AMD Gains GPU Market Share From Last Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, APU, amd

Despite a slight decline in PC sales compared to last quarter, graphics processors are on the rise. Jon Peddie Research attributes the heightened interest in graphics, with a decline in systems, to a trend towards multiple GPUs in a system. Crossfire and SLI, according to the report, are not driving this drift but they are relevant. More importantly, consumers are adding discrete graphics to systems with integrated solutions.

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AMD has experienced an increase in shipments of 47% for laptop APUs. Desktop heterogeneous processors declined but, in all, shipments increased 11%. Intel, likewise, saw an increase albeit just 6%. NVIDIA declined 8%. AMD now enjoys a 5.8% lead in total market share over NVIDIA.

Many PCs have access to multiple graphics processors simultaneously. With an increase of available GPUs, software developers might take the plunge into fully supporting heterogeneous architectures. You could imagine a game which offloads physics or AI pathfinding to secondary graphics. Sure, the increased heat would slightly limit the turbo-performance of the CPU, but the increased parallel performance should overtake that decreased serial performance for a sensible developer.

JPR claims an average of nearly 1.4 GPUs available per system.

The increased laptop heterogeneous processors is a major win for AMD. Still, I wonder how much Never Settle played in to users dropping discrete graphics into machines which would otherwise have integrated (chipset or processor) graphics. The discrete graphics market has declined and yet somehow AMD got a boost from double-attach or replaced graphics.

The report only discusses consumer x86 tablets, desktops, laptops, and some hybrid between the previous three categories. Other processor architectures or x86 servers are not covered.

Source: JPR

Intel is releasing a new optical interconnect; this time they totally mean it

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2013 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: MXC, Intel, idf, fiber optics, corning

Remember Intel's LightPeak, that optical interconnect which promised incredible throughput that Apple somehow managed to quash?  Thunderbolt is interesting, though certainly expensive and offers only a part of what we were promised at what seems an exorbitant amount of money.  At the upcoming IDF Intel promises to introduce an optical connector which is similar to what LightPeak was although it will be intended for server interconnects as opposed to removable devices.  However at 1.6 Tbps MXC will be impressively fast and Corning's new ClearCurve LW fibre technology will prove to be rugged enough to survive through the bends and snarls which inevitably occur when two or more wires are put in close proximity.  Check out the link to the abstract through ExtremeTech.

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"Ahead of the Intel Developer Forum next month, Intel and Corning are teasing a new optical interconnect technology capable of 1.6 terabits per second. Dubbed MXC, the interconnect is designed to supercharge the interconnection of servers in data center environments, where current networking technologies are struggling to keep up with the massive growth of cloud computing."

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Source: ExtremeTech

Desktop Ivy Bridge-E Could Overclock Quite Well? Price?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 11, 2013 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Ivy Bridge was well known, just not in a good way, for its overclocking ability. We noted how sharply temperatures rose when frequencies were increased above factory recommendations in our i7 3770K review. Performance scaled well but, even with a decent aftermarket cooler, only did so while close to the boiling point of water. As Ryan described it,

To be fair, the 1.3v setting for this processor is on the upper limit of what you should be using according to many reports.  The 22nm process is great for low power consumption but apparently not great for overclocking - higher voltages result in much higher temperatures than what we would have seen on Sandy Bridge.

(...)

...and a 24% boost in TrueCrypt. Pretty impressive results actually. But things are getting HOT under our Corsair H80 as it was unable to keep the CPU from breaching the 80C mark.

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According to a roadmap received by VR-Zone, the pinnacle of Ivy Bridge-E until at least Q2 2014 will be the Core i7-4960X which, last month, failed to excite enthusiasts when benchmarks leaked. The story kept true from mainstream: it remains in Sandy Bridge-E's ballpark but requires less power. I am sure that Amazon Web Services will be thrilled...

We have wondered if Intel intends to punt this launch, fulfill commitments to Socket 2011 and nothing more, in preparation of Haswell-E. We may never see the i7-4960X overthrown, Xeon notwithstanding, until after the socket is retired.

But, now, we get to the hopeful news.

Unlike the prior generation, Sandy Bridge-E, the i7-4960X will not be a crippled Xeon architecture with disabled cores. While still a 6-core part, it will be so natively. Previously, the 6-core Sandy Bridge-E was an 8-core product with two disabled. This is an advantage because, assuming the locked cores could never be restored, their absence should allow greater overclocking headroom. Factor in the quad-channel DDR3-1866, which itself should have decent overclock potential, and users might have more room to be enthusiastic enthusiasts.

Overclocking capacity was the biggest unknown from last month's leaks. It is now looking a little more hopeful, at least for those with Sandy Bridge-E and an intent to replace their CPU before their motherboard.

And the pricing...?

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Image credit, VR-Zone.

