Lightning Deal: 16GB of DDR4 RAM For Just $50

Credit: AmazonCredit: Amazon

The Adata XPG Z1 DDR4-2400 16GB (2x8GB) memory kit is at a bargain price of $49.99. The deal is available for the next two hours, and stock is extremely limited, so don’t think twice!

Adata’s XPG Z1 memory modules are built on a 10-layer, 2oz. copper black PCB to offer superior stability and the best cooling performance. They feature a unique, red heatsink that is responsable for passive cooling. The heatsink measures 44mm at the tallest point so you might want to verify that you have clearance space especially if you’re running an oversized CPU air cooler.

The Adata XPG Z1 DDR4-2400 16GB (AX4U240038G16-DRZ) memory kit comes with two 8GB DDR4 memory modules, therefore, it’s compatible with Intel and AMD platforms that run on dual-channel technology. The memory sticks clock in at 2,400 MHz with CL16-16-16 timings. They only need 1.20V to run at the advertised speed so there’s definitely overclocking headroom if you want to push the memory modules to higher speeds.

Installation and setup is a breeze thanks to the onboard XMP 2.0 profile. You just need to flip the XMP switch inside your motherboard BIOS, and you’re pretty much good to go.

Adata backs the XPG Z1 DDR4-2400 memory kit with a limited lifetime warranty.

Intel Reveals Three new Cutting-Edge Packaging Technologies

Credit: @david_schor WikiChipCredit: @david_schor WikiChip
Intel revealed three new packaging technologies at SEMICON West: Co-EMIB, Omni-Directional Interconnect (ODI) and Multi-Die I/O (MDIO). These new technologies enable massive designs by stitching together multiple dies into one processor. Building upon Intel’s 2.5D EMIB and 3D Foveros tech, the technologies aim to bring near-monolithic power and performance to heterogeneous packages. For the data-center, that could enable a platform scope that far exceeds the die-size limits of single dies.

The focus of semiconductors is usually on the process node itself, but packaging is one of the oft-unsung enablers of modern semiconductors. Ultimately a silicon chip is just part of a bigger system that requires power and data interconnection. Packaging, in that view, provides the physical interface between the processor and the motherboard – the board acts as a landing zone for the chip’s electrical signals and power supply. Intel stated a few years ago that its assembly and test R&D is bigger than the top two OSATs (outsourced assembly and test) combined.
Credit: IntelCredit: IntelPackaging innovation could lead to smaller packages that enable bigger batteries as we had seen with Broadwell-Y. Similar board size reductions have been realized with the use of interposers to integrate high-bandwidth memory (HBM). With the industry tending towards a heterogeneous design paradigm with chiplet building blocks, the platform-level interconnect has gained greatly in importance. 

EMIB

Intel has been shipping its EMIB (Embedded Multi-die Interconnect Bridge), a low-cost alternative to interposers, since 2017, and it also plans to bring that chiplet strategy to its mainstream chips. In short, EMIB is a silicon bridge that enables a high-speed pathway between two chips. The bridge is embedded inside the package between two adjacent dies.

Compared to interposers, which can be reticle-sized (832mm2) or even larger, EMIB is just a small (hence, cheap) piece of silicon. It provides the same bandwidth and energy-per-bit advantages of an interposer compared to standard package traces, which are traditionally used for multi-chip packages (MCPs), such as AMD’s Infinity Fabric. (To some extent, because the PCH is a separate die, chiplets have actually been around for a very long time.)

Another advantage of EMIB is the ability to build each function or IP block of a chip on its own most-suitable process technology, which reduces costs and improves yield by using smaller dies. EMIB has several other advantages, such as decoupling IP development and integration by allowing designers to build chips from a library of chiplets, using the best chiplet available at each point in time. Intel currently uses EMIB in the Stratix 10, Agilex FPGAs, and in Kaby Lake-G, and the company has more extensive plans for the technology on its roadmap.

