Subject: Processors | May 15, 2012 - 02:28 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, APU, trinity
AMD today announced the widely anticipated launch of its 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) for mainstream and ultrathin notebooks, All-in-One and traditional desktops, home theater PCs and embedded designs.
The 2nd-Generation A-Series APU, codenamed “Trinity”, is a grounds-up improved design over the previous generation, enabling a best-in-class PC mobility, entertainment, and gaming experience. New features of the product design include:
- Double the performance per watt of the previous generation;
- The AMD HD Media Accelerator with a unique set of technologies designed to optimize video quality available with premium and Internet video content, and accelerate video file conversion;
- An increase in CPU performance of up to 29 percent with higher processor speeds thanks to the next-generation AMD “Piledriver” CPU core with 3rd-Generation AMD Turbo Core technology, where power is dynamically shifted between the CPU and GPU depending on application needs, effectively providing a more responsive experience that can boost CPU frequencies to up to 3.2 GHz;
- AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series graphics for an increase of graphics performance up to 56% over the previous generation. Combined, the CPU and GPU cores deliver more than 700 gigaflops of computing performance – several times more than the fastest x86 CPUs – to boost performance of hundreds of applications;
- Up to 12 hours of battery life through CPU and GPU power enhancements, with clear battery life leadership in notebook form factors.
“The latest OEM notebooks, ultrathins, All-in-Ones and desktops based on the new AMD A-Series APU enable the best video and gaming experiences, highly responsive performance with AMD Turbo CORE, and accelerate an ever-increasing range of productivity and multimedia applications -- in sleek, stylish designs at price points that make sense,” said Chris Cloran, corporate vice president and General Manager, AMD Client Business Unit. “Our 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU is a major step forward in every performance and power dimension, allowing users to enjoy a stunning experience without having to give up the things that matter to them most. This experience doesn’t stop at mainstream notebooks. It carries over into affordable ultrathin form factors featuring the latest in AMD Radeon graphics.”
The Growing AMD Accelerated Application Ecosystem
The developer ecosystem continues to gravitate to the unmatched level of compute and unique processing capabilities of the APU as more than 100 applications and games are now accelerated by AMD APUs. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU gives users superior Web-based video experience thanks to plug-ins for Google Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer 9 that make it easy for consumers to turn on AMD Steady Video technology. Recent applications that have been optimized for use on AMD A-Series APUs include Adobe Photoshop CS6, WinZip 16.5 and VLC Media Player. AMD A-Series APUs are also well-positioned to take advantage of the upcoming transition to the Windows 8 operating system.
“We are excited for the introduction of the 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU and are confident it will continue the great work Microsoft and AMD have done together on the A-Series APU,” said Aidan Marcuss, senior director, Windows Business Planning, Microsoft Corp. “We look forward to seeing the A-Series APU in action with Windows 8 to deliver a great user experience across a variety of hardware.”
For developers who want to engage in the industry’s move toward heterogeneous computing, the upcoming AMD Fusion12 Developer Summit will offer them a unique opportunity to enhance their knowledge base. More information on AFDS can be found here.
With more than 12 hours of ‘resting’ battery life, AMD is now an industry leader in notebook battery-life performance. The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU delivers increased levels of performance, while consuming half the power as its predecessor.
These gains can be attributed to the new power-optimized “Piledriver” CPU core, as well as to AMD Start Now technology, which is designed to maximize system responsiveness by quickly entering and exiting low power states. With AMD Start Now, the computer resumes from sleep mode in as few as two seconds and boots to the desktop in as few as 10 seconds.
In ultrathin form factors, AMD enables an uncompromised visual experience thanks to a power-efficient and premium AMD Radeon graphics engine. Consumers can expect to see ultrathin notebooks based on dual-core 17-watt and quad-core 25-watt AMD A-Series APUs. These products will be easily identifiable by aluminum-styled VISION Technology stickers at a range of competitive price points.
As more and more people turn to their computers as the hub for their entertainment, the visual aspect of computing becomes ever more important. To enhance these capabilities, AMD created the AMD HD Media Accelerator – a unique set of technologies that enable the best video quality on a PC. Key features of the HD Media Accelerator include:
- AMD Perfect Picture HD – An image, video processing and display technology that automatically makes images and video better with color vibrancy adjustments, edge enhancement, noise reduction and dynamic contrast fixes;
- AMD Steady Video Technology – A technology that enables smooth playback of jittery video content with a single button click thanks to plug-ins for popular Web browsers and multimedia applications;
- AMD Quick Stream Technology – A new technology that prioritizes video streaming on PC systems for a smooth, virtually uninterrupted video stream; True HD video chat with up to four people at once;
- AMD Video Converter – A video compression engine for fast conversion and sharing of media files across multiple formats and devices; Full decode support for H.264, MPEG-2, VC-1, MVC, DivX and WMV.
The 2nd-Generation AMD A-Series APU builds on AMD’s legacy of gaming leadership with an increase in graphics performance of up to 56% over the previous generation and support for:
AMD Eyefinity Technology – For the first time, this immersive technology is available from an APU without the need for a discrete graphics card Performance-leading DirectX 11 graphics architecture and 1080p gaming a life-like level of detail; AMD Radeon dual graphics support that delivers a performance boost of up to 75 percent when adding a discrete graphics card to the APU.11 The AMD Radeon dual graphics option also offers support for DirectX 9 for older game titles, and uses new AMD CrossFire Technology Profiles for easier updates.
AMD’s position is not enviable. Though they’re the only large competitor to Intel in the market for x86 processors, the company is dwarfed by the Giant of Santa Clara. As a resident of Portland, I can’t forget this fact. Intel offices are strewn across the landscape of the western suburbs, most of them at least four times larger than any office I’ve worked at.
Despite the long odds, AMD is set in this course for now and has no choice but to soldier on. And so we have today’s reference platform, a laptop powered by AMD’s latest mobile processor, codenamed Trinity. These processors, like the older Llano models, will be sold as the AMD A-Series. This might lead you to think that it’s simply another minor update, but that’s not the case.
Llano was released around the same time as Bulldozer, but it did not use Bulldozer cores. Instead it used yet another update of Stars, which is a mobile incarnation of Phenom II, which was of course an improvement upon the original Phenom. The “new” Llano APU in fact was equipped with some rather old processor cores. This showed in the performance of the mobile Llano products. They simply could not keep up with Sandy Bridge’s more modern cores.
Bulldozer isn’t coming to mobile with Trinity, either. Instead we’re receiving Piledriver. AMD has effectively skipped the first iteration of its new Bulldozer architecture and moved straight on to the second. Piledriver includes the third generation of AMD’s Turbo Core and promises “up to 29%” better processor performance than last year’s Llano-based A-Series.
That’s a significant improvement, should it turn out to be correct. Is it true, and will it be enough to catch up to Intel?
Subject: Processors | May 8, 2012 - 05:30 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ultrathins, trinity, piledriver, mobile, APU, amd
Last week we detailed the changes and improvements in AMD’s upcoming Trinity Accelerated Processing Units (APU). Today, DigiTimes has confirmed that Trinity will be released later this month. The only catch is that the company is only releasing the mobile Trinity chips in May. The higher end, and higher TDP, parts will not be released until August 2012.
A Trinity APU die next to a USB flash drive
According to their sources, AMD will be pricing the mobile Trinity chips very aggressively. They will offer a cheaper alternative to OEMs as AMD based ultrathins compared to an Ivy Bridge based ultabrook notebook. The low power Trinity chips will have vastly superior GPU execution units, though Ivy Bridge may retain the CPU performance crown. Both chips are able to sip voltage and have low TDPs so it will be interesting to see the results of battery life tests once the chips and notebooks are released and are in the hands of reviewers.
