surviving bumpy rides, drops, and working in sweltering heat or frigid temperatures. Designed specifically for outdoor usage, our new R8300 notebook offers unsurpassed performance, even in the most hostile environments.”

To describe the certifications even further, the MIL-STD-810G certification stands for extreme sock, drop, vibration and temperature environments, while the IP65 certifies equipment for water and dust resistance. Besides the latter, GammaTech has also received two more certifications for the DURABOOK R8300, the MIL-STD 461F, ANSI/ISA 12.12.01 as well as ATEX Zone 2 for operation in hazardous locations.

In terms of specs, the DURABOOK R8300 is powered by a 3rd Generation Intel i-Core LV /ULV CPU i-Core i7-3555LE or i-Core i5-3437U mobile processor, two DDR3 SODIMM slots which support 4 GB, 8 GB or 16 GB RAM each, all configured on a mobile Intel QM77 Express Chipset. It also provides USB 3.0 support, Intel AMT 8.0 with enhanced manageability and security, Intel Rapid Storage Technology with RAID support for enhanced performance, power management and data protection, as well as Intel Smart Response Technology and Intel Anti-Theft Technology which can disable a lost or stolen PC and reactivate it without worrying about compromising data.

The DURABOOK R8300 has a 13.3-inch TFT touchscreen LCD display featuring direct-sunlight readability for operating in extremely right and sunny environments, such as the desert or an extremely lit room. The HDD is also a plus, having a quick release storage capability, making it easier to swap 500 GB or 750 GB HDDs just by turning a couple of knobs, as well as having SSD configuration capabilities. If additional space is required, a 5.25-inch multi-slot type optical disk drive is available for another hard disk.

When it comes to security, both the administrator and boot password protection is available to configure, having the Absolute Computrace feature allowing remote management for continual tracking and securing all endpoints within a single cloud-based console. The TMP 1.2 as well as Kensington lock is provided for additional security when needed.

The notebook offers a wide range of connectivity options, such as a mini card slot for Wireless LAN and Bluetooth 4.0 Class 1 combo card, a built-in antenna, a built-in WWAN antenna, one M2 card slot for the WWAN Type 3042-S3-B module, a built-in SIM card slot, a GPS module with built-in GPS antenna and an optional Intel Dual Band Wireless 6235 802.11AGN antenna. What keeps this indestructible PC ‘alive’ is one Lithium-Ion battery which provides 8 hours battery life. A second battery can be accommodated in a second slot for an additional 4 hours worth of operation.

The GammaTech DURABOOK R8300 is said to be available starting from the second quarter of this year, having a customization feature available for unique customer requirements.

Thank you TechPowerUp for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TechPowerUp

Rumor: Nexus 6 To Feature 64-bit 8-core Processor

Whether or not it is true, rumors still remain and they point to the next (Google) Nexus 6 handset having a high-end 64-bit Octa-Core Qualcomm Snapdragon 810 chipset. It is still too early to make presumptions at this time, though Digitimes cites an article from China’s Economic Daily News.

Reports say that Qualcomm is planning to launch its high-end Snapdragon 810 with a 64-bit architecture somewhere in the second half this year, boasting eight cores and said to run on an ARM big.LITTLE configuration which boosts its speeds and battery performance simultaneously.

Making a quick recap of what was specs were released for the Snapdragon 810, it is said to have four cores made out of ARM Cortex-A57 CPUs and the remaining being made out of ARM Cortex-A53 CPUs. All of them combined powering a Nexus handset, not to mention the upcoming Nexus 6, would definitely be something worth seeing.

However, take the information with a grain of salt since the Nexus 6 handset is bound to be released at the end of 2014, somewhere in early Q4 at the very least. New rumors are bound to change and make this recent rumor redundant, or could add up and consolidate it into something concrete. Time will tell.

