After months of leaks and rumours, Intel has pulled back the curtain on its 10th generation “S-series” desktop chips, with the Core i9-10900K leading the pack. Leading the range is the new Core i9-10900K, which offers 10 cores, 20 threads, a 125W TDP, boosted speeds up to 5.3GHz, and, according to Intel, with a base speed of 3.7GHz, it’s “the world’s fastest gaming processor”, for around $500. The company is promoting improved clock speeds, which it says are important for lightly threaded workloads such as gaming, as well as more cores and threads across much of the lineup.
The highlight of the launch is the new top-end Core i9-10900K model which features 10 cores with Hyper-Threading. It has a base speed of 3.7Ghz and a maximum boost speed of 4.8GHz across all cores or 5.3GHz for one core. The highest speeds are achieved using Intel’s Turbo Boost Max 3.0, previously seen only in Core X-series models, and Thermal Velocity Boost, which depends on thermal and power variables. The TDP is rated at 125W and this model is fully overclockable. Intel’s recommended price is $488 (approximately Rs. 36,630 before taxes). A non-unlocked model, the 65W Core i9-10900, has base and boost speeds of 2.8GHz and 5.2GHz respectively.
And since Intel knows that it has an advantage with clock speed, it’s aiming to highlight that wherever possible. The updated Turbo Boost Max 3.0 feature, for example, will identify the two fastest cores on your chip and have them tackle the brunt of your workload. And there’s also “Thermal Velocity Boost,” a way for i9 processors to eke out a bit more speed when they’re under 70 celsius. That’s also how Intel is reaching that lofty 5.3GHz figure on a single core, but it’ll also deliver slightly higher boost speeds over all cores too.
Performance-wise, Intel claims the i9-10900K is 10 per cent faster than the last-gen 9900K in PUBG and 63 per cent faster than the three-year-old i7-7700K (remember, the i9 chips didn’t exist back then). The new processor is also around 18 per cent faster at 4K video editing than the last-gen chip, and 35 per cent faster than the 7700K. So yeah, it’s faster — though as usual, it’s probably not worth upgrading if you’re on a 9th gen chip.
Keeping with the speed theme, Intel is giving enthusiasts even more ways to overclock. There’s a redesigned Intel Extreme Tuning Utility, which gives you more control over voltage and frequency. It’ll also let you turn off hyperthreading on individual cores — which might seem counter-intuitive at first, but Intel explains it’s a useful way to reduce heat, every overclocker’s worst enemy.
The new processors also feature a thinner die along with a thicker copper IHS (integrated heat spreader), which should also help keep things cooler. That’s a smart move since all of Intel’s new chips still have higher TDPs (thermal design profiles) than AMD’s. The 10900K has a 125-watt TDP, for example, while AMD’s Ryzen 9 3900X’s is just 105-watts. (It’s worth noting that TDP is quite a fluid term, though, so we won’t know what that 125-watt number will translate to in real-world use until we can test a chip for ourselves.)
You can expect to see the unlocked “K” CPUs in May, but we don’t have a timeline for the other chips. Based on the specs alone, the Intel 10th-gen desktop processors seem like a solid upgrade for anyone with a 3-year old PC. Still, AMD now has the advantage when it comes to core count and architecture efficiency. Maybe next year we’ll finally see Intel’s desktop CPUs on 10nm, but by then AMD will have an even more refined process. Given just how many waves AMD has been making over the last year, Intel will really have to do something special to stand out in 2021.
Dell Rides Booming Demands for Remote-Working Tools to Beat Quarterly Sales Estimates `
By Reuters | Updated: 25 November 2020
Dell forecast current-quarter sales above market expectations as a pandemic-driven shift to remote work and learning powered demand for its desktops and notebooks, helping it post a surprise rise in third-quarter revenue.
The company said, on an earnings call with analysts on Tuesday, that it expects fourth-quarter revenue to rise 3 percent to 4 percent sequentially, implying a range between $24.18 billion (roughly Rs. 1,78,800 crores) and $24.42 billion (roughly Rs. 1,80,600 crores), compared with analysts’ average expectation of $23.09 billion (roughly Rs. 1,70,800 crores).
The PC maker’s shares were last up marginally in volatile after-market trading, as adjusted earnings matched Wall Street expectations of $2.03 (roughly Rs. 150) per share.
Consumers and businesses are spending on notebooks at a rate Dell has not seen in over a decade, according to an earnings presentation, helping its client solutions group rake in a record $12.29 billion (roughly Rs. 90,900 crores) in revenue, up about 8 percent from a year earlier.
Global shipments in the traditional PC market, which includes desktops, notebooks, and workstations, jumped 14.6 percent year-over-year to 81.3 million units in the third quarter of 2020, according to data from IDC.
While the health crisis lifted demand for Dell’s remote workstation products, the company’s data centre business remained under pressure, with revenue from the unit falling about 4 percent to $8.02 billion (roughly Rs. 59,300 crores) in the quarter.
Sales at VMware rose about 8 percent to $2.89 billion (roughly Rs. 21,400 crores). Dell plans to spin off its 81 percent stake in the software unit to help reduce debt.
