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      After a chaotic three years, GPU sales are starting to look normal-ish again / ArsTechnica · Monday, 4 December - 21:57 · 1 minute

    AMD's Radeon RX 7600.

    Enlarge / AMD's Radeon RX 7600. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    It's been an up-and-down decade for most consumer technology, with a pandemic-fueled boom in PC sales giving way to a sales crater that the market is still gradually recovering from . But few components have had as hard a time as gaming graphics cards, which were near impossible to buy at reasonable prices for about two years and then crashed hard as GPU companies responded with unattainable new high-end products .

    According to the GPU sales analysts at Jon Peddie Research, things may finally be evening out. Its data shows that GPU shipments have returned to quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year growth after two years of shrinking sales. This is the second consecutive quarter this has happened, which "strongly indicates that things are finally on the upswing for the graphics industry."

    JPR reports that overall GPU unit shipments (which include integrated and dedicated GPUs) are up 16.8 percent from Q2 and 36.6 percent from a year ago. Dedicated GPU sales increased 37.4 percent from Q2. When comparing year-over-year numbers, the biggest difference is that Nvidia, AMD, and Intel all have current-generation GPUs available in the $200–$300 range, including the GeForce RTX 4060 , the Radeon RX 7600 , and the Arc A770 and A750 , all of which were either unavailable or newly launched in Q3 of 2022.

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      New chip-packaging facility could save TSMC’s Arizona fab from “paperweight” status / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 30 November - 19:25 · 1 minute

    Apple wants to build more of its A- and M-series chips in the United States.

    Enlarge / Apple wants to build more of its A- and M-series chips in the United States. (credit: Apple)

    Late last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the company would definitely be buying chips made at Taiwan Semiconductor's new Arizona-based fab once it had opened. Apple working with TSMC isn't new; most, if not all, of the processors currently sold in Apple's products are made on one of TSMC's many manufacturing nodes. But being able to buy them from a US-based facility would be a first.

    The issue, as outlined by some TSMC employees speaking to The Information in September , is that the Arizona facility would manufacture chips, but it wouldn't be building a facility to handle packaging. And without packaging, the Arizona factory would essentially be a "paperweight," requiring any chips made there to be shipped to Taiwan for assembly before they could be put in any products.

    Today Apple announced that it had solved that particular problem, partnering with a company called Amkor to handle chip packaging in Arizona. Amkor says that it will invest $2 billion to build the facility, which will "employ approximately 2,000 people" and "is targeted to be ready for production within the next two to three years." Apple says that it has already worked with Amkor on chip packaging for "more than a decade."

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      Ars system mini-guide: Summer GPU refresh edition, aka “can it run Starfield”? / ArsTechnica · Friday, 8 September - 14:38

    The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT, 7800 XT, and 7600.

    Enlarge / The AMD Radeon RX 7900 XT, 7800 XT, and 7600. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Two big things have happened since we last updated our PC build guide in the spring . First, we got a batch of late-spring and summer midrange GPU launches, including AMD's Radeon RX 7600 , 7700 XT, and 7800 XT , plus Nvidia's GeForce RTX 4060 and 4060 Ti . Second, Bethesda's Starfield finally dropped , prompting a whole bunch of people to ask "can my PC run Starfield ?"

    Starfield isn't an exceptionally demanding PC game, at least not by the standards set by buggy PC ports like The Last of Us . But it will give any PC more than 3 or 4 years old a serious workout, and it should serve as a decent yardstick for building a PC that can run this console generation's games fairly well.

    This guide will focus on just minor tweaks to our spring PC builds, since other component pricing hasn't changed much and there haven't been major CPU introductions since then (Intel's don't-call-them-14th-generation Core processors may be out within a few months, but on the desktop they'll be a mild refresh of 13th-gen, which was already a mild refresh of 12th-gen).

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      Review: AMD’s Radeon RX 7700 XT and 7800 XT are almost great / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 6 September - 13:00

    AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT.

    Enlarge / AMD's Radeon RX 7800 XT. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Nearly a year ago, Nvidia kicked off this GPU generation with its GeForce RTX 4090 . The 4090 offers unparalleled performance but at an unparalleled price of $1,600 (prices have not fallen). It's not for everybody, but it's a nice halo card that shows what the Ada Lovelace architecture is capable of. Fine, I guess.

    The RTX 4080 soon followed, along with AMD's Radeon RX 7900 XTX and XT . These cards also generally offered better performance than anything you could get from a previous-generation GPU, but at still-too-high-for-most-people prices that ranged from between $900 and $1,200 (though all of those prices have fallen by a bit). Fine, I guess.

    By the time we got the 4070 Ti launch in May, we were getting down to the level of performance that had been available from previous-generation cards. These GPUs offered a decent generational jump over their predecessors (the 4070 Ti performs kind of like a 3090, and the 4070 performs kind of like a 3080). But those cards also got big price bumps that took them closer to the pricing levels of the last-gen cards they performed like. Fine, I guess.

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      Do Intel’s new graphics drivers actually overclock its low-end GPUs? / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 22 August, 2023 - 15:43 · 1 minute

    Intel's latest Arc GPU drivers do come with a firmware update, but contrary to most reports, it's not an "overclock."

    Enlarge / Intel's latest Arc GPU drivers do come with a firmware update, but contrary to most reports, it's not an "overclock." (credit: Intel)

    When we write about Intel's Arc GPUs, we're typically paying the most attention to the A750 and A770 because they're the cards that perform well enough that you might actually put them in an entry-level-to-midrange gaming desktop. But there's one other Arc graphics card of note: the lowly Arc A380, which snuck into some stores a few months before either high-end Arc card was released.

    With its eight Xe cores (down from 32 in the A770), 96-bit memory interface, and 6GB of RAM, the Arc A380 has been (in my case, literally) nothing to write home about. It's an entry-level graphics card that competes reasonably well with ancient and low-end cards like Nvidia's GeForce RTX 1650 and AMD's Radeon RX 6400, and its hardware-accelerated AV1 video encoding support makes it mildly interesting for people who work with video. It's one of the better GPUs you can get for $100, its current street price , but that's not saying much.

    But Intel's latest graphics drivers provided an update specifically for the A380 that seems notable because of how rare it is: the driver package released last week also includes a firmware update for A380 cards that seems to boost their base clock speed from 2,000 MHz up to 2,150 MHz. That's a 7.5 percent increase, supposedly being provided for free to all A380 owners with a simple firmware update. At least, it would be if it were an actual increase in the card's peak clock speed, which it isn't.

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      China blocks Intel’s $5.4B merger with Tower Semiconductor / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 16 August, 2023 - 15:56

    China blocks Intel’s $5.4B merger with Tower Semiconductor

    Enlarge (credit: NurPhoto / Contributor | NurPhoto )

    Today, Intel officially announced the termination of a $5.4 billion deal with Tower Semiconductor that was supposed to propel Intel closer to its "goal of becoming the second-largest global external foundry by the end of the decade."

    Yesterday, the deadline for completing the deal passed after the tech companies failed to secure timely regulatory approval in China, Intel said in its press release.

    Intel and Tower reached the deal back in February 2022. According to Bloomberg , this week's scrapping of the deal was expected, as Chinese officials dragged their feet for months, ultimately never signing off on it.

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      “Downfall” bug affects years of Intel CPUs, can leak encryption keys and more / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August, 2023 - 19:12

    An 8th-generation Intel Core desktop CPU, one of several CPU generations affected by the Downfall bug.

    Enlarge / An 8th-generation Intel Core desktop CPU, one of several CPU generations affected by the Downfall bug. (credit: Mark Walton)

    It's a big week for CPU security vulnerabilities. Yesterday, different security researchers published details on two different vulnerabilities, one affecting multiple generations of Intel processors and another affecting the newest AMD CPUs. " Downfall " and " Inception " (respectively) are different bugs, but both involve modern processors' extensive use of speculative execution (a la the original Meltdown and Spectre bugs ), both are described as being of "medium" severity, and both can be patched either with OS-level microcode updates or firmware updates with fixes incorporated.

    AMD and Intel have both already released OS-level microcode software updates to address both issues. Both companies have also said that they're not aware of any active in-the-wild exploits of either vulnerability. Consumer, workstation, and server CPUs are all affected, making patching particularly important for server administrators.

    It will be up to your PC, server, or motherboard manufacturer to release firmware updates with the fixes after Intel and AMD make them available.

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      Getting AAA games working in Linux sometimes requires concealing your GPU / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 9 August, 2023 - 17:57 · 1 minute

    Hogwarts Legacy screenshot

    Enlarge / There are some energies you should not tap for sorcery, something both Hogwarts students and Hogwarts Legacy installs running under Linux should know. (credit: Warner Bros. Games)

    Linux gaming's march toward being a real, actual thing has taken serious strides lately , due in large part to Valve's Proton-powered Steam Play efforts . Being Linux, there are still some quirks to figure out. One of them involves games trying to make use of Intel's upscaling tools.

    Intel's ARC series GPUs are interesting , in many senses of the word. They offer the best implementation of Intel's image reconstruction system, XeSS, similar to Nvidia's DLSS and AMD's FSR. XeSS, like its counterparts, utilizes machine learning to fill in the pixel gaps on anti-aliased objects and scenes. The results are sometimes clear, sometimes a bit fuzzy if you pay close attention. In our review of Intel's A770 and A750 GPUs in late 2022, we noted that cross-compatibility between all three systems could be in the works.

    That kind of easy-swap function is not the case when a game is running on a customized version of the WINE Windows-on-Linux, translating Direct3D graphics calls to Vulkan and prodding to see whether it, too, can make use of Intel's graphics boost. As noted by Phoronix , Intel developers contributing to the open source Mesa graphics project added the ability to hide an Intel GPU from the Vulkan Linux driver.

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      Intel is apparently winding down its NUC mini PCs after more than a decade / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 11 July, 2023 - 20:51

    A stack of Intel's NUC mini PCs.

    Enlarge / A stack of Intel's NUC mini PCs. (credit: Andrew Cunningham)

    Since 2012, Intel has designed and sold its own lineup of mini PCs . The Next Unit of Computing series (NUC— rhymes with yuck—was always a weird name) was always most closely associated with a series of Mac mini-like desktops, but over the years, it grew to encompass compact workstations and gaming systems as well as mini servers with multiple Ethernet ports.

    But Intel is apparently throwing in the towel on the NUC , according to a statement given to The Verge earlier today.

    Intel spokesperson Mark Walton said that Intel had "decided to stop direct investment in the Next Unit of Compute (NUC) Business and pivot our strategy to enable our ecosystem partners to continue NUC innovation and growth." This statement leaves some wiggle room—Intel could still work with partners to bring NUCs or NUC-like products to market—but it seems like the days of Intel designing its own desktop computers are over.

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