Trinity desktop parts are scheduled for release in August, including the A10-5800K, A10-5700, A8-5600K, and A8-5500. They are also planning lower end A6 and A4 series Trinity APUs.
Beyond Trinity, their sources have indicated that AMD will release very low power Brazos 2.0 processors for ultrathins and Windows 8 tablets that have 18W TDPs in June 2012. Vishera–Piledriver architecture, AM3+ socket–FX series desktop CPUs (no iGPU) will be released sometime in the third quarter of this year (Q3 2012). The FX and Brazos processors include the FX-8350, FX-6300, FX-4320, and the E2-1800 and E1-1200 respectively.
While AMD may not have the lowest manufacturing process, are seemingly dropping employees like flies, and had a huge financial loss due to buying themselves out of GlobalFoundries they are still hanging in there and delivering competitive products for the low to mid-range markets.
Subject: Processors | May 4, 2012 - 02:11 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: trinity, piledriver, llnao, fm2, APU, AMD A series
EXP Review has managed to get their hands on a set of AMD slides containing information on one of the company’s upcoming processor lines. The Llano successor, known as Trinity, is a new APU due out later this year that is said to bring increases in performance thanks to several architectural enhancements.
A Trinity APU die sitting next to a USB flash drive
Llano is AMD’s currently available Accelerated Processing Unit, or APU. The chips combine updated “Stars” mobile Phenom II CPU cores and Radeon 6000 series graphics cores into a single package. Further, the APUs contain a PCI-E 2.0 controller, integrated memory controller, and UVD3 hardware video decoding units. Some models also support AMD’s Turbo Core and Hybrid Graphics Technology which allow them to automatically boost CPU clockspeeds when lower GPU usage leaves TDP headroom, and to pair with a discrete Radeon HD 6450, 6570, or 6670 GPU in a Crossfire-like configuration. Built on a 32nm silicon on insulator (SOI) manufacturing process by GlobalFoundries, the APUs employ 1.45 billion transistors and have a die size of 228mm2 for the desktop versions. Desktop parts have TDPs of 65 watts or 100 watts depending on the particular chip and connect to the motherboards using the FM1 socket (which was a new socket for AMD, it has 905 contacts). There are both desktop and mobile Llano parts, though they are essentially the same chips. The mobile parts are scaled down desktop Llano chips that run at lower clockspeeds, top out DDR3 support at 1600MHz (versus DDR3 1866MHz on the desktop parts), have lower TDPs of either 35W or 45W, and use a slightly different socket (FS1).
In our review, and what many other users noted, is that Llano’s CPU performance really left something to be desired. Fortunately for AMD, the GPU portion of the chip delivered on performance and made the APU desirable for certain niches. The low power chips had a place in home theater PCs (HTPCs), cheap desktops, and even budget gaming rigs to an extent. Still, the CPU performance really held Llano back in terms of popularity and adoption among enthusiasts.
Llano APU in action during overclocking and gaming tests.
The upcoming Trinity processors bring quite a few enhancements to the table, foremost of which is a revamped CPU part that ditches the old Phenom II processor cores in favor of updated Piledriver architecture CPU modules. The move to the Piledriver x86 cores promises an increase in IPC, leakage reduction, CAC reduction, and increased clockspeeds according to the leaked slides, but the most important change is the increased performance per clock numbers. The Trinity APUs are set to replace the A8–or performance series of–Llano APUs with quad core Trinity processors that utilize two Piledriver modules that each share 2MB cache for 4MB of total L2 cache. In that respect, Trinity will be similar to Llano in that it does not employ any L3 cache that is shared between the CPU and GPU cores. Interestingly, that may mean that using higher clocked RAM can improve performance on Trinity just as it did with Llano. If true, that would make Trinity’s improved DDR3 support–up to DDR3 2133MHz– all the better. On the GPU side of things, Trinity moves to a “Northern Islands” VLIW4 architecture with up to 384 stream processing units. Although the GPU area is physically smaller, it is said to be more efficient than the GPU cores in Llano APUs. The new GPU core is DirectX 11 and OpenCL 1.1 compliant. Also, it includes an updated hardware tessellator engine and hardware encoding unit (AMD Accelerated Video Converter).
