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Preview: ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard

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Quick on the heels of Intel announcing their latest 12th Gen Alder Lake chips, ASUS has announced its new ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard. Intel’s 12th Gen desktop processors usher in a new era of the company’s chips, lead by the flagship Core i9-12900K CPU, which Intel claims is the world’s best gaming processor.

Alder Lake will need a motherboard built on Intel’s newly announced Z690 chipset, which adds more modern conveniences such as Wi-Fi 6E support and faster USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 data transfer. Intel is using a new LGA 1700 socket here, so you may even need a new cooler or slightly updated standoffs from the manufacturer.

Intel is also heavily pushing Windows 11 as a key part of its Alder Lake lineup, noting that it’s worked with Microsoft to optimize its Intel Thread Director software to better manage tasks across threads when using the new OS.

ASUS sent us the new ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard for a test drive and in this article, we will be previewing the motherboard. The ASUS Z690 platform, which covers ROG Maximus to the ROG Strix, TUF Gaming, ProArt, and Prime motherboards, are built to support the new 12th Gen Intel Core processors that feature up to 16 cores and 24 threads.

The ASUS Z690 motherboard series delivers standard-defining performance for Intel processors with power delivery and a wide range of cooling options. Featuring DDR5 memory modules and extensive support for PCIe 5.0 devices, the series supports the latest 12th Gen Intel Core processors. ASUS’ Z690 motherboards also include an exclusive new overclocking technology called ASUS Enhanced Memory Profile (AEMP), offering blistering-fast DDR5 performance in just a few clicks.

ASUS has also included something with Z690 motherboards, which will make your life easier when it comes to removing the graphics card from the motherboard. The company calls it the PCIe Slot Q-Release. This feature allows users to easily remove a graphics card installed in the primary PCIe 5.0 slot on a Z690-based motherboard.

According to the documentation provided by ASUS, it “unlocks the first PCIe slot’s security latch with one tap, greatly simplifying the process of detaching a PCIe card.” While you won’t be switching out graphics cards on a daily basis, it is still good to know that ASUS has put some thought into this, especially for reviewers like us, who are constantly swapping out graphics cards to run benchmarks.

In terms of processor support, this motherboard supports Intel Socket LGA1700 for 12th Gen Intel Core, Pentium Gold, and Celeron Processors. It also supports Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0 and Intel Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. You also get four DIMM slots that can support a maximum of 128GB of DDR5 memory at 6400(OC), 6200(OC), 6000(OC), 5800(OC), 5600(OC), 5400(OC), 5200(OC), 5000(OC), and 4800 Non-ECC, un-buffered memory.

When it comes to ports, you get one DisplayPort 1.4 and one HDMI 2.1. You also get a total of 12 USB ports on the rear, which include one USB 3.2 Type-C Gen 2×2 port, two USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 2 ports, one USB 3.2 Type-C Gen 2 port, four USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, and four USB 2.0 Type-A ports. On the front, you get one USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 Type-C connector, one USB 3.2 Gen 1, and two USB 2.0 headers that support an additional four USB 2.0 ports.

ASUS Z690 motherboards are also equipped with up to two PCIe 5.0 slots ideal for video cards. Select models even feature an onboard PCIe 5.0 M.2 slot or a bundled ROG Hyper M.2 card. The ASUS ROG Strix Z690-E Gaming WiFi Motherboard, for instance, comes with a bundled ROG Hyper M.2 card.

You also get three M.2 slots onboard, which includes one M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe5.0 x4), one M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe4.0 x4), and one M.2 2242-2280 (PCIe 4.0 x4 and SATA). You also get two M.2 slots on the bundled ROG Hyper M.2 Card, which includes two M.2 2242-22110 (PCIe4.0 x4).

There’s also a specially illuminated acrylic display on the I/O cover that gives the illusion that the circuit board is visible beneath an RGB ROG logo. Each motherboard within the ASUS Z690 series features built-in Windows 11 support, with mounting holes that are compatible with CPU coolers designed for either LGA 1200 or the new LGA 1700 socket.

If you are one of those who would like to venture into endless customisation and aesthetics, the Z690 series brings all-new visuals such as the AniMe Matrix display that features mini programmable RGB LEDs to show off personal style with custom lighting designs, unique animations, and live audio visualizations, as well as striking designs that evoke sci-fi worlds from cyberpunk to aerospace exploration.

