Podcast #185 - ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime, an overclocked XFX HD7970, AMDs Lightning Bolt and more!

Subject: Editorial | January 19, 2012 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Intel, amd, ssd, hdd, nvidia, kepler, GK104, gpu, cpu

PC Perspective Podcast #185 - 01/19/2011

Join us this week as we talk about the ASUS EeePad Transformer Prime, an overclocked XFX HD7970, AMDs Lightning Bolt 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:25:22

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:26 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. 0:00:55 SOPA and PIPA Chat...
  6. 0:06:35 ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime Review: Thinner, Faster
  7. 0:07:23 Acer Extensa 5420 Retrospective Review: How Far Have We Come?
  8. 0:10:15 Corsair Hydro Series H100 Liquid CPU Cooler Review
  9. 0:11:10 Video Perspective: Cooler Master Cosmos II Case Review
  10. 0:14:00 XFX Radeon HD 7970 3GB Black Edition and CrossFire Results
  11. 0:22:45 AMD and IBM inside the Xbox Next?
  12. 0:31:30 Lucid Cloud Gaming (VGWare) and XLR8 on Tablets Demo
  13. 0:44:55 Nvidia May Launch GF104 "Kepler" GPUs Ahead Of Schedule
  14. 0:51:00 AMD Lightning Bolt Strikes At Intel's Thunderbolt
  15. 0:53:00 AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks
  16. 0:55:00 Random Storage stuff at CES? also this link
  17. 1:05:00 Alienware X51 Desktop -- Console Sized PC, $700 and up.
  18. 1:10:30 Email from Tom about 7970 CrossFire
  19. 1:13:34 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Behringer XENYX 802
    2. Jeremy: EVGA SR-X
    1. Josh: Decent and cheap for the AMD enthusiast:  http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819103962
    2. Allyn: Mophie Juice Pack Powerstation, oh, and my current house rep is my anti-pick
  20. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  21. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  22. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  23. Closing 

Source:

Intel Launching Pilot Overclocking Protection Plan

Subject: Processors | January 19, 2012 - 11:08 AM |
Tagged: tuning plan, processors, overvolting, overclocking, cpu

Intel relatively recently started producing unlocked "K" series processors that enabled easy overclocking by way of increasing the multiplier. This is a feature that was traditionally reserved for the thousand dollar Extreme Edition products. AMD then followed suit with its own line of "K" series APUs (despite having FX and Black Edition branding already, but that's another story). Well, it is now Intel's turn to leap frog AMD who has traditionally been the overclocker friendly company. Yesterday Intel launched a new pilot program that overclockers and enthusiasts are sure to enjoy. The new Performance Tuning Protection Plan is a program aimed at users of "K" and "X" (unlocked and extreme edition) processors who are adventurous enough to overclock and overvolt their chips to wrangle the best possible performance from them. While the company has stressed that they still do not officially endorse overclocking or otherwise running their CPUs out of Intel specifications, the Performance Tuning Protection Plan is an additional service that can be added in addition to (though seperate from) the existing warranty wherein Intel will furnish a free replacement processor to any users that (unintentionally) damage their processors as a result of overclocking or increasing the voltage. Read on for more details.

Untitled.png

The new Performance Tuning Protection Plan will be offered directly from Intel as well as various resellers and can be purchased for any of Intel's K series, X series, or Socket 2011 processors. Only one plan can be applied per processor, and once the CPU has been replaced with a replacement processor through the plan, the insurance does not "roll over" to the replacement part. This means that a second chance is all you get. If the replacement CPU fails as a result of overclocking or overvolting you're out of luck. The Protection Plan is further an additional expense that will applied in addition to the standard 3 year manufacturer's warranty. It only covers damage caused by running the processor out of spec. After purchasing the processor, users can buy the protection plan for a one time fee, and it will kick in within approximately 30 days of buying the plan. Intel says the delay is caused by the time needed for the various plan supporting databases to sync up and for payment to clear.

Prices vary depending on which processor you want to protect with the plan. The Performance Tuning Protection Plan pricing for currently supported processors is listed in the chart below.

Processors Currently Eligible for the Intel Performance Tuning Protection Plan
Processor Price (USD) per CPU
Core i5 2500K $20
Core i7 2600K $25
Core i7 2700K $25
Core i7 3930K $35
Core i7 3960X $35

 

Intel is currently offering the new overclocking insurance for a limited time-- a six month trial run to be more specific. Starting January 18th, the company will begin selling the plan directly to customers on their website as well as through several resellers. Initially these resellers include CyberPower, Canada Computers and Electronics, Scan Computers, and Altech Computers. On February 13th, Intel will add additional resellers to the list. The pilot phase will last for six months; after which the company will "decide whether or not to proceed" with the plan. Obviously there is a slight risk for early adopters that after buying the plan, Intel will discontinue it at the six month mark; however, there is also a solid opportunity to overclock the heck out of the chips and have an official safety net for the next few months at the least. Are you running an unlocked processor, and if so will you be checking out the Tuning Protection Plan?

Source: Intel

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

Intel giveth to the server room and taketh from the desktop

Subject: General Tech | January 4, 2012 - 10:20 AM |
Tagged: Intel, cpu, core i3, core i5, core i7

As reported yesterday, there are quite a few new server chips arriving in 2012 but today the news is not so happy for bargain shoppers who were not planning on picking up an Ivy Bridge based system.  Intel will no longer be shipping out Core i5-661 & 660, Core i3-530, Pentium E5700 or Celeron E3500s and will stop producing them by the summer.  On the Sandybridge side six Core i7 models are being cut as are six Core i5 models.  As well the Pentium G960, Pentium E6600/E550 and Celeron E3300 will see their line end in the summer of 2012.  While this does make space for the new desktop processors Intel is releasing soon it means anyone planning on building a lower cost system with these parts should consider doing so soon.  DigiTimes lists all the models slated for retirement here.

EndoftheLine.jpg

"To pave the way for the upcoming launch of 22nm Ivy Bridge processors in April 2012, Intel has notified its hardware partners of its schedule for stopping the supply or production of over 25 existing desktop CPU models, according to industry sources in Taiwan."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

Intel moves on the server room with 40 processors due for release

Subject: General Tech | January 3, 2012 - 10:58 AM |
Tagged: Intel, server, cpu, Romley, Ivy Bridge-H2, xeon e3, xeon e5

The server room will be getting an update over the next year thanks to Intel releasing numerous CPU models based on different architectures.  First up comes Romley with a total of seven 8-core Xeons, a half dozen 6-core Xeons including both the E5-1660 and 1650 as well as the E5-2640 and relatives, five 4-core Xeons and a single dual core CPU.  That will take us until close to summer.  By then Intel will be working on eleven different Ivy Bridge-H2 series CPUs including the Xeon E3-1290v2 as well as seven more higher end processors including Xeon E5-2470, which will take us towards the end of 2012.

In addition to the regular lineup, DigiTimes also lists four low power Xeons which will arrive in 2012 including the 8-core Xeon E5-2650L.

serverroomimages.jpg

"Intel is set to launch 40 new processors including those for its upcoming Romley platform, in the first half of 2012 with the company to release 20 models each quarter, according to sources from server players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Microsoft Releases Update to Improve Bulldozer... I thought?

Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 09:41 AM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

Intel was far from demolished when AMD's Bulldozer came to town. Users still clung to hope that Microsoft's Windows 7 was not optimized to take advantage of Bulldozer's multi-core environment. Vindication came sweetly with a knowledge base article and a patch from Microsoft confirming the issue and offering a solution. While they can still feel comfortable knowing they were right, the solution has been pulled from Microsoft's website without any announced reason. Who should we feel sorry for: those who didn't download it yet, or those who did?

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

This picture is more meme-worthy than we realized...
99 hotfix and ah this ain't one? If you're having kernel problems I feel bad for you son.

 

To be entirely fair, Microsoft's knowledge base article was quite clear in its instruction to users regarding this hotfix.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

Still, AMD users have another reason to be upset as if they needed one. The hotfix will come, and will come in completely stable form; it just looks like today is not that day. If you already received this update and have experienced technical difficulties, the comment form awaits.

Source: VR-Zone

Microsoft Releases Update To Improve Bulldozer Performance

Subject: Processors | December 15, 2011 - 10:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

When AMD’s Bulldozer processors arrived, they were unable to best Intel’s fastest at most tasks. A number of users held out hope for Bulldozer; however, as it was discovered that Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system was not optimized to take advantage of the multi-threaded execution scheduling engine. While MS has implemented this optimization in the Windows 8 kernel, the current stable release has been without a fix until recently. The fix in question is available for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 and can be downloaded here. It should be noted that service pack 1 is a pre-requisite to this hot-fix.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

Conservatively, previous indications suggested such a fix would add a 5 % to 10 % performance boost in multi-threaded applications. That number is based on the estimates from around the web from people comparing benchmarks between Windows 7 and Windows 8 Developer Preview. If you are running a Bulldozer processor in your machine, be sure to apply this update and let us know how performance improves.

Source: Microsoft

The early bird gets the Bulldozer

Subject: Processors | October 11, 2011 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: fx-8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 990fx

You've been waiting through years of rumour and innuendo but the day has finally arrive, AMD's brand new Bulldozer architecture is here.  It is like nothing we've seen before in any chip based off of the venerable Athlon line, which has served dutifully for over a decade.  Bulldozer takes AMD's vision of a dual core processor not as two cores sewn together, but more as Siamese twins which share vital resources and are so closely conjoined that you cannot truly say where one ends and the other begins.  The Bulldozer core is exactly that, while only four Bulldozer cores exist they can handle eight integer execution units, and four shared 2 x 128 bit floating point/SIMD which is interpreted by your OS as 8 cores.

Implementing a new technology is not without its drawbacks.  The Athlon/Phenom architecture has been perfected by AMD thanks to its long life, while the Bulldozer is brand new and they've already started polishing it into Piledriver which will we see in the not too distant future (especially compared to the wait for Bulldozer).  That immaturity is shown in Ryan's review where he compares it clock for clock to a Phenom II.  It gets worse when compared against SandyBridge as the Bulldozer can at most occaisonally equal the performance of an i7-2600K.  The only saving grace is price when you look at heavily multi-threaded applications and there are not many out there. 

 However one benchmark cannot tell the whole story, which is why [H]ard|OCP released two reviews on Bulldozer which focus on different aspects of the chips performance.  Start off with their look at the performance which will give you an idea of how the chip performs under normal circumstances with its power saving features enabled and overclocked with those features disabled.  Then they head onto what most people are interested in, the gaming benchmarks.  Theoretical and productivity software benchmarks are one thing but we've all got to have fun sometimes and for those moments the new FX chips don't look too bad at all ... unless you are a Civ V fan.  

dieshot.jpg

"Computer hardware enthusiasts have literally waited for years for AMD's Bulldozer architecture to come to market and we finally see this today in its desktop form, code named Zambezi, brand named AMD FX. In this article we share with you our analysis of Bulldozer's performance in synthetic benchmarks and desktop applications."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Bulldozer Architecture

Introduction

Bulldozer.  Since its initial unveiling and placement on the roadmap many have called the Bulldozer architecture the savior of AMD, the processor that would finally turn the tide back against Intel and its dominance in the performance desktop market.  After quite literally YEARS of waiting we have finally gotten our hands on the Bulldozer processors, now called the AMD FX series of CPUs, and can report on our performance and benchmarking of the platform.

With all of the leaks surrounding the FX processor launch you might be surprised by quite a bit of our findings - both on the positive and the negative side of things.  With all of the news in the past weeks about Bulldozer, now we can finally give you the REAL information.

Before we dive right into the performance part of our story I think it is important to revisit the Bulldozer architecture and describe what makes it different than the Phenom II architecutre as well as Intel's Sandy Bridge design.  Josh wrote up a great look at the architecture earlier in the year with information that is still 100% pertinent and we recount much of that writing here.  If you are comfortable with the architeture design points, then feel free to skip ahead to the sections you are more interested in - but I recommend highly you give the data below a look first. 

The below text was taken from Bulldozer at ISSCC 2011 - The Future of AMD Processors.

Bulldozer Architecture Revisited

Bulldozer brings very little from the previous generation of CPUs, except perhaps the experience of the engineers working on these designs.  Since the original Athlon, the basic floor plan of the CPU architecture AMD has used is relatively unchanged.  Certainly there were significant changes throughout the years to keep up in performance, but the 10,000 foot view of the actual decode, integer, and floating point units were very similar throughout the years.  TLB’s increasing in size, more instructions in flight, etc. were all tweaked and improved upon.  Aspects such as larger L2 caches, integrated memory controllers, and the addition of a shared L3 cache have all brought improvements to the architecture.  But the overall data flow is very similar to that of the original Athlon introduced 14 years ago.

As covered in our previous article about Bulldozer, it is a modular design which will come in several flavors depending on the market it is addressing.  The basic building block of the Bulldozer core is a 213 million transistor unit which features 2 MB of L2 cache.  This block contains the fetch and decode unit, two integer execution units, a shared 2 x 128 bit floating point/SIMD unit, L1 data and instruction caches, and a large shared L2 unit.  All of this is manufactured on GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 32nm, 11 metal layer SOI process.  This entire unit, plus 2 MB of L2 cache, is contained in approximately 30.9 mm squared of die space.

arch00.jpg

Continue reading our review of the AMD FX Processor (codenamed Bulldozer)!!

Ukrainian Retailer "Fixer" Leaks Bulldozer FX-8120 CPU

Subject: Processors | October 7, 2011 - 03:44 AM |
Tagged: zambezi, gpu, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 9 core

It is less than a week before Bulldozer’s official launch (October 12th), and it would seem that a Ukrainian retailer was not able to wait as it leaked AMD’s FX-8120 Bulldozer processor in a price list. The 32nm chip is stated to have eight cores running at 3.1 GHz, 8 MB L2 cache, and 8MB of L3 cache. Further, the core stepping is said to be B2 and is comprised of Zambezi processing cores. The FX-8120 has a 95W TDP and is compatible with motherboards from the AM3+ series and newer.

BulldozerPriceLeak.png

The processor is listed as model number FD8120FRGUBOX, and carries a price of $221 USD or 1,791 UAH. The website is currently listing October 10th; however, it is not clear if customers will be able to purchase the processor that day by the pricing page alone. If the leaked benchmarks turn out to be close to the truth, would you consider the FX-8120 a good value?

Source: Fixer