Subject: Storage | October 10, 2012 - 09:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ram disk, radeon ramdisk, radeon memory, amd memory, amd
AMD launched a new Radeon branded memory product today called the Radeon RAMDisk. Despite the rather unoriginal name, it is a piece of software that will allow you to use a portion of your system RAM as a hard drive-like storage device where you can install programs. AMD has partnered with Dataram to develop the software.
The AMD Radeon RAMDisk will create drives up to 64GB in size, and is designed to be used with AMD's own Radeon-branded DDR3 modules (though other manufacturer's RAM will work as well). The RAM disk offers up almost-instantaeous access times and impressive read and write speeds for your applications and virtual machines.
According to AMD, the Radeon RAMDisk can reach read speeds as high as 25,600 MB/s with DDR3 1600 RAM and up to 1700% faster game loading times than a traditional mechanical hard drive. It further supports the Windows operating system (Vista and above), and has a minimum system requirement of 4GB of system RAM.
The software costs $18.99 at time of writing for the full version.
The best part about this announcement though is the release of a freeware version of the Radeon RAMDisk that can create disks up to 6GB with AMD-branded RAM or 4GB with RAM from any other manufacturer! While that is fairly limiting in that you are not really going to be able to put much ont there (and installing games is almost out of the question entirely) you can still do a lot with a 4GB RAM disk by installing Office, photo editors, virtual machines (like Peppermint Linux), and other heavily used programs to speed up the important stuff.
You can acess the full press release on the Radeon RAMDisk website.
- Free version - Limited to 4GB or 6GB RAMDisks depending on memory brand.
- Paid version - Create disks up to 64GB
If you have been with the site for at least the year that I’ve been writing here, you will know that I’m a huge fan of RAM disks. So, naturally, when I was passed the press release I just had to try it out.
While the extent of the performance increase is going to vary from program to program, the drive itself is extremely fast. When copying a .iso file to the Radeon RAMDisk, it was limited by my SSD's read speed, for example.
The RAM Disk was set up om my main desktop which has basic specifications as follows:
- Intel Core i7 -860 CPU
- 8GB (4 x 2GB) G.Skill DDR3 at 1333 MHz and 9-9-9-24 CAS timings
- Gigabyte P55-UD3R Motherboard
- 4096 MB Radeon RAMDisk
- 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD
- 2TB Samsung Spinpoint hard drive
- Windows 8 RTM
In addition to the file copy tests, I also used the HDTune benchmark to measure transfer speeds. Needless to say, RAM blows solid state NAND out of the water in speed (though it does cost more and is volatile storage).
In fact, it pulled such impressive numbers from HDTune that it skewed the chart a lot. Those little blips underneath it are from my Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD and my 2TB Samsung Spinpoint mechanical hard drive.
HDTune also reports access times and burst speeds. The RAM disk had a 0.0 ms access time, the SSD has a 0.1 ms access time, and the mechanical hard drive brought up the rear with a 13.9 ms access time. Interestingly, the Samsung hard drive actually beat the SSD in burst speed. The RAM disk crush both of the other drives by a significant margin, however with a burst speed of 5,155 MB/s.
Over the years, I have used a RAMDisk for hosting photo editors as as using the drive for media I was currently working on. It worked well at the time, but the free software was not exactly what I would call stable. However, the AMD software is a mere 6.2 MB download that installs quickly and is easy to configure. The UI is spartan (and resembles Windows Classic), but it gets the job done and has yet to crash on me after trying to break it today (heh). It does not feel "janky" at all, and I have to give AMD and Dataram props for that.
Below are screenshots of the Radeon RAMDisk interface. You can create new disks as well as loading saved ones.
Yes, RAM being faster than hard drive storage is not new information, but I did find it surprising just how much faster it was, even compared to my SSD. Heck, even compared to a DDR2 based RAM disk, it was fast. It really puts into perspective why the hard drive is the slowest aspect of modern computers, and why things can slow to a crawl when the CPU has to reach out past the internal cache and system RAM to the hard drive to fetch data. If you are running a system with a lot of 'extra' RAM, I encourage you to take AMD's new Radeon RAMDisk software for a test drive. It's time to give those DDR3 DIMMs a workout!
Do you use RAM disks to speed up your favorite applications?
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 8, 2012 - 09:43 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z-60 apu, tablets, radeon hd, APU, amd
AMD launched a new APU today meant for tablets and other mobile devices. The new Z-60 Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) is now the company’s lowest power APU processor. AMD is primarily pushing this chip as the best choice for tablets as thin as 10mm that are capable of running Windows 8.
The Z-60 APU supports AMD’s Start Now and AppZone technologies for fast boot and resume times and application repository respectively. AMD has stated that it identified a gap between low performance and high priced mobile devices, and believes the Z-60 APU fills that void. AMD Corporate Vice President of Ultra-Low Power Products Steve Belt further stated the following:
“Tablet users seeking an uncompromised experience for both creating and consuming content on the Microsoft Windows 8 platform now have a performance-driven, affordable option with the AMD Z-60 APU.”
Interestingly, AMD has managed to bring the TDP of the new Z-60 lower than the previous generation without sacrificing hardware or needing a new manufacturing process. While the Z-01 is part of the Brazos platform (codename Desna), the new Z-60 is codenamed Hondo and part of the Brazos-T platform, which involves several tweaks to the design to get more power efficiency.
The Z-60 has two Bobcat CPU cores clocked at 1GHz, 1MB L2 cache, and a Radeon HD 6250 GPU with 80 cores. This APU has a TDP of 4.5W, which is a noteable decrease from the Z-01's 5.9W TDP when you consider that this chip is going to be used in a battery powered, mobile device. In fact, with a Z-60 APU, AMD is claiming up to eight hours of batery life. Further, thanks to the integrated HD 6250 GPU, the Z-60 can support Direct X 11, OpenGL 4.1, and OpenCL 1.1 graphics technologies.
|CPU Cores||CPU Clockspeed||L2 Cache||Radeon GPU||GPU Cores||TDP||USB Support|
|Z-60||2||1 GHz||1 MB||HD 6250||80||4.5W||3.0|
|Z-01 (previous generation)||2||1 GHz||1 MB||HD 6250||80||5.9W||2.0|
AMD has announced that the Z-60 APU is shipping now to its OEM customers. The company expects that consumers should see products using the new processor as soon as the end of this year.
Read more about the future direction of AMD at PC Perspective.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 5, 2012 - 06:40 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor, gpu, dual gpu, amd, 7990
Towards the end of August, a new dual GPU graphics card from PowerColor was fully detailed. The dual GPU Devil 13 graphics card combined two AMD Radeon HD 7970 GPUs onto a single PCB with factory overclocks and a custom cooler. The 6GB (3GB per GPU) HD 7990 6GB Devil 13 is an awesome card, but comes with a hefty $999 price tag.
This month, PowerColor has taken the wraps off of a (slightly) cheaper 7990 graphics card that is not clocked as high but uses a similar custom cooler as the Devil 13. It will allegedly be priced at around $900 USD.
The new PowerColor HD7990 (sans Devil 13 branding) features two HD7970 Graphics Core Next (GCN) based GPUs clocked at 900 MHz by default or 925 MHz when using the factory overclocked BIOS. (You can switch between the two modes by using the Dual BIOS switch.) As a point of comparison, standard Radeon 7970s have a reference clockspeed of 925 MHz, and PowerColor’s own HD 7990 Devil 13 is clocked at either 925 MHz or 1 GHz depending on BIOS switch position. PowerColor is likely binning 7970 GPUs that don’t quite make the cut as Devil 13 models for this new dual gpu 7990 graphics card with lower clockspeeds.
Fortunately, the memory clockspeed has not been downclocked on the new HD 7990. Each GPU has 3GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus, and the memory is clocked at 1375 MHz.
Also good news is that the standard PowerColor 7990 appears to use the same custom cooler as the Devil 13 – but with an all-black design rather than the red and black color scheme. That includes a triple slot design, numerous heatpipes and fins, and two 92mm fans on either side of an 80mm fan.
The graphics card measures 315mm x 140mm x 60mm and features two DVI, one HDMI, and two min-DisplayPort video outputs. It has the same 850W minimum system power requirement as the Devil 13, and is powered by three 8 pin PCI-E power connectors in addition to power from the PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot.
Although an interesting card that is sure to attract enthusiasts, it lends credence to the idea that AMD is not going to release its own reference HD 7990 after all. At this point, so long as your case and motherboard permit, it would likely best to go for two individual ~$400 Radeon 7970 GHz Edition cards in a CrossFire configuration. PowerColor does seem to have you covered if that’s not an option for you though there is no word on exactly when this graphics card will be available – or what the final pricing will be.
Read more about AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture at PC Perspective.
Subject: General Tech | October 4, 2012 - 05:28 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: qualcomm, hsa, APU, amd, AFDS
The HSA Foundation announced today that Qualcomm would be joining as its newest Founder-level member. The mobile ARM System on a Chip company joins AMD, ARM, Imagination Technologies (the company who licenses out PowerVR graphics), MediaTek, Samsung, and Texas Instruments. Reportedly, the HSA Foundation has doubled its total members since its inception in June where it was announced at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS 2012).
Senior Vice President of Engineering at Qualcomm Jim Thompson has stated that the company is joining the HSA Foundation in an effort to standardize aspects of heterogenous computing. Those programming and hardware standards will then be incorporated into devices running future Snapdragon ARM processors.
HSA Foundation President Phil Rogers welcomed the mobile communications giant to the organization by stating the following.
“It’s great to see an innovative company like Qualcomm, which has revolutionized the wireless communications market, placing their support behind HSA.”
It is unclear from the press release where Qualcomm and the HSA Foundation will go from here, but it is promising to see additional companies lending their expertise to further heterogeneous computing standards. Here's hoping that the HSA Foundation is the opposite of the PC Gaming Alliance and actually gets things done to further the technology. After all, AMD is betting the company on APUs and could likely benefit from a big HSA programming standard push and the low power computing prowess of the ARM chip designers in its ranks.
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2012 - 01:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Intel, price cuts, stagnation, stats
While complaining that chip prices just don't fall like they used to with the advent of the new generation replacing them is a long standing past time of enthusiasts everywhere, we don't often research the historical data to prove or disprove our claims. The Tech Report were brave enough to do exactly that, ignoring the risk that the data might prove us all wrong and lead to the possibility of not having a leg to stand on when talking about the good old days. Vindication is ours, especially when talking about Intel processors and the blame seems to fall right on AMD's shoulders and the lack of competition they've offered, especially on the high end. While some of Intel's processors do drop in price a bit over the 50 week period that The Tech Report, the only ones with a noticeable percentage drop were the lower end Core i3's which compete directly with AMD's FX and A8/6 series processors. Check out the charts showing the difference between AMD's price drops and Intel's over the same time period here.
"We've crunched three years of historical pricing data and made some interesting discoveries about the current state of the x86 processor market. Come take a look."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- OEMs call Intel’s Haswell pricing, “Absurd” @ SemiAccurate
- The Blackberry Playbook gets a software update @ The Inquirer
- IBM launches Power7+ chips in three Unix servers @ The Inquirer
- Apple Acknowledges iPhone 5 Camera Flaw @ Slashdot
Subject: Processors | October 2, 2012 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, bulldozer, amd, a8, a6, A4, a10, 5800K, 5600K
The NDA is over and we can finally tell you all about the new generation of Trinity, especially the compute portion which we were not allowed to discuss in the controversial preview. Part of the good news is the price, Legit Reviews found the highest MSRP is $122 for the A10-5800K and it is currently available, though at $130. The performance increase from the previous generation is decent for multicore applications though not so much for single threaded applications, overall you can expect general computing performance in line with Core i3 but not Core i5. Gaming on the other hand did show much improvement, especially with you compare the built in HD7660D to Intel's current HD4000 and HD3500. You can catch Josh's review right here.
"The internal testing from AMD that we can see above shows a 37% increase in the 3DMark 11 score between the first generation A-Series Llano and this generation of A-Series Trinity. While our numbers don't match their numbers exactly, our Llano system scored 1115 3Dmarks while the AMD internal testing showed 1150 3DMarks. Our AMD A10-5800K scored 1521 3DMarks while they scored 1570. The overall difference was remarkably similar, AMD is boasting an increase of 37% and we saw a difference of 36.4%..."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD’s Trinity Faces Off With Intel’s Ivy Bridge @ SemiAccurate
- AMD “Virgo” Platform: 2nd Generation APU @ Bjorn3D
- AMD A10-5800K APU Performance Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD A10-5800K and A8-5600K APUs for Socket FM2 @ techPowerUp
- AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU Review @ TechwareLabs
- Asus F2A85-V Pro & AMD A10 5800K (w/ HD7660D) @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K & A8-5600K Review: Trinity on the Desktop, Part 2 @ AnandTech
- AMD A10 5800K APU processor review and MSI FM-2 A85XA-G65 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD A10-5800K Unlocked "Trinity" Quad Core APU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD A8-3850 CPU review @ Rbmods
- Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4 & AMD A10 5800K @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K / A8-5600K full review: Trinity for desktops @ Hardware.info
- AMD Trinity for Desktops. Part 1: Graphics Core @ X-bit Labs
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- All Core i3 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel Core i3 3225 and 3220 review: entry-level Ivy Bridge @ Hardware.info
Subject: General Tech, Systems | October 2, 2012 - 04:44 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, silent pc, passive cooling, asus, APU, amd
AMD officially launched its desktop Trinity APUs (Accelerated Processing Units) today, and along with the new processors are a number of new socket FM2 motherboards to support them. One of the cooler motherboard and Trinity APU pairings was shown off today in a completely silent PC by ASUS and AMD in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, Japan.
The silent system is nested inside a Streacom FC5 chassis that does double duty as a case and heatsink for the AMD APU. Inside the system is an unidentified power supply, two DDR3 DIMMS, Corsair Force SSD, ASUS F2A85-M PRO motherboard, and – of course – the AMD A10-5700K APU that we recently reviewed.
The APU is covered by an aluminum and copper block that is then connected to the metal case via four heatpipes. Then, the outside of the case has a finned design to provide more cooling surface area (but likely just to make it look cooler, heh).
This passively cooled system would make for a really nice home theater PC case, and the GPU prowess of the Trinity APU is well suited to such a task. You can find more photos of the fan-less Trinity system over at FanlessTech.
What do you think of Trinity, and will you be using it in your next build?
Trinity Finally Comes to the Desktop
Trinity. Where to start? I find myself asking that question, as the road to this release is somewhat tortuous. Trinity, as a product code name, came around in early 2011. The first working silicon was shown that Summer. The first actual release of product was the mobile part in late Spring of this year. Throughout the summer notebook designs based on Trinity started to trickle out. Today we cover the release of the desktop versions of this product.
AMD has certainly had its ups and downs when it comes to APU releases. Their first real APU was Zacate, based on the new Bobcat CPU architecture. This product was an unmitigated success for AMD. Llano, on the other hand, had a pretty rocky start. Production and various supply issues caused it to be far less of a success than hoped. These issues were oddly enough not cleared up until late Spring of this year. By then mobile Trinity was out and people were looking towards the desktop version of the chip. AMD saw the situation, and the massive supply of Llano chips that it had, and decided to delay introduction of desktop Trinity until a later date.
