Apple’s H1 2020 to reportedly include new tracking tags, a wireless charging mat, high-end headphones and more – Blog – 10 minute

What just happened? Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a recent research note laid out his vision for Apple’s first six months of 2020 which includes a new iPhone, a refreshed iPad Pro / MacBook Pro / Air, a set of high-end headphones, tracking tags and a wireless charging mat.
Apple this week turned in a record-setting earnings report ahead of a first half that’s forecasted to be loaded with new products.
The iPhone SE 2, as you may have heard, is expected to resemble the iPhone 8 with a 4.7-inch display and modern internals. Look for it to launch by the end of March starting at $399. The new iPad Pro, meanwhile, is said to feature a triple-lens rear camera array that supports 3D sensing for augmented reality applications. Like the iPhone, it could arrive sometime in March, we’re told.

As MacRumors points out, Kuo wasn’t entirely clear on the MacBook Pro / Air refresh. We could see one, the other, or possibly both. Earlier rumors suggested Apple is planning a 13-inch MacBook Pro with a Magic Keyboard. If you recall, Apple refreshed the Air last summer and gave it a new starting price of $1,099.
Apple’s high-end headphones will reportedly support Bluetooth but that’s all Kuo had to say about them. The Tile-like tracking tags, which we first heard about last year, could break cover under the AirTags name and may even support Ultra Wideband technology for improved tracking accuracy.

The biggest surprise of all was word of a small wireless charging mat. Apple generated a ton of hype for its AirPower charging mat but ultimately canceled development last year due to quality concerns.
Masthead credit: Apple Store by Hadrian

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AMD CEO hints that high-end Navi GPUs and ray tracing may be coming to Radeon cards – Blog – 10 minute

Rumor mill: As rumors go, nothing beats one coming straight from the horse’s mouth. In this case, it’s coming directly from AMD’s CEO Lisa Su. The rumor: Radeon cards may soon have ray-tracing support, and high-end Radeon GPUs are are on the way. Su did not go into detail, but it seems certain that the company has some plans.
AMD had a few announcements at CES 2020 on Monday, including the Radeon RX 5600 XT with the Navi RDNA architecture and its Ryzen 4000 series for laptops. After the keynote, CEO Lisa Su sat down with the press for a roundtable discussion, which Anandtech transcribed. During the Q&A, Su dropped hints about the future of its Radeon line of GPUs.
The CEO mentioned that the company has some high-end “Big Navi” cards in the pipe. In response to the question of whether AMD needs to have a high-end product in the discrete graphics department, the exec could not help but let slip that such GPUs were in the works without revealing any details.
“I know those on Reddit want a high-end Navi! You should expect that we will have a high-end Navi and that it is important to have it,” Su said. “The discrete graphics market, especially at the high end, is very important to us. So you should expect that we will have a high-end Navi, although I don’t usually comment on unannounced products.”

She also said the company was looking to be more competitive with Nvidia in terms of ray tracing. Current Radeon offerings do not support real-time ray tracing, as the company views the technology as being in the “very early” stages, but that could be changing soon.
“I’ve said in the past that ray tracing is important, and I still believe that, but if you look at where we are today, it is still very early,” she explained. “We are investing heavily in ray tracing and investing heavily in the ecosystem around it – both of our console partners have also said that they are using ray tracing. You should expect that our discrete graphics as we go through 2020 will also have ray tracing.”
Regarding ray tracing: “I do believe though it is still very early, and the ecosystem needs to develop. We need more games and more software and more applications to take advantage of it. At AMD, we feel very good about our position on ray tracing.”
If her hint is on the mark, we could potentially see a Radeon GPU with ray-tracing support by the end of the year, and we will definitely be getting it with the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles.
A discrete Big Navi card with ray tracing would give Nvidia something to think about, considering it currently enjoys its corner on the RT market. Having AMD jump into the game would most certainly bring more affordable RT cards to the consumer from both manufacturers, even on the high-end.
However, keep in mind that Su’s remarks were off-the-cuff and unplanned. No official announcements have been made, so anything could change at this point. However, coming from as high up on the ladder as you can get makes this news hard to call “rumor.” It sounds more like a roadmap, but as they say, “Never count your chickens before they hatch.”
That said, if AMD follows through, upgrading your gaming rig may become your priority this holiday season.

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AMD Sales Are Booming, but High-End Ryzen 3000 CPUs Still in Short Supply


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After the Ryzen 3000 family debuted on 7nm, German retailer Mindfactory.de released data from its own CPU sales showing that demand for the smaller CPU manufacturer’s products had skyrocketed. That demand continued straight through August, but product shortages may be hampering overall sales.

Once again, Ingebor on Reddit has shared data on CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce sales, CPU revenue share, and average selling prices. The results are once again a major win for AMD, though overall shipments declined this month compared with July.

Mindfactory-Sept

While the absolute number of CPUs fell, AMD held virtually the same market share. Sales of second-generation products continue to be strong, even with third-gen Ryzen in-market. On the AMD side, shipments of the Ryzen 9 3900X fell, as did sales of the Ryzen 7 3700X, and 3800X. The Ryzen 5 3600 substantially expanded its overall market share. Intel shipments appear to have been virtually identical, in terms of which CPU SKUs were selling the best.

Mindfactory-Sept-Revenue

Now we look at the market in terms of revenue. Intel’s share is higher here, thanks to higher selling prices. The Ryzen 9 3900X made a significantly smaller revenue contribution in August, as did the Ryzen 7 3700X. Sometimes the revenue graphs show us a different side of performance compared with sales charts, but this month the two graphs generally line up as expected.

One place where the Ryzen 5 3600’s share gains definitely hit AMD is in terms of its average selling price. In June, AMD’s ASP in Euros was €238.89. In August, it slipped downwards, to €216.04, a decline of 10.5 percent. Intel’s ASPs actually improved slightly, from €296.87 to €308.36, a gain of ~4 percent. This could be read as suggesting that a few buyers saw what AMD had to offer and opted to buy a high-end Core CPUSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce instead. And on Reddit, Ingebor notes that low availability on the Ryzen 9 3900X definitely hit AMD’s revenue share, writing:

Except for the 3900X, all Matisse CPUs where available for most of the time and sold pretty well (not so much the 3800X, which dropped in price sharply towards the end of the month). These shortages can be seen in the revenue drop and a lower average sales price compared to last month.

For most of the month, the 3900X was unavailable with a date of availability constantly pushed out by mindfactory. Seems like the amount of CPUs they got do not suffice to satisfy their backlog of orders. The next date is the 6th of September. Hopefully the next month will finally see some decent availability. Also it remains to be seen when the 3950X will start to sell and whether it will be in better supply.

Ingebor also noted that there’s been no hint of official Intel price cuts, despite rumors that the company might respond to 7nm Ryzen CPUs by enacting them.

The Limits of Retail Analysis

It’s incredibly useful that Mindfactory releases this information, but keep in mind that it represents sales at one company, in one country. We don’t doubt that AMD is seeing sales growth across its 7nm product lines, but the retail channel is a subset of the desktop market, and the desktop market is dwarfed by the laptop market.

Statista-PC-Market-Share

Data from Statista makes the point. Even if we ignore tablets, only about 36.7 percent of the computing market is desktops. Trying to estimate the size of the PC retail channel is difficult; figures I’ve seen in the past suggest it’s 10-20 percent of the space. If true, that would suggest Mindfactory, Newegg, Amazon, and similar companies collectively account for 3.6 to 7.3 percent of the overall PC market. AMD and Intel split this space, with the size of the split depending on the relative competitive standing of each company, hardware availability in the local market, and any country-specific preferences for one vendor versus the other.

This is why you’ll see websites write stories about how AMD is dominating sales at a specific retailer, followed by stories that show a relatively small gain in total market share. It’s not that either story is necessarily wrong; they capture different markets.

Overall, AMD is in a strong competitive position at the moment. Just keep in mind that data sets like this, while valuable and interesting, only capture a small section of the overall space.

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AMD, Nvidia High-End GPUs Are Much Better Deals Now Than 6 Months Ago


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Back in February, I wrote a story about how AMD and Nvidia had collectively launched the least-appealing high-end GPU refresh cycle in the history of the gaming industry. After the launch of AMD’s Navi 5700 and 5700 XT, and Nvidia’s rejoinder with the RTX 2060 Super and 2070 Super, it makes sense to revisit that conclusion. How much have things improved, just over half a year later?

They’ve actually improved a lot if you’re buying at the upper end of the market. Before we examine the specifics of the changes, let me clarify some terms. Historically, GPU price brackets look something like this:

Budget: $150 or less.
Midrange: $150 – $300
High-End: $300 – $500
Ultra-High: $500+.

When Nvidia introduced the RTX family, it significantly raised prices. Instead of the GTX 1070 around $370 and the GTX 1080 at $500 – $550, the RTX 2070 was a $500 GPU, the RTX 2080 cost $700, and the 2080 Ti effectively ran $1,100 – $1,200 ($1,000 technically, but nobody ever had them for this, as far as I can tell).

There are two basic ways for a publication like ours to handle this: Hold its own price banding, and fit the new cards into it, or modify our price bands and raise them to accommodate the manufacturer. If you take the latter approach, AMD’s Navi GPUs are now “midrange” cards, despite carrying price tags of $350 and $400. This is also how you wind up with articles referring to the iPhone XR as “entry-level,” or “budget” at $750 as if Apple hadn’t just killed the only pseudo-budget device it offered, the $350 iPhone SE.

Adjusting price bands to reflect what companies are selling isn’t wrong, so long as it tracks with what customers are buying. Nvidia’s upcoming Q2 numbers should provide more confirmation here, but available data suggested Turing sales badly lagged Pascal at launch and may not have recovered since. If Nvidia truly thought it had established ray tracing as a feature gamers were willing to pay for, it wouldn’t have cut pricing on its RTX 2060, 2070, and 2080 GPUs at all.

So far as ExtremeTech is concerned, at least for now, the Navi 5700 and 5700 XT are high-end cards, as are the RTX 2060, 2060 Super, 2070, and 2070 Super. The RTX 2080, 2080 Super, and 2080 Ti belong to their own, separate category of ultra-high-end devices.

Evaluating the Improvement

We recently measured long-term performance evolution in a variety of GPUs, but we can use that data set for a different purpose. Keep in mind that in the graph series below, the GeForce RTX 2080 (non-Super) offers roughly identical performance to the RTX 2070 SuperSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce (the 2070S is typically within 95 to 105 percent the performance of the RTX 2080).

Comparing RTX 2070S/2080 against GTX 1080, we see minimum frame rates are 1.18x higher at 1080p, 1.28x higher at 1440p, and 1.4x higher at 4K. Average frame rates across our entire suite of games are 1.3x higher at 1080p, 1.4x higher at 1440p, and 1.44x higher at 4K.

I don’t have the same level of data on the GTX 1070 to compare with the RTX 2060 Super, but we know that the 2060S improves performance by about 1.15x as well, that it performs nearly identically to the original RTX 2070, and that the GPU’s new $400 price point puts it closer to the original GTX 1070 than the OG 1080 price.

As for AMD, the 5700 and 5700 XTSEEAMAZON_ET_135 See Amazon ET commerce are effectively a replacement for the Vega 56 and Vega 64. The slideshow below contains the results from our RX 5700 and 5700 XT review. The Radeon RX 5700 matches Vega 64 in virtually every test, but costs $350 as opposed to $500. It draws 74 percent as much power while outperforming the RTX 2060.

As upgrades for existing Vega 56 and Vega 64 owners, the best case is going to be between Vega 56 and RX 5700 XT. In this case, I’m estimating the gains of doing so, but I’m fairly sure they aren’t as large as the improvements between Pascal and Turing at Turing’s adjusted prices. Vega 56 was typically 1.08x – 1.12x slower than Vega 64, but the 5700 XT’s lead over Vega 64 varies significantly depending on the game. In a few cases, the two GPUs are tied.

AMD gamers with older cards or Nvidia gamers looking to switch sides are the more likely customers for RX 5700 and RX 5700 XT, and the performance these cards offer makes them a potentially attractive upgrade in these markets.

A Significant Improvement

AMD’s new launches have restored a better, more consumer-friendly balance to the upper end of the GPU market. The ultra-high-end market remains less friendly. The RTX 2080 Super offers the smallest performance improvement of all the “Super” cards and does not do a very good job of justifying its $200 price premium over the RTX 2070 Super. Both the Radeon VII and RTX 2080 Super are only justifiable if you’re actually gaming in 4K, and honestly, they aren’t all that compelling even in that situation.

AMD has said nothing about its plans for the midrange market yet, but the company must be working on cards to refresh this space as well. Hopefully, it won’t be long before we have far more power-efficient, higher-performing chips ready to take the place of the RX 570, 580, and 590.

As for whether Navi or Turing is a better upgrade path, that’s going to depend a bit on what you want: A bit more speed (relative to the competition), or features like ray tracing? Some users may not feel that even these gains are sufficient, which I understand. But we can at least say that there are gains in performance/dollar relative to the previous generation. Six months ago, it wasn’t possible to make that claim.

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