Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2014 - 01:40 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SoC, Panasonic, Intel, arm
Intel has been fabbing ARM chips for Altera since the end of last year after their unprecedented move of allowing non-Intel designs into their fabs. This decision allowed Intel to increase the percentage of time the fabs were active, as they are no longer able to keep them at full capacity with their own chips and have even mothballed the new Fab 42 in Arizona. Altera is a good customer, as are Tabula, Netronome and Microsemi but together they are still not enough to bring Intel's capacity close to 100%. The Register has reported on a new contract with the ink still wet from signing; Panasonic will now be using Intel's Fabs for their ARM based SoCs. The immense size of Panasonic should keep Intel busy and ensure that they continue to make mountains of money licensing their 14nm-process tri-Gate transistors as well as the Fab time.
"Intel has notched up another customer for its fledgling Foundry business as it tries to make money out of its manufacturing and engineering expertise besides x86 processor sales.
The world's most valuable chip manufacturer said on Monday that Panasonic's audio-visual gear will make future system-on-chips (SoCs) in Intel's factories."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Fridge hacked. Car hacked. Next up, your LIGHT BULBS @ The Register
- RS Components shows off 3D printer line-up @ The Inquirer
- Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 reaches general release @ The Inquirer
- Meet Xiki, the Revolutionary Command Shell for Linux and Mac OS X @ Linux.com
- Anime Expo 2014 – Part 3: Next-Level Cosplays @ Legit Reviews
When Magma Freezes Over...
Intel confirms that they have approached AMD about access to their Mantle API. The discussion, despite being clearly labeled as "an experiment" by an Intel spokesperson, was initiated by them -- not AMD. According to AMD's Gaming Scientist, Richard Huddy, via PCWorld, AMD's response was, "Give us a month or two" and "we'll go into the 1.0 phase sometime this year" which only has about five months left in it. When the API reaches 1.0, anyone who wants to participate (including hardware vendors) will be granted access.
AMD inside Intel Inside???
I do wonder why Intel would care, though. Intel has the fastest per-thread processors, and their GPUs are not known to be workhorses that are held back by API call bottlenecks, either. Of course, that is not to say that I cannot see any reason, however...
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | July 2, 2014 - 03:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Xeon Phi, xeon, silvermont, 14nm
Anandtech has just published a large editorial detailing Intel's Knights Landing. Mostly, it is stuff that we already knew from previous announcements and leaks, such as one by VR-Zone from last November (which we reported on). Officially, few details were given back then, except that it would be available as either a PCIe-based add-in board or as a socketed, bootable, x86-compatible processor based on the Silvermont architecture. Its many cores, threads, and 512 bit registers are each pretty weak, compared to Haswell, for instance, but combine to about 3 TFLOPs of double precision performance.
Not enough graphs. Could use another 256...
The best way to imagine it is running a PC with a modern, Silvermont-based Atom processor -- only with up to 288 processors listed in your Task Manager (72 actual cores with quad HyperThreading).
The main limitation of GPUs (and similar coprocessors), however, is memory bandwidth. GDDR5 is often the main bottleneck of compute performance and just about the first thing to be optimized. To compensate, Intel is packaging up-to 16GB of memory (stacked DRAM) on the chip, itself. This RAM is based on "Hybrid Memory Cube" (HMC), developed by Micron Technology, and supported by the Hybrid Memory Cube Consortium (HMCC). While the actual memory used in Knights Landing is derived from HMC, it uses a proprietary interface that is customized for Knights Landing. Its bandwidth is rated at around 500GB/s. For comparison, the NVIDIA GeForce Titan Black has 336.4GB/s of memory bandwidth.
Intel and Micron have worked together in the past. In 2006, the two companies formed "IM Flash" to produce the NAND flash for Intel and Crucial SSDs. Crucial is Micron's consumer-facing brand.