To say that expectations for Trinity are high is an understatement. AMD has been on the ropes for quite a few years in terms of CPU performance. While the Phenom II series were at least competitive with the Core 2 Duo and Quad chips, they did not match up well against the latest i7/i5/i3 series of parts. Bulldozer was supposed to erase the processor advantage Intel had, but it came out of the oven as a seemingly half baked part. Piledriver was designed to succeed Bulldozer, and is supposed to shore up the architecture to make it more competitive. Piledriver is the basis of Trinity. Piledriver does sport significant improvements in clockspeed, power consumption, and IPC (instructions per clock). People are hopeful that Trinity would be able to match the performance of current Ivy Bridge processors from Intel, or at least get close.
So does it match Intel? In ways, I suppose. How much better is it than Bulldozer? That particular answer is actually a bit surprising. Is it really that much of a step above Llano? Yet another somewhat surprising answer for that particular question. Make no mistake, Trinity for desktop is a major launch for AMD, and their continued existence as a CPU manufacturer depends heavily on this part.
PhysX Settings Comparison
Borderlands 2 is a hell of a game; we actually ran a 4+ hour live event on launch day to celebrate its release and played it after our podcast that week as well. When big PC releases occur we usually like to take a look at performance of the game on a few graphics cards as well to see how NVIDIA and AMD cards stack up. Interestingly, for this title, PhysX technology was brought up again and NVIDIA was widely pushing it as a great example of implementation of the GPU-accelerated physics engine.
What you may find unique in Borderlands 2 is that the game actually allows you to enabled PhysX features at Low, Medium and High settings, with either NVIDIA or AMD Radeon graphics cards installed in your system. In past titles, like Batman: Arkham City and Mafia II, PhysX was only able to be enabled (or at least at higher settings) if you had an NVIDIA card. Many gamers that used AMD cards saw this as a slight and we tended to agree. But since we could enable it with a Radeon card installed, we were curious to see what the results would be.
Of course, don't expect the PhysX effects to be able to utilize the Radeon GPU for acceleration...
Borderlands 2 PhysX Settings Comparison
The first thing we wanted to learn was just how much difference you would see by moving from Low (the lowest setting, there is no "off") to Medium and then to High. The effects were identical on both AMD and NVIDIA cards and we made a short video here to demonstrate the changes in settings.
Subject: Processors | September 29, 2012 - 10:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: vishera, piledriver, amd, am3+
Trinity APUs are not the only Piledriver-based processors that AMD will be releasing this year. Trinity is coming next month, but later this year AMD should be putting out Vishera processors based on Piledriver CPUs cores – and without integrated GPUs. And now, thanks to a retailer leaking details on its website, we now know some basic specifications – and more importantly – pricing.
For the uninitiated, Vishera is AMD’s next generation processor. It will use the existing AM3+ socket, and is built on a 32nm HKMG manufacturing process. Further, the CPUs are based on the Piledriver architecture which features a number of efficiency improvements over Bulldozer. Thanks to the architecture tweaks, and Cyclos Semiconductor’s resonant clock mesh technology that reduces the amount of power needed to keep the clock frequency synced across the entire chip. The architecture tweaks result in improved instructions per clock (IPC), improved floating point performance, leakage reduction, AMD Turbo Core 3, and new FMA3, AVX, AVS1.1, AES, and F16C instructions among other improvements.
For more information on the Piledriver architecture, and where AMD is taking it with Vishera, read the “AMD: Vishera and Beyond” editorial we recently posted. Also relevant is our mobile Trinity (A10-4600M) review which gives some small hints at the kind of CPU improvements we can expect with desktop Piledriver CPU cores versus the previous generation.
According to eTeknix, the recently leaked information from Bottom Line Telecomunications includes clock speed, core count, amount of cache, TDP and pricing for four of AMD's upcoming FX series Vishera processors: the FX 4300, FX 6300, FX 8320, and FX 8350. The FX 4300 is a quad core processor clocked at 3.8GHz with 8MB of cache and a 95W TDP (thermal design power). It was priced at $131.62 on the company's website. The FX 6300 CPU brings the core count up to six, and increases the cache to 14MB. It keeps the same 95W TDP as the FX 4300 but is clocked at 3.5GHz and costs $175.77.
The FX 8320 and FX 8350 are both eight core processors and have a 125W TDP. The FX 8320 is a $242.05 part with 16MB cache and comes clocked at 3.5GHz. The FX 8350 keeps the same 16MB cache but is clocked at 4GHz and, as a result, costs more at $253.06.
The FX 8320 in particular appears to be a neat processor, and will likely be the more popular of the two FX 8000 series as enthusiasts will overclock it match (or exceed) the FX 8350 while paying the cheaper price (since the only thing you are really giving up with the lower-end part is clockspeed, and not cache)!
It will be interesting to see if the Piledriver-based chips are worth the price though, since we have yet to see independant CPU performance benchmarks for either Vishera or Trinity. The following table is the leaked information from shopBLT mentioned above in table form.
|shopBLT Item #||Manufacturer Part #||Description||Price|
|BPW4489||FD4300WMHKBOX||FX 4300 QC CPU AM3+ 8MB 95W 3.8GHz Box||$131.62|
|BPW4488||FD6300WMHKBOX||FX 6300 6C CPU AM3+ 14MB 95W 3.5GHz Box||$175.77|
|BPW4487||FD8320FRHKBOX||FX 8320 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 3.5GHz box||$242.05|
|BPW4486||FD8350FRHKBOX||FX 8350 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 4GHz Box||$253.06|
Speaking of pricing, AMD will not only be competing with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, but its latest Ivy Bridge chips as well, so pricing will be key to AMD selling its CPUs. In the following chart, we compared AMD's upcoming Vishera processors (based on the leaked information above) to Intel's latest Ivy Bridge parts. Because we do not know what the performancer of Piledriver will be, we matched up the Bulldozer CPUs to the Intel competition based on pricing. Essentially, we attempted to find the the Ivy Bridge CPU with the closest price tag to the Vishera processors' price. Intel's 22nm process has definitely given the company a leg up on TDPs, but you do get as many as twice the cores (and cache) with AMD for the price. The FX 8350 is an odd part in that it does not have a good Ivy Bridge equivalent, because there is no approximately $250 Ivy Bridge CPU. The next-closest CPU is the Core i7-3770 at just-over $300. Note that it may end up being that a lower priced chip will actually perform equivalently (or outperform) to the FX 8350 – we just do not know at this point and the only basis for matching these up for sake of comparison is price right now.
|Processor Model||FX 4300||FX 6300||FX 8320||FX 8350||Core i3 3220||Core i5 3550P||Core i5-3570K||Core i7 3770|
|No. of cores (HT)||4||6||8||8||2 (4)||4||4||4 (8)|
|Clockspeed (turbo)||3.8GHz||3.5GHz||3.5GHz||4GHz||3.3GHz||3.1GHz (3.5)||3.4GHz (3.8)||3.4GHz (3.9)|
The Intel processors were chosen base on pricing and not performance per-se. Note that the i5-3550P does not include integrated graphics.
Another interesting match up is the comparison between AMD's next generation Vishera processors and its current generation Zambezi Bulldozer CPUs.
The FX 4300 cache number seems like the only oddity, but is based on leaked information above.
Assuming that the leaked pricing ends up being accurate, AMD has put itself in an odd position with Vishera. Across the board, the Piledriver-based chips are notably more expensive than the Bulldozer predecessors. The next generation chips are offering up higher clockspeeds – and in some cases – lower TDPs. On the other hand, they are coming in at a premium, and AMD is already facing stiff competition from Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.
AMD will really have to bring the promised performance improvements in order to move its Vishera chips at these prices. Performance is key, and unfortunately that's one aspect of Piledriver that we don't yet know beyond AMD's claims. Personally, I'm hopeful that they will deliver on the claimed efficiency tweaks and that Vishera will be a success. At the very least, it should offer a nice upgrade for owners of AM3+ motherboards.
After the Trinity launch, we should have more information on the the level of CPU performance we can expect from Piledriver. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more information on Vishera and the Piledriver architecture in general as it comes in!
Read more about AMD's Piledriver microarchitecture.