What's the big deal with BAPCo? Why Benchmarking Matters

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 02:36 PM |
Tagged: VIA, sysmark, nvidia, Intel, benchmark, bapco, amd

It seems that all the tech community is talking about today is BAPCo and its benchmarking suite called Sysmark.  A new version, 2012, was released just recently and yesterday we found out that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA have all dropped their support of the "Business Applications Performance Corporation".  Obviously those companies have a beef with the benchmark as it is, yet somehow one company stands behind the test: Intel.

Everyone you know of is posting about it.  My twitter feed "asplode" with comments like this:

AMD quits BAPCo, says SYSmark is nutso. Nvidia and VIA, they say, also.

AMD: Voting For Openness: In order to get a better understanding of AMD's press release earlier concerning BAPCO...

Ooh, BapCo drama.

Why Legit Reviews won't use the latest BAPCo benchmark:

Even PC Perspective posted on this drama yesterday afternoon saying: "The disputes centered mostly over the release of SYSmark 2012. For years various members have been complaining about various aspects of the product which they allege Intel strikes down and ignores while designing each version. One major complaint is the lack of reporting on the computer’s GPU performance which is quickly becoming beyond relevant to an actual system’s overall performance. With NVIDIA, AMD, and VIA gone from the consortium, Intel is pretty much left alone in the company: now officially."

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Obviously while cutting the grass this morning this is the topic swirling through my head; so thanks for that everyone.  My question is this: does it really matter and how is this any different than it has been for YEARS?  The cynical side of me says that AMD, NVIDIA and VIA all dropped out because each company's particular products aren't stacking up as well as Intel's when it comes to the total resulting score.  Intel makes the world's fastest CPUs, I don't think anyone with a brain will dispute that, and as such on benchmarks that test the CPU, they are going to have the edge.  

We recently reviewed the AMD Llano-based Sabine platform and in CPU-centric tests like SiSoft Sandra, TrueCrypt and 7zip the AMD APU is noticeably slower.  But AMD isn't sending out press releases and posting blogs about how these benchmarks don't show the true performance of a system as the end user will see.  And Intel isn't pondering why we used games like Far Cry 2 and Just Cause 2 to show the AMD APU dominating there. Why?  Because these tests are part of a suite of benchmarks we use to show the overall performance of a system.  They are tools which competent reviewers wield in order to explain to readers why certain hardware acts in a certain way in certain circumstances.  

Continue reading for more on this topic...

Source: PCPer

You would think a Bulldozer would be easier to spot

Subject: General Tech | June 21, 2011 - 11:38 AM |
Tagged: opteron, interlagos, bulldozer, amd

It might just be that the ISC is the perfect place to show off their new chip or it may have been Intel's displaying of the 50 core Knights Corner silicon yesterday; whatever triggered it we finally get a look at AMD's Bulldozer.  A 1U server by Supermicro contained two 16-core Bulldozer chips though other vendors are claiming to be able to fit a 4 socket system in the same size case.  Those sweet talking wonks over at The Inquirer not only talked their way into getting a few photos of the system they were even allowed to fondle it, which revealed heatsinks that were cool enough to touch even when running POVRay which lends credence to the idea of 4 CPUs, or 64 cores, in a 1U box.  We are still looking at Q3 for a release of the new Opteron architecture, with no news at all as to AMD's plans to turn that architecture into an APU in a later generation of chips.

 

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What a little chutzpah gets you

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD chose the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) to finally demonstrate a working Bulldozer system.

At AMD's ISC stand one could find several 2U and 4U servers built with older Opteron chips, but it was a 1U pizza box server made by Supermicro that housed two 16-core Bulldozer chips running live demonstrations of POVRay. This is the first time that AMD has publicly displayed its next generation Opteron processor, codenamed Bulldozer."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

BAPCo: BUPKIS? AMD, NVIDIA, and VIA exodus

Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 20, 2011 - 04:46 PM |
Tagged: VIA, sysmark, nvidia, bapco, amd

People like benchmarks. Benchmarks tell you which component to purchase while your mouse flutters between browser tabs of various Newegg or Amazon pages. Benchmarks let you see how awesome your PC is because often videogames will not for a couple of years. One benchmark you probably have not seen here in a very long time is Sysmark from the Business Applications Performance Corporation, known as BAPCo to its friends and well-wishers. There has been dispute over the political design of BAPCo and it eventually boiled over with AMD, NVIDIA, and VIA rolling off the sides of the pot.

