Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 01:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: texas instruments, mediatek, imagination, hsa foundation, hsa, arm, amd, AFDS
Today is a big day for AMD as they, along with four other major players in the world of processors and SoCs, announced the formation of the HSA Foundation. The HSA Foundation is a non-profit consortium created to define and promote an open approach to heterogeneous computing. The primary goal is to make it easier for software developers to write and program for the parallel power of GPUs. This encompasses both integrated and discrete of which the HSA (heterogeneous systems architecture) Foundation wants to enable users to take full advantage of all the processing resources available to them.
On stage at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, WA, AMD announced the formation of the consortium in partnership with ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments; some of the biggest names in computing.
The companies will work together to drive a single architecture specification and simplify the programming model to help software developers take greater advantage of the capabilities found in modern central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs), and unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in heterogeneous processors.
There are a lot of implications in this simple statement and there are many questions that are left open ended to which we hope to get answered this week while at AFDS. The idea of a "single architecture specification" set a lot of things in motion and makes us question the direction of both AMD and the traditionally ARM-based companies of the HSA Foundation will be moving in. AMD has had the APU, and the eventual complete fusion of the CPU and GPU, on its roadmap for quite a few years and has publicly stated that in 2014 they will have their first fully HSA-capable part. We are still assuming that this is an x86 + Radeon based part, but that may or may not be the long term goal; ideas of ARM-based AMD processors with Radeon graphics technology AND of Radeon based ARM-processors built by other companies still swirl amongst the show. There are even rumors of Frankenstein-like combinations of x86 and ARM based products for niche applications.
Looks like there is room for a few more founding partners...
Obviously ARM and others have their own graphics IP (ARM has Mali, Imagination Technology has Power VR) and those GPUs can be used for parallel processing in much the same way that we think of GPU processing on discrete GPUs and APUs today. ARM processor designers are well aware of the power and efficiency benefits of utilizing all of the available transistors and processing power correctly and the emphasis on an HSA-style system design makes a lot of sense moving forward.
My main question for the HSA Foundation is its goals: obviously they want to promote the simplistic approach for programmers, but what does that actually translate to on the hardware side? It is possible that both x86 and ARM-based ISAs can continue to exist with libraries and compilers built to correctly handle applications for each architecture, but that would seem to me to be against the goals of such a partnership of technology leaders.
In a meeting with AMD personnel, the most powerful and inspiring idea from the HSA Foundation is summed up with this:
"This is bigger than AMD. This is bigger than the PC ecosystem."
The end game is to make sure that all software developers can EASILY take advantage of both traditional and parallel processing cores without ever having to know what is going on under the hood. AMD and the other HSA Foundation members continue to tell us that this optimization can be completely ISA-agnostic – though the technical blockages for that to take place are severe.
AMD will benefit from the success of the HSA Foundation by finally getting more partners involved in promoting the idea of heterogeneous computing, and powerful ones at that. ARM is the biggest player in the low power processor market responsible for the Cortex and Mali architectures found in the vast majority of mobile processors. As those partners trumpet the same cause as AMD, more software will be developed to take advantage of parallel computing and AMD believes their GPU architecture gives them a definite performance advantage once that takes hold.
What I find most interesting is the unknown – how will this affect the roadmaps for all the hardware companies involved? Are we going to see the AMD APU roadmap shift to an ARM-IP system? Will we see companies like Texas Instruments fully integrate the OMAP and Power VR cores into a single memory space (or ARM with Cortex and Mali)? Will we eventually see NVIDIA jump onboard and lend their weight towards true heterogenous computing?
We have much more the learn about the HSA Foundation and its direction for the industry but we can easily say that this is probably the most important processor company collaboration announcement in many years – and it does so without the 800 pound gorilla that is Intel in attendance. By going after the ARM-based markets where Intel is already struggling to compete in, AMD can hope to create a foothold with technological and partnership advantages and return to a seat of prominence. This harkens back to the late 1990s when AMD famously put together the "virtual gorilla" with many partners to take on Intel.
Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2012 - 01:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, arm, IBM, Freescale, AFDS, ESG
According to the VDC Research Group's findings, the embedded market will hit $6bn in sales in 2012 and keep growing at a rate of 12%-15% per year. AMD seems poised to move into this market with the formation of their Embedded Solution Group and the changes we have been seeing to their processor lines. Current Opteron HE and EE chips consume between 35W and 65W depending on the number of cores and that amount might be trimmed down as new models come out. They also have lines of embedded Athlon, Turion, Sempron, and Geode LX based chips and have hired an FPGA veteran, Arun Iyengar, to manage the ESG though The Register expresses doubt that AMD is thinking of developing it's own FPGA business. More likely they hope to provide powerful alternatives for those in the market that now need a little more from their embedded products. Read the full story here and keep your eyes peeled for more news coming out of the AMD Fusion Developer Summit.
"The new management team at Advanced Micro Devices is looking everywhere, including under the couch cushions, to find some money so it can afford to explore the embedded systems market again. The chip biz hopes rivals Intel and the ARM collective are too distracted to notice the foray as they fight over each others' territories in PCs, servers and mobile devices."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Sandy Bridge processors to be gradually phased out of market starting in September, sources say @ DigiTimes
- Password flaw leaves MySQL, MariaDB open to brute force attack @ The Register
- Canon PowerShot ELPH 320 HS Review @ TechReviewSource
- efergy Energy Saving Products Review @ NikKTech
- EVGA Taiwan Office Visit 2012 @ Ninjalane
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 11, 2012 - 12:01 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: mali, arm, amd, AFDS
In a blog post over at arm.com, ARM Fellow Jem Davies has made a point to let us all know that he is going to be attending the AMD Fusion Developer Summit yet again, but this time with something more concrete to discuss. In a very self-aware statement, Davies writes in his post that "my appearance last year generated a lot of speculation about the nature of the relationship between ARM and AMD."
From Davies' post:
This year, we have a great deal to discuss. ARM is all about low power and many people in the industry now realize that GPUs have a central role to play in providing highly energy-efficient computing. It’s an exciting future that can grow the ecosystem that surrounds computing. ARM’s unique portfolio of CPU, GPU, interconnect and physical IP puts us at the forefront of one of the most important technological changes in a long time. Reflecting on that and some of those changes, I will be making an announcement at the show.
Emphasis above is ours.
Also worth noting is that Jem Davies does not have his own session at AFDS, but rather we can expect to see him to come out on stage during another keynote, likely during Phil Rogers' or Mark Papermaster's.
AMD wants into the tablet market. ARM could accelerate that process.
Exactly WHAT the ARM/AMD announcement might be obviously isn't known by many yet, but we have speculated many times that an AMD built, ARM architecture processor, with Radeon-based graphics technology and ARM low-power CPU cores, could help AMD enter into the world of ultra-lower power SoCs very quickly. Markets like the pending onslaught of Windows 8 RT tablets and clamshells have NVIDIA foaming at the mouth and AMD would be remiss to not attempt to tackle the same markets and one-up Intel at the same time.
It should be an exciting week! Keep checking pcper.com and our AFDS site tag for all the latest news including keynote live blogs!
Subject: Processors, Systems | May 29, 2012 - 05:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: server, dell, copper, arm
Dell announced today that is going to help enable the world of the ARM-based server ecosystem by enabling key hyperscale customers to access and develop on Dell's own "Copper" ARM servers.
Dell today announced it is responding to the demands of our customers for continued innovation in support of hyperscale environments, and enabling the ecosystem for ARM-based servers. The ARM-based server market is approaching an inflection point, marked by increasing customer interest in testing and developing applications, and Dell believes now is the right time to help foster development and testing of operating systems and applications for ARM servers.
Dell is recognized as an industry leader in both the x86 architecture and the hyperscale server market segments. Dell began testing ARM server technology internally in 2010 in response to increasing customer demands for density and power efficiency, and worked closely with select Dell Data Center Solutions (DCS) hyperscale customers to understand their interest level and expectations for ARM-based servers. Today's announcement is a natural extension of Dell's server leadership and the company's continued focus on delivering next generation technology innovation.
While these servers are still not publicly available, Dell is fostering the development of software and verification processes by seeding these unique servers to a select few groups. PC Perspective is NOT one of them.
Each of these 3U rack mount machines includes 48 independent servers, each based around a 1.6 GHz quad-core Marvell Armada XP SoC. Each of the sleds (pictured below) holds four discrete server nodes, each capable of as much as 8GB of memory on a single DDR3 UDIMM. Each node can access one 2.5-in HDD bay and one Gigabit Ethernet connection.
Click for a larger view
Even though we are still very early into the life cycle of ARM architectures in the server room, Dell claims that these systems are built perfectly for web front-ends and Hadoop environments:
Customers have expressed great interest in understanding ARM-based server advantages and how they may apply to their hyperscale environments. Dell believes ARM infrastructures demonstrate promise for web front-end and Hadoop environments, where advantages in performance per dollar and performance per watt are critical. The ARM server ecosystem is still developing, and largely available in open-source, non-production versions, and the current focus is on supporting development of that ecosystem. Dell has designed its programs to support today's market realities by providing lightweight, high-performance seed units and easy remote access to development clusters.
There is little doubt that Intel will feel and address this competition in the coming years.
Subject: General Tech | May 4, 2012 - 12:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm
It is not often the tech community gets excited about a minimalist piece of hardware like the Raspberry Pi; unless you follow Limor Fried it is unlikely you are even aware of the last time a new Arduino shield was released or just what you can stick in an Altoids tin. Be that as it may, the $35 Raspberry Pi has been making news and peaking the interest of a large range of people. The specs don't stand up if you compare them to a netbook but the footprint on the Pi is much smaller, at 85.60mm x 53.98mm x 17mm. Both models are powered with a 700MHz ARM1176JZF-S CPU core, 256MB of RAM and a Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU with the Model A lacking ethernet and a single USB 2.0 port, the Model B has 2 USB ports and ethernet. Tim has been covering the troubled path to retail for the Pi but has yet to get his hands on one. TechSpot did get a hold of the Model B and put together a brief tutorial covering the basics of setting up your Pi but they can't really show you how to use it, as the entire point of the Pi is that it is a flexible platform that is probably capable of fulfilling anything you can imagine a low powered system could do.
"When the first 10,000 devices shipped in mid-April, the organization graciously sent us a sample for coverage. Along with a hands-on review of the Pi, today we'll be covering basic steps for setting up the computer and other elemental post-installation tasks to get you up and running with applications. In other words, this should serve as a starting point no matter what you want to do with your Raspberry Pi."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Emilio Ghilardi leaves AMD @ SemiAccurate
- AMD may be able to increase server platform global market share through joining OCP @ DigiTimes
- DeployStudio: Heavy-duty imaging software for OS X @ Ars Technica
- AMD’s Chuck Moore has passed away @ SemiAccurate
- Fairly simple hack makes Samsung TVs reboot forever @ Hack a Day
- Printing point-to-point circuits on a 3D printer @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft Windows 8: Mostly A Crap Wreck @ Phoronix
- Samsung Galaxy SIII / S3: Product Overview, Specs and Pricing @ Tech-Reviews
Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2012 - 08:28 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, hardware, embedded systems, arm
We’ve been covering the Raspberry Pi computer for quite some time now, and after a slew of delays the boards are finally shipping. UK based hardware site Bit-Tech has managed to snag one of the Model B Raspberry Pi boards and recently posted a review of the small ARM computer.
They do note that the ARM11 processor leaves a lot of performance to be desired, but no other boards offer the same features for the price. Once software matures to the point that hardware accelerated drivers are available out of the box, the user experience should improve. Also, the relatively powerful Videocore IV GPU will really start to shine.
Head on over to see how they tested the board, what sort of overclocking headroom the SoC has, and what their final verdict is!
Further Raspberry Pi coverage:
- Raspberry Pi Delays
- Raspberry Pi Passes EM Interference Testing
- Raspberry Pi Computers Have an Operating System For Everyone
- A Case for the Raspberry Pi
- Raspberry Pi Deliveries Finally Going Out
Anyone else still waiting on their slice of Pi to arrive in the mail?
Subject: Editorial | April 23, 2012 - 05:12 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: trinity, Q1, Ivy Bridge, Intel, earnings, atom, arm, amd, 2012
Guess what? Intel made money. A lot of money. This is not surprising. The results were not record breaking, but they did beat expectations. Intel had a gross revenue of $12.9 billion for the quarter, with a net income of $2.7 billion. Gross margins decreased (slightly) to 64%, but the reasons for this are pretty logical as we discover down below. Compared to Q4 2011, results are still significantly down, but this is again expected due to seasonal downturns. In Q4 they had $13.9 billion in gross revenue and $3.4 billion in net income with a gross margin of 64.5%.
Subject: General Tech | April 16, 2012 - 01:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, TSMC, fab, cortex a15, cortex-a9, 28nm, 40nm
ARM has developed some optimizations for their chips, provided that the customer purchasing them uses TSMC to fabricate them. ARM has licensed a large variety of fabrication companies to produce their chips but with their familiarity with TSMC's 28nm and 40nm processes they have been able to introduce performance enhancing optimizations specific to TSMC. It could taste a bit like favouritism but is much more likely to stem from the volume of TSMC's production as well as the maturity of the 40nm process node. The 28nm node could be a bit of a problem for ARM as we have seen that TSMC is not having an easy time producing enough good dies for their customers; this is why you cannot buy a GTX 680. As The Inquirer points out, if ARM wants to make sure their customers can get their hands on reasonable volumes of chips, they will want to create optimizations specific to other manufacturers sooner rather than later.
"CHIP DESIGNER ARM has released a slew of optimisation packs for Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm and 40nm process nodes.
ARM, which licenses designs to many chip designers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, Nvidia and Samsung, has given TSMC a boost by offering processor optimisation packs for the firm's 28nm and 40nm process nodes. ARM claims the optimisation packs for its Cortex-A5, Cortex-A7, Cortex-A9 and Cortex-A15 processor cores help designers make use of TSMC's process node nuances to get the most out of their designs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung Push Intel At DDR4 @ Kitguru
- TSMC in race to buy ProMOS fab @ DigiTimes
- Tiny Quadcopter gets an update, on the verge of flying without PC @ Hack a Day
- Mavericks Invent Future Internet Where Cisco Is Meaningless @ Wired
- Hands-on: getting work done with Google's new Aura interface for Chrome OS @ Ars Technica
- Brite-Strike Lightning Strike Tactical Flashlight Review @ Techwarelabs
- A walk about Gadget Show Live 2012 @ XtremeComputing
Subject: General Tech, Systems | April 8, 2012 - 08:38 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Raspberry Pi, pcb, emc test, computer, compliance testing, arm
The highly anticipated Raspberry Pi ARM computer has run into several launch hiccups, the most recent being that the distributors -- RS and Farnell -- refused to sell and ship the devices without the Raspberry Pi passing the proper electromagnetic interference testing. While such certification is not required for Arduino or Beagle Boards, the companies stated that because the Raspberry Pi was (more) likely to be used as a final consumer product (and not a development board) it needed to obtain and pass EMC testing to ensure that it would not interfere with (or be interfered by) other electronic devices.
According to a recent blog post by the charity behind the ARM powered Linux computer, the Raspberry Pi has passed the EMC compliance testing with flying colors -- after a few hiccups with a network hub used to test the Raspberry Pi while it was being hit with an EM field were sorted out.
The team has been working out of Panasonic’s facility in South Wales to test the Raspberry Pi. Due to having the lab area for a whole week, they managed to knock out consumer product inference testing for several other countries as well. Mainly, the Raspberry Pi is now compliant with the UK CE requirements, the United States’ FCC, Australia’s CTick, and Canada’s Technical Acceptance Certificate (TAC).
Assuming the paper work is properly filed and RS and Farnell accept the certifications, the Raspberry Pi units should begin winging their way to customers shortly. Are you still waiting on your Raspberry Pi, and if so have you decided what you intend to use it for yet?
If you are interested in the Raspberry Pi, be sure to check out some of our other coverage of the little ARM computer!
Subject: General Tech | March 29, 2012 - 12:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, Intel, windows, Android, embedded systems
A story at The Register spells out the end of Windows, this time by 2016. The growth of cellphones with enough processing power to be more than just glorified telephones is going to change the market, of that there can be no doubt. On the other hand without some serious upgrades to the interface it seems very unlikely that a cellphone will be sitting on a desk with a mouse, keyboard and monitor connected to it. In fact the very idea that ARM will one day outsell x86 processors is absurd, last year 2.2 billion ARM processors were sold, that number may be higher than all the processors AMD and Intel ever fabbed. Keep that in mind when someone tells you that ARM may one day outsell CPUs intended for use in Windows machines.
Android outselling Windows could be a reasonable prediction for the near future, but again it is hard to imagine Android replacing Windows Server or business oriented Linux distros, even if they are running on an ARM processor. Then again, stranger things have happened.
"Windows might be on the rise in the world of embedded systems, but if IDC's prognostications are right, then Windows is about to get its kernel handed to it with the rise of Android on what the market researcher dubs "smart connected devices."
By IDC's reckoning, makers of PCs, tablets, and smartphones shipped some 916 million units of machinery in 2012, raking in an astounding $489bn in moolah."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Qualcomm Calls To "Kill All Proprietary Drivers For Good" @ Phoronix
- Adobe reels in game coders with a quick free Flash @ The Register
- Asustek to release holdings in Pegatron, says paper @ DigiTimes
- How to Build an In-Vehicle Infotainment System with Drupal @ Linux.com
- Amazon to launch 2-4 new tablet PCs in 2012, say sources @ DigiTimes
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