A much needed architecture shift
It has been almost exactly five years since the release of the first Atom branded processors from Intel, starting with the Atom 230 and 330 based on the Diamondville design. Built for netbooks and nettops at the time, the Atom chips were a reaction to a unique market that the company had not planned for. While the early Atoms were great sellers, they were universally criticized by the media for slow performance and sub-par user experiences.
Atom has seen numerous refreshes since 2008, but they were all modifications of the simplistic, in-order architecture that was launched initially. With today's official release of the Silvermont architecture, the Atom processors see their first complete redesign from the ground up. With the focus on tablets and phones rather than netbooks, can Intel finally find a foothold in the growing markets dominated by ARM partners?
I should note that even though we are seeing the architectural reveal today, Intel doesn't plan on having shipping parts until late in 2013 for embedded, server and tablets and not until 2014 for smartphones. Why the early reveal on the design then? I think that pressure from ARM's designs (Krait, Exynos) as well as the upcoming release of AMD's own Kabini is forcing Intel's hand a bit. Certainly they don't want to be perceived as having fallen behind and getting news about the potential benefits of their own x86 option out in the public will help.
Silvermont will be the first Atom processor built on the 22nm process, leaving the 32nm designs of Saltwell behind it. This also marks the beginning of a new change in the Atom design process, to adopt the tick/tock model we have seen on Intel's consumer desktop and notebook parts. At the next node drop of 14nm, we'll see see an annual cadence that first focuses on the node change, then an architecture change at the same node.
By keeping Atom on the same process technology as Core (Ivy Bridge, Haswell, etc), Intel can put more of a focus on the power capabilities of their manufacturing.
Subject: General Tech | May 3, 2013 - 08:59 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zero load, PSU, Intel, haswell, enermax, cpu, c6, c5
Earlier this week, it was revealed that Intel’s upcoming Haswell processors would feature new C6 and C7 sleep states that draw as little as 0.05A on the 12V rail. Such low power draw on the 12V rail may cause problems for existing power supplies, which are not accustomed to facilitating such low power draw (especially on the 12V line). In an attempt to clear up a bit of the confusion for its customers, Enermax has put together a list of its mid-range and high-end power supplies that meet the standards required to support the new low-power processor states.
According to the press release (seen below), the Enermax power supplies use so-called Zero Load technology that uses a DC to DC converter to support low wattage power draw. This technology has been in Enermax power supplies since the Revolution85+ series which was launched in 2008. The company claims that the power supplies deliver “rock solid voltages” down to 0W load, which is within the Intel specification of 0.05A for the CPU alone.
The list of compatible Enermax power supplies is as follows:
Enermax Platimax Series
- Platimax 500W (EPM500AWT)
- Platimax 600W (EPM600AWT)
- Platimax 750W (EPM750AWT)
- Platimax 850W (EPM850EWT)
- Platimax 1000W (EPM1000EWT)
- Platimax 1200W (EPM1200EWT)
- Platimax 1500W (EPM1500EGT)
Enermax Revolution87+ Series
- Revolution87+ 550W (ERV550AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 650W (ERV650AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 750W (ERV750AWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 850W (ERV850EWT-G)
- Revolution87+ 1000W (ERV1000EWT-G)
Enermax MaxRevo Series
- MaxRevo 1200W (EMR1200EWT)
- MaxRevo 1350W (EMR1350EWT)
- MaxRevo 1500W (EMR1500EGT)
Enermax Triathlor Series
- Triathlor 385W (ETA385AWT)
- Triathlor 450W (ETA450AWT)
- Triathlor 550W (ETA550AWT)
Enermax Revolution85+ Series
- Revolution85+ 850W (ERV850EWT)
- Revolution85+ 920W (ERV920EWT)
- Revolution85+ 950W (ERV950EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1020W (ERV1020EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1050W (ERV1050EWT)
- Revolution85+ 1250W (ERV1250EGT)
Enermax Modu87+ Series
- Modu87+ 500W (EMG500AWT)
- Modu87+ 600W (EMG600AWT)
- Modu87+ 700W (EMG700AWT)
- Modu87+ 800W (EMG800EWT)
- Modu87+ 900W (EMG900EWT)
Enermax Pro87+ Series
- Pro87+ 500W (EPG500AWT)
- Pro87+ 600W (EPG600AWT)
The list includes power supplies from a number of series over the past few years that range from 500W to 1250W. I'm sure between now and the launch of Haswell in the first week of June that other PSU manufacturers will be announcing which models are compatible and which are not. Stay tuned to PC Perspective as more information becomes available!
Subject: Processors | May 3, 2013 - 06:45 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: z87, overclocking, Intel, haswell, core i7 4770k, 7ghz
OCaholic has spotted an interesting entry in the CPU-Z database. According to the site, an overclocker by the handle of “rtiueuiurei” has allegedly managed to push an engineering sample of Intel’s upcoming Haswell Core i7-4770K processor past 7GHz.
If the CPU-Z entry is accurate, the overclocker used a BCLK speed of 91.01 and a multiplier of 77 to achieve a CPU clockspeed of 7012.65MHz. The chip was overclocked on a Z87 motherboard along with a single 2GB G.Skill DDR3 RAM module. Even more surprising than the 7GHz clockspeed is the voltage that the overclocker used to get there: an astounding 2.56V according to CPU-Z.
From the information Intel provided at IDF Beijing, the new 22nm Haswell processors feature an integrated voltage regulator (IVR), and the CPU portion of the chip’s voltage is controlled by the Vccin value. Intel recommends a range of 1.8V to 2.3V for this value, with a maximum of 3V and a default of 1.8V. Therefore, the CPU-Z-reported number may actually be correct. On the other hand, it may also just be a bug in the software due to the unreleased-nature of the Haswell chip.
Voltage questions aside, the frequency alone makes for an impressive overclock, and it seems that the upcoming chips will have decent overclocking potential!
The Intel HD Graphics are joined by Iris
Intel gets a bad wrap on the graphics front. Much of it is warranted but a lot of it is really just poor marketing about the technologies and features they implement and improve on. When AMD or NVIDIA update a driver or fix a bug or bring a new gaming feature to the table, they are sure that every single PC hardware based website knows about and thus, that as many PC gamers as possible know about it. The same cannot be said about Intel though - they are much more understated when it comes to trumpeting their own horn. Maybe that's because they are afraid of being called out on some aspects or that they have a little bit of performance envy compared to the discrete options on the market.
Today might be the start of something new from the company though - a bigger focus on the graphics technology in Intel processors. More than a month before the official unveiling of the Haswell processors publicly, Intel is opening up about SOME of the changes coming to the Haswell-based graphics products.
We first learned about the changes to Intel's Haswell graphics architecture way back in September of 2012 at the Intel Developer Forum. It was revealed then that the GT3 design would essentially double theoretical output over the currently existing GT2 design found in Ivy Bridge. GT2 will continue to exist (though slightly updated) on Haswell and only some versions of Haswell will actually see updates to the higher-performing GT3 options.
In 2009 Intel announced a drive to increase graphics performance generation to generation at an exceptional level. Not long after they released the Sandy Bridge CPU and the most significant performance increase in processor graphics ever. Ivy Bridge followed after with a nice increase in graphics capability but not nearly as dramatic as the SNB jump. Now, according to this graphic, the graphics capability of Haswell will be as much as 75x better than the chipset-based graphics from 2006. The real question is what variants of Haswell will have that performance level...
I should note right away that even though we are showing you general performance data on graphics, we still don't have all the details on what SKUs will have what features on the mobile and desktop lineups. Intel appears to be trying to give us as much information as possible without really giving us any information.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | May 1, 2013 - 03:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: power supply, Intel, idle, haswell, c7, c6
I came across an interesting news story posted by The Tech Report this morning that dives into the possibility of problems with Intel's upcoming Haswell processors and currently available power supplies. Apparently, the new C6 and C7 idle power states that give the new Haswell architecture benefits for low power scenarios place a requirement of receiving a 0.05 amps load on the 12V2 rail. (That's just 50 milliamps!) Without that capability, the system can exhibit unstable behavior and a quick look at the power supply selector on Intel's own website is only listing a couple dozen that support the feature.
This table from VR-Zone, the source of the information initially, shows the difference between the requirements for 3rd (Ivy Bridge) and 4th generation (Haswell) processors. The shift is an order of magnitude and is quite a dramatic change for PSU vendors. Users of Corsair power supplies will be glad to know that among those listed with support on the Intel website linked above were mostly Corsair units!
