In the last part of our report, dedicated to the novelties of the outgoing year in the world of hardware, we will tell you what else this fast-growing industry and related areas are remembered for. For example, one of the most important events in the last 365 days in the SSD segment was the release of devices with 3D XPoint memory, several new players appeared in the VR headset market at once, introducing their own devices on the Windows Mixed Reality platform, and memory manufacturers once again raised the bar for efficient frequencies of serial memory kits.

Also, one cannot fail to recall the successes of domestic sports benchmarking masters, who are very successfully promoting Ukraine into the ranks of overclocking superpowers. Well, in the end, let’s try to look into the rapidly approaching future, sketching a rough picture of the announcements that should be expected in the first few months of the new year.

DDR4: faster, brighter, more expensive!

RAM manufacturers this year have been busy expanding their range of DDR4 RAM kits and modules, offering customers products for every taste and color. Following fashion trends, many vendors have begun to equip their products not only with multi-colored radiators, but with RGB LED backlighting, which does not require any extra wires to control — an “advanced” motherboard is enough.

Results of the year 2017

Eminent companies, as before, are busy searching for the limiting modes of operation of DDR4 memory. In early autumn, G.Skill and Corsair introduced dual-channel 16 GB (2x 8 GB) RAM kits designed to operate in DDR4-4600 mode at a record voltage of 1.5 V. These “extreme” kits, as you might guess, are designed for the first time. turn for fans of overclocking, not sparing either the «hardware» or their wallets. The recommended cost of such a 16 GB DDR4 kit is almost $600.

Results of the year 2017

Corsair Vengeance LPX DDR4-4600

It is also impossible not to note the significant increase in cents for RAM, which began in the second half of 2016. Many DDR3 and DDR4 RAM kits almost doubled their retail value between January and December. For example, if a 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-2400 kit at the beginning of the year could be purchased in overseas stores for $100, now its price is approaching $200.

Results of the year 2017

Price of 16 GB G.Skill Ripjaws V DDR4-2400 kit in overseas stores

Solid state and disk drives

Promising 3D XPoint memory, which Intel and Micron have been teasing for a couple of years for computer enthusiasts, finally found its way into the final product in 2017. As is often the case, SSDs for the enterprise market were the first to debut — the Intel Optane SSD DC P4800X. In terms of speed, these devices turned out to be approximately at the same level as the top models of NVMe drives with 3D NAND memory, but at the same time they have an impressive resource. According to Intel’s own calculations, the new SSDs are guaranteed to withstand nearly 33,000 overwrites.

Results of the year 2017

Unfortunately, the novelty of 3D XPoint had a negative impact on its cost, which is why the price of such drives at first remained unaffordable for ordinary enthusiasts: about $ 1,500 for 375 GB. Especially for those who wanted to personally «feel» a new type of non-volatile memory in mid-spring, Intel released Optane Memory cache drives, designed to speed up computers using traditional HDDs as the main information storage. The cost of such devices was only $44 and $77 for 16 and 32 GB models.

Results of the year 2017

And only six months later, the line of Intel Optane 900p devices, designed for use in personal computers and workstations, debuted. On a dollar per gigabyte basis, the new NVMe drives are about twice as expensive as comparable SSDs like the Samsung 960 Pro, which also offer faster sequential read and write speeds. But at the same time, like «relatives» for the corporate market, they can offer buyers a much larger resource: the value of the TBW parameter (total number of bytes written) for the older 480 GB model is 8760 TB.

Results of the year 2017

It is fair to say that Samsung, which this year managed to win the title of the number one conductor manufacturer from Intel, did not sit idly by. In September, a South Korean company published the technical specifications of the SZ985 NVMe drive using Z-NAND chips. This type of flash memory is a close relative of the well-known multilayer V-NAND, but it stores only one bit of information in each cell, which positively affects the resource and performance. Mass production of Z-NAND devices will start next year.

Results of the year 2017

As Intel and Samsung compete in the speed and endurance of their SSDs, Toshiba and Western Digital see increasing storage density while lowering the cost per gigabyte of data as a top priority. The result of their joint work was 3D QLC NAND flash memory, which stores four bits of information at once in one cell. Chips made using this technology are characterized by a capacity of up to 1.5 TB and, according to Toshiba, can withstand up to 1000 rewrite cycles. The main area of ​​application for such memory chips should be low-cost drives used for archival data storage. On the conveyor such devices will fall in the next six months.

Results of the year 2017

A few words should be given to traditional hard drives. In the outgoing year, manufacturers managed to overcome the next limit of the maximum capacity of this type of device, having launched the production of products with a volume of 14 TB. At the same time, according to Backblaze, the cost of HDD in terms of one gigabyte has remained unchanged for about a year and there are no prerequisites for a significant decrease in this indicator.

Results of the year 2017

Microsoft Mixed Reality

The booming market for VR headsets is haunting many companies looking to get their piece of the pie. While HTC, Sony and Oculus are reaping the rewards of several years of work, Microsoft Corporation and its partners are just beginning to fight for a potential buyer with the Windows Mixed Reality platform.

Results of the year 2017

The devices created as part of this initiative are practically the same in terms of technical characteristics, and the final decision when choosing a specific VR headset model will be made by most buyers based on a personal relationship with the manufacturer’s brand. Such products are characterized by the use of a pair of displays with a resolution of 1440×1440 pixels and a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a viewing angle of about 95-105 degrees and a relatively affordable price — about $ 400 complete with manipulators. It is the low cost of such devices, according to Microsoft’s plans, that should help «bring VR to the masses.»