According to the above table, originally from VR-Zone, the top two Ivy Bridge-E SKUs are expected to come in cheaper by $50-$70 than the Sandy Bridge-E models they retire. The quad-core i7-4820K is the exception, being priced within $5 of its ancestor.

Ivy Bridge-E is expected to launch in just a couple of months.

Source: VR-Zone

MSI Launches MS-9A29 SFF Embedded Fanless PC

Subject: Systems | August 5, 2013 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: SFF, msi, Intel, embedded, atom d2550

MSI recently launched the MS-9A29, which is a fanless small form factor (SFF) embedded PC. The new PC measures 196mm x 136mm x 43mm and weighs 1.2 kg. The MS-9A29 is encased in a small black chassis that is covered in fins to aid in passive cooling with the front and back banels hosting various IO ports.

Front IO includes four USB 2.0 ports and four COM ports. The back panel holds two RJ45 GbE jacks driven by two Intel 82583V NICs, one line out audio jack (Realtek ALC887 HD codec), two USB 2.0 ports, a single HDMI port, and one VGA port. Finally, the case provides two openings for antenna passthroughs.

MSI MS-9A29 SFF Embedded PC.jpg

Internally, the MSI MS-9A29 features an Intel Atom D2550 processor (dual core at 1.8GHz, 10W TDP), Intel GMA 3650 GPU (400MHz), a single DDR3 SO-DIMM slot (4GB maximum), and Intel NM10 Express chipset. The motherboard can be accessed by a removeable bottom panel on the case. The system supports one SATA drive, one mSATA drive, and two Mini-PCI-E cards. One mini-PCI-E slot can be used for a 3G SIM card adapter.

The SFF MSI MS-9A29 can be mounted to the back of monitors or on a wall. It supports Windows 7 and Windows XP and can output video to two simultaneous displays. It is aimed at kiosks, signage, POS, and industrial machines. 

More information can be found on the MS-9A29 product page. However, the company has not yet released pricing or availability (expect it to be on the pricier side though as it is aimed at business/industrial users).

Source: MSI

Qualcomm works out their ARMs and not their core?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm

MediaTek, do you even lift?

According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.

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Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.

So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.

The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.

And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.

We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.

Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.

Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.

Your thoughts?

Source: IT World

Intel Launches Open Source SFF MinnowBoard Platform For Embedded Systems

Subject: General Tech, Systems | August 3, 2013 - 04:13 AM |
Tagged: SFF, open source hardware, open source, minnowboard, Intel, embedded system, atom

The Intel Open Source Technology Group along with CircuitCo recently launched a new small form factor bare-bones system based on open source hardware and running open source software. The Minnowboard includes a 4.2” x 4.2” motherboard, passively-cooled processor, rich IO, UEFI BIOS, and the Angstrom Linux operating system.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux.jpg

The Minnowboard is powered by a single core Intel Atom E640 processor clocked at 1GHz. It is a 32-bit CPU with HyperThreading and VT-x virtualization support. Other hardware includes an integrated Intel GMA 600 GPU, 1GB of DDR2 memory, and 4MB of flash memory used for motherboard firmware. Storage can be added by plugging a SSD or HDD into the single SATA II 3Gbps port.

The Minnowboard has following IO options:

  • 1 x micro SD
  • 1 x SATA II 3Gbps
  • 2 x USB 2.0 ports
  • 1 x micro USB
  • 1 x mini USB (serial connection)
  • 1 x RJ45 jack (Gigabit Ethernet)
  • 2 x 3.5mm audio jacks (line in and line out)
  • 1 x HDMI

The Minnowboard also has a GPIO header with 8 buffered GPIO pins, 2 GPIO LEDs, and 4 GPIO switches. As such, the system can be expanded by adding extra open source modules called “Lures.” The board is aimed at developers and embedded system manufacturers. The Minnowboard can be used as the bare system or can be integrated into a case or larger device.

Intel MinnowBoard SFF x86 PC With Angstrom Linux_top.jpg

The Minnowboard costs $199 and is available for purchase now from Digi-Key, Farnell (UK), Mouser, and Newark.

Obviously, the Minnowboard is nowhere near as cheap as the $35 Raspberry Pi, but it is running x86 hardware which may make it worth it to some users.

If you are interested, you can learn more about the hardware and get involved with the Minnowboard project over at Minnowboard.org.

Epic Intel vs Qualcomm Battle to the Death... WiFi Adapters...

Subject: General Tech, Networking | August 1, 2013 - 09:43 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, killer, Intel, 802.11n

Another BigFoot sighting...

PCWorld compared an Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6230 to a Qualcomm Killer Wireless-N 1202 using two distinct benchmarks. The first of the tests, a ping and jitter assessment written by Qualcomm, claimed a significant win (2ms vs Intel's 4-8ms) for Killer between laptop and router. The second test measured bandwidth where Qualcomm matched or sometimes doubled Intel's performance except in close range 5GHz scenarios; Intel won, in those cases, by about a factor of two.

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Of course, a difference of 2-to-6ms is low for online games. I would imagine those who are genuinely concerned about latency, especially during a LAN Party, would not settle for any form of wireless solution much less plan ahead for it. That could be just my perspective, however; I almost never consider Wi-Fi adapters because I will immediately hunt for an Ethernet jack.

That said, Qualcomm is apparently selling these adapters for prices very comparable to Intel. According to these benchmarks, grains of salt added to taste, Killer would not be a downgrade for a gaming device and should be considered if presented to you. The only time it clearly lost is high speed data transfers at 5GHz less than 10 feet away.

Seriously, Ethernet, keep one in your laptop bag. Magic.

If curious about a purchase, check out the benchmarks (or just skip 802.11n and look for 802.11ac or .11ad equipment); if curious for entertainment, check out Ryan's review of the original, wired, Killer NIC.

Source: PCWorld

Intel Ivy Bridge-E Processors Available In September Starting At $310

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E processors are on their way to enthusiasts and should be available as soon as September 4th according to TechPowerUp. The new HEDT parts are compatible with LGA 2011 motherboards and the CPUs bring performance and power efficiency increases to the enthusiast platform.

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The Ivy Bridge-E parts start at $310 and will be price competitive with the existing Sandy Bridge-E and high end Haswell parts. The Core i7-4820K is the lowest-end Ivy Bridge-E processor. This quad core part has base and turbo clockspeeds of 3.7 GHz and 3.9 GHz respectively, 10MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. It will cost $310.

Beyond that, the Core i7-4930K is the lowest-end six core IVB-E processor. It has six cores clocked at 3.4 GHz base and 3.9 GHz turbo, 12MB L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This part will cost $555.

Finally, the top end Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition is a six core CPU clocked at 3.6 GHz base and 4.0 Ghz turbo with 15MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This Ivy Bridge-E HEDT CPU will cost $990.

Compared to the existing Sandy Bridge-E chips, IVB-E is actualy coming out of the gate with lower initial MSRPs. Further, the i7-4820K is actually about $30 cheaper than the Core i7-4770K “Haswell” CPU. The six core i7-4930K may be more enticing to those comparing the enthusiast LGA 2011 platform and the LGA 1150 platform, however. The six core Ivy Bride-E part is about $215 more expensive than the $340 four core Haswell i7-4770K which may be a small enough gap that enthusiasts are willing to make the jump for the extra two cores. Granted, Haswell is a bit faster in some respects than IVB-E (according to leaked benchmarks), but the extra two cores gives it a healthy multi-threaded performance advantage.

Read more about Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors.

Source: TechPowerUp

Intel's ARM escalation

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2013 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: Intel, arm, low power, server, Avoton, rangeley

Intel envisions a sea change in the server room, with servers, SANs and racks of switches which all have been controlled separately becoming much more software based as the ability to virtualize hardware becomes more prevalent.  This is not to imply that the hardware will disappear and that Intel will go the way of IBM and get out of the chip business as neither are true; instead Intel is moving forward on the belief that the optimization of your virtualization software will be more important than specific hardware optimizations.  While it is great to have tiered storage with expensive SSDs, solid SAS drives and other longer term and lower availability all working together there is little benefit if the software which allocates your data to those media doesn't do so properly.

In this new server room the SoC could be king, modular designs which offer scalable processing power to any and all tasks which is something that ARM cut its teeth on and is now scaling up their power to become a major player in server room design.  Intel is coming at this market segment from the other direction as it has to trim power down on its chips without crippling them like we saw in the first 45nm Atom chips.  To that end they are working on the new Silvermont architecture, the 22nm Avoton and Rangley which will be mature 64bit chips, something that ARM is still in early days with.  Check out more info on these two chips and their successors, along with a teaser on Broadwell at The Tech Report.

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"Last week, Intel hosted an event for press and analysts where it provided some updates on the state of its data center business. Then it proceeded to confound our expectations by demonstrating how it's gearing up for a protracted fight with ARM."

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A teaser on Intel's upcoming San Francisco IDF teaser

Subject: General Tech | July 25, 2013 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: Intel, idf 2013

DigiTimes wrangled up some information on part of the upcoming IDF, a teaser on Intel's expected mobile announcements.  Intel powered smartphones developed with Lenovo, ZTE, Acer and Asustek Computer will be on display though it is unclear what processor will be inside, it is unlikely to be the 22nm Merrifield as that is still months away but you never know with Intel.  Wearable computing, voice recognition and gesture controllers will also be making an appearance so Ryan should have an interesting trip again this year.

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"Intel is set to host Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2013 in San Francisco, the US from September 10-12 to further discuss its 2-in-1 device plans as well as its latest progress in Android smartphone and tablet development, according to sources from the upstream supply chain."

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Source: DigiTimes