A potential side effect of this problem might be that motherboard vendors simply disable those sleep states by default. I don't imagine that will be a problem for PC builders anyway since most desktop users aren't really worried about the extremely small differences in power consumption they offer. For mobile users and upcoming Haswell notebook designs the increase in battery life is crucial though and Intel has surely been monitoring those power supplies closely.
I asked our in-house power supply guru, Lee Garbutt, who is responsible for all of the awesome power supply reviews on pcper.com, what he thought about this issue. He thinks the reason more power supplies don't support it already is for power efficiency concerns:
Most all PSUs have traditionally required "some load" on the various outputs to attain good voltage regulation and/or not shut down. Not very many PSUs are designed yet to operate with no load, especially on the critical +12V output. One of the reasons for this is efficiency. Its harder to design a PSU to operate correctly with a very low load AND to deliver high efficiency. It would be easy just to add some bleed resistance across the DC outputs to always have a minimal load to keep voltage regulation under control but then that lowers efficiency.
Subject: General Tech | April 18, 2013 - 12:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vint cerf, Intel, sdn, software defined networking, tha internets, open network summit, Seacliff Trail
Vint Cerf has been talking about the current topic on the minds of many network admins, software defined networking, sometimes referred to as smart networks. While his original design was great at providing much cheaper connectivity than telcos, with the entire network being effectively dumb and not requiring any expensive routing equipment during transfer, that benefit is no longer as compelling as it used to be. Moving from a model of only having routing equipment at the very edge of your network to placing equipment en route can offer advantages to security, speed and reliability. He is quick to bring up a topic that is near and dear to anyone working in infrastructure; no matter how smart the equipment is, if there are no established standards which can operate between vendors and protocols then we will be worse off than we are now.
One company that has the power to bring SDN to the market and do so with enough backing to create standards and enforce them is Intel. They are also at the Open Network Summit and are presenting their plans for SDN, virtual switches and even physical hardware. Over at The Register you can see some of the slides that they presented along with information on new chipsets and ASICs that have been developed by Intel for use in a variety of networking applications.
"As you get to the point where you want to have something big happen, spend some time working on getting agreement on standards,” Cerf is quoted as saying. Standards encourage innovation because everyone can work to the standard, as “happened in the creation of the Internet—and these standards often create a certain amount of stability.
“Stability is your friend in networking environments. If you can’t rely on some stable point in the architecture, you’ll have some trouble in making things work reliably."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Botched Security Update Cripples Thousands of Computers @ Slashdot
- TSMC 16nm FinFET to enter mass production within one year after 20nm ramp-up, says Chang @ DigiTimes
- Foxconn to pay Microsoft for production of Android/Chrome devicesFoxconn to pay Microsoft for production of Android/Chrome devices @ DigiTimes
- Microsoft offers Outlook, Skype and Xbox users two-step authentication @ The Inquirer
Subject: Processors | April 17, 2013 - 09:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: overclocking, intel ivr, intel hd graphics, Intel, haswell, cpu
During the Intel Developer Forum in Beijing, China the X86 chip giant revealed details about how overclocking will work on its upcoming Haswell processors. Enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the new chips do not appear to be any more restrictive than the existing Ivy Bridge processors as far as overclocking. Intel has even opened up the overclocking capabilities slightly by allowing additional BCLK tiers without putting aspects such as the PCI-E bus out of spec.
The new Haswell chips have an integrated voltage regulator, which allows programmable voltage to both the CPU, Memory, and GPU portions of the chip. As far as overclocking the CPU itself, Intel has opened up the Turbo Boost and is allowing enthusiasts to set an overclocked Turbo Boost clockspeed. Additionally, Intel is specifying available BCLK values of 100, 125, and 167MHz without putting other systems out of spec (they use different ratios to counterbalance the increased BCLK, which is important for keeping the PCI-E bus within ~100Mhz). The chips will also feature unlocked core ratios all the way up to 80 in 100MHz increments. That would allow enthusiasts with a cherry-picked chip and outrageous cooling to clock the chip up to 8GHz without overclocking the BCLK value (though no chip is likely to reach that clockspeed, especially for everyday usage!).
Remember that the CPU clockspeed is determined by the BCLK value times a pre-set multiplier. Unlocked processors will allow enthusiasts to adjust the multiplier