Intel’s priciest chip has 24 cores and sells for $8,898

No Intel chip is as expensive as the new Xeon E7-8894 v4 server processor.

xeon e7v4 on wafer blueThe US$8,898 Xeon chip has massive horsepower with 24 cores, 60MB of cache and a maximum clock frequency of 3.4GHz. Intel said this is the company’s fastest server chip, breaking enterprise application speed records.

The company’s next expensive chip after the E7-8894 v4 is its other 24-core processor, the Xeon E7-8890 v4, which is priced at $7,174. The chips have similar features except for the base clock speed. The new chip starts at 2.4GHz compared to 2.2GHz for the less expensive chip.

The $8,898 chip even outprices Intel’s fastest supercomputing chip, the Xeon Phi 7290F, which is priced at $6,401. It is also over four times more expensive than the costliest PC chip, the $1,723 Core i7-6950X for gaming desktops.

Some price competition could come from AMD, which is reentering the server market with Zen-based chips in the second quarter. Its initial server chips code-named Naples have up to 32 cores. AMD has not revealed the target market for Naples, but it could be cloud providers.

During an earnings call, AMD indicated Naples chips would be competitively priced, and downplayed its margins expectations. AMD is projecting Zen chips to be high performance, but the company is looking for volume shipments and may not participate in the low-volume market of servers with more than eight sockets.

The Xeon E7-8894 v4, which is based on the Broadwell architecture, is priced high for many reasons. It is targeted at fault tolerant servers used by financial or retail companies which need highly reliable systems for transactions and fraud detection. These companies could lose hundreds of millions of dollars if a server crashed.

The new chip also has features not found in regular PC or server chips, like error correction and RAS (reliability, availability and serviceability), which can diagnose and troubleshoot issues without crashing servers. The chips also have high levels of I/O and networking integration.

Right now server buyers don’t have bargaining power with Intel, which has more than a 90 percent market share in server chips. Intel charges a hefty premium for the performance and adjacent technologies it bundles, including server and networking gear.

The E7 v4 chips aren’t high in volume shipments, and are made in smaller batches. But these are highly profitable chips and fuel revenue for Intel, which is now relying more on data center equipment than PCs for growth in the future.

Server chips already have a high markup, but average prices have been going up in recent years and will continue to rise, said Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Center Group for Intel, during a speech at a investor day meeting in Santa Clara, California, on Thursday.

Prices have been going up due to new applications like machine learning and analytics and the growth of business cloud services, Bryant said.

“Because they see value in our high-end products, they are buying up the stack,” Bryant said.

But server purchases have stalled after years of growth, and Bryant projected a 5 percent decline in server CPU shipments going into 2021. The company isn’t expecting to grow from server CPU shipments, but from adjacent product shipments to telecom and cloud providers.

Competition from AMD has been worked into the server chip price and shipment projections, Bryant said.

Intel plans more potentially powerful and expensive chips this year. The company will ship a deep learning chip called Knights Mill and a separate chip called Lake Crest that will integrate Xeon with a deep-learning chip based on technology acquired from Nervana Systems.

New Windows 10 preview build focuses on PC gaming with Game Mode, Beam, Game Settings

This week, gamers on both Windows 10 PCs and the Xbox One will start receiving a boatload of new gaming features that will roll out over the coming days as part of their respective Insider programs.windows 10 pc gaming game mode

 

PC gamers arguably have the most to get excited about. A Game Mode to custom-configure your PC for games, a new dedicated Games menu within Windows 10’s Settings, and Beam game livestreaming will form a trifecta of improvements.

Xbox owners have already seen Microsoft roll out more general UI improvements to the Xbox dashboard, plus an aggressive new program to segment Xbox users into four different grades of access. With the new updates, Microsoft has upgraded the Cortana digital assistant with new commands and added a Screentime feature that can manage the time that kids use the Xbox.

While this is all part of the new Creators Update, any time Microsoft releases new features specific to gaming it’s worth getting excited about. More specifically, these new capabilities aren’t necessarily designed to tie the Xbox to Windows—a somewhat controversial subject for PC gamers worried about un-moddable PC games—but instead focus on improving the individual platforms.

