AMD Officially Launches Bristol Ridge Processors And Zen-Ready AM4 Platform

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | September 7, 2016 - 08:08 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Summit Ridge, Excavator, Bristol Ridge, amd, A12-9800

This week AMD officially took the wraps off of its 7th generation APU lineup that it introduced back in May. Previously known as Bristol Ridge, AMD is launching eight new processors along with a new desktop platform that finally brings next generation I/O to AMD systems.

Bristol Ridge maintains the Excavator CPU cores and GCN GPU cores of Carrizo, but on refreshed silicon with performance and power efficiency gains that will bring the architecture started by Bulldozer to an apex. These will be the last chips of that line, and wil be succeeded by AMD's new "Zen" architecture in 2017. For now though, Bristol Ridge delivers as much as 17% higher per thread CPU performance and 27% higher graphics performance while using significantly lower power than its predecessors. Further, AMD has been able to (thanks to various process tweaks that Josh talked about previously) hit some impressive clock speeds with these chips enabling AMD to better compete with Intel's Core i5 offerings.

Bristol Ridge.png

At the top end AMD has the (65W) quad core A12-9800 running at 3.8 GHz base and 4.2 GHz boost paired with GCN 3.0-based Radeon R7 graphics (that support VP9 and HEVC acceleration). These new Bristol Ridge chips are able to take advantage of DDR4 clocked up to 2400 MHz. For DIY PC builders planning to use dedicated graphics, AMD has the non-APU Athlon X4 950 which features four CPU cores at 3.5 GHz base and 3.8 GHz boost with a 65W TDP. While it is not clocked quite as high as its APU counterpart, it should still prove to be a popular choice for budge builds and will replace the venerable Athlon X4 860 and will also be paired with an AM4 motherboard that will be ready to accept a new Zen-based "Summit Ridge" CPU next year.

The following table lists the eight new 7th generation "Bristol Ridge" processors and their specifications. 

  CPU Cores CPU Clocks Base / Boost GPU GPU CUs GPU Clocks (Max) TDP

A12-98004

4 3.8 GHz / 4.2 GHz Radeon R7 8 1,108 MHz 65W
A12-9800E4 4 3.1 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 8 900 MHz 35W
A10-9700 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon R7 6 1,029 MHz 65W
A10-9700E 4 3.0 GHz / 3.5 GHz Radeon R7 6 847 MHz 35W
A8-9600 4 3.1 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon R7 6 900 MHz 65W
A6-9500 2 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz Radeon
R5
6 1029 MHz 65W
A6-9500E 2 3.0 GHz / 3.4 GHz Radeon
R5
4 800 MHz 35W
Athlon X4 950 4 3.5 GHz / 3.8 GHz None 0 N/A 65W

Source: AMD

To expand on the performance increases of Bristol Ridge, AMD compared the A12-9800 to the previous generation A10-8850 as well as Intel's Core i5-6500. According to the company, the Bristol Ridge processor handily beats the Carrizo chip and is competitive with the Intel i5. Specifically, when comparing Bristol Ridge and Carrizo, AMD found that the A12-9800 scored 3,521.25 in 3DMark 11 while the A10-8850 (95W Godavari) scored 2,880. Further, when compared in Cinebench R11.5 1T the A12-980 scored 1.21 versus the A10-8850's 1.06. Not bad when you consider that the new processor has a 30W lower TDP!

With that said, the comparison to Intel is perhaps most interesting to the readers. In this case, the A12-9800 is about where you would expect though that is not necessarily a bad thing. It does pull a bit closer to Intel in CPU and continues to offer superior graphics performance.

  AMD A12-9800 (65W) Intel Core i5-6500 (65W) AMD A10-8850 (95W)

3DMark 11 Performance

3,521.25 1,765.75 2,880
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated 3,483.25 3,702 Not run
Cinebench R11.5 1T 1.21 Not run 1.06

Source: AMD

Specifically, in 3DMark 11 Performance the A12-9800's score of 3,521.25 is quite a bit better than the Intel i5-6500's 1,765.75 result. However, in the more CPU focused PCMark 8 Home Accelerated benchmark the Intel comes out ahead with a score of 3,702 versus the AMD A12-9800's score of 3,483.25. If the price is right Bristol Ridge does not look too bad on paper, assuming AMD's testing holds true in independent reviews!

The AM4 Platform

Alongside the launch of desktop 7th generation APUs, AMD is launching a new AM4 platform that supports Bristol Ridge and is ready for Zen APUs next year. The new platform finally brings new I/O technologies to AMD systems including PCI-E 3.0, NVMe, SATA Express, DDR4, and USB 3.1 Gen 2.