Thank you Ubergizmo and Digitimes for providing us with this information

16 Cores CPU With Integrated PCIe 3.0 Controller Reportedly In Development By AMD

There are reports that a document published by AMD reveals some new information on their upcoming CPUs. It seems that AMD is working on a new 16-core processor, and that is a true 16 cores, thus not a an 12 CPU cores and 4 GPU cores combo or anything. And no it is not the existing AMD Opteron 6200 Series either. This is something new. Obviously such a processor would see a launch in the server segment first hence we think the processor will be a Opteron. The developer documents list the 16-Core CPU under the Family 15h Models 30h – 3fh.

This 16-core processor is said to have a full Uncore, which is a terminology for the functions of a microprocessor that are not in the Core like QPI controllers, L3 cache, on-die memory controller and so on. The PCI Express and SPI are typically merged into the chipset, not the Uncore.

Official information is not yet currently available on what technology or the family of the CPU cores are architected on, but the Family 15h Models 30h – 3fh indicate Steamroller CPU cores as previously released in AMD’s Kaveri APUs.

Thank you Guru3D for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Guru3D

Intel’s 14nm “Fab 42” Plant Stays Closed, Rumored To Be Dedicated To 10nm Later On

Intel reportedly announced that its Fab 42 plant has been halted and will not open up anytime soon. This is the same plant, based in Arizona, which Intel was going to use in order to produce the 14nm chips. And no, Intel will not scrap the 14nm chips because of this.

The reason why Fab 42 has delayed its opening is, according to Intel, that their plants are currently working at 80% capacity, and therefore a new manufacturing plant does not make any sense at the moment. Intel, as other manufacturers, “live” by providing the demand of its products on the market. Having only a 80% productivity load is more than enough for the moment, and investing in a new plant will just be a waste of money.

As for the 14nm chip manufacturing, it will be made in other Intel plants. Intel also hints that the Fab 42 plant will be dedicated to manufacturing the 10nm chips, however the Fab 42 plant opening date is still not known. Also, besides Intel’s economical point of view about Fab 42, it is said that they are getting a lot of intense competition in the ARM market at this point, therefore taking any risks is currently not an option for them.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

NVIDIA GTX 750 Ti Rumored To Be Based On Maxwell GPU Chipset

Rumors are that NVIDIA plans on releasing the GeForce GTX 750 Ti in February, but what is more interesting is that it is said to be based in Maxwell GPU architecture, rather than previously reported Kepler architecture.

It is really interesting that NVIDIA is using the 700 series for the new Maxwell lineup, instead of the 800 series. The mobility series however is using the 800 series brand name. However, according to WCCF, NVIDIA might be using the 700 series lineup as an entry-level for the Maxwell cards.

Currently, the 700 series consist of the GeForece 780 Ti, GeForece 780, GeForece 770, GeForece 760. A GeForce 750 Ti would make sense for an early low-end Maxwell launch. It would be in range of the 700 series performance, while demoing what users should expect from the later more high-end models that will come out under the 800 series lineup.

If the rumors prove to be true and the GeForce 750 Ti will be based on Maxwell chipset, it will be the first GPU architecture to feature Unified Virtual Memory which allows the GPU and CPU to share the address space. The hardware level integration helps improves memory management and reduces overhead. In addition to that, Maxwell based GPUs would be the first to integrate the Denver CPU. The custom 64-bit ARM Dual-Core CPU will be fused on the PCB and would enhance the GPGPU workload by shifting load from the CPU on to the custom ARM cores. It will also be useful when running NVIDIA’s next generation FLEX (Unified GPU PhysX) processes.

More reports state that the Maxwell desktop chip codename will be GM107 / GM117 and would replace GK106 in terms of performance. The GeForce GTX 750 Ti is rumored to launch in late February and would replace the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost for a similar price range.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of WCCF

Huawei Ascend P6S To Feature K3V2+ SoC

For the better part of the last 12 months, almost all of Huawei’s top-end phones were launched with their home-made K3V2 chipset. Sadly, the chip is simply not fast enough to match up to its rivals. Even the Snapdragon S4 APQ8064 pulls ahead of it with ease, and that part can be blamed on the old ARM Cortex A9 CPU architecture based CPU cores in the said SoC.

Well, it looks like the rumored Huawei K3V3, which is based on the ARM Cortex A15 CPU architecture, is nowhere near ready as the Chinese phone maker’s next device, the Ascend P6S. The handset is an updated version of the P6 which is currently undergoing testing with some very impressive Antutu scores. Antutu benchmarks from the Huawei P6S have been discovered and posted across the Chinese technology scene and they are mighty impressive.

The P6S is allegedly powered by an updated K3V2+ chipset. Once again, Huawei’s solution is seriously underpowered compared to competition, with the leaked AnTuTu score lying in the less-than-impressive 22,000 range. And that can be attributed to the fact that Huawei didn’t move beyond Cortex A9 for the updated chip.

The Huawei P6S is likely to launch between the end of November to the start of December. Unless it gets any slimmer while offering a ton of other new features, we fail to grasp the device would get consumers excited in any way.

Thank you NextPowerUp for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of NextPowerUp.

MSI Z87 MPOWER (Z87) Motherboard Review

It wasn’t that long ago that MSI released a new range of products to the market, branded under MPOWER and with the release of the Z87 chipset from Intel and 4th generation CPUs, it’s only right that the MPOWER range gets a new addition, and of course it is simply called the Z87 MPOWER and features the same bright yellow colour scheme that reminds me of Bumblebee from the Transformers.

The theme is also being used on the Lightning range of VGA cards from MSI and memory manufacturer Avexir have worked hard with them to produce matching memory, so that you can have a nice system that matches with all other components, much like they’ve done with the gaming series of boards that we also looked at quite recently.

The MPOWER series isn’t quite the top-end as that is where XPOWER comes in, but with the Z87 XPOWER delayed until after launch, the MPOWER range is taking the launch as its flagship and today we are ready to see what it can do and what it has to offer, especially as I’m a BMW owner and the word MPOWER purely sings to my emotions.

The MPOWER series of boards cater for many different customers with an onus on stability and overclockability, and we’re sure that this won’t disappoint, especially from what we’ve seen MSI do with the MPOWER series so far. So lets find out if it can give us the performance that we crave, as well as give a full feature set that will keep gamers, general consumers and overclockers all happy.

First things first, we need to take a look at the box and what comes included in terms of added extras and accessories. After, we can take a detailed look at the board itself and what feature set it has including the BIOS and how things have improved with the new Z87 chipset from Intel. Once all of that is out of the way, we can focus on the stock performance, seeing how far we can overclock the CPU and how the performance looks once we’ve pushed it to the limits, so what are we waiting for?

The packaging for this board has got to be one of the most interesting with a big “M” flap on the front, which once turned over reveals some of the key features in terms of components, thermal dynamics, overclocking features and power delivery. Inside is a door hanger, quick installation guide, software guide, user manual and the typical driver CDs. Also we find six SATA data cables, a casebadge sticker, M-connectors, V-check connectors, SLI bridge and rear I/O panel shield plate. On top of all of this, we also have a Wi-Fi/Bluetooth module and external antennas to allow you to get the very best signal. This addon is something that we’re seeing much more frequent and we are glad to see this addition to the package.

Asus Tease with Gryphon Z87 Motherboard

For me and most of the eTeknix team, Facebook is a big part of what we do, and we use it to scope out the latest news direct from the manufacturers. Twitter can also be just as useful, but today saw the Asus United Kingdom Facebook page showcasing a little teaser picture for the new upcoming products from them. Of course we are talking about Haswell and with this comes a few new products.

The new launch will see a new socket, new 4th generation Intel CPUs and the new Z87 chipset which will harness the power of the components and the name for one of these from Asus will be Gryphon as pictured above.

No word on any other details as Asus are keeping things very close to their chest right now, but we can just make out in the picture that the board will be Windows 8 ready, but we all knew and expected that anyway.

For now, we will have to keep our ears to the ground and hope that more information comes up as we draw closer to the expected June 2nd release date, but with surrounding issues of USB 3.0, this date is always likely to change as we get closer. Sources tell us that the USB issues have been fixed, but Intel being Intel will not be willing to release any information surrounding it.