In the Silver Age of PC gaming, gamers tweaked HIMEM.sys files and custom-designed AUTORUN.EXE files to turn off anything that wasn’t necessary to run Doom and other DOS games at the highest performance possible. The new Game Mode for Windows 10 looks like it takes the same approach.

windows 10 pc gaming game mode

How much extra performance will WIdows 10’s new Game Mode be able to eke out? That remains to be seen.

“With Game Mode, it’s our goal to now take things a step further to make the gaming experience on Windows even better,” Microsoft wrote in a blog post. “Our vision is that Game Mode optimizes your Windows 10 PC for an improvement in overall game performance.”

In a video, Microsoft explains that the goal is to increase both your PC’s peak frame rate while playing a game, and the average frame rate, too. Eventually, the goal is to trigger Game Mode automatically. But it’s also possible that not every game will work right away, Microsoft adds.

 

To enable it, you’ll need to trigger the Windows Game bar (WIN + G) and enter Settings. At this point, Microsoft says, you can opt in the current game into Game Mode. It appears this setting will be live soon, whenever the new build is released.

Over time, Microsoft has turned Settings into a front page of sorts for tweaking controls for certain tasks—moving display resolutions out of its former home in the Control Panel, for instance. Gaming apparently will receive the same treatment.

PC gamers will need to become familiar with Windows 10’s new Gaming controls.

The Gaming section of Settings uses the familiar Xbox logo. Within it, you’ll find controls for the Game bar, the GameDVR feature, Beam broadcasting, and more. The Gaming section will remain in flux, Microsoft said, as it makes further tweaks. It sounds like you might see specific controls for joysticks and other peripherals here in the future, for instance.

Microsoft and its subsidiary, Beam, have been busy discussing the improvements behind their entry into the game-streaming space, competing with Twitch and YouTube. The new 1440p Beam streams are apparently live, and you’ll be able to take advantage of the Game bar to begin streaming from Beam on the PC, with Xbox One support coming soon. According to Microsoft, the streams will have less than a second of delay, meaning that streamers will be able to chat with their fans essentially in real time.

windows 10 pc gaming beam

Microsoft hopes that Beam becomes the new Twitch of the Xbox One and even the Windows 10 PC.

Eventually, Xbox users will be able to stream from the Guide navigation bar, with the management controls and chats available as overlays (as opposed to snapped windows).

This story was updated at 9:33 AM with comments from Microsoft’s Larry Hyrb about the new build’s delay.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Received $18 Million in 2016 Pay

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Received $18 Million in 2016 PayMicrosoft Corp. Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s reported compensation fell 3.3 percent to $17.7 million (roughly Rs. 117 crores) in the software maker’s latest fiscal year ended June 30.

Nadella received about $5.66 million (roughly Rs. 38 crores) in salary and bonus and a $12 million (roughly Rs. 80 crores) stock award, according to a preliminary proxy statement filed Monday. About half of the shares will vest in 2018 if Microsoft achieves targets including revenue, operating income and a number of commercial cloud subscribers – and its stock outperforms 60 percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index. The remainder will vest in full by 2019 if he remains on the job.

Microsoft’s board moved to tie part of Nadella’s annual stock grant to targets and cut back its discretion over cash bonuses after more than a quarter of voting shareholders rejected its executive compensation program at the company’s last two annual meetings. In talks with directors, investors voiced concerns about excessive payout limits for bonuses and stock awards, and insufficient disclosure of factors used to evaluate performance, the filing said. Companies in the S&P 500 received on average 91 percent support for their pay programs in 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Pete Wootton, a spokesman for the Redmond, Washington-based company, declined to comment beyond the filing. Microsoft shares increased 15 percent in the 12 months ended June 30, compared with a 1 percent increase in the S&P 500.
When he was named CEO, Nadella received a stock award valued at $59 million that will vest in three increments in 2019, 2020 and 2021 if Microsoft’s total returns to shareholders exceed 60 percent of companies in the S&P 500 in the five prior years. The face value of the award was disclosed as part of his 2014 compensation. The company’s total return has increased 70 percent since Nadella took the job in February 2014, compared with a 30 percent increase in the index.

Kevin Turner, who left his job as chief operating officer in July, was the second-highest paid executive officer in fiscal 2016 with $13 million.

