Intel ‘Coffee Lake’ 8th Gen Core CPUs to Launch on August 21; Core i9 Specifications Revealed

Intel has announced that it will launch its 8th generation Core processors, codenamed ‘Coffee Lake’, at 8:00am PDT (8:30pm IST) on August 21. The launch will be streamed to the public using Facebook Live, and has been timed to precede the much-talked-about total solar eclipse which will occur the same morning. No specifics are known yet, such as the number of models that will be launched and which market segments Intel is targeting first.

Intel’s teaser claims that the 8th generation Core processors will be “blazing fast”, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. The company has previously stated that Coffee Lake will improve upon the 7th generation Kaby Lake by 30 percent. Coffee Lake will be the fourth generation to use the 14nm manufacturing process, breaking the three-year Process-Architecture-Optimisation cycle that Intel tried to introduce only last year. Prior to Coffee Lake and Kaby Lake, Intel’s ‘tick-tock’ strategy dictated that the manufacturing process would shrink every alternate year.

Intel was supposed to have launched its first 10nm generation, codenamed Cannonlake, last year, but this was deferred, with Kaby Lake and now Coffee Lake filling in. Intel could move to a “fluid” model using both 14nm and 10nm processes for Coffee Lake processors in different segments. Rumors also point to Intel introducing six-core mainstream desktop processors with this generation, either thanks to thermal and power design improvements, or because of strong competition from rival AMD after years with the highly rated Ryzen CPU line. It is also therefore likely that Coffee Lake will break compatibility with Intel’s current motherboard socket and platform controllers which are common to Kaby Lake and Skylake.

Intel has stated that the launch event on August 21 will include demos of VR and “immersive experiences” that show the power of upcoming 8th generation Core processors. PC manufacturers are expected to demonstrate desktops, laptops and 2-in-1 systems based on these CPUs. Intel is also keen to grab the attention of anyone looking to buy a new PC this holiday season, indicating that products will become available in retail shortly after the launch event.

Intel ‘Coffee Lake’ 8th Gen Core CPUs to Launch on August 21; Core i9 Specifications RevealedIntel has also released the full specifications and launch dates of its top-end Core i9 X-series desktop processors, which offer up to 18 cores. The 12-core/ 24-thread Core i9-7920X will become available on August 28, with a base speed of 2.9GHz, a boost speed of 4.3Ghz on all cores, and 16.5MB of cache memory. The 14-core i9-7940X, 16-core i9-7960X and flagship 18-core i9-7980XE will all become available on September 25. Base/boost speeds are 2.9/4.3GHz, 3.1/4.3GHz, 2.8/4.2GHz, and 2.6/4.2GHz respectively, and the cache amounts come in at 19.25MB, 22MB and 24.75MB respectively.

All four upcoming Core i9 parts can raise their speeds up as far as 4.4GHz on one or two cores if the workload demands it, and official RAM support goes up to quad-channel DDR4-2666 for each. They also share the same 165W TDP, and all have 44 PCIe lanes. Prices range from $1199 (approximately Rs. 76,362) for the i9-7920X to a whopping $1999 (approximately Rs. 1,27,313) for the i9-7980XE.

To see how these new processors stack up against the rest of the Core-X series, check out our complete guide to Intel’s Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs, Motherboards, and Coolers.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Enthusiasts CPUs Go on Sale in India Starting at Rs. 55,999

AMD has already announced pretty much everything there is to know about its high-performance Threadripper CPU line, and now the products have finally been launched. The 12-core, 24-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1920X is priced at Rs. 55,999 excluding GST in India, while the flagship 16-core, 32-thread Ryzen Threadripper 1950X will cost Rs. 69,999 excluding GST. The 8-core, 16-thread Threadripper 1900X which was added to the lineup after the former two, will become available on August 31 and its India price will be announced at that time.

Indian retailers PrimeABGB and MD Computers are already listing the two high-end CPUs, with identical MRPs of Rs. 65,488 for the Threadripper 1920X and Rs. 82,008 for the Threadripper 1950X at both stores. Judging by its US dollar price of $549, our calculations estimate that the Threadripper 1900X should come in at around Rs. 38,499 before GST and Rs. 45,500 MRP.