– Photography by Ranbir Sen

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CORSAIR Announces Partnership Between iCUE and GIGABYTE

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CORSAIR today announced a new iCUE partnership with GIGABYTE, making it the latest motherboard manufacturer to support CORSAIR iCUE lighting control software. This collaboration enables compatible CORSAIR products to seamlessly support native lighting synchronization within the GIGABYTE Control Center (GCC) and iCUE.

CORSAIR iCUE software, which allows users to monitor and customise performance and coordinate lighting effects across their settings, will support lighting customisation on compatible GIGABYTE motherboards. This will help create a more immersive and flexible lighting experience than was previously possible, enabling users to open up new possibilities for how their systems look.

Support for GIGABYTE motherboards using CORSAIR iCUE software and GIGABYTE Control Center will begin in June 2024. Along with this new partnership with GIGABYTE, CORSAIR iCUE also supports ASUS, MSI, Philips Hue, Nanoleaf and Govee to enable its customers to create a stunning light show with their gaming setup.

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Nvidia Unveils Rubin: Successor to Blackwell Architecture Arriving in 2026

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At the Computex trade show in Taipei, Taiwan, Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia, revealed the name of their next-generation chip architecture during his keynote on Sunday evening. “Rubin,” named after famed astronomer Vera Rubin, will succeed the current “Blackwell” line of GPUs and CPUs. Scheduled for launch in the first half of 2026, this announcement underscores Nvidia’s commitment to releasing new chip architectures annually. With a hint of playful apprehension, Huang joked to the audience right before unveiling the Rubin line, “This is the first time anyone will see this, and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea or not.”

“All of these chips are in full development, 100% of them, and the rhythm is one year, at the limits of technology, all 100% architecturally compatible,” said Huang, “and all of the richness of software on top of it.”

Nvidia’s Rubin reveal follows closely behind their official announcement of the Blackwell architecture at the GTC conference just three months ago. Research firm Jefferies & Co. suggests the Rubin chips will incorporate the next-generation memory standard, HBM4, replacing the current top-of-the-line HBM3e. This applies to both the GPU family (designated R100 GPUs) and a central processing unit (CPU) codenamed Vera.

Jefferies analysts predict Rubin chips will be manufactured by TSMC using their cutting-edge 3-nanometer process, with production slated for late 2025. The design utilizes a “4x reticle design” compared to Blackwell’s 3.3x, meaning it occupies more space on a silicon wafer during the chip creation process. Additionally, Huang hinted at a future “Blackwell Ultra” GPU alongside a confirmation of a “Rubin Ultra” architecture arriving in 2027.

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AMD Unveils New Ryzen, EPYC, and Instinct Processors at COMPUTEX 2024

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Reporting from Taipei, Taiwan: Today at the COMPUTEX 2024 opening keynote, AMD detailed new leadership CPU, NPU and GPU architectures powering end-to-end AI infrastructure from the data centre to PCs. AMD unveiled an expanded AMD Instinct accelerator roadmap, introducing an annual cadence of leadership AI accelerators including the new AMD Instinct MI325X accelerator with industry-leading memory capacity planned to be available in Q4 2024. AMD also previewed 5th Gen AMD EPYC server processors, on track to launch in 2H 2024, with leadership performance and efficiency. AMD announced the AMD Ryzen AI 300 Series, the third generation of AMD AI-enabled mobile processors, and AMD Ryzen 9000 Series processors for laptop and desktop PCs, respectively.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for AMD as the rapid and accelerating adoption of AI is driving increased demand for our high-performance computing platforms,” said Dr. Lisa Su, chair and CEO. “At COMPUTEX, we were proud to be joined by Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, Asus and other strategic partners to launch our next-generation Ryzen desktop and notebook processors, preview the leadership performance of our next-generation EPYC processors, and announce a new annual cadence for AMD Instinct AI accelerators.”

“We are in the midst of a massive AI platform shift, with the promise to transform how we live and work. That’s why our deep partnership with AMD, which has spanned multiple computing platforms, from the PC to custom silicon for Xbox, and now to AI, is so important to us,” said Satya Nadella, Chairman and CEO of Microsoft. “We are excited to partner with AMD to deliver these new Ryzen AI-powered Copilot+ PCs. We are very committed to our collaboration with AMD and we’ll continue to push AI progress forward together across the cloud and edge to bring new value to our joint customers.”