Total revenue rose nearly 3 percent to $23.48 billion (roughly Rs. 1,73,650 crores) in the three months ended October 30, while analysts had estimated a drop of 4.4 percent to $21.85 billion (roughly Rs. 1,61,600 crores), according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
Net income attributable to the company rose to $832 million (roughly Rs. 6,150 crores), from $499 million (roughly Rs. 3,700 crores) a year earlier.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
Nvidia Signs In-Car Entertainment System Deal With Hyundai
By Reuters | Updated: 10 November 2020
Chip maker NVIDIA on Monday announced that Hyundai Motor will use the NVIDIA DRIVE in-vehicle information and entertainment system for all its Hyundai, Kia, and Genesis models from 2022.
NVIDIA said the luxury vehicle division of Hyundai, Genesis, already uses NVIDIA DRIVE for its GV80 and G80 models.
NVIDIA declined to say how many vehicles NVIDIA DRIVE would be installed in, but said it is a large number and pointed to the fact that in 2019 Hyundai Motor Group shipped over 7 million vehicles.
Hyundai Motor is the flagship company of Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors is its sister company.
NVIDIA DRIVE includes hardware and software components and uses artificial intelligence to improve the user’s experience. The software can be “perpetually” updated, giving vehicles the latest AI cockpit features, said NVIDIA.
NVIDIA said it has also been working with Mercedes-Benz, Audi AG and Honda Motor on in-car entertainment and information systems.
© Thomson Reuters 2020
Apple’s New Mac Models With In-House Silicon Could Revive the PC Chip Wars, Analysts Say
By Reuters | Updated: 10 November 2020
Apple on Tuesday is expected to unveil new Mac computers using its own in-house processor chips, a move that could reignite a race to control the market for desktop and laptop chips and benefit players such as Qualcomm.
The market has been dominated by Intel and Advanced Micro Devices since 2006, when Apple joined most other major computer makers in using chips based on Intel’s ‘x86’ computing architecture.
On Tuesday Apple is expected to start a two-year process of ending its nearly 15-year relationship with Intel by introducing Mac computers with Apple-designed chips based on computing architecture technology from Arm, which Nvidia has agreed to buy from SoftBank in a $40 billion deal (roughly Rs. 2,93,572 crores).
Apple will design the chips using Arm technology and have them manufactured by a partner, most likely Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, which makes processors for Apple’s iPhone. UK-based Arm’s technology also powers most Android phones.
Apple’s forthcoming machines already have competition from Qualcomm, which since 2016 has worked with Microsoft to adapt the Windows operating system to Qualcomm’s Arm-based processors.
Qualcomm and Microsoft have worked with PC makers such as Lenovo and Asustek Computer to sell laptops using the new chips, and Microsoft’s own Surface Pro X released last year uses a Qualcomm processor.
Those devices are niche sellers today, but Apple’s entry into the market is likely to grab consumer attention around the emerging technology shift, especially if Apple begins to develop chips that rival Intel’s performance.
“Apple diving headstrong into Arm will speed this up,” said Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy.
Arm-based PCs have key differences from Intel-based machines. Because the chips are derived from smartphones where power consumption is a key concern, they tend to claim better battery life than conventional machines. Like smartphones, they also turn on quickly and can remain constantly connected to cellular data networks.
“Where the connectivity has shined is the work from home situation,” said Miguel Nunes, senior director for product management at Qualcomm. “We see a lot of people realizing that their WiFi at home can’t keep up with everything.”
But hurdles remain for Arm-based PCs. Most software written in the past 20 years was for Intel machines, and until it is rewritten, it may have to rely on ’emulation’ that could slow down apps.
Intel’s chip lineup “enables people to use their favorite Windows applications without experiencing the potential performance penalties associated with running non-native apps on non-x86 architecture via Windows, or worry if their favorite applications will run on their platform,” Intel said in a statement.
Ben Bajarin, principal analyst for consumer market intelligence at Creative Strategies, said the critical test for Arm-based computers will be whether developers rewrite software used by big businesses, which are still the largest purchasers of machines. Apple’s entry to the market does not guarantee that will happen.
“Most of Apple’s hardcore developer base is going to be using Apple’s proprietary developer tools,” he said. But with Microsoft also providing development tools for Windows on Arm, a broader shift “is not outside the realm of possibility.”
© Thomson Reuters 2020
AMD to Buy Xilinx in All-Stock Deal Valued at $35 Billion
By Associated Press | Updated: 27 October 2020
AMD is buying Xilinx for $35 billion (roughly Rs. 2,57,900 crores) in an all-stock deal that will combine the two Silicon Valley chip makers.
The deal announced Tuesday puts AMD in a place it wants to be; competing more fiercely with Intel.
Xilinx stockholders will receive 1.7234 shares of AMD stock for each Xilinx share they hold, or approximately $143 (roughly Rs. 10,500) per share of Xilinx stock.
AMD stockholders will own about 74 percent of the combined company, with Xilinx stockholders owning approximately 26 percent.
