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

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 01:39 PM |
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 - 01:09 PM |
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%."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Christmas in Hawaii?

Subject: General Tech | August 20, 2013 - 12:37 PM |
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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

How are Add-In GPUs Selling Anyway?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 19, 2013 - 03:04 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 - 06:37 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!"

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:

Memory

Source: Neoseeker

AMD Gains GPU Market Share From Last Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, APU, amd

Despite a slight decline in PC sales compared to last quarter, graphics processors are on the rise. Jon Peddie Research attributes the heightened interest in graphics, with a decline in systems, to a trend towards multiple GPUs in a system. Crossfire and SLI, according to the report, are not driving this drift but they are relevant. More importantly, consumers are adding discrete graphics to systems with integrated solutions.

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AMD has experienced an increase in shipments of 47% for laptop APUs. Desktop heterogeneous processors declined but, in all, shipments increased 11%. Intel, likewise, saw an increase albeit just 6%. NVIDIA declined 8%. AMD now enjoys a 5.8% lead in total market share over NVIDIA.

Many PCs have access to multiple graphics processors simultaneously. With an increase of available GPUs, software developers might take the plunge into fully supporting heterogeneous architectures. You could imagine a game which offloads physics or AI pathfinding to secondary graphics. Sure, the increased heat would slightly limit the turbo-performance of the CPU, but the increased parallel performance should overtake that decreased serial performance for a sensible developer.

JPR claims an average of nearly 1.4 GPUs available per system.

The increased laptop heterogeneous processors is a major win for AMD. Still, I wonder how much Never Settle played in to users dropping discrete graphics into machines which would otherwise have integrated (chipset or processor) graphics. The discrete graphics market has declined and yet somehow AMD got a boost from double-attach or replaced graphics.

The report only discusses consumer x86 tablets, desktops, laptops, and some hybrid between the previous three categories. Other processor architectures or x86 servers are not covered.

Source: JPR

Podcast #264 - Corsair Voyager Air, AMD Never Settle Forever, Ivy Bridge-E Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2013 - 02:04 PM |
Tagged: Voyager Air, video, podcast, never settle forever, Ivy Bridge-E, corsair, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #264 - 08/15/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair Voyager Air, AMD Never Settle Forever, Ivy Bridge-E Rumors 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:20:45

AMD Launches Never Settle Forever: Choose Your Own Game Bundles

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 14, 2013 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: radeon, never settle forever, never settle, amd

It should come as no surprise to our readers that we at PC Perspective have been big fans of what AMD has been doing with game bundles over the last year.  With the start of the Never Settle campaign in October of 2012, AMD began down a path to help sell Radeon cards with amazing game bundles and pack ins that NVIDIA and its GeForce brand still have yet to match.  It was an amazing move for a company that really wanted to drive sales and gain market share in the discrete graphics space.

Fast forward to today, past the Never Settle Reloaded and Never Settle Level Up campaigns and AMD has another offer for gamers looking to upgrade their GPU: Never Settle Forever.  The crux of this new campaign is choice.  AMD is allowing gamers to select the free game or games they get out of a curated list rather than having AMD select them for you.

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Depending on the card you buy and the tier it falls in, you'll be able to select 1, 2 or 3 games from a list.  There are a few catches though that we need to discuss.  First, the game list for each tier is NOT the same.

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For example, Tomb Raider is only avaiable in the top tier.  The currect tier sets work out as follows:

  • Gold Tier (3 games): HD 7950 and HD 7970
  • Silver Tier (2 games): HD 7800 series
  • Bronze Tier (1 game): HD 7770 and HD 7790

The Radeon HD 7990 is not included on these tiers but it will continue with the "8 free games" bundle for the life of the card we were told.

When you buy a card from a participating retailer you'll get a code that you can then take to AMD's Radeon Rewards website and redemption portal.  You enter your reward code, register yourself and then you get to browse the games in the available packages.  Here are some of the interesting notes:

  1. Once you register your code, you have until December 31st, 2013 to perform your transaction.
  2. You can only perform a SINGLE transaction meaning you must use all of your game choices at one time.  You CANNOT select one game now and another game later.
  3. Other games can be added or removed at any time in the Never Settle Forever bundle so once something leaves you cannot get that game anymore.
  4. There are no promises on what other games may or may not be added to the program between now and the end of the year.

Not being able to split up your selections is a hard pill to swallow as you means you cannot pick up Tomb Raider today and then plan on getting another title next month; if Tomb Raider is gone when a new game is added you will not have access to it.  There is likely no techical reason for this restriction other than publisher and business agreements in place with AMD.

It is a letdown that AMD has not included any new games with this bundle refresh.  All 9 of the available titles in the Gold tier have been bundled with AMD cards before.  Even worse, arguably the two best titles from the previous campaign are missing: Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3.  We do expect other games to be added but AMD would only allude that "new retail games will be added on several occasions" before the end of the year.  Does that mean Battlefield 4, Thief or watch_dogs?  While I can't say for certain I think it is pretty likely.

So where does that leave us with the new Never Settle Forever bundle today?  It's kind of a mixed bag as it stands with the games avaiable in the tiers today getting long in the tooth.  Of the 9 games available in Gold only DMC, Tomb Raider and Blood Dragon were released this year.  Dues Ex and Dirt 3 were released in 2011 and the rest were sometime in that magical year of 2012.  And of those 9 games only two of them are currently for sale for the $49 value (DMC and Tomb Raider) that AMD places on a single game title.  Others can be found for $39 (Far Cry 3), $24 (Hitman) or $14 (Blood Dragon). 

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AMD is still the leader in the bundle and add-on battle for discrete graphics cards but this particular launch is a bit less astounding than the previous ones have been.  The upside though is that AMD can now very easily add other games to the mix without having to re-launch the entire program which was obviously the point of this revamp.  So while Never Settle Forever doesn't have me as excited as the original campaign, I have a feeling 2013 holds some very good things for it!

Source: AMD

Kaveri isn't delayed until 2014 ... you just won't be able to buy it in 2013

Subject: General Tech | August 12, 2013 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: amd, Kaveri, delay, semantics

The VR-Zone published an article back on the 5th of August which detailed the delay of Kaveri's release until 2014.  The information they received put the initial production of the chips in December of this year, with them shipping some time in February of 2014 which they found quite disappointing as initially we were already supposed to be able to buy Kaveri if you go off of the initial announcements.  AMD was quick to respond and stated that there is no change to the current release schedule as they had only stated that Kaveri would ship in 2013, not that it would be available for purchase by consumers.  This is a frustrating situation for many enthusiast as the tweets and announcement at CES seemed to imply that we would be purchasing these chips already and is even worse for any system builders who had planned to be releasing systems based on Kaveri in time for the holiday season.  Maybe gutting the PR department wasn't the best decision AMD has made recently?

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"Call it a delay by any other name, but AMD has sent out an official statement saying that Kaveri will be available in 2014 after shipping in 2013.

As a recap: Lisa Su’s Computex 2013 keynote ended with an on-stage demo of Kaveri and an announcement that it would be shipping “towards the end of the year.”"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: VR-Zone

Podcast #263 - AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, nvidia, crossfire, sli, frame rating, 7990, john carmack, Oculus

PC Perspective Podcast #263 - 08/08/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Program length: 1:13:47