Issues with ASMedia and Zen, or much ado over nothing?

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2016 - 06:33 PM |
Tagged: amd, asmedia, Zen, usb 3.1

DigiTimes has heard rumours of a possible defect with the ASMedia USB 3.1 controller which will appear on motherboards for AMD's upcoming Zen, which ASMedia have denied and AMD ignored.  The supposed issue stems from increased degradation of transmission speeds over distance which requires the inclusion of additional retimer and redriver chips.  If the issue does exist the worst repercussion will be an increase in manufacturing costs of $2 to $5 per board; even when that charge is passed on to the consumer it will have a very small impact on MSRP and is not likely to raise prices to the realm of Intel motherboards.  As with all rumours take this with a grain of salt, even if it is true it is unlikely to have any major effect on pricing.

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"Commenting on the news, AMD said it is pleased that Zen is on track and will not comment on customer specific board-level solutions., while ASMedia clarified that this is purely a market rumor and its product's signal, stability and compatibility have all passed certification."

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Source: DigiTimes

Windows 10 versus Ubuntu 16.04 versus NVIDIA versus AMD

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, ubuntu, R9 Fury, nvidia, linux, GTX1070, amd

Phoronix wanted to test out how the new GTX 1070 and the R9 Fury compare on Ubuntu with new drivers and patches, as well as contrasting how they perform on Windows 10.  There are two separate articles as the focus is not old silicon versus new but the performance comparison between the two operating systems.  AMD was tested with the Crimson Edition 16.6.1 driver, AMDGPU-PRO Beta 2 (16.20.3) driver as well as Mesa 12.1-dev.  There were interesting differences between the tested games as some would only support one of the two Linux drivers.  The performance also varies based on the game engine, with some coming out in ties, others seeing Windows 10 pull ahead and even some cases where your performance on Linux was significantly better.

NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1070 were tested using the 368.39 driver release for Windows and the 367.27 driver for Ubuntu.  Again we see mixed results, depending on the game Linux performance might actually beat out Windows, especially if OpenGL is an option. 

Check out both reviews to see what performance you can expect from your GPU when gaming under Linux.

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"Yesterday I published some Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Linux gaming benchmarks using the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards. Those numbers were interesting with the NVIDIA proprietary driver but for benchmarking this weekend are Windows 10 results with Radeon Software compared to Ubuntu 16.04 running the new AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver as well as the latest Git code for a pure open-source driver stack."

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Source: Phoronix

Rumor: AMD Plans 32-Core Opteron with 128 PCIe Lanes

Subject: Processors | June 15, 2016 - 11:18 PM |
Tagged: Zen, opteron, amd

We're beginning to see how the Zen architecture will affect AMD's entire product stack. This news refers to their Opteron line of CPUs, which are intended for servers and certain workstations. They tend to allow lots of memory, have lots of cores, and connect to a lot of I/O options and add-in boards at the same time.

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In this case, Zen-based Opterons will be available in two, four, sixteen, and thirty-two core options, with two threads per core (yielding four, eight, thirty-two, and sixty-four threads, respectively). TDPs will range between 35W and 180W. Intel's Xeon E7 v4 goes up to 165W got 24 cores (on Broadwell-EX) so AMD has a little more headroom to play with for those extra eight cores. That is obviously a lot, and it should be, again, good for cloud applications that can be parallelized.

As for the I/O side of things, the rumored chip will have 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes. It's unclear whether that is per socket, or total. Its wording sounds like it is per-CPU, although much earlier rumors have said that it has 64 PCIe lanes per socket with dual-socket boards available. It will also support sixteen 10-Gigabit Ethernet connections, which, again, is great for servers, especially with virtualization.

These are expected to launch in 2017. Fudzilla claims that “very late 2016” is possible, but also that it will launch after high-end desktop, which are expected to be delayed until 2017.

Source: Fudzilla

A sneak peek at two RX 470 benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | June 15, 2016 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: rx 470, amd, leak, RX 480M

Sharp eyes over at The Guru of 3D spotted some information in a recent press release from AMD that might have been unintentionally released; performance numbers and mention of a AMD Radeon RX 480M.  These benchmarks are internal and so should be taken with a grain of salt but they do offer a glimpse at how the RX 470 will perform. The benchmarks were run on a system comprised of ab i7 5960X, 16GB memory and Radeon 16.20, showing better performance than a R9 270X on three games as well as Firestrike below.  Follow the link for the results they gleaned from the footnotes.

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"In the slide-deck that was released yesterday some benchmark numbers have been, well almost hidden. But they are there. I added them into two charts to check out.

Let me clearly state that the benchmarks have been performed by AMD so we cannot verify quality settings. The scores have been derived from the footnotes of the PDF"

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Source: Guru of 3D

AMD "Sneak Peek" at RX Series (RX 480, RX 470, RX 460)

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 13, 2016 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, Zen, Summit Ridge, rx 480, rx 470, rx 460

AMD has just unveiled their entire RX line of graphics cards at E3 2016's PC Gaming Show. It was a fairly short segment, but it had a few interesting points in it. At the end, they also gave another teaser of Summit Ridge, which uses the Zen architecture.

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First, Polaris. As we know, the RX 480 was going to bring >5 TFLOPs at a $199 price point. They elaborated that this will apply to the 4GB version, which likely means that another version with more VRAM will be available, and that implies 8GB. Beyond the RX 480, AMD has also announced the RX 470 and RX 460. Little is known about the 470, but they mentioned that the 460 will have a <75W TDP. This is interesting because the PCIe bus provides 75W of power. This implies that it will not require any external power, and thus could be a cheap and powerful (in terms of esports titles) addition to an existing desktop. This is an interesting way to use the power savings of the die shrink to 14nm!

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They also showed off a backpack VR rig. They didn't really elaborate, but it's here.

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As for Zen? AMD showed the new architecture running DOOM, and added the circle-with-Zen branding to a 3D model of a CPU. Zen will be coming first to the enthusiast category with (up to?) eight cores, two threads per core (16 threads total).

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The AMD Radeon RX 480 will launch on June 29th for $199 USD (4GB). None of the other products have a specific release date.

Source: AMD

Looking for a new CPU? You will be waiting until January at the earliest

Subject: Processors | June 7, 2016 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: Zen, kaby lake, Intel, delayed, amd

Bad news upgraders, neither AMD nor Intel will be launching their new CPUs until the beginning of next year.  Both AMD's Zen and Intel's Kaby Lake have now been delayed instead of launching in Q4 and Q3 of this year respectively.  DigiTimes did not delve into the reasons behind the delay in AMD's 14nm GLOBALFOUNDRIES (and Samsung) sourced Zen but unfortunately the reasons beind Intel's delay are all too clear.  With large stockpiles of  Skylake and Haswell processors and systems based around them sitting in the channel, AMD's delay creates an opportunity for Intel and retailers to move that stock.  Once Kaby Lake arrives the systems will no longer be attractive to consumers and the prices will plummet.

Here is to hoping AMD's delay does not imply anything serious, though the lack of a new product release at a time which traditionally sees sales increase is certainly going to hurt their bottom line for 2016.

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"With the delays, the PC supply chain will not be able to begin mass production for the next-generation products until November or December and PC demand is also unlikely to pick up until the first quarter of 2017."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD Release 16.6.1 Crimson Edition for Mirror's Edge: Catalyst

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 08:02 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

Over the last few months, AMD has been fighting their reputation for being slow and unreliable with driver updates. Ryan wrote a piece about it after AMD discussed the issue with him. He noted that, while the increase is noticeable and great, it takes time and consistency to trust that a company will provide their products with a certain level of support.

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Since then, AMD has released two drivers in April, three in May, and now, already, one in June. Each of these provide enhancements for individual games, right in line with their release dates, as well as fix several issues along the way. Crimson Edition 16.6.1 aligns with Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, which makes this post surprisingly difficult to type. It also includes enhancements for Paragon and a Crossfire profile for Dark Souls III. If users were experiencing flickering and corruption with videos in a web browser, AMD claims that was also fixed in this version.

Of course, users are not required to install every version, but it's available for those who want it.

Source: AMD

AMD Published AMD GPU-PRO Beta Driver (for Linux)

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2016 - 11:15 PM |
Tagged: linux, graphics drivers, AMDGPU, amd

On Windows, we really only have one graphics driver per GPU. On Linux, however, there is a choice between open drivers and closed, binary-only blobs. Open drivers allow users to perpetuate support, for either really old hardware or pre-release software, without needing the GPU vendor to step in. It can also be better for security, because open-source software can be audited, which is better (albeit how much better is up for debate) than just having a few eyes on it... if any at all.

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As we reported a few months ago, AMD has been shifting their structure. Rather than two completely different code-bases, AMDGPU is an open-source driver, officially supported by AMD, that communicates with the Linux kernel. This chunk is compliant with the GPL, so it can be bundled with the operating system. Above this, a user space driver adds the various APIs, game-specific optimizations, and so forth. AMD calls this plug-in component AMD GPU-PRO.

This component has now been released for Ubuntu 16.04, which includes OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan 1.0.

Open-source developers can create their own components, using the same AMDGPU hooks that AMD uses, and release those on their own. This is not a perfect solution, though. If, at any point, AMD disagrees with a necessary, proposed change, then the only way forward could be to fork the project, which AMD wouldn't support with their closed-source blob, leading to the previous situation. That said, AMD is putting a lot of effort into this, so it would stand to reason that they aren't intending to throw all of that away over a pull request.

Either way, you can get AMD GPU-PRO Beta from AMD's page for Ubuntu 16.04. SteamOS added AMD GPU-PRO with their 2.80 update last week.

Source: AMD

Computex 2016: Here It Is! Your Moment of Zen!

Subject: Processors | May 31, 2016 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: Zen, computex 2016, computex, amd

At the end of the AMD Computex 2016 keynote, Lisa Su, President and CEO of the company, announced a few details about their upcoming Zen architecture. This will mark the end of the Bulldozer line of architectures that attempted to save die area by designing cores in pairs, eliminating what AMD projected to be redundancies as the world moved toward multi-core and GPU compute. Zen “starts from scratch” and targets where they now see desktop, server, laptop, and embedded devices heading.

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They didn't really show a whole lot at the keynote. They presented an animation that was created and rendered on the new architecture. I mean, okay, but that's kind-of like reviewing a keyboard by saying that you used it to type the review. It's cool that you have sample silicon available to use internally, but we understand that it physically works.

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That said, Lisa Su did say some hard numbers, which should be interesting for our readers. AMD claims that Zen has 40% higher IPC from their previous generation (which we assume is Excavator). It will be available for desktop with eight cores, two threads per core, on their new AM4 platform. It also taped out earlier this year, with wide sampling in Q3.

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I'm curious how it will end up. The high-end CPU market is a bit... ripe for the picking these days. If AMD gets close to Intel in performance, and offers competitive prices and features alongside it, then it would make sense for enthusiast builds. We'll need to wait for benchmarks, but there seems to be low-hanging fruit.

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD gets aggressive

At its Computex 2016 press conference in Taipei today, AMD has announced the branding and pricing, along with basic specifications, for one of its upcoming Polaris GPUs shipping later this June. The Radeon RX 480, based on Polaris 10, will cost just $199 and will offer more than 5 TFLOPS of compute capability. This is an incredibly aggressive move obviously aimed at continuing to gain market share at NVIDIA's expense. Details of the product are listed below.

  RX 480 GTX 1070 GTX 980 GTX 970 R9 Fury R9 Nano R9 390X R9 390
GPU Polaris 10 GP104 GM204 GM204 Fiji Pro Fiji XT Hawaii XT Grenada Pro
GPU Cores 2304 1920 2048 1664 3584 4096 2816 2560
Rated Clock ? 1506 MHz 1126 MHz 1050 MHz 1000 MHz up to 1000 MHz 1050 MHz 1000 MHz
Texture Units ? 120 128 104 224 256 176 160
ROP Units ? 64 64 56 64 64 64 64
Memory 4/8GB 8GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 4GB 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 8000 MHz 8000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 6000 MHz 6000 MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 4096-bit (HBM) 4096-bit (HBM) 512-bit 512-bit
Memory Bandwidth 256 GB/s 256 GB/s 224 GB/s 196 GB/s 512 GB/s 512 GB/s 384 GB/s 384 GB/s
TDP 150 watts 150 watts 165 watts 145 watts 275 watts 175 watts 275 watts 230 watts
Peak Compute > 5.0 TFLOPS 5.7 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 3.4 TFLOPS 7.20 TFLOPS 8.19 TFLOPS 5.63 TFLOPS 5.12 TFLOPS
Transistor Count ? 7.2B 5.2B 5.2B 8.9B 8.9B 6.2B 6.2B
Process Tech 14nm 16nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP (current) $199 $379 $499 $329 $549 $499 $389 $329

The RX 480 will ship with 36 CUs totaling 2304 stream processors based on the current GCN breakdown of 64 stream processors per CU. AMD didn't list clock speeds and instead is only telling us that the performance offered will exceed 5 TFLOPS of compute; how much is still a mystery and will likely change based on final clocks.

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The memory system is powered by a 256-bit GDDR5 memory controller running at 8 Gbps and hitting 256 GB/s of throughput. This is the same resulting memory bandwidth as NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 1070 graphics card.

AMD also tells us that the TDP of the card is 150 watts, again matching the GTX 1070, though without more accurate performance data it's hard to assume anything about the new architectural efficiency of the Polaris GPUs built on the 14nm Global Foundries process.

Obviously the card will support FreeSync and all of AMD's VR features, in addition to being DP 1.3 and 1.4 ready. 

AMD stated that the RX 480 will launch on June 29th.

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I know that many of you will want us to start guessing at what performance level the new RX 480 will actually fall, and trust me, I've been trying to figure it out. Based on TFLOPS rating and memory bandwidth alone, it seems possible that the RX 480 could compete with the GTX 1070. But if that were the case, I don't think even AMD is crazy enough to set the price this far below where the GTX 1070 launched, $379. 

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I would expect the configuration of the GCN architecture to remain mostly unchanged on Polaris, compared to Hawaii, for the same reasons that we saw NVIDIA leave Pascal's basic compute architecture unchanged compared to Maxwell. Moving to the new process node was the primary goal and adding to that with drastic shifts in compute design might overly complicate product development.

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In the past, we have observed that AMD's GCN architecture tends to operate slightly less efficiently in terms of rated maximum compute capability versus realized gaming performance, at least compared to Maxwell and now Pascal. With that in mind, the >5 TFLOPS offered by the RX 480 likely lies somewhere between the Radeon R9 390 and R9 390X in realized gaming output. If that is the case, the Radeon RX 480 should have performance somewhere between the GeForce GTX 970 and the GeForce GTX 980. 

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AMD claims that the RX 480 at $199 is set to offer a "premium VR experience" that has previously be limited to $500 graphics cards (another reference to the original price of the GTX 980 perhaps...). AMD claims this should have a dramatic impact on increasing the TAM (total addressable market) for VR.

In a notable market survey, price was a leading barrier to adoption of VR. The $199 SEP for select Radeon™ RX Series GPUs is an integral part of AMD’s strategy to dramatically accelerate VR adoption and unleash the VR software ecosystem. AMD expects that its aggressive pricing will jumpstart the growth of the addressable market for PC VR and accelerate the rate at which VR headsets drop in price:

  • More affordable VR-ready desktops and notebooks
  • Making VR accessible to consumers in retail
  • Unleashing VR developers on a larger audience
  • Reducing the cost of entry to VR

AMD calls this strategy of starting with the mid-range product its "Water Drop" strategy with the goal "at releasing new graphics architectures in high volume segments first to support continued market share growth for Radeon GPUs."

So what do you guys think? Are you impressed with what Polaris looks like its going to be now?