Lenovo slims down its Google smart display – gpgmail


Before there was the Nest Home — heck, before there was even the Google Home Hub — there was the Lenovo Smart Display. The smart screen was far and away the nicest of the original Google Assistant screens, and the partnership between the two companies continues to be a fruitful, including the recent Smart Clock, a purpose-built bedside alarm clock.

With the Smart Display 7, announced today at IFA in Berlin, the company has slimmed down both the screen size and overall device footprint. At seven inches, it’s smaller than both of the original models (eight and 10 inches, for the record). It’s a rare step down in screen size for a new generation, but given the relative freshness of the category, there’s probably a fair amount of trial and error here.

The design language looks nice enough — perhaps a bit more generic than the first generation with its faux wood panel backing but the fabric speaker grille is a nice touch that fits in nicely with the rest of the Google Home line. Feature wise, you’re getting pretty much what you’ll get with the rest of the Assistant smart displays — Youtube, answers, smart home control.

Of course, Lenovo’s got more direct competition this time out from Google itself, in the form of the Nest Hub Max. And when it comes to products like these, it’s can be tough to compete with first parties. That said, at $130, it’s a full $100 cheaper than Google’s version, which is compelling in and of itself. The device ships next month.


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Epic Win: AMD’s 64-core 7nm Epyc CPUs Leave Xeon Lying in the Dirt


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AMD has launched its 7nm “Rome” series of Epyc server CPUs, with up to 64 cores, 128 threads, 225W TDPs, and a maximum clock speed of up to 3.4GHz. While third-generation Ryzen has lit up the enthusiast boards and driven extremely strong channel sales in the last month, the server market is where AMD truly wants to play. The server market, in many respects, is where it’s at.

And while corporate launches are basically an invitation for a company to make aggressive claims in the friendliest environment on Earth, the specific claims that AMD is making are eye-opening. AMD claims that Epyc sets no fewer than 80 new world records for CPU performance as measured in a wide range of industry-standard benchmarks, with the Epyc 7742 delivering 97 percent higher performance than Intel’s Xeon Platinum 8280L in peak SPECint 2017. Additional performance claims are shown below:

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Image by Anandtech

Some of these gains will be familiar to those who have followed AMD’s 7nm Ryzen unveils. Just as Ryzen will shortly reach up to 16 cores on desktop, Epyc will now field up to 64 cores. The addition of 256-bit AVX2 registers to the Ryzen design means that AMD CPUs now offer up to 4x the floating-point performance of Epyc 1. Intel isn’t going to have an easy time of countering this — Cascade Lake is already in-market for the year, and Cooper Lake will drop in early 2020. This is why Intel CEO Bob Swan started acknowledging that his company expects a more competitive AMD several months ago. The writing has been on the proverbial wall.

Single-threaded workloads have an average improved IPC of 1.15x at the same frequency, while 32-core / 64-thread workload uplift is even higher, at 1.23x. The maximum gain AMD saw from IPC and efficiency improvements on a 32-core CPU was up to 1.4x, though this should be considered an unusual result. As previously reported, Epyc includes 128 PCIe lanes, PCIe 4.0 support, and can load up to 8TB of DDR4-3200.

The company is trying to make a lot of hay over its 2S deployment capabilities, claiming that a 2S AMD Epyc configuration offers a 44 percent lower TCO (total cost of ownership), allows for a 45 percent reduction in total servers (thanks to higher CPU counts) and offers 83 percent more performance (thanks to a combination of higher core counts and higher performance). AMD is arguing that their single-socket configuration offers I/O and overall performance equivalent to a dual-socket Xeon. Depending on the application and scenario, they may well be right. Intel’s dual sockets top out at 56 cores, AMD can do a single-socket 64-core system.