HP introduces DaaS service for Indian enterprises

 

HP announces new DaaS service for Indian enterprises.HP announces new DaaS service for Indian enterprises.
NEW DELHI: HP has announced a new Device-as-a-Service (DaaS) programme, empowering businesses in India. The objective of the program is to enable the businesses in India to stay ahead and be more efficient in delivering best experiences to their customers.

The program incorporates services, support and eventual disposal as part of one overall services agreement. The organizations will also get customized services and support from HP which will incorporate configuration and software installation, onsite break-fix, data migration, proactive support and others.

Speaking about the program, Rajiv Srivastava, Managing Director, HP, India, said, “Indian businesses are innovating to serve a vibrant, diverse workforce and are transforming to become more competitive nationally and globally. HP offers services and solutions that grow with enterprises and organizations, enabling them to leapfrog whole technologies, connect across geographies in India and even global markets. As the final touch-point to their customer and employee, the right device is just the start. It’s about how you manage that device, ensuring flexibility, integrating the right application and keeping it secure till it’s replaced.”

Microsoft Makes Windows 10 Activation Easier With Latest Update

windows_10_microsoft_031.jpg

Microsoft is making it easier for users to upgrade to Windows 10. The November update, which the company rolled out last week, allows users on older versions of Windows to clean install Windows 10 on their system and use any valid activation key tied to Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 version during the upgrade.

Prior to the November update, codenamed Threshold 2, users were required to upgrade from a previous install of Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 as per Microsoft’s free-for-a-year program. Microsoft now gives “digital entitlement” to those users clean installing Windows 10 using any valid licence key tied to older eligible versions.

The change of heart comes as many users requested Microsoft to make the activation process easier. As ZDNet reports, the latest build of Windows 10 can now be clean installed on a machine, and that build is also accepting any valid Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1 product key during the activation process. Microsoft hasn’t confirmed if the apparent changes it has made to the activation policy are here to stay.

On the flip side, for the company, the new activation policy might allow users with no valid activation keys to find stolen keys from the Web and use it on their computer. At this point, no such incidents have been reported, however.

For years, Windows piracy has been a concerning issue for Microsoft. Steve Ballmer had famously said in 2011 that 90 percent of Chinese users use pirated copies of Windows. Elsewhere in the world, too, Windows piracy is a common thing to cite. But to meet company’s one billion Windows 10 devices goal in next few years, giving access to the new operating system to potential freeloaders may not be such a bad thing.

India PC Market Shrank 14.1 Percent YoY in Q2

PC shipments in India increased 1.4 percent to 2.19 million units in the April-June 2015 quarter over the first quarter of the year, helped by rebound in the commercial segment, research firm IDC said on Wednesday.

The sales were, however, lower by 14.1 percent compared to the same quarter last year, IDC said in a statement. It said the Indian PC market is looking to recuperate in due course of time.

“Festive buying is expected to drive a positive growth in consumer spending and last leg of ELCOT fulfillments are expected to lead to an overall growth in the PC market in the succeeding two quarters,” IDC India Research Manager (Client Devices) Kiran Kumar said.

As per IDC data, the commercial PC segment recorded 1.04 million unit shipments in the second quarter of 2015, registering a 4.5 percent quarter-on-quarter growth against the preceding quarter.

“Various announcements and initiatives made by the government on boosting economic growth had positive impact on the sentiments of the business community,” Kumar said.

In order to sustain this buoyancy, it is vital that implementation of reforms continues at a steady pace, he added. However, the consumer PC market recorded shipment of 1.15 million units, a quarter-on-quarter drop of 1.3 percent over January-March 2015 quarter.

“While there are signs of optimism in the market and even as overall consumer sentiments are improving, discretionary spending levels are yet to witness a makeover,” IDC India Market Analyst (Client Devices) Manish Yadav said.

As a result, inventories continue to build up and vendors are hoping for a seasonal turnaround in the July-September 2015 quarter, Yadav added.

HP retained its top spot with market share of 26.4 per cent, followed by Dell (21.6 percent), Lenovo (18.1 percent) and Acer (11.3 percent) in the said quarter.

pc_shipments_q2_2015_idc.jpeg“As market leader, HP has been dedicated to supporting this transformation in 2015 by relentlessly focusing on providing differentiated experiences for our customers and introducing a range of stylish, innovative products in new form factors,” HP India Vice President and General Manager, Printing and Personal Systems, Rajiv Srivastava said.

India to Install 73 ‘Green’ Supercomputers in Next 3 Years

India plans to install 73 ‘green supercomputers’ in the next three years to enable high-performance computing with reduced power consumption, a scientist at the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) said on Friday.

“Around five to 10 supercomputers will be installed this year and the rest in the next three years in phases. Through optimisation, power consumption of the machines will be reduced as less as possible,” Sanjay Wandhekar, associate director and head, High Performance Computing, C-DAC, Pune, told IANS.

Currently 11 Indian machines are on the list of the world’s 500 most powerful supercomputers, including two in the top 100.

C-DAC, which gave India its first supercomputer, said with the 73 ‘green’ machines, the country would be on the Top 500 Green computing list as well.

The machines are being developed under the Rs. 4,500-crores National Supercomputing Mission which is jointly handled by the departments of science and technology and electronics and information technology.

Wandhekar said 50 machines will be entry-level supercomputers, 20 of medium level and three will be of large capacity.

The Bhaskara supercomputer was announced in May to help meteorologists in conducting research and development related to prediction of weather including effective forecast of tropical cyclone, heavy rainfall and cloud burst events. The present augmentation enables Earth System Science Organisation – National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (ESSO-NCMRWF) to provide high-resolution 10 days global weather forecast and prediction of extreme weather events using very high-resolution regional models with a horizontal resolution of 1.5km and probabilistic forecasts using an ensemble prediction system.

SanDisk Extreme 900 and Extreme 500 Portable SSDs Launched in India

SanDisk has entered the portable SSD market with two new offerings; the SanDisk Extreme 900 and Extreme 500 ranges. The Extreme 900 range is touted by SanDisk as the world’s fastest line of USB 3.1 Type-C based portable SSDs, while the Extreme 500 are pocket-sized rugged drives for outdoor and rough usage. SanDisk aims to reach out to photographers, videographers, tech enthusiasts, and other creative professionals who need to transfer and store large files at quick speeds regularly.

The SanDisk Extreme 900 series is available in capacities of 480GB (Rs. 35,990), 960GB (Rs. 53,990), and 1.92TB (Rs. 89,990), and is capable of transfer speeds of up to 850MB/s. The Extreme 500 series with USB 3.0 support (no USB Type-C) is available in capacities of 120GB (Rs. 8,490), 240GB (Rs. 12,990), and 480GB (Rs. 22,990), and can achieve transfer speeds of up to 415MB/s. Both lines feature a three-year warranty and feature SanDisk Secure Access – an application that offers 128-bit encryption to secure data.

sandisk_extreme900_main.jpg“As a recognised leader in developing solutions for professional photographers and videographers, we designed this game-changing family of offerings to provide our customers with even greater speeds and capacities to keep up with rapidly increasing demands for high-quality content,” said Rajesh Gupta, Country Manager – India & Saarc, SanDisk. “Whether a professional or amateur, this level of portability, speed and capacity is exceptional, and we believe it will transform the way people create and produce high quality video content – ultimately saving them time and money.”

SanDisk also announced a new entry-level 2.5-inch internal SSD drive, the SanDisk SSD Plus. The new drive promises to inject new life into old PCs by offering quicker boot-up times and considerable performance boosts. The SSD Plus will be available in 120GB and 240GB capacities, but SanDisk has yet to reveal India pricing

Microsoft to Stop Detailing Minor Windows 10 Updates

If you’re having trouble deciphering what exactly Microsoft is bundling in Windows 10 updates, it is not your fault. Moreover, it is about to get worse. Microsoft has confirmed that it might choose to not offer a detailed changelog with new Windows 10 updates.

Microsoft’s decision to move Windows from as-a-product to as-a-service model changes the way it delivers the Windows operating system to users. The company has announced that in lieu of releasing new versions of Windows, it would continue to offer updates to Windows 10. In other words, Windows 10 is the last version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system.

Since the release of Windows 10 on July 29, Microsoft has offered three cumulative updates. The changelog the company bundled with these updates offered information about security patches, with minimal details about other changes. And now the company says that it could choose to not offer any information at all, and will only do so for significant updates.

