Samsung Releases 8-Core and 6-Core 32-Bit Exynos 5 SoCs

Subject: Processors | February 26, 2014 - 11:46 PM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos 5, big.little, arm, 28nm

Samsung recently announced two new 32-bit Exynos 5 processors with the eight core Exynos 5 Octa 5422 and six core Exynos 5 Hexa 5260. Both SoCs utilize a combination of ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 CPU cores along with ARM's Mali graphics. Unlike the previous Exynos 5 chips, the upcoming processors utilize a big.LITTLE configuration variant called big.LITTLE MP that allows all CPU cores to be used simultaneously. Samsung continues to use a 28nm process node, and the SoCs should be available for use in smartphones and tablets immediately.

The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5422 offers up eight CPU cores and an ARM Mali T628 MP6 GPU. The CPU configuration consists of four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. Devices using this chip will be able to tap up to all eight cores at the same time for demanding workloads, allowing the device to complete the computations and return to a lower-power or sleep state sooner. Devices using previous generation Exynos chips were faced with an either-or scenario when it came to using the A15 or A7 groups of cores, but the big.LITTLE MP configuration opens up new possibilites.

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While the Octa 5422 occupies the new high end for the lineup, the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260 is a new midrange chip that is the first six core Exynos product. This chip uses an as-yet-unnamed ARM Mali GPU along with six ARM cores. The configuration on this SoC is four low power Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz paired with two Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Devices can use all six cores at a time or more selectively. The Hexa 5260 offers up two higher powered cores for single threaded performance along with four power sipping cores for running background tasks and parallel workloads.

The new chips offer up access to more cores for more performance at the cost of higher power draw. While the additional cores may seem like overkill for checking email and surfing the web, the additional power can enable things like onboard voice recognition, machine vision, faster photo filtering and editing, and other parallel-friendly tasks. Notably, the GPU should be able to assist with some of this parallel processing, but GPGPU is still relatively new whereas developers have had much more time to familiarize themselves with and optimize applications for multiple CPU threads. Yes, the increasing number of cores lends itself well to marketing, but that does not preclude them from having real world performance benefits and application possibilities. As such, I'm interested to see what these chips can do and what developers are able to wring out of them.

Source: Ars Technica

Intel has some good news for GLOFO

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2014 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: UMC, SoFIA, Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, atom, 28nm

GLOBALFOUNDRIES will be the primary supplier of Intel's 28nm baseband chips according to this unconfirmed report at DigiTimes.  It seems that Intel really is moving towards a new business model and will be outsourcing some of their upcoming chips to both GLOFO and UMC.  Their 28nm PolySiON process will be used to make the next generation of baseband transmitter chips and the new Atom SoC for cellphones and phablets will use TSMC's 28nm HKMG process.  The higher end Broxton SoCs will remain at Intel and use their FinFET process.  This is a big win for GLOFO and could mean the beginning of a lasting partnership with what was once an AMD asset.

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"Intel has contracted Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to manufacture its forthcoming Atom mobile processor series codenamed SoFIA, and also placed orders for entry-level baseband chips with Globalfoundries and United Microelectronics (UMC), according to industry sources."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD Radeon HD 8990 Rumored for 2013 Launch

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 4, 2012 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: venus, Sea Islands, radeon hd 8990, hd 8990, dual gpu, 28nm

Earlier this year rumored specifications for AMD’s upcoming HD 8000-series graphics cards leaked to the Internet. Details on the 8800 and 8900 series cards have since been revealed along with rumored/estimated clock speeds and pricing. One card that has, until now, remained an unknown is the dual-GPU Radeon HD 8990, however.

The existence of a dual GPU Sea Islands card has been especially suspect as a result of the ever-elusive Radeon 7990 and its almost-certain cancellation in an official AMD-branded form. On the other hand, a road map leaked by BitDreams.se and discovered by Maximum PC seems to suggest that an HD 8990 is at least being considered.

The Radeon HD 8990 follows the dual GPU traditions of its predecessors by combining two 8970 GPUs onto a single PCB. That means, if the previously leaked 8970 specifications hold true, the 8990 graphics card will have 5,120 stream processors, 320 texture units, 96 ROPs, and a 384-bit memory bus for each GPU. The card will have between 6 and 12GB of GDDR5 memory (3GB-6GB per GPU). The dual GPU card will have a maximum TDP of 375W and will come with slightly lower GPU core and memory clockspeeds compared to two individual 8970 cards. The GPU will be clocked at 950MHz and the memory will be clocked at 1250MHz. The single GPU Radeon 8970 will come clocked at 1050MHz core and 1500MHz memory, however.

