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.

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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?

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Bristol Ridge Takes on Mobile: E2 Through FX

It is no secret that AMD has faced an uphill battle since the release of the original Core 2 processors from Intel.  While stayed mostly competitive through the Phenom II years, they hit some major performance issues when moving to the Bulldozer architecture.  While on paper the idea of Chip Multi-Threading sounded fantastic, AMD was never able to get the per thread performance up to expectations.  While their CPUs performed well in heavily multi-threaded applications, they just were never seen in as positive of a light as the competing Intel products.

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The other part of the performance equation that has hammered AMD is the lack of a new process node that would allow it to more adequately compete with Intel.  When AMD was at 32 nm PD-SOI, Intel had introduced its 22nm TriGate/FinFET.  AMD then transitioned to a 28nm HKMG planar process that was more size optimized than 32nm, but did not drastically improve upon power and transistor switching performance.

So AMD had a double whammy on their hands with an underperforming architecture and limitted to no access to advanced process nodes that would actually improve their power and speed situation.  They could not force their foundry partners to spend billions on a crash course in FinFET technology to bring that to market faster, so they had to iterate and innovate on their designs.

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Bristol Ridge is the fruit of that particular labor.  It is also the end point to the architecture that was introduced with Bulldozer way back in 2011.

Click here to read the entire introduction of AMD's Bristol Ridge lineup!

Report: AMD's Top Polaris GPU Will Cost Just $199

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 31, 2016 - 08:23 PM |
Tagged: video card, rumor, report, Radeon RX 480, radeon, Polaris, graphics card, gpu, amd

Update: It's official. AMD Polaris Radeon RX 480 will launch for $199, > 5 TFLOPS of compute.

(Original post:)

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AMD's upcoming Polaris graphics cards will be priced no higher than $199, a startling move to say the least.

AMD_Radeon_graphics_logo.jpg

The report arrives via VideoCardz.com:

"According to WSJ article, Polaris GPUs will cost no more than 199 USD. First systems equipped with Polaris GPUs will be available end of June:

'Advanced Micro Devices Inc. is angling to lower the cost of virtual reality, targeting the field with a new line of graphics hardware priced at $199—half or less the cost of comparable products.

AMD said the first chips based on its new Polaris design are expected to arrive in graphics cards for personal computers at the end of June. The company aims to help push the starting cost of PCs that can deliver VR experiences as low as $799 from above $1,000.'"

The report lists the high-end Polaris card as the "RX 480", which would be a departure from the recent nomenclature (R9 290X, R9 390X). Pricing such a card this aggressively not only creates what one would hope to be an incredible price/performance ratio, but is likely an answer to NVIDIA's GTX 1080/1070 - especially considering NVIDIA's new GTX 1070 is as fast as a GTX 980 Ti.

Is the Radeon RX 480 really the top end card, or a lower-cost variant? Will there be a 490, or 490X? This report certainly doesn't answer any questions, but the possibility of a powerful new GPU for $199 is very appealing.

Source: VideoCardz
Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: ARM

New Products for 2017

PC Perspective was invited to Austin, TX on May 11 and 12 to participate in ARM’s yearly tech day.  Also invited were a handful of editors and analysts that cover the PC and mobile markets.  Those folks were all pretty smart, so it is confusing as to why they invited me.  Perhaps word of my unique talent of screenshoting PDFs into near-unreadable JPGs preceded me?  Regardless of the reason, I was treated to two full days of in-depth discussion of the latest generation of CPU and GPU cores, 10nm test chips, and information on new licensing options.

A73_formfactors.png

Today ARM is announcing their next CPU core with the introduction of the Cortex-A73. They are also unwrapping the latest Mali-G71 graphics technology.  Other technologies such as the CCI-550 interconnect are also revealed.  It is a busy and important day for ARM, especially in light of Intel seemingly abandoning the sub-milliwatt mobile market.

A73_boost.png

Cortex-A73

ARM previously announced the Cortex-A72 in February, 2015.  Since that time it has been seen in most flagship mobile devices in late 2015 and throughout 2016.  The market continues to evolve, and as such the workloads and form factors have pushed ARM to continue to develop and improve their CPU technology.

A73_perf_comp_A72.png

The Sofia Antipolis, France design group is behind the new A73.  The previous several core architectures had been developed by the Cambridge group.  As such, the new design differs quite dramatically from the previous A72.  I was actually somewhat taken aback by the differences in the design philosophy of the two groups and the changes between the A72 and A73, but the generational jumps we have seen in the past make a bit more sense to me.

The marketplace is constantly changing when it comes to workloads and form factors.  More and more complex applications are being ported to mobile devices, including hot technologies like AR and VR.  Other technologies include 3D/360 degree video, greater than 20 MP cameras, and 4K/8K displays and their video playback formats.  Form factors on the other hand have continued to decrease in size, especially in overall height.  We have relatively large screens on most premium devices, but the designers have continued to make these phones thinner and thinner throughout the years.  This has put a lot of pressure on ARM and their partners to increase performance while keeping TDPs in check, and even reducing them so they more adequately fit in the TDP envelope of these extremely thin devices.

A73_power_comp_A72.png

Click here to continue reading about ARM's Tech Day 2016!

Podcast #401 - Gigabyte X99P-SLI, RevoDrive is back, GPU Drivers, Computex, and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 26, 2016 - 05:53 PM |
Tagged: X99P-SLI, toshiba, revodrive, review, RD400, podcast, pcper, ocz, msi, hardware, gigabyte, fdsoi, computex, amd, AM4, am3, am2, 303, 22nm

PC Perspective Podcast #401 - 05/26/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the Gigabyte X99P-SLI, RevoDrive is back, GPU Drivers, Computex, 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!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Sebastian Peak

Program length: 1:07:00
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Jeremy: #MakeSpaceGreatAgain
    2. Allyn: [the Sequence]
    3. Josh: Last Year’s Model, but still nifty!
    4. Sebastian: A great game, remastered
  4. http://pcper.com/podcast
  5. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  6. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Report: AMD Socket AM4 Compatible with Existing AM2/AM3 Coolers

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | May 25, 2016 - 12:54 PM |
Tagged: Zen, socket AM3, cpu cooler, amd, AM4

Upgrading to the upcoming Zen processors won't require the purchase of a new cooler or adapter, according to a report from Computer Base (German language).

amd_wraith.jpg

The AMD Wraith Cooler (image credit: The Tech Report)

Answering a customer question on Facebook, a Thermalright representative responded (translated):

"For all AMD fans, we have good news. As we advance AMD has assured the new AM4 processors and motherboards are put on the usual base-fixing, which is standard for AM2. To follow all the Thermalright coolers are used on the Zen processors without additional accessories!"

This news is hardly surprising considering AMD has used the same format for some time, much as Intel's current CPUs still work with coolers designed for LGA 1156.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 24, 2016 - 09:46 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, radeon, overwatch, graphics driver, Crimson Edition 16.5.3, crimson, amd

AMD has released new drivers for Overwatch (and more) with Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3.

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"Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD's revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements."

AMD lists these highlights for Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3:

Support for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch
  • Dota 2 (with Vulkan API)

New AMD Crossfire profile available for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch

The driver is available from AMD from the following direct links:

The full release notes with fixed/known issues is available at the source link here.

Source: AMD

Podcast #400 - Talking GTX 1080 Performance, GTX 1070 specs, AMD Polaris leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2016 - 12:08 PM |
Tagged: video, radeon, polaris 11, polaris 10, Polaris, podcast, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx, geforce, arm, amd, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #400 - 05/19/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 1080 performance and features, official specifications of the GTX 1070, new Polaris specification rumors, ARM's 10nm chip test 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!

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

AMD Gains Market Share in Q1'16 Discrete GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 06:11 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, market share

AMD sent out a note yesterday with some interesting news about how the graphics card market fared in Q1 of 2016. First, let's get to the bad news: sales of new discrete graphics solutions, in both mobile and desktop, dropped by 10.2% quarter to quarter, a decrease that was slightly higher than expected. Though details weren't given in the announcement or data I have from Mercury Research, it seems likely that expectations of upcoming new GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD contributed to the slowdown of sales on some level.

Despite the shrinking pie, AMD grabbed more of it in Q1 2016 than it had in Q4 of 2015, gaining on total market share by 3.2% for a total of 29.4%. That's a nice gain in a short few months but its still much lower than Radeon has been as recently as 2013. That 3.2% gain includes both notebook and desktop discrete GPUs, but let's break it down further.

  Q1'16 Desktop Q1'16 Desktop Change Q1'16 Mobile Q1'16 Mobile Change
AMD 22.7% +1.8% 38.7% +7.3%
NVIDIA (assumed) ~77% -1.8% ~61% -7.3%

AMD's gain in the desktop graphics card market was 1.8%, up to 22.7% of the market, while the notebook discrete graphics share jumped an astounding 7.3% to 38.7% of the total market.

NVIDIA obviously still has a commanding lead in desktop add-in cards with more than 75% of the market, but Mercury Research believes that a renewed focus on driver development, virtual reality and the creation of the Radeon Technologies Group attributed to the increases in share for AMD.

Q3 of 2016 is where I think the future looks most interesting. Not only will NVIDIA's newly released GeForce GTX 1080 and upcoming GTX 1070 have time to settle in but the upcoming Polaris architecture based cards from AMD will have a chance to stretch their legs and attempt to continue pushing the needle in the upward direction.