Same Laptop, Different CPU: Ryzen 4000 vs. Intel 10th-gen Battle

You’ve seen the results of our numerous tests of Intel 10th-gen Core laptops as well as for AMD models using Ryzen 4000 CPUs. Comparing them has been somewhat tricky however. Today’s test is an exciting one for that same reason. XMG has provided us bot…


You've seen the results of our numerous tests of Intel 10th-gen Core laptops as well as for AMD models using Ryzen 4000 CPUs. Comparing them has been somewhat tricky however. Today's test is an exciting one for that same reason. XMG has provided us both Ryzen Mobile 4000 and Intel...

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Coinbase will let US customers borrow cash against their Bitcoin holdings

San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase this week said it’ll soon allow US customers in select states to borrow cash and use their Bitcoin holdings as collateral.


San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase this week said it’ll soon allow US customers in select states to borrow cash and use their Bitcoin holdings as collateral.

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Apple subscription bundles will reportedly launch alongside iPhone 12

Rumors that Apple was considering bundling its subscriptions into several tiers grew stronger last November. Now, Bloomberg reports that those plans are progressing, and the bundles will launch alongside the new iPhones this October.


Rumors that Apple was considering bundling its subscriptions into several tiers grew stronger last November. Now, Bloomberg reports that those plans are progressing, and the bundles will launch alongside the new iPhones this October.

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Facebook facing $500 billion lawsuit over Instagram’s alleged biometric data harvesting

The Whalen vs. Facebook lawsuit was filed on Monday in state court in Redwood City, California. It alleges that Instagram collects and stores biometric data of more than 100 million users, without their knowledge or consent. Facebook then uses the data…


The Whalen vs. Facebook lawsuit was filed on Monday in state court in Redwood City, California. It alleges that Instagram collects and stores biometric data of more than 100 million users, without their knowledge or consent. Facebook then uses the data to “bolster its facial recognition abilities across all of...

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Intel’s Xe-HPG GPU Unveiled: Built for Enthusiast Gamers, Built at a Third-Party Fab

Among the many announcements in today’s Intel Architecture Day, Intel is also offering a major update to their GPU roadmap over the next 24 months. The Xe family, already jam-packed with Xe-LP, Xe-HP, and Xe-HPC parts, is now getting a fourth pl…

Among the many announcements in today’s Intel Architecture Day, Intel is also offering a major update to their GPU roadmap over the next 24 months. The Xe family, already jam-packed with Xe-LP, Xe-HP, and Xe-HPC parts, is now getting a fourth planned variant: Xe-HPG. Aimed directly at the enthusiast gamer market, this latest Xe variant will be Intel’s most gaming-focused part yet, and the biggest step yet in Intel’s plans to be more diversified in its foundry sources.

So what is Xe-HPG? At a high level, it’s meant to be the missing piece of the puzzle in Intel’s product stack, offering a high-performance gaming and graphics-focused chip. This is as opposed to Xe-HP, which is specializing in datacenter features like FP64 and multi-tile scalability, and Xe-HPC which is even more esoteric. In that respect, Xe-HPG can be thought of as everything in the Xe family, distilled down into a single design to push FLOPs, rays, pixels, and everything else a powerful video card might need.

Like with the rest of Intel’s forward-looking Xe announcements, the company isn’t offering performance projections, features, or the like. But we do have some small details on what to expect.

First and foremost, beyond going after the enthusiast performance space, Intel has confirmed that this part will support ray tracing. A marquee feature of high-end video cards, ray tracing will take on even greater important over the coming years as the soon-to-launch next-generation consoles head out the door with the feature as well, eventually transforming it into a baseline feature across all gaming platforms. Similarly, ray tracing is a critical component of Microsoft’s DirectX 12 Ultimate standard, which given the timing of this GPU and Intel’s intentions, I would be shocked if Intel didn’t support in full.

The chip will be built on the foundation that is Xe-LP. However it will also pull in technologies that Intel is pioneering for Xe-HP, and Xe-HPC. Not the least of which is raw scalability, which is being able to take the Xe-LP foundation and scale it up to hundreds (if not thousands) of GPU execution units. But Intel is also pulling what they are calling “compute frequency enhancements” from Xe-HPC, which presumably will allow them to maximize the chip’s overall clockspeeds. All told, I won’t be too surprised if it looks a lot like Xe-HP in general, except with server-driven features like fast FP64 support and multi-tiling stripped out.

