Southern Island is ahead of the pack, but it is set to low power for now

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, nvidia, gpu, amd, 28nm

Thanks to some information garnered by SemiAccurate we have a very good idea of AMD's release plans for their new GPU family, what we have been referring to as Southern Islands.  The confusion that we felt from AMD's announcement that Southern Island parts would be ready sooner than expected arose from the reported difficulties that TSMC was having with their 28nm HKMG process.  Thankfully someone had a chance to take apart some 28nm TSMC field programmable arrays and inside found a HKMG design modified for lower power states than the original specs.  That doesn't mean cellphone level graphics performance but certainly means that the first GPUs we see from Southern Islands will not be the high end cards.  AMD did the same thing with previous generations of GPUs, so the release schedule is becoming a habit, even if not what would be preferred.

There are other side effects to this choice by AMD and TSMC which are probably going to hurt NVIDIA, who are hoping to get full power Kepler based GPUs out at the beginning of next year.  Since NVIDIA tends towards more aggressive clocks, the experience that TSMC has with what is called the HPL 28nm process will not necessarily help NVIDIA's HKMG 28nm process.  SemiAccurate has more.

chipworks_151433-c_branded.jpg

"The final piece of the TSMC 28nm HKMG process puzzle was put in place at SemiCon last week, it now makes sense. Chipworks got ahold of a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, and it revealed a few secrets on the operating table.

If you recall, AMD is on track to put out Southern Islands chips much earlier than most people, SemiAccurate included, expected, possibly even this quarter. The real question is what process they are going to make it on, the TSMC 40nm SiON or 28nm HKMG? 40nm would be big, hot, and limited, think volcanic island more than Southern, while the 28nm SHP HKMG process wasn’t supposed to be ready until late Q1, best case. The short story is that Southern Islands is very likely not on either one."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Intel and AMD be warned; ARM could grab up to 20% of the laptop market in the next 4 years

Subject: General Tech | July 19, 2011 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, arm, mali, low power

Those who ignored Microsoft's announcement that Windows 8 will support ARM processors will perhaps take note of Isuppli's claim that ARM could grab 1 in 5 of the laptops sold by 2015.  The extremely low powers System on a Chip design that they have been selling were at the opposite end of the market from AMD and Intel's X86 chips, but with the rise of the APU the market has undergone a fundamental change.  While the X86 makers are trying to lower the power requirements of their APUs, ARM is busy trying to ramp up the power of their chips.  There are already several vendors establishing a relationship with ARM, up to and including Apple

ARM's Cortex A9 and Mali are impressive, but ARM is already talking about console level graphics quality from their next generation of chips which we will see in roughly 18 months.  This improvement will also encompass their next generation of power efficency research, which should keep power consumption and heat well below what Intel and AMD will be trying to reach.  As well, it might provide an interesting opportunity for NVIDIA as the lack of a license to integrate chips with the new X86 based architecture will not stop them from developing graphics enhancements for ARM based laptops.  Drop by The Inquirer for more on this topic

ARM_Mali-T604 Architecture_675.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNER ARM could power over 20 per cent of all laptops shipped in 2015, according to analyst outfit IHS Isuppli.

IHS Isuppli has forecast that the domination of X86 chips in the laptop market will start to diminish as Microsoft releases its Windows 8 operating system. Windows 8 will be the first desktop operating system from Microsoft that will support the ARM architecture that is found in just about every smartphone in existence."

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Source: The Inquirer

Overclockers Achieve Impressive Llano Overclocking Results, Come Close to 5GHz

Subject: Processors | July 18, 2011 - 11:15 PM |
Tagged: superpi, overclocking, LN2, llano, APU, amd, a8-3850

In a feat of overclocking prowess, the crew over at Akiba have managed to push the AMD Llano A8-3850 to its limits to achieve a Super PI 32M score of 14 minutes and 17.5 seconds at an impressive 4.75GHz. Using a retail A8-3850 APU, a Gigabyte GA-A75-UD4H motherboard, and a spine chilling amount of Liquid Nitrogen, the Japanese overclocking team came very close to breaking the 5GHz barrier.

