Categories
Computing

Motherboard Prices Are Rising, But Don’t Blame Chip Shortage

It’d be easy to blame the ongoing global chip shortage on the rising prices of motherboards, but with Intel’s latest Z690 motherboards, there’s reason to think that a larger issue is causing the price increase.

An article by TechPowerUp makes the point that that there are a lot of features that need to go into these new motherboards versus previous generations, like PCIe 5.0, DDR5, and the new LGA 1700 socket.

First off, one of the biggest differences between LGA 1700, which is what we get in the Z690 chipset, versus the previous socket, LGA 1200, is the number of pins. In the LGA 1700 socket, we get 1,700 little pins within the socket, whereas we got 1,200 in the LGA 1200, which occupied the Z590 chipset. Logically, more pins means more materials, thus more money needed to produce.

The question is, how much more money can 500 more little pins be? The answer is not concrete, but according to TechPowerUp, it’s around four times more expensive than LGA 1200.

Funny enough, the price difference between the Z590 and Z690 chipset is just $1.

While the new SSDs are not ready to be dispersed, PCIe 5.0 is ready on the Z690 chipset, which adds a price increase of about 10% to 20% over PCIe 4.0. That big price increase is due to what pieces are needed to implement PCIe 5.0.

The higher-end Z690 motherboards, like the Asus ROG Maximus Z690 Hero, utilize DDR5 RAM, which has an entirely different operating procedure that needs to be brought into play during design.

We also cannot ignore the overall design of the CPU that is being inserted into these motherboards, which is Intel’s 12th-Gen Alder Lake CPUs. Alder Lake is utilizing many different features from what we’re accustomed to, like dedicated performance cores.

All of the new features of the Z690 chipset holsters are unique and we’ve yet to see AMD include these features. Unfortunately, this is just another sign of the times where PC hardware has become more expensive and inaccessible to gamers who want in.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
Game

Kodorin is Super Smash Bros. Melee’s Newest Rising Star

John “Kodorin” Ko is one of the premiere Marth players on the Super Smash Bros. Melee competitive scene right now. While the 21-year-old has been around for years, even making top 100 rankings at one time, he’s really made a name for himself in the online era of Melee brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and arrival of better netplay for the title thanks to the rollback netcode client Slippi.

Kodorin won his way into the national Melee invitational tournament and the first in-person major tourney since the start of the pandemic, Smash Summit 11. Summit 11 is the latest in the Summit series, invitational tournaments where the best of the best are invited based on high placements. Other players can join the roster by being voted in or qualifying through a preliminary tournament, as Kodorin did.

At the Summit, Kodorin competed against all-star pros like Plup, Zain, Mango, Hungrybox, and more. Kodorin placed ninth in the event, which is a significant showing considering how many seasoned veterans he competed against. After his return home, I caught up with him to talk about his Melee journey, learning process, and Summit experience.

When did you start playing Melee competitively?

Like anyone, I’ve been playing Melee since it was released. In terms of competitive Melee, I’ve been familiar since the documentary came out in 2013. I went to my first tournament three years later, in November of 2016. Then I stopped until the next year because I didn’t have a car to get to local events, so I didn’t really see the point.

Come 2017, when I turned 17, I got my driver’s license and was able to actually travel, so I decided that was the time. Now, I’ve been seriously playing for about four and a half years.

You jumped in so late compared to other high-level competitors. How did you get so good so fast?

At first, I was just like any other Smasher. I’m not talented, and anybody that’s played me during my first years knows there are no special traits about me. What got me ahead was asking a lot of questions. I always asked how to keep improving, essentially. I ended up finding good sources like PPMD’s Smashboards thread, where he’d take questions for free. I asked hundreds of things there throughout the years. I’d implement whatever he responded, and, over time, it started to pay off, thanks to it giving me direction on where to improve.

Most players will stop improving even though they’ve played longer or [had] more talent than me because they never have good direction. They stay where they’re at, whereas I kept changing my plans and trying new things. I find that’s the defining trait of my improvement.

Would you say it’s important to have a teacher when it comes to learning?

Of course! Melee‘s a really hard game to begin with, especially when trying to improve by yourself. I don’t think I’d be where I am if I tried to improve alone.

Speaking of your game plans, many note how differently your Marth plays from others. How would you describe your playstyle?