The transaction will give AMD a strong portfolio of high performance processor technologies, combining CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs, Adaptive SoCs and deep software expertise to enable leadership computing platforms for cloud, edge and end devices.
“Joining together with AMD will help accelerate growth in our data center business and enable us to pursue a broader customer base across more markets,” Xilinx CEO Victor Peng said in a prepared statement.
AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su will lead the combined company as CEO. Peng will join AMD as president, responsible for the Xilinx business and strategic growth initiatives. At least two Xilinx directors will join the AMD’s board once the transaction is complete.
The deal is expected to close by the end of next year. It still needs approval from shareholders of both companies.
Shares of Xilinx fell nearly 2 percent before the market open on Tuesday, while AMD’s stock rose slightly.
Intel to Sell NAND Flash Memory Business to SK Hynix for $9 Billion
By Agence France-Presse | Updated: 20 October 2020
The world’s second-largest chipmaker, South Korea’s SK Hynix, on Tuesday announced a $9 billion (roughly Rs. 66,000 crores) deal to buy Intel’s flash memory chip operation as it seeks to bolster its position against rival behemoth Samsung Electronics.
SK Hynix is already the world number two maker of DRAM chips, used in computers and servers, and the second-largest chipmaker overall.
But it has lagged in the market for flash memory, or NAND chips, which are used in everyday devices such as smartphones and USB storage drives, as well as industrial and medical equipment.
In a regulatory filing, SK Hynix said it will acquire Intel’s “entire NAND business division excluding the Optane division” for KRW 10.3 trillion (roughly Rs. 66,300 crores), with Intel’s factory in Dalian, China, included in the deal.
SK Hynix ranked fourth by global NAND sales in the second quarter this year, according to market researcher Trendforce. Intel was sixth.
Their combination will see SK Hynix leapfrog Japan’s Kioxia and Western Digital of the United States into second place with a market share of more than 23 percent, the Trendforce numbers showed.
The NAND and DRAM markets are both dominated by Samsung Electronics, and global chip demand has boosted profits for the two South Korean firms in recent years.
The pair compete to supply chips to American giants such as Apple, Dell and HP, as well as Chinese companies.
The Intel acquisition would strengthen the NAND operations of SK Hynix, which have “not been as strong as its other businesses”, said Ahn Ki-hyun, vice-president of the Korea Semiconductor Industry Association.
“With the deal, the company has firmly cemented its second-largest position in the global semiconductor industry,” he added.
“In the long run, the deal paves a way for it to become more competitive against Samsung.”
The founding company of SK Hynix was originally part of the Hyundai group, one of the family-controlled conglomerates known as chaebol that dominate business in the world’s 12th-largest economy.
In 2012, a multi-billion-dollar merger saw it become part of the SK Group, the third-largest of the chaebols, headed by Chey Tae-won, who is currently married to the daughter of late South Korean president Roh Tae-woo.
SK Hynix has grown to become a major company in its own right and is the second most valuable company listed on Seoul’s KOSPI stock market with a market capitalisation of KRW 62 trillion (roughly Rs. 3,99,220 crores), behind only Samsung Electronics.
But SK Hynix shares were down more than two percent on the announcement in morning trade.
Its CEO Seok-Hee Lee said in a statement that the Intel acquisition will enable the firm to “proactively respond to various needs from customers and optimise our business structure”, and make its NAND flash market position “comparable with what we achieved in DRAM”.
The statement cited Intel CEO Bob Swan saying the deal allows the US firm to focus on “differentiated technology where we can play a bigger role in the success of our customers”.
The acquisition will be paid for in cash, funded through existing reserves and borrowing, SK Hynix said.
Microsoft to Let Some Employees Work From Home Permanently
By Agence France Press | Updated: 10 October 2020
Software giant Microsoft will let employees work from home permanently if they choose to, US media reported on Friday, becoming the latest employer to expand work-from-home provisions prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
US tech news website The Verge said most Microsoft employees are still at home as the health crisis drags on, and the company doesn’t expect to reopen its US offices until January of next year at the earliest.
But when it does, workers can chose to work from home permanently with their manager’s approval, although they will have to give up their office space.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live and work in new ways,” human resources head Kathleen Hogan said in a note to employees obtained by The Verge.
“We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture.”
In a public blog post later in the day, Hogan said the company views employees spending less than 50 percent of their time working from home as “standard,” but wasn’t abandoning office work entirely.
“We are not committing to having every employee work from anywhere, as we believe there is value in employees being together in the workplace,” Hogan wrote.
The Verge reported some employees won’t be eligible for remote-work arrangements, such as those who work in Microsoft’s labs or train other employees.
In its memo, the company co-founded by Bill Gates said it is possible for its workers to relocate across the United States or perhaps overseas, The Verge said.
Those that relocate may see their salaries change depending on where they go, and while the company will cover expenses for employees’ home offices, it won’t cover relocation expenses.
As of the end of June, Microsoft employed 163,000 people, 96,000 of them in the US, according to a securities filing.
Some major tech firms have already allowed permanent work-from-home arrangements including Facebook, whose boss Mark Zuckerberg said half of the social network’s staff could be permanently working remotely within five to 10 years.
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