But Xe-HPG will also bring something new to the table for the entire Xe family: GDDR6 support. Intel is confirming that the chip – or rather, the microarchitecture the chip will be based on – will be designed to work with GDRR6. This is as opposed to Xe-HP(C), which as high-end server parts use HBM, and Xe-LP, which is designed for use with more conventional memory types. GDDR6 compatibility is a unique need that reflects this is a gaming focused part: GDDR6 provides the memory bandwidth needed for high-performance graphics, but without the stratospheric costs of HBM memory (a problem that has impacted some other high-end GPUs over the years). In a further twist, Intel apparently licensed the GDDR controller IP from outside the company, rather than developing it in-house; so Xe-HPG will have a very notable bit of external IP in it.

But perhaps most interesting of all for graphics insiders and Intel investors alike is where Xe-HPG will be built: not at Intel. As part of their Architecture Day roadmap, Intel has confirmed that the part will be made at an external fab. In fact it’s the only Xe part where the GPU (or at least the compute element) is being made entirely at a third-party fab. Intel of course will not reveal which fab this is – if it’s TSMC or Samsung – but it means we’re going to see a complete Intel GPU built at another fab. If nothing else, this is going to make comparing Xe-HPG to its AMD and NVIDIA rivals a lot easier, since Intel will be using the same fab resources.

Looking at the same roadmap, it’s worth pointing out that Intel won’t be using any of their advanced packaging technologies for the part. Since they’re not using HBM and they’re not doing multi-tiling, there’s no need for things like EMIB, never mind Foveros. There’s still a lot of unknowns with the cost aspects of Intel’s advanced packaging technologies, so keeping it out of Xe-HPG will presumably help keep costs in check in a very competitive marketplace.

And that is the scoop on Xe-HPG. The latest and most gaming-focused member of Intel’s Xe GPU product stack is set to launch in 2021 – and as Intel looks to break into the wider GPU market, I don’t doubt for a second that this won’t be the last we’ll hear of it between then and now.

AMC will reopen roughly 100 theaters on August 20

AMC first announced its intentions to do so last month, but the company’s plans were quite vague at the time. Now, they’re considerably more concrete: AMC will begin its not-so-grand reopening on August 20, according to a new report from The Verge.


AMC first announced its intentions to do so last month, but the company's plans were quite vague at the time. Now, they're considerably more concrete: AMC will begin its not-so-grand reopening on August 20, according to a new report from The Verge.

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Intel Previews 4-Layer 3D XPoint Memory For Second-Generation Optane SSDs

As part of Intel’s Architecture Day 2020 presentations, Raja Koduri spent a bit of time talking about the status of their Optane products. Most of it was a recapitulation of details Intel has previously shared. The two important Optane product updates planned for this year are the Barlow Pass second-generation Optane DC Persistent Memory Modules (DCPMM) and the Alder Stream second-generation Optane NVMe SSDs.

Intel has been teasing their Alder Stream second-generation Optane SSDs since last fall, with promises of off-the-charts performance increases. They’ve confirmed that Alder Stream will be using second-generation 3D XPoint memory, which moves from two to four layers (“decks” in Intel’s slides), making this the first test of the vertical scaling potential of 3D XPoint technology. This combined with with a new SSD controller supporting PCIe 4.0 will enable “multiple millions” of IOPS, more than doubling the throughput of current Optane SSDs. Raja also mentioned that they’ve made optimizations to single-sector reads, so 4kB QD1 random read latency should be improved a bit as well—but this latency is already substantially limited by the latency of PCIe and NVMe command processing.

Intel recently stated that they have not yet decided where to spun up their own volume manufacturing of 3D XPoint memory, so the second-gen 3D XPoint used in Alder Stream will still be manufactured by former partner Micron and purchased by Intel.

DRAM, 3D XPoint and 3D NAND memories, approximately to scale

Barlow Pass has already launched alongside Cooper Lake Xeons and will be the Optane DCPMM product for Ice Lake Xeons as well. Intel claims an average of 25% higher bandwidth for Barlow Pass than the initial Apache Pass modules for Cascade Lake Xeons.