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Just how close did they come? 4.906.1GHz with a base clock of 169.2MHz to be exact, which is mighty impressive. Unfortunately, the APU had to undergo some sever electroshock therapy at 1.792 Volts! Further, the 4.9GHz clock speed was not stable enough for a valid Super PI 32M result; therefore, the necessity to run the benchmark at 4.75GHz.

The extreme cooling ended up causing issues with the motherboard once the team tried to switch out the A8-3850 for the A6-3650; therefore, they swapped in an Asus F1A75-V PRO motherboard. With the A6-3650, they achieved an overclock of 4.186GHz with a base clock of 161MHz and a voltage of 1.428V. The overclockers stated that they regretted having to swap out the Asus board as they believed the Gigabyte board would have allowed them to overclock the A6-3650 APU higher due to that particular motherboard’s ability to adjust voltage higher.

vsoc2.jpg

Although they did not break the 5GHz barrier, they were still able to achieve an impressive 69% overclock on the A8-3850 and a 61% overclock on the A6-3650 APU. For comparison, here are PC Perspective’s not-APU-frying overclocking results. At a default clock speed of 2.9 and 2.6 respectively, the A8-3850 and A6-3650 seem to have a good deal of headroom when it comes to bumping up the CPU performance. If you have a good aftermarket cooler, Llano starts to make a bit more sense as 3.2GHz on air and 3.6GHz on water are within reach.  How do you feel about Llano?

Source: Akiba

PDXLAN Gears up with sponsors and gamers

Subject: Editorial, Shows and Expos | July 16, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: sli, sapphire, pdxlan, pdx, nvidia, msi, amd

If you are a PC gaming and live near or around the Portland, OR area you are familiar with the concept of PDXLAN - one of the most popular (but still cool and underground) LAN events in the country.  The primary event is going on this weekend and I am here to both game and take a look at what the sponsors are showing off. 

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MSI has a lot of stuff going on including a look at the latest version of the Afterburner overclocking tool, the 3GB version of the GTX 580 Lightning (that Josh is currently working on a review of) and even a NVIDIA Surround based Dirt 3 sim seat.

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Gaming laptops are still taking off here in the US and MSI has a couple on display including a HUGE 18-in mode (on the right) with a keyboard that lights up with various colors of LEDs, configurable.  

pdx03.jpg

The Sapphire guys are here as well and are showing off much of what AMD for gamers including Eyefinity configurations like the very popular 5x1 portrait mode.  This is something that only AMD offers currently and in this demo we were looking at Dragon Age II.  It was definitely grabbing some attention!

pdx04.jpg

Showing that AMD's HD3D technology does indeed have legs Sapphire was showing off the new Samsung SyncMaster SA950 that has a nice external design.  I am going to spend some more time with it today to see how it performs, so check back for more!

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If you are here, you can also find me getting butt kicked at various games.  This is the machine I'll be on, a Maingear built GTX 580 SLI right with an overclocked Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor and 30-in display.  I know, it sucks to be me, but someone has to sacrifice and play on it, right?

More from PDXLAN later today!

Source: PCPer

Podcast #162 - Adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 04:38 PM |
Tagged: podcast, bitcoin, mining, gpu, gpgpu, amd, nvidia, eyefinity, APU

PC Perspective Podcast #162 - 7/14/2011

This week we talk about our adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks 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 Malventano

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

Program length: 1:16:40

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 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. 0:02:10 Bitcoin Currency and GPU Mining Performance Comparison
  6. 0:22:48 Bitcoin Mining Update: Power Usage Costs Across the United States
  7. 0:34:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:34:50 Eyefinity and Me
  9. 0:45:00 Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance
  10. 0:47:02 As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic
  11. 0:49:40 A PC Macbook Air: Can Intel has?
  12. 0:53:00 PC: for all your Xbox gaming needs
  13. 0:56:06 Email from Howard
  14. 1:00:28 Email from Ian
  15. 1:03:00 Email from Jan
    1. In case you're interested, here are almost 150mpix of HDR: http://rattkin.info/archives/430
  16. 1:08:55 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  17. 1:09:45 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Dropped the ball
    2. Jeremy: I NEED FLEET COMMANDER
    3. Josh: Finally getting cheap enough for me to buy
    4. Allyn: http://gplus.to/
  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. 1:15:15 Closing
Source:

The Bulldozer has sprung another leak, get a peek at the upcoming FX series

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: zambezi, leak, fx series, bulldozer, amd

Turkish site Donanim Haber got the scoop on Bulldozer and the news is good.  Compared to the first silicon we saw, which had 32 cores running at 1.8GHz, with this new leak we see seven models all running at much more respectable speeds.  There are three 8 core FX CPUs of which the high end FX-8150 runs at 3.6GHz, 4.2GHz under boost.  One of the two six core FX Bulldozers runs at 3.3/3.9GHz, the second called FX-6120 remains mysterious and similarly we know the quad core FX-4100 runs at 3.6/3.8GHz with the FX-4120 still having undetermined clock speeds.  All are based on the 32nm Zambezi core and all will be unlocked Black Edition and support DDR3 up to 1866MHz.  The actual performance when compared to SandyB is up for debate, a good starting point is this article at Real World Tech, which gives you educated guesses based on the leaked benchmarks.  Part of the uncertainly lies in the new architecture and trying to interpret how 4 modules, each module with a single shared FPU/MMX/SIMD unit and two ALUs from an engineering sample.

Hopefully, we should only have to wait 2 or 3 more months to find out for sure.

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"According to recent information from AMD, two quad-core, two and three of the six-core, including the 8-core processor for 2011 Bulldozer-based model to the market poised to offer 7 different FX. AMD's most powerful processor will be the standard 8-core 3.6GHz FX-8150 processor at 2.0 technology will serve and Turbo Core 4.2GHz operating frequency of up to increase. AMD's 8-core processor, the second how quickly the standard 3.1GHz FX-8120 has been working in the technology and the Turbo Core 2.0 4GHz can go up automatically."

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Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

The Dirty Laggard

 

It may seem odd, but sometimes reviewers are some of the last folks to implement new technology.  This has been the case for myself many a time.  Yes, we get some of the latest and greatest components, but often we review them and then keep them on the shelf for comparative purposes, all the while our personal systems run last generation parts that we will not need to re-integrate into a test rig ever again.  Or in other cases, big money parts, like the one 30” 2560x1600 LCD that I own, are always being utilized on the testbed and never actually being used for things like browsing, gaming, or other personal activities.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “woe-is-me” rant about the hardships of being a reviewer, but rather just an interesting side effect not often attributed to folks who do this type of work.  Yes, we get the latest to play with and review, but we don’t often actually use these new parts in our everyday lives.

One of the technologies that I had only ever seen at trade shows is that of Eyefinity.  It was released back in the Fall of 2009, and really gained some momentum in 2010.  Initially it was incompatible with Crossfire technology, which limited it to a great degree.  A single HD 5970 card could push 3 x 1920x1080 monitors in most games, but usually only with details turned down and no AA enabled.  Once AMD worked a bit more on the drivers were we able to see Crossfire setups working in Eyefinity, which allowed users to play games at higher fidelity with the other little niceties enabled.  The release of the HD 6900 series of cards also proved to be a boon to Eyefinity, as these new chips had much better scaling in Crossfire performance, plus were also significantly faster than the earlier HD 5800 series at those price points.

eye_fin.jpg

Continue on to the rest of the story for more on my experiences with AMD Eyefinity.

Author:
Manufacturer: General

How much will these Bitcoin mining configurations cost you in power?

Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them.  At the time we were much more interested in the performance of these configurations but now that we have that information and we started to look at the potential profitability of doing something like this, look at the actual real-world cost of running a mining machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week became much more important. 

This led us to today's update where we will talk about the average cost of power, and thus the average cost of running our 16 different configurations, in 50 different locations across the United States.  We got our data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website where they provide average retail prices on electricity divided up by state and by region.  For use today, we downloaded the latest XLS file (which has slightly more updated information than the website as of this writing) and started going to work with some simple math. 

Here is how your state matches up:

kwh-1.jpg

kwh-2.jpg

The first graph shows the rates in alphabetical order by state, the second graph in order from the most expensive to the least.  First thing we noticed: if you live in Hawaii, I hope you REALLY love the weather.  And maybe it's time to look into that whole solar panel thing, huh?  Because Hawaii was SO FAR out beyond our other data points, we are going to be leaving it out of our calculations and instead are going to ask residents and those curious to just basically double one of our groupings.

Keep reading to get the full rundown on how power costs will affect your mining operations, and why it may not make sense to mine AT ALL with NVIDIA graphics cards! 

Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | July 13, 2011 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: llano, dual graphics, crossfire, APU, amd, a8-3850, 3850

Last week we posted a short video about the performance of AMD's Llano core A-series of APUs for gaming and the response was so positive that we have decided to continue on with some other short looks at features and technologies with the processor.  For this video we decided to investigate the advantages and performance of the Dual Graphics technology - the AMD APU's ability to combine the performance of a discrete GPU with the Radeon HD 6550D graphics integrated on the A8-3850 APU.

For this test we set our A8-3850 budget gaming rig to the default clock speeds and settings and used an AMD Radeon HD 6570 1GB as our discrete card of choice.  With a price hovering around $70, the HD 6570 would be a modest purchase for a user that wants to add some graphical performance to their low-cost system but doesn't stretch into the market of the enthusiast.

The test parameters were simple: we knew the GPU on the Radeon HD 6570 was a bit better than that of the A8-3850 APU so we compared performance of the discrete graphics card ALONE to the performance of the system when enabling CrossFire, aka Dual Graphics technology.  The results are pretty impressive:

You may notice that these percentages of scaling are higher than those we found in our first article about Llano on launch day.  The reasoning is that we used the Radeon HD 6670 there and found that while compatible by AMD's directives, the HD 6670 is overpowering the HD 6550D GPU on the APU and the performance delta it provides is smaller by comparison.  

So, just as we said with our APU overclocking video, while adding in a discrete card like the HD 6570 won't turn your PC into a $300 graphics card centered gaming machine it will definitely help performance by worthwhile amounts without anyone feeling like they are wasting the silicon on the A8-3850.  

Source: AMD

The lad doth protest too much, methinks ... AMD is probably not in that much trouble

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2011 - 12:08 PM |
Tagged: amd, finance

At The Inquirer you can read a counterpoint to a recent analysts comments on the failure of AMD in the current market.  It seems that APUs are not hot ... even though that is exactly what Intel's SandyBridge processors are whether they call them that or not.  The analyst is unimpressed with the performance of the CPU portion of Llano, which is understandable as most of us were underwhelmed with its performance.  He completely glosses over half of Llano, calling it "integrated graphics circuitry" and giving no recognition to the fact that it is the fastest iGPU ever seen and can even earn you Bitcoins.  As The Inquirer points out, the size graphics portion of the APU on AMD opens up quite a bit of utility that people just aren't programming for and while the CPU portion is clocked lower it performs true multithreaded apps much more efficeintly.

He then goes on to denegrate AMD's chances in the server room, citing Intel's Xeon refresh.  What is strange is that Intel's move to 22nm in 2012 is somehow much more of a safe bet that AMD's first generation of Bulldozer for the server room.  Both are new architectures and while Intel is generally a safe bet, AMD and GF are also a team to bet on.  He also misses mention of AMD's Terramar and Sepang, which will compete directly with the Xeon E7 lineup and apparently has no idea about ARM's plans whatsoever.

Can't argue his point about the lack of a CEO though.

AMD_Stock.jpg

AMD's Quarter 2 2011

"A CHIP ANALYST at JMP Securities has downgraded AMD, alleging that the company's APU and server offerings aren't in sync with the needs of its retail partners and are falling behind the competition, both of which, if true, are damaging for AMD's prospects."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer