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PCIe SSDs Will Overtake SATA in 2019

A recent report from Digitimes claims that PCIe SSDs could finally overtake SATA SSD shipments in 2019. Unit prices for 512GB PCIe SSDs have supposedly fallen 11% sequentially, down to a price of $55 in Q1 2019, while SATA SSD prices only dropped 9%. The price gap between the different SSDs was around 30% in 2018, and according to the publication's market sources, that gap is only going to shrink as time goes on. Meanwhile, thanks to the rapidly falling prices of NAND flash memory chips, total SSD shipments are expected to rise dramatically. Digitimes expects shipments to increase "20-25%" in 2019, while a separate report claims that changes in enterprise market shipments could be even more dramatic. Relatively low prices for high performance drives with capacities of up to 16TB are apparently tempting many companies away from HDDs. Meanwhile, laptop makers are starting to ship lower-cost devices with SSDs by default, and according to PCPartPicker's latest charts, retail prices for standalone consumer drives have been dropping as well. Overall, it looks like 2019 will be a great year for anyone who's looking for more speedy storage, but the big flash manufacturer's efforts to slow production could stop the tumbling prices by 2020.

Falling average selling prices for consumer Gen 3.0x2 PCIe SSDs fitted in notebooks will accelerate the adoption of such SSDs by OEMs. This, coupled with demand for ever-higher storage capacity and speed to support cloud computing, 5G and autonomous driving applications, will further stimulate market demand for PCIe SSDs and inspire brand vendors to gear up production of such lucrative storage devices and related chips, the sources indicated. For instance, Taiwan-based IC designers Silicon Motion Technology, Phison Electronics, and Silicon Integrated Systems are racing to roll out enhanced version of PCI SSD controller chips, while major brand vendors such as Kingston Technology, Adata Technology, Transcend Information, Seagate and Micron have also listed PCIe SSDs as their mainstream product lines.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:17 AM (CDT)

Atari VCS Is Powered by 14nm AMD Ryzen APU with Radeon Vega Graphics

Atari has announced that the upcoming Atari VCS will now be powered by a 14nm AMD processor featuring high-performance Radeon Vega graphics architecture and two "Zen" CPU cores. The hardware team at Atari has replaced the AMD "Bristol Ridge" processor with the new AMD Ryzen APU. The new AMD Ryzen platform will bring welcomed upgrades such as greater efficiency, faster speeds, and cooler temps; allowing the VCS to benefit from a simpler and more effective power architecture and thermal solution. The new processor includes built-in Ethernet, Native 4K video with modern HDCP, and a secure frame buffer that fully-supports DRM video (Netflix, HBO, etc.). The North American schedule is now targeting end of 2019 for delivery of the Atari VCS system for Indiegogo backers. Thanks @MixManSC !

This upgrade will translate to better overall performance in a cooler and quieter box--all with minimal impact to our manufacturing processes. While additional specifications about the new AMD processor will be announced closer to launch, be assured that the new AMD Ryzen processor is a much better fit for this project in multiple ways and will further enable the Atari VCS to deliver on its promise to be a unique and highly flexible platform for creators. Atari cannot thank our great partners at AMD enough for bringing forward this exciting new--and thus-far unannounce -- product for us to utilize in the VCS.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 5:26 PM (CDT)

JPMorgan Chase Uses AI Powered Video Game as a Recruitment Tool

Recent reports claim that JPMorgan Chase are trialing "neuroscience-based video games" from pymetrics as a intern recruiting tool. The games supposedly assess applicants' "social, cognitive and behavioral features, such as attention, memory and altruism," and attempt to identify what job the applicant might be best suited for. But, unlike Amazon's "biased" AI recruiting tool, pymetrics says their "Netflix-like recommendation algorithm" is fair and accurate. As the report mentions, it appears that companies are getting more comfortable with the use of machine learning powered recruitment tools, in spite of the potential pitfalls associated with their use.

Large firms have been increasingly turning to technology to make recruitment and other human resources processes more fair. Systems also include applications that scan performance reviews for unconscious bias or that monitor job ads for phrases that might dissuade a certain demographic from applying ."Our re-imagining of how we hire is part of a broader objective at the firm where we are asking ourselves: 'Can we better meet our diversity goals by broadening the pool of candidates we are considering?'," Mitro said. JPMorgan's pilot will continue with applicants for 2020 internships in the United States, he added, noting that this technology would only be one step of the selection process.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:00 AM (CDT)

PC Sales to Decline in 2019 Amid CPU Shortages, Weak GPU Market

Don’t place your bets on the PC market growing in the coming future: marketing firms are predicting a 0.4 percent decline per year through 2023, with a potentially significant drop this year thanks to Intel’s CPU shortages and lukewarm interest in NVIDIA’s GPUs. While gaming hardware has managed to prop up the PC industry somewhat, the current buildup of inventory simply isn’t helping. Some say the crux of the issue is that people have no real reason to upgrade.

The real problem is, the PC market is mature. People aren’t buying machines for specific new features, at least not en masse. 5G and new display technology may move the needle for some people, but given the prices such technology would command in the near future, it’s unlikely we’ll see any significant jump in sales for these reasons alone. "Something compelling at the premium end" is damnably faint praise for an industry that once enjoyed record-breaking growth streaks. Looks like it’s all we’ve got.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

Halo: The Master Chief Collection Is Coming to the PC

Microsoft has announced that Halo: Reach is being added to Halo: The Master Chief Collection and the entire collection is coming to the PC via the Microsoft Store and Steam! The team at 343 Industries has updated the games with improved and modernized matchmaking and services, support for 4K/HDR, offline LAN, better controls and input customization, and more. The PC launch will be staggered over time as each title in the collection will be scrutinized and right before it is released. The plan is to release Halo: Reach first and then the rest of the titles appearing in chronological order.

For the team at 343 Industries, the most important and critical element of this project is ensuring that MCC delivers a true "first class" experience on PC. We're embarking on a journey with our community to build a real PC experience that delivers on PC gamer expectations. The team is passionately committed to ensuring that all the features, bells, and whistles expected in a modern PC title are included with MCC. These features may vary somewhat by title, and we won't get everything in there all at once -- this is a product and an experience that will grow and evolve over time. We are laying the groundwork for PC native features such as excellent mouse and keyboard controls, support for multiple resolutions and aspect ratios, field-of-view sliders, and adjustable framerates, to name but a few. And yes, there will be support for Xbox gamepads and other PC controllers.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 12, 2019 8:55 PM (CDT)

Passively Cooling the Intel i9-9900K

Der8auer on YouTube has experimented with passively cooling an Intel i9-9900K with the ARCTIC Alpine 12; a passive CPU cooler. The ARCTIC Alpine 12 is only rated to handle 47 watts so Der8auer wasn't expecting much out of the unit. Although the passive cooler showed that it was more capable than its rating, it couldn't keep the Intel i9-9900K properly cooled at stock settings. The Intel chip was throttling, so Der8auer ended up with a stable 3.6 GHz clock speed across all cores which was more than capable of playing games on the system.

I think we could go even higher to 3.8 GHz @0.975 V. Yes, you can actually passively cool a 9900K with some kind of adjustments. You have to undervolt your CPU a little bit; underclock your CPU a little bit.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 11, 2019 9:12 PM (CDT)

A Tour of Deepcool's Fan Factory

If you've ever wondered how case fans are manufactured, Gamers Nexus just uploaded a tour through a Deepcool factory. The company says they're transitioning to a fully automated manufacturing process before some of their competitors, but it appears that the quality control process is still handled by humans. Check out the tour below:

PC case fan manufacturing is growing more advanced with automated production lines, but manual assembly is still involved. Learn more in our Deepcool fan factory tour in China... Deepcool has factories located in both Shenzhen, China and Dongguan, China. For this tour, we're focusing on the company's Shenzhen factory for its PC case fan manufacturing, where we show how fans are manufactured in China. This facility uses "robots" and automation for its assembly, with human oversight to ensure proper installation of bearings, blades, and more.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 11, 2019 9:34 AM (CDT)

Halo: The Master Chief Collection for PC Might Be Announced Next Week

Microsoft has teased that the next episode of its monthly live news broadcast, Inside Xbox, will feature some exciting information on Halo: The Master Chief Collection. While the show isn’t known for major announcements, some believe 343 Studios could finally announce the long-awaited PC port of the Halo compilation. Fueling rumors, insider Brad Sams published a video Tuesday confirming it was in development.

There's no guarantee that the PC port will be announced then, but recent reports have made it seem likely that the game is on its way. In a recent YouTube vid, Xbox expert Brad Sams claimed the game is definitely in development, that its release is fairly imminent, and that it's possible an unveiling will occur at E3 2019.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 09, 2019 9:25 AM (CST)

The PC Perspective Podcast Is Live

The PC Perspective Podcast is now live! Drop in to talk to the guys as they discuss the latest tech news topics.

The live recording of our weekly podcast. Quality not guaranteed. This stream contains content that may disturbing to some audiences. Viewer discretion is advised.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 07, 2019 9:13 PM (CST)

Oculus Quest Features an Active Cooling Fan

In a forum AMA that UploadVR spotted over the weekend, Oculus Director of Ecosystem Chris Pruett said that the upcoming Oculus Quest will be "significantly faster" that Facebook's last mainstream standalone headset, the Oculus Go. This should seem fairly obvious, as the Quest will use a Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 SoC instead of the 821 found in the Go, but the chipset change isn't the only thing that will speed up the quest. UploadVR pointed out that the Go already uses a heatpipe to reign in the 821's tendency to throttle under sustained loads, but Facebook is taking things one step farther by adding a cooling fan to the Quest. The AMA also implied that headset and controller tracking is hardware accelerated, as the Oculus staff said tracking "'doesn't affect' performance."

Quest goes even further with cooling by adding an active cooling fan. This has rarely ever been done with ARM processors. The new Apple TV and the HTC Vive Focus are the only instances on the consumer market we know of. With the active cooling system, Quest should be able to have higher clockspeeds than smartphones or Oculus Go. Everything still needs to be rendered for each eye but the higher clock speed should provide more complex and detailed virtual worlds compared with Go. Of course, Quest will still not come close to the power of a PC.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 04, 2019 10:57 AM (CST)

Capcom Pledges Its Support to PC as a Platform

Are more Capcom games for the PC on the way? That’s likely, as COO Haruhiro Tsujimoto has told investors the platform is now a focus for the company. "From the viewpoint of promoting digital strategy, expansion of PC platform spread cannot be overlooked. The sales ratio of the PC versions in our main titles has been improving every year, and we will strive to further expand sales as an important platform." Capcom called the PC "a huge opportunity" back in 2009, and things appear to be paying off based on recent hits such as Resident Evil 2.

The driving force behind this mindset is certainly Monster Hunter: World, which absolutely lit up the Steam charts last fall, leading Capcom to call it "a phenomenal success." That's not the sole factor, though. Resident Evil 2, Mega Man 11, Ominusha Warlords, Resident Evil 7 -- all major Capcom games that evidently did well on PC. We're already seeing some of this PC strategy in action. Devil May Cry 5 -- a headliner game by any metric -- releases next week, and the PC version will be available at launch.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 03, 2019 1:25 PM (CST)

Intel Uses Extreme Cooling for Their "Cryoprober"

However impressive your phase change or LN2 setup may be, it looks like Intel has you beat. According to a recent press release from the chip giant, Intel is making extensive use of extreme cooling in their Cryogenic Wafer Probe, a contraption designed to analyze quantum bits on 300mm wafers at least an order of magnitude faster than previous devices. Intel says that analyzing their quantum chips is "very different" than analyzing traditional chips from the same Oregon fab, as turn on characteristics must be measured "at low temperatures of less than a few kelvins above absolute zero." Intel didn't divulge many technical details about the cryoprober itself, and they would probably be way over my head anyway, but I'd imagine that this device uses liquid Helium to cool the wafers it analyzes, instead of the liquid Nitrogen you see in more "conventional" cryogenic devices like LN2 pots.

"Intel approached us more than a year ago, looking for a tool with the possibility to probe 300mm wafers at temperatures of only a few kelvins," said Dr. David Gunnarsson, Bluefors chief sales officer and principal scientist. "This was indeed a challenge, and to be able to take on a tool like this, we reached out to another Finnish company, Afore, which has long experience in specialized wafer probe systems. Together we came up with a design for a tool, the cryogenic wafer prober, which we now have constructed and assembled. We are looking forward in excitement to see the advances this tool will bring to the future of quantum computing..." In a first demonstration of the utility of the Cryogenic Wafer Prober, Intel measured the electrical turn-on characteristic for more than 100 qubit structures across a wafer fabricated at Intel's silicon qubit fabrication flow on its 300mm processing line in Oregon. The attached graphic illustrates the tool's novel ability to collect high-volume cryogenic data and create a statistical correlation of the increase in turn-on voltage between room temperature and cryogenic temperature. With this tool, Intel will be able to speed feedback into the silicon spin qubit fabrication line and accelerate quantum computing research and development.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 01, 2019 11:53 AM (CST)