Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

A selection of parts

AMD is without a doubt going through some very tough times with massive personnel issues as well as some problems with products and profitability.  But that doesn’t mean the current product line from AMD is without merit and that you can’t build a great system for various environments, including those users looking for a mainstream and small form factor gaming and home theater PC. 

While preparing for Quakecon 2012 we needed to build a system to take on the road for some minor editing and presentation control purposes.  We wanted the PC to be small and compact, yet still powerful enough to take on some basic computing and gaming tasks.  I happen to have some AMD Llano APUs in the office and thought they would fit perfectly.

If you are on the hunt for a small PC that can do some modest gaming and serve as an HTPC, then you might find our build here interesting.  And while it isn't nearly as exciting as building a Llano PC while blindfolded - it's pretty close.

Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08B

case.jpg

Continue reading our AMD Llano APU Build article!!

AMD Blames Lackluster Earnings on Weak Economy

Subject: Processors | July 20, 2012 - 11:21 AM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, loss, APU, amd

AMD recently released its Q2 2012 earnings (as did Intel), and things are continuing to look bleak for the number two x86-64 processor company. The company stated that the lower than expected numbers were the result of a weak economy and during a time of the year when people are not buying computers. The may be some truth to that as the second quarter is in the post-Christmas holiday season lul and before the big back-to-school retail push. On the economy front, it’s harder for me to say but without going political or armchair economist on you, the market seems better than it has been but is really still recovering–At least from a consumer perspective.

AMD reported revenue of $1.41 billion in the second quarter of 2012, which does not seem terrible, but when compared to Intel’s $13.5 billion Q2 revenue, and the fact that AMD’s numbers represent an 11-percent lower value than last quarter and 10-percent decrease versus Q2 2011, it’s easy to say that things are not looking good for the company.

According to Paul Lilly over at MaximumPC, when breaking AMD’s numbers down by business segment it gets even worse. Its Computing Solutions business fell 13-percent versus the previous quarter and Q2 2011. On the other hand, the company has the ever-so-slightly better news that the graphics card division stayed the same versus last year and was down 5-percent versus last quarter. The company was quoted as stating that the respective revenue drops were due to lower desktop sales in China and Europe and a “seasonally down quarter.”

PC Perspective’s Josh Walrath recently wrote up an editorial (note: pre-earnings call) that talks about AMDs new plan to focus on APUs, take on less risk, and push out new products faster. As a future-looking article, it talks about the impact of the company’s upcoming VIshera and Kaveri processors as well as AMD’s increased focus on heterogeneous system architectures. It remains to be seen if that new path for company will help them to make money or if it will hurt them. AMD cautions that Q3 2012 may not see increased revenue, but here’s hoping that they will be able to pull together for a strong Q4 and sell chips during the big holiday shopping season.

I for one am excited about the prospects of Kaveri and believe that HSA could work and is what AMD needs to focus on as it is one advantage that they have over NVIDIA and Intel – NVIDIA does not have an x86-64 license and Intel’s processor graphics leave room for improvement, to put it mildly. AMD may not have the best CPU cores, but it’s not an inherently bad design and where they are moving with the full convergence of the CPU and GPU is much farther ahead of the other big players.

Read more about AMD's Q2 2012 earnings (transcript).

Source: Maximum PC

AMD Social Media Reviewers Wanted - 2000 AMD APUs Available Free!

Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 12, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: amd, llano, APU, comiccon

If you are in the San Diego area today or tomorrow, you should make it a point to stop by Belo San Diego (http://www.belosandiego.com/ 438 E Street), a night club near the convention area, to visit with the AMD and the Geek and Sundry group.

day.jpg

Felicia Day, most popular for her role in the web-series The Guild, will be part of the on going event between 10am and 2am both today (the 12th) and tomorrow sponsored by AMD.  She is excited to be there - just look!

If you stop by the Belo nightclub during those hours you can take home a FREE AMD A8-3870K APU (with accompanying motherboard) if you agree to use your social media outlets (Twitter and Facebook) to tell your friends about the experience.  You will in fact become an AMD Social Media Reviewer!

