Snooping through Haswell's graphics code

Subject: General Tech | March 22, 2012 - 01:44 PM |
Tagged: valleyview, shark bay, PowerVR, Ivy Bridge, haswell GT3, haswell, atom

Phoronix has been investigating the open source driver code which was recently released, designed to power Intel's Haswell chips.  The news is not as good as some had hoped; there were rumours that a Gen8 Haswell GT3 IGP would appear in Haswell but according to the hardware IDs that were found in the code that is not going to be true.  Instead you are looking at refined Gen7 Haswell GT1 and GT2 IGPs and so will be an improvement over Ivy Bridge but not a completely new chip.  Check out the rest of the secrets revealed by the code here.

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"While Intel's Ivy Bridge launch is imminent, and I'm still digging through information concerning today's Intel Valleyview code drop that brings Ivy Bridge graphics to their next-generation Atom as they do away with PowerVR graphics for their SoCs, more graphics driver code to enable Haswell support has landed this evening."

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Source: Phoronix

Collision alert! ARM, AMD and Intel are all headed for the same market

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, amd, atom, low power, cortex, Medfield, hondo

To revive an old buzzword some of you may have forgotten, ubiquitous computing is the current holy grail of the computing industry.  If AMD, Intel, ARM and to a lesser extent NVIDIA, can get the market to prefer one of their low power processors over the competitions there is a lot of money to be made in the mobile market.  The way that they are approaching the market is very different however.   In Intel's case they pride themselves on the general computation power of their upcoming Medfield processor though that comes at the cost of power consumption and less graphics capabilities.  AMD. like Intel, are trying to reduce the power consumption of their chips and though they lag behind in general CPU performance the graphics capabilities are generally considered superior.

Then there is ARM, which is striving to overcome its reputation of providing chips low in power, both electrically and computationally.  Their latest Cortex processors are certainly display a vast improvement in performance compared to previous generations.  The power consumption may have increased but not to the levels of consumption of the Intel and AMD chips.  Intel and AMD need to continue lowering their power consumption without sacrificing power while ARM needs to increase performance without impacting the power consumption before anyone can be considered a clear winner.  There is another consideration which DigiTimes points out; right now ARM is winning the price war which could be every bit as important as power consumption or computational power.

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"While Intel and AMD have been making efforts to develop low power processors for use in smartphones and tablet PCs, they cannot compete with solutions from ARM in terms of price, according to notebook makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

The SSD powered Oaktrail tablet from Kupa is a trooper

Subject: Mobile | January 26, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: tablet, ssd, oaktrail, mobile, Kupa X11, atom Z670, atom

You might not expect to see a tablet being examined at the SSD Review, except for the Kupa X11 which contains a 64 or 128GB mSSD drive.  As the Atom and Oaktrail pairing are perhaps not the fastest mobile chips on the block, the initial testing tried to determine if that chipset would prove to be a bottleneck.  They tested the Kingspec 128GB SSD which was included in the tablet as well as a Renice X3 120GB ‘SandForce Driven’ SSD and a Kingston mS100 SSD.  The Kingspec was the slowest choice of the three and even though the other two did perform more impressively Oaktrail did indeed prove to limit the performance of the drives.  On the other hand, it is still faster than a HDD and the SSD helps to extend the life of this 1366 x 768 10.1″ tablet to around 10 hours.  Also worth noting is that this tablet runs Xin7 Professional, not a trimmed down OS, and will fully support Win8.

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"Just prior to CES we had received an e-mail from a reader who had spoken of a company called Kupa, a tablet manufacturer who, as the reader had stated, “wasn’t afraid to experiment outside the box”. it took us all of two seconds to get to the Kupa Website and discover the Kupa X11, a tablet PC with all the power of a full size computer to include a Intel Atom Z670 1.5Ghz Oaktrail platform, 2GB RAM and your choice of 64 or 128GB SSD. Needless to say, we were impressed."

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Source: SSD Review

Intel Releases New Cedar Trail Atom Processors

Subject: Processors | December 28, 2011 - 07:15 PM |
Tagged: pine trail, netbook, Intel, cedar trail, atom, 32nm

Intel has been pumping out quite a few new processors lately, with new Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, a new Sandy Bridge i7 2700K processor coming out, and now a new line of Atom CPUs sneaking in the news right before the new year!  Not to mention, they are also working on Ivy Bridge.

The new Atom CPUs are of the Cedar Trail variety and succeed the older Pine Trail-M Atom processors.  Currently, there are three Cedar Trail chips that will be available as soon as January in OEM systems including the N2600, N2800, and D2700 CPUs.  Further, the new chips are 32nm and have a 22x22mm package size.  These little chips are destined to power netbooks, tablets, embedded devices (think medical devices, ruggedized tablets, machinery).  Yes, Intel still believes in netbooks, and feels as though emerging markets will keep the market alive and growing as people want for cheap computers that are able to get them on the web.  While the netbook is losing popularity in the US, Intel expects the South American, Eastern European, and African markets to see great interest in the netbook platform.  Their netbook plans involve three price tiers with accompanying use cases including netbooks at $200 with minimal features and a price to match that enables people to access the web all the way to $400+ netbooks with lots of features that would fill out the market up to where the Ultrabook territory begins at around $900.

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The new Cedar Trail processors improve upon the previous gen Atom chips by quite a bit, according to Intel.  The graphics aspect in particular has been improved such that 1080p HD Youtube and HD Netflix streams are playable at at least 24 FPS.  Something that early netbooks using Intel's integrated graphics will never be able to do.  Intel further estimates a 50% lower TDP and a 28% processor performance increase over the Pine Trail chips.  Further, the new Cedar Trail chips have more cache at 2 x 512 L2 cache(s), higher clockspeeds, lower TDP, higher C-State (C6 vs C4E)/lower power usage in sleep mode, a 200MHz higher clocked graphics card (400MHz vs 200 MHz), and increased memory speeds (DDR3 800 and 1066 vs DDR3-667).  The fastest Nxx chip, the N2800 manages a .2GHz clock speed increase while also knocking off 2 watts from the TDP versus the previous top N570.

Needless to say, Cedar Trail is looking very good, on paper at least.  The individual chip specifications are listed below.

  CPU Clock Speed Graphics Clock Speed TDP
N2600 1.60 GHz 400 MHz 3.5 W
N2800 1.86 GHz 640 MHz 6.5 W
D2700 2.10 GHz 640 MHz 10 W

What are your thoughts on the new Cedar Trail chips, do you think they will provide enough "oomph" to make new netbooks desirable again?  Some more information can be found here and straight from Intel here.

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Atom cannibalizes our market! Move it to someone else’s!

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2011 - 02:33 AM |
Tagged: intel atom, Intel, atom

Intel’s Atom processors were created as a tier below their Celeron product line. Netbooks, then running VIA Nano processors, have started to gain popularity since their introduction in late 2007. Intel’s Atom processors took the place of the VIA parts since that time. In 2009, Intel has stated that they have seen approximately twenty percent of their sales of notebook processors replaced with sales of their cheaper Atom processors. Intel still maintains the Atom processor line, but apparently with new goals in mind.

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Up and ATOM!!!

According to Digitimes, the demand for Intel’s Atom processors has declined recently. Intel, in response, decided to market that tier of parts to embedded and server customers for use in network-attached storage devices and very low-end servers. Intel is also rumored to have plans to shrink the process size of Atom in 2013 to 22nm and again shrink process size to 14nm in 2014. The upcoming 32nm Atom processor is expected by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Digitimes

Two families of lower power Intel chips arriving soon

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2011 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: cedar trail m, atom, 32nm, sandybridge DT, Pentium 350, socket 1155

There are two very different families of low power chips from Intel; one of which is available now and the other will be shipping in December after a 2 month delay.  First off are the new Atom chips which DigiTimes mentions, both dual core 32nm Cedar Trail-M parts.  Neither chip represent any major changes to the Atom lineup apart from a die shrink which allows higher frequencies at lower power.  The original delay was reported to be because of issues with 64-bit support as well as DX10 support but there has been no definitive news either way about if those problems will exist on release.   The graphics core does jump from 400MHz to 640MHz which may help Atom compete with Llano but it is still not going to be a fair competition.

The Register reports on a completely different low power chip which may find its way into some server applications.  Don't let the name fool you, the Pentium 350 is a Sandy Bridge-DT chip based on the same core you find in the Xeon E3 chips that are already on the market.  They support Turbo Boost, Trusted Execution Technology, Hyperthreading and virtualization optimization as well as all the other improvements in the Sandy Bridge lineup.  The 32nm chip has two cores running at 1.2GHz, sports a TDP of 20W and is expected to sell for around $150.  At that price and TDP it is unlikely to be a good answer to the smaller chips that ARM is now trying to sneak into the server room but at least Intel now has a low power chip for the server room.

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"Intel will launch its Cedar Trail-M platform for netbooks including 32nm-based Atom N2800 and N2600 processors in December, according to industry sources.

Because of shrinking demand for Atom processors and chipsets due to competition from tablet PCs, Intel's third-quarter 2011 revenues of US$269 million from related products dropped 32% on year, the sources indicated. Due to weak demand, Intel has delayed Cedar Trail-M from September to December, the sources noted."

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Source: DigiTimes

HP Jumps Back Into PC OEM Mode With New Business PCs

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 6, 2011 - 08:32 AM |
Tagged: tablet, slate 2, psg, hp, business, atom

Not long after HP reconsidered spinning off the PC manufacturing arm of the company, it has begun prepping two new business computers. The new PCs are aimed at business, education, healthcare, and government users and include a tablet and notebook. Specifically, HP is releasing the HP Slate 2 tablet computer and a lightweight notebook dubbed the HP 3115m.

 

HP Slate 2.jpg

The HP Slate 2 is a dark gray and silver accented slate style tablet computer weighing in at 1.5 lbs and a 8.9” (diagonal) screen. Running Windows 7, the computer offers both pen and touch input using its capacitive multi-touch display. To make up for the absence of a hardware keyboard, HP is including a new Swype keyboard application which will likely be well received as a notable improvement over the default Windows 7 on screen keyboard. As it is aimed at business users, several security enhancements are baked in, including a TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip, HP ProtectTools, and Computrace Pro BIOS level security software.

On the hardware side of things, the HP tablet is powered by an Intel Atom Z670 processor and a mSATA compatible SSD. A front facing VGA camera is available for video conferencing, and a second 3 MP (megapixel) camera is located on the back providing photo and video capture. Further, the tablet features SRS Premium Sound, Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Bluetooth, optional 3G mobile broadband, an SD card slot, and USB 2.0 ports. HP is further designing a docking station, integrated Bluetooth keyboard tablet case, and a Point of Sale (POS) attachment that adds a magnetic card reader to the tablet for processing credit card payments.

For those that would prefer a hardware keyboard instead of a tablet PC, HP is also releasing a lightweight notebook. The company claims that the new HP 3115m laptop will offer up to 11.5 hours of battery life. The PC features a 11.6” LED-backlit HD display, an HP webcam, and Beats Audio. Powering the laptop is a AMD E450 dual core Fusion APU. The APU features AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics hardware, which should easily meet the needs of road warriors and business professionals.

Both the HP Slate 2 and 3115m will be available later this month. The HP Slate 2 will be available worldwide towards the end of the month while the 3115m will be available November 11th in North and South America only.  More photos can be found here.

 

Intel Reports Q3 2011 Earnings

Subject: Editorial | October 19, 2011 - 05:29 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Q3 2011, Intel, earnings, bulldozer, atom, amd

This should come as a shock to no one.  Intel made a lot of money this past quarter.  We again have seen new records in both gross revenue and net income.  GAAP revenue for the quarter came in at an astounding $14.2 billion.  Essentially that is the net revenue for AMD during a three year span.  Net income is again impressive at $3.5 billion.  In AMD terms that would be gross revenue for three quarters.  Truly there is a tremendous disparity between the two companies who are very bitter rivals.  It is no wonder AMD is starting to really fall behind.

All of the internal groups, except for one, have shown tremendous growth over the past year.  Notebooks have really lead the charge as of late, but both desktop and server markets have shown very favorable growth for the company.  Even the McAfee and Intel Communications divisions provided upwards of $1 billion to the bottom line.  The only area that Intel is lagging in is the Atom line.

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When we look at the product offerings of Intel in server, desktop, and notebook markets we see they have a sizeable advantage in both process technology and performance per watt.  Intel has been shipping 32 nm chips for well over a year and a half.  On the desktop this has translated to modestly priced processors that have a much smaller die size yet comparable (and even superior) performance to the AMD products which are much larger in size and more expensive to produce.  On the server side we really have not seen AMD make any inroads since Intel took over that market in a big way once they released the QPI based designs which took away AMD’s last architectural advantages; HyperTransport and integrated memory controllers.

Read the rest of the article after the break.

Source: Intel

Habley Shows Off Small Atom PC Capable Of Playing Two 1080p HD Streams

Subject: Processors, Systems | June 12, 2011 - 08:57 PM |
Tagged: SFF, Intel, htpc, hd, DIY, atom

Habley has recently shown off a new small, embedded computer dubbed the SOM-6670E6XX. The new computer is the size of a post-it note; however, it sports an Atom E600 processor running at 1.0Gh as well as an integrated GMA600 graphics core. To be more specific, the motherboard in question measures 70mm x 70mm.

The CPU and GPU blend is able to support two displays and pipe two HD video streams to each. Using Media Player Class Home Cinema 1.5, the computer is able to play both a 1080p MPEG4 trailer of the X-Men First Class film and a HD FLV version of SpiderWic simultaneously. While playing both films, the CPU saw around 93% usage and 210 MB of RAM from the Windows Embedded 2009 operating system. Further, while playing an HD FLV film trailer while also watching an HD YouTube clip, the processor was again pegged at 93% usage; however, in this test the RAM usage was much higher, at 422 MB. The test system used, in addition to the SOM-6670, it consisted of a SOMB-073 Carrier board (which provides the various IO including video and audio output, mouse and keyboard input, and SATA ports), 1GB of on-board RAM, and a 5400RPM laptop form factor (2.5”) 120GB hard drive.

Including the two monitors, at 1280x768 (over HDMI) and 1920x1080 (SDVO) respectively, the system drew 18 watts during usage. You can see the test system of the small HD-capable computer in action in the video below. What uses do you have in mind for a micro-sized computer such as this?

Source: MaximumPC

Intel Defines Ultrabook category and accelerates Atom development cycle

Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 31, 2011 - 02:01 AM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Medfield, Ivy Bridge, Intel, haswell, computex, atom

With the release of the Intel Z68 chipset behind us by several weeks, Intel spent the opening keynote at Computex 2011 creating quite a buzz in the mobility section of the computing world. Intel’s Executive Vice President Sean Maloney took the stage on Tuesday and announced what Intel is calling a completely new category of mobile computer, the “Ultrabook”. A term coined by Intel directly, the Ultrabook will “marry the performance and capabilities of today’s laptops with tablet-like features and deliver a highly responsive and secure experience, in a thin, light and elegant design.”

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If this photo looks familiar...see the similarity?

Intel is so confident in this new segment of the market that will fall between the tablet and notebook that they are predicting that by the time we reach the end of 2012 it will represent 40% of Intel’s processor shipments. That is an incredibly bold claim considering how massive and how dominate Intel is in the processor field. Intel plans to reach this 40% goal by addressing the Ultrabook market in three phases, the first of which will begin with ultra-low-power versions of today’s Sandy Bridge processors. Using this technology Maloney says we will see notebooks less than 0.8 inches thin and for under $1,000.

Make sure you "Read More" for the full story!!

Source: Intel