Monthly Archives: April 2016

TSMC Scheduled to Begin 7 nm Trial Production in The First Half of 2017, 10 nm Tapeouts Began Q1 2016

According to a recent report sent out to TSMC shareholders, TSMC will begin trial production of their 7 nm process in the first half of 2017. At an investor meeting on April 14, TSMC’s Mark Liu announced that they’re engaging with over 20 customers with 7 nm technology,  that they expect to have 15 tape outs within 2017, and that volume production is planned to begin in the first half of 2018. Interestingly enough, 7 nm is intended for both high performance computing and mobile, while 10 nm is intended primarily for mobile devices. According to Liu, 7 nm is expected to bring a 60-70% improvement in density, 15-20% speed improvement, and 30-40% reduced power consumption over their 10 nm process. 10 nm tape-outs have already begun in the first quarter, and more are expected within the year. 16 NM FinFET Plus(16FF+) Volume production has already begun back in 2015.

It is important to note that these are simply schedules/plans, and are subject to change if complications occur. Intel has begun to encounter noticeable roadblocks due to yield issues when attempting to manufacture CPUs with a smaller lithography process. Skylake and Broadwell, Intel’s 14 nm CPUs, both suffered from supply issues and delays, leading to limited availability in certain countries, and wholesalers/retailers increasing prices due to shortages.  Intel has continued to delay production of 10nmCPUs, creating multiple 14 nms with improved architecture in the meantime. While it is quite possible that TSMC will encounter similar issues with yields when attempting to improve their technology, TSMC has stated that because 95% of the equipment being used for 10 nm production is compatible with 7 nm processes, they expect “very fast yield ramp-up”. Regardless of their expectations, TSMC has not reported that 10 nm volume production has begun(it’s scheduled for Q4 2016), so it’s unclear whether TSMC will encounter complications or yield issues with mass production of 7 nm, because we’ve not yet seen the results of 10 nm production.

 

Sources:

http://www.tsmc.com/download/ir/annualReports/2015/english/annual2015e.pdf

http://www.digitaltrends.com/computing/tsmc-7nm-2017/

http://www.digitimes.com/news/a20160418PD206.html

 

The Rockit 88 Delidding Tool Will Make Intel CPU Delidding Easy

What is Delidding?

Delidding is a practice used by overclocking enthusiasts where the protective lid of a CPU, also called the Integrated Heat Spreader(IHS), is removed in order to replace the thermal compound between the CPU die and the IHS. Intel uses a cheap, low quality thermal compound to reduce manufacturing costs. There is glue used to connect the IHS to the PCB(in order to keep everything intact), which creates a large gap between the CPU die and the IHS. This thick gap is filled using a thermal compound, which isn’t as efficient as a thinner gap. As a result, you can achieve slightly lower load temperatures by removing the glue from the PCB/IHS, replacing the thick layer of factory-applied thermal compound with a thinner layer of higher quality TIM(thermal interface material), and reapplying the IHS.

 

To visualize this process, here are graphics provided on the Rockit 88 Kickstarter page:

CPU before delidding

CPU before delidding. Source: Rockit 88 Kickstarter page

CPU after delidding

CPU after delidding. Source: Rockit 88 Kickstarter page

 

Delidding has always been done in a very “hackish” way. It involves using a blade of some sort, and carefully making a cut into the adhesive between the PCB and IHS of the CPU. The process is extremely risky, and the slightest mistake can destroy your CPU. You might accidentally cut in too far and damage the silicon, or on some older CPUs, you can scratch onboard components. Quite obviously, attempting to delid your CPU will void your warranty, so its done completely at your own risk.

Rockit 88 Delidding Device Makes it Easy

 

The Rockit 88 is a mechanical device that makes the delidding process substantially easier. It appears that the user places the CPU into the tray of the device, and twists a screw, which then gradually cuts into the correct location of the CPU, causing the IHS/lid to come off. Overall, this is a much safer way to delid a CPU then manually making the incisions with a blade. Manually cutting off the IHS with a blade is very difficult as it requires some degree of force to get through the adhesive material, and once you finally get through, Newton’s first law of motion means that your hand will want to continue moving forward, which can result in scratching the silicon die if you don’t control your force. By utilizing a mechanical device to delid your CPU via a screw/knob, it makes it very easy to carefully cut off the IHS without accidentally damaging the CPU.

 

Currently on Kickstarter, the product received $3,025 in funding from 74 backers as of the time of writing, with a goal of just $600. Currently, they have demonstrated a working prototype, and the team is preparing to begin production of the device to ship to backers, and for sale. The cost of the device has not yet been announced, however backing the project with $35 reserves you the tool. The device is stated to work with desktop Haswell(i3/i5/i7 4000 series), Devil’s Canyon(i5 4690k/i7 4790k) and desktop Skylake(i3/i5/i7 6000 series) CPUs, “and more”. It is currently unclear which other CPUs are supported. If this product succeeds, it’s quite likely they’ll make future versions of the tool that fit the dimensions of newer CPUs as they come out. The team is also currently working on finishing the relid tool, to make that process easier as well.

 

Below is a video of the device in action from Kickstarter:

 

 

Is Delidding Worth it?

Statistics provided on the Kickstarter page indicate that delidding reduced temperatures of a heavily overclocked CPU by up to 10 degrees Celsius. Looking online on various forums and message boards, users seem to be experiencing temperatures that are anywhere from 3-10 degrees cooler during heavy overclocks after delidding their CPU. Obviously, results will vary between different CPUs depending on a variety of factors, but generally, the benefit provided by delidding is minimal. For this reason, delidding is only recommended for enthusiasts either willing to risk destroying their expensive CPU, or for those with enough money to not care. If you don’t have a high end liquid cooling device for your CPU, there’s little to gain by delidding your CPU. I would only recommend delidding your CPU if you’re pushing for an extremely high overclock(4.8 ghz+), and have a high end cooling solution in place.

While the device is advertised as having “no risk”, it’s likely that users will find a way to break their CPU with it- no device is fool proof. If you do buy the device when it shows up for sale, be sure to follow directions very carefully, ideally watching a video tutorial online if available.  If you’re new to working with computer hardware and overclocking, this product most likely isn’t for you. If you’re an experienced overclocker looking for a new way to push your overclock to the limits, but are looking for a way to reduce the risk of breaking your CPU when delidding, this product/kickstarter may be of interest to you. It is probably best to wait for reviews before ordering the product, to be sure that the product works as intended when exposed to customers worldwide.

Disclaimer: We are not affiliated with the creators of the Rockit 88 delidding tool in any way.

Sources:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/119374257/rockit-88-intel-cpu-delid-tool

https://linustechtips.com/main/topic/575091-rockit-88-kickstarter-funded-intel-cpu-delid-ttool/

 

Why Major Social Media Sites Are Censoring Free Speech

Websites such as Reddit and Twitter have faced a lot of criticism over their recent decisions to censor unpopular political opinions and  their removal of offensive, but legal content. Many blame the problem on the sites being “run by social justice warriors”, but the truth is, it’s much more complicated than that.

Social media sites need to remain completely free in order to maintain market share. For this reason, the main product and primary driver of revenue of pretty much any social media site is ad space.  Early on, new social media sites are often funded by investors, and therefore, don’t require generating any revenue initially. Ads are generally not run during the early stages of a social media site, as the primary goal of the site is to grow its user base, and become prominent. The site’s #1 goal is to provide the best possible user experience in order to grow. Even the slightest annoyance from an ad could lose the site a user, which is best avoided early on to maintain long term profits. Once the site has the majority market share of a particular type of service, it’s very difficult to lose users over annoying ads or bad design decisions, as everyone they know is using the site, and other new social media sites are a wasteland.

As a site grows bigger, so do operating expenses. Hosting an enormous amount of data, distributing it, processing the logic associated with your site, and paying developers to develop new features becomes extremely expensive. Advertisers are very picky about where they want to advertise. Companies do not want their brand associated with offensive material. In addition, a significant portion of modern internet advertising is context-based. Offensive material generally does not generate a quality context that is valued by advertisers.

For this reason, when social media websites grow large enough, they cannot afford to foster free speech. The establishment of a “safe space” provides a much more profitable platform for an ad network.

Example

Reddit was founded upon the principle of free speech, with site admins stating that they would only remove illegal content. Shortly after its creation, Reddit was bought out by Condé Nast, which is now owned by Advance Publications. For several years, Reddit allowed pretty much any legal content. Despite the website growing at a rapid pace, and selling ads at the top of the site as well as on the sidebar, the website failed to generate a profit. Reddit quickly became associated with some of its most offensive subreddits. Subreddits are specific subcommunities within Reddit where users can post links to content or text based “self posts”. A tiny minority of its content became the first thing many people thought of when Reddit was mentioned, despite the overwhelmingly majority of Reddit’s content being family-friendly. This was extremely problematic, as advertisers don’t want their brand associated with anything offensive, as it poses a risk to their brand image. Reddit Gold, Reddit’s subscription based premium membership that offers a variety of convenience perks, did not generate enough revenue to maintain a profit either.

In 2015, Reddit announced new policies regarding the type of content that is allowed. It was said that offensive content would be “quarantined”, meaning that users would need to log in to view the content, and ads would not be displayed on those pages. When the changes went through, very few offensive subreddits were quarantined-the majority of them were completely banned. The result is that while a considerable amount of users were upset and moved to the alternative site Voat(Reddit clone with free speech), the majority came back due to voat being unable to handle the traffic, and lacking the same level of user adaptation and content that Reddit has. Voat currently only has an active community on major categories like technology, as well as the subreddits that were banned on Reddit. Niche subreddits less than 1 million subscribers on Reddit are mostly dead on Voat. The lack of user adaptation on Voat means that users upset by Reddit’s decision against free speech are likely to continue to use Reddit.

 

Censoring these offensive communities also resulted in a positive portrayal by the mainstream media, and cleared up a lot of the negative stigma that Reddit had. While they compromised free speech and upset millions of users, very few users actually left due to the lack of an alternative with the same level of content, and the site had a substantially increased appeal to advertisers.

Conclusion

In order to maximize profits, social media sites aim to provide the best possible platform for advertisers. This includes quality ways of enabling advertisers to target users that are likely to take interest in their products/services, as well as building a platform that is unlikely to offend people, in order to further increase its appeal to advertisers.