AFDS 2012: HSA Foundation Joins AMD, ARM, Ti, Imagination and MediaTek with Open Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 10:31 AM |
Tagged: texas instruments, mediatek, imagination, hsa foundation, hsa, arm, amd, AFDS

Today is a big day for AMD as they, along with four other major players in the world of processors and SoCs, announced the formation of the HSA Foundation.  The HSA Foundation is a non-profit consortium created to define and promote an open approach to heterogeneous computing.  The primary goal is to make it easier for software developers to write and program for the parallel power of GPUs.  This encompasses both integrated and discrete of which the HSA (heterogeneous systems architecture) Foundation wants to enable users to take full advantage of all the processing resources available to them.

On stage at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, WA, AMD announced the formation of the consortium in partnership with ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments; some of the biggest names in computing. 

The companies will work together to drive a single architecture specification and simplify the programming model to help software developers take greater advantage of the capabilities found in modern central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs), and unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in heterogeneous processors.

HSA Foundation_Logo.png

There are a lot of implications in this simple statement and there are many questions that are left open ended to which we hope to get answered this week while at AFDS.  The idea of a "single architecture specification" set a lot of things in motion and makes us question the direction of both AMD and the traditionally ARM-based companies of the HSA Foundation will be moving in.  AMD has had the APU, and the eventual complete fusion of the CPU and GPU, on its roadmap for quite a few years and has publicly stated that in 2014 they will have their first fully HSA-capable part.  We are still assuming that this is an x86 + Radeon based part, but that may or may not be the long term goal; ideas of ARM-based AMD processors with Radeon graphics technology AND of Radeon based ARM-processors built by other companies still swirl amongst the show.  There are even rumors of Frankenstein-like combinations of x86 and ARM based products for niche applications.

hsa01.jpg

Looks like there is room for a few more founding partners...

Obviously ARM and others have their own graphics IP (ARM has Mali, Imagination Technology has Power VR) and those GPUs can be used for parallel processing in much the same way that we think of GPU processing on discrete GPUs and APUs today.  ARM processor designers are well aware of the power and efficiency benefits of utilizing all of the available transistors and processing power correctly and the emphasis on an HSA-style system design makes a lot of sense moving forward.  

My main question for the HSA Foundation is its goals: obviously they want to promote the simplistic approach for programmers, but what does that actually translate to on the hardware side?  It is possible that both x86 and ARM-based ISAs can continue to exist with libraries and compilers built to correctly handle applications for each architecture, but that would seem to me to be against the goals of such a partnership of technology leaders.

amdarmcombo.jpg

In a meeting with AMD personnel, the most powerful and inspiring idea from the HSA Foundation is summed up with this:

"This is bigger than AMD.  This is bigger than the PC ecosystem."

The end game is to make sure that all software developers can EASILY take advantage of both traditional and parallel processing cores without ever having to know what is going on under the hood.  AMD and the other HSA Foundation members continue to tell us that this optimization can be completely ISA-agnostic – though the technical blockages for that to take place are severe. 

AMD will benefit from the success of the HSA Foundation by finally getting more partners involved in promoting the idea of heterogeneous computing, and powerful ones at that.  ARM is the biggest player in the low power processor market responsible for the Cortex and Mali architectures found in the vast majority of mobile processors.  As those partners trumpet the same cause as AMD, more software will be developed to take advantage of parallel computing and AMD believes their GPU architecture gives them a definite performance advantage once that takes hold.  

What I find most interesting is the unknown – how will this affect the roadmaps for all the hardware companies involved?  Are we going to see the AMD APU roadmap shift to an ARM-IP system?  Will we see companies like Texas Instruments fully integrate the OMAP and Power VR cores into a single memory space (or ARM with Cortex and Mali)?  Will we eventually see NVIDIA jump onboard and lend their weight towards true heterogenous computing?

hsa02.jpg

We have much more the learn about the HSA Foundation and its direction for the industry but we can easily say that this is probably the most important processor company collaboration announcement in many years – and it does so without the 800 pound gorilla that is Intel in attendance.  By going after the ARM-based markets where Intel is already struggling to compete in, AMD can hope to create a foothold with technological and partnership advantages and return to a seat of prominence.  This harkens back to the late 1990s when AMD famously put together the "virtual gorilla" with many partners to take on Intel.

Check out the full press release after the break!