Results of the year 2017

The emergence of new players in the virtual reality headset market did not go unnoticed by its leaders, who began to gradually reduce retail prices for products that debuted a year earlier. For example, Oculus has reduced the cost of the Rift helmet and Touch controllers to $400, and the PlayStation VR, although still priced at $400, now comes with the camera needed to unleash the full potential of the device. On the other hand, the HTC Vive, the most popular VR headset among PC users, costs at least $600.

Results of the year 2017

Without departing from the topic of virtual reality, we should recall the completion of litigation between Oculus and ZeniMax Media. The latter, back in 2014, accused the creator of the Rift helmet of using stolen technology, unfair competition, copyright infringement and non-disclosure agreements. Oculus, along with its founder Palmer Luckey and former CEO Brendan Iribe, are ordered by the court to pay ZeniMax $500 million in damages.

What about laptops?

No less interesting developments have taken place in the outgoing year in the gaming laptop market. As you know, last year Nvidia introduced the GeForce GTX 10-series mobile graphics adapters, which are practically no different from their desktop counterparts. True, the dimensions and weight of the laptops equipped with them remained at the same level, which continued to scare off potential buyers. This year, the green chipmaker’s engineers managed to further refine the design of Pascal GPUs, introducing a new approach to building gaming laptops called Max-Q.

Results of the year 2017

The Nvidia Max-Q platform implies not only the use of special versions of GeForce GTX video adapters with an optimal performance-per-watt ratio, but also special cooling systems with an eye to low noise performance. Laptops developed using the new design can boast both a powerful graphics subsystem and a thin case with a relatively low weight. For example, the Acer Predator Triton 700 and ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501 laptops equipped with GeForce GTX 1080 Max-Q adapters are about 18 mm thick and weigh 2.4 and 2.25 kg, respectively.

Results of the year 2017

Acer Predator Triton 700

Results of the year 2017

ASUS ROG Zephyrus GX501

Among other novelties in 2017, we should highlight the ASUS ROG Strix GL702ZC laptop, addressed to ardent supporters of the «red camp». The Taiwanese vendor decided not to wait for the release of AMD Ryzen Mobile mobile chips and equipped this device with an AMD Ryzen 7 1700 desktop processor (8 cores / 16 threads, 3 / 3.7 GHz) and a Radeon RX 580 discrete graphics card with four gigabytes of video memory. Our review of an unusual laptop can be found at the link.

Results of the year 2017

Overclockers.UA

2017 turned out to be a very productive year for Ukrainian fans of sports benchcharking. The team of our Overclockers.UA conference continues its ascent to the top of the list of the best overclocker teams according to the HWBot.org portal. If at the beginning of the year it occupied the tenth line of the rating, now, thanks to the efforts of all its participants, it has risen to the seventh position. At the same time, the «piggy bank» of the team crossed the mark of 60 thousand points.

Results of the year 2017

Another reason to be proud of our favorite team is the successful performance at the HWBot Team Cup 2017 tournament, where 62 teams of overclocking enthusiasts from all over the world competed for the title of the “most-most”. According to the results of the Overclockers.UA competition, the 10th place was awarded, which, although a little lower than last year’s result, but the struggle this year was more intense.

Results of the year 2017

As for the position of Ukraine on the world stage, today it occupies the 12th line in the rating of the HWBot web resource. It is important to note that this result was achieved by only 777 overclockers, while more than one thousand overclockers participated in filling the «piggy bank» of the leaders of the list. The HWBot Country Cup 2017 has just ended, which determines the country with the strongest community of sports overclocking enthusiasts. For the first time in the history of this tournament, Ukraine entered the top five, located not far from the leading overclocking superpowers.

Results of the year 2017

What to expect next year

At the end of our series of publications dedicated to the results of the last 12 months in the world of hardware, I would like to pay attention to what awaits us in the rapidly approaching 2018. Already in the first days of January, the consumer electronics exhibition CES 2018 will open its doors, where leading electronics manufacturers will bring a large number of high-tech innovations. DisplayHDR-certified high-end monitors, new laptop models based on AMD Ryzen Mobile APUs, and likely detailed specs for 8th Gen Intel Core H chips equipped with Radeon graphics will be unveiled.

The upcoming quarter will mark the preparation of Intel and AMD for a new stage in the struggle for the hearts and wallets of gamers and PC enthusiasts. The former intends to significantly expand the range of Coffee Lake-S chips, while releasing several 300-series logic sets, and the Red team is preparing to reveal the second generation of Ryzen processors to the world along with desktop versions of Raven Ridge APUs. At the end of March, Nvidia will hold the next GPU Technology Conference in Silicon Valley, where we can expect new details about the company’s plans in the consumer graphics segment and, possibly, a formal announcement of next-generation graphics cards.

It will also be interesting to look at the first drives with 3D QLC NAND memory and what advantages they will have over traditional HDDs. We will find out whether the promises of DRAM manufacturers to increase supply volumes and thereby reduce retail prices for RAM modules will come true, and how long the next «cryptocurrency fever» will last. You, as before, will be the first to know about these and other events in the world of computer hardware from the pages of Overclockers.ua. Stay with us and Happy New Year!

Overview of the main events of 2017. Processors and platforms
Overview of the main events of 2017. Video cards

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