Trinity will continue to offer 65W and 100W TDPs as well as a 35W part. The TDPs are the same as those in Llano, but AMD has managed to lower the voltages needed to run Trinity out of the box. Also, AMD is claiming the new Trinity chips will sip power at idle–as low as 1.08 watts.
Trinity also ratchets up the automatic overclocking with Turbo Core 3 support which can boost the CPU clockspeed up to 19% or the GPU clockspeed up to 20% above stock clocks. Even better, the APU is able to allocate power to either the GPU or CPU depending on which area needs the boost and how much TDP headroom the chip has when doing certain tasks. For example, AMD shows that the A10-4600M APU can downclock the GPU from the default clockspeed of 685MHz to 496MHz, allowing the x86 Piledriver cores to achieve up to a 900MHz overclock at a clockspeed of 3.2GHz. Alternatively, when the GPU is needed, it can run at 685MHz while the CPU sits at 2.3GHz. They are likely not able to push the GPU much further as any more reductions in CPU speeds would need to be much bigger than any accompanying GPU increases. And at that point, the GPU would likely become bottlenecked and the system would be starved of too much CPU power anyway.
The Trinity APUs continue to be based on GlobalFoundries’ 32nm SOI manufacturing process, but this time the chips are slightly larger with a die size of 246mm^2. Although the APU is wholly larger than Llano, they actually have fewer transistors at 1.303 billion versus the 1.45 billion in Llano. Although that may seem like a step in the wrong direction, the new CPU modules and GPU cores are much more efficient than those in Llano so it should all balance out and Trinity should come out on top despite the lower transistor count. The Trinity APUs will also feature an improved instruction set that includes AVX, AVX1.1, FMA3, AES, and F16C which should help the CPU in certain tasks.
Overall, Trinity is looking like an improved part versus Llano, especially in the CPU department. Although AMD’s numbers should be taken with more than a grain of salt, they are claiming 26% better desktop system performance as a result of the CPU overhaul. Granted, Bulldozer was not a CPU powerhouse itself when compared to the competition, but it is–at least on paper–a good design. When paired with a relatively good GPU, as is the case of Trinity, the Piledriver [architecture based] (a refined version of the Bulldozer architecture with some under-the-hood tweaks) cores should at the least not hold the GPU back, and at best make the CPU processor performance good enough to make the Trinity APU all the more desirable to an even wider range of potential buyers. Pricing of the new APUs is still up in the air, but they are set to release later this month if a certain leak is to be believed.
I think that we can expect to see an all around better chip with Trinity, though pricing will be the ultimate factor in determining how popular it is. I suspect that Intel will still carry the CPU crown, but if the price is right, AMD can sell a lot of Trinity chips to builders that only need decent CPUs to support good integrated GPU cores in systems where the GPU is more important. I am anxiously awaiting reviews of the new Trinity chips and hoping that AMD continues to have successful chips with their line of APUs.
Introduction, Low-Power Computing Was Never Enjoyable
It was nearly five years ago that ASUS announced the first Eee PC model at Computex. That October the first production version of what would to be called a netbook, the ASUS Eee PC 4G, was released. The press latched on to the little Eee PC, making it the new darling of the computer industry. It was small, it was inexpensive, and it was unlike anything on the market.
Even so, the original Eee PC was a bit of a dead end. It used an Intel Celeron processor that was not suited for the application. It consumed too much power and took up a significant portion of the netbook’s production cost. If Intel’s Celeron had remained the only option for netbooks they probably would not have made the leap from press darling to mainstream consumer device.
It turned out that Intel (perhaps unintentionally) had the solution – Atom. Originally built with hopes that it might power “mobile Internet devices” it proved to be the netbook’s savior. It allowed vendors to squeeze out cheap netbooks with Windows and a proper hard drive.
At the time, Atom and the netbook seemed promising. Sales were great – consumers loved the cute, pint-sized, affordable computers. In 2009 netbook sales jumped by over 160% quarter-over-quarter while laptops staggered along with single-digit growth. The buzz quickly jumped to other products, spawning nettops, media centers and low-power all-in-one-PCs. There seemed to be nothing an Atom powered computer could not do.
Fast forward. Earlier this year, PC World ran an article asking if netbooks are dead. U.S. sales peaked in the first quarter of 2010 and have been nose-diving since then, and while some interest remains in the other markets, only central Europe and Latin America have held steady. It appears the star that burned brightest has indeed burned the quickest.
Get Out the Microscope
AMD announced their Q1 2012 earnings last week, which turned out better than the previous numbers suggested. The bad news is that they posted a net loss of $590 million. That does sound pretty bad considering that their gross revenue was $1.59 billion, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. Of course, there are thoughts of “those spendthrift executives are burying AMD again”, but this is not the case. The loss lays squarely on the GLOBALFOUNDRIES equity and wafer agreements that have totally been retooled.
To get a good idea of where AMD stands in Q1, and for the rest of this year, we need to see how all these numbers actually get sorted out. Gross revenue is down 6% from the quarter before, which is expected due to seasonal pressures. This is right in line with Intel’s seasonal downturn, and in ways AMD was affected slightly less than their larger competitor. They are down around 2% from last year’s quarter, and part of that can be attributed to the continuing hard drive shortage that continued to affect the previous quarter.
Podcast #188 - Featuring David Hewlett - White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 04:08 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wireless, whitespace, ssd, podcast, nvidia, mdt, intel 520, Intel, gpu, APU, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #188 - 02/09/2012
Join us this week as we talk about White Space Wireless, AMD and NVIDIA GPU roadmaps, Hard Drives with lasers and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano, and David Hewlett
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- 0:01:30 Introduction with David
- Okay, seriously, how nerdy are you really?
- What kind of hardware systems and specs do you have?
- What games are you playing today?
- 0:13:25 AMD Processor and GPU Roadmaps Through 2013
- 0:28:30 Galaxy MDT GeForce GT 520 Graphics Card Review
- 0:32:00 Intel 520 Series SSD Full Review - SandForce on Steroids?
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- 0:45:05 White Space Wireless Discussion
- 0:56:00 Increased Hard Drive Write Speed and Density - Using Frickin' Lasers
- 1:02:00 An academic collaboration leads to a GPU/CPU collaboration
- 1:07:25 AMD shows 18mm thin reference ultrathin notebook based on Trinity
- 1:11:05 Tablets / Ultrabooks in Schools
- 1:16:45 NVIDIA Kepler Graphics Cards Lineup Leak To Web
- 1:22:30 PC Perspective Office Tour - Feb 6th, 2012
- 1:26:40 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
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Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2012 - 12:13 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpgpu, l3 cache, APU
Over at North Carolina State University, students Yi Yang, Ping Xiang and Dr. Huiyang Zhou, along with Mike Mantor of Advanced Micro Devices have been working on a way to improve how efficiently the GPU and CPU work together. Our current generations of APU/GPGPUs, Llano and Sandy Bridge, have united the two processing units on a single substrate but as of yet they cannot efficiently pass operations back and forth. This project works to leverage the L3 cache of the CPU to give a high speed bridge between the two processors, allowing the CPU to pass highly parallel tasks to the GPU for more efficient processing and letting the CPU deal with the complex operations it was designed for.
Along with that bridge comes a change in the way the L2 prefetch is utilized; increasing memory access at that level frees up more for the L3 to pass data between CPU and GPU thanks to a specially designed preexecution unit triggered by the GPU and running on the CPU which will enable synchronized memory fetch instructions. The result has been impressive, in their tests they saw an average improvement of 21.4% in performance.
"Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a new technique that allows graphics processing units (GPUs) and central processing units (CPUs) on a single chip to collaborate – boosting processor performance by an average of more than 20 percent.
"Chip manufacturers are now creating processors that have a 'fused architecture,' meaning that they include CPUs and GPUs on a single chip,” says Dr. Huiyang Zhou, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who co-authored a paper on the research. "This approach decreases manufacturing costs and makes computers more energy efficient. However, the CPU cores and GPU cores still work almost exclusively on separate functions. They rarely collaborate to execute any given program, so they aren’t as efficient as they could be. That's the issue we’re trying to resolve."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Laser boffins blast bits onto hard drive at 200Gb/sec @ The Register
- Intel admits Haswell uses transactional memory @ SemiAccurate
- Nvidia and Rambus bury the hatchet on patents @ The Inquirer
- Don't panic? Windows 8 and the "ribbonification" of Explorer @ Ars Technica
- DIY Solid State Tesla Coil @ Hack a Day
- Brice from Arctic reveals all in exclusive @ Kitguru
- Instructables Giving Away $50,000 3D Printer @ MAKE:Blog
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors | February 2, 2012 - 12:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: reports, gpu, fad, cpu, APU, analyst, amd
Consider this fair warning: tomorrow here at PC Perspective you will learn the future of AMD. Sound over dramatic? We don't think so. After a pretty interesting year in 2011 for the company and AMD has said on several occasions that this year's Financial Analyst Day was going to reveal a lot about what the future holds for them on the GPU, CPU and APU front.
Hopefully we will learn what AMD plans to do after the cancelation of the second-generation of ultra lower power APUs, how important discrete graphics will be going forward and what life there is for the processor architecture after Bulldozer.
We will be in Sunnyvale at the AMD campus covering the event and we will be holding a live blog at the same time...right here. The event starts at 9am PST on February 2nd, aso be sure you set your calendars and bookmark this page for all the news!!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | January 10, 2012 - 08:43 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nano-itx, heatsink, e-350, cooling, cooler master, CES, APU
At CES today we saw what at first resembles a Cooler Master V6 CPU heastink and fan combo. The processor cooler features a red 120mm fan housed in a black shroud which is then attached to the heatsink itself. The heatsink is a tower design with six copper heatpipes attached to a copper CPU block. The heatpipes then lead into a tower of aluminum fins to dissipate heat.
On the back of the unit; however, there's a little something extra in the form of a nano-itx motherboard and AMD E-350 APU based on the Brazos platform. The computer is self contained and provides a number of connectivity options. For more information on the Brazos platform and E-350 APU, see our preview and review articles. A quick run down of the E-350 specifications; however, is below.
- Two Bobcat CPU cores at 1.6 GHz
- A Radeon HD 6310 GPU with 80 processing cores running at 500 MHz
- A TDP of 18 watts
- DirectX 11 Graphics and DDR3 Memory Support
The bottom of the rear of the CPU cooler is the location of the nano-ITX motherboard's rear IO panel. The motherboard features Wi-Fi, HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit Ethernet, VGA(?), and e-SATA(?) connections.
A side view of the Cooler Master heatsink is available below.
It's certainly a new idea, and it will definitely hit home for people that don't need or want to run their power hungry main desktop all the time. Because the system is self contained it does present some usability issues. Mainly that you will need to have a KVM or VNC connection to control it and the inside of the computer case is going to become a lot more crowded with cables. Further, it would be a pain to have to open up the main desktop system just to plug in a flash drive or cable. On the other hand, it'd make for a nice media or file server and would not require the desktop be on 24/7 without needing yet another box crowding my desk so I'd give it a shot. (The inside of my computer case is already a mess of wires so what do I have to lose?)
What are your thoughts on this somewhat strange CPU cooler?
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!