AMD's new Embedded Solutions Group aims at a new market

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2012 - 10:01 AM |
Tagged: amd, arm, IBM, Freescale, AFDS, ESG

According to the VDC Research Group's findings, the embedded market will hit $6bn in sales in 2012 and keep growing at a rate of 12%-15% per year.  AMD seems poised to move into this market with the formation of their Embedded Solution Group and the changes we have been seeing to their processor lines.  Current Opteron HE and EE chips consume between 35W and 65W depending on the number of cores and that amount might be trimmed down as new models come out.  They also have lines of embedded Athlon, Turion, Sempron, and Geode LX based chips and have hired an FPGA veteran, Arun Iyengar, to manage the ESG though The Register expresses doubt that AMD is thinking of developing it's own FPGA business.  More likely they hope to provide powerful alternatives for those in the market that now need a little more from their embedded products.  Read the full story here and keep your eyes peeled for more news coming out of the AMD Fusion Developer Summit.

DPX-S430_Front_B_PLCCsocket.jpg

"The new management team at Advanced Micro Devices is looking everywhere, including under the couch cushions, to find some money so it can afford to explore the embedded systems market again. The chip biz hopes rivals Intel and the ARM collective are too distracted to notice the foray as they fight over each others' territories in PCs, servers and mobile devices."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Register

AFDS 2012: AMD "Kaveri" APU to offer 1 TFLOPS Compute Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 09:18 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd, AFDS

During the opening keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012, AMD's Dr. Lisa Su revealed a slide with performance of the upcoming 3rd genreation Kaveri APU.

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While Trinity is currently rated at 726 GFLOPS, the Kaveri APU due late in 2012 or early 2013, will have at least 1 TFLOPS of total compute performance.  That is a 37% boost over the previous generation. 

If you want more information, check out our keynote live blog!!

AFDS 2012: ARM once again on stage with AMD - partnership incoming?

Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 10, 2012 - 09:01 PM |
Tagged: mali, arm, amd, AFDS

In a blog post over at arm.com, ARM Fellow Jem Davies has made a point to let us all know that he is going to be attending the AMD Fusion Developer Summit yet again, but this time with something more concrete to discuss.  In a very self-aware statement, Davies writes in his post that "my appearance last year generated a lot of speculation about the nature of the relationship between ARM and AMD." 

Indeed it did.

From Davies' post:

This year, we have a great deal to discuss. ARM is all about low power and many people in the industry now realize that GPUs have a central role to play in providing highly energy-efficient computing. It’s an exciting future that can grow the ecosystem that surrounds computing. ARM’s unique portfolio of CPU, GPU, interconnect and physical IP puts us at the forefront of one of the most important technological changes in a long time. Reflecting on that and some of those changes, I will be making an announcement at the show.

Emphasis above is ours.

Also worth noting is that Jem Davies does not have his own session at AFDS, but rather we can expect to see him to come out on stage during another keynote, likely during Phil Rogers' or Mark Papermaster's. 

amdtablet.jpg

AMD wants into the tablet market.  ARM could accelerate that process.

Exactly WHAT the ARM/AMD announcement might be obviously isn't known by many yet, but we have speculated many times that an AMD built, ARM architecture processor, with Radeon-based graphics technology and ARM low-power CPU cores, could help AMD enter into the world of ultra-lower power SoCs very quickly.  Markets like the pending onslaught of Windows 8 RT tablets and clamshells have NVIDIA foaming at the mouth and AMD would be remiss to not attempt to tackle the same markets and one-up Intel at the same time.

It should be an exciting week!  Keep checking pcper.com and our AFDS site tag for all the latest news including keynote live blogs!

Source: ARM

AFDS 2012: AMD Wireless Display to compete against Intel WiDi with open standards

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Displays | June 10, 2012 - 03:45 PM |
Tagged: widi, Intel, awd, amd wireless display, amd, AFDS

While perusing through the listings and descriptions of sessions and presentations for the upcoming AMD Fusion Developer Summit, I came across an interesting one that surprised me.  Tomorrow, June 11th, at 5:15pm PST, you can stop by the Grand Hyatt in Bellevue to learn about the upcoming AMD Wireless Display technology.

AWD (AMD Wireless Display) is a multiple-platform application family to enable wireless display technologies much in the same way that Intel has been pushing with WiDi.  While Intel's take on it requires very specific Intel wireless controllers and is only recently, with the release of Ivy Bridge, getting the full-steam push from Intel, AMD's take on it is quite different.

widi02.jpg

Intel introduced WiDi in 2010

According to the brief on this AFDS session, AMD wants to create an API and SDKs for application developers to integrate AWD into software and to leverage the WiFi Alliance for an open-standards compliant front-end.  Using AMD APUs, the goal is provide lower latency for encoded video and audio while still using the required MPEG2TS wrapper.  We are also likely to learn that AMD hopes to make AWD open to a wider array of wireless devices.

AMD often takes this "open" approach to new technologies with mixed results - CUDA has been in place for many years while the adoption of OpenCL is only starting to take hold and 3D Vision still is the standard for 3D gaming on the PC.  

After having quite a few chances to use Intel's Wireless Display (WiDi) technology myself I can definitely say that the wireless approach is the one I am most excited with and that has the most potential to revolutionize the way we work with displays and computing devices.  I am eager to see what partners AMD has been working with and what demonstrations they will have for AWD next week.

Lovely low cost Llano build will handle most users needs

Subject: Systems | June 8, 2012 - 03:17 PM |
Tagged: A4-3400, amd, llano, gigabyte, ga-55m-ds2

AMD is still a great choice for someone wanting a general use system that will not cost them much.  Hardware Heaven demonstrates this in their latest computer build, based around the $66 Llano A4-3400 and the $50 Gigabyte GA-A55M-DS2 which is a microATX board and means this system can be quite small in size.  To ensure that this PC can handle some light gaming they put in the passively cooled Sapphire HD7750 Ultimate and to house the system they chose Antec's Three Hundred Two enclosure.  Altogether you end up with an inexpensive PC which can handle just about any basic task you throw at it.

amd-a4-3400-cpu_box.jpg

"Recently AMD set us the challenge of building a low cost APU system to see if it would be possible to build a decent media/productivity/gaming PC on a minimal budget. It's something different to a review which is always a nice change so we set about looking at what could be done when pretty much every component has to cost £60 or less."

Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:

Systems

 

Graphics Card (GPU) Stock Check - June 8th, 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2012 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: stock check, radeon, nvidia, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, hd 7750, GTX 690, gtx 680, gtx 670, geforce, amd

Due to popular request, I am going to try to keep our readers up to date on the current availability of graphics cards and pricing on the market.  With the recent price drops from AMD, the frequent out-of-stock status of the GTX 680 cards and the release of the GTX 670, I thought this would be a great summary of the current situation.

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NVIDIA's GTX 690

We will try to post new updates weekly or maybe more frequently as we see fit.  Newegg is our partner of choice for this today, so let's see what we have.

AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series

Radeon HD 7970 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $459

Radeon HD 7950 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $379

Radeon HD 7870 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $329

Radeon HD 7850 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $249

Radeon HD 7770 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $129

Radeon HD 7750 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $109

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series

GeForce GTX 690 4GB - No Stock
Starting at $999

GeForce GTX 680 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $499

GeForce GTX 670 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $399

We may have a trend ladies and gentlemen - two weeks in a row we have seen GTX 680 cards in stock at Newegg!!  The first is from Zotac with a $499 price tag and stock, reference clock speeds.  The second is a Galaxy model that is overclocked by almost 100 MHz!

stockcheck20120608.png

AMD is still doing great on availability with the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 widely available for the price of $459 / $379 with a set of three free games including DiRT Showdown and Dues Ex: Human Revolution and a $10 price drop. 

If you are looking for our latest graphics reviews to judge the performance of the above cards, here you go:

Computex: AMD Launching Tahiti 2 Graphics Cards Next Week

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2012 - 10:23 AM |
Tagged: tahiti, graphics, gpu, computex, binning, amd, 7970 ghz edition

AMD is having a string of successes with its 28nm 7000 series graphics cards. While it was dethroned by NVIDIA’s GTX 680, the AMD Radeon HD 7970 is easier to get a hold of. It certainly seems like the company is having a much easier time in manufacturing its GPUs compared to NVIDIA’s Kepler cards. AMD has been cranking out HD 7970s for a few months now and they have gotten the binning process down such that they are getting a good number of pieces of silicon that have a healthy bit of overhead over that of the 7970’s stock speeds.

And so enters Tahiti 2. Tahiti 2 represents GPU silicon that is binning not only for HD 7970 speeds but is able to push up the default clock speed while running with lower voltage. As a result, the GPUs are able to stay within the same TDP of current 7970 cards but run faster.

But how much faster? Well, SemiAccurate is reporting that AMD is seeing as much as a 20% clock speed improvement over current Radeon HD 7970 graphics cards. This means that cards are able to run at clock speeds up to approximately 1075MHz – quite a bit above the current reference clock speed of 925MHz!

AMD 7970.jpg

The AMD 7970 3GB card. Expect Tahiti 2 to look exactly the same but run at higher clock speeds.

They are further reporting that, because the TDP has not changed, no cooler, PCB, or memory changes will be needed. This will make it that much easier for add in board partners to get the updated reference-based GPUs out as quickly as possible and with minimal cost increases (we hope). You can likely count on board partners capitalizing on the 1,000MHz+ speeds by branding the new cards “GHz Edition” much like the Radeon 7770 has enjoyed.

With 7970 chips having overhead and binning higher than needed, an updated and lower-power using refresh may also be in order for AMD’s 7950 “Tahiti Pro” graphics cards. Heck, maybe they can refresh the entire lineup with better binned silicon but keep the same clock speeds in order to reduce power consumption on all their cards.

AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 - What to expect

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: hsa, fusion, amd, AFDS

One of the best show experiences I had last year was a surprise to me - AMD's first annual Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS) was hosted in the Seattle / Bellevue area.  I say that it was a surprise only because the inaugural year for vendor-specific shows like this tend to be pretty bland and lack interesting information, but that wasn't the case in 2011.  We saw ARM get on stage with AMD to talk about the idea of "dark silicon" and how to prevent it, we saw the first AMD Trinity notebook and even got details of the Tahiti GPU architecture well ahead of release.  

We expect even better things in 2012.

afds.jpg

While I don't know exactly what surprises will be on display this year I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from software developers after having another 12 months to work on APU-accelerated applications.  HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) has been getting a lot of buzz from AMD and the industry as we push towards a combined memory address space and the ultimate acceleration of programs across both serialized and parallel processors on the same die.

If you are in the Seattle / Bellevue area and you have the ability to attend AFDS, I would highly encourage you to do so.  You'll have access to:

  • Keynotes
  • Never before seen demos
  • Technical tracks and sessions to learn about HSA and programming for it

If you can't make it though, you should definitely follow the whole event right here at PC Perspective - the easiest way is to keep track of our AFDS tag to make sure you don't miss any of the potentially industry shifting news! 

You can also expect us to have a live blog from the event as well!

Podcast #205 - News from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2012 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: trinity, ROG, PSU, podcast, nvidia, LAMD, Intel, corsair, computex, asus, amd, a85, 680M

PC Perspective Podcast #205 - 06/07/2012

Join us this week as we talk about all of the news from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much 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!

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

Program length: 1:31:35

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:25 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:03:15 MSI Radeon HD 7950 Review
  6. 0:10:00 ASUS Sabertooth X79 Review
  7. 0:11:10 DV Nation RAMRod system review
  8. 0:18:25 Samsung Series 5 Chromebook review
  9. 0:19:10 Intel Ultrabook Ivy Bridge reference review
  10. 0:21:00 AD BREAK
  11. 0:21:47 AMD loses monthly Catalyst updates
  12. 0:25:20 Ultrabooks
    1. Gigabyte has some
    2. Acer Aspire S7
    3. Acer Iconia Tablets
    4. ASUS TAICHI dual-screen
    5. ASUS Transformer Book
    6. ASUS 800 / 610 Windows 8 tablets
  13. 0:36:00 MAINGEAR 11-in gaming machine
  14. 0:37:00 Sandisk PCIe SSD competitor
  15. 0:42:00 Trinity / A85 Motherboards
    1. From ECS
    2. From ASRock
    3. Lots from MSI
  16. 0:45:30 ASUS says THEY have the overclocking record
  17. 0:46:30 Macbook coming with ultra high-res display?
  18. 0:51:00 Gigabyte X79S motherboard
  19. 0:53:00 LSI shows SF-2000 driving smaller flash
  20. 0:59:30 Corsair has...
    1. A new PSU
    2. A new dominator module
    3. A new SSD with a new controller
  21. 1:05:30 NVIDIA wants discrete GPUs in Ultrabooks
  22. 1:07:30 NVIDIA shows GeForce GTX 680M GPU
    1. Alienware gets it
  23. 1:11:00 ASUS MARS III dual GTX 680 card
  24. 1:13:00 3DMark for Windows 8 Screenshots
  25. 1:15:00 AMD releases Brazos 2.0
  26. 1:16:45 New ASUS ROG Gear
  27. 1:21:00 ASUS shows off beastly concept motherboards
  28. 1:24:10 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ASUS USB-N53 with bendy straw
    2. Jeremy: ah, going with the Norse God
    3. Josh: Great basic case for business AND pleasure
    4. Allyn: Samsung 830 Series 256GB for $199 at TigerDirect
  29. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  30. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  31. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  32. Closing