The fine print in Intel’s slides indicates that the 4-deck 3D XPoint memory used in Alder Stream Optane SSDs is not yet in mass production. That and the omission of any mention of the second-generation, 4-deck 3D XPoint memory in the context of Optane DCPMM products all but confirms that Barlow Pass is still using first-gen 3D XPoint memory. This is consistent with the more modest 25% bandwidth increase as compared to the drastic improvements due to arrive with the Alder Stream SSDs.  It appears that Ice Lake servers will be getting more advanced Optane SSDs than Optane DCPMM modules, as the next generation of Optane DCPMM isn’t due until the launch of Sapphire Rapids processors and the switch to DDR5.

Related Reading

As part of Intel's Architecture Day 2020 presentations, Raja Koduri spent a bit of time talking about the status of their Optane products. Most of it was a recapitulation of details Intel has previously shared. The two important Optane product updates planned for this year are the Barlow Pass second-generation Optane DC Persistent Memory Modules (DCPMM) and the Alder Stream second-generation Optane NVMe SSDs.

Intel has been teasing their Alder Stream second-generation Optane SSDs since last fall, with promises of off-the-charts performance increases. They've confirmed that Alder Stream will be using second-generation 3D XPoint memory, which moves from two to four layers ("decks" in Intel's slides), making this the first test of the vertical scaling potential of 3D XPoint technology. This combined with with a new SSD controller supporting PCIe 4.0 will enable "multiple millions" of IOPS, more than doubling the throughput of current Optane SSDs. Raja also mentioned that they've made optimizations to single-sector reads, so 4kB QD1 random read latency should be improved a bit as well—but this latency is already substantially limited by the latency of PCIe and NVMe command processing.

Intel recently stated that they have not yet decided where to spun up their own volume manufacturing of 3D XPoint memory, so the second-gen 3D XPoint used in Alder Stream will still be manufactured by former partner Micron and purchased by Intel.

DRAM, 3D XPoint and 3D NAND memories, approximately to scale

Barlow Pass has already launched alongside Cooper Lake Xeons and will be the Optane DCPMM product for Ice Lake Xeons as well. Intel claims an average of 25% higher bandwidth for Barlow Pass than the initial Apache Pass modules for Cascade Lake Xeons.

The fine print in Intel's slides indicates that the 4-deck 3D XPoint memory used in Alder Stream Optane SSDs is not yet in mass production. That and the omission of any mention of the second-generation, 4-deck 3D XPoint memory in the context of Optane DCPMM products all but confirms that Barlow Pass is still using first-gen 3D XPoint memory. This is consistent with the more modest 25% bandwidth increase as compared to the drastic improvements due to arrive with the Alder Stream SSDs.  It appears that Ice Lake servers will be getting more advanced Optane SSDs than Optane DCPMM modules, as the next generation of Optane DCPMM isn't due until the launch of Sapphire Rapids processors and the switch to DDR5.

Related Reading

Intel’s 11th Gen Core Tiger Lake SoC Detailed: SuperFin, Willow Cove and Xe-LP

At the start of the year, Intel ‘foolishly’ handed me a wafer of its next generation Tiger Lake processors, as the moment it came into my hands I attempted to make a very quick exit. In my time with the wafer, we learned that this new 10nm…

At the start of the year, Intel ‘foolishly’ handed me a wafer of its next generation Tiger Lake processors, as the moment it came into my hands I attempted to make a very quick exit. In my time with the wafer, we learned that this new 10nm laptop-focused processor had four cores, used Intel’s next generation Xe graphics architecture, and would set the stage at the end of the year as the cornerstone of Intel’s mobile processor offerings. As part of Intel’s Architecture Day 2020 a couple of days ago, the company went into detail about what makes Tiger Lake the true vehicle for 10nm, and why customers will want a Tiger Lake device.

The Intel Xe-LP GPU Architecture Deep Dive: Building Up The Next Generation

As part of today’s Intel Architecture Day, Intel is devoting a good bit of its time to talking about the company’s GPU architecture plans. Though not a shy spot for Intel, per-se, the company is still best known for its CPU cores, and the …

As part of today’s Intel Architecture Day, Intel is devoting a good bit of its time to talking about the company’s GPU architecture plans. Though not a shy spot for Intel, per-se, the company is still best known for its CPU cores, and the amount of marketing attention they’ve put into the graphics side of their business has always been a bit weaker as a result. But, like so many other things at Intel, times are changing – not only is Intel devoting ever more die real estate to GPUs, but over the next two years they are transitioning into a true third player in the PC GPU space, launching their first new discrete GPU in several generations.

Upcoming feature will explain changes introduced by big Windows 10 updates

It’s often the case that the most noticeable changes a big Windows update brings are bugs in the system, leaving people to wonder why they even bothered. There are some new features that Microsoft highlights from time to time, but they’re few and far b…


It’s often the case that the most noticeable changes a big Windows update brings are bugs in the system, leaving people to wonder why they even bothered. There are some new features that Microsoft highlights from time to time, but they’re few and far between.

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GDC 2021 will be a ‘hybrid event’ with both a physical and digital presence

That digital event kicked off earlier this month, and for the most part, things seemed to proceed smoothly. Nonetheless, it seems GDC’s leadership team is not eager to make digital events the norm moving forward.


That digital event kicked off earlier this month, and for the most part, things seemed to proceed smoothly. Nonetheless, it seems GDC's leadership team is not eager to make digital events the norm moving forward.

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Need $200 quickly? Square’s Cash App is experimenting with short-term loans

The company is currently testing the feature with around 1,000 users, but if Square deems it to be successful, expect a wider rollout. The pandemic has brought economic hardship around the world, and a short-term cash infusion could help a lot of peopl…


The company is currently testing the feature with around 1,000 users, but if Square deems it to be successful, expect a wider rollout. The pandemic has brought economic hardship around the world, and a short-term cash infusion could help a lot of people—provided they pay it back on time.

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Dropbox rolls out its password manager to all paid subscribers

Passwords is, as the name suggests, Dropbox’s take on password managers. Simply put, it can save your passwords across any website or app and autofill them for you at will — Passwords is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android at the moment.


Passwords is, as the name suggests, Dropbox's take on password managers. Simply put, it can save your passwords across any website or app and autofill them for you at will -- Passwords is available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android at the moment.

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Marvel’s Avengers’ PC requirements are here: make space on your SSD

The PC version of Marvel’s Avengers comes with a number of platform-specific features, including the option to download and install a 30GB high-resolution texture pack. There’s also fully customizable mouse/keyboard and controllers—you can even switch …


The PC version of Marvel's Avengers comes with a number of platform-specific features, including the option to download and install a 30GB high-resolution texture pack. There's also fully customizable mouse/keyboard and controllers—you can even switch between the two input methods seamlessly, assuming that's something you enjoy.

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Foxconn says China can no longer be “the world’s factory”

Foxconn’s latest earnings report is out, and it looks like Apple’s biggest supplier rose above analyst expectations at a time when many other companies have seen their business dwindle because of the pandemic.


Foxconn's latest earnings report is out, and it looks like Apple's biggest supplier rose above analyst expectations at a time when many other companies have seen their business dwindle because of the pandemic.

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Control Ultimate Edition lands August 27 with ‘free’ next-gen upgrades

Remedy’s action-adventure game Control is approaching its one-year birthdate later this month. To celebrate, publisher 505 Games announced it would be releasing an “Ultimate” version bundled with the Season Pass. Perhaps best of all, the package deal a…


Remedy's action-adventure game Control is approaching its one-year birthdate later this month. To celebrate, publisher 505 Games announced it would be releasing an "Ultimate" version bundled with the Season Pass. Perhaps best of all, the package deal also includes the optimized versions coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X...

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Abkoncore A660 Review

Although the lighting is reminiscent of the Logitech G303, the Abkoncore A660 has a shape similar to the Logitech G203 or G305. Equipped with PixArt’s PMW3325, Omron switches for the main buttons, and full software customizability, at just $20, the A66…

Although the lighting is reminiscent of the Logitech G303, the Abkoncore A660 has a shape similar to the Logitech G203 or G305. Equipped with PixArt's PMW3325, Omron switches for the main buttons, and full software customizability, at just $20, the A660 is particularly interesting for those on a budget.