IBM achieves silicon photonics milestone – The Tech Report
Today, a lot of the communication that takes place on chips and between computers is accomplished by way of electrical signals carried by metal wires. If silicon photonics technology takes off, future chips might talk to each other with light carried over optical fibers. IBM recently announced that it’s successfully designed and tested a “fully integrated wavelength multiplexed silicon photonics chip” for the first time.
Fixstars crams 6TB into a 2.5″ SSD – The Tech Report
It’s common to see six-terabyte capacities in the world of mechanical hard drives, but solid-state storage usually tops out at far lower figures. Fixstars’ latest SSD, the SSD-6000M, is different. This 2.5″ drive packs 6TB of flash into an case that’s only 9.5-mm thick. Fixstars claims this is the world’s highest-capacity 2.5″ SSD, and it looks like that’s indeed the case for now.
AMD Arctic Islands GPU family to be based on 14nm FinFET process
According to a new report from China, AMD is likely to skip 20nm for its GPUs as it will reportedly head straight to 14nm FinFET process for its Arctic Islands GPU family that is set to debut next year.
The report from Chinese website EXP Review claims ‘Greenland’ will be the first GPU to be part of the Arctic Islands family. The Arctic Islands GPU family is also expected to use second generation High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) with improved performance and greater power efficiency. HBM2 is said to offer 57% higher memory bandwidth and 48% lower power consumption compared to GDDR5.
Samsung spills details on flexible AMOLED display – The Tech Report
Instead of arranging display elements on rigid glass, Samsung deposits them on a polyimide plastic substrate. At under a millimeter thick, this substrate is purportedly half the thickness of the material used in conventional mobile displays. Samsung claims the resulting AMOLED is “potentially more bendable than a human hair,” though it doesn’t detail the limits of the bending radius or how well the display holds up to repeated bending stress.
The display spreads 1440×2560 pixels over a 5.1″ diagonal, producing a razor-sharp pixel density of 577 PPI. Samsung claims “almost 100%” coverage of the Adobe RGB spectrum, a wider gamut than the sRGB color space. More impressively, perhaps, the firm pegs the display’s response time at only 0.01 milliseconds. That’s much faster than the 8-ms response of typical mobile LCDs, Samsung says, and it puts even the best desktop monitors to shame.
CyberPowerPC’s Trinity gaming PC looks straight outta science fiction – The Tech Report
Boutique builders have experimented with different chassis designs over the years, but CyberPowerPC’s Trinity series might be the most radical departure yet. The new line of gaming machines uses a triple-chamber frame that wouldn’t look out of place on the set of a sci-fi series.
WiFO Expands Wi-Fi Bandwidth Many Times Over | Ubergizmo
WiFO will incorporate infrared LEDs so that it can provide a nice boost to the available Wi-Fi bandwidth, and this is made possible through the use of hybrid connectivity, where both radio frequency (RF) and optical data links from the same source. Why is it called WiFO? Well, since it happens to be a hybrid of Wi-Fi and Free-space Optic, as this prototype system will take advantage of improvements in LED technology so that it opens the door for high-frequency modulation of infrared light in wireless transmission, making it part of an optical Gigabit wireless LAN.
Report: Samsung will fab Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 820 – The Tech Report
Add another report to the growing list suggesting that Samsung is picking up chip customers from rival foundry TSMC. Re/code’s sources claim Qualcomm’s next-gen Snapdragon 820 SoC will be fabbed by Samsung. A chip like that would typically be produced by TSMC, the site says, but Qualcomm reportedly wants to move to Samsung’s 14-nm tech. The story adds that Qualcomm hopes the change will help the Snapdragon 820 land in Samsung’s next Galaxy S handset.
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about Qualcomm and Samsung hooking up for chip fabrication. A ZDNet report from October named the firm as an “expected” client for Samsung’s 14-nm process. Qualcomm isn’t the only one getting in on the action, either. The ZDNet story mentioned Apple and AMD as customers for the same process. A subsequent Nvidia SEC filing listed Samsung as a chip manufacturer for that company, as well.