So the vision for Knights Landing seems to be the bridge between CPU-like architectures and GPU-like ones. For compute tasks, GPUs edge out CPUs by crunching through bundles of similar tasks at the same time, across many (hundreds of, thousands of) computing units. The difference with (at least socketed) Xeon Phi processors is that, unlike most GPUs, Intel does not rely upon APIs, such as OpenCL, and drivers to translate a handful of functions into bundles of GPU-specific machine language. Instead, especially if the Xeon Phi is your system's main processor, it will run standard, x86-based software. The software will just run slowly, unless it is capable of vectorizing itself and splitting across multiple threads. Obviously, OpenCL (and other APIs) would make this parallelization easy, by their host/kernel design, but it is apparently not required.
It is a cool way that Intel arrives at the same goal, based on their background. Especially when you mix-and-match Xeons and Xeon Phis on the same computer, it is a push toward heterogeneous computing -- with a lot of specialized threads backing up a handful of strong ones. I just wonder if providing a more-direct method of programming will really help developers finally adopt massively parallel coding practices.
I mean, without even considering GPU compute, how efficient is most software at splitting into even two threads? Four threads? Eight threads? Can this help drive heterogeneous development? Or will this product simply try to appeal to those who are already considering it?
Subject: General Tech | June 26, 2014 - 02:36 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xeon, video, seiki, podcast, nvidia, msi, Intel, HDMI 2.0, gt70 2pe, gt70, gameworks, FX-9590, displayport 1.3, coolermaster, amd, 4k
PC Perspective Podcast #306 - 06/26/2014
Join us this week as we discuss our Budget PC Shootout, the Coolermaster Elite 110, an AMD GameWorks competitor and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Welcome to our beta podcast!
Quakecon is coming up, as is our Hardware Workshop!
Week in Review:
0:24:00 Noctua NH-U12S CPU Cooler Review
News items of interest:
0:42:00 You got your FPGA in my Xeon!
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | June 23, 2014 - 01:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, kingston, Samsung, Intel, sandisk, rumour
If the information provided to DigiTimes is correct we may be in for a price war between SSD manufacturers. We have seen price drops in flash memory, especially with the advent of TLC and asynchronous flash which have been heartily approved by most enthusiasts. However there is a chance that in the coming months competition will start driving prices of SSDs down but may have the opposite impact on other products. Micron is planning on reducing the amount of memory it sells to other companies in order to ramp up its stock of SSDs and SanDisk has jumped into the market with both feet. You can also expect to see all the major manufacturers start putting out more M.2 drives as adoption of Intel's Z97 board grows.
"The SSD industry is heading for fierce price competition as major suppliers, including Micron Technology, Intel, Kingston Technology, SanDisk and Samsung Electronics, are gearing up efforts to outperform others, according to industry sources."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Skype to retire Windows and Mac versions after just five months @ The Inquirer
- AMD reveals Firepro W8100 workstation graphics card for high-end CAD @ The Inquirer
- Only 9,000 out of 300,000 servers were patched to fix Heartbleed bug last month @ The Inquirer
- Nouveau Re-Clocking Is Way Faster, Shows Much Progress For Open-Source NVIDIA @ Phoronix
- All Halfbrick Studios iOS Games Are FREE! @ TechARP
- 32,000 motherboards spit passwords in CLEARTEXT! @ The Register
- Linksys WRT1900AC Dual-Band Wireless Router @ eTeknix
- Legit Reviews’ E3 2014 Best of Show @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2014 - 01:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xeon, Intel, FPGA
Intel has just revealed what The Register is aptly referring to as the FrankenChip, a hybrid Xeon E5 and FPGA chip. This will allow large companies to access the power of a Xeon and be able to offload some work onto an FPGA they can program and optimize themselves. The low power FPGA is actually on the chip, as opposed to Microsoft's recent implementation which saw FPGA's added to PCIe slots. Intel's solution does not use up a slot and also offers direct access to the Xeon cache hierarchy and system memory via QPI which will allow for increased performance. Another low power shot has been fired at ARM's attempts to grow their share of the server market but we shall see if the inherent complexity of programming an FPGA to work with an x86 is more or less attractive than switching to ARM.
"Intel has expanded its chip customization business to help it take on the hazy threat posed by some of the world's biggest clouds adopting low-power ARM processors."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Amazon's new, not-really-3D Fire: Puts Bezos' cash register in YOUR pocket @ The Register
- Amazon Fire Phone will crash and burn @ The Inquirer
- Knitted Circuit Board Lends Flexibility to E-Textiles @ Hack a Day
- 3D Windowing System Developed Using Wayland, Oculus Rift @ Slashdot
- Google Play Store is littered with 'secret keys' @ The Inquirer
- How farsighted is Microsoft's Azure RemoteApp? @ The Register
- Rollei Mini WiFi Camcorder 1 Review @ NikKTech
- The Dell Inspiron 3000 & 5000 Launch Report @ Tech ARP
A refresh for Haswell
Intel is not very good at keeping secrets recently. Rumors of a refreshed Haswell line of processors have been circulating for most of 2014. In March, it not only confirmed that release but promised an even more exciting part called Devil's Canyon. The DC parts are still quad-core Haswell processors built on Intel's 22nm process technology, but change a few specific things.
Intel spent some time on the Devil's Canyon Haswell processors to improve the packaging and thermals for overclockers and enthusiasts. The thermal interface material (TIM) that lies in between the die and the heat spreader has been updated to a next-generation polymer TIM (NGPTIM). The change should improve cooling performance of all currently shipping cooling solutions (air or liquid), but it is still a question just HOW MUCH this change will actually matter.
You can also tell from the photo comparison above that Intel has added capacitors to the back of the processor to "smooth" power delivery. This, in combination with the NGPTIM, should enable a bit more headroom for clock speeds with the Core i7-4790K.
In fact, there are two Devil's Canyon processors being launched this month. The Core i7-4790K will sell for $339, the same price as the Core i7-4770K, while the Core i5-4690K will sell for $242. The lower end option is a 3.5 GHz base clock, 3.9 GHz Turbo clock quad-core CPU without HyperThreading. While a nice step over the Core i5-4670K, it's only 100 MHz faster. Clearly the Core i7-4790K is the part everyone is going to be scrambling to buy.
Another interesting change is that both the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K enable support for both Intel's VT-d virtualization IO technology and Intel's TSX-NI transactional memory instructions. This makes them the first enthusiast-grade unlocked processors from Intel to support them!
As Intel states it, the Core i7-4790K and the Core i5-4690K have been "designed to be used in conjunction with the Z97 chipset." That being said, at least one motherboard manufacturer, ASUS, has released limited firmware updates to support the Devil's Canyon parts on Z87 products. Not all motherboards are going to be capable, and not all vendors are going to the spend the time to integrate support, so keep an eye on the support page for your specific motherboard.
The CPU itself looks no different on the top, save for the updated model numbering.
Core i7-4790K on the left, Core i7-4770K on the right
On the back you can see the added capacitors that help with stable overclocking.
The clock speed advantage that the Core i7-4790K provides over the Core i7-4770K should not be overlooked, even before overclocking is taken into consideration. A 500 MHz base clock boost is 14% higher in this case and in those specific CPU-limited tasks, you should see very high scaling.
Subject: General Tech | June 3, 2014 - 02:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, i7-4790k, devil's canyon, computex 2014, computex, 4790k
The biggest improvement for overclockers on the new Devil's Canyon processors goes by the name of Next-Generation Polymer Thermal Interface Material; which will replace the much maligned TIM used on Haswell chips that many have blamed for poor overclocking results. So far the news is good but as no samples have arrived anywhere for review we still await the final word. As it is an LGA 1150 processor the current heatsinks will cool this chip and in theory a BIOS/UEFI update should allow them to run on current Z87 boards making it a very easy upgrade. As you can see in the list the speeds are raised slightly from the previous generation, check out the other features [H]ard|OCP heard about right here.
"Intel is presenting its new Devil's Canyon processors today at Computex in Taiwan. Enthusiasts get a two new processor solutions, one with HyperThreading and one without. While many of us are familiar with processor core clocks of 4GHz+, this is first time we have Intel serving up a minimum 4GHz clock on its enthusiast K processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 4th Gen Intel Core "Devil's Canyon" Processor Family Preview @ NitroWare
- Intel intros 'Devil's Canyon,' Pentium Anniversary overclockable CPUs @ The Tech Report
- Intel Devil's Canyon i7 4790K & i5 4690K Preview @ Hardware Canucks
- Intel Devils Canyon receives support on ASUS Z87 @ Madshrimps
- Computex 2014 International Press Conference and New Product Preview @ Techware Labs
- Crucial ships DDR4 for servers, desktop modules coming in August @ The Tech Report
- Computex 2014 Asus Product Announcement and Press Event @ TechwareLabs
- Asus engineers confirm 120hz 4k still some time away @ Kitguru
- Microsoft, Salesforce thump table in cloud tie-up talks – report @ The Register
- Netis Wireless Adapters and Portable Router @ TechwareLabs
- Misfit Shine Wearable Fitness Activity Monitor Review @ Legit Reviews
- Samsung, with this new 3D NAND SSD, you're really spoiling us ... or perhaps a rival? @ The Register
- Samsung wants to 'thingify' your BODY with Simband @ The Register
- DIY IoT computer smaller than a square inch @ The Register
- iOS 8 vs iOS 7 @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft might make us wait another year for the Windows 8 Start Menu @ The Inquirer
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 3, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, amd, richard huddy
Interesting news is crossing the ocean today as we learn that Richard Huddy, who has previously had stints at NVIDIA, ATI, AMD and most recently, Intel, is teaming up with AMD once again. Richard brings with him years of experience and innovation in the world of developer relations and graphics technology. Often called "the Godfather" of DirectX, AMD wants to prove to the community it is taking PC gaming seriously.
The official statement from AMD follows:
AMD is proud to announce the return of the well-respected authority in gaming, Richard Huddy. After three years away from AMD, Richard returns as AMD's Gaming Scientist in the Office of the CTO - he'll be serving as a senior advisor to key technology executives, like Mark Papermaster, Raja Koduri and Joe Macri. AMD is extremely excited to have such an industry visionary back. Having spent his professional career with companies like NVIDIA, Intel and ATI, and having led the worldwide ISV engineering team for over six years at AMD, Mr. Huddy has a truly unique perspective on the PC and Gaming industries.
Mr. Huddy rejoins AMD after a brief stint at Intel, where he had a major impact on their graphics roadmap. During his career Richard has made enormous contributions to the industry, including the development of DirectX and a wide range of visual effects technologies. Mr. Huddy’s contributions in gaming have been so significant that he was immortalized as ‘The Scientist’ in Max Payne (if you’re a gamer, you’ll see the resemblance immediately).
Kitguru has a video from Richard Huddy explaining his reasoning for the move back to AMD.
This move points AMD in a very interesting direction going forward. The creation of the Mantle API and the debate around AMD's developer relations programs are going to be hot topics as we move into the summer and I am curious how quickly Huddy thinks he can have an impact.
I have it on good authority we will find out very soon.
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Intel has a nasty habit of releasing disruptive technology, especially in the area of computer storage. Among the first of those releases was the X25-M, which was groundbreaking to say the least. At a time where most other SATA SSDs were just stopgap attempts to graft flash memory to a different interface, Intel's SATA SSD was really the first true performer.
With performance in the bag, Intel shifted their attention to reducing the cost of their products. The next few generations of the Intel line was coupled with leadership in die shrinks. This all came together in the form of SSD releases of increasingly reduced cost. Sure the enterprise parts retained a premium, but the consumer parts generally remained competitive.
Now Intel appears to have once again shifted their attention to performance, and we know it has been in the works for a while now. With the SATA bottleneck becoming increasingly apparent, big changes needed to me made. First, SATA, while fine for relatively high latency HDD's, was just never meant for SSD speeds. As SSD performance increased, the latencies involved with the interface overhead (translating memory-based addresses into ATA style commands) becomes more and more of a burden.
The solution is to not only transition to PCIe, but to do so using a completely new software and driver interface, called NVM Express. NVMe has been in the works for a while, and offers some incredible benefits in that it essentially brings the flash memory closer to the CPU. The protocol was engineered for the purpose of accessing flash memory as storage, and doing so as fast and with the least latency as possible. We hadn't seen any true NVMe products hit the market, until today, that is:
Behold the Intel SSD DC P3700!