This approach has historical merit. Back in the early 2000s, AMD’s Opteron was a strong server competitor for Xeon from the beginning, but it was particularly strong in markets that used multi-socket systems. AMD’s “glueless” server architecture allowed it to attach cores directly to each other using HyperTransport, while Intel CPUs were connected to — and severely bottlenecked by — a common, shared, front-side bus. Single-socket servers were already quite popular in the early 2000s, but while the 2S and 4S markets were smaller, they were extremely lucrative. AMD eventually took approximately 20 percent of the server market from Intel in 2005 – 2006 before its decline began, but its earliest and largest successes were in the high core-count servers where its products had the greatest advantage over Intel in terms of relative feature sets.

The situation today is not identical, but it is analogous. Again, we see AMD putting in particular effort to make certain its top-end parts are difficult or impossible for Intel to match. A 2S AMD Rome deployment packs up to 128 cores. The Cascade Lake-AP servers that Intel sells are BGA-only and by all accounts, exceptionally expensive. Unless you use Cascade Lake-AP, you’re limited to 28 cores in an Intel socket. AMD can sell you 64.

Anandtech has a detailed review of the Epyc 7nm launch hardware, and the results fully live up to the expectations. Even in AVX-512 applications intended for the HPC market, dual Epyc 7742 is capable of matching dual Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 CPUs.

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Image by Anandtech.

This is literally one of the most Intel-friendly benchmark runs you could possibly arrange. With AVX-512 on an optimized Intel rig, the 7742 is merely just as fast at a fraction of the price. Without those AVX-512 optimizations, AMD is 1.43x faster. Overall, AMD is offering 50-100 percent more performance than Intel in the server market, at a 40 percent lower price tag. According Anandtech, there is simply “no contest.”

Intel can cut its prices, to be sure. Beyond that, it has limited maneuverability. Ice Lake servers will not arrive for another year. Pricing on these cores is simply amazing, with a top-end Epyc 7742 selling for just $6950, or roughly $108 per core. An Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 has a list price of over $10,000 for a 28-core chip, just to put that in perspective. If you want a 32-core part, the Epyc 7502 packs 32 cores, 64 threads, higher IPC, and an additional 300MHz of frequency (2.5GHz base, versus 2.2GHz) for $2600 as opposed to the old price of $4200 for the 7601. AMD doesn’t segment its products the way Intel does, which means you get the full benefits of buying an Epyc part in terms of PCIe lanes and additional features. AMD also supports up to 4TB of RAM per socket. Intel tops out at 2TB per socket, and slaps a price premium on that level of RAM support.

In short? Epic Epyc win. Analysts are predicting the company’s market share in servers could double by mid-2020. Dell, Lenovo, and HPE have servers in the works. Epyc 1 was a test shot and a pipecleaner. Epyc 2, like Rome, wasn’t built in a day — but once constructed, it dominated the geopolitical landscape of the ancient world for centuries. Intel had best hope its rival’s new CPU doesn’t live up to the reputation of its namesake.

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Nvidia Woos Creatives With New RTX Studio Laptops


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When Nvidia rolled out its RTX family of GPUs last year it was all about gaming. The new Ray Tracing (RT) cores aimed to create more realistic game experiences, assisted by inferencing (AI) cores that enabled the acceleration of low-noise ray tracing. This year at SIGGRAPH, Nvidia is touting how RTX is making progress with creative professionals. Specifically, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Boxx are rolling out 10 new RTX Studio laptops, adding to the 17 previously announced. The new crop makes Turing GPU performance much more accessible to a wide range of users.

Dell Precision 7540 delivers an RTX laptop, for a priceThe new laptopsSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce span both Nvidia’s family of consumer and professional RTX GPUs, with some sporting GeForce RTX models (2060, 2070, and 2080) and others Quadro RTX (3000, 4000, 5000) versions. Models with the Quadro RTX 5000 also offer up to 16GB of graphics memory — a real boon for those training large AI models, among others. Nvidia touts up to 7x performance compared with the MacBook Pro, but I suspect Apple will be coming out with some speedier GPU options in its MacBook line soon. Here’s a round-up of the ten new Nvidia Studio laptop models:

  • Lenovo Legion Y740 Laptop Studio Edition, which features up to GeForce RTX 2080 GPUs within 17- and 15-inch laptops, available later this fall.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad P53 and P73 mobile workstations support up to Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs within 17- and 15-inch systems. The ThinkPad P53 is available now; the ThinkPad P73 will be available starting August.
  • Dell Precision 7540 and Dell Precision 7740 mobile workstations, available today, are configurable with up to Quadro RTX 5000 GPUs.
  • HP ZBook 15 and 17 mobile workstations feature Quadro RTX GPUs, with the 17-inch model configurable with up to a Quadro RTX 5000.
  • BOXX GoBOXX SLM mobile workstations are available with a Quadro RTX 3000 GPU in the 15-inch system and either Quadro RTX 4000 or 3000 in the 17-inch system.

Creative Apps Move to Support RTX

Nvidia also announced that more than 40 creative and design applications have in some way embraced RTX — using the dedicated RT and AI cores for new features and performance enhancement. To make optimal use of those applications, Nvidia has also updated its GeForce Experience driver manager to offer the option of Studio Drivers, in addition to Game Drivers.

As someone who games on my main video editing machine, the new driver options can be a bit confusing. I installed the Studio edition of drivers for my 1080, but then when I launched a game it warned me that I didn’t have the most recent drivers (the Game drivers are a newer version). It isn’t clear to me if it is possible to have a driver set that is optimized for both gaming and creative apps, and if not, what the tradeoffs are between them.

RTX Doesn’t Come Cheap

From a quick check of current pricing on one of the new models — the Dell Precision 7740, a solid configuration that includes an RTX 3000 (the only RTX model available on the web site) prices out at over $3,000 after discount. The 6GB RTX 3000 is priced at a $300 premium over the non-RTX Turing-based T2000. So, just as with skepticism over the initial game support of RTX last year, I expect some wait-and-see until there are more specifics on exactly how extensively RTXSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce has been integrated into common creative applications before there’s a huge wave of adoption.

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Joy Capital closes $700M for early-stage investments in China – gpgmail


Joy Capital, the venture capital firm that’s backed Luckin, NIO, Mobike and other investor darlings in China, just raised $700 million for a new fund focusing on early-to-growth stage startups.

Launched in 2015 by a team of former investors at Legend Capital, the investment arm of PC maker Lenovo’s parent company, Joy Capital made the news official (in Chinese) on Monday. It didn’t identify the limited partners in this new corpus of funding but said they include “top” public pension funds and insurance companies. Its existing pool of investors counts those from sovereign wealth funds, education-focused endowment funds, family funds and parent funds.

The fresh money boosted Joy’s total tally to over 10 billion yuan ($1.45 billion) under management, with a focus on backing cutting edge technologies and companies involved in the digital upgrade of China’s traditional sectors, or what Joy’s founding partner Liu Erhai (pictured above) dubbed the “new infrastructure” in an op-ed for the China Securities Journal. Targets can include the likes of logistics companies, online car rental platforms or bike-sharing apps.

As a relatively young fund, Joy Capital has so far achieved a few large outcomes. One of its portfolio companies NIO became China’s first electric vehicle startup to go public in the U.S. as a rival to Tesla. It’s also funded Luckin, the Starbucks nemesis from China that floated in the U.S. only 18 months after inception. The fund’s other big wins include Mobike, the bike-sharing pioneer that was sold to Meituan Dianping for $2.7 billion and fast-growing house-sharing unicorn Danke Apartment.

Joy Capital’s new raise arrived at a time when Chinese venture investors are coping with a cash crunch amid a cooling economy exacerbated by the expansion of U.S. tariffs. We reported that private equity and venture capital firms in the country raised 30% less in the first six months of 2019 compared to a year earlier, and the number of investors that managed to attract fundings was down 52% in the same period.


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