AMD detailed its expanded multi-generational accelerator roadmap, showing how it plans to deliver performance and memory leadership on an annual cadence for generative AI. The expanded roadmap includes the AMD Instinct MI325X accelerators, with planned availability in Q4 2024, delivering industry-leading memory capacity with 288GB of ultra-fast HBM3E memory that extends AMD generative AI performance leadership. The next-generation AMD CDNA 4 architecture, expected in 2025, will power the AMD Instinct MI350 Series and is expected to drive up to 35x better AI inference performance compared to the AMD Instinct MI300 Series with AMD CDNA 3. Continuing performance and feature improvements, the CDNA “Next” architecture will power MI400 series accelerators planned for 2026.

Previewed today at COMPUTEX, 5th Gen AMD EPYC processors (codenamed “Turin”) will leverage the “Zen 5” core and continue the leadership performance and efficiency of the AMD EPYC processor family. 5th Gen AMD EPYC processors are targeted for availability in 2H of 2024. At the keynote, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted how AMD Instinct MI300X accelerators deliver leading price/performance on GPT-4 inference for Microsoft Azure workloads.

Dr. Su was joined by executives from Microsoft, HP, Lenovo, and Asus to unveil new PC experiences powered by 3rd Gen AMD Ryzen AI 300 Series processors and AMD Ryzen 9000 Series desktop processors. AMD detailed its next-generation “Zen 5” CPU core, built from the ground up for leadership performance and energy efficiency spanning from supercomputers and the cloud to PCs. AMD also unveiled the AMD XDNA 2 NPU core architecture that delivers 50 TOPs of AI processing performance and up to 2x projected power efficiency for generative AI workloads compared to the prior generation. The AMD XDNA 2 architecture-based NPU is the industry’s first and only NPU supporting advanced Block FP16 data type6, delivering increased accuracy compared to lower precision data types used by competitive NPUs without sacrificing performance.

Together, “Zen 5,” AMD XDNA 2 and AMD RDNA 3.5 graphics enable next-gen AI experiences in laptops powered by AMD Ryzen AI 300 Series processors. On stage at COMPUTEX, ecosystem partners showcased how they are working with AMD to unlock new AI experiences for PCs. Microsoft highlighted its longstanding partnership with AMD and announced that the AMD Ryzen AI 300 Series processors exceed Microsoft’s Copilot+ PC requirements. HP unveiled new Copilot+ PCs powered by AMD, including the HP Pavilion Aero, and demonstrated image generator Stable Diffusion XL Turbo running locally on an HP laptop powered by a Ryzen AI 300 Series processor.

Lenovo revealed upcoming consumer and commercial laptops powered by Ryzen AI 300 Series processors and highlighted how it is leveraging Ryzen AI to enable new Lenovo AI software. Asus showcased a broad portfolio of AI PCs for business users, consumers, content creators and gamers powered by Ryzen AI 300 Series processors. AMD also unveiled the AMD Ryzen 9000 Series desktop processors based on the “Zen 5” architecture, delivering leadership performance in gaming, productivity and content creation. AMD Ryzen 9 9950X processors are the world’s fastest consumer desktop processors.

Separately, AMD also announced the AMD Radeon PRO W7900 Dual Slot workstation graphics card, optimized to deliver scalable AI performance for platforms supporting multiple GPUs. AMD also unveiled AMD ROCm 6.1 for AMD Radeon GPUs, designed to make AI development and deployment with AMD Radeon desktop GPUs more compatible, accessible and scalable. AMD showcased how its AI and adaptive computing technology is powering the next wave of AI innovation at the edge. Only AMD combines all the IP required for whole-edge AI application acceleration.

The new AMD Versal AI Edge Series Gen 2 brings together FPGA programmable logic for real-time pre-processing, next-gen AI Engines powered by XDNA technology for efficient AI inference, and embedded CPUs for post-processing to deliver the highest-performing single-chip adaptive solution for edge AI. AMD Versal AI Edge Gen 2 devices are available now for early access with over 30 key partners currently in development

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