According to Digital Trends, AMD's AM4 desktop platform wil span all the way from low end to enthusiast motherboards and these boards will be powered by one of three new chipsets. The three new chipsets are the B350 for mainstream, A320 for "essential," and X/B/A300 for small form factor motherboards. Notably missing is any mention of an enthusiast chipset, but one is reportedly being worked on and will arive closer to the launch of Zen-based processors in 2017.

The image below outlines the differences in the chipsets. Worth noting is that the APUs themselves will handle the eight lanes of PCI-E 3.0, dual channel DDR4, four USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports, and two SATA 6Gbps and two NVMe or PCI-E 3.0 storage devices. This leaves PCI-E 2.0, SATA Express, additional SATA 6Gbps, and USB 3.1 Gen 2 connection duties to the chipsets.

AMD Bristol Ridge AM4 Chipsets.jpg

As of today, AMD has only announced the availability of AM4 motherboards and 7th generation APUs for OEM systems (with design wins from HP and Lenovo so far). The company will be outlining the channel / DIY PC builder lineup and pricing at a later (to be announced date).

I am looking forward to Zen and in a way the timing of Bristol Ridge seems strange. On the other hand, for OEMs it should do well and hold them over until then (heh) and enthusiasts / DIY builders are able to buy into Bristol Ridge knowing that they will be able to upgrade to Zen next year (while getting better than Carrizo performance with less power and possibly better overclocking) is not a bad option so long as the prices are right!

The full press blast is included below for more information on how they got their benchmark results.

Source: AMD

Leaked Geekbench Results: AMD Zen Performance Extrapolated

Subject: Processors | September 6, 2016 - 03:05 PM |
Tagged: Zen, single thread, geekbench, amd

Over the holiday weekend a leaked Geekbench benchmark result on an engineering sample AMD Zen processor got tech nerds talking. Other than the showcase that AMD presented a couple weeks back using the Blender render engine, the only information we have on performance claims come from AMD touting a "40% IPC increase" over the latest Bulldozer derivative. 

The results from Geekbench show performance from a two physical processor system and a total of 64 cores running at 1.44 GHz. Obviously that clock speed is exceptionally low; AMD demoed Summit Ridge running at 3.0 GHz in the showcase mentioned above. But this does give us an interesting data point with which to do some performance extrapolation. If we assume perfect clock speed scaling, we can guess at performance levels that AMD Zen might see at various clocks. 

I needed a quick comparison point and found this Geekbench result from a Xeon E7-8857 v2 running at 3.6 GHz. That is an Ivy Bridge based architecture and though the system has 48 cores, we are only going to a look at single threaded results to focus on the IPC story.

Obviously there are a ton of caveats with looking at data like this. It's possible that AMD Zen platform was running in a very sub-optimal condition. It's possible that the BIOS and motherboard weren't fully cache aware (though I would hope that wouldn't be the case this late in the game). It's possible that the Linux OS was somehow holding back performance of the Zen architecture and needs update. There are many reasons why you shouldn't consider this data a final decision yet; but that doesn't make it any less interesting to see.

In the two graphs below I divide the collection of single threaded results from Geekbench into two halves and there are three data points for each benchmark. The blue line represents the Xeon Ivy Bridge processor running at 3.6 GHz. The light green line shows the results from the AMD Zen processor running at 1.44 GHz as reported by Geekbench. The dark green line shows an extrapolated AMD Zen performance result with perfect scaling by frequency. 

graph1.png

Continue reading our preview of AMD Zen single threaded performance!!

Source: Geekbench

IFA 2016: AMD Announces Radeon ProRender

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 02:53 AM |
Tagged: radeon, firepro, amd

AMD is apparently interested in supporting open-source, professional graphics. For instance, the Blender Foundation is interviewing potential hires based on a potential deal with the CPU and graphics vendor. They have also open-sourced a bunch of technologies through their GPUOpen Initiative, such as the Radeon Rays (formerly FireRays) library.

amd-2016-firerender-watch.png

This time, at IFA 2016, they released the Radeon ProRender, which used to be called FireRender. This is a plug-in for multiple 3D applications to render high-quality, raytraced images. The open-source, third-party renderer is currently available for 3D Studio Max, in beta for Maya, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, and coming soon for Blender. While Cycles is pretty good, the potential for cross-pollination is interesting for the future of open 3D development.

We can't go wrong with more options.

Source: AMD

If you don't Ottoman-tically update your drivers, Radeon 16.8.3 has just arrived

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: radeon 16.8.3, crimson, amd

Similar to the release yesterday from NVIDIA, AMD's Crimson 16.8.3 hotfix has been timed for release with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the Battlefield 1 Beta.  This particular update will add Crossfire profiles for both games and also fixes an unfortunate bug from the previous release which occasionally caused a static, albeit colourful screen over top of your game.  Unfortunately, the Gaming Evolved overlay launch problem still exists, as does the workaround. 

radeon-crimson.jpg

If you do plan on submitting bug reports whilst trying out the new Battlefield, please do head on over and upgrade so the devs are not working on issues which are already resolved.

Source: AMD

Testing the community developed RADV driver against AMDGPU-PRO

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, open source, linux, RADV, graphics driver

As of yet, AMD has not delivered the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver originally slated to arrive early this year, instead relying on their current proprietary driver.  That has not stopped a team of plucky programmers from creating RADV, utilizing the existing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end and Intel's work with Mesa NIR intermediate representation to pass to LLVM IR.  You won't get Gallium3D support, ironically RADV is too close to the metal for that to work.

Phoronix just wrapped up testing of the new driver, looking at performance for The Talos Principal and DOTA 2, contrasting the open source driver with the closed source AMDGPU-PRO.  RADV is not quite 4k ready but at lower resolutions it proves very competitive.

image.php_.jpg

"With word coming out last week that the RADV open-source Vulkan driver can now render Dota 2 correctly, I've been running some tests the past few days of this RADV Vulkan driver compared to AMD's official (but currently closed-source) Vulkan driver bundled with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver."

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Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

A closer look at Adam Jensen's beauty treatments

Subject: General Tech | August 31, 2016 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: deus ex: mankind divided, nvidia, amd

It was not just Adam Jensen's cyberware that was updated since 2012, we have also seen new computer hardware and software features added to our gaming machines.  [H]ard|OCP fired up the new Deus Ex to test a long list of features including tessellation, subsurface scattering, cloth physics, ambient occlusion, contact hardening shadows, parallax occlusion mapping, volumetric lighting, screenspace reflections, and chromatic aberration.  They chose the three new NVIDIA cards as well as the two AMD cards.  As of yet there is no DX12 support but a patch is planned but there are still some interesting findings; this game loves huge tracts of  VRAM and they also found that the default AA setting may not be your best choice.

14720516156ds7JLNduD_7_1_before.png

"Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is released, we take a look at performance and image quality. We will compare performance between GTX 1080, GTX 1070, GTX 1060, Radeon RX 480, and Radeon RX 470. We will also look at image quality and talk about our experiences with each video card and what is playable in DE:MD."

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #414 - AMD Zen Architecture Details, Lightning Headphones, AMD GPU Market Share and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 25, 2016 - 10:51 AM |
Tagged: Zen, video, seasonic, Polaris, podcast, Omen, nvidia, market share, Lightning, hp, gtx 1060 3gb, gpu, brix, Audeze, asus, architecture, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #414 - 08/25/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the newly released architecture details of AMD Zen, Audeze headphones, AMD market share gains and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Ryan Shrout, Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:37:15
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

AMD Gains Significant Market Share in Q2 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2016 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, market share, jpr, jon peddie, amd

As reported by both Mercury Research and now by Jon Peddie Research, in a graphics add-in card market that dropped dramatically in Q2 2016 in terms of total units shipped, AMD has gained significant market share against NVIDIA.

GPU Supplier Market share this QTR Market share last QTR Market share last year
AMD 29.9% 22.8% 18.0%
NVIDIA 70.0% 77.2% 81.9%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Source: Jon Peddie Research

Last year at this time, AMD was sitting at 18% market share in terms of units sold, an absolutely dismal result compared to NVIDIA's dominating 81.9%. Over the last couple of quarters we have seen AMD gain in this space, and keeping in mind that Q2 2016 does not include sales of AMD's new Polaris-based graphics cards like the Radeon RX 480, the jump to 29.9% is a big move for the company. As a result, NVIDIA falls back to 70% market share for the quarter, which is still a significant lead over the AMD.

Numbers like that shouldn't be taken lightly - for AMD to gain 7 points of market share in a single quarter indicates a substantial shift in the market. This includes all add-in cards: budget, mainstream, enthusiast and even workstation class products. One report I am received says that NVIDIA card sales specifically dropped off in Q2, though the exact reason why isn't known, and as a kind of defacto result, AMD gained sales share.

unnamed.png

There are several other factors to watch with this data however. First, the quarterly drop in graphics card sales was -20% in Q2 when compared to Q1. That is well above the average seasonal Q1-Q2 drop, which JPR claims to be -9.7%. Much of this sell through decrease is likely due to consumers expecting releases of both NVIDIA Pascal GPUs and AMD Polaris GPUs, stalling sales as consumers delay their purchases. 

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 launched on May 17th and the GTX 1070 on May 29th. The company has made very bold claims about product sales of Pascal parts so I am honestly very surprised that the overall market would drop the way it did in Q2 and that NVIDIA would fall behind AMD as much as it has. Q3 2016 may be the defining time for both GPU vendors however as it will show the results of the work put into both new architectures and both new product lines. NVIDIA reported record profits recently so it will be interesting to see how that matches up to unit sales.

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Clean Sheet and New Focus

It is no secret that AMD has been struggling for some time.  The company has had success through the years, but it seems that the last decade has been somewhat bleak in terms of competitive advantages.  The company has certainly made an impact in throughout the decades with their 486 products, K6, the original Athlon, and the industry changing Athlon 64.  Since that time we have had a couple of bright spots with the Phenom II being far more competitive than expected, and the introduction of very solid graphics performance in their APUs.

Sadly for AMD their investment in the “Bulldozer” architecture was misplaced for where the industry was heading.  While we certainly see far more software support for multi-threaded CPUs, IPC is still extremely important for most workloads.  The original Bulldozer was somewhat rushed to market and was not fully optimized, while the “Piledriver” based Vishera products fixed many of these issues we have not seen the non-APU products updated to the latest Steamroller and Excavator architectures.  The non-APU desktop market has been served for the past four years with 32nm PD-SOI based parts that utilize a rebranded chipset base that has not changed since 2010.

hc_03.png

Four years ago AMD decided to change course entirely with their desktop and server CPUs.  Instead of evolving the “Bulldozer” style architecture featuring CMT (Core Multi-Threading) they were going to do a clean sheet design that focused on efficiency, IPC, and scalability.  While Bulldozer certainly could scale the thread count fairly effectively, the overall performance targets and clockspeeds needed to compete with Intel were just not feasible considering the challenges of process technology.  AMD brought back Jim Keller to lead this effort, an industry veteran with a huge amount of experience across multiple architectures.  Zen was born.

 

Hot Chips 28

This year’s Hot Chips is the first deep dive that we have received about the features of the Zen architecture.  Mike Clark is taking us through all of the changes and advances that we can expect with the upcoming Zen products.

Zen is a clean sheet design that borrows very little from previous architectures.  This is not to say that concepts that worked well in previous architectures were not revisited and optimized, but the overall floorplan has changed dramatically from what we have seen in the past.  AMD did not stand still with their Bulldozer products, and the latest Excavator core does improve upon the power consumption and performance of the original.  This evolution was simply not enough considering market pressures and Intel’s steady improvement of their core architecture year upon year.  Zen was designed to significantly improve IPC and AMD claims that this product has a whopping 40% increase in IPC (instructions per clock) from the latest Excavator core.

hc_04.png

AMD also has focused on scaling the Zen architecture from low power envelopes up to server level TDPs.  The company looks to have pushed down the top end power envelope of Zen from the 125+ watts of Bulldozer/Vishera into the more acceptable 95 to 100 watt range.  This also has allowed them to scale Zen down to the 15 to 25 watt TDP levels without sacrificing performance or overall efficiency.  Most architectures have sweet spots where they tend to perform best.  Vishera for example could scale nicely from 95 to 220 watts, but the design did not translate well into sub-65 watt envelopes.  Excavator based “Carrizo” products on the other hand could scale from 15 watts to 65 watts without real problems, but became terribly inefficient above 65 watts with increased clockspeeds.  Zen looks to address these differences by being able to scale from sub-25 watt TDPs up to 95 or 100.  In theory this should allow AMD to simplify their product stack by offering a common architecture across multiple platforms.

Click to continue reading about AMD's Zen architecture!

Creatively testing GPUs with Google's Tilt Brush

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2016 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, Tilt Brush, VR

[H]ard|OCP continues their foray into testing VR applications, this time moving away from games to try out the rather impressive Tilt Brush VR drawing application from Google.  If you have yet to see this software in action it is rather incredible, although you do still require an artist's talent and practical skills to create true 3D masterpieces. 

Artisic merit may not be [H]'s strong suite but testing how well a GPU can power VR applications certainly lies within their bailiwick.  Once again they tested five NVIDIA GPUs and a pair of AMD's for dropped frames and reprojection caused by a drop in FPS.

1471635809gU37bh4rad_6_1.jpg

"We are changing gears a bit with our VR Performance coverage and looking at an application that is not as GPU-intensive as those we have looked at in the recent past. Google's Tilt Brush is a virtual reality application that makes use of the HTC Vive head mounted display and its motion controllers to allow you to paint in 3D space."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP