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Thread: Anandtech News

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    #8271

    Anandtech: Samsung Kicks Off Mass Production of 64GB RDIMMs Using 16Gbit Chips

    Back in March, Samsung first demonstrated their next-generation 64GB DDR4 Registered DIMMs. Based on Samsung’s new 16Gbit DDR4 memory chips, these new RDIMMs would offer 64GB of memory capacity in a standard dual-rank RDIMM, effectively doubling the capacity of mainstream servers. Now this afternoon, in conjunction with AMD and HPE, Samsung is announcing that they’ve kicked off mass production of these DIMMs.
    Up until now, the largest dual-rank RDIMM available has been 32GB, owing to the capacity limitations imposed by 8Gbit memory chips. 64GB RDIMMs have been available, but these require a more esoteric quad-ranked configuration that comes at a higher cost and with additional performance and compatibility tradeoffs. However now that the company is finally producing 16Gb DDR4 chips, Samsung can produce simpler “monolithic” dual-ranked DIMMs of the same capacity, culminating in these new DDR4-2666 RDIMMs.
    Marking the release of these DIMMs, Samsung has been working with AMD and HPE to validate the new DIMMs and demonstrate the benefits of them. The first system that’s getting qualified to use the new RDIMMs is HPE’s ProLiant DL385 Gen10, a sizable dual-CPU AMD EPYC 7000-based system with 16 DIMM channels. With dual-ranked RDIMMs it’s possible to install them at two DIMMs per channel, meaning the total capacity of the system is 32 DIMMs, or 2TB in a single EPYC server. Meanwhile HPE’s ProLiant DL325 Gen10 – their single-processor counterpart – is also being qualified, ultimately allowing it to reach 1TB of RAM.
    In terms of performance, Samsung is stating that power consumption is 19% lower than a 2x32GB RDIMM setup, similar to their claims from earlier this year. At HPE’s Discover event next week, the company will also be showing off the RDIMMs and talking about performance – I’m hearing that they’re claiming a 12% performance improvement, though it’s not clear whether the performance improvement is from higher memory speeds and tighter latencies from denser DIMMs, or if Samsung is using another metric.
    Ultimately however, 64GB RDIMMs are the tip of the iceberg. Once applied to quad and octal-ranked DIMMs with TSV, Samsung will be able to churn out 256GB DIMMs. Samsung expects to be sampling these DIMMs by the end of the year.


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    Anandtech: Plextor Demonstrates 4-Way M9Pe Extreme SSD Solution: Up to 6.5 GB/s

    Having worked with Marvell for many years, Plextor is tied closely to Marvell’s controller ecosystem since its proprietary firmware technologies rely on capabilities of the said controllers. In recent years Plextor has been struggling to offer competitive performance in the high-end segment of the market primarily because Marvell’s Marvell 88SS1093 "Eldora" controller is a few years old. In a bid to regain some of the ground it lost to rivals, Plextor is planning to offer a rather unbeatable solution: a drive running four M9Pe M.2 SSD modules in RAID 0 mode.
    Plextor demonstrated the prototype 4-way SSD backplane based on Marvell’s 88NR2241 PCIe switch at Computex. The switch has a PCIe 3.0 x8 interface on one side and four PCIe 3.0 x4 interfaces on another, thus supporting up to four PCIe 3.0 x4/NVMe drives without the necessity to bifurcate PCIe lanes by the CPU/PCH. Evidently, limiting the bus width to x8 confines maximum theoretical performance of four PCIe 3.0 x4 SSDs, but it also maximizes compatibility with mainstream platforms that have a limited number of PCIe lanes and constrained bifurcation capabilities.
    Speaking of performance, Plextor’s numbers indicate that the quad M9Pe 1 TB SSD array can offer up to 6500 MB/s sequential write speed as well as 5000 MB/s sequential read speed, which is well above the levels offered by consumer drives available today. Meanwhile, in addition to RAID 0 (stripe), the backplane will also support RAID 1 (mirror) mode for reliability. Obviously, four 1 TB drives do not come cheap, so Plextor’s ‘Extreme’ solution is clearly not aimed at the mass market.
    Plextor’s backplane is still a work in progress and the company does not expect to launch it before the end of 2018, or perhaps even early 2019. As you can see from the pictures, the backplane is rather bulky, so Plextor’s task is to make it more compact and also to cool down SSDs with hot controllers. Good news is that once the backplane is fully developed, it can be used for virtually any SSD and Plextor will be able to offer ultra-speedy solid-state storage solutions with its upcoming drives in the future (say, drives based on Marvell’s latest NVMe controllers).
    Plextor’s backplane will certainly not be the only product of this kind. Numerous manufacturers, including ASUS, ASRock, HP, and others, offer similar solutions, but without PCIe switches. Such backplanes have to use CPU/PCH PCIe lanes bifurcation, which limits compatibility with business/mainstream platforms that have a limited number of PCIe lanes and confined bifurcation capabilities in some cases.
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    #8273

    Anandtech: ZOTAC Preps SFF Workstation with NVIDIA’s Quadro, Intel’s 10 GbE NICs

    Having established strong positions on the markets of discrete graphics cards and mini PC barebones, ZOTAC is marching into factory-built systems targeting gamers and professionals. On the gaming side of the spectrum, ZOTAC is expanding the range of its MEK computers. On the workstation side of the things, the company is getting ready to launch a new NVIDIA Quadro-powered workstation for enterprises. At Computex, the company demonstrated its fourth product aimed at creative professionals and featuring two 10 GbE ports.
    ZOTAC showcased its first workstations with NVIDIA Quadro P-series graphics cards at CES in January 2018. The systems featured custom-built chassis with ZOTAC’s signature backlit on/off button and the brand logotype. For the actual products that are listed on its website, ZOTAC does not use the large enclosure demonstrated earlier this year but sticks to more compact designs. Meanwhile at Computex, the company introduced its new Zbox Q-series machine that comes in ZOTAC’s traditional chassis used for high-end Zbox Magnus PCs/barebones.
    ZOTAC’s upcoming Zbox Q-series workstation will be based on Intel’s Core i7-8700T (six cores, 2.4 – 4 GHz) processor accompanied by NVIDIA’s Quadro P5000 professional graphics accelerator with 16 GB of GDDR5 memory. Just like contemporary Zbox Magnus desktops, the Zbox Q-series supports up 32 GB of DDR4 memory, an M.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 NVMe SSD, a 2.5-inch SSD/HDD as well as regular connectivity technologies: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB 3.0 Type-A/Type-C and so on. Meanwhile, the key feature of the product is two 10 GbE ports enabled by chips from Intel, likely from an X550-AT2 controller.
    Two 10 GbE NICs are usually required by enterprise customers that also demand network controllers from Intel. In fact, the Zbox Q-series machine demonstrated at Computex looks like a system built with a particular client in mind. For example, it uses a custom version of NVIDIA’s Quadro P5000 with four HDMI outputs (it is possible that an MXM module with a riser card is used). By contrast, NVIDIA’s reference Quadro P5000 card is long, it has three HDMI connectors, one DisplayPort, and one DVI-D output. In addition, the PC has Copy/Erase and Emulation Bypass buttons on the back.
    Since ZOTAC has demonstrated the new Zbox Q-series system at Computex, we have all reasons to expect it to hit the market at some point later this year (the maker says Q4). Whether or not it will be available widely is an entirely different question, but one thing that this unit shows for sure is that ZOTAC is expanding its workstation range rather rapidly.
    Buy ZOTAC ZBOX-QK5P1000-U Q-Series Lite Workstation on Amazon.com
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    #8274

    Anandtech: Streacom DA2 Fanless: The All-Aluminum Silent Chassis

    Before Computex we reported on Streacom’s latest creation, the DA2. This is an all-aluminium chassis aimed at small form factor systems but with a key twist – the rails on the inside allowed the system builder to orient all of the parts in the chassis in any direction and any location. Streacom’s rail design has been shown at Computex for a few years, and they say that the latest iteration is the easiest yet. The full ‘ring’ around the chassis is designed to be like a unibody component with a front panel bezel that is removable. The front panel switch has a custom LED light inside for system integrators to personalize, along with a USB Type-C connector (using a traditional 19-pin header).
    What Streacom was showing at Computex as a prototype was the fanless version of the DA2. Instead of having the meshed aluminium of the active cooling variant on the sides, the fanless version used side panels with fins to help dissipate heat, and will come with an integrated heatsink to use on the processor inside (they’re still working on how to do this). It is all still a prototype, particularly the fin placement and size, so the final product might have various differentiation options depending on the customer (such as a logo embedded into the fins).
    Streacom is aiming to place the fanless version of the DA2 into the market in Q4. Pricing is TBD.
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    #8275

    Anandtech: UFS - USB Bridge Controllers for Card Readers, Hosts Incoming from JMicron

