AMD's unannouced 2014 roadmap

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2013 - 09:30 AM |
Tagged: amd, roadmap, 2014, Kaveri, Kabini, carrizo, beema, Excavator, Nolan, 2015, socket sf1b

As is usually the case, AMD will not comment on the accuracy of DigiTimes information but as we have seen in the past their roadmaps have been spot on.  Over the next 8 months or so will see the arrival of the Hawaii GPU family and the entrance of Kaveri and Kabini chips, nothing new there but good to have independent confirmation.  In the latter part of 2014 and 2015 things are a little more interesting as Beema will replace Kabini with an HSA compliant architecture and use a new socket called FS1B.  In 2015 Beema will be replaced by a chip called Nolan and we will finally see the Excavator based Carrizo which are slated to have 45W and 65W versions.

You can expect to see FM1 and AM3 phased out of active production by the end of 2013, with AM3+ and FM2 being the two active sockets until FS1B arrives.

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"AMD has recently updated its product roadmap and is set to release its Hawaii-based GPUs at the end of September, Kaveri-based APUs for the high-end segment and Kabini-based APUs for the entry-level segment in the first quarter of 2014, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

GCN-Based AMD 7000 Series GPUs Will Fully Support DirectX 11.2 After Driver Update

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 25, 2013 - 10:24 PM |
Tagged: amd, Windows 8.1, microsoft, directx 11.2, graphics cards, gaming, GCN

Earlier this month, several websites reported that AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) based graphics cards (7000 series and 8000 series OEM lines) would not be compatible with the Windows 8.1-only DirectX 11.2 API. This was inferred from a statement made by AMD engineer Laylah Mah in an interview with c1 Magazin.

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An AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.

Fortunately, the GCN-based cards will fully support DirectX 11.2 once an updated driver has been released. As it turns out, Microsoft’s final DirectX 11.2 specification ended up being slightly different than what AMD expected. As a result, the graphics cards do not currently fully support the API. The issue is not one of hardware, however, and an updated driver can allow the GCN-based 7000 series hardware to fully support the latest DirectX 11.2 API and major new features such as tiled resources.

The updated driver will reportedly be released sometime in October to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1. Specifically, Maximum PC quoted AMD in stating the following:

"The Radeon HD 7000 series hardware architecture is fully DirectX 11.2-capable when used with a driver that enables this feature. AMD is planning to enable DirectX 11.2 with a driver update in the Windows 8.1 launch timeframe in October, when DirectX 11.2 ships. Today, AMD is the only GPU manufacturer to offer fully-compatible DirectX 11.1 support, and the only manufacturer to support Tiled Resources Tier-2 within a shipping product stack.”

So fret not, Radeon 7000-series owners, you will be able to fully utilize DX 11.2 and all its features once games start implementing them, and assuming you upgrade to Windows 8.1.

Source: Maximum PC

AMD Pushing PC Gaming at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2013 - 01:40 PM |
Tagged: never settle, gamescom, amd

In much the same way as it was at E3 this year, AMD has plastered themselves all over the show floor at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany.  The annual game celebration in Europe focuses not just on PC gaming but consoles as well but with AMD APUs at the heart of both the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4, they are about as universal as you can get.

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The AMD booth at Gamescom obviously leans heavily on the world of PC gaming with both next-generation consoles not coming until November but the big draw is obviously the Battlefield 4 section that allows gamers to walk up and play.  Due out October 29th here in North America, BF4 is likely to be one the biggest titles of the year available on current consoles, PC and the PS4 and Xbox One.  And though nothing is confirmed it will likely be bundle game for Radeon graphics cards at some point as well...

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Red capes and Battlefield 4

Much like the Penny Arcade Expo coming up next month in Seattle, Gamescom is an event where the public is invited to get hands on with impressive games and impressive technology without having to filter it through the eye of the media.  AMD showcases unique capabilities of the PC gaming market in the booth as well like the 5-screen Eyefinity configuration seen here DiRT Showdown.

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As is usually the case with public events, you're going to meet some interesting characters while you walk around but that is part of the fun!  If you have never attended Gamescom, PAX, Blizzcon, Quakecon or anything like it, I would highly encourage you make plans to do so as it will really revitalize your excitement for gaming!  While shows like CES and Computex drain me of energy, these public-facing experiences are much more spirited.

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Charlie?

Other booths at the show are also running AMD-powered gaming systems for all of their demonstrations including Gaming Evolved partners like Deep Silver, Square-Enix, EA/DICE and Red5.  If you haven't seen games like Thief or Saints Row IV in action then you are missing out and locals in Cologne still have the opportunity to do so.  AMD claims that all the demo systems running these PC games are Radeon-powered: Battlefield 4, The Sims 4, Firefall, Saints Row IV, Need for Speed Rivals, FIFA 2014, Murdered Soul Suspect, and Final Fantasy XIV.

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Even with all the other discussion and debate about AMD graphics technologies, the second half of 2013 is going to be incredibly exciting on all fronts!

Source: Gamescom

Is the AMD FX-9590 5.0 GHz processor getting a price drop?

Subject: Processors | August 23, 2013 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: piledriver, FX-9590, amd

Over the last couple of days we had heard rumors about a potential price drop on the 5.0 GHz (Turbo Speed) AMD FX-9590 processor that was released in June.  As the week progressed, the likelihood of this being true skyrocketed as several online outlets are showing much lower than expected pricing on the 8-core 220 watt CPU.

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Aria.co.uk - listed at £299

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Overclockers.co.uk - listed at £279

Two different UK-based online and retail outlets were showing the FX-9590 for sale for as low as £279 or $434 USD.  That is a big price drop from £699 rate ($1008 USD) and obviously is causing quite a stir in the community.  This puts the latest entries in the world of AMD FX just above the other parts like the standard FX-8350 in terms of cost which was definitely NOT the case in June or July. 

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In the US, the FX-9590 is still selling at Newegg as an OEM part but the current price is stuck at $879!

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So why all the fuss?  AMD claims that these are NOT price drops at AMD's request and that instead are the result of "business to business" negotiations.  The official statement from AMD is as follows:

AMD channel partners are able to deliver the AMD FX-9000-series processor, AMD’s fastest and most powerful  desktop processor, in highly customized systems and solutions in a manner that provides AMD fans access to the technology. We are excited to see high levels of interest in our AMD FX 9000-series processors, and will continue to work with our valued channel partners to ensure our products are readily available to the enthusiast community.

If you're like me, you don't really take anything interesting away from this statement other than "no comment."  So what is really happening?

First, according to AMD the FX-9590 was never intended to be sold as an OEM part and rather was supposed to ship only in pre-built systems from companies like iBuyPower or in bundles that include a motherboard and cooler along with the processor.  If these bundles were slow sellers though it seems plausible that the retailers would find ways to expire the bundle program and "accidentally" start selling the processors alone.  Based on photos from ReviewBros that appears to be the case.

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Photo source: ReviewBros

In reality though, this is the pricing that we would have liked to see the FX-9590 ship at originally and the first sets of reviews (that we were not included on) might have been much more positive.  At $430 USD the FX-9590 competes with the higher end Core i7 Haswell processors in terms of performance but obviously uses quite a bit more power to get there. 

If you are interested in buying a bundle or a system with the FX-9590 I do expect there to be some updates to pricing from all of the same system builders that launched with the processor originally to reflect these "business to business" happenings.  I have already expressed interest to AMD and a couple of boutique builders in reviewing a system with these pricing and placement adjustments. 

As for the idea of a "price drop", things are just more complicated than that.  AMD tells me that because it was never intended to sell as an OEM part any pricing changes are not a result of AMD's demands.  Honestly I don't know why AMD is so opposed to just saying there has been a price drop other than the negative reaction of the initial launch buyers; but that is always the case in the enthusiast market. 

Regardless of the verbiage, the fact is that you'll likely be able to find the AMD FX-9590 and its 5.0 GHz Turbo clock rate available at lower prices in systems and on store shelves (though without AMD's consent) for much closer to the actual performance/value they offer.  I'll take it.

AMD is selling off their Singapore facility

Subject: General Tech | August 23, 2013 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: amd, fab lite, hsbc

AMD is continuing with its Fab Light plans as they are awaiting approval for the sale of their Singapore facility to HSBC.  As they have done in the past they will rent the facility back from the new owners, this time on a 10 year lease, and continue to use the location but will forgo the costs associated with ownership.  If approved the sale is expected to add $46million USD to AMD's bank account at a time when the company could really use the funds.  Do not take this as a sign AMD is about to fold, it is a continuation of a business plan that has been in effect since before the birth of GLOBALFOUNDRIES.

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"AMD has announced that its Singapore subsidiary has entered into a conditional put-and-call option agreement to sell and lease-back its Singapore facility located at 508 Chai Chee Lane, Singapore 469032 to HSBC Institutional Trust Services (Singapore), in its capacity as trustee of Sabana Shari'ah Compliant Industrial Real Estate Investment Trust (Sabana REIT)."

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Source: AMD

Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will NOT utilize AMD hUMA with Kabini-based SoC

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 10:39 AM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd

UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).

You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture.  hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.

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Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:

The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory.  Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.

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There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect.  After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on.  AMD further clarified with us:

Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.

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So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.

NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA.  That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.

UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment.  Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true.  Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information. 

So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory?  Maybe.  And the Xbox One?  Maybe.  At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter.  Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...

AMD's new Embedded R-series processors

Subject: General Tech | August 21, 2013 - 10:09 AM |
Tagged: amd, embedded, R-series, RE464X, RE272X, RE264X

Design for use in NAS devices, PoS devices and your friendly neighbourhood slot machine AMD's new R-series chips top out at a TDP of 35W for the 3.2GHz Boost Frequency quad core RE464X and dual core RE272X.  The dual core RE264X has a mere 17W TDP at a boost of 2.8GHz and all three models can be paired with a Radeon E6460 or E6760 GPU to support up to six independent displays.  AMD told DigiTimes these processors will provide 2.5 times the performance-per-dollar of an Intel Core-i3 though without benchmarks that cannot yet be confirmed.  They have not quite lowered the TDP enough to be considered for phones but are certainly poised right to take market share in some specific market segments if the price to performance expectations are met.

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"The new options include quad-core and dual-core CPUs scaling from 2.2GHz to 3.2GHz with TDP ranging from 17-35W for applications that require high performance x86 compute such as network attached storage (NAS). To address high-end visual needs for applications like digital gaming and signage that require high-performance x86 compute coupled with discrete graphics, AMD is introducing a new discrete GPU promotional program that provides customers with both a CPU and discrete GPU for savings of up to 20%."

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Source: DigiTimes

Christmas in Hawaii?

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2013 - 09:37 AM |
Tagged: amd, hawaii, Intel, asus, H81

The usual suspects are expecting to be able to start shipping Hawaii based AMD cards some time in October with availability soon after that, at least in theory.  They will be shipping to system builders and retailers at that time so you shouldn't be expecting the chance to buy a brand new GPU before Halloween but you could reasonably expect one before the New Year.  We don't know how this new chip will handle frame pacing on multiple displays but we can certainly hope the extra time in the shop will help.

As well DigiTimes mentioned that ASUS will start shipping H81 based motherboards immediately.  The series will be comprised of a single ATX board called the H81-Plus, four mATX boards including the H81M-Plus, H81M-A, H81M-C and H81M-E and a single mITX board called the H81I-Plus.  You can read the features they will be including in the new entry level boards here, though as of yet we do not have pricing.

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"As AMD is set to announce its next-generation high-end GPU codenamed Hawaii, graphics card players including Asustek Computer, Micro-Star International (MSI) and PowerColor are expected to start mass shipping related products in October, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Source: DigiTimes

How are Add-In GPUs Selling Anyway?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 19, 2013 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: jpr, Matrox, s3, amd, nvidia

Well, according to John Peddie Research (JPR), not too good if you are Matrox or S3. The total market for add-in boards decreased 5.4% from last quarter. 14.0 million were shipped across the entire industry. Neither company accounted for a thousandth of that value leaving them with a maximum 7000 units shipped, best case scenario. This industry is, basically, a two horse race.

GPU suppliers, market share
  This Quarter Prev. Quarter Last Year
AMD 38.0% 35.7% 40.3%
Matrox 0.0% 0.0% 0.3%
NVIDIA 62.0% 64.3% 59.3%
S3 0.0% 0.0% 0.1%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Two horses unless you count the Intel Xeon Phi. While technically not a graphics processor despite hardware design, 48,000 of these coprocessors were sold, already, for the Tianhe-2 supercomputer. This is at least seven-fold more than an entire quarter for Matrox. Unfortunately JPR does not report on Intel add-in cards despite its overlap with the GPU add-in market. These numbers could get even more interesting as years progress.

As for the two big players, AMD and NVIDIA, both hold very dominant positions. Almost spiting the 750,000 unit industry decline, AMD experienced a total increase of 0.8% quarter-over-quarter. Their market share gained 2.3% as a result of this growth. NVIDIA experienced a total decrease of 8.9%.

In all, AMD has been doing better than the industry average. They are fighting the slight decline in the graphics industry while simultaneously helping GPUs hold off against larger declines in PC systems.

Source: JPR

Is AMD's Radeon Memory Gamer Series worth the premium?

Subject: Memory | August 16, 2013 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: radeon memory, ddr3-2133, amd

Neoseeker is testing AMD's Gamer Series memory which runs at 2133MHz with timings of 10-11-11-30 at stock.  They tested the memory against six other kits at stock speeds and overclocked to 2600MHz @ 12-13-13-33 and were pleasantly surprised to see it sitting at the top of the test results in most cases.  They chose to test on an Intel platform and saw absolutely no compatibility issues though it would be interesting to see these DIMMs tested on an AMD rig as well.

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"The Radeon RG2133 Gamer Series memory kit contains four 4GB DDR3-2133 (PC3-17000) memory modules and is rated to work at 1.65V with 10-11-11-30 latency. AMD's Radeon Memory Gamer Series features supports for AMP and XMP Profiles 1, 2, and a low profile design for a better clearance for large CPU cooler clearance while still offering enhanced heat dissipation. Find out how this $154.99 USD quad-channel kit fares in our review!"

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Source: Neoseeker