AMD and SeaMicro partnering to develop a processor agnostic HPC interconnect

Subject: General Tech | March 28, 2012 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: amd, seamicro, interconnect, purchase, HPC, 3d torus, freedom

In the beginning of March it was announced that AMD would be spending $334 million to purchase SeaMicro, a company who holds the patents on the 3D torus interconnect for High Powered Computing and servers.  This interconnect utilizes PCIe lanes to connect large amounts of processors together to create what was commonly referred to as a supercomputer and is now more likely to be labelled an HPC machine.  SeaMicro's current SM1000 chassis can hold 64 processor cards, each of which have a processor socket, chipset and memory slots which makes the entire design beautifully modular. 

One of the more interesting features of the Freedom systems design is that it can currently utilize either Atom or Xeon chips on those processor cards.  With AMD now in the mix you can expect to see compatibility with Opteron chips in the very near future.  That will give AMD a chance to grab market share from Intel in the HPC market segment.   The Opteron series may not be as powerful as the current Xeons but they do cost noticeably less which makes them very attractive for customers who cannot afford 64 Xeons but need more power than an Atom can provide.

The competition is not just about price however; with Intel's recent purchase of QLogic and the InfiniBand interconnect technology, AMD needs to ensure they can also provide a backbone which is comparable in speed.  The current Freedom interconnect has 1.28Tb/sec of aggregate bandwidth on a 3D torus, and supports up to sixteen 10-Gigabit Ethernet links or 64 Gigabit links, which is in the same ballpark as a 64 channel InfiniBand based system.  The true speed will actually depend on which processors AMD plans to put into these systems, but as Michael Detwiler told The Register, that will depend on what customers actually want and not on what AMD thinks will be best.

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"As last week was winding down, Advanced Micro Devices took control of upstart server maker SeaMicro, and guess what? AMD is still not getting into the box building business, even if it does support SeaMicro's customers for the foreseeable future out of necessity.

Further: Even if AMD doesn't have aspirations to build boxes, the company may be poised to shake up the server racket as a component supplier. Perhaps not as dramatically as it did with the launch of the Opteron chips nearly a decade ago, but then again, maybe as much or more - depending on how AMD plays it and Intel and other server processor makers react."

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Source: The Register
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Will it Strike Again?

 It can now be claimed that we are arguably in our 4th generation of Lightning products from MSI. It can also be claimed that the 3rd generation of products really put that brand on the mainstream map. The R6970 and N580GTX (and XE version) set new standards for enthusiast grade graphics cards. Outstanding construction, unique pcb design, high quality (and quantity) of components, and a good eye for overall price have all been hallmarks of these cards. These were honestly some of my favorite video cards of all time. Call me biased, but I think when looking through other reviews those writers felt much the same. MSI certainly hit a couple of homeruns with their three Lightning offerings of 2011.

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Time does not stand still.  Resting on laurels is always the surest way to lose out to more aggressive competitors.  It is now 2012 and AMD has already launched the latest generation of HD 7000 chips, with the top end being the HD 7970.  This particular product was launched in late December, but cards were not available until January 9th of 2012.  We are now at the end of March where we see a decent volume of products on the shelves, as well as some of the first of the non-reference designs hitting the streets.  Currently Asus has its DirectCU II based 7970, but now we finally get to see the Lightning treatment.

 MSI has not sat upon their laurels it seems.  They are taking an aggressive approach to the new Lightning series of cards, and they implement quite a few unique features that have not been seen on any other product before.  Now the question is did they pull it off?  Throwing more features at something does not necessarily equal success.  The increase in complexity of a design combined with other unknowns with the new features could make it a failure.  Just look at the R5870 Lightning for proof.  That particular card tread new ground, but did so in a way that did not adequately differentiate itself from reference HD 5870 designs.  So what is new and how does it run?  Let us dig in!

Continue reading our review of the MSI Radeon HD 7970 3GB Lightning Graphics Card!!

Dual graphics on the desktop with a Llano A8-3870K

Subject: Systems | March 27, 2012 - 02:49 PM |
Tagged: amd, llano, dual graphics, a8-3870K

Dual Llano graphics has become one of PC Perspective's most recommended ways of getting yourself a laptop capable of decent gaming performance without spending a lot of money.  It is not as well known as a desktop solution, which X-Bit Labs intends to explore in their latest review.  They've taken the high end A8-3870K, overclocked it and paired it with an HD 6670 and then compared it to two similar systems, one using a Intel Pentium G850 and one with a Core i3-2120.  The results of their testing just might surprise you.