    The JEDEC published the UFS Card 1.0 specification back in mid-2016, and shortly after that Samsung introduced its UFS cards with 32, 64, 128, and 256 GB capacities. In the meantime, neither Samsung nor any other maker of electronics has introduced a device supporting such cards. The situation may change in the coming quarters as at least two developers of controllers — JMicron and Silicon Motion — are about to launch their UFS to USB bridge solutions for card readers.
    Silicon Motion already offers its clients the SM3350 USB 3.1 - UFS 2.1 bridge (UFS Card 1.0 is a part of the UFS 2.1 spec) as well as the SM2750 and SM2752 UFS 2.1 device controllers required to build UFS memory cards and embedded storage solutions. The SM3350 is still not listed on Silicon Motion’s website, but the company says that its customers can buy the said chips and build cards and card readers for PCs or other devices now. To prove its point, SMI demonstrates two USB card readers for UFS cards. In addition, the company has various UFS solutions for industrial/automotive applications, but they are beyond the scope of this news story.
    Since SMI only sells controllers, it is uneasy to say when actual products on their base will be available. Meanwhile, the important thing is that the chips are here because back in 2017 SMI did not offer these ICs (integrated circuits) at all.
    Moving on to JMicron. JMicron is prepping its JMS901 USB 3.1 - UFS 2.1 bridge that will also support UHS-I for backward compatibility with SD cards to enable manufacturers to build universal card readers. The company expects the controller to support sequential read/write speeds of up to 450 MB/s (because of the UFS 2.1 Gear3 interface) as well as up to 30K read/write random IOPS.
    JMicron does not have the JMS901 silicon at hand just yet: at Computex the company demonstrated the project to select customers and press using a Xilinx Virtex-7 FPGA and custom PHY. JMicron expects to receive the chip from the fab in July and if all goes well, the JMS901 will be available to JMicron’s customers later this year. Considering the fact that there is nothing too complex about this bridge, it is likely that its very first revision will go into production.
    Neither JMicron nor SMI discloses quotes for their UFS 2.1-supporting products, but since we are talking about really small consumer-grade chips, their prices are not supposed to be high. Meanwhile, a big question is whether makers of PCs and other hardware get interested to incorporate UFS card readers considering the fact that there are no mass-market smartphones or cameras that use such cards.
    As reported, Samsung launched a lineup of UFS cards that offer an impressive sequential read performance of up to 530 MB/s and sequential write performance of up to 170 MB/s. As for random performance, then Samsung spec'd its 256 GB card for 40,000 read IOPS and 35,000 write IOPS for the 256GB version. Despite all the potential advantages that UFS cards can bring, even Samsung does not integrate UFS card readers into its Galaxy smartphones that are sold in hundreds of millions of units. A launch of a Samsung smartphone with a UFS card reader could skyrocket adoption of almost any technology, including UFS, but we will have to wait for one of such devices.
    Gallery: UFS – USB Bridge Controllers for Card Readers, Hosts Incoming from JMicron, SMI


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    #8276

    Anandtech: Building for Apache Pass: Why Some Skylake Servers Already have 8 DIMMs Pe

    If you don’t have a hand in a server day in and day out, it was perhaps not obvious why some Skylake servers when launched had eight memory slots. The Skylake-SP based Xeon platform only had six memory channels, so each socket should have had six or twelve memory slots, but for some reason we saw systems with eight and didn’t know why at the time.
    Perhaps even more confusingly, none of the product managers I speak to on a regular basis could give me a straight answer as to why these systems had eight memory slots per socket. The best answer I was given was that previous generation processors were quad-channel, so by having eight DIMMs they could transfer expensive memory across systems. It would mean a situation where of the six channels in the new processors, two of those channels would run at two DIMMs per channel, and the others would be at one DIMM per channel. The configuration is odd, sure, but we’ve seen it in the past on motherboards like the EX58-UD3 that had a 3+1 for a tri-channel system.
    When Intel formally showcased Apache Pass, or what is now known as Optane DC Persistent Memory (or Optane DIMMs), it became clear that these ‘extra’ slots were officially designed for it. At the Optane DIMM launch, Intel was coy about the adaptability of the new memory, deciding to hold back on the answer as to whether the new Optane DIMMs and DDR4 were interchangeable (as they are pin-compatible), although answers have been offered by Charlie from Semiaccurate. Earlier in the year, Paul over at Tom’s Hardware showcased a diagram of a Lenovo system that exhibited a block diagram of two DIMMs of Optane per socket, with each of those backed by another DDR4 module.
    Intel has clarified that the new Optane DC Persistent Memory will only be compatible with their next generation of processors, however we do know that Optane DIMMs were originally set for the Skylake-SP platform. The two processor families are still meant to be socket compatible, but server makers had system setups in place for Optane DIMMs back at Skylake-SP launch. If you’ve ever wondered what those extra colored memory slots are, there you go. GIGABYTE had some on display at their booth, hence a short update.
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    #8277

    Anandtech: USB-IF and Fast Charging: New Standard Logo with Wattage Listed

    When discussing industry standards, the sexy ones are involved around performance: if you can breathe PCIe 4.0 or PCIe 5.0 into a sentence, people start listening. One of the standards we actually deal with day in and day out though is around charging and USB charging. Not only do we have a series of standards in play for chargers over USB, but there are also a ton of companies that do their own thing in the mix outside of those standards. It can be, if we’re honest, a bit of a mess.
    One of the new ways that the USB-IF is trying to fix this is with certified chargers and fast chargers. The new programs, previously announced in 2016 and back at CES 2018, are finally coming to fruition, and the USB-IF is showing off some of the new products released under the new standards. By using 11 certified test centers worldwide, the newest fast charging standards will enable wall chargers, car chargers, and other dedicated charging devices to carry a logo that states both that the unit adheres to the standards, but also the maximum power.
    This listing of power is going to be a good thing. Users can know that if they need a 45W or a 65W charger, that what the logo says on the box is what the unit can handle. At the show we bumped into a company that already has chargers certified to 25W, 27W, 45W, and 65W. It was as clear as day which product was targeted for what sort of application.
    Meanwhile the fast charging standard, which implements the USB Power Delivery Porgrammable Power Supply standard, allows for devices and chargers to do finer-grained voltage negoriation between USB-PD's major power classes (5V, 12V, etc). This allows a device to request the highest voltage it can take, as opposed to having to drop down to a lower power class entirely.
    USB-IF also spoke about USB 3.2, with ASMedia at the show having a prototype 2x2 PHY on display. Despite the standard being finalized in September 2017, the first products and controllers are unlikely to be available until 2019 at the earliest.
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    #8278

    Anandtech: GIGABYTE Aorus PCIe x16 M.2: For Four NVMe Drives, X399 Compatible

    Everyone has spare NVMe SSDs, right? Or perhaps users want to buy four of them? Intel was on a big push recently with its newest 380 GB Intel Optane 905P SSD, with most of the main motherboard and system vendors showing them in action. To date we have seen both ASUS and ASRock show off their 4-in-1 M.2 to PCIe add-in cards, both of which should now be easily available, leaving GIGABYTE and MSI to come up with their own. Well in order to show off the Optane drives, GIGABYTE put together a quick something that they're calling the Aorus PCIe x16 M.2.
    Currently standing at revision 0.1, GIGABYTE was being coy about whether it was going to come to market. It was made specifically to run the Optane demonstrations we were told, but more time would need to be spent if it were to be a retail product.
    This isn’t really that big of a news piece, especially when other PCIe add-in cards exist. What we were told however is that this add-in card works with X399 and AMD’s Threadripper motherboards.
    Before the show, I was pinged by Wendell over at Level1Techs about this cards, and I took it upon myself to investigate if/when these companies would supported all HEDT platforms with the additional bifurcation and clock gens needed. The same issues occur with AMD and Intel, making it a compound issue. GIGABYTE explicitly stated that their card has no trouble working on X399 motherboards, although they did state that they had only tested one in a board at a time.
    I spoke to the PM, and although it was unsaid, it was clear that they only built the product to show off the Optane drives for the show. However I did make an effort to explain that if marketed as a four-way M.2 to PCIe card that has explicit AMD X399 support, it would capture a corner of the market. It will be interesting to see how it turns out.
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    #8279

    Anandtech: The Toshiba RC100 SSD Review: Tiny Drive In A Big Market

    The Toshiba RC100 is an NVMe SSD in the smaller-than-usual M.2 2242 form factor and making use of the NVMe Host Memory Buffer to improve the performance of this DRAMless SSD. Toshiba is hoping that this combination of niche features can also produce a decent entry-level NVMe SSD to push NVMe further into the mainstream.

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    #8280

    Anandtech: Tyan Tomcat EX: The First AM4 Ryzen Motherboard with Management Control

    A surprise at Computex was seeing the first public AMD Ryzen-based AM4 motherboard that will implement an Aspeed AST2500 BMC chip for additional management. Tyan was showcasing its Tomcat EX S8015 motherboard at its booth, initially with a version containing an onboard embedded Radeon E8860 graphics chip, but in the future a version with a BMC will be available.
    For almost all servers, some form of management control is added to allow for the server to be adjusted outside of the central system. This management control boots a separate subsystem that can power off/on the main machine, manage networking, and also track users or onboard sensors for fans/thermals and report back to a central server. They also typically support interfaces to interact with the main machine directly. Up until this point, almost all motherboards we have seen have been Intel or EPYC, although we have suspected that some enterprise users might want to invest in a Ryzen system with similar features. Tyan is the first company to make their Ryzen+BMC product public.
    The Tyan Tomcat EX is based on the A320 chipset, showing that it is perhaps more for the lower end of the market, but does have dual gigabit Ethernet and a full set of memory slots. The big thing with the fan is the E8860 graphics in the embedded graphics version, but Tyan stated the BMC version will be in production in September this year. It is worth noting that we would expect both versions of the motherboard to be built on the same base PCB design, however this PCB does not seem to have room/pads for a BMC module. We were told that the unit on display is an early revision, with the BMC chip to be added later somewhere around the audio jacks.
    We do expect other companies to make similar motherboards in time; we may see more at Supercomputing later this year.
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