ECS HDC-12/E-350D2 Is Mini ITX Motherboard with AMD APU

Subject: Motherboards | October 31, 2012 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: motherboard, mini-itx, hdc-12/e-350d2, ECS, e-350d, amd

Elitegroup Computer Systems (ECS) has launched a new motherboard and processor combination that pairs a mini-itx form factor board with an AMD E-350D Accelerated Processing Unit (APU). Measuring 17cm x 17cm, the HDC-12/E-350D2 is similar to the Biostar product covered previously, except for feature set. The ECS model uses the cheaper A45 FCH chipset and does away with modern expansion ports such as PCI-E 3.0 and USB 3.0. While it is less capable, it is also less expensive that the other boards.

ECS Mini ITX Motherboard.jpg

The board has a bundled AMD E-350D APU with dual CPU cores and integrated HD 6130 graphics. The memory controller supports a maximum of 16GB of DDR3 RAM running at 1066MHz via two DIMM slots on the motherboard. The A45 chipset supports two SATA II 3 Gbps ports, and that is one area where the low cost nature (and associated compromises) of the A45 chipset hits home as the higher end boards have more ports and support for SATA III 6 Gbps. Aside from some fan headers and headers for USB ports, the only other expansion option is a single legacy PCI slot at the bottom of the board.

External IO options include:

  • 8 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x VGA
  • 1 x DVI
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x analog audio jacks

The lack of an optical audio output is disappointing as well, but the board can be powered by a single 24 pix ATX cable – no 4 or 8 pin CPU power required. In the end it is a cheap base for a low power system. It would make a great router / firewall device with the addition of a PCI Ethernet NIC, for example. The only real downside would be wireless as you would need to use USB NICs to add that capability. This could also make for an entry level HTPC build as the APU is capable of hardware accelerating 1080p video.

Along with the HTPC vein, ECS is bundling coupons for free copies of Cyberlink's MediaEspresso 6.5 LE and MediaShow 5.1 LE transcoding and playback software with the motherboard.

The ECS HDC-12/E-350D2 will retail for a sub-$100 price, and should be available for purchase soon.

Read more about Mini ITX motherboards at PC Perspective.

Source: Softpedia

AMD Announces It Will Build 64-bit ARM Processors for Server Markets

Subject: Processors | October 29, 2012 - 04:53 PM |
Tagged: processors, arm, amd, 64-bit

On a not very technically reliable webcast today, AMD has announced that it will produce 64-bit processors based on the ARM architecture and combine them with the "Freedom Fabric" they acquired with the purchase of SeaMicro.

amdarmlogos.jpg

In a move that is incredibly telling about the times we are in, but not really a surprise to those of us that follow the processor markets closely, AMD and ARM announced a partnership beyond previously discussed in public.  AMD will start production of ARM-based processors in 2014 and will be among the first to include 64-bit technology. 

The target for these processors will be the server market and AMD hopes to be at the forefront the often discussed ARM-in-the-server-world migration.  While that server opportunity size is debatable, with partners on stage like Facebook and RedHat, there is little doubt that it will have an affect on enterprise computing in the next 24 months.  AMD is hoping that its experience with the move to 64-bit technology in the x86 migration will aid them in development and migration in the ARM architecture world; one that is currently still limited to 32-bit. 

UPDATE: As being reported by Anand Shimpi this is in fact NOT an architecture license but is instead a processor license.  What does that mean?  AMD is not going to develop its own core (as Apple and NVIDIA do) but instead will fully integrate an upcoming 64-bit ARM core in new AMD products.

seamicro.jpg

Image source: EEBeat

SeaMicro's Freedom Fabric technology is another major angle that AMD has over other players in this field.  The fabric technology is meant to facilitate communication between multiple processors on a specialized bus, removing bottlenecks on the platform and network.  Dr. Lisa Su, SVP of Global Business at AMD, stated that simply connecting hundreds or thousands of ARM-based processors to each other isn't enough and moves the problem of computing management from the CPUs to the network itself.  Using Freedom Fabric, the AMD-based ARM processors would be able to much more efficiently communicate and thus maintain the promised power benefits of ARM servers.

AMD did state that they will continue to develop x86 processors going forward but you have to wonder about its dedication to that goal.  Working with ARM is a quick and easy way to get AMD into a growing market in the server world that Intel currently has no solutions for so it seems possible that this is simply a stop-gap until AMD can develop an x86-based solution.  It is hard to say for sure but for an organization in AMD's financial position, having options in multiple segments is certainly a good idea. 

seamicro2.jpg

What you won't see yet is AMD's graphics technology in the ARM-based processors announced today.  This isn't an "ARM APU" but instead is a combination of SeaMicro and ARM for a very specific server workload. 

We'll have more on this announcement if anything else interesting is divulged, but you can find the entire press release from AMD after the break!

Gigabyte thinks Trinity looks best in basic black

Subject: Motherboards | October 25, 2012 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: amd, gigabyte, F2A85X-UP4, socket fm2, trinity

Gigabyte's socket FM2 F2A58X-UP4 looks unique in that the colour scheme is a basic black and grey with none of the flashy colours common on today's motherboards.  All seven SATA ports and the eSATA are 6Gb/s so you don't have to worry about which ports to use, the three PCIe 16x slots can run at 8x/8x/1x when fully populated and with the half dozen USB 3.0 ports you end up with a lot of choices on a fairly inexpensive board.  [H]ard|OCP had fun when overclocking this board, a new chipset means new settings and tricks to learn in order to coax the most out of your processor, though the A10-5800K does top out fairly quickly regardless of the motherboard used.  Check out their full review here.

H_F2A85X.jpg

"GIGABYTE's F2A85X-UP4 brings AMD's "Trinity" APU to the desktop arena with a new chipset and a solid feature set at a nice price. But is that enough to make it compelling for enthusiasts?"

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Podcast #224 - ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 25, 2012 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: windows rt, windows 8, vivotab rt, vishera, tegra, podcast, nvidia, n668, linus, fx 8350, fx 6300, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #224 - 10/25/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS N66U Router, AMD FX 8350 and 6300 CPU, our Windows RT hands on, 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, Allyn Malventano, and Linus Sebastian

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:30:18

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. 0:00:50 Welcome our Guest: Linus Sebastian of Linus Tech Tips!
  2. Week in Reviews:
    1. 0:07:50 ASUS RT-N66U Router and Adapters Roundup
    2. 0:13:15 AMD Never Settle 12.11 Driver Update
      1. The Never Settle Bundle is awesome too
    3. 0:25:50 AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 Vishera CPU Review
  3. 0:36:20 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
  4. News items of interest:
    1. 0:37:15 A quick look at the data on Apple's Fusion Drive
    2. 0:46:30 AMD work force cut coming?
    3. 0:52:10 ASUS VivoTab RT Released
      1. Hands on time!
    4. 1:07:45 ASUS TAICHI as well - can this really become popular
    5. 1:08:45 Corsair Carbide 200R Launches
      1. LinusTech Video on it
  5. Closing:
    1. 1:06:15 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
      1. Ryan: Lantronix xPrintServer
      2. Jeremy: Counter-electronics High-powered Microwave Advanced Missile Project
      3. Josh: Nice motherboard, now with new CPUS!
      4. Allyn: Media Player Classic - Home Cinema
      5. Linus: Fractal Design Define R4
  1. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  2. http://pcper.com/podcast
  3. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  4. Closing/outro

Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel!!

AMD and the intelligent design of gaming

Subject: General Tech | October 24, 2012 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: never settle, gaming evolved, gaming, amd

We don't see much of Ruby anymore the AMD Gaming Evolved screen is becoming a common sight when launching a game, much the the competitions 'The Way It's Meant To Be Played' screen has been in the past.  The DiRT series has always been a showcase for AMD, new AAA games like Deus Ex HR and Sleeping Dogs now bear AMD not NVIDIA branding as will upcoming releases like FarCry 3 and Bioshock Infinite.  The Tech Report spoke to Peter Ross, the man behind the success of this program, as well as game developers at a meeting in Markham, Ontario where they discussed the benefits of Gaming Evolved for makers and buyers of games as well as the changes which have taken place at AMD recently.  Read on to learn about the future of this program as well as the incredible Never Settle card plus games bundle that AMD is offering right now.

AMDgame.jpg

"The number of games bearing the AMD Gaming Evolved logo seems to be growing exponentially. Why is that? We've traveled to AMD's offices and spoken to game developers in order to find out what's been happening behind the scenes."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Piledrivers are elegant in comparison to Bulldozers

Subject: Processors | October 23, 2012 - 02:44 PM |
Tagged: vishera, Steamroller, piledriver, FX-8350, fx-8150, FX-6300, FX-6200, bulldozer, amd

The FX-8350 Vishera processor from AMD has finally arrived with 8 fully unlocked cores of polished Piledriver processing power.  With Piledriver there are no huge changes to the existing Bulldozer architecture, this is more of a polishing and optimizing the existing architecture and [H]ard|OCP's testing bears that out.  While faster than the previous generation FX-8150 it still lags behind Intel's Ivy Bridge processors, disappointing but certainly expected.  The unlocked cores do lend themselves somewhat to overclocking, with [H] hitting a stable 4.6GHz with all cores enabled, a 10% jump in frequency.  At that speed it does better when competing with Intel's offerings, until you overclock them as well at which point the comparative performance suffers somewhat.

Make sure to catch Josh's review, covering both the 8 core FX-8350 and the $132 FX-6300 which has a disabled module; bringing back memories of older AMD chips whose modules could be brought back to life.

H_fx8350.png

"AMD's new Piledriver core technology should not be a surprise to any enthusiast as much of its "embargoed" information has already been exposed on the Net. Today we take the AMD FX series model 8350 desktop variant, code named Vishera, and look at it in an enthusiast way as we expose its IPC at 4GHz, and a bit of overclocking."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Bulldozer to Vishera

 

Bulldozer is the word.  Ok, perhaps it is not “the” word, but it is “a” word.  When AMD let that little codename slip some years back, AMD enthusiasts and tech journalists started to salivate about the possibilities.  Here was a unique and very new architecture that promised excellent single thread performance and outstanding multi-threaded performance all in a package that was easy to swallow and digest.  Probiotics for the PC.  Some could argue that the end product for Bulldozer and probiotics are the same, but I am not overly fond of writing articles containing four letter colorful metaphors.

vish_01.jpg

The long and short of Bulldozer is that it was a product that was pushed out too fast, it had specifications that were too aggressive for the time, and it never delivered on the promise of the architecture.  Logically there are some very good reasons behind the architecture, but implementing these ideas into a successful product is another story altogether.  The chip was never able to reach the GHz range it was supposed to and stay within reasonable TDP limits.  To get the chip out in a timely manner, timings had to be loosened internally so the chip could even run.  Performance per clock was pretty dismal, and the top end FX-8150 was only marginally faster than the previous top end Phenom II X6 1100T.  In some cases, the X6 was still faster and a more competent “all around” processor.

There really was not a whole lot for AMD to do about the situation.  It had to have a new product, and it just did not turn out as nicely as they had hoped.  The reasons for this are legion, but simply put AMD is competing with a company that is over ten times the size, with the resulting R&D budgets that such a size (and margins) can afford.  Engineers looking for work are a dime a dozen, and Intel can hire as many as they need.  So, instead of respinning Bulldozer ad nauseum and releasing new speed grades throughout the year by tweaking the process and metal layer design, AMD let the product line sit and stagnate at the top end for a year (though they did release higher TDP models based on the dual module FX-4000 and triple module FX-6000 series).  Engineers were pushed into more forward looking projects.  One of these is Vishera.

Click here to read the rest of the Vishera Review!

AMD Catalyst 12.10 and the AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta; which will you settle for?

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 22, 2012 - 05:36 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, Catalyst 12.11 Beta, Catalyst 12.10, amd

cat11.jpg

Feature Highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.10: Ready for Windows 8

For AMD Radeon HD 5000, HD 6000 and HD 7000 Series users, Microsoft has certified today’s AMD Catalyst 12.10 release as “compatible with Windows 8.” With this driver, these products offer full support for WDDM 1.2, which is an updated model for graphics drivers that Microsoft has developed to ensure smooth performance and wide compatibility in their new operating system.

  • Target-Independent Rasterization (TIR): TIR is a new rendering path that enables superior anti-aliasing in Direct3D driver applications
  • Native Stereo 3D Support: Windows 8 natively supports stereoscopic 3D gaming and videos via compatible applications
  • Unified Video API: Video playback has been integrated into the DirectX 11 API, enabling simultaneous video and gaming content. Transcoding performance may also be improved for supporting applications.
  • Optimized screen rotation for rotation aware devices Improved sleep/resume performance
  • Optimized GPU power consumption
  • Major technologies / features also supported under Windows 8:
    • AMD Eyefinity technology
    • OpenCL
    • OpenGL
    • Unified Video Decoder (UVD)
    • AMD Dual Graphics
    • AMD CrossFire technology
    • AMD Overdrive
    • AMD Catalyst Control Center
    • Vision Engine Control Center

Feature Highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.10: AMD Catalyst Mobility support for AMD Enduro Technology

AMD Catalyst Mobility now includes support for AMD Enduro Technology. AMD Enduro Technology is currently supported on all notebook Intel IvyBridge platforms and AMD Comal platforms that support the AMD Radeon HD 7900M, 7800M, 7700M.

AMD Enduro Technology for Notebooks delivers:

  • Unbeatable battery life
  • GPU accelerated performance for gaming, video, and compute apps
  • A Seamless and automatic experience

New Enduro Technology features found in Catalyst 12.10:
Re-designed Catalyst Control Center user interface View all profiled applications View recently run applications Profile applications based on power source Expert mode control and customization Performance centric AC Battery centric DC

AMD’s latest Catalyst Application Profile:AMD Catalyst 12.10 CAP1 (to be used with AMD Catalyst 12.11 Beta as well)
Find the latest available AMD Catalyst CAP here http://support.amd.com/us/gpudownload/windows/Pages/radeonaiw_vista64.aspx

  • Crysis 2: Resolves performance issues seen in CrossFire mode
  • Darksiders 2: Resolves screen flickering seen in CrossFire mode
  • Max Payne 3: Resolves Menu flickering when Anti-Aliasing is enabled through the Catalyst Control Center
  • FIFA 13: Improves CrossFire performance, and improve single GPU performance ·
  • Project C.A.R.S.: Resolves screen flickering seen in CrossFire mode
  • Natural Selection 2 - Resolves Menu flickering when Anti-Aliasing is enabled through the Catalyst Control Center

Resolved issue highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.10 (from AMD Catalyst 12.8)

Tri and Quad CrossFire + Eyefinity configurations

  • Users will no longer see lower than expected performance in certain DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications
  • FireFox - corruption is no longer observed on CrossFire configurations
  • Enabling Overdrive settings no longer increases clocks in all power states
  • AMD Video Converter support is available in AMD Catalyst 12.9 Beta Windows 7 and Windows Vista packages
  • Resolves the system delay observed when opening the Windows Audio system tray on Multi-GPU configurations to configure HDMI Audio settings

Feature Highlights of AMD Catalyst 12.10 Linux Driver: New OS Support

This release of AMD Catalyst Linux introduces support for the following new operating systems
Ubuntu 12.10 early look support RHEL 6.3 production support

Click for the Beta driver details


Source: AMD

Woah! AMD overclocked the Matrix

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 22, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: asus, Matrix HD 7970 Platinum, amd, factory overclocked

The ASUS Matrix HD 7970 Platinum is an impressive card, physically as well as the performance it offers.  It is a triple slot card measuring 11.25" long and 5.5" deep, so you might want to measure the space you have before thinking of purchasing one, it also weighs in at over 3lbs (1.4kg) which you should also keep in mind.  While it is factory overclocked to 1050MHz on the GPU and memory of 6.6GHz, if you plan on leaving those numbers untouched you are missing out on the real reason to pick up this particular HD 7970.  When [H]ard|OCP put the 20-phase Super Alloy Power technology and chokes to the test they hit 1310MHz on the GPU and pushed the memory to 7GHz, far beyond what any other HD 7970 they've reviewed could manage.  That overclock was definitely noticeable when they benchmarked the card, which helped it win a Gold Award as the best HD 7970 they've seen ... even if it is hard to find for purchase.

H_7970matrix.jpg

"ASUS is launching its highest-end ASUS MATRIX HD 7970 Platinum video card today, poised to give you the best experience possible out of a Radeon HD 7970. This highly customized video card is geared directly towards the hardware enthusiast. Come see the highest overclock we've ever achieved on a 7970 GHz Edition based video card."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

A curious new driver from AMD

In case you missed the news, AMD is going to be making a big push with their Radeon brand from now until the end of the year starting with an incredibly strong game bundle that includes as many as three full games and 20% off the new Medal of Honor.  The second part of this campaign is a new driver specifically the 12.11 beta that will be posted to the public later this week.

04.jpg

AMD is claiming to have made some substantial improvements on quite a few games including the very popular Battlefield 3 and the upcoming Medal of Honor (both of which use the same base engine).  But keep in mind that 15% is a LOT and this is the best case scenario in specific maps and you may not see benefits on others. 

There are going to be some debates about the validity of these performance boosts from AMD until we can get some more specific details on WHAT has changed.  Essentially the company line is that they have finally "caught up" to the GCN GPU architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 7970 in January of 2012.  We traditionally see this happen with new GPU architectures from both vendors but for it to have taken this long is troublesome and will surely cause some raised eyebrows from gamers and the competition. 

We decided to run through the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with this new 12.11 beta driver to compare it to the 12.9 beta driver we had just completed testing on a few weeks ago.  AMD claims performance advantages for all the GCN cards including the 7700/7800/7900 cards though we only had time to test a single card for our initial article.  The results are on the following pages...

Continue reading our look at the new AMD 12.11 Beta Catalyst Driver!!