Threadripper is AMD’s answer to Intel’s Core-X series, more commonly known as Extreme Edition processors. AMD is hoping to upset Intel’s dominance by offering more cores per dollar, just like it has done with its Ryzen 7 (Review), Ryzen 5 (Review) and Ryzen 3 CPUs so far this year. The launch of the Threadripper models completes AMD’s top-to-bottom desktop CPU lineup – though more variants within each family could still be launched.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper Enthusiasts CPUs Go on Sale in India Starting at Rs. 55,999AMD is aiming Threadripper at content creators, gamers and overclockers who want the best performance without spending too much. These CPUs are physically much larger than mainstream ones, and use a different socket called TR4. They support quad-channel DDR4 RAM and feature 64 lanes of PCIe bandwidth for high-speed components such as graphics cards and SSD arrays. They have a much higher 180W TDP rating and need specific coolers. Because the Zen architecture is common between Ryzen product families, Threadripper CPUs are based on the same Infinity Fabric interconnect between internal clusters called Core Complexes, and have the same benefits including XFR which boosts speed beyond the rated limits when thermal conditions allow it, and SenseMI which adjusts operating parameters dynamically using hundreds of embedded sensors.

Threadripper-compatible X399 motherboards are available from Asus, Gigabyte, MSI and ASRock. They will also show up in pre-built systems from a number of boutique builders. Dell is the exclusive big-brand OEM at launch time, and has already announced several Alienware Area-51 Threadripper Edition models.

It has been a busy year for AMD, which hasn’t had a competitive CPU lineup in nearly a decade. The company has so far launched the entire Ryzen desktop CPU line as well as Ryzen Pro variants for businesses, Epyc server processors, and the Radeon RX 500 (Review) series of graphics cards. High-end Radeon RX Vega graphics cards are set to launch over the next few weeks, and Ryzen Mobile and APU products with integrated graphics are in the pipeline as well.

Lenovo Posts First Quarterly Loss Since 2015 on Higher Costs, Slowing PC Market

Chinese personal computer maker Lenovo Group posted a first-quarter loss on Friday citing higher costs and slower growth in the personal computer market, and said the outlook was challenging due to supply constraints.

Lenovo, which lost its position as the world’s largest PC maker to HP in the quarter through June, lost $72 million compared with a profit of $173 million for the same period last year.

It was the company’s first quarterly loss since September 2015 and lagged forecasts for a profit of $5.29 million, according to the average of 8 analyst estimates in a Thomson Reuters poll.

“Looking forward, the supply constraint of key components in the industry and cost increases will continue to bring short-term challenges to the group’s business environment,” Yang Yuanqing, chairman and CEO, said in a statement.

“Market conditions remain challenging in the short term, notably the component supply shortage and cost hike are expected to continue pressuring business operations.”

Revenue was flat at $10.01 billion (roughly Rs. 64,205 crores), in line with an estimate of $10 billion.

Lenovo has suffered from a global decline in PC demand as consumers turn to smartphones and tablets, particularly in its home market of China. Gartner forecast the global PC market will shrink by 3 percent in volume in 2017.

Lenovo Posts First Quarterly Loss Since 2015 on Higher Costs, Slowing PC MarketLenovo’s PC shipments declined 6 percent, after two quarters of growth. That compared with a 3 percent drop for the industry, Lenovo said in its filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Its market share dropped 0.6 percentage points year-on-year to 20.4 percent.

Shortages of memory chips added to costs and dragged down margins, it said.

Revenue from the PC and smart devices business, contributing almost 70 percent of the total, increased 0.2 percent to $7.01 billion in the quarter.

The operating loss from the group’s struggling mobile business narrowed to $129 million, from a loss of $163 million a year ago. It turned in revenue of $1.75 billion on a 1 pct rise in smartphone shipments.

Its data centre business group recorded an operational loss of $114 million, versus a loss of $31 million a year ago.

Intel 8th Generation Core Series Launched With ‘Kaby Lake Refresh’ CPUs for Laptops

We’ve known for a while now that Intel will be shipping more than one processor architecture under the 8th generation Core brand. We’ve been expecting a fourth 14nm generation codenamed Coffee Lake this year and the much-delayed 10nm Cannonlake generation in early 2018, but now it has come to light that a third architecture will be clubbed into the 8th generation as well. Simply called Kaby Lake Refresh, this will be the basis of the 8th gen’s U-series processors, which are targeted at mainstream and slim notebooks.

Two weeks ago, Intel announced that the first 8th gen Core CPUs will launch at 8:30pm IST tonight, and while the codename ‘Coffee Lake’ was not specifically brought up, it was widely expected that these would be the first models out of the gate. However, Intel has chosen to unveil Kaby Lake Refresh a few hours before the scheduled event.

Four new U-series 15W processors for laptops are being announced: the Core i7-8650U, Core i7-8550U, Core i5-8350U, and Core i5-8250U. While Kaby Lake Refresh is not a major new architecture, Intel is promising a 40 percent performance improvement compared to the 7th generation and up to 200 percent compared to a five-year-old machine. The most significant reason for this is the doubling of core counts from two to four, while actual design and manufacturing improvements contribute to a lesser extent.

Base speeds range from 1.6GHz to 1.9GHz, while boost speeds range from 3.4GHz to 4.2GHz. Cache sizes are also doubled, to 6MB on Core i5 CPUs and 8MB on Core i7 ones. Hyper-Threading remains exclusive to Core i7 models. The integrated GPU is now called Intel UHD Graphics 620 and is completely unchanged compared to Kaby Lake, except for the name change from HD to UHD to reflect its capabilities. The GPUs of Core i5 models run at 1.1Ghz while those of the Core i7 models run at 1.15GHz.

Intel 8th Generation Core Series Launched With 'Kaby Lake Refresh' CPUs for LaptopsAccording to Intel, users can expect up to 10 hours of 4K video playback per charge on a laptop powered by one of these processors, as tested with a 70WHr battery and Windows 10. The company also says that tasks such as photo editing and video rendering are up to 48 percent and 14.7 percent faster on these processors compared to previous-generation ones. However, the major target will be people upgrading from laptops that are several years old. The company is also playing up the benefits of modern experiences such as Windows Hello authentication, voice interaction such as with the Cortana assistant, and stylus input which would not work as well on an older device.

Intel expects that 145 laptop models featuring these four new CPUs will be available in time for this year’s holiday shopping season. There’s no information about how the rest of the 8th generation will shape up, except for a note that desktop processors will launch in fall this year. It is not yet known how different Coffee Lake will be from Kaby Lake Refresh, but it is quite likely that core counts will increaseacross the board both due to improvements in power efficiency and because of competition from AMD’s Ryzen series. It is also likely that Intel will reserve its 10nm process for ultra-low-power fanless Y-series chips.

Attacking the mainstream laptop segment first is an interesting choice for Intel. Previous generations have focused on Y-series models for ultra-light fanless tablets and 2-in-1s, or S-series models for desktops. Releasing these four CPUs under the 8th Generation banner allows Intel to target buyers during the busy US holiday shopping season.

Microsoft Says Its Speech Recognition System Achieves New Accuracy Milestone

Microsoft’s conversational speech recognition system – designed to accurately recognises the words in a conversation like humans do – has reached a 5.1 percent error rate, its lowest so far.

This milestone means that, for the first time, a computer can recognise the words in a conversation as well as a person would.

“Our research team reached that 5.1 percent error rate with our speech recognition system, a new industry milestone, substantially surpassing the accuracy we achieved last year,” Microsoft said in a blog post late on Sunday.

Last year in October, the team from Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research reported a speech recognition system that makes the same or fewer errors than professional transcriptionists.

The researchers had then reported a word error rate (WER) of 5.9 percent.

“Last year, Microsoft’s speech and dialog research group announced a milestone in reaching human parity on the ‘Switchboard’ conversational speech recognition task, meaning we had created technology that recognised words in a conversation as well as professional human transcribers,” said Xuedong Huang, Technical Fellow, Microsoft.

‘Switchboard’ is a corpus of recorded telephone conversations that the speech research community has used for more than 20 years to benchmark speech recognition systems.

The task involves transcribing conversations between strangers discussing topics such as sports and politics.

Microsoft Says Its Speech Recognition System Achieves New Accuracy MilestoneThe team used “Microsoft Cognitive Toolkit 2.1” (CNTK), the most scalable deep learning software available, for exploring model architectures.

Additionally, Microsoft’s investment in cloud compute infrastructure, specifically Azure GPUs, helped improve the effectiveness and speed.

Reaching human parity with an accuracy on par with humans has been a research goal for the last 25 years.

“Microsoft’s willingness to invest in long-term research is now paying dividends for our customers in products and services such as Cortana, Presentation Translator, and Microsoft Cognitive Services,” the post read.

“Moving from recognising to understanding speech is the next major frontier for speech technology,” the post added.

Microsoft’s DNA storage tech may fit in an enterprise

Microsoft has apparently firmed up its plans for a DNA-based storage device that it expects to be commercially available within about three years.Microsoft’s DNA storage tech may fit in an enterprise

The software giant originally unveiled its research into DNA as an archival storage medium last year; it described the technology being able to store the amount of data in “a big data center compressed into a few sugar cubes. Or all the publicly accessible data on the Internet slipped into a shoebox.

“That is the promise of DNA storage — once scientists are able to scale the technology and overcome a series of technical hurdles,” the company said in a 2016 blog post.Once endoded, the synthetic DNA is able to store 200MB of data in a space smaller thatn the tip of a pencil. Extrapolated, DNA storage could potentially store a data center’s worth of information in a space the size of a shoebox.

A Microsoft spokesperson declined to comment on the progress of its DNA storage research.

But in an article in MIT Technology Review, Doug Carmean, a partner architect at Microsoft Research, said the company hopes to create a “proto-commercial system in three years storing some amount of data on DNA in one of our data centers, for at least a boutique application.”

The storage device was described by Carmean as about the size of a large, 1970s-era Xerox copier with a data write speed of only 400MBps — something Carmean admitted needs to increase to 100MBps to compete with other archive storage mediums such as magnetic tape drives.

Natalya Yezhkova, a research director at IDC, said with the staggering rate at which digital data is growing, the necessity of a DNA-type storage medium will be critical in the next 10 to 15 years.

“Currently, the only way to address this growth is to increase footprint of data optimization techniques, whether that’s compression or deduplication,” Yezhkova said. “Those technologies are great, and mitigate some data growth, but in the longer term, we definitely need something else.”

For example, some healthcare data must be stored for the life of a patient, and federal regulations for auditing and civil litigation purposes require some financial records to be stored for seven or more years.

And, as big data analytics evolve, more companies are finding ways to cull useful marketing information from their sales and customer data archives.

Then there’s video, photograph and audio files, something every smart phone owner can create at their leisure and that’s increasingly stored by cloud services.

Researchers with Microsoft and UW developed what they described as “a novel approach” to convert the long strings of ones and zeroes in digital data into the four basic building blocks of DNA sequences — adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine — represented as As, Gs, Cs and Ts.

The digital data is broken down into pieces and stored by synthesizing it as a massive number of tiny DNA molecules, which can be dehydrated and preserved for long-term storage.

To access the stored data, the researchers encode the equivalent of zip codes and street addresses into the DNA sequences. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) techniques — commonly used in molecular biology — help them more easily identify the zip codes they are looking for.

DNA storage Microsoft University of Washington

UW Associate Professor Luis Henrique Ceze, in blue, and research scientist Lee Organick prepare DNA containing digital data for sequencing, which allows them to read and retrieve the original files.

DNA has a theoretical limit of being able to store more than one exabyte per millimeter, which is eight orders of magnitude denser than magnetic tape. DNA-based storage also has the benefit of eternal relevance: As long as there is DNA-based life, there will be strong reasons to read and manipulate DNA, the researchers said in a research paper.

Cloud service and hyperscale computing providers are constantly seeking new ways to store increasingly cumbersome amounts of data; that’s where DNA storage would likely see its initial home, according to Yezhkova. Cloud archive services such as Amazon Glacier or Google’s Cloud Platform would be likely candidates for a storage medium with vastly better capacities and longevity than today’s most prominent technologies.

“It’s a trade-off of speed versus the economics of storing massive amounts of data for 50 years or more that could be untouched,” Yezhkova said.

“It’s quite possible Amazon or Google could be researching DNA storage as well,” she continued. “They wouldn’t necessarily be talking about this or making it public.”

As promising as DNA storage appears to be, there are still issues that need to be solved before it can be a viable technology for the data center — for example, compatibility with existing applications and hardware. But, if those issues could be solved, “it would have a tremendous impact,” Yezhkova said.

Since 2005, the amount of electronic data has been doubling every two years, according the Digital Universe, an ongoing study by IDC.

The study estimates that from 2005 to 2020, the amount of electronic data generated throughout the world will grow by a factor of 300, from 130 exabytes to 40,000 exabytes, or 40 trillion gigabytes, which is more than 5,200GB for every person on earth.

Only a tiny fraction of the digital universe has been explored for analytic value. IDC estimates that by 2020, as much as 33% of the digital universe will contain information that might be valuable if analyzed.

By 2020, nearly 40% of the information in the digital universe will be “touched” by cloud computing providers — meaning that a byte will be stored or processed in a cloud somewhere on its journey from originator to disposal.

Last year, researchers at Microsoft and the University of Washington (UW) said they had broken a world record by storing 200MB of data on synthetic DNA strands.

The researchers said the impressive part about reaching the 200MB milestone is not just how much data they could encode onto synthetic DNA and then decode, it’s also the space they were able to store it in.

Once encoded, the data occupied a spot in a test tube “much smaller than the tip of a pencil,” Carmean said at the time.

The DNA storage also has a half-life of 500 years, even in harsh conditions. The half-life of DNA — just as with radioactive material — determines its rate of decay.

Today’s most popular storage mediums, magnetic tape, hard disk drives, optical discs and NAND flash storage all have limited lifespans, which max out anywhere from five years to several decades.

Meanwhile, the proportion of data in the digital universe that requires protection is growing faster than the digital universe itself, from less than a third in 2010 to more than 40% in 2020, according to IDC.

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AOC’s new G-Sync monitor lets you choose between higher resolution and a blazing 240 Hz refresh

Which would you rather own, a 1080p monitor with a 240Hz refresh rate, or a 2560×1440 that can hit a still respectable 144Hz refresh rate? Rather than make you choose between one or the other, AOC’s new Agon AG251FG can do both.

Not at the same time, of course (how would that even work?). However, this 24.5-inch TN panel lets you choose switch between faster action and a higher resolution, depending on what suits your fancy (and which game you’re playing).

The monitor has a fast 1ms response time. It also supports Nvidia’s G-Sync technology for stutter-free gaming and to keep ghosting and motion blur to a minimum.

Being a TN panel, viewing angles aren’t quite as flexible as an IPS display. In this case, AOC rates them at 170 degrees horizontal and 160 degrees vertical. Other specs include a 50,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio and 400 nits brightness.

The monitor comes with a pair of built-in 2W speakers, four USB 3.0 ports, a headphone output, and DisplayPort and HDMI connectivity.

Eteknix says the Agon AG251FG will be available in August for £519, which converts to around $674 in U.S. currency. That’s a bit steep, especially for a TN panel, but perhaps worth it for such an interesting combination of features.

Acer’s Predator Z35P monitor hits 3440×1440 at 100Hz and supports G-Sync

Acer is not making a big fuss about its newest monitor, though for gamers looking for large and curvy display, the Predator Z35 is an interesting (albeit expensive) addition.

The new monitor is based on a 35-inch VA panel with an 1800R curvature. It has a 3440×1440 resolution with a 100Hz refresh rate, though TFT Central claims there is an option in the OSD menu to overclock it to 120Hz. While that is not a feature listed on its product page, we wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

Acer’s Predator Z35 also serves up 300 nits of brightness and a 2,500:1 contrast ratio. On paper, this is a relatively fast monitor with a 4ms response time, and it supports G-Sync for good measure.

On the ergonomic side, the Predator Z35 is height adjustable up to 5.12 inches. It also can swivel 20 degrees and tilt from -4 to 35 degrees.

The Predator Z35 has a 3.5mm audio jack to tap into the monitor’s pair of 9W stereo speakers. Users will also find a four-port USB  3.0 hub, along with DisplayPort 1.2 and HDMI 1.4 inputs.

Amazon is accepting preorders for the Predator Z35, which runs $1,100. The listing suggests it will ship in one to three weeks

MSI’s Z270 Godlike Gaming motherboard doubles as a Wi-Fi range extender

Just when we thought we’d seen it all, MSI teams up with Killer to announce a new motherboard that acts as both a networking switch and a Wi-Fi extender for your other wireless devices.

MSI’s Z270 Godlike Gaming motherboard is the first to feature Killer’s xTend technology. Several links related to xTend were dead at the time of this writing, though a cached version of a PDF document outlining the feature says it requires Windows 10, at least three Killer Ethernet controllers, and a Killer wireless module. The Z270 Godlike Gaming meets those latter two requirements—it’s up to the user to install Windows 10.

The pitch from MSI is that it’s more convenient to connect nearby wired and wireless devices to a PC than it is to fuss with dedicated switches and extenders, which can be “expensive and difficult to configure.” MSI also promises to prioritize traffic on your PC so that connected devices don’t interfere with online gaming and whatever else you might be doing.

“The Killer xTend keeps your games, voice, and video fast and smooth because high priority traffic on the Killer PC is prioritized above the traffic from connected devices. Killer xTend also delivers amazing throughput to your home—with potential throughput up to 1Gbps for each Killer E2500 plus another 867Mbps for the Killer Wi-Fi module,” MSI explains.

It’s an interesting proposition, though it’s not the only thing the Z270 Godlike Gaming board has going for it. MSI touts three Turbo M.2 slots, fully isolated audio circuitry using a high-quality ESS DAC and two dedicated audio processors, USB 3.1 Gen2 connectivity, and more RGB lighting than its predecessor, the X99A Godlike Gaming.

There are not a lot of other details on this board, though from the photos, we can see there are four reinforced PCI-E x16 slots. And for what it’s worth, MSI considers this “the best motherboard we have ever made.”

Unfortunately MSI did not say when the Z270 Godlike Gaming will be available or for how much. Our bet is you could buy a decent motherboard, WiFi extender, and network switch for less than the motherboard will cost.