I take a more zoning approach, but sometimes it can be a little erratic as well. I like to set up my zoning, make my opponent respect my space, and then manipulate them off of that. Then there are times [when] I’ll get a soul read off of my opponent from that zoning wall. Other times that read won’t even come from the walling. At some points, I’ll just go off randomly, but it’s not very consistent.

never forget these tippers pic.twitter.com/ImYvDmxG3h

— John Ko (@KoDoRiNSSB) July 12, 2021

For instance, many know me for my victory over Plup, where I got a random out-of-shield read. That’s not really normal or rational to do, but I had a feeling from him not playing his best and being a little antsy out of shield, so I just went for that hard read. Occasionally, I’ll get a little crazy after getting the feeling of my opponent’s soul, but only if I really need to take that risk.

Did your Summit matches open your eyes to any flaws of your style?

Definitely! I could improve in so many areas, and talking to tons of top players for feedback helped me find direction. Particularly having faster decision making, faster execution, making my attack and defensive rhythm more subtle, things like that.

Who do you feel was your toughest opponent during the event?

In terms of personal matchups, the one that destroyed me the most was Plup. He’s very fast, but at the same time, I only played him once in casuals when I had very little sleep because I had to go to Summit really early. That may be a small factor, but all in all, Plup is an amazing player. He also destroyed me in [the] tournament bracket with his secondary, so he stands out.

Mango and Zain were definitely the next hardest opponents for me.

Netplay results are very controversial for the Smash and fighting game communities overall. Do you feel your online grinding helped out in this offline environment?

Netplay results should be taken with a grain of salt, but to say that they don’t matter is usually an ego defense. If you have the proper setup, good internet, monitors, and all of that, I don’t see much of a reason netplay is bad. Yeah, there is instability and some drawbacks, but that’s there with LAN as well. People complained how the main stream TV at Summit had a little bit of lag compared to other CRTS.

Not to mention CRT is naturally uglier, so that makes tech-chasing somewhat harder. Don’t get it wrong, though; I do enjoy CRT overall. I’m not a Slippi kid. Some people forgot I was ranked top 100 in 2019, so I know what it’s like to compete both online and LAN for extended periods of time. I think they’re both legit as long as the online is stable. Rollback is usually always legit because it doesn’t mess with the fundamental premise of Melee, which is execution.

Kinda an insane stock ngl pic.twitter.com/l7UZb2qeCH

— John Ko (@KoDoRiNSSB) April 7, 2021

I’d say any drop-offs from rollback and LAN results probably come from being in the comfort of one’s home. Some people are more nerfed online, like HBox, because he takes LAN more seriously. Then there are some who play better online because they can’t handle in-person nerves. I find the discrepancies between the two usually [have] to do more with the environment than the game itself.

So which do you prefer, monitor or CRT?

Well, there was a little secret at Summit where everyone was asking that, and you’d be surprised, but most top players actually said monitor. It’s not optimized for offline Melee just yet, but it’s great [he laughs]. With CRT, I didn’t feel a difference. It wasn’t better, but it wasn’t worse either.

Did you feel that everyone had to readjust to offline at Summit after so many online events?

To be honest, everyone was playing a little worse compared to online. Not just because of the first tourney back but because of the stakes. It was literally the biggest prize pool of all time, so who isn’t going to be a little nervous? I think everyone’s gameplay was affected to some degree. Maybe HBox and his Jigglypuff were buffed, but that’s about it.

I know you’ve spoken about learning the importance of not focusing on your results. Can you elaborate on that?

Focusing on your results isn’t productive. I always say that the process is what gets the result. People can focus on getting an A+ on a test all they want, but if they don’t study, then how will they get that A+? It’s much more productive to focus on your inputs to actually get the win in the end.

Where do you see yourself going after Summit?

I’m not quite sure myself, but I am certain about a few things. I do want to do Melee full-time. I’m taking steps to get there with streaming and doing YouTube more often and making sure I can pull decent numbers to make this sustainable.

Even more importantly, I’m trying to improve every day. I want to be the best. One day, I will be the best. In order to do so, I need to attend tournaments, practice every day, and keep acting questions. You’ll probably see me at SoCal majors and locals. I signed up for Riptide, Genesis, and maybe I’ll even be at the next Summit. Who knows?


Smash fans will want to keep an eye on Kodorin to see just where he goes next in the scene with offline tournaments returning. You can follow him on Twitter, Twitch, where he streams regularly, and YouTube, where he consistently uploads unique content about Melee, including gameplay tips.

Editors’ Choice




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Categories
AI

AI adoption and analytics are rising, survey finds

All the sessions from Transform 2021 are available on-demand now. Watch now.


The need for enterprise digital transformation during the pandemic has bolstered investments in AI. Last year, AI startups raised a collective $73.4 billion in Q4 2020, a $15 billion year-over-year increase. And according to a new survey from ManageEngine, the IT division of Zoho, business deployment of AI is on the rise.

In the survey of more than 1,200 tech execs at organizations looking at the use of AI and analytics, 80% of respondents in the U.S. said that they’d accelerated their AI adoption over the past two years. Moreover, 20% said they’d boosted their usage of business analytics compared with the global average, a potential sign that trust in AI is growing.

“The COVID-19 pandemic forced businesses to adopt — and adapt to — new digital technologies overnight,” ManageEngine VP Rajesh Ganesan, a coauthor of the survey, said in a press release. “These findings indicate that, as a result, organizations and their leaders have recognized the value of these technologies and have embraced the promises they are offering even amidst global business challenges.”

AI use cases

ManageEngine’s survey found that the dominant motivation behind business analytics technologies, at least in the U.S., is data-driven decision-making. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that they’re using business analytics for augmented decision making while 69% said they’d improved the use of available data with business analytics. Sixty-five percent said that business analytics helps them make decisions faster, furthermore, reflecting an increased confidence in AI.

Execs responding to the survey also emphasized the importance of customer experience in their AI adoption decisions, with 59% in the U.S. saying that they’re leveraging AI to enhance customer services. Beyond customer experience, 61% of IT teams saw an uptick in applying business analytics, while marketing leaders saw a 44% surge; R&D teams saw 39%; software development and finance saw 38%; sales saw 37%; and operations saw 35%.

HR was among the groups that showed the lowest increase in business analytics usage, according to the survey. Research shows that companies are indeed struggling to apply data strategies to their HR operations. A Deloitte report found that more than 80% of HR professionals score themselves low in their ability to analyze, a troubling fact in a highly data-driven field.

Still, Ganesan said that the report’s findings reinforce the notion that AI is a critical business enabler — particularly when combined with cloud solutions that can support remote workers. “Increased reliance on AI and business analytics is fueling data-driven decisions to operate the organization more efficiently and make customers happier,” he continued.

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Categories
Computing

The Rising Price of DRAM Is Prolonging the GPU Shortage

Research outlet TrendForce projects that DRAM prices will continue to rise throughout 2021, further compounding the GPU and console shortages the market has seen over the last several months. TrendForce expects to see up to a 13% price increase in Q3 2021, which is a drop from Q2 — with a projection of up to a 25% increase — but an increase over Q1, which saw up to a 10% increase.

DRAM availability is a big reason why there’s a GPU shortage right now. The GDDR6 and GDDR6X modules inside the latest graphics cards and consoles are in high demand, and suppliers haven’t been able to meet that demand. TreadForce points out Nvidia as a constraining factor, saying, “DRAM suppliers have prioritized capacity allocation to Nvidia as opposed to smaller clients.”

The Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 are a big strain on the DRAM market, too. Both consoles use 16GB GDDR6 chips, not dual 8GB GDDR6 chips. So, the 8GB chips that are common in the graphics card market aren’t common in the console market, and as TrendForce explains, “the two chips are noninterchangeable.”

All this demand has pushed DRAM prices up through 2021, and that won’t change soon. TrendForce projects an 8% to 13% increase in prices through Q3 in the contract market. That will make manufacturing graphics cards and consoles more expensive, but that doesn’t necessarily mean these products will be more expensive on the shelves. For the Xbox and PlayStation in particular, you can still expect to pay their $500 price tag.

Graphics cards are a different story. As past releases and the past several months have shown, GPUs are traded like a commodity. The suggested price doesn’t mean much, as retailers and third-party sellers are willing and able to sell cards well above their recommend price. The news of DRAM price increases could mean less supply or higher prices, but regardless, it looks like the GPU shortage isn’t recovering any time soon.

Outside of demand, new graphics cards, and new consoles, TrendForce identified an increase in demand for server DRAM that’s also contributed to the shortage. Although the projection is bad news for hopeful GPU buyers, it’s important to remember that DRAM demand is only one aspect of the GPU shortage.

Editors’ Choice




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