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Fixed that for you

The disputes centered mostly over the release of SYSmark 2012. For years various members have been complaining about various aspects of the product which they allege Intel strikes down and ignores while designing each version. One major complaint is the lack of reporting on the computer’s GPU performance which is quickly becoming beyond relevant to an actual system’s overall performance. With NVIDIA, AMD, and VIA gone from the consortium, Intel is pretty much left alone in the company: now officially.

Source: Semiaccurate

Glean a bit more from the AMD Fusion Developer Summit

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2011 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, Eric Demers, APU

The Tech Report was present for AMD's Eric Demers keynote at the FDC in Seattle last week.  They captured quite a few of the slides on camera which you can examine at the bottom of their article.  We have seen quite a bit of coverage on the next generation of AMD's Fusion processors, but how can you get sick of reading inside information!   Still no news on Bulldozer yet though. 

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"At the Fusion Developer Summit here in Bellevue, Washington this morning, AMD Graphics CTO Eric Demers made some interesting revelations about his company's next graphics processor architecture. While he didn't talk about specific products, he did say this new core design will materialize inside all future AMD products with GPUs in them over the next few years."

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

Graphics Cards

TSMC gets AMD's 28nm APU business

Subject: General Tech | June 17, 2011 - 02:24 PM |
Tagged: TSMC, southern islands, northern islands, llano, global foundries, arm, amd, 40nm, 32nm, 28nm

Back in April there was a kerfuffle in the news about a deal penned between AMD, Global Foundries and TSMC.  It is not worth repeating completely as you can follow the story by using the previous link, suffice to say that it did not indicate problems with the relationship between AMD and Global Foundries. 

The previous post was specifically about 40nm and 32nm process chips, however today we hear from DigiTimes that TSMC has scored a deal with AMD for the 28nm Southern Islands APUs of which we have seen much recently.  The 40nm Northern Islands GPUs will also be produced by TSMC.  That leaves a lot of production capabilities free at Global Foundries to work on ARM processors.  

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"AMD reportedly has completed the tape-out of its next-generation GPU, codenamed Southern Islands, on Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process with High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report. The chip is set to expected to enter mass produciton at the end of 2011.

TSMC will also be AMD's major foundry partner for the 28nm Krishna and Wichita accelerated processing units (APUs), with volume production set to begin in the first half of 2012, the report said.

TSMC reportedly contract manufactures the Ontario, Zacate and Desna APUs for AMD as well as the Northern Island family of GPUs. All of these use the foundry's 40nm process technology.

TSMC was quoted as saying in previous reports that it had begun equipment move-in for the phase one facility of a new 12-inch fab (Fab 15) with volume production of 28nm technology products slated for the fourth quarter of 2011. The foundry previously said it would begin moving equipment into the facility in June, with volume production expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2012."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Introducing the AMD FSA

At AMD’s Fusion 11 conference, we were treated to a nice overview of AMD’s next generation graphics architecture.  With the recent change in their lineup going from the previous VLIW-5 setup (powered their graphics chips from the Radeon HD 2900 through the latest “Barts” chip running the HD 6800 series) to the new VLIW-4 (HD 6900), many were not expecting much from AMD in terms of new and unique designs.  The upcoming “Southern Isles” were thought to be based on the current VLIW-4 architecture, and would feature more performance and a few new features due to the die shrink to 28 nm.  It turns out that speculation is wrong.

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In late Q4 of this year we should see the first iteration of this new architecture that was detailed today by Eric Demers.  The overview detailed some features that will not make it into this upcoming product, but eventually it will all be added in over the next three years or so.  Historically speaking, AMD has placed graphics first, with GPGPU/compute as the secondary functionality of their GPUs.  While we have had compute abilities since the HD 1800/1900 series of products, AMD has not been as aggressive with compute as has its primary competition.  From the G80 GPUs and beyond, NVIDIA has pushed compute harder and farther than AMD has.  With its mature CUDA development tools and the compute heavy Fermi architecture, NVIDIA has been a driving force in this particular market.  Now that AMD has released two APU based products (Llano and Brazos), they are starting to really push OpenCL, Direct Compute, and the recently announced C++ AMP.

Continue reading for all the details on AMD's Graphics Core Next!

AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011: Live Blog

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 16, 2011 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: llano, liveblog, fusion, APU, amd, AFDS

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The AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 is set to begin at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT and promises to bring some interesting and forward looking news about the future of AMD's APU technology.  We are going to cover the keynotes LIVE right here throughout the week so if you want to know what is happening AS IT HAPPENS, stick around!!

Source: PCPer

Microsoft is probably laughing as AMD speculates the unlikelihood of Intel buying NVIDIA

Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2011 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, nvidia

In some sort of bizarre voyeuristic hardware love/hate triangle AMD, Intel and NVIDIA are all semi-intertwined and being observed by Microsoft. Speaking with The Inquirer the VP of product and platform marketing at AMD, Leslie Sobon, stated that there was no chance that Intel would attempt to purchase NVIDIA as AMD did with ATI.  AMD's purchase was less about the rights to the Radeon series as it was taking possession of the intellectual property that ATI owned after a decade of creating GPUs and lead directly to the APUs that AMD has recently released which will likely become their main product.  Intel already has a working architecture that combines GPU and CPU and doesn't need to purchase another company's IP in order to develop that type of product. 

There is another reason for purchasing NVIDIA though, which has very little to do with their discreet graphics card IP and everything to do with Tegra and Fermi which are two specialized products which so far Intel doesn't have an answer for.  A vastly improved and shrunken Atom might be able to push Tegra off of mobile platforms and perhaps specialized SandyBridge CPUs could accelerate computation like the Fermi products do but so far there are no solid leads, only speculation.

If you learn more from your failures than your successes then Intel knows a lot about graphics.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD believes that it is on a divergent path from Intel thanks to its accelerated processor unit (APU) and that Intel buying Nvidia "would never happen"."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

AMD announces new OpenCL programming tools

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: opencl, amd, AFDS

If you are a developer of applications which requires more performance than a CPU alone can provide then you are probably having a gleeful week. Today Microsoft announced their competitor to OpenCL and we have a large write-up about that aspect of their keynote address. If you are currently an OpenCL developer you are not left out, however, as AMD has announced new tools designed to make your life easier too.

OpenCL_Logo.png

General Purpose GPU utilities: Because BINK won't satisfy this crowd.

(Logo trademark Apple Inc.)

AMD’s spectrum of enhanced tools includes:

  • gDEBuger: An OpenCL and OpenGL debugger, profiler, and memory analyzer released as a plugin for Visual Studio.
  • Parallel Path Analyzer (PPA): A tool designed to profile data transfers and kernel execution across your system.
  • Global Memory for Accelerators (GMAC) API: Lets developers use multiple devices without needing to manage multiple data buffers in both the CPU and the GPU.
  • Task Manager API: A framework to manage scheduling kernels across devices. 

These tools and utilities should make the development of software easier and allow more developers to take the risk on the new technology. The GPU has already proven itself worthy of more and more important tasks and it is only a matter of time before it is finally ubiquitous enough that it is a default component as important as the CPU itself. As an ironic aside, that should spur the adoption of PC Gaming given how many people would have sufficient hardware.

Source: AMD

AFDS11: Upcoming Trinity APU will use VLIW4 / Cayman Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: vliw, trinity, llano, fusion, evergreen, cayman, amd, AFDS

Well that was an interesting twist...  During a talk on the next generation of GPU technology at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, one of the engineers was asked about Trinity, the next APU to be released in 2012 (and shown running today for the very first time).  It was offered that Trinity in fact used a VLIW4 architecture rather than the VLIW5 design found in the just released Llano A-series APU

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A shader unit from the VLIW4-based Cayman architecture

That means that Trinity APUs will ship with Cayman-based GPU technology (6900 series) rather than the Evergreen (5000 series).  While that doesn't tell us much in terms of performance simply because we have so many variables including shader counts and clocks, it does put to rest the rumor that Trinity was going to keep basically the same class of GPU technology that Llano had. 

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Trinity notebook shown for the first time today at AFDS.  Inside is an APU with Cayman-class graphics.

AMD is definitely pushing the capabilities of APUs forward and if they can stay on schedule with Trinity, Intel might find the GPU portion of its Ivy Bridge architecture well behind again.

Source: PCPer