Semi-Custom Business Unit Creates New Revenue Stream For AMD

Subject: General Tech | May 13, 2013 - 10:28 AM |
Tagged: x86, SoC, semi-custom chip, Patent, ip, APU, amd

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) has an extensive intellectual property (IP) portfolio. The company has a range of products from CPUs and graphics cards to video acceleration hardware. It is also the only other major player to have a license to build chips with the x86 ISA. With the launch of its Semi-Custom Business Unit, AMD plans to take advantage of the engineering experience and patent portfolio to create a new revenue stream. AMD will work with other companies to create customized processors that integrate custom IP cores and technology but use AMD's existing products as a base to cut down on engineering time and R&D costs.

The first such customized chip is the System on a Chip used in Sony's PlayStation 4 gaming console. AMD intends to market its modular SoC technology and custom IP integration services to makers of set top boxes, smart TVs, tablets, PCs, networking hardware, and High Performance Computing applications. AMD argues that using its Semi-Custom Business Unit to create a customized SoC is cheaper and faster to design and produce than a fully-custom design, which makes sense since most of the engineering work is already done. AMD could stand to make quite a bit of extra money here, especially if it can land design wins for governmental and industrial design contracts. Intel's x86 license scarcity may actually benefit AMD here, in fact.

AMD's Semi-Custom Business Unit consists of an engineering team led by AMD Corporate Vice President and General Manager Saeid Moshkelani. I think doing this is a smart move for the x86 underdog, and it will be interesting to see how well the division does for the company's bottom line.

Source: AMD

HIS Launches Factory Overclocked HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo Graphics Card

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2013 - 08:12 PM |
Tagged: radeon hd 7850, ICEQ Turbo, his, hd 7850, GCN, amd

HIS has launched a new factory overclocked graphics card based on AMD's Radeon HD 7850 "Pitcairn" GPU called the IceQ X^2 Turbo. The new card uses a custom PCB and IceQ X^2 cooler.

HIS HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo.jpg

The IceQ X^2 cooler uses two 75mm fans to cool an aluminum fin stack that is connected to the copper GPU contact plate with copper heatpipes. The HSF is surrounded by a black shroud. HIS claims that its custom cooler runs at a quiet 28dB when the card is idle.

The HIS HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo is a factory overclocked card. HIS has taken a standard HD 7850 GPU with 1024 stream processors and clocked it at 1GHz, which is a 140MHz overclock over the reference 7850 clockspeed. The card is further paired with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at the reference 1200MHz (4800MHz effective) on a 256-bit bus. An 8-phase VRM keeps the overclocked components fed with stable power. It offers up a single DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort video outputs.

HIS HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo GPU.jpg

Because of the custom cooler, it should be possible to push the HD 7850 GPU even higher, although exactly how much higher will depend on the individual card.

The HIS IceQ X^2 Turbo does not have any official pricing information yet, but it should be priced somewhere around $220 since the already-available single fan IceQ X Turbo card is currently priced at approximately $210 at online retailers.

Also read: The AMD Radeon HD 7850 gets frame rated!

Source: HIS

Pushing $1000 cards to 5760x1200

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 10, 2013 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: titan, radeon hd 7990, nvidia, amd

If you have been wondering how the two flagship GPUs fare in a battle royal of pure frame rate you can satisfy your curiousity at [H]ard|OCP.  They have tested both NVIDIA's TITAN and the finally released HD7990 in one of their latest reviews.  Both cards were force to push out pixels at 5760x1200 and for the most part tied, which makes sense as they both cost $1000.  The real winner was Crossfired HD 7970's which kept up with the big guns but cost $200 less to purcahse.

If that isn't extreme enough for you, they also overclocked the TITAN in a seperate review.

HOVERclock.gif

"We follow-up with a look at how the $999 GeForce GTX TITAN compares to the new $999 AMD Radeon HD 7990 video card. What makes this is unique is that the GeForce GTX TITAN is a single-GPU running three displays in NV Surround compared to the same priced dual-GPU CrossFire on a card Radeon HD 7990 in Eyefinity."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Radeon RAMDisk Now Allows Background Updating and Loading With Saved Disk Images

Subject: Storage | May 10, 2013 - 03:48 PM |
Tagged: ramdisk, ram drive, ram, radeon ramdisk, amd

In light of AMD’s latest memory release and Radeon RAMDisk push, I decided to take a look at the latest version 4.1.0 of the RAMDisk software to see what had changed since the last time I tested it out. Improved installation and logging along with a couple of new features are all part of the new RAMDisk software.

AMD Memory.jpg

AMD has simplified the installer since the previous version to the point that only a few clicks are necessary to get setup. Although you can jump into the advanced settings and change the installation path, the default options are basically just to accept the ToS and click next. Other GUI tweaks include a new Logging tab that scans the last 1,000 entries in the Windows Event Log and shows only those related to the RAM Drive.

AMD RAMDisk Background Update.jpg

The biggest change is the addition of new options in the load/save tab. Because of the nature of RAM, the RAMDisk created by the software is not persistent across reboots. However, you can save the disk image to a file on persistent storage (a hard drive, SSD, et al). Then, you can save the RAM Drive and its contents to a file and reload that disk after a restart.

The paid version of Radeon RAMDisk takes this a step further by allowing background updating of the RAMDisk data. With the Load in Background option, the RAMDisk will be immediately available to the operating system after a restart. The software will automatically start transferring data from the image stored on the hard drive to the portion of RAM set aside for the RAM disk instead of making the user wait fro the entire disk to be recreated before it can be accessed. Any data requested that has not yet been transferred to the RAM disk will be transparently pulled from the hard drive image.

AMD RAMDisk System Log.jpg

Further, AMD offers up a background update option that will run in the background and continuously write RAMDisk changes to the *.img file stored on the hard drive. This eliminates the need to wait for the entire RAMDisk to be written to disk before shutting down the computer or stopping the RAM Drive. Considering the wait times to read and write data from/to the hard drive is one of the major limitations of RAM drives, this is a really useful feature that certainly adds some incentive to springing for the paid version.

The free version doesn’t get background updating, but it does still have the AutoSave feature that will write data out to the image file periodically which will help prevent data loss due to power failure or kernel panic.

AMD RAMDisk File Copy.jpg

Heh, the SSD is pegged but the RAMDisk utilization peaked at 4% when copying a 1.51GB Kerbal Space Program (with a few mods installed) folder from an Intel X25-M to a 4GB RAMDisk ;).

In my brief testing yesterday, I had some trouble getting the software to create a FAT32 formatted disk, where it kept changing to unformatted before creating the disk. Eventually I opted to format the drive myself using Windows’ Disk Management utility. Aside from that hiccup, I think the new version is worth updating to if you have not already--especially if you have the paid version (so that you can get the background data transfer features).

For specific details on exactly what has changed, an AMD-provided change log is below:

Feature Highlights of AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk release 4.1

  • Updated GUI improvements .NET
  • Updated installer package – Fewer clicks required to install
  • Improved GUI event logging
  • Improved management of options when setting Load/Save

Performance Highlights of AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk release 4.1

  • Performance gains on AMD Radeon™ RAMDisk 32GB and 64GB
  • Vastly improved load and save mechanics allowing for background update and background loading of the RAMDisk.  Reduces wait times for load and save.  “Background Update” and “Load in Background” enabled (registered users only)
  • Faster PC startup and shutdown while RAMDisk is enabled.
  • Improved IO performance on multi-processors and multi-core systems
    • Evenly distributed load among the CPUs.  Allows for more system efficiency.

Podcast #250 - Haswell Iris Graphics, Intel Silvermont, AMD HD 9000 Series Rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2013 - 11:30 AM |
Tagged: Volcanic Islands, ssd, silvermont, Seagate, podcast, pcper, iris pro, iris, Intel, haswell, gamer memory, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #250 - 05/09/2013

Join us this week as we discuss Haswell Iris Graphics, Intel Silvermont, AMD HD 9000 Series 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: 1:19:46

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

AMD to erupt Volcanic Islands GPUs as early as Q4 2013?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 8, 2013 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: Volcanic Islands, radeon, ps4, amd

So the Southern Islands might not be entirely stable throughout 2013 as we originally reported; seismic activity being analyzed suggests the eruption of a new GPU micro-architecture as early as Q4. These Volcanic Islands, as they have been codenamed, should explode onto the scene opposing NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 700-series products.

It is times like these where GPGPU-based seismic computation becomes useful.

The rumor is based upon a source which leaked a fragment of a slide outlining the processor in block diagram form and specifications of its alleged flagship chip, "Hawaii". Of primary note, Volcanic Islands is rumored to be organized with both Serial Processing Modules (SPMs) and a Parallel Compute Module (PCM).

Radeon9000.jpg

So apparently a discrete GPU can have serial processing units embedded on it now.

Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) is a set of initiatives to bridge the gap between massively parallel workloads and branching logic tasks. We usually make reference to this in terms of APUs and bringing parallel-optimized hardware to the CPU. In this case, we are discussing it in terms of bringing serial processing to the discrete GPU. According to the diagram, the chip within would contain 8 processor modules each with two processing cores and an FPU for a total of 16 cores. There does not seem to be any definite identification whether these cores would be based upon their license to produce x86 processors or their other license to produce ARM processors. Unlike an APU, this is heavily skewed towards parallel computation rather than a relatively even balance between CPU, GPU, and chipset features.

Now of course, why would they do that? Graphics processors can do branching logic but it tends to sharply cut performance. With an architecture such as this, a programmer might be able to more efficiently switch between parallel and branching logic tasks without doing an expensive switch across the motherboard and PCIe bus between devices. Josh Walrath suggested a server containing these as essentially add-in card computers. For gamers, this might help out with workloads such as AI which is awkwardly split between branching logic and massively parallel visibility and path-finding tasks. Josh seems skeptical about this until HSA becomes further adopted, however.

Still, there is a reason why they are implementing this now. I wonder, if the SPMs are based upon simple x86 cores, how the PS4 will influence PC gaming. Technically, a Volcanic Island GPU would be an oversized PS4 within an add-in card. This could give AMD an edge, particularly in games ported to the PC from the Playstation.

This chip, Hawaii, is rumored to have the following specifications:

  • 4096 stream processors
  • 16 serial processor cores on 8 modules
  • 4 geometry engines
  • 256 TMUs
  • 64 ROPs
  • 512-bit GDDR5 memory interface, much like the PS4.
  • 20 nm Gate-Last silicon fab process
    • Unclear if TSMC or "Common Platform" (IBM/Samsung/GLOBALFOUNDRIES)

Softpedia is also reporting on this leak. Their addition claims that the GPU will be designed on a 20nm Gate-Last fabrication process. While gate-last is considered to be not worth the extra effort in production, Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator (FD-SOI) is apparently "amazing" on gate-last at 28nm and smaller fabrication. This could mean that AMD is eying that technology and making this design with intent of switching to an FD-SOI process, without a large redesign which an initially easier gate-first production would require.

Well that is a lot to process... so I will leave you with an open question for our viewers: what do you think AMD has planned with this architecture, and what do you like and/or dislike about what your speculation would mean?

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Unveils New Gamer Memory: MOAR RAMDISK!

Subject: Memory | May 8, 2013 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: radeon ramdisk, radeon, memory, amd, 4GB, 2133, 1.65v

 

AMD makes memory!  Ok, they likely contract out memory.  Then they brand it!  Then they throw in some software to make RAMDisks out of all that memory that you are not using.  Let us face it; AMD is not particularly doing anything new here with memory.  It is very much a commodity market that is completely saturated with quality parts from multiple manufacturers.

So why is AMD doing it?  Well, I guess part of it is simply brand recognition and potentially another source of income to help pad the bottom line.  They will not sell these parts for a loss, and they will have buyers with the diehard AMD fans.  Tim covered the previous release of AMD memory pretty well, and he looked at the performance results of the free RAMDisk software that AMD bundled with the DIMMs.  It does exactly what it is supposed to, but of course it takes portions of memory away.  When dealing with upwards of 16 GB of memory for a desktop computer, sacrificing half of that is really not that big a deal unless heavy duty image and video editing are required.

amd_mem_01.jpg

*Tombraider not included with Radeon Memory.  Radeon RAMDisk instead!

Today AMD is announcing a new memory product and a new bundled version of the RAMDisk software.  The top end SKU is now the AMD Radeon RG2133 DDR-3 modules.  It comes in a package of up to 4 x 4GB DIMMS and carries a CAS latency of 10 with the voltage at a reasonable 1.65v.  These modules are programmed with both the Intel based XMP and the AMD based AMP (MP stands for Memory Profiles… if that wasn’t entirely obvious).  The modules themselves are reasonable in terms of size (they will fit in any board, even with larger heatsinks on the CPU).  AMD claims that they are all high quality parts, which again is not entirely surprising since I do not know of anyone who advertises that their DIMMS feature only the most mediocre memory modules available.

amd_mem_02.jpg

Faster memory is faster, water is wet, and Ken still needs a girlfriend.

AMD goes on to claim that faster memory does improve overall system performance.  Furthermore AMD has revealed that UV light is in fact a cancer causing agent, Cocoa Puffs will turn any milk brown, and passing gas in church will rarely be commented upon (unless it is truly rank or you start calling yourself “Legion”).  Many graphs were presented that essentially showed an overclocked APU with this memory will outperform a non-overclocked APU with DDR-3 1600 units.  Truly eye opening, to say the least.

amd_mem_03.jpg

How much RAMDisk can any one man take?  AMD wants to know!

The one big piece of the pie that we have yet to talk about is the enhanced version of Radeon RAMDisk (is Farva naming these things?).  This particular version can carve out up to 64 GB of memory for a RAMDisk!  I can tell you this now, me and my 8 GB of installed memory will get a LOT of mileage out of this one!  I can only imagine the product meeting.  “Hey, I’ve got a great idea!  We can give them up to 64 GB of RAMDisk!”  While another person replies, “How do you propose getting people above 64 GB, much less 32 GB of memory on a consumer level product…?”  After much hand wringing and mumbling someone comes up with, “I know!  They can span it across two motherboards!  That way they have to buy an extra motherboard AND a CPU!  Think of our attach rate!”  And there was much rejoicing.

amd_mem_04.jpg

Inconceivable!!!

So yes, more memory that goes faster is better.  Radeon RAMDisk is not just a comic superhero, it can improve overall system performance.  Combine the two and we have AMD Radeon Memory RG2133 with 64 GB of RAMDisk.  Considering that the top SKU will feature 4 x 4GB DIMMS, a user only needs to buy four kits and four motherboards and processors to get a 64GB RAMDisk.  Better throw in another CPU and motherboard so a user can at least have 16GB of memory available as, you know, memory.

Update and Clarification

Perhaps my tone was a bit too sarcastic, but I just am not seeing the value here.  Apparently (and I was not given this info before hand) the 4 x 4 GB kits with the 64 GB RAMDisk will retail at $155.  Taking a quick look at Newegg I see that a user can buy quite a few different 2 x 8 GB 2133 kits anywhere from $139 to $145 with similar or better latencies/voltages.  Around $155 users will get better latencies and voltages down to 1.5v.  For 4 x 4GB kits we again see prices start at the $139 mark, but there are a significant number of other kits with again better voltages and latencies from $144 through $155.

Users can also get the free version of the Radeon RAMDisk that will utilize up to 4GB of space.  There are multiple other software kits for not a whole lot of money (less than $10) that will provide you up to 16 GB of RAMDisk.  I just find the whole kit to be comparable to what is currently out there.  Offering a 64 GB RAMDisk for use with 16 GB of total system memory just seems to be really silly.  The only way that could possibly be interesting would be if you could allocate 8 GB of that onto RAM and the other 56 GB onto a fast SSD.  I do not believe that to be the case with this software, but I would love to be proved wrong.

Source: AMD

Podcast #249 - Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Indiegogo, corair, obsidian, 350d, mATX, frame rating, 4k, titan, 7990, 690, Oculus, rift, VR, 3d, amd, amd fx, vishera, hUMA, hsa

PC Perspective Podcast #249 - 05/02/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift 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: Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:04:02

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Windows Movie Maker lets you record webcam videos!
    2. Jeremy: anti-pick - hotels that don't offer a RJ45 jack in the rooms!
    3. Allyn: Ventev USB charging stuff (home / auto)
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro

 

AMD Planning APU13 Developer Summit In San Jose, California

Subject: General Tech | May 1, 2013 - 07:08 AM |
Tagged: hUMA, hsa, apu13, APU, amd, AFDS

AMD announced its third annual Developer Summit last week. Dubbed “APU13,” the upcoming summit is the AMD equivalent to NVIDIA’s GTC and is an annual event that brings together industry analysts, researchers, programmers, academics, and software/hardware companies pursuing heterogeneous computing technologies.

In previous years, the AMD Developer Summit has been the launchpad for C++ AMP and the HSA Foundation. This year’s Summit will continue that trend towards heterogeneous computing as well as look back over the year and provide updates on where the various HSA member companies are at as far as goals to move towards standards-based heterogenous computing.

AMD Logo.png

In addition to keynote speeches from AMD and some of its partners, expect a great deal of presentations and workshops from researchers and programmers that are working on new programming models and hardware solutions to efficiently use CPU and GPU processors. More information on hUMA is one of the likely topics, for example. Discussion about upcoming hardware, process nodes, and products may also be on the table so far as it relates to the HSA theme. Considering the summit is called “APU13,” I also expect that AMD will reveal additional details on the company’s Kaveri APU as well as a look into its future product road map.

AMD is currently asking for presentation proposals from researchers in a number of HSA and technology-related fields including heterogeneous computing, cloud computing, web technologies, programming languages, gaming and graphics technologies, and software security. The lineup of presenters for the summit is still being worked out, and proposal papers will be accepted until May 10th with the winners being notified over the summer.

In all, AMD’s APU13 should be an exciting and intellectual event. Last year’s AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS) was an interesting and fun event to cover, and I hope that APU13 will keep up the same momentum and interest in heterogeneous computing that AFDS started.

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: Various

Our 4K Testing Methods

You may have recently seen a story and video on PC Perspective about a new TV that made its way into the office.  Of particular interest is the fact that the SEIKI SE50UY04 50-in TV is a 4K television; it has a native resolution of 3840x2160.  For those that are unfamiliar with the new upcoming TV and display standards, 3840x2160 is exactly four times the resolution of current 1080p TVs and displays.  Oh, and this TV only cost us $1300.

seiki5.jpg

In that short preview we validated that both NVIDIA and AMD current generation graphics cards support output to this TV at 3840x2160 using an HDMI cable.  You might be surprised to find that HDMI 1.4 can support 4K resolutions, but it can do so only at 30 Hz (60 Hz 4K TVs won't be available until 2014 most likely), half the refresh rate of most TVs and monitors at 60 Hz.  That doesn't mean we are limited to 30 FPS of performance though, far from it.  As you'll see in our testing on the coming pages we were able to push out much higher frame rates using some very high end graphics solutions.

I should point out that I am not a TV reviewer and I don't claim to be one, so I'll leave the technical merits of the monitor itself to others.  Instead I will only report on my experiences with it while using Windows and playing games - it's pretty freaking awesome.  The only downside I have found in my time with the TV as a gaming monitor thus far is with the 30 Hz refresh rate and Vsync disabled situations.  Because you are seeing fewer screen refreshes over the same amount of time than you would with a 60 Hz panel, all else being equal, you are getting twice as many "frames" of the game being pushed to the monitor each refresh cycle.  This means that the horizontal tearing associated with Vsync will likely be more apparent than it would otherwise. 

4ksizes.png

Image from Digital Trends

I would likely recommend enabling Vsync for a tear-free experience on this TV once you are happy with performance levels, but obviously for our testing we wanted to keep it off to gauge performance of these graphics cards.

Continue reading our results from testing 4K 3840x2160 gaming on high end graphics cards!!