“As we have done in the past, we post KB articles relevant to most updates which we’ll deliver with Windows as a service. Depending on the significance of the update and if it is bringing new functionality to Windows customers, we may choose to do additional promotion of new features as we deploy them,” a Microsoft spokesperson told The Register.

The downside of this is that users wouldn’t know what new features or changes these new Windows 10 updates are bringing with them. All the cumulative updates have been found to have some bugs in them. One of the updates caused some PCs to enter reboot loops. It seems like a bad idea to not offer users with complete details of the changes the updates make to the operating system as users could have used the information to bypass or halt the automatic update as they see fit. On the other hand, users may choose to ignore an update that contains major security fixes.

Intel ‘Skylake’ CPU, Graphics, Security, and Power Management Details Revealed

When Intel launched the first two processors based on the new Skylake architecture at Gamescom a few weeks ago, it didn’t share much information about what’s new and why they are faster or better than their predecessors. The enthusiast-oriented Core i7-6700K and Core i5-6600K are only the tip of the iceberg though; Intel will launch many more models across price tiers and device segments over the next year.

While details such as speeds and specifications of individual SKUs have not been made public, Intel did share a whole lot of information about the architecture as a whole at the annual Intel Developer Forum this week. Over the course of several technical briefings, we were able to build a high-level overview of what Skylake (formally known as the sixth-generation Core architecture) does differently and what users can expect.

This overview paints a picture of a hypothetical Skylake processor with a superset of all possible features. Diagrams shown do not represent any actual product. It is likely that there will be models that do implement a majority of these features, if not all, but we do not know at this point how Intel will differentiate products at different tiers in its hierarchy.

idf_skylake_deck_blockdiagram_intel.jpgFirst of all, Skylake has been designed with a much wider range of target devices in mind than any previous generation. There is a 20x scale in terms of TDP, which represents power consumption and heat output. At one end of the scale, there will be 4.5W parts for ultralight tablets – these will succeed the current products in the Core M lineup. At the other extreme will be 91W parts, such as the two already launched.

With tablets and other portable form factors in mind, another big change this generation is the incorporation of IO (Input and Output) functionality that has not been integrated into processors before. Key amongst these is a camera ISP (Image Signal Processor) that can handle up to four 13-megapixel cameras (but only two simultaneously). That might seem excessive, but stereo imaging is key to Intel’s RealSense efforts.

idf_skylake_deck_cameraisp_intel.jpg4K video recording at 30fps or 1080p at 60fps will be supported. Camera capabilities will include face detection and recognition, still capture during video recording, concurrently recording two video streams, zero-lag burst captures, and HDR. ISP integration reduces the cost and complexity of designing devices, while getting smaller and smaller.

Power reduction has been at the forefront of CPU development for years, and Skylake takes things a step further by dedicating separate fixed-function logic for tasks such as 4K video decoding, streaming, and transcoding. New formats that can be accelerated include HEVC, AVC, SCc, VP8, and MJPEG. This allows the bulk of the CPU to stay idle while performing an otherwise stressful task, reducing power draw. Beyond that, power gating is even more granular than before. Very specific parts of the CPU can be turned off when not required.

Intel reminded us that all power savings are the result of better efficiency in the architecture, since Skylake is not based on a new, smaller manufacturing process. By pushing more instructions through per clock cycle and further reducing occasions when the CPU is waiting for data from a cache or main memory, the CPU can do its work and switch to a lower power state sooner.

idf_skylake_deck_overclock_intel_02.jpgIn another first, Skylake processors will take over the duty of deciding when to switch between power states, which has until now been handled by the operating system. Intel calls the new technique SpeedShift, which it says will allow it to switch states more rapidly, providing processing power on demand but also shutting things down with more agility.

Not all improvements cater to the low-power end of the spectrum. Intel has taken into consideration the needs of enthusiasts and overclockers. The highest-end K-series CPUs (and possibly some others) allow for very fine-grained voltage and frequency adjustments. The base clock has been liberated from being tied to the strictly controlled PCI Express bus clock, and can be pushed in 1MHz increments. There are independent multipliers for the processor, memory and graphics units. DDR4 memory can be pushed to up to 4133MHz.