Foveros

At its Architecture Day last year, Intel went a step further, describing its upcoming 3D Foveros technology that it will use in Lakefield. To recap, it is an active interposer that uses through-silicon vias (TSVs) to stack multiple layers of silicon atop each other. It has even lower power and higher bandwidth than EMIB, although Intel hasn’t discussed their relative cost.

In Lakefield, Foveros is used to connect the base die (which provides power delivery and PCH functionality) on 22FFL to the 10nm compute die with four Tremont and one Sunny Cove core. In May, the company teased its vision of an advanced concept product using both EMIB and Foveros together to an create enormous package with many chips, all on a single package. 

On Tuesday at SEMICON West, Intel unveiled three more advanced packaging technologies it is working on.

Co-EMIB

Co-EMIB is the technology that will largely make the above heterogenous data-centric product a reality. In essence, it allows Intel to connect multiple 3D-stacked Foveros chips together to create even bigger systems.

Intel showed off a concept product that contains four Foveros stacks, with each stack having eight small compute chiplets that are connected via TSVs to the base die. (So the role of Foveros there is to connect the chiplets as if it were a monolithic die.) Each Foveros stack is then interconnected via two (Co-)EMIB links with its two adjacent Foveros stacks. Co-EMIB is further used to connect the HBM and transceivers to the compute stacks.

Evidently, the cost of such a product would be enormous, as it essentially contains multiple traditional monolithic-class products in a single package. That’s likely why Intel categorized it as a data-centric concept product, aimed mainly at the cloud players that are more than happy to absorb those costs in exchange for the extra performance. 

The attraction is that the whole package provides a near-monolithic performance and interconnect power. Additionally, the advantage of Co-EMIB over a monolithic die is that the heterogeneous package can far exceed the monolithic die-size constraints, with each IP on its own most suitable process node. At its Investor Meeting in May, Chief of Engineering Murthy said Foveros would allow the company to intercept new process technologies up to two years earlier by using smaller chiplets. Credit: IntelCredit: IntelOf course, since EMIB is a bridge inside the package, it is inserted at the start of the assembly process, followed by the Foveros stacks. WikiChip has provided a diagram of Co-EMIB used to connect two Foveros stacks.

ODI


Omni-Directional Interconnect (ODI) is a new interconnect. It is yet another type of multi-chip interconnect besides the standard MCP, EMIB, and Foveros. As the name implies, it permits both horizontal and vertical transmission. The bandwidth is higher than traditional TSVs because the ODI TSVs are much larger. This allows for current conduction directly from the package substrate. Resistance and latency are also lower. ODI will need far fewer vertical channels in the base die than traditional TSVs. This minimizes the die area and frees up area for active transistors.

MDIO

Lastly, Multi-Die I/O (MDIO) is an evolution of the Advanced Interconnect Bus (AIB) that provided a standardized SiP PHY-level interface for EMIB, for chiplet-to-chiplet communication. Last year, Intel donated its AIB to DARPA as a royalty-free interconnect standard for chiplets. MDIO bumps up the pin speed from 2Gbps to 5.4Gbps. The areal bandwidth density has increased somewhat, but mainly the linear bandwidth density has increased by a large factor. Intel reduced the I/O voltage swing from 0.9V to 0.5V and improved energy efficiency. Intel also provided a comparison to TSMC’s recently announced LIPINCON.

Credit: IntelCredit: IntelOne word of caution, though. While it would seem that a higher pin speed it better, that is not necessarily the case, higher speeds tend to result in higher power consumption. It’s best to look at it is as a whole spectrum of interconnect options. At one end of the spectrum, there are protocols with high lane speeds (and hence, few lanes), such as PCIe 4.0’s 32Gbps. At the other end, technologies such as EMIB and HBM have a lower per-pin data rate, but typically they have many more interconnections. EMIB’s roadmap consists of shrinking the bump pitch, which will provide ever more connections, so a high lane rate isn’t a priority.

Further Discussion

When they are ready, these technologies will provide Intel with powerful capabilities for the heterogeneous and data-centric era. On the client side, the benefits of advanced packaging include smaller package size and lower power consumption (for Lakefield, Intel claims a 10x SoC standby power improvement at 2.6mW). In the data center, advanced packaging will help to build very large and powerful platforms on a single package, with performance, latency, and power characteristics close to what a monolithic die would yield. The yield advantage of small chiplets and the establishment of chipset ecosystem are major drivers, too.

As an Integrated Device Manufacturer (IDM), Intel says it can extensively co-develop its IP and packaging in a way that no other company could possibly do, from silicon to architecture and platform. As Babak Sabi, CVP of Intel’s Assembly and Test Technology Development, put it: “Our vision is to develop leadership technology to connect chips and chiplets in a package to match the functionality of a monolithic system-on-chip. A heterogeneous approach gives our chip architects unprecedented flexibility to mix and match IP blocks and process technologies with various memory and I/O elements in new device form factors. Intel’s vertically integrated structure provides an advantage in the era of heterogeneous integration, giving us an unmatched ability to co-optimize architecture, process, and packaging to deliver leadership products.”

MDIO is slated for 2020 availability. Rumor has it that Intel is going to use Foveros, and hence possibly Co-EMIB, with Granite Rapids in early 2022. Intel has not specified a timeframe for ODI.

Tobii Spotlight Technology Uses Eye Tracking to Lighten the Load for VR Headsets

Tobii, famous for its eye tracking technology used in security features like Windows Hello, is using its powers to lighten the workload of VR headsets and make the overall experience smoother. Tobii Spotlight Technology, announced today, uses eye tracking for dynamic foveated rendering (DFR), so VR headsets can focus on images in the center of the user’s focus, rather than what’s in their peripheral vision.

Foveated rendering is inspired by fovea, a small part of your retina that sees clearly while your peripheral vision is more blurred. Tobii Spotlight Technology uses DFR for better computation efficiency and to enable accurate, low latency tracking of what your eyes are looking at in real-time.

The technology may even be able to help people who get nauseous while in VR.

“Part of the nausea effect in VR can be due to an insufficient graphics refresh rate,” a Tobii spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware. “With DFR, it is possible to create graphics with higher and smoother frame rates that match display refresh rate and, thus, mitigate that part of the problem. Additionally, Tobii eye tracking is designed to help make VR devices better generally, including helping to better align the device for each user’s unique eye position (and thus provide a better visual experience).”

Tobii Spotlight Technology only works with graphics cards that support VRS (variable rate shading), which is currently any card based on Nvidia’s Turing architecture. No AMD graphics cards currently support VRS, but a patent discovered in February suggests that some may do so eventually.

Tobii’s Benchmarks

Tobii Spotlight Technology is already available in HTC Vive Pro Eye, an enterprise-focused VR headset with built-in eye tracking. Tobii is bullish on its impact on VR headsets, based on benchmarks it shared using a Vive Pro Eye connected to a PC running an RTX 2070 graphics card and playing the game ShowdownVR with DFR enabled by Nvidia VRS and Tobii Spotlight Technology. Of course, we’ll have to take these results with a grain of salt, since it’s a vendor benchmarking its own technology.

According to Tobii’s testing, the average GPU rendering load decreased by 57% with an average shading rate of 16%.

With a lower GPU load, VR headsets, even high resolution ones, should have more headroom to maintain desirable frame rates.

Tobii also claims that this advanced eye tracking technique will be helpful as next-generation VR HMDs introduce even higher display resolutions. In fact, the greater the resolution, the more impact DFR has, according to Tobii’s benchmarks.

VR headsets using Tobii Spotlight Technology will also be able to use more advanced shading techniques without burdening the GPU load. This will purportedly allow developers to implement better lighting, colors, textures and fragment shaders.

What’s Next?