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"Today we are going to compare the performance of Socket FM1 and LGA 1155 systems. Will a hybrid Llano processor be able to beat the entry-level Intel CPU paired with an entry-level graphics accelerator? How efficient AMD Dual Graphics technology is? Does overclocking make Socket FM1 systems more attractive?"

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Source: X-Bit Labs

Arctic Cooling's AMD only Freezer A30

Subject: Cases and Cooling | March 27, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: arctic cooling, amd, freezer a30

Sometimes cooler manufacturers target one of their products specifically to a CPU manufacturer and that is what Arctic Cooling has done with the Freezer A30.  This 905g, 162mm x 137mm x 97mm is only designed to fit Socket AM2+, AM3+ and FM1 motherboards, which allows for greater flexibility in the orientation of the mounting brackets.  FrostyTech tested it with the fan at both high and low speed settings and found this to be a great heatsink both for high powered systems that need a lot of cooling as well as those systems which need to operate quietly.

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"The Freezer A30 heatsink is an updated version of the AC Freezer 13 Pro, but this time around it's shed its copper base plate for bare heatpipes and had its mounting brackets restricted to AMD processors. The Freezer A30 stands 162mm tall, is built around a familiar tower-style-exposed-heatpipe-heatsink format and weighs a hefty 905 grams. The cooler comes with a single 120mm PWM fan which is mounted to the aluminum fin stack via a muscular plastic fan shroud. No additional fans can be mounted."

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CASES & COOLING

 

Source: Frosty Tech

About that pricing AMD; you sure you want to stick with it?

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2012 - 01:45 PM |
Tagged: gpu, pricing, nvidia, amd, radeon

AMD has spent a lot of money developing GCN and it shows with products that provide better performance than the previous generation and do so with less power consumption, a hard trick to pull off.  There are also numerous other architectural changes in the three current families of Southern Island cards which benefit users, but most will be focused on faster graphics without the need to upgrade their PSU.  Until last week, since AMD had the fastest GPU going period, as well as much better price/performance numbers than NVIDIA's choice, there was no reason for AMD to consider changing their pricing structure as they need to recuperate the amount of dollars spent on R&D as well as manufacturing.

Last week the GTX 680 changed that, as not only did NVIDIA steal the performance crown back from AMD but they also successfully reduced the power consumption which was the Achilles Heel of Fermi.  Even worse news for AMD was the pricing that NVIDIA attached to their flagship Kepler product, at $500 they are priced below AMD's HD 7970 by between $50 to $100.  AMD's only hope is that the process problems at TSMC will keep the availability of the GTX 680 down, which it seems to have as NewEgg has run out of that card.  Hoping that your competitor cannot keep their stock up is not exactly a good model to run your business.

Unfortunately any price change AMD makes will have repercussions on many models.  The 7950 averages about $460 which is far too close to the GTX 680's price since the performance is not that close, however dropping the HD 7950 towards $400 makes the HD 7870 at $360 a little uncomfortable.  That is going to have an effect on AMD's profitability, since they likely set out their accounting based on the current pricing of the Radeon series and will have to recalculate a lot of numbers to lower price and still remain profitable.  However painful a process that might be they need to think of it sooner, rather than later; NVIDIA has more Kelper cards in store and they are not going to cost more than the GTX 680.

So far we have not heard any substantiated rumours about price changes from AMD but you can speculate that they must be coming.  For now you should first decide how much your budget can manage and then start looking for specials at retailers that bring the cards down to the price you have decided you can afford.  If they aren't low enough today then wait a few days as the GPU market is going to be decidedly unstable for the next while. 

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TSMC's 28nm process is going to be around for the long haul

Subject: General Tech | March 20, 2012 - 01:12 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, nvidia, amd, southern islands, kepler, 28nm, maxwell, llano

TSMC's 28nm process has been in the news for a long time, sometimes this was a good thing but more often it was not.  Back in May of 2009 the first announcements of TSMC's brand new 28nm process hit the news with major production slated to start in early 2010.  That didn't happen on time, much to several companies dismay as Josh unhappily discussed towards the end of 2010.  This set a trend for TSMC's 28nm process for a while, for instance AMD did not quite meet their promise of readily available 28nm GPUs in 2011, though a late December launch for the HD7970 did meet the spirit of the agreement.  The delays and issues on TSMC's 28nm lines had a variety of causes, perhaps one of the worst being TSMC's overly optimistic attitude about their production capabilities especially when AMD had a surprise for them.  Add to that the long line of woes during the development and production of NVIDIA's 28nm Kepler GPU as well as the recent shutdown of the production line, and you can see why TSMC's 28nm process has spent a lot of time being maligned in the news.  It almost makes you forget about the 40nm process woes, but that is ancient news.

All that effort is not going to waste as DigiTimes reports that TSMC is planning on expanding their 28nm capacity this year and expects that process to account for 10% of their 2012 revenue.  The next question on most peoples minds is the progress on TSMC's 22nm process which in 2010 they announced would be ready by Q3 2012, something which NVIDIA's Maxwell team is probably anticipating with great anxiety.

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"With current capacity for 28nm processes filled up, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is likely to expand the leading-edge process capacity later in 2012, according to industry sources.

TSMC reportedly is running at full capacity at its 12-inch fabs due to strong orders for 28nm as well as 40nm and 65nm designs. In order to avoid orders to rivals such as United Microelectronics (UMC) and Samsung Electronics, TSMC will have to speed up the pace of its leading-edge capacity expansion in particular its 28nm capacity, the sources said."

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Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Sapphire Unveils New AMD Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition GPU

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 10:36 PM |
Tagged: sapphire, radeon, HD 7970, gpu, amd, 7970

Sapphire Technologies recently launched a new factory overclocked version of the AMD Radeon HD 7970 graphics card. The new Radeon HD 7970 OC Edition promises to combine the performance of AMD's 7970 GPU (you can find our review of the 7970 here) with Sapphire's own Dual X two fan heatpipe cooler.

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The Sapphire HD 7970 GPU is powered by one 8 pin and one 6 pin PCI-E power connection, and supports the PCI-E 3.0 standard and Microsoft's DirectX 11.1 technology. Other specifications include 3 GB of GDDR5 memory, a 28nm Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPU core, a 384-bit memory interface, and a dual BIOS switch depending on whether you want to run at stock clock speeds or use the factory overclocked profile.

Specifically, the Sapphire HD 7970 GPU features a dual bios switch that allows customers to switch between default clock speeds of 950 MHz core and 1425 MHz memory and the factory overclocked speeds of 1 GHz (1,000 MHz) core and 1450 MHz memory. When using the overclocked BIOS, the graphics card will employ more a more aggressive fan profile and also allows raises the maximum limits for overclocking the core, memory, and voltage values.

Further, the Sapphire GPU uses their own Dual X cooler that features a dual slot aluminum heatsink connected to the GPU core by five copper heatpipes. This heatsink is then cooled by two large fans, that Sapphire claims will enable quiet operation even while under load.

Accessories wise, Sapphire provides one DVI, one HDMI, and two mini Display Port video outputs. In the retail packaging, Sapphire provides an Active mini Display Port to single-link DVI adapter, HDMI to DVI adapter, DVI to VGA adapter, two PCI-E to molex power adapters (one molex to PCI-E 8 pin and one molex to PCI-E 6 pin), a mini Display Port to Display Port adapter, a 1.8 meter HDMI 1.4a cable, and a CrossFire bridge.

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The new Sapphire HD 7970 OC Edition is available now from authorized retailers, and is retailing for between $580 and $630 at several retailers at the time of writing.

Source: Sapphire

Podcast #193 - Kepler Mobile preview, GTX 680 Rumors, Zenbook talk and more!

Subject: General Tech | March 15, 2012 - 01:28 PM |
Tagged: podcast, nvidia, kepler, Ivy Bridge, Intel, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #193 - 03/15/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our Kepler Mobile preview, GTX 680 Rumors, Zenbook talk 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 Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 59:29

Program Schedule: 

  1. 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. NCAA 2012: PC Perspective Bracket Competition!!
  6. HP dm4t Beats Edition Notebook Review: Branding Gone Wild
  7. Nvidia GeForce GT 640M Review: Kepler Arrives For Mobile
  8. Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU
  9. Alleged NVIDIA GK104 Kepler GTX 670 Ti Photo Leaked
  10. GTX 680, Turbo Cores, and Cuda Cores!
  11. A possible GTX 680 specs leak?
  12. Asus Updating Zenbook Line With UX31A and UX21A Ultrabooks
    1. caveat emptor
  13. Lian Li Releases Official Photos of PC-QO5 Case
  14. The new MAINGEAR Solo all-in-one PC series
  15. ARM Cortex-MO+ Lowest Power Processor Yet At 9µA/MHz
  16. Give me a Marauder MAD-5M with original armour and I am good to go
  17. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: NCAA March Madness app - $3.99 for ALL THE GAMES ALL THE TIME
    2. Jeremy: Brewtarget
    3. Josh: I couldn't stand it... I bought it.
    4. Allyn: Windows Server 8 Beta - Try it with Tim's Instructions.
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Source:
Author:

Introduction, LAN Fest, Game Demos, Future of Gaming panel

Introduction


Check out our video coverage of the SXSW Screenburn Arcade!

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The 19th Annual South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival kicked off on Mar. 9 and wraps up Mar. 12 in Austin, Texas. While most of the event featured interactive workshops and panels of experts from within the web development and social media communities, I focused most of my efforts covering the SXSW Screenburn Arcade at the Palmer Event Center. This is where most of the PC and console gaming enthusiasts attending SXSW converged to watch pro gamers from the IGN Pro League battle in League of Legends, Starcraft II, and check out several game demos like Lollipop Chainsaw for the XBox 360 and Quantum Conundrum and FireFall for the PC.

 

Intel LAN Fest

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I also had the opportunity to visit the Intel-sponsored, non-profit LANFest where event visitors could jump on one of their Alienware systems and play a variety of PC games like Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Team Fortress 2, MineCraft, Half Life 2 Death Match, WArsaw, Alien Swarm, Portal, World of Tanks, and Left 4 Dead 2 . LAN participants paid a $5 donation to play, which helped raise funds that will be sent to the city of Bastrop, Texas that lost more than 400 homes because of wildfires last September. They also raffled off a new ASUS Ultrabook to raise money for the United Way non-profit organization.

To see more of our coverage of the SXSW and the ScreenBurn Arcade 2012, continue reading!!

TSMC Suffers 28 nm Woes

Subject: Editorial | March 9, 2012 - 11:45 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, tahiti, process node, nvidia, kepler, amd, 28 nm

 Charlie over at Semiaccurate is reporting that TSMC has closed down their entire 28 nm line.  Shut down.  Not running wafers.  This obviously cannot be good.

Apparently TSMC stopped the entire line about three weeks ago and have not restarted it.  This type of thing does not happen very often, and when it does, things are really out of whack.  Going back we have heard mixed reviews of TSMC’s 28 nm process.  NVIDIA was quoted as saying that yields still were not very good, but at least were better than what they experienced with their first 40 nm part (GTX 400 series).  Now, part of NVIDIA’s problem was that the design was as much of an issue as the 40 nm process was.  AMD at the time was churning out HD 5000 series parts at a pretty good rate, and they said their yields were within expectations.

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AMD so far is one of the first customers out of the gate with a large volume of 28 nm parts.  The HD 7900 series has been out since the second week of January, the HD 7700 series since mid-February, and the recently released HD 7800 series will reach market in about 2 weeks.  Charlie has done some more digging and has found out that AMD has enough product in terms of finished boards and packaged chips that they will be able to handle the shutdown from TSMC.  Things will get tight at the end, but apparently the wafers in the middle of being processed have not been thrown out or destroyed.  So once production starts again, AMD and the other customers will not have to wait 16 to 20 weeks before getting finished product.

NVIDIA will likely not fare nearly as well.  The bulk of the stoppage occurred during the real “meat and potatoes” manufacturing cycle for the company.  NVIDIA expects to launch the first round of Kepler based products this month, but if production has been stopped for the past three weeks then we can bet that there are a lot of NVIDIA wafers just sitting in the middle of production.  Charlie also claims that the NVIDIA launch will not be a hard one, and NVIDIA expects retail products to be available several weeks after the introduction.

The potential reasons for this could be legion.  Was there some kind of toxic spill that resulted in a massive cleanup that required the entire line to be shut down?  Was there some kind of contamination that was present while installing the line, but was not discovered until well after production started?  Or was something glossed over during installation that ballooned into a bigger problem that just needed to be rectified (a stitch in time saves nine)?

Source: SemiAccurate