Berlin invades San Francisco; meet the new HSA enabled Opteron

Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2014 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: amd, hsa, berlin, Opteron X-series, Red Hat

Next Wednesday we will get our first look at the HSA enabled Opteron X Series, otherwise known as Berlin.  AMD will be unveiling the processor at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco with an X2100 Opteron running on a Linux environment that is based on the Fedora Project.  We have very recently had a chance to see the desktop equivalent, Kaveri, in action but this will be the first example of AMD's heterogeneous computing on a server.  Keep your eyes peeled for our coverage, in the mean time you can get a preview at The Register.

amd_opteron_0.jpg

"AMD will give the first public demo of its second-generation Opteron X-Series server processor, code-named "Berlin", at the Red Hat Summit in San Francisco on Wednesday."

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Source: The Register

AMD announces Garlic and Onion flavours on their first HSA chips

Subject: Processors | January 14, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: a10-6700, a8-6500, a8-7600, amd, APU, hsa, i3-4330, Kaveri

Not only are the first Kaveri reviews arriving today, the A10-7850K is up for sale on both NewEgg and Amazon and the A10-7700K is available on NewEgg.  This new part, at 45W competes favourably with the previous 100W Trinity APU in most tests and when Ryan boosted it to 65W it gained a little more.  The Steamroller cores have been updated but not in a way that has a huge effect on CPU performance, on the other hand the 384 SIMD units composing the GPU portion of this chip are quite impressive, 1080p gaming of current generation titles is possible on this chip and we haven't seen it's big brother with 512 SIMD units yet.  In the Tech Report's review you can see that BF4 is playable on this chip and this is not the Mantle version optimized for AMD's new architecture.  It is also a pity that Thief was unavailable to see just what TrueAudio is capable of.  Unfortunately this chip will not find its home in gamers dream machines, that is simply not where AMD is targeting its CPUs.  However, for SFF systems that need to be energy efficient and where a discrete GPU is to big to fit Kaveri will usher in a new level of performance.

die-shot.jpg

"AMD's next-generation APU packs in a ton of innovation, including updated "Steamroller" CPU cores, GCN graphics, and advanced HSA features. But is it enough to restore AMD's competitiveness in desktop processors?"

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

The AMD Kaveri Architecture

Kaveri: AMD’s New Flagship Processor

How big is Kaveri?  We already know the die size of it, but what kind of impact will it have on the marketplace?  Has AMD chosen the right path by focusing on power consumption and HSA?  Starting out an article with three questions in a row is a questionable tactic for any writer, but these are the things that first come to mind when considering a product the likes of Kaveri.  I am hoping we can answer a few of these questions by the end of this article, but alas it seems as though the market will have the final say as to how successful this new architecture is.

AMD has been pursuing the “Future is Fusion” line for several years, but it can be argued that Kaveri is truly the first “Fusion” product that completes the overall vision for where AMD wants to go.  The previous several generations of APUs were initially not all that integrated in a functional sense, but the complexity and completeness of that integration has been improved upon with each iteration.  Kaveri takes this integration to the next step, and one which fulfills the promise of a truly heterogeneous computing solution.  While AMD has the hardware available, we have yet to see if the software companies are willing to leverage the compute power afforded by a robust and programmable graphics unit powered by AMD’s GCN architecture.

(Editor's Note: The following two pages were written by our own Josh Walrath, dicsussing the technology and architecture of AMD Kaveri.  Testing and performance analysis by Ryan Shrout starts on page 3.)

Process Decisions

The first step in understanding Kaveri is taking a look at the process technology that AMD is using for this particular product.  Since AMD divested itself of their manufacturing arm, they have had to rely on GLOBALFOUNDRIES to produce nearly all of their current CPUs and APUs.  Bulldozer, Piledriver, Llano, Trinity, and Richland based parts were all produced on GF’s 32 nm PD-SOI process.  The lower power APUs such as Brazos and Kabini have been produced by TSMC on their 40 nm and 28 nm processes respectively.

kv01.jpg

Kaveri will take a slightly different approach here.  It will be produced by GLOBALFOUNDRIES, but it will forego the SOI and utilize a bulk silicon process.  28 nm HKMG is very common around the industry, but few pure play foundries were willing to tailor their process to the direct needs of AMD and the Kaveri product.  GF was able to do such a thing.  APUs are a different kind of animal when it comes to fabrication, primarily because the two disparate units require different characteristics to perform at the highest efficiency.  As such, compromises had to be made.

Continue reading our review of the new AMD Kaveri A8-7600 APU!!

AMD CES 2014 Presentation: Kaveri Goes Official

Subject: Processors | January 7, 2014 - 04:52 AM |
Tagged: amd, CES, 2014, Kaveri, A10 7850K, A10 7700K, APU, firepro, hsa

This year’s AMD CES was actually more interesting than I was expecting.  The details of the event were well known, as most Kaveri details have been revealed over the past few months.  I was unsure what Lisa Su and the gang would go over, but it was actually more interesting than I was expecting.

kav01.jpg

This past year has been a big one for AMD.  They seem to be doing a lot better than others expected them to, especially with all of the delayed product launches on the CPU side for quite a few years.  This year saw the APU take a pretty prominent place in the industry with the launch of the latest generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft.  AMD made inroads with mobile form factors with a variety of APUs.  The HSA Foundation members have grown and HSA members ship two out of every three connected, smart devices.  Apple also includes Firepro graphics cards with all of their new Mac Pros.

Kaveri is of course the big news here.  AMD feels that this is the best APU yet.  The combination of Steamroller CPU cores, GCN graphics compute cores, HSA, hUMA, HQ, TrueAudio, Mantle support, PCI-E 3.0 support, and a configurable TDP makes for a pretty compelling product.  AMD has shuffled some nomenclature about by saying that Kaveri, at the top end, is comprised of 12 compute cores.  These include 4 Steamroller cores and 8 GCN compute clusters.  Each compute cluster matches the historical definition of a core, but of course it looks quite a bit different than a traditional x86 core.

kav02.jpg

We have gone over Kaveri pretty extensively in the past.  The CPU is clocked at 3.7 GHz with a 4 GHz boost.  The graphics portion clocks in at 720 MHz.  It can support up to DDR-3 2400 MHz memory, which is really needed to extract as much performance out of this new APU.  Benchmarks provided by AMD show this product to be a big jump from the previous Richland, and in these particular benchmarks are quite a bit faster than the competing i5 4670K.

Gaming performance is also improved.  This APU can run most current applications at 1080P resolutions with low to medium quality settings.  Older titles can be run at 1080P with Medium to High/Extreme settings.  While this processor is rated at around 867 GFLOPS, which is around 110 GFLOPS greater than the previous top end Richland, it is more efficient at delivering that theoretical performance.  It looks to be a significant improvement all around.

kav03.jpg

Software support is improving with applications from companies like Adobe, The Document Foundation, and Nuance.  These cover HSA applications and in Nuance’s case, using the TrueAudio portion to clean up and accelerate voice recognition.  TrueAudio is also being supported in five upcoming games.  This is not a huge amount, but it is a decent start for this new technology.

Mantle is gaining a lot more momentum with support from 3 engines, 5 developers, and 20+ games in development.  They showed off Battlefied 4 running Mantle on a Kaveri APU for the first time publicly.  They mentioned that it ran 45% faster than Direct3D at the same quality levels on the same hardware.  The display showed frame rates up in the low 50 fps area.

kav04.jpg

AMD is continuing to move forward on their low power offerings based on Beema and Mullins.  Lisa claims that these parts are outperforming the Intel Baytrail offerings in both CPU performance and graphics.  Unfortunately, she mentioned noting about the power consumption associated with these results.  They showed off the Discovery tablet as well as a fully functional PC that was the size of a large cellphone.

They closed up the even by talking about the Surround House 2.  This demo looks significantly better than the previous iteration we saw last year.  This features something like a 34.2 speaker setup in a projected dome.  It is much more complex than the House from last year, but the hardware running it all is rather common.  A single high end Firepro card running on a single A10 7850K.  The demo is also one of the first shows of a 360 degree gesture recognition setup.

kav05.jpg

AMD has come a long way since hitting rock bottom a few years back.  They continue to claw their way back to relevance, and they hope that Kaveri will help them regain a foothold in the computing market.  They are certainly doing well in the graphics market, but the introduction of Kaveri should help them gain more momentum in the CPU/APU market.  We have yet to test Kaveri on our own, but initial results look promising.  It is a better APU, but we just don’t know how much better so far.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

 

Source: AMD

Valve, Cloudius, and HSA Join Linux Foundation (Separately).

Subject: General Tech | December 5, 2013 - 03:03 AM |
Tagged: linux, valve, SteamOS, hsa foundation, hsa

Valve may very well produce one of the near future's most popular non-mobile, consumer, Linux distributions. SteamOS will be marketed for gaming PCs (some very compelling ones at that) starting next year. CES will definitely be interesting. With such a popular distribution, and as an existing member of the Khronos Group, it makes sense for Valve to join the Linux Foundation... and they just did.

linuxfoundation.png

It is still unknown to what extent Valve joined Linux (members are classified by level of contribution from Platinum to Silver) and we likely will not know until their list is updated. While they probably will not be hanging out with Intel and others in the platinum category, Silver is not the most noteworthy of statuses... alongside Barnes and Noble (likely because of the Nook) and Twitter.

Another addition is the HSA Foundation. AMD is already a Gold member (y'know... HSA's faja) and ARM is Silver so I cannot see HSA being much more than that. Still, Linux will be an important focus for the heterogeneous computing architectures to endorse: both in terms of back-end server optimization and customer-facing devices.

Of course I am not belittling any contribution. Still, there is that desire to see Valve lead the pack. Ultimately, though, it is not the size of the badge: it is how you wear it.

Source: LinuxUser

Video: Battlefield 4 Running on AMD A10 Kaveri APU and Image Decoder HSA Acceleration

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | November 12, 2013 - 06:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, Kaveri, APU, video, hsa

Yesterday at the AMD APU13 developer conference, the company showed off the upcoming Kaveri APU running Battlefield 4 completely on the integrated graphics.  I was able to push the AMD guys along and get a little more personal demo to share with our readers.  The Kaveri APU had some of its details revealed this week:

  • Quad-core Steamroller x86
  • 512 Stream Processor GPU
  • 856 GFLOPS of theoretical performance
  • 3.7 GHz CPU clock speed, 720 MHz GPU clock speed

AMD wanted to be sure we pointed out in this video that the estimate clock speeds for FLOP performance may not be what the demo system was run at (likely a bit lower).  Also, the version of Battlefield 4 here is the standard retail version and with further improvements from the driver team as the upcoming Mantle API implementation will likely introduce even more performance for the APU.

The game was running at 1920x1080 with MOSTLY medium quality settings (lighting set to low) but the results still looked damn impressive and the frame rates were silky and smooth.  Considering this is running on a desktop with integrated processor graphics, the game play experience is simply unmatched.  

Memory in the system was running at 2133 MHz.

The second demo looks at the image decoding acceleration that AMD is going to enable with Kaveri APUs upon release with a driver.  Essentially, as the demonstration shows in the video, AMD is overwriting the integrated Windows JPG decompression algorithm with a new one that utilizes HSA to accelerate on both the x86 and SIMD (GPU) portions of the silicon.  For the most strenuous demo that used 22 MP images saw a 100% increase in performance compared to the Kaveri CPU cores alone.

Podcast #266 - Corsair Air 540 Case, MSI GTX 780 Lightning, hUMA in the PS4, and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 29, 2013 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, video, ps4, podcast, msi, hUMA, hsa, gtx 780, corsair, case, amd, air 540, 780 lightning

PC Perspective Podcast #266 - 08/29/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair Air 540 Case, MSI GTX 780 Lightning, hUMA in the PS4, 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:12:24

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Samsung 840 EVO pricing was definitely not kidding!
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

ASUS Shows Off FM2+ Motherboards Compatible With AMD Kaveri APUs

Subject: Motherboards | July 28, 2013 - 07:40 PM |
Tagged: hUMA, Kaveri, hsa, fm2, asus, APU, A88X, A55, PCI-E 3.0, mATX

ASUS recently announced two new socket FM2+ motherboards that are compatible with AMD’s upcoming “Kaveri” Accelerated Processing Units (APUs). The new boards are the A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 and use the A88X and A55 AMD chipsets respectively. Pricing and availability have not yet been released, but the new boards confirm that users will need new motherboards in order to take advantage of AMD’s next generation APUs (though the new FM2+ boards are backwards compatible with the existing APUs, it will not work the other way around). Both motherboards should be available around the time of the Kaveri processor launch (2H 2013).

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard (2).jpg

The AMD A88XMA FM2+ Motherboard.

Both the ASUS A88XMA and A55BM-A/USB3 motherboards come in the mATX form factor. The boards both have FM2+ processor sockets and expansion slots including a single PCI-E 3.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot. The support for PCI-E 3.0 is new for AMD motherboards, and the extra bandwidth may prove useful for as graphics cards get faster and AMD works on its hUMA and HSA architectures to create a layer of virtual memory that can be simultaneously addressed by CPUs and GPUs. There will still be latency to deal with over the PCI-E bus, but more data can be moved back and forth in the same amount of time.

ASUS A88XMA Kaveri Motherboard Rear IO.jpg

The two ASUS FM2+ motherboards also share the same rear IO options, which include:

  • 2 x PS/2
  • 3 x Video outputs:
    • 1 x HDMI
    • 1 x DVI
    • 1 x VGA
  • 2 x USB 3.0
  • 2 x USB 2.0
  • 1 x Gigabit Ethernet
  • 3 x Analog audio jacks

The RJ45 jacks are backed by a Realtek 8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller and the audio jacks are handled by a Realtek ALC887-VD chipset. Finally, they also have UEFI BIOSes in common, but from there the two boards diverge in hardware capabilities.

The ASUS A88XMA is the higher-end of the two boards, and features a FM2+ socket, four DDR3 DIMM slots, and six SATA 3 6Gbps ports. It utilizes the AMD A88X chipset which is aimed at enthusiast platforms.

ASUS A55BM-AUSB3 Kaveri Motherboard.jpg

ASUS' A55BM-A/USB3 budget motherboard.

On the other hand, the A55BM-A/USB3 motherboard uses the cheaper A55 chipset. That motherboard features an FM2+ socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, and six right angle SATA 2 3Gpbs ports. The A55Bm-A/USB3 should be significantly cheaper as a result of the A55 chipset and resulting hardware reductions. In most other respects, ASUS has managed to make the two baords remarkably similar, including aesthetics and basic board layout.

According to Bit-Tech, the two boards are are part of a larger family of boards with the new FM2+ sockets. As such, we should see additional ASUS boards that fill in the gaps between the two models closer to AMD's Kaveri launch. As noted above, ASUS has not provided official pricing or release date information yet.

Source: Bit-Tech

AMD, HSA, LibreOffice and you

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2013 - 12:07 PM |
Tagged: hsa, amd, LibreOffice

Need an excuse to give the 'boss' on why you need to buy a new AMD CPU or GPU?  Check out The Register for a reason custom made for you; accelerated LibreOffice performance which will help you when working on spreadsheets.  AMD will be working with the designers at the (slightly more successful) competitor to OpenOffice to allow the newest versions to be HSA compliant.  This is perhaps not a huge win as many people do not work with office documents which will greatly benefit from GPU acceleration but it does serve to show the acceptance the industry has to the HSA as LibreOffice joins applications such as Open C, C++ AMP, Java and Python in supporting HSA features.

hsa-foundation-samsung.jpg

"It is great to work on LibreOffice with The Document Foundation to expose the raw power of AMD GPUs and APUs, initially to spreadsheet users," said Manju Hegde, VP of heterogeneous solutions at AMD, in a statement."

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Source: The Register

Podcast #249 - Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Indiegogo, corair, obsidian, 350d, mATX, frame rating, 4k, titan, 7990, 690, Oculus, rift, VR, 3d, amd, amd fx, vishera, hUMA, hsa

PC Perspective Podcast #249 - 05/02/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift 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!

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Hosts: Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:04:02

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Windows Movie Maker lets you record webcam videos!
    2. Jeremy: anti-pick - hotels that don't offer a RJ45 jack in the rooms!
    3. Allyn: Ventev USB charging stuff (home / auto)
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro