Subject: Motherboards | March 14, 2015 - 12:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: usb 3.1, msi, FX, atx, asmedia asm1352r, amd, am3+
MSI recently announced a torrent of new motherboards that feature USB 3.1 ports. The refreshed lineup includes ten Intel models and, in an interesting twist, two AMD motherboards. MSI’s new motherboards support USB 3.1 by using an Asmedia ASM1352R controller that interfaces with the system via two PCI-E 2.0 lanes (PCI-E 2.0 x2). The controller is rated for the full 10Gbps USB 3.1 speeds.
It is worth noting that the boards use the traditional USB Type-A connector with one exception. The MSI Z97A Gaming 6 features the new reversible Type-C connector in the form of a single Type-C USB 3.1 port on the rear I/O panel. The other boards have at least two USB 3.1 ports on their rear I/O panels.
The new USB 3.1-supporting lineup is listed below:
- AMD (970 chipset):
- SLI Krait Edition
- AMD (990FX chipset):
- 990FXA Gaming
- Intel (Z97 chipset):
- Z97A Gaming 9 ACK
- Z97A Gaming 7
- Z97A Gaming 6
- Intel (X99 chipset):
- X99A Gaming 9 ACK
- X99A Gaming 7
- X99A Xpower AC
- X99A Mpower
- X99A SLI Krait Edition
- X99A SLI Plus
- X99A Raider
These new boards are all essentially minor refreshes of previous versions that add the Asmedia controller and faster USB 3.1 ports. You can expect all the multi-GPU and overclocking-friendly features to remain present on these new motherboards.
MSI's X99 Xpower AC (left) and Z97A Gaming 9 ACK (right) now support 10Gbps USB 3.1 ports.
AM3+ is still technically AMD's enthusiast platform, but it is still somewhat odd that MSI chose to add USB 3.1 support to AM3+ motherboards with AMD’s aging 990FX and 970 chipsets rather than FM2+ boards with the newer A88X chipset. On the other hand, you can now add much faster external storage to your AM3+ system to give it a bit more life.
There is no word on pricing but expect the USB 3.1 models to come at a slight premium over the older models in each respective series.
MSI Redefines AM3+ Value
It is no secret that AMD’s AM3+ motherboard ecosystem has languished for the past year or so, with very few examples of new products hitting the scene. This is understandable since AMD has not updated the chipset options for AM3+, and only recently did they release updated processors in the form of the FX-8370 and FX-8370e. It has been two years since the release of the original FX-8350 and another year since the high TDP FX-9000 series of parts. For better or for worse, AMD is pushing their APUs far harder to consumers than the aging AM3+ platform.
MSI has refined their "Gaming" series of products with a distinctive look that catches the eye.
This does not mean that the AM3+ ecosystem is non-viable to both AMD and consumers. While Intel has stayed ahead of AMD in terms of IPC, TDP, and process technology the overall competitiveness of the latest AM3+ parts are still quite good when considering price. Yes, these CPUs will run hotter and pull more power than the Intel parts they are directly competing against, but when we look at the prices of comparable motherboards and the CPUs themselves, AMD still holds a price/performance advantage. The AM3+ processors that feature six and eight cores (3 and 4 modules) are solid performers in a wide variety of applications. The top end eight core products compete well against the latest Intel parts in many gaming scenarios, as well as productivity applications which leverage multiple threads.
When the Vishera based FX processors were initially introduced we saw an influx of new AM3+ designs that would support these new processors, as well as the planned 220 watt TDP variants that would emerge later. From that point on we have only seen a smattering of new products based on AM3+. From all the available roadmaps from AMD that we have seen, we do not expect there to be new products based on Steamroller or Excavator architectures on the AM3+ platform. AMD is relying on their HSA enabled APUs to retain marketshare and hopefully drive new software technologies that will leverage these products. The Future really is Fusion…
MSI is bucking this trend. The company still sees value in the AM3+ market, and they are introducing a new product that looks to more adequately fit the financial realities of that marketplace. We already have high end boards from MSI, ASRock, Asus, and Gigabyte that are feature packed and go for a relatively low price for enthusiast motherboards. On the other end of the spectrum we have barebone motherboards based on even older chipsets (SB710/750 based). In between we often see AMD 970 based boards that offer a tolerable mix of features attached to a low price.
The bundle is fair, but not exciting. It offers the basics to get a user up and running quickly.
The MSI 970 Gaming motherboard is a different beast as compared to the rest of the market. It is a Gaming branded board which offers a host of features that can be considered high end, but at the same time being offered for a price less than $100 US. MSI looks to explore this sweet spot with a motherboard that far outpunches its weight class. This board is a classic balance of price vs. features, but it addresses this balance in a rather unique way. Part of it might be marketing, but a good chunk of it is smart and solid engineering.
Pushing the 8 Cores
It seems like yesterday when I last talked about an AMD refresh! Oh wait, it almost was. Some weeks ago I was able to cover the latest AMD APU offerings that helped to flesh out the Kaveri lineup. We thought AMD was done for a while. Color us wrong. AMD pulled out all the stops and set up an AM3+ refresh! There is a little excitement here, I guess. I am trying to contain the tongue-in-cheek lines that I am oh-so-tempted to write.
AMD is refreshing their FX lineup in the waning days of Summer!
Let me explain the situation from my point of view. The FX lineup for AM3+ has not done a whole lot since the initial release of the Piledriver based FX-8350 and family (Vishera). Piledriver was a pretty significant update from Bulldozer as it slightly improved IPC and greatly improved power consumption (all the while helping to improve clockspeed by a small degree). There were two updates before this one, but they did not receive nearly as much coverage. These updates were the FX-6350 and the FX-9000 series. The FX-6350 is quite popular with the budget enthusiast crowd who still had not moved over to the Intel side of the equation. The FX-9000 series were OEM only initially and reaching up to $1000 at the high end. During that time since the original Vishera chips were released, we have seen the Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures (with a small refresh with Haswell with the 2nd gen products and the latest Socket 2011 units).
Kaveri Goes Mobile
The processor market is in an interesting place today. At the high end of the market Intel continues to stand pretty much unchallenged, ranging from the Ivy Bridge-E at $1000 to the $300 Haswell parts available for DIY users. The same could really be said for the mobile market - if you want a high performance part the default choice continues to rest with Intel. But AMD has some interesting options that Intel can't match when you start to enter the world of the mainstream notebook. The APU was slow to develop but it has placed AMD in a unique position, separated from the Intel processors with a more or less reversed compute focus. While Intel dominates in the performance on the x86 side of things, the GPU in AMD's latest APUs continue to lead in gaming and compute performance.
The biggest problem for AMD is that the computing software ecosystem still has not caught up with the performance that a GPU can provide. With the exception of games, the GPU in a notebook or desktop remains under utilized. Certain software vendors are making strides - see the changes in video transcoding and image manipulation - but there is still some ground AMD needs to accelerate down.
Today we are looking at the mobile version of Kaveri, AMD's latest entry into the world of APUs. This processor combines the latest AMD processor architecture with a GCN-based graphics design for a pretty advanced part. When the desktop version of this processor was released, we wrote quite a bit about the architecture and the technological advancements made into, including becoming the first processor that is fully HSA compliant. I won't be diving into the architecture details here since we covered them so completely back in January just after CES.
The mobile version of Kaveri is basically identical in architecture with some changes for better power efficiency. The flagship part will ship with 12 Compute Cores (4 Steamroller x86 cores and 8 GCN cores) and will support all the same features of GCN graphics designs including the new Mantle API.
Early in the spring we heard rumors that the AMD FX brand was going to make a comeback! Immediately enthusiasts were thinking up ways AMD could compete against the desktop Core i7 parts from Intel; could it be with 12 cores? DDR4 integration?? As it turns out...not so much.
Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2013 - 02:33 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: wwdc, video, titan, podcast, oculus rift, nvidia, FX, apple, amd, a10-6800k, 5ghz
PC Perspective Podcast #255 - 06/13/2013
Join us this week as we discuss AMD's 5 GHz Processor, 1080p Oculus Rift, and more news from Computex!
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Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Morry Teitelman
Program length: 57:27
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Subject: Processors | April 30, 2013 - 02:04 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: amd, FX, vishera, bulldozer, FX-6350, FX-4350, FX-6300, FX-4300, 32 nm, SOI, Beloved
Today AMD has released two new processors that address the AM3+ market. The FX-6350 and FX-4350 are two new refreshes of the quad and hex core lineup of processors. Currently the FX-8350 is still the fastest of the breed, and there is no update for that particular number yet. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but there are those of us who are still awaiting the arrival of the rumored “Centurion”.
These parts are 125 watt TDP units, which are up from their 95 watt predecessors. The FX-6350 runs at 3.9 GHz with a 4.2 GHz boost clock. This is up 300 MHz stock and 100 MHz boost from the previous 95 watt FX-6300. The FX-4350 runs at 3.9 GHz with a 4.3 GHz boost clock. This is 100 MHz stock and 300 MHz boost above that of the FX-4300. What is of greater interest here is that the L3 cache goes from 4 MB on the 4300 to 8 MB on the 4350. This little fact looks to be the reason why the FX-4350 is now a 125 watt TDP part.
It has been some two years since AMD started shipping 32 nm PD-SOI/HKMG products to the market, and it certainly seems as though spinning off GLOBALFOUNDRIES has essentially stopped the push to implement new features into a process node throughout the years. As many may remember, AMD was somewhat famous for injecting new process technology into current nodes to improve performance, yields, and power characteristics in “baby steps” type fashion instead of leaving the node as is and making a huge jump with the next node. Vishera has been out for some 7 months now and we have not really seen any major improvement in regards to performance and power characteristics. I am sure that yields and bins have improved, but the bottom line is that this is only a minor refresh and AMD raised TDPs to 125 watts for these particular parts.
The FX-6350 is again a three module part containing six cores. Each module features 2 MB of L2 cache for a total of 6 MB L2 and the entire chip features 8 MB of L3 cache. The FX-4350 is a two module chip with four cores. The modules again feature the same 2 MB of L2 cache for a total of 4 MB active on the chip with the above mentioned 8 MB of L3 cache that is double what the FX-4300 featured.
Perhaps soon we will see updates on FM2 with the Richland series of desktop processors, but for now this refresh is all AMD has at the moment. These are nice upgrades to the line. The FX-6350 does cost the same as the FX-6300, but the thinking behind that is that the 6300 is more “energy efficient”. We have seen in the past that AMD (and Intel for that matter) does put a premium on lower wattage parts in a lineup. The FX-4350 is $10 more expensive than the 4300. It looks as though the FX-6350 is in stock at multiple outlets but the 4350 has yet to show up.
These will fit in any modern AM3+ motherboard with the latest BIOS installed. While not an incredibly exciting release from AMD, it at least shows that they continue to address their primary markets. AMD is in a very interesting place, and it looks like Rory Read is busy getting the house in order. Now we just have to see if they can curve back their cost structure enough to make the company more financially stable. Indications are good so far, but AMD has a long ways to go. But hey, at least according to AMD the FX series is beloved!
More MHz for the Masses
AMD has had a rough time of it lately when it comes to CPUs. Early last year when we saw the performance of the low power Bobcat architecture, we thought 2011 would be a breakout year for AMD. Bulldozer was on the horizon and it promised performance a step above what Intel could offer. This harkened back to the heady days of the original Athlon and Athlon 64 where AMD held a performance advantage over all of Intel’s parts. On the graphics side AMD had just released the 6000 series of chips, all of which came close in performance to NVIDIA’s Fermi architecture, but had a decided advantage in terms of die size and power consumption. Then the doubts started to roll in around the April timeframe. Whispers hinted that Bulldozer was delayed, and not only was it delayed it was not meeting performance expectations.
The introduction of the first Llano products did not help things. The “improved” CPU performance was less than expected, even though the GPU portion was class leading. The manufacturing issues we saw with Llano did not bode well for AMD or the upcoming Bulldozer products. GLOBALFOUNDRIES was simply not able to achieve good yields on these new 32 nm products. Then of course the hammer struck. Bulldozer was released, well behind schedule, and with performance that barely rose above that of the previous Phenom II series of chips. The top end FX-8150 was competitive with the previous Phenom II X6 1100T, but it paled in comparison to the Intel i7 2600 which was right around the same price range.
Subject: Processors | February 28, 2012 - 12:51 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: trinity, FX-8120, FX-6200, FX-4170, FX, FM3, bulldozer, amd, am3+
Since AMD held their Analysts’ Day, we have not heard a whole bunch from their CPU division. The graphics side has been in full gear launching the HD 7000 series of products, and soon we will see the final pieces of that particular puzzle fall into place. What about the CPU group? We have heard about Trinity for ages now, but that particular launch is still months away. The last CPU update detailed the “K” series of unlocked Llano chips. What about Bulldozer? Is there a new stepping? How is GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 32 nm SOI/HKMG progressing?
I don’t have all those answers, unfortunately. Since AMD proceeded to sack most of the PR team, our contacts have all but disappeared. Questions emailed to AMD are often not returned. Requests for CPU information (or samples) are ignored. Are these people just simply overworked, or is AMD clamping down on information? Hard to say. My guess here is that they are taking the philosophy of, “No news is good news.” If a company does not send out review samples, they do not have to deal with products receiving bad reviews. I am not saying that the FX processors are necessarily bad, but they do not match up well against Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge parts. At least AMD parts are priced appropriately overall for their level of performance. If we look at overall results, the FX-8150 does match up fairly well with the i5-2500K, and they both exist very close to each other in price points.
What we do know is that AMD has released two new processors into the market with the FX-4170 and the FX-6200. The FX-4170 is a new dual module (four core) 125 watt TDP part that is clocked at an amazing 4.2 GHz stock speed, and a turbo that goes to 4.3 GHz. This is the fastest consumer grade processor in terms of clockspeed, but it obviously is not the fastest processor on Earth. The original FX-4100 is a 95 watt TDP part at 3.6 GHz stock/3.8 GHz turbo, 4 MB L2 cache, and 8 MB of L3. The FX-6200 is perhaps the more interesting of the two. It has a base clock of 3.8 GHz and a max turbo speed of 4.1 GHz. This is a pretty hefty increase from the FX-6100 with its base 3.3 GHz and 3.9 GHz turbo. The 6100 is a 95 watt TDP part while the new 6200 is 125 watt TDP. The 6200 is a three module (six core) part with 6 MB of L2 cache and 8 MB of L3.
The last bit of news is that the FX-8120 is getting a price cut to put it more in line against the competition. The email that we received about this and the previous announcements was amazingly generic and fairly uninformative. We do not know the prices, we do not know the rollout schedule, and we have no idea how much the FX-8120 is going to be chopped. We have seen the retail market already cut the prices down on the FX-8xxx series. The high end FX-8150 was introduced around $289 but now it can be readily available for $259. Now that demand has dropped in the PC sector and AMD’s supply has caught up, it is no wonder we are seeing new SKUs and the lowering of prices.
My goal is to try to get a hold of some of these parts, as they do look interesting from a value standpoint. The FX-6200 is of great interest for many users due to the nice provisioning of cores, L3 caches, and speeds. Throw in a decent price for this particular product, and it could be a favorite for budget enthusiasts who want to stick with AMD products. The area where it does fall down is that of TDP when compared to Intel’s Sandy Bridge parts at that price point. The jump to 3.8 GHz base speed and 4.1 GHz turbo should make it very comparable in stock clocked performance to anything Intel has in that price range.
Overclocking could be interesting here, but since it is already a 125 watt TDP part I do not know how much headroom these products have. 4.8 GHz is very likely, but on air cooling I would not expect overclocked speeds to reach much more above that. Still, these are interesting parts and give plenty of bang for their price. Add in pretty mature support for AM3+ motherboards, and AMD still has a chance with enthusiasts. The only real issue that is looming is PCI-E 3.0 support for the AM3+ ecosystem. We have not heard anything about the upcoming (or is it cancelled?) 1090FX chipset, other than it is based on 890FX/990FX and should not support PCI-E 3.0. With AMD’s push for APUs, I would expect the upcoming Trinity parts to introduce PCI-E 3.0. AMD also looks like they will start funneling the enthusiasts towards FM2 platforms and Trinity based parts. While AMD looks to support AM3+ with Piledriver based cores, my best guess here is that AM3+ will be phased out sooner rather than later.
The next 6 months will be critical for AMD and their path moving forwards. At the very least we will have a better idea of where the company is going under the new management. I am still expecting some big changes from AMD, and if Trinity can give Intel a run for its money in terms of per clock CPU performance, then they could have a winner on their hands and adjust their roadmap to further exploit that particular product release.
Subject: Processors | February 17, 2012 - 01:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: fx-8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 990fx
AMD's $270 flagship processor, the 3.6GHz FX-8150 had a mixed reception as the hype which lead up to the release built up our expectations to a point that the processor could not live up to. Part of the disappointment has been blamed on the Windows 7 thread scheduler, which AMD described as not being optimized for their architecture, which lead to the release of hotfix files KB2645594 and KB2646060. TechPowerUp revisited their benchmarks to see if these patches effectively increase the performance of multi-threaded tasks; single threaded tasks are dependant on processor speed so they should be unaffected by the patches.
"After settling on the market, with all the quirks and bugs supposedly fixed, all the hype and disappointment blown away, we put AMD's FX-8150 under the scope. Benchmarks are done with and without the Windows 7 hotfix and in depth overclocking should resolve any doubts you have about AMD's flagship processor."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD A8-3870K and Sapphire HD6450 FleX @ Kitguru
- The Opteron 6276: a closer look @ AnandTech
- AMD A8-3870K Unlocked Llano APU Review @ Hardware Canucks
- The Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Intel Core i7-3820 vs. Core i7-2700K and Core i7-3930K @ X-bit Labs
- Intel Core i7-3820 3.6GHz Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- Intel Core i7-3820 @ Techspot
- Intel Core i7-3930K @ OC3D
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2011 - 12:02 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, Intel, FX, corsair, bulldozer, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #174 - 10/13/2011
Join us this week as we talk about the AMD FX Processor launch, New products from Corsair, Viewer Questions and more!
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Video coming soon!