A company spokesperson told Tom’s Hardware that Tobii Spotlight Technology is “intended to support a variety of headsets, including both tethered and standalone headsets”.

The company believes that the next generation of foveating will enable things like foveated streaming (such as live content in low-latency 5G networks) and foveated transport, which uses data compression to optimize graphics transfer based on where the user is looking.

Photo Credits: Tobii

Windows Terminal Is Now Available via the Microsoft Store

Photo Source: MicrosoftPhoto Source: Microsoft

Microsoft announced during the Build developer conference in May that it was rethinking Windows 10’s command line tool. The new utility, which the company unimaginatively dubbed the Windows Terminal, was today released as a “very early preview” on the Microsoft Store.

The new app features an updated interface with support for custom themes, multiple tabs, and numerous other personalization options. Because text is such a core part of the app, Microsoft also included GPU-accelerated text rendering as well as support for multiple fonts and emoji. (Because if there’s anything command line users need in a utility it’s the ability to render the “100” emoji in all its crimson glory.)

Windows Terminal won’t immediately replace Command Prompt. Microsoft told us at Build that it was considering options for making Windows Terminal the new default command line tool, but for now, the company is maintaining the status quo with Command Prompt. That’s partly for compatibility reasons, but it likely stems from the fact that Windows Terminal isn’t exactly ready to make a grand debut.

Microsoft said in the Store description: “This very early preview release includes many usability issues, most notably the lack of support for assistive technology. Much of the internal work to support this is complete and it’s our top priority to support assistive technology very soon.” We suspect that Windows Terminal might not have even been released yet if it wasn’t given a mid-June launch date at Build.

Windows Terminal is being developed as an open source project. Interested users can follow the app’s progress on GitHub or, if they like, contribute to its development themselves. Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed when it plans to release a non-preview version of the program.

Steam Labs Lets You Test Valve Experiments Like Machine Learning

Valve has been hard at work on a variety of new apps and programs behind the scenes, and with the unveiling of the new Steam Labs online hub today, we can have a glimpse at what the developer has been experimenting with.

That’s the idea behind Steam Labs at least. It’s an online home for all works in progress Valve is tinkering with, such as features with codenames like The Peabody Recommender or Organize Your Steam Library Using Morse Code. Users can evaluate these different modules and share feedback. Should Valve continue development? That’s your opinion to share, as well as thoughts on how each feature should change and evolve, if at all.

The first three Labs experiments are Micro Trailers, the Interactive Recommender and the Automated Show. Micro Trailers are a series of six-second game trailers arranged on a page for you to view all at once. You can peruse these new micro trailer collections for builder games, RPGs, adventure games and plenty of other genres.

Credit: ValveCredit: Valve

The Automated Show is akin to in-store programming at GameStop, where a half-hour video showcases some of the latest Steam game launches. It’s meant for you to take in and check out a few hundred games at a time, or leave on as background noise.

Finally, the Interactive Recommender uses machine learning to recommend new titles to you based on games you’re currently into. Using a neural network trained to recommend games based on a user’s playtime history and other collections of data, it analyzes various play patterns, preference and a wide variety of additional information about the games you gravitate toward. 

Interactive Recommender doesn’t require developer optimization. Instead, it works with information gleaned from the Steam community itself. The feature learns about games for itself during training. In fact, the only information it does get is the release date during the preliminary setup process. It’s a hefty undertaking by Valve that’s unlike anything the developer has tackled in the process just yet. You can give it a try here.

For additional Steam Labs experiments coming down the pipeline, you can join the Steam Labs Community Group and keep an eye on when new additions join the hub. For now, you can try out these three intriguing new experiments and share what you think with Valve. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching to see where this all goes.

Steam Proposes Linux Kernel Changes To Improve Multi-Threaded Games

Steam's CPU test. Credit: SteamSteam’s CPU test. Credit: SteamSteam announced this week that it released the first build of Proton 4.11, which is based on WINE 4.11, the Linux utility that allows thousands of Windows games to run on Linux. The new version includes many bug fixes, as well as a new Vulkan-based implementation of Direct3D 9. Additionally, the new release includes functionality that could reduce the CPU overhead for multi-threaded games if Linux kernel developers adopt Steam’s proposed changes to the kernel.

The Steam developers said they forced “a CPU-bound scenario on a high-end machine by reducing graphics details to a minimum” to see the difference between the existing version of Proton and one that included the multi-threading improvement. We can see in the image above that the CPU load decreased by at least 10% in the Tomb Raider game. The developers expect the results to be reproducible on lower-end machines, too.

The new release also includes an experimental replacement for esync, an older WINE feature that could increase the multi-threaded performance for some games. However, according to the Steam developers, this feature comes with some major trade-offs, such as relying on the Linux kernel’s eventfd() functionality. The use of eventfd() can cause some file descriptor exhaustion on event-hungry applications and can result in extraneous spinning in the kernel. 

The Steam team then came up with some changes to the Linux kernel to extend the futex() system call to expose additional core functionality that could be used to support optimal thread pool synchronization. 

Proton 4.11 already includes the fsync() patches that will replace the older esync and take advantage of the new functionality, once the changes to the Linux kernel are made. In the meantime, the Steam team will continue to test its solution on Ubuntu and Arch Linux distributions with custom kernels that contain the above-mentioned patches.

Bitcoin's Value Passes $11,000 After Libra Announcement

Credit: Shutterstock / SPFCredit: Shutterstock / SPFBitcoin’s value surpassed $11,000 per coin on Saturday morning. The cryptocurrency’s value has stayed around that $11,000 mark in the hours since, according to the Bitcoin Price Index from Coindesk, which also said the coin’s market cap is currently around $193.6 billion as a result of the price bump.

That’s a sharp increase from the $7,600 price Bitcoin fetched on June 9. It’s hard to attribute the cryptocurrency’s value to anything in particular–such is the nature of decentralized money–but many have attributed it at least partly to the Libra cryptocurrency Facebook announced on June 18. Bitcoin and Libra don’t have a direct relationship, but pun intended when we say that the cryptocurrencies are in many ways two sides of the same coin.

Libra differs from Bitcoin in that it’s a “stablecoin” whose value is supposed to remain fairly consistent. Facebook said that Libra “will be backed by a collection of low-volatility assets, such as bank deposits and short-term government securities in currencies from stable and reputable central banks.” The company’s goal is essentially to introduce a blockchain-enabled currency that’s comparable to traditional currencies many people already use.

Bitcoin differs in that it’s not really backed by anything. The cryptocurrency’s value is based on what people are willing to pay for it, not some commodities held in a reserve, which is why the price of a single bitcoin can vary so drastically over a relatively short period of time. Buying into Libra is like exchanging a currency; buying into Bitcoin is closer to investing in a volatile stock with the hope of getting a good return on investment later on.

Those approaches can coexist. (As evidenced by, you know, the modern economy.) Libra’s announcement could also introduce billions of people to cryptocurrencies, and if they decide they’d rather play a given coin like a stock market rather than simply using Facebook’s take on cash, Bitcoin would be the obvious choice. It’s possible that some Bitcoin investors think Libra’s announcement and release will raise the value of all cryptocurrencies.

Passing the $11,000 mark is probably welcome news for Bitcoin owners either way. The cryptocurrency’s value has risen and fell many times over in the last few years. Bitcoin’s value peaked around $19,000 in 2017; in recent months it’s been closer to $7,000. Peaking at $11,190 over the last 24 hours didn’t restore Bitcoin to its former glory, but it showed that at least some of the cryptocurrency market is bullish on its future.

Best Tech Deals 2019

From PC components to gaming monitors, here at Tom’s Hardware we’re always on the hunt for the best deals.

July is here and Amazon Prime Day is slowly starting to rear its head. Generally, we don’t see many component deals on Prime Day. However, if you’re looking to buy PC hardware at Amazon, a new laptop, or upgrade to a 4K TV, chances are high you’ll score some good deals on Prime Day.

But first, Amazon still has a variety of early Prime Day deals on everything from laptops to its Cloud Cam. Some noteworthy Amazon deals include:  

Favorite Deals

Gaming Deals  

What kind of deals do you want to see ?

Smart Home DEALS

Digital Entertainment DEALS

Console Gaming DEALS

Laptops DEALS

Tablets DEALS

Storage DEALS

DEALS

laptop DEALS

Wireless Router DEALS

Cisco to Pay $8.6M for Knowingly Selling Hackable Surveillance Gear to US Government

Credit: CiscoCredit: Cisco

Cisco has settled a lawsuit over claims that it sold video surveillance technology that it knew was vulnerable to a four-year-old flaw. The vulnerability could have allowed malicious parties to hack into cameras that Cisco had been selling to U.S. hospitals, airports, schools, police departments, state governments and federal agencies.

According to a settlement unsealed Wednesday with the U.S. Justice Department, 15 states and the District of Columbia, Cisco learned about the vulnerability for the first time back in 2008, when whistleblower James Glenn came forward and revealed the flaw. However, Cisco waited four years before doing anything about it. In the meantime, the company kept promoting its vulnerable product.

Cisco’s surveillance technology was also connected to door locks and alarms, and those could have also been bypassed due to this flaw.

Michael Ronickher, one of Glenn’s attorneys, said that the flaw was easy to exploit:

“It was like the moment in the heist movies when a person types on a laptop for 30 seconds and says ‘I’m in.'”

Cisco said that there was no evidence that the flaw has been abused. Ronicker agreed with that statement but also noted that it’s possible hackers abused the flaw without being detected.

For its first time, Cisco had to settle under the whistleblower law for not having adequate security protections. The Justice Department learned about the flaw as it was reviewing many of the multi-billion dollar contracts that may not have prioritized cyber security. With the rise of ransomware and it disabling and holding hostage hospitals and police departments, cybersecurity issues have become a much more pressing issue for the U.S. government.

The federal government and the state governments that joined the settlement with Glenn will get 80% of the $8.6 million, while Glenn and his attorneys will get 20%. This should leave Glenn with more than $1 million for his whistleblowing act after fees and expenses, which is still significantly more than what most bug bounties would pay.

Raspberry Pi 4 AMA with Raspberry Pi Inventor Eben Upton

Credit: Shutterstock/Raspberry Pi FoundationCredit: Shutterstock/Raspberry Pi Foundation

Starting at noon Tuesday, June 25th through Thursday, June 27th the Tom’s Hardware Community Team will host Eben Upton, founder and CEO of the Raspberry Pi Organization, in a community wide AMA. Have a question about Raspberry Pi 4 or another Pi? Now’s your chance to directly speak with the chief hardware and software architect of the low-cost computer. Log into the forums to join the discussion and learn about the future of Raspberry Pi and single board computing.

Eben Upton, Founder and CEO of Raspberry Pi

Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi single board computer to help children learn about computer programming and inspire a new generation of engineering talent. He takes direct inspiration from Acorn’s BBC Micro computer, which helped students and hobbyists learn about computers in the 1980s.

This thread will be unlocked, open and live for 48 hours starting at 12:00pm ET on Tuesday. Questions will be moderated and supervised by Tom’s Hardware Community Manager, Joshua Simenhoff, as well as a full team of moderators.

Join the Raspberry Pi 4 AMA here.

If you’re hungry for even more details on the Raspberry Pi 4, you can see it in action for yourself. Tom’s Hardware editor-in-chief Avram Piltch tested and reviewed the new mini-computer, and he’ll be showing readers its new features and capabilities live on YouTube. Join us Wednesday at 3pm to see exactly what the new mini-computer can do.

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