  Radeon HD 7870 Radeon HD 8870 Radeon 7950 Radeon 8950 Radeon HD 7970 Radeon HD 8970 Radeon HD 7990 Radeon HD 8990
Die Size 212mm^2 270mm^2 365mm^2 ~400mm^2 365mm^2 ~ 400mm^2  365mm^2 x2 ~400mm^2 x2
Shader Count 1280 1792 1792 2304 2048 2560 4096 5120
TMUs 80 112 112 144 128 160 128 x 2 160 x 2
ROPs 32 32 32 32 32 48 32 x 2 48 x 2
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit x2 384-bit x 2
Bandwidth 153.6 GB/s 192 GB/s 240 GB/s 322 GB/s 288 GB/s 322 GB/s 288 GB/s x 2 600 GB/s (total)

The dual gpu 8990 card, as well as the rest of the 8000 series will support DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0, and OpenGL 4.2. Bit Dreams lists the maximum single and double precision performance at 10.2 and 3 TFLOPS respectively, making this a rather powerful card that is not quite the same performance as two 8970s but will take up less space. Interestingly, the card would be noticeably faster than AMD’s FirePro S10000 card (essentially two 7950 gpus) at 1.48 TF double precision and 5.91 TF single precision. That would suggest that Venus is much more efficient than Tahiti, if the numbers turn out to be true.

The card will allegedly be released sometime in the second quarter of 2013 (Q2’13). Pricing is likely to be around $1,000 but so far pricing information has not leaked. Even taking these numbers with a spoon of salt, a dual GPU 8000 series card is sure to be welcome by enthusiasts. Here’s hoping it ends up being released (unlike the 7990) and is as fast as it’s rumored to be!

Source: Bit Dreams

TSMC makes the future of 28nm a little brighter

Subject: General Tech | August 22, 2012 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

If you like NVIDIA and AMD's current 28nm process GPUs and future APUs, you should be very happy to hear that TSMC's current 28nm process is topping 80% yield.  This means that the vast majority of silicon coming out of TSMC is good and the supply shortages we have had to become accustomed to are a thing of the past.  This also bodes well for the upcoming AMD APUs which will most likely be using TSMC 28nm silicon.  As well, DigiTimes has good news about the new Fab 15 which should vastly expand TSMC's production capability.

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"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm processes have topped a yield rate of 80%, the Chinese-language Commercial Times cited unnamed equipment suppliers as saying in a recent report. Meanwhile, the foundry's new 12-inch fab - Fab 15 - will have a capacity of more than 100,000 12-inch equivalent wafers in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to the report.

Installed capacity at TSMC's Fab 15 thus far in the third quarter has expanded by about 300% sequentially, the report indicated. Fab 15 is identified as the major wafer fab where TSMC's foundry capacity for 28nm processes will be located.

TSMC will be able to satisfy all demand from its major clients including Qualcomm, Nvidia and AMD by the fourth quarter of 2012 as it manages to boost output of wafers processed using 28nm technology, the report believes."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD and NVIDIA are sticking with TSMC

Subject: General Tech | July 9, 2012 - 04:32 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, Samsung, amd, nvidia, 28nm, rumour

All of the speculation about the problems TSMC has had with their 28nm process and the possible issues they might have producing enough wafers to meet their clients demands.  Today we hear from DigiTimes that Qualcomm is going to switch to Samsung, possibly because TSMC was focusing on AMD and NVIDIA, but this is pure speculation at the moment.  What seems more reliable is that GPU vendors are stating that both AMD and NVIDIA are sticking with TSMC which makes a lot of sense, even if TSMC has problems delivering it is a better alternative than AMD or NVIDIA redesigning their graphics processors to be compatible with Samsung's process.  The story also mentions that in 2013 Brazos 2.0 and Hondo will be moved to a 28nm design, again likely sourced at TSMC.

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"While Qualcomm has reportedly switched foundry orders for its 28nm-based Snapdragon S4 processors from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to Samsung Electronics because TSMC's 28nm capacity has failed to meet its needs, Nvidia and AMD may not follow suit, according to graphics card makers.

TSMC has the upper hand over Samsung in 28nm technology, yield rate and price and therefore changing foundry partnership involves high risks, the sources said. In addition, Nvidia is expected to consider Samsung's ARM-based processors in competition with its Tegra 3 processors, the sources indicated."

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Source: DigiTimes

Changes afoot for AMD's CPU process

Subject: General Tech | June 18, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: amd, TSMC, 28nm

It looks like AMD is going to move its CPU process from the current Silicon on Insulator to the same 28nm bulk CMOS process at TSMC that they currently are using for their Southern Islands GPUs.  This should see the same changes to thermals as with the HD7xxx series of cards when compared to their predecessors and it is possible that this move could help future APUs as both GPU and CPU portions will be using the same improved process.  The article on DigiTimes also carries a bit of speculation on Sea Island, the next GPU architecture as well as the HSA and ARM on AMD.

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"AMD is set to make a major change in its manufacturing process in 2013 and will fully switch from the existing SOI manufacturing processor to 28nm Bulk CMOS process, according to Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and chief technology officer of AMD."

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Source: DigiTimes

Good news from TSMC for NVIDIA and you

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2012 - 02:28 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm, nvidia

In the seemingly never ending saga of TSMC, NVIDIA and the mysteriously lacking supply of 28nm GPUs on the market is another update from DigiTimes.  TSMC is going to give priority to NVIDIA on their production lines, though if TSMC is still at 95% capacity that may not mean a great increase in capacity.  This doesn't refute the rumours that NVIDIA is shopping around for a new supplier for their chips nor that they may be revamping the mask they use for the chips but it does imply that TSMC does not want to lose NVIDIA's business and might have some capacity to spare for them.

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"Since Nvidia has been unsatisfied with TSMC's 28nm process, while the company has also not refuted rumors that the company may cooperate with Samsung Electronics or Globalfoundries, TSMC, to sooth Nvidia, has put the GPU maker on its supply priority, allowing Nvidia to be able to release its 28nm GPUs on schedule in May and June."

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Source: DigiTimes

May it truly be the end of our graphics card drought

Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2012 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: NVIDA, amd, graphics card, TSMC, 28nm, kepler, southern islands, gtx690, gtx680, gtx670, gtx610

Enthusiasts were offered a bit of hope this morning with news from DigiTimes that more capacity at TSMC will be available for AMD and NVIDIA which would mean more dies being made and hopefully a larger supply of GPUs.  Since TSMC seems to have finished playing with their Cortex A9 process, there is a good possibility that the GTX680 and perhaps even the GTX690 will become common enough that the great unwashed actually have a chance to purchase one.  We can also hope that it will give NVIDIA a chance to build up stocks of the GTX670 and 610 which are due out at the end of the month and June, respectively.  Unfortunately, if a certain site is correct that may not be the case as NVIDIA will be redoing their mask and not be able to take advantage of the extra capacity TSMC could make available for them.  Perhaps if this scenario is true AMD will be able to leverage TSMC to flood the market with Southern Island GPUs and hope to win the availability war as the performance crown is firmly on NVIDIA's head in this generation of GPUs.

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"AMD and Nvidia, impacted by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) fully-booked capacity, had rather weak shipment performance in the first quarter; however, as more capacity will be gradually released by TSMC, shortages of 28nm graphics cards are expected to improve in late May, according to sources from graphics card makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

Bad news upgraders; Intel's 22nm is suffering 28nm woes as well

Subject: General Tech | April 23, 2012 - 11:41 AM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel, 28nm, 22nm

There is bad news out of DigiTimes today for those hoping to upgrade to an Ivy Bridge CPU when they first become available, the availability will not be good.  The thirteen desktop processors that are slated to be released any time now are predicted to suffer the same short supply that plagued AMD when they first released their 28nm parts and is still preventing those who can afford a GTX 680 from being able to buy one.  Hopefully this issue has been part of the core reason as to why the Ivy Bridge release date has been so well suppressed, even with the leaks that have appeared over the past quarter.  Perhaps Intel is planning to have enough good 22nm silicon stockpiled that the availability will be a bit better than the GTX 680 and perhaps even enough to see first adopters through until the production levels can be increased.

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"Although Intel is ready to launch and sell its upcoming Ivy Bridge-based processors soon, shipments of the processor are estimated to be lower than expected with the possible driver being either low capacity or yield rates, and the situation is forcing Intel to adjust its processor shipment proportions for notebook and desktop platforms, according to sources from PC players, which added that Nvidia and AMD are also facing shortage issues for their 28nm graphics cards."

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Source: DigiTimes

The never ending story of TSMC's 28nm process

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2012 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, 28nm

Once again DigiTimes is focusing on TSMC's 28nm process, a node which we have been hearing a lot about for a long time.  Today they are proposing that perhaps the industry has been a bit harsh on TSMC and the availability of working 28nm silicon from that manufacturer.  Their analyst suggests that the 28nm node is still new to the industry and that the production lines still do not have all of the bugs worked out, let alone optimizations to decrease the time it takes to produce a wafer.  This is at least partially true though AMD has been using TSMC for its 28nm Southern Islands GPUs for a while now, other companies have not been so successful in using TSMC.  That seems to have scared other companies, not only is NVIDIA looking elsewhere for chips, Qualcomm is as well.  On the other hand, ARM is trying to get their customers to do the opposite, and are optimising their processors for TSMC's 28nm node, as well as the older 40nm.

DigiTimes may be spot on when they describe TSMC's 28nm process production speeds as increasing faster than previous nodes have and that the problems are only for specific chips and not across the board like the 40nm issues were.  Since TSMC is predicting that they will be running at 95% capacity by the end of the year they had better hope that they can speed production and find a way to do so without having to shut down entire production lines in order to implement any optimizations they discover along the way as any drop in supply is going to be poorly received by customers.

No process transition goes smoothly.  TSMC may be in the news more frequently than other Fabs but those competitors are not without their difficulties as we saw with the limited amount of GLOBALFOUNDRIES produced Llano chips at the end of last year.  Hopefully the current yields do improve, not just for the sake of the GTX 680 but for all of the other customers planning on moving to this node.  In the meantime, it offers a tech-centric soap opera for enthusiast to watch and speculate on.

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"Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) could ramp up its 28nm production capacity at a much faster pace than older 40/45nm and 65nm process nodes, according to Digitimes Research analyst Nobunaga Chai. To make such speculation about yield problems with TSMC's 28nm processes is unfair, said Chai, adding that the foundry is actually improving the process yield rate within its expectations."

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Source: DigiTimes