09.06.17 | ISSUE 51
Every June, in what can only be described as hardware heaven, thousands of companies gather together to show off their hot new products and new technology concepts at the Computex show in Taiwan. This year was no exception with Intel and AMD making some major new product announcements, read on to find out more.
1. Intel Core X CPUs
One of the first announcements from Computex was Intel unveiling a new range of Core X CPUs. Starting with the number 7 instead of 5, these high-end desktop CPUs will replace the existing X-series when they launch later this summer.
Unlike the current 5-series X chips, which are all Broadwell E based, the new 7-series spans several different architectures. For instance, the first two models, the Core i5 7640X and Core i7 7740X, are based on the new Kaby Lake X architecture. This is essentially the same as the existing quad-core Kaby Lake architecture as used by popular CPUs such as the Core i7 7700K. While both CPUs still only have 16 PCI-E lanes and dual-channel DDR4, the Kaby Lake X versions are scaled up to fit in a new monster LGA2066 socket, allowing them to run at a higher frequency and potentially improving overclocking too thanks to the larger surface area of the heatspreader on top of the CPU. The idea behind these CPUs is to provide a lower entry price point to the X-series, and enable you to easily upgrade to a CPU with more cores in the future without changing motherboard.
Above these two models are a further three new Core X processors based on the Skylake X architecture which supports quad-channel DDR4. These models comprise the 6-core Core i7 7800X, the 8-core Core i7 7820X and the 10-core Core i9 7900X. The first two chips have 28 PCI-E lanes while the 7900X has 44 lanes for maximum IO throughput.
After these five new CPUs have launched Intel also plans to release a further four Core i9 chips, the 12-core 7920X, the 14-core 7940X, 16-core 7960X and 18-core 7980XE. These latter chips mark a new era in core density for desktop CPUs and is great news for video editors and other content creators as it means you’ll no longer have to consider an extremely costly dual Xeon rig to get more than 10-cores.
To keep up to date on the latest news on these exciting new CPUs, including benchmark results, keep your eye on the Scan website and social media channels.
2. AMD Threadripper CPUs
AMD spent Computex talking about lots of new products, including a range of more affordable Ryzen 3 processors coming later this year, but the highlight for me was Threadripper. Ridiculous name aside, and it is truly ridiculous, this new CPU family is aimed at prosumers and workstation users who need even more power than an eight-core Ryzen 7.
While there aren’t many specifics released yet, we do know that Threadripper CPUs will have up to 16 physical cores. To cope with all those cores the memory controller is getting an upgrade from dual-channel to quad-channel, while the PCI-E controller is getting expanded from 20 to 64 lanes. All this extra performance and bandwidth comes at a cost though, and Threadripper CPUs won’t use the same Socket AM4 as Ryzen 7, instead it’s built using a new monster socket and a new motherboard chipset, X399.
On paper Threadripper sounds like a great new CPU range and could be of real interest to prosumer and workstation users whose applications will benefit from all those extra CPU cores. One thing’s for certain, with AMD scheduled to release Threadripper later this summer and Intel’s new X series CPUs also due soon there’s a big fight coming in the high-end CPU market.
3. Wireless charging mousepads
Wireless peripherals have more or less closed the performance gap with traditional wired peripherals, but they still have one significant Achilles heel – the need to be recharged every few hours or days. Corsair’s prototype new mousepad, codename Zeus, has a built-in wireless charger that using the Qi standard can charge devices up to 4cm away. Partnered with a wireless mouse this means you’ll no longer have to plug in the mouse to charge in, simply leave it on the mouse mat and it will trickle charge over time. You’ll also be able to charge other Qi compatible devices such as smartphones. Corsair expects to start shipping mousepads like the Zeus later this year.
4. Thinner and quieter NVIDIA gaming laptops
Max-Q is a new design initiative by NVIDIA to help laptop manufacturers produce gaming laptops that are thinner and quieter than current designs. While specifics are thin on the ground at the moment, the basic premise is to run GPUs at their optimum efficency rather than their maximum frequency. While this of course will reduce raw performance, it will lower power consumption and waste heat dramatically, allowing for thinner laptops and quieter fans.
In practical terms Max-Q will take the form of new laptop designs plus a new WhisperMode built into GeForce Experience that will automatically adjust the graphical settings and frame rate, reducing noise by as much as 50%. The first Max-Q gaming laptops are expected later this summer.
5. AMD Frontier Edition GPU accelerator
While AMD’s much anticipated new high-end gaming graphics cards, codenamed Vega, were noticeably absent from Computex, AMD did confirm that the new cards will launch at the SIGGRAPH show at the end of July. There still aren’t any specs to go on yet, but AMD did also say that Vega will actually debut in a professional card, the Frontier Edition, which is designed for deep learning and boasts up to 25 teraFLOPs of FP16 (half-precision) performance. The Frontier Edition card is due to hit the market at the end of June.
6. NVIDIA unveils new Volta GPUs
It almost seems as if every other sentence in press releases these days is about how wonderful the new product is for deep learning, so it should come as no surprise that the market leader in the field, NVIDIA, has some new hot new products this month.
Coming months earlier than expected, NVIDIA just announced the first products based on a new architecture, codenamed Volta. Alongisde all the generational improvements that you’d expect to see Volta has a new additional type of core. These Tensor cores are a new type of programmable core exclusive to GPUs based on the Volta architecture that run alongside standard CUDA cores. Tensor cores can perform 4x4 Matrix operations in one unit, significantly boosting performance in FP16 and FP32 calculations. For instance, a single Tensor core produces the equivalent of 64 FMA operations per clock, equivalent to 1024 FLOPs per SM, compared to just 256 FLOPs per SM for standard CUDA cores in a Pascal GPU.
If that’s too much theoretical maths for you, the high level version of that paragraph is that the new Tesla V100 cards provide a staggering 5x increase in FP16 performance over the current Tesla P100 cards. This is way more than the 30% performance boost you’d typically expect between two generations of GPU and so is big news for data scientists. The raw numbers themselves are 120 teraFLOPs for a Tesla V100 versus 21.2 teraFLOPS for a Tesla P100. The number of CUDA cores has also been given a boost, growing from 3584 in the Tesla P100 to 5120 in the Tesla V100. Other key features for Volta include NVLink 2, an NVIDIA replacement for PCI-E which now provides 300GB/sec of bandwidth, nearly double that of NVLink and 10x that of PCI-E. And while Volta sticks with HBM2 memory, the bandwidth itself has been boosted from 720 to 900GB/sec compared to a P100.
Eight Tesla V100’s working in parallel delivering 960 teraFLOPS will make their debut in a new and improved version of the DGX-1 deep learning supercomputer later this year. The second-generation DGX-1 is available to pre-order now with customers receiving a first-generation DGX-1 immediately, with a free upgrade to V100 GPUs later this year.
The Tesla V100 will also make an appearance in an all new product, the DGX Station. Packing four Tesla V100s delivering 480 teraFLOPS in a workstation form factor, the DGX Station is designed for developing deep neural networks before training at scale in a data centre and provides a much more affordable entry price point into deep learning than the DGX-1.
The new Volta architecture, especially its Tensor cores, provides a massive speed up in deep learning compared to the current Pascal architecture and reaffirms NVIDIA’s leadership in this space.
7. Introducing 3XS Industrial PCs
3XS Systems has added a new series to our product mix – Industrial PCs. The market for Industrial PCs is extremely varied, from rackmount systems to custom form factor chassis integrated inside other machinery.
Industrial PCs are built using the highest quality motherboards, power supplies and other components to ensure maximum reliability, in even the harshest environments. Industrial PCs are ideal for commercial use, including factories, retail, outdoor, embedded and IoT applications. Choose from a range of systems specially hardened to work at a wide range operating temperature, including zero maintenance fanless systems and waterproof cases.
Find out more about what makes Scan 3XS Industrial PCs so special.
8. Introducing 3XS Business Services
With Cyber Security and IT outages riding high in the headlines once again, it should act as a stark reminder to all of us – consumers and businesses alike – the importance of our personal or corporate data, and the ability to continue operating really are. The introduction of Scan 3XS Services may just go someway to increase your peace of mind.
For both personal and business users we have a range of Digital Forensic Services, ranging from simply recovering data from a deleted or damaged hard drive or device, up to full enterprise-grade forensic examination, preservation & incident response in the event of a cyber attack.
Speaking of cyber attacks, they say there are only two types of company – those that have been attacked and those that don’t know they’ve been attacked. Starting with a straight-forward security audit, our portfolio of Cyber Security Services, provide the chance for you to understand any vulnerabilities your business may have – from a self-employed home worker to a large corporation. Recognising these before an attack happens offers you the chance to install or upgrade security measures that will address today’s wide, varied and unpredictable threat landscape.
And if you’re pretty sure you have no weak points in your network, then a little test wouldn’t hurt would it? Our consultants can design a whole host of tests to ensure there are no hidden vulnerabilities – after all it is stress testing like this across your infrastructure, that if you do suffer an outage, you network stands up to it, protects your data and recovers as you would expect. With this in mind we have a range a Network Design Services that provide the expertise required when expanding or installing a fresh site – making sure that redundancy, disaster recovery and failover are part of the initial concept rather than an after-thought. We can even advise on security policy for things like email, remote workers and guest access to ensure your employees cannot inadvertently undermine your efforts to remain secure.
Whilst it is true that adding innate security and resilience into your network does add cost, it’s worth pointing out that downtime, lost business and damage to reputation usually add up to much expense than preventing it happening in the first place. Please contact our Service Division for further information and pricing.
"Great performance, fast storage and near-silent operation"
3D Artist magazine reviewed our 3XS Classic 3D mid-range graphics workstation this month, giving it 5 out of 5 stars and writing that ‘As expected, the overall build quality meets all the standards we would demand from a professionally assembled workstation. It all adds up to a well-rounded system, performing well across the board and backed up by Scan's typically great service.’
You can read the full review in Issue 107 of 3D Artist.