AMD Zen Diagram Leaked and Analysis

Subject: Processors | April 27, 2015 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: amd, Zen, carrizo, Kaveria, bulldozer, Excavator, Steamroller, k12

There are some pretty breathless analysis of a single leaked block diagram that is supposedly from AMD.  This is one of the first indications of what the Zen architecture looks like from a CPU core standpoint.  The block diagram is very simple, but looks in the same style as what we have seen from AMD.  There are some labels, but this is almost a 50,000 foot view of the architecture rather than a slightly clearer 10,000 foot view.

There are a few things we know for sure about Zen.  It is a clean sheet design that moves away from what AMD was pursuing with their Bulldozer family of cores.  Zen gives up CMT for SMT support for handling more threads.  The design has a cluster of four cores sharing 8 MB of L3 cache, with each core having access to 512 KB of L2 cache.  There is a lot of optimism that AMD can kick the trend of falling more and more behind Intel every year with this particular design.  Jim Keller is viewed very positively due to his work at AMD in the K7 through K8 days, as well as what he accomplished at Apple with their ARM based offerings.

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One of the first sites to pick up this diagram wrote quite a bit about what they saw.  There was a lot of talk about, “right off the bat just by looking at the block diagram we can tell that Zen will have substantially higher single threaded performance compared to Excavator and the Bulldozer family.”  There was the assumption that because it had two 256-bit FMACs that it could fuse them to create a single 512 bit AVX product.

These assumptions are pretty silly.  This is a very simple block diagram that answers few very important questions about the architecture.  Yes, it shows 6 int pipelines, but we don’t know how many are address generation vs. execution units.  We don’t know how wide decode is.  We don’t know latency to L2 cache, much less how L3 is connected and shared out.  So just because we see more integer pipelines per core does not automatically mean, “Da, more is better, strong like tractor!”  We don’t know what improvements or simplifications we will see in the schedulers.  There is no mention of the front-end other than Fetch and Decode.  How about Branch Prediction?  What is the latency for the memory controller when addressing external memory?

Essentially, this looks like a simplified way of expressing to analysts that AMD is attempting to retain their per core integer performance while boosting floating point/AVX at a similar level.  Other than that, there is very little that can be gleaned from this simple block diagram.

Other leaks that are interesting concerning Zen are the formats that we will see these products integrated into.  One leak detailed a HPC aimed APU that features 16 Zen cores with 32 MB of L3 cache attached to a very large GPU.  Another leak detailed a server level chip that will support 32 cores and will be seen in 2P systems.  Zen certainly appears to be very flexible, and in ways it reminds me of a much beefier Jaguar type CPU.  My gut feeling is that AMD will get closer to Intel than it has been in years, and perhaps they can catch Intel by surprise with a few extra features.  The reality of the situation is that AMD is far behind and only now are we seeing pure-play foundries start to get even close to Intel in terms of process technology.  AMD is very much at a disadvantage here.

Still, the company needs to release new, competitive products that will refill the company coffers.  The previous quarter’s loss has dug into cash reserves, but AMD is still stable in terms of cash on hand and long term debt.  2015 will see new GPUs, an APU refresh, and the release of the new Carrizo parts.  2016 looks to be the make or break year with Zen and K12.

Source: AMD

The Linux AMDGPU for R9 285 arrives

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2015 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: tonga, linux, carrizo, AMDGPU, amd

It will not be officially rolled in until kernel 4.2 but you can currently grab the new binary blob by following the links from Phoronix.  This new AMDGPU kernel driver will be used by both the full open-source driver and the Catalyst driver provided officially by AMD and provide support not only for the R9 285 but upcoming families as well.  There is still some development to be done as AMD's Alex Deucher told Phoronix that this initial code lacks power management features for Tonga but that will be addressed shortly.

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"At long last the source code to the new AMDGPU driver has been released! This is the new driver needed to support the Radeon R9 285 graphics card along with future GPUs/APUs like Carrizo. Compared to the existing Radeon DRM driver, the new AMDGPU code is needed for AMD's new unified Linux driver strategy whereby the new Catalyst driver will be isolated to being a user-space binary blob with both the full open-source driver and the Catalyst driver using this common AMDGPU kernel driver."

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Source: Phoronix

AMD is avoiding the heat in Carrizo

Subject: Processors | February 24, 2015 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: Puma+, Puma, Kaveri, ISSCC 2015, ISSCC, GCN, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, APU, amd

While it is utterly inconceivable that Josh might have missed something in his look at Carrizo, that hasn't stopped certain Canadians from talking about Gila County, Arizona.  AMD's upcoming processor launch is a little more interesting than just another Phenom II launch, especially for those worried about power consumption.  With Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling the new Excavator based chips will run very well at the sub-15W per core pair range which is perfect for POS, airplane entertainment and even in casinos.  The GPU portion speaks to those usage scenarios though you can't expect an R9 295 at that wattage.  Check out Hardware Canucks' coverage right here.

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"AMD has been working hard on their mobile Carrizo architecture and they're now releasing some details about these Excavator architecture-equipped next generation APUs."

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

AMD Details Carrizo Further

Some months back AMD introduced us to their “Carrizo” product.  Details were slim, but we learned that this would be another 28 nm part that has improved power efficiency over its predecessor.  It would be based on the new “Excavator” core that will be the final implementation of the Bulldozer architecture.  The graphics will be based on the latest iteration of the GCN architecture as well.  Carrizo would be a true SOC in that it integrates the southbridge controller.  The final piece of information that we received was that it would be interchangeable with the Carrizo-L SOC, which is a extremely low power APU based on the Puma+ cores.

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A few months later we were invited by AMD to their CES meeting rooms to see early Carrizo samples in action.  These products were running a variety of applications very smoothly, but we were not informed of speeds and actual power draw.  All that we knew is that Carrizo was working and able to run pretty significant workloads like high quality 4K video playback.  Details were yet again very scarce other than the expected timeline of release, the TDP ratings of these future parts, and how it was going to be a significant jump in energy efficiency over the previous Kaveri based APUs.

AMD is presenting more information on Carrizo at the ISSCC 2015 conference.  This information dives a little deeper into how AMD has made the APU smaller, more power efficient, and faster overall than the previous 15 watt to 35 watt APUs based on Kaveri.  AMD claims that they have a product that will increase power efficiency in a way not ever seen before for the company.  This is particularly important considering that Carrizo is still a 28 nm product.

Click here to read more about AMD's ISSCC presentation on Carrizo!

Podcast #333 - ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | January 22, 2015 - 11:39 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, asus, Rampage V Extreme, Samsung, T1, 850 EVO, ECS, liva x, amazon echo, amd, carrizo, windows 10, raptr

PC Perspective Podcast #333 - 01/22/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS Rampage V Extreme, Samsung T1 Portable SSD, Windows 10 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
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Report: AMD Carrizo APU Benchmarks Show 2x the Performance of Kaveri, 3x Intel Iris Pro

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2015 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: SoC, rumor, processor, leak, iris pro, Intel, graphics, cpu, carrizo, APU, amd

A new report of leaked benchmarks paints a very interesting picture of the upcoming AMD Carrizo mobile APU.

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Image credit: SiSoftware

Announced as strictly mobile parts, Carrizo is based on the next generation Excavator core and features what AMD is calling one of their biggest ever jumps in efficiency. Now alleged leaked benchmarks are showing significant performance gains as well, with numbers that should elevate the IGP dominance of AMD's APUs.

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Image credit: WCCFtech

WCCFtech explains the performance shown in this SiSoft Sandra leak in their post:

"The A10 7850K scores around 270 Mpix/s while Intel’s HD5200 Iris Pro scores a more modest 200 Mpix/s. Carriso scores here over 600 Mpix/s which suggests that Carrizo is more than twice as fast as Kaveri and three times faster than Iris Pro. To put this into perspective this is what an R7 265 graphics card scores, a card that offers the same graphics performance inside the Playstation 4."

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While the idea of desktop APUs with greatly improved graphics and higher efficency is tantalizing, AMD has made it clear that these will be mobile-only parts at launch. When asked by Anandtech, AMD had this to say about the possibility of a desktop variant:

“With regards to your specific question, we expect Carrizo will be seen in BGA form factor desktops designs from our OEM partners. The Carrizo project was focused on thermally constrained form factors, which is where you'll see the big differences in performance and other experiences that consumers value.”

The new mobile APU will be manufactured with the same 28nm process as Kaveri, with power consumption up to 35W for the Carrizo down to a maximum of 15W for the ultra-mobile Carrizo-L parts.

Source: WCCFtech

AMD Announces Carrizo and Carrizo-L SOCs

Subject: Processors | November 20, 2014 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: amd, APU, carrizo, Carrizo-L, Kaveri, Excavator, Steamroller, SoC, Intel, mobile

AMD has certainly gone about doing things in a slightly different manner than we are used to.  Today they announced their two latest APUs which will begin shipping in the first half of 2015.  These APUs are running at AMD and are being validated as we speak.  AMD did not release many details on these products, but what we do know is pretty interesting.

Carrizo is based on the latest iteration of AMD’s CPU technology.  Excavator is the codename for these latest CPU cores, and they promise to be smaller and more efficient than the previous Steamroller core which powers the latest Kaveri based APUs.  Carrizo-L is the lower power variant which will be based on the Puma+ core.  The current Beema APU is based on the Puma architecture.

AMD_Mobility_Roadmap_2015.jpg

Roadmaps show that the Carrizo APUs will be 28 nm products, presumably fabricated by GLOBALFOUNDRIES.  Many were hoping that AMD would make the jump to 20 nm with this generation of products, but that does not seem to be the case.  This is not surprising due to the limitations of that particular process when dealing with large designs that require a lot of current.  AMD will likely be pushing for 16 nm FinFET for the generation of products after Carrizo.

The big Carrizo supposedly has a next generation GCN unit.  My guess here is that it will use the same design as we saw with the R9 285.  That particular product is a next generation unit that has improved efficiency.  AMD did not release how many GCN cores will be present in Carizzo, but it will be very similar to what we see now with Kaveri.  Carrizo-L will use the same GCN units as the previous generation Beema based products.

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I believe AMD has spent a lot more time hand tuning Excavator instead of relying on a lot of automated place and route.  This should allow them to retain much of the performance of the part, all the while cutting down on transistor count dramatically.  Some rumors that I have seen point to each Excavator module being 40% smaller than Steamroller.  I am not entirely sure they have achieved that type of improvement, but more hand layout does typically mean greater efficiency and less waste.  The downside to hand layout is that it is extremely time and manpower intensive.  Intel can afford this type of design while AMD has to rely more on automated place and route.

Carrizo will be the first HSA 1.0 compliant SOC.  It is in fact an SOC as it integrates the southbridge functions that previously had been handled by external chips like the A88X that supports the current Kaveri desktop APUs.  Carrizo and Carrizo-L will also share the same infrastructure.  This means that motherboards that these APUs will be soldered onto are interchangeable.  One motherboard from the partner OEMs will be able to address multiple markets that will see products range from 4 watts TDP up to 35 watts.

Finally, both APUs feature the security processor that allows them access to the ARM TrustZone technology.  This is a very small ARM processor that handles the secure boot partition and handles the security requests.  This puts AMD on par with Intel and their secure computing solution (vPro).

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These products will be aimed only at the mobile market.  So far AMD has not announced Carrizo for the desktop market, but when they do I would imagine that they will hit a max TDP of around 65 watts.  AMD claims that Carrizo is one of the biggest jumps for them in terms of power efficiency.  A lot of different pieces of technology have all come together with this product to make them more competitive with Intel and their process advantage.  Time will tell if this is the case, but for now AMD is staying relevant and pushing their product releases so that they are more consistently ontime.

Source: AMD

AMD's mobile APU update, Carrizo-L for Christmas, full Carrizo for the new year

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2014 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: mobile apu, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, amd, 28nm

Kaveri, Beema and Mullins are on their way out to be replaced by the Excavator based Carrizo family towards the end of the year.  We can hope they will appear in products in time for Christmas as the low power Carrizo-L, rumoured to be around 12-35W TDP, will arrive.  In the new year the more powerful Carrizo, speculated at 45-65W TDP, will be available.  It is unclear how long the delay will be between availability to system builders and the products appearing on the market.  The chips will support DDR3, contain a GPU based on GCN 3.0 and stacked on-package memory which will be accessible by Through Silicon Via to act as a sort of L3 cache for HSA applications.  DigiTimes also mentions it will run Win8 and Win10 as well as SLED.

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"AMD is planning to announce next-generation Carrizo APUs in March 2015 to replace its existing Kaveri APUs for the mainstream performance notebook segment and will release Carrizo-L APUs for the entry-level notebook segment in December 2014 at the earliest to challenge Intel's Pentium and Celeron processors, according to sources from notebook players."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD's unannouced 2014 roadmap

Subject: General Tech | August 27, 2013 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: amd, roadmap, 2014, Kaveri, Kabini, carrizo, beema, Excavator, Nolan, 2015, socket sf1b

As is usually the case, AMD will not comment on the accuracy of DigiTimes information but as we have seen in the past their roadmaps have been spot on.  Over the next 8 months or so will see the arrival of the Hawaii GPU family and the entrance of Kaveri and Kabini chips, nothing new there but good to have independent confirmation.  In the latter part of 2014 and 2015 things are a little more interesting as Beema will replace Kabini with an HSA compliant architecture and use a new socket called FS1B.  In 2015 Beema will be replaced by a chip called Nolan and we will finally see the Excavator based Carrizo which are slated to have 45W and 65W versions.

You can expect to see FM1 and AM3 phased out of active production by the end of 2013, with AM3+ and FM2 being the two active sockets until FS1B arrives.

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"AMD has recently updated its product roadmap and is set to release its Hawaii-based GPUs at the end of September, Kaveri-based APUs for the high-end segment and Kabini-based APUs for the entry-level segment in the first quarter of 2014, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Source: DigiTimes

Rumored AMD Carrizo APU (Kaveri Successor) Will Support FM2+ Socket

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, fm2, carrizo, APU, amd radeon, amd

Rumors recently surfaced via VR-Zone china that AMD’s Kaveri APU successor will be code-named Carrizo, and it will be compatible with the upcoming FM2+ socket and AMD A88X chipset that Kaveri will use. 

AMD’s Carrizo APUs will reportedly be available in TDPs up to 65W and will feature Excavator CPU cores along with a next generation Radeon GPU. Much like Kaveri, Carrizo will be fully HSA compliant. The chips will also include support for DDR4.

Carrizo will allegedly begin sampling in August 2014 with mass production starting around December. That means Carrizo will be available for purchase within the first half of 2015.

FM2+ boards like the ASUS A55BM-A/USB3 are rumored to support AMD's Carrizo APUs (the successor to Kaveri).

The rumors also suggest that Carrizo will be joined by a low power “Beema” System on a Chip (SoC) and a BGA-based Nolan APU for embedded systems. Details on these complementary chips are scarce, however. Perhaps most telling is last bit of the article that suggests that AMD will not be releasing a AM3+ Vishera CPU-only processor successor. It seems AMD is going all in as an APU company after all.

I have been looking forward to the launh of AMD's Kaveri since AFDS 2012, and Carrizo appears to be a refinement of that chip. It should be more power efficient and faster thanks to architecture tweaks and process shrinks. I think that AMDs architecture and HSA approach has potential, and I'm excited to see what these upcoming chips can do with regards to performance.