Adding to the intrigue, TSMC is suing a former employee for allegedly leaking secrets to Samsung. The leak started with 28-nm tech, according to TSMC, and it may have aided Samsung’s development of the 14-nm process everyone seems to be signing on to use.
New 840 EVO fix adds ”periodic refresh” to firmware – The Tech Report
Last year, some Samsung 840 EVO SSDs started exhibiting slower read speeds with old data. The problem was patched in October, but the fix didn’t stick, with slowdowns returning months later. Samsung pledged to release another fix in March, and now, that update is scheduled for “later this month.”
Since the EVO’s slowdowns manifest over time, we won’t be able to verify the effectiveness of the new patch right away. However, we can share some details about what the incoming fix entails. Here’s what Samsung told us when we asked for specifics about how the new firmware addresses the cell voltage drift that seems largely responsible for the problem:
• Samsung revised the firmware algorithm to maintain consistency in performance for old data under exceptional circumstances. Therefore, read performance was restored without the need for Magician. This algorithm is based on a periodic refresh feature that can maintain the read performance of this older data. The algorithm does not affect normal user scenarios (i.e. occasional PC performance degradation due to background work of SSD) or the lifespan of an SSD and can actively maintain its performance without the help of Magician. However, this algorithm does not operate when the power is off.
• The read performance has been improved by the revised firmware algorithm. If performance recovery is slow in instances where the SSD did not have enough run-time for the firmware algorithm to reach normal performance levels, or similarly, had been powered off for an extended amount of time, the performance can be recovered by using the Advanced Performance Optimization feature in Magician 4.6. This is a supplementary feature to maintain normal performance for a few exceptional circumstances.
• Users can upgrade to the new firmware through Magician 4.6, without using the performance restoration tool.
Interesting. When users first encountered slowdowns with the EVO, they found that rewriting the old data brought reads back up to speed. It sounds like the new firmware’s “periodic refresh feature” does something similar.
The refresh routine appears to run in the background, when the drive is idle, so it shouldn’t affect performance in normal scenarios. Refreshing old data may consume some of the NAND’s limited endurance, though. We’ve asked Samsung to clarify how frequently data needs to be refreshed and how this affects write amplification.
Since old data can only be refreshed while the drive is on, those who leave the EVO unpowered for extended periods will have to rely on the Magician software’s optimization mechanism if they want to restore full performance quickly. It’s unclear how long the EVO will take to optimize itself after extended downtime.
GlobalFoundries clarifies 14nm plans
It is not clear what 14nm chips GlobalFounfries produces at present, but it is highly likely that the company makes Samsung Exynos 7420 application processors for its process tech partner.
Another early partner of GlobalFoundries with its 14nm FinFET production could be Apple, which is expected to use Samsung’s 14nm process tech to make its upcoming A9 system-on-chip.
GlobalFoundries licensed Samsung’s 14LPE (low-power early) and 14LPP (low-power plus) process technologies last year.
This process uses FinFET transistors and rely on back-end-of-line (BEOL) interconnects of 20nm manufacturing technology. The14nm FinFET transistors allow a performance boost for chips by 20 per cent at the same power or cut power consumption by 35 per cent without decreasing performance or complexity.
M3 computer claims to be the world’s smallest
The Michigan Micro Mote, or the M3, has been released and its makers claim that it is the smallest in the world.
Designed for the Internet of Things (IoT) it measures a 1 cubic mm. It packs sensors and other features into a single package.
Created by a research team at the University of Michigan, the scaled-down M3 is a complete computing node with wireless sensing and incorporates signal processing, memory, and a low-resolution imager alongside a temperature sensor, and on-board CMOS timer.
The diminutive device communicates over Wi-Fi and charges a small battery by harnessing solar energy.
The M3 can perpetually charge itself using ambient light, so it never needs an external power source, making it ideal for incorporation into everyday objects.
“To be “complete,” a computer system must have an input of data, the ability to process that data – meaning process and store it, make decisions about what to do next – and ultimately, the ability to output the data
The sensors are the input and the radios are the output. The other key to being a complete computer is the ability to supply its own power.
Intel 750 1.2TB NVMe PCIe Gen3 x4 AIC SSD Review – Final Thoughts
Intel calls their new 750 Series NVMe PCIe Gen 3 x4 SSD’s “The Next Revolution in Storage” and we couldn’t agree more. The 750 Series 1.2 TB IS the fastest consumer OS disk you can buy, period. Our 750 was able to eviscerate every formidable contender we could throw its way.
Toshiba’s 3D flash spreads 16GB over 48 layers – The Tech Report
Begun, the 3D flash war has. Toshiba announced today that it has started sampling non-volatile memory chips with 48 layers. Dubbed BiCS, or Bit-Cost Scalable, the 3D flash packs two bits per cell and 16GB (128Gb) per die.
The press release doesn’t detail the fabrication process used to create the BiCS flash, but it’s worth noting that Toshiba is stacking more layers than its peers. Samsung and IMFT, Intel’s joint flash venture with Micron, both use 32-layer designs. Samsung’s current implementation offers 10.8GB (86Gb) per die in an MLC config, while IMFT is prepping 32GB (256Gb) chips due to appear in SSDs later this year.
BiCS flash is targeted primarily at solid-state drives, and Toshiba says the underlying 3D structure “enhances the reliability of write / erase endurance and boosts write speed.” There’s no word on performance or endurance specifications, possibly because mass production is still a ways off. Toshiba doesn’t expect to start cranking out the chips in volume until the first half of 2016. The firm is building a new fab with SanDisk specifically for 3D flash production, and that facility won’t be ready until next year.
EVGA Hybrid liquid-cools the GeForce GTX 980 – The Tech Report
Slapping a liquid cooler on a graphics card isn’t a fresh idea, but factory-sealed setups are rare outside of the hottest-running pixel pushers around, like AMD’s Radeon R9 295 X2. EVGA’s new GeForce GTX 980 Hybrid brings a similar all-in-one cooler to a single-GPU card. A 120-mm liquid cooler chills the GM204 core, while a blower-style unit provides airflow for the memory and VRMs.
HBM1 memory of AMD Fiji pictured
High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) is what will be used in the GPUs of the future, and at this point the concept hardly needs an introduction. The first generation of HBM will be used in AMD Fiji, a GPU that is expected to come in the next few months.
AMD uses HBM1, Nvidia HBM2
Nvidia will use 2nd generation HBM that will enable its Pascal GPU to get to a whopping 32GB on the highest end card, 2.7 times more than the already impressive 12GB used on Titan X cards.
The 4-HI HBM1 has a 1024-bit interface, can handle two prefetch operations per IO and has a maximum bandwidth of 128GB per second. The tRC is 48nm, with tCCD of 2ns (1tCK), and the VDD voltage of 1.2V. For example GDDR5 has 1.35 to 1.5V and a top bandwidth of 28GB/s throughput per chip.
In addition, 4-Hi HBM1 16Gb (2GB per chip) and 8-Hi HBM1 32Gb (8GB per chip) is possible and HBM2 will get double the bandwidth and density. With first generation HBM memory it is at least theoretically possible to design a card with 8GB to 16GB of memory, assuming that the company would be using 4 HBM chips on an interposer, resulting in 512GB/s bandwidth on a four-chip HBM card.
Boosting density and capacity
HBM uses Trough Silicon VIA (TSV) technology, as it is stacking the memory cores on top of each other on the same base die. It is amazing that SK Hynix manages to make these layered interconnections trough the silicon. It’s one thing to read research papers about it, but seeing the finished product is something else. As you can see, HBM chips will be significantly smaller than GDDR5 and DDR3 chips.
The HMB1 acts as a stack of eight 2Gb chips, resulting in 16Gb (2GB) per chip, while the second generation HBM doubles the density to 32Gb (4GB) per chip, with 4-Hi HBM2 modules or even 64Gb 8GB with 8-Hi HBM2 memory. This is how Nvidia will be able to get 32GB with four chips on Pascal.
So if you do the math you can get 512GB with four HBM1 chips and 1024GB/s with four HBM2 second-generation chips, which means AMD might have a second generation Fiji with HBM2 and Nvidia will use the same technology on Pascal, sometime in 2016.
In any case, HBM represents the biggest change on the memory front in years. Coupled with new FinFET nodes, 2016 promises to be a very eventful year for the GPU industry.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan X 12GB Video Card Review – What’s Hot, What’s Not & Final Thoughts
The performance of the GM200-powered GTX Titan X is just absolutely amazing. There’s nothing bad about the Titan X when it comes to performance, at all. At 1080p, 1440p and 4K there are improvements across the board compared to the GTX 980, and it even keeps up with two of them in SLI.
How We Test HDDs And SSDs – Tom’s Hardware
The two buzzwords for 2015 are Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) and 256-bit 3D NAND. NVMe is a set of commands that unbinds NAND from the limitations of the Advanced Host Controller Interface. AHCI was introduced as the register-level interface for SATA. When SATA was introduced, flash in the densities we have today wasn’t on the horizon. Back then, hard drives were going to rule for decades. Of course, their mechanical nature capped performance, limiting the utility of deep queue depths. SATA capped native command queuing at 32 queues of one command (far more than was needed). NVMe increases this limit to 64,000 queues, and each queue can sustain up to 64,000 commands.
NAND flash is advancing, too. Improvements in manufacturing technology already enabled the first 3D V-NAND from Samsung. IMFT will follow with 3D flash by mid-2015, and it’s rumored that we’ll see 256Gb densities. Overnight, 1TB SSDs will turn into 2TB SSDs. The manufacturing costs should be equal once the dust settles, so your wallet won’t suffer when it comes time to step up capacity.
An Apple “Engineer” Explain How The 12-inch MacBook Was Created
We should note that the video is not of an actual Apple engineer but rather a parody of sorts. The video is basically an editing of a Spanish video with English subtitles overlaid on it. We have to say that it is pretty funny and our favorite was how the reason there was only one port was because Jony Ive forgot to mill the rest of the ports before showing it to Tim Cook.
The video was uploaded by Armando Ferreira and has close to 2 million views at this time of writing. If you haven’t seen it, check out the video above to get your Friday laughs in.
Asus’ ROG G501 is an all-aluminum mobile beauty – The Tech Report
Maybe it ages me to admit it, but I tend to think of gaming laptops as thick, heavy slabs that nobody except the most devoted would ever want to remove from their desks. It’s a surprise to me, then, when a product like Asus’ ROG G501 comes along. This all-aluminum, 15.6″ notebook is ultra-slim, at eight-tenths of an inch (or 20.6 mm) thick, yet it packs one of Nvidia’s latest mobile graphics chips, a GTX 960M with 4GB of RAM.
Mushkin ECO2 240GB 7mm SSD Review | TechwareLabs
Selecting the right hard drive for your laptop or PC just became a bit easier thanks to Mushkin. The introduction of the ECO2 series of SSD’s brings the price per gigabyte down to well below .50 cents, and it does so with reliability and a trusted brand name. With read speeds up to 550MB/sec and write speeds up to 530MB/sec you are getting a very competitive SSD at an excellent price that is suitable for all of your storage needs. The ECO2 is being introduced in 120, 240, and 480GB capacities and while you would think that at 480GB the price tag would be similarly inflated the 480GB version retails for a mere $159.99 making it the best SSD deal we have seen.
R.I.P. iPod: Sony unveils cassette tape that can hold 64,750,000 songs | Consequence of Sound
Now, though, Sony has brought the cassette back from the dead by unveiling a tape that can hold a whopping 148 gigabytes per square inch. If you can’t do the math, that’s 185 terabytes of total data. We’ll wait as you toss your iPod into the trash.