Sorry, if you aren't in the San Diego area, you are out of luck on this promotion.  This is just another reason why attending ComicCon is so enticing!

Source: AMD

Podcast #208 - AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHZ Edition, Intel Core i5-3470, our Blindfolded APU build and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, thunderbolt, ssd, podcast, nvidia, i5-3470, hd7970, blindfolded, APU, 7970 ghz edition

PC Perspective Podcast #208 - 06/28/2012

Join us this week as we talk about the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHZ Edition, Intel Core i5-3470, our Blindfolded APU build 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!

Program length: 1:05:24

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. 0:01:42 AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
  6. 0:09:10 Live Review Recap: AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition
  7. 0:10:30 Silverstone Crown Series CW02 case review
  8. 0:13:50 Intel Core i5-3470 IVB Review
  9. 0:21:11 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
  10. 0:22:05 Live Video Recap: AMD Llano APU Blindfolded Build
  11. 0:25:50 ASUS ROG Matrix HD 7970 coming soon
  12. 0:30:00 Sandia Cooler Prototype
  13. 0:39:50 Dell Ubuntu Notebooks
  14. 0:43:40 Can a 12-core ARM cluster hit critical mass?
  15. 0:48:20 Google announces Nexus 7 tablet powered by Tegra 3
  16. 0:55:55 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Thunderbolt on Windows Article coming tomorrow!!
    2. Jeremy: Core i7 3770K is a compute per watt monster
    3. Josh: Good PS for general use and excellent price
    4. Allyn: OCZ Vertex 4 FW 1.4.1.3
  17. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  18. http://pcper.com/podcast
  19. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  20. Closing

Live Video Recap: AMD Llano Blindfolded PC Build

Subject: General Tech, Systems | June 23, 2012 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: video, llano, blindfolded, APU, amd

Well, we did it!  Today I successfully built an AMD A-series APU based computer while blindfolded LIVE.  At the start of the event I went over the various components used for the build including the AMD A8-3800 APU, MSI A75 motherboard, Corsair 550D case and 650 watt power supply and more.  After showing it all, I wrapped a scarf around my head and went to work.  

There were quite a few more hurdles than I expected including spreading the thermal paste correctly, screwing the motherboard into the case and finding the pins for the front panel power button.  I was surprised at how easily I was able to install the APU, memory and heatsink, but that likely comes with years of practice and experience with the hardware.  

In all, it took me 1 hour and 18 minutes to get to a Windows screen using a pre-installed OS on a Western Digital 1TB hard drive.  That was MUCH longer than I had originally thought it would take, so I have been humbled by those DIY PC users that build their own on without sight a regular basis!  

If you missed the live event we hosted at http://pcper.com/live you can find the replay hosted right here below.  Enjoy watching me completely make a fool of myself!

Update: The winner of the blindfolded system was selected, congrats goes to Darren who gets the task of rebuilding this rig!  :D

Live Blog: AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 (AFDS)

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2012 - 11:46 AM |
Tagged: live blog, arm, APU, amd, AFDS

afdslogo.png

Day 3 - Thursday, June 14th

We are here at AFDS 2012 for the day 3 keynotes - join us as find out what else AMD has in store.  

If you are looking for Tuesday or Wednesday keynotes and information on the announcement of the HSA Foundation, you can find it below, after the break!

AMD Licenses ARM Technology: AMD Leans on ARM for Security

Subject: Processors | June 13, 2012 - 10:00 AM |
Tagged: TrustZone, hsa, Cortex-A5, cortex, arm, APU, amd, AFDS

Last year after that particular AFDS, there was much speculation that AMD and ARM would get a whole lot closer.  Today we have confirmed that in two ways.  The first is that AMD and ARM are founding members of the HSA Foundation.  This endeavor is a rather ambitious project that looks to make it much easier for programmers to access the full computer power of a CPU/GPU combo, or as AMD likes to call them, the APU.  The second confirmation is one that has been theorized for quite some time, but few people have actually hit upon the actual implementation.  This second confirmation is that AMD is licensing ARM cores and actually integrating them into their x86 based APUs.

HSAFoundation-FINAL-Desktop.png
 
AMD and ARM are serious about working with each other.  This is understandable as both of them are competing tooth and nail with Intel.
 
ARM has a security functionality that they have been working with for several years now.  This is called ARM TrustZone.  It is a set of hardware and software products that provide a greater amount of security in data transfer and transactions.  The hardware basis is built into the ARM licensed designs and is implemented in literally billions of devices (not all of them enabled).  The biggest needs that this technology addresses are that of secure transactions and password enabled logins.  Money is obviously quite important, but with identity theft and fraud on the rise, secure logins to personal information or even social sites are reaching the same level of importance as large monetary transactions.
 
AMD will actually be implementing a Cortex-A5 processor into AMD APUs that will handle the security aspects of ARM TrustZone.  The A5 is the smallest Cortex processor available, and that would make sense to use it in a full APU so it will not take up an extreme amount of die space.  When made on what I would assume to be a 28 nm process, a single A5 processor would likely take up as little as 10 to 15 mm squared of space on the die.
 
This is not exactly the licensing agreement that many analysts had expected from AMD.  It is a start though.  I would generally expect AMD to be more aggressive in the future with offerings based on ARM technologies.  If we remember some time ago Rory Read of AMD pronounced their GPU technology as “the crown jewel” of their IP lineup, it makes little sense for AMD to limit this technology just to standalone GPUs and x86 based APUs.  If AMD is serious about heterogeneous computing, I would expect them to eventually move into perhaps not the handheld ARM market initially, but certainly with more server level products based on 64 bit ARM technology.
 
cor_a5.jpg
 
Cortex-A5: coming to an AMD APU near you in 2013/2014.  Though probably not in quad core fashion as shown above.
 
AMD made a mistake once by selling off their ultra-mobile graphics group, Imageon.  This was sold off to Qualcomm, who is now a major player in the ARM ecosystem with their Snapdragon products based on Adreno graphics (“Adreno” is an anagram of “Radeon”).  With the release of low powered processors in both the Brazos and Trinity line, AMD is again poised to deliver next generation graphics to the low power market.  Now the question is, what will that graphics unit be attached to?
 
 
Source: AMD

AFDS 2012: AMD "Kaveri" APU to offer 1 TFLOPS Compute Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd, AFDS

During the opening keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012, AMD's Dr. Lisa Su revealed a slide with performance of the upcoming 3rd genreation Kaveri APU.

04.jpg

While Trinity is currently rated at 726 GFLOPS, the Kaveri APU due late in 2012 or early 2013, will have at least 1 TFLOPS of total compute performance.  That is a 37% boost over the previous generation. 

If you want more information, check out our keynote live blog!!

Video Perspective: AMD A10-4600M vs Core i7-3720QM on Diablo III

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m

So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.  That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III.  Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.

d3-1.png

In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU.  Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel. 

d3-2.png

The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do.  With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec.  The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase. 

d3-3.png

We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results.  We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below.  Enjoy!

This A-10 can't kill tanks but it does beat a Bulldozer

Subject: Processors | May 16, 2012 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: trinity, radeon, igp, gpu, APU, amd. A10-4600M

AMD's A10-4600M APU has finally arrived, showing off an enhanced Piledriver core and a new Northern Islands based graphics core.  This is a big step up from Llano in terms of general processing power but not a huge improvement over Bulldozer chips, though the raised clock speed does help it in general tasks.  Unfortunately the AMD still chip lags far behind the performance of Intel's mobile i5 processors and while the graphics are certainly more powerful on Trinity they still aren't up to an impressive level of performance.  The Tech Report liked the high end A10-4600M but think that Trinity's low power chips are really going to shine in inexpensive ultraportable machines.

You can also check out Matt's review of Llano in a reference laptop from AMD for more information.

a-10-warthog-bobby-kro.jpg

"AMD has pulled the curtains back on Trinity, its next-generation APU, which features new Piledriver CPU cores and Northern Islands-derived integrated graphics. Join us as we outline Trinity's architecture and run it through a whole host of benchmarks, from old staples to OpenCL-accelerated apps and "inside the second" gaming tests."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors