Computex 2021 Physical Show Cancelled; Virtual Event Still Taking Place

When it comes to technology tradeshows, one of the biggest early victims of the coronavirus outbreak was Computex, the annual PC-centric trade show in Taiwan. After the 2020 show was delayed and then canceled entirely, event organizer TAITRA vowed to come back with a proper tradeshow in 2021. However, even with vaccinations well underway, it’s become clear that it’s not going to be possible to hold the physical show this year either. As a result, the physical Computex tradeshow has once again been cancelled.

In a very brief news release, TAITRA noted that with the pandemic still ongoing, and border controls preventing international travel, it would not be possible to hold the show in 2021.

With another wave of coronavirus pandemic across the world, it doesn’t look like we are close to the end. The majority of the show’s stakeholders, including international exhibitors, visitors, and media, cannot join the show due to border control. Therefore, the organizers of COMPUTEX have decided to cancel the onsite exhibition this year.

The silver lining, at least, is that while the physical show TAITRA wanted to hold won’t be happening, their parallel virtual show, #COMPUTEXVirtual, will continue on as planned. Scheduled to run for a full month, from May 31st to June 30th, #COMPUTEXVirtual will be the show’s first attempt at doing a large-scale virtual event. The virtual show was originally scheduled to run alongside the physical show, but now with the physical show cancelled, it has become the de facto plan B. At this point it’s not clear who will be presenting and what with the virtual show, and undoubtedly vendors and organizers are scrambling to draw up new plans in light of the physical show’s cancellation.

None the less, even a virtual Computex could stand to be a major show. With a strong and ongoing demand for electronics, the lack of a 2020 show, and CES 2021 being a relatively modest event earlier this year, vendors have been eager to roll out new products – and to do so in front of an audience. So we’ll see how things pan out over the next two months.

When it comes to technology tradeshows, one of the biggest early victims of the coronavirus outbreak was Computex, the annual PC-centric trade show in Taiwan. After the 2020 show was delayed and then canceled entirely, event organizer TAITRA vowed to come back with a proper tradeshow in 2021. However, even with vaccinations well underway, it’s become clear that it’s not going to be possible to hold the physical show this year either. As a result, the physical Computex tradeshow has once again been cancelled.

In a very brief news release, TAITRA noted that with the pandemic still ongoing, and border controls preventing international travel, it would not be possible to hold the show in 2021.

With another wave of coronavirus pandemic across the world, it doesn't look like we are close to the end. The majority of the show's stakeholders, including international exhibitors, visitors, and media, cannot join the show due to border control. Therefore, the organizers of COMPUTEX have decided to cancel the onsite exhibition this year.

The silver lining, at least, is that while the physical show TAITRA wanted to hold won’t be happening, their parallel virtual show, #COMPUTEXVirtual, will continue on as planned. Scheduled to run for a full month, from May 31st to June 30th, #COMPUTEXVirtual will be the show’s first attempt at doing a large-scale virtual event. The virtual show was originally scheduled to run alongside the physical show, but now with the physical show cancelled, it has become the de facto plan B. At this point it’s not clear who will be presenting and what with the virtual show, and undoubtedly vendors and organizers are scrambling to draw up new plans in light of the physical show’s cancellation.

None the less, even a virtual Computex could stand to be a major show. With a strong and ongoing demand for electronics, the lack of a 2020 show, and CES 2021 being a relatively modest event earlier this year, vendors have been eager to roll out new products – and to do so in front of an audience. So we’ll see how things pan out over the next two months.

Intel Drops Teaser For Upcoming Xe-HPG GPU Architecture

With the launch of their first-iteration Xe-LP architecture now firmly in the proverbial rearview mirror, Intel’s GPU division has turned its sights towards its next consumer-focused GPU architecture, Xe-HPG. Today the company has posted a very …

With the launch of their first-iteration Xe-LP architecture now firmly in the proverbial rearview mirror, Intel’s GPU division has turned its sights towards its next consumer-focused GPU architecture, Xe-HPG. Today the company has posted a very light teaser video advertising the forthcoming architecture.

The brief, 30 second promotional video highlights how Xe-HPG is built on top of Intel’s current Xe-LP architecture. And while there aren’t any concrete technical details disclosed within the otherwise abstract video, it’s notable that the video does briefly show 5 layers of blocks on the Xe-HPG chip. Assuming for the moment that Intel isn’t being quite literal here – a 5 layer GPU would be extravagant and hard to cool, to say the least – it’s more likely an allusion to the number of Execution Units (EUs) or some other aspect of the architecture.

Finally, the video also includes a short block of binary text as a further game for the audience to play.

00100011
10100000
11101101
11010000

For the moment we don’t have a solid idea of what it means. But no doubt someone will figure it out before too long.

Otherwise, this will no doubt be the first of many teasers for Xe-HPG. While Intel hasn’t provided a more recent roadmap for chips based on the architecture, the company previously announced in 2020 that they were aiming for a 2021 launch. And with the first DG2 chip already in the labs as of October, we know that Intel is well underway in bringing up Xe-HPG silicon.

NVIDIA Raises GeForce NOW Paid Subscription Plans to $10 Per Month, $100 Per Year

Just over a year ago, NVIDIA finally brought GeForce NOW, its PC game streaming service, out of beta. The commercial launch of the service saw the introduction of two tiers: a feature and time-limited free tier, and a paid Founders tier that offered a…

Just over a year ago, NVIDIA finally brought GeForce NOW, its PC game streaming service, out of beta. The commercial launch of the service saw the introduction of two tiers: a feature and time-limited free tier, and a paid Founders tier that offered a full set of features (including RTX) and priority access. Now as the company is in its second year of operating the commercial service, today NVIDIA is raising the price for GeForce NOW paid subscriptions, essentially doubling them to $10/month (or $100/year) for new members.

Officially, what NVIDIA is doing today with its subscription plans is two-fold. First, the Founders plans, which were advertised as a limited-time offer from the very beginning, are finally being retired and will no longer be offered to new customers. In their place the company is launching a new set of “Priority” memberships, which are otherwise identical to the old Founders plans, offering the same features and priority access.

The only meaningful change, other than the name on the plan, will be the price. Whereas the Founders plans were $5 a month or $25 for a six-month subscription, GeForce NOW Priority subscriptions will be sold on a monthly or yearly basis. Monthly plans are now $10 per month (or more specifically, $9.99), while yearly plans are $100 ($99.99).

With that said, as a thank you to their Founders members – and no doubt mindful of the negative public reaction to price hikes – NVIDIA is also grandfathering in the old Founders rate for existing customers under what they are calling their “Founders for Life” benefit. This means that while new customers will have to pay the new, higher prices, existing customers will have their old prices locked in so long as they remain in what NVIDIA calls “good standing.” Which for all practical purposes works out to a 50% discount on the service for existing members.

Past that, NVIDIA’s blog post announcing the price increase doesn’t go in to any detail on explaining the reason for the increase. But it’s not terribly surprising to see NVIDIA raising prices; even without the explicit limited-time nature of the founders packages, $5/month was probably not covering all of NVIDIA’s costs, especially as evidenced by the price of comparable high-end instances from the major cloud service providers. If nothing else, this is a sign that NVIDIA is finally looking to make a real profit from the service, rather than just trying to cover costs.

Overall, NVIDIA seems rather bullish on the future of their unique cloud gaming service, even with the licensing-related teething issues over the past year and the hit to demand that will no doubt come from a price hike. According to the company they’re continuing to add capacity to the service, including spinning up a data center in Montreal later this year. Similarly, the company is continuing to expand its GeForce NOW Alliance partnerships for other countries, further increasing the number of countries that have local GeForce NOW servers.

Finally, while today’s news is largely focused on the business-side of the service, NVIDIA does mention that an upcoming update to the service is going to address refresh rate synchronization. With the 2.0.28 update, the server-side refresh rate will be set to match the client-side refresh rate in order to account for the existence of both 60Hz displays and 59.94Hz displays. This small variance in refresh rates is not an issue with games locally, but similar to streaming video, it can be a problem with cloud gaming as a mis-match would lead to judder and the occasional dropped frame.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger To Host Webcast About Intel’s Future On March 23rd

Intel today has announced that the company will be holding an event on March 23rd to discuss the future of engineering at the company. Dubbed “Intel Unleashed: Engineering the Future”, the hour-long webcast will be hosted by recently hired…

Intel today has announced that the company will be holding an event on March 23rd to discuss the future of engineering at the company. Dubbed “Intel Unleashed: Engineering the Future”, the hour-long webcast will be hosted by recently hired CEO (and Intel returnee) Pat Gelsinger.

Join Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger for a business update and webcast address on the new era of innovation and technology leadership at Intel.

While Intel’s official description is short and at a high level, given the subject matter and the fact that the presentation is scheduled for after the stock markets close, we’re expecting that this will be Intel’s much-awaited announcement on the future of the company’s manufacturing plans. For the last several months the company has been juggling the question of when and where to use third-party foundries versus investing in their own manufacturing technologies. Intel’s 7nm problems have become a black eye for the company, and the prolific processor producer has been under pressure from some investors to cut back on expensive R&D and just use pure-play foundries like TSMC.

Prior to Intel hiring Gelsinger to be their new CEO in mid-January, the company had been preparing to detail its future foundry plans in its January 21st earnings call. However after bringing Gelsinger on board, that announcement was put on hold to give Gelsinger a time to get up to speed, and possibly make his own mark if he decided to take the company in a different direction than then-CEO BoB Swan was preparing to go.

If this does turn out to be a detailed disclosure of Intel’s foundry plans, then it’s not an exaggeration to say that this webcast will be one of the most critical Intel presentations in years. Gelsinger and the rest of Intel’s upper management have some very difficult choices to make about manufacturing, and no matter what direction they opt to take on Tuesday, it’s going to have significant ramifications for not only Intel, but the rest of the silicon foundry industry as a whole. So tech enthusiasts and investors alike are going to be paying close attention to this announcement.

NVIDIA Fumbles, Releases GeForce RTX 3060 Driver Without Anti-Mining Throttle

In an effort to partially mitigate the market chaos that has come from the cryptocurrency mining boom over the last 6 months, last month NVIDIA very publicly introduced a mining throttling mechanism for its then-new GeForce RTX 3060 cards. By throttli…

In an effort to partially mitigate the market chaos that has come from the cryptocurrency mining boom over the last 6 months, last month NVIDIA very publicly introduced a mining throttling mechanism for its then-new GeForce RTX 3060 cards. By throttling the performance of Ethereum mining on these cards to half their native rate, it would ideally keep miners from immediately snapping up any (and every) RTX 3060 card in search for a profit, leaving more available for NVIDIA’s gaming customers. Essentially a software security/DRM system, the success of NVIDIA’s effort would hinge largely on ensuring the underlying throttling mechanism remain undefeated – an effort that has significantly fumbled after NVIDIA accidentally released a driver without the complete throttling code.

As part of the development of their upcoming Release 470 driver branch, last week NVIDIA released driver 470.05 to developers and Windows Insiders. Among other things, this development driver enabled CUDA support on the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) for the first time. Unfortunately, this driver didn’t include the complete throttling code for Ethereum, and as a result it’s possible to use the driver to mine the cryptocoin on RTX 3060 cards at their full (native) rate.

The news was initially broken by HardwareLuxx and ComputerBase, who had the driver and were able to confirm that they were no longer getting throttled with the new driver. NVIDIA in turn has since confirmed the matter as well, sending a statement out to various members of the press that “A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations. The driver has been removed.”

Unfortunately, this is a prime, real-world example of how software security (and DRM-like systems) are only as strong as their weakest link – in this case NVIDIA’s driver team. NVIDIA security mechanisms rely on signature checks for the BIOS and drivers to prevent bypassing the throttling mechanism, but since this is a signed, legitimate NVIDIA driver to begin with, it is readily accepted by the card. And since the driver doesn’t have a timebomb on it, the genie is out of the bottle, as it were. Windows cryptominers should be able to use the driver with RTX 3060 cards indefinitely, and since the driver was widely released there’s no possibility to preventing its re-distribution.

The silver(ish) lining to this otherwise bad news is that it could have been even worse for NVIDIA. This driver was for Windows and not for Linux, with the latter being the preferred platform for industrial miners. Furthermore there are apparently other mining-checks in the driver that do still work (e.g. checking the PCIe link width), so NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum throttle for the RTX 3060 is not completely broken. It has, however, had a massive chunk taken out of it with this driver release.

All of which means that the ongoing chip crunch has just become all that more severe for gamers and other video card buyers. With an unthrottled RTX 3060 able to pull in around $5/day in profit, the card risks being a reasonably attractive offering for miners looking to make a quick buck.

AMD Announces Radeon RX 6700 XT: RDNA2 For 1440p, Coming March 18th For $479

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that…

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that has come to define the GPU industry, the company is preparing its second RDNA2 GPU to further flesh out its lineup of video cards. Set to be released on March 18th, the Radeon RX 6700 XT will be AMD’s anchor card for 1440p gaming, succeeding the last-generation RX 5700 XT and giving AMD’s product lineup a more wallet-friendly option than their 4K-focused 6800/6900 series cards. The launch for the latest Radeon card will be an all-out affair, with both reference and partner custom cards launching the same day, with prices starting at $479.

AMD Announces Radeon RX 6700 XT: RDNA2 For 1440p, Coming March 18th For $479

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that…

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that has come to define the GPU industry, the company is preparing its second RDNA2 GPU to further flesh out its lineup of video cards. Set to be released on March 18th, the Radeon RX 6700 XT will be AMD’s anchor card for 1440p gaming, succeeding the last-generation RX 5700 XT and giving AMD’s product lineup a more wallet-friendly option than their 4K-focused 6800/6900 series cards. The launch for the latest Radeon card will be an all-out affair, with both reference and partner custom cards launching the same day, with prices starting at $479.

Intel Discontinues Performance Tuning Protection Plan for Overclocking Warranties

After a 9-year run, Intel today has begun to wrap up its Performance Tuning Protection Plan service, the company’s optional extended warranty for CPU overclocking. As of today, Intel is no longer selling new PTP plans, and the program will be sh…

After a 9-year run, Intel today has begun to wrap up its Performance Tuning Protection Plan service, the company’s optional extended warranty for CPU overclocking. As of today, Intel is no longer selling new PTP plans, and the program will be shifting to servicing existing warranties while those are still active. Intel’s warranty service was quite unique throughout the industry; given the potentially destructive nature of overclocking, it’s almost unheard of to be covered, even by optional warranties.

Intel originally launched the Performance Tuning Protection Plan back in January of 2012, right in the middle of the heyday of Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge CPU overclocking (ed: has it really been that long?). At the time, for anywhere between $20 and $35, Intel would offer a one-time warranty that specifically covered damages incurred by overclocking – something that Intel’s standard warranty explicitly does not cover. Should a retail boxed processor fail due to overclocking, intel would replace a PPTP warrantied chip once and only once, free of charge.

When Intel kicked off the program, it was initially started as a six-month trial, where saw enough success to become a long-term offering for Intel, covering all overclockable Intel consumer chips including their massive HEDT parts. Even though the program made it very affordable to overcook an Intel CPU for little more than the price of a pizza, the one-time replacement restriction seemingly did its job, as stories of people trying to abuse the program have been few and far between.

None the less, the PTPP’s days have finally come to an end. In a message posted to the plan’s website, Intel announced that the program was being discontinued, citing that “As customers increasingly overclock with confidence, we are seeing lower demand for the Performance Tuning Protection Plans”.

And while Intel doesn’t provide any specific numbers to back that up, broadly speaking it’s not at all surprising to hear that demand is down. Since the Sandy Bridge era overclocking has become a lot less fruitful; with Turbo Boost Max 3.0, Thermal Velocity Boost, and other turbo technologies, Intel has begun wringing out the bulk of clockspeed headroom from their CPUs right out of the box. At the same time peak clockspeeds have stalled at a bit over 5GHz, and the much larger core counts of today’s CPUs means that Intel differentiates its parts based on core count more than it does based on clockspeeds. So unlike the Sandy Bridge era, where you could easily expect to add another 1GHz (or more) to a $216 i5-2500K, a modern i5-10600K is lucky to achieve half of that thanks to already starting at a peak clockspeed of 4.8GHz. Ultimately, although CPU overclocking is far from dead, it’s no longer delivering big, easy performance boosts as it once did.

At any rate, with the retirement of the PPTP, Intel is transitioning to servicing existing warranties. Intel chip owners who have already purchased a plan are still covered for the length of their warranty, which rides on top of Intel’s standard 3-year warranty. So Intel will still be replacing a handful of chips for a couple more years yet.

Launching Today: NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 – Aiming For Mainstream At $329

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with t…

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with today’s card in some respects being the most popular one. Aimed at the mainstream market, the RTX 3060 is designed to be a more balanced option for the larger market of gamers who probably aren’t trying to drive high-end 4K displays, but still want the latest graphical features on a 1080p or 1440p display. RTX 3060 cards will go on sale a bit later this morning – at 9am Pacific – with prices starting at $329.

Launching Today: NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 – Aiming For Mainstream At $329

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with t…

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with today’s card in some respects being the most popular one. Aimed at the mainstream market, the RTX 3060 is designed to be a more balanced option for the larger market of gamers who probably aren’t trying to drive high-end 4K displays, but still want the latest graphical features on a 1080p or 1440p display. RTX 3060 cards will go on sale a bit later this morning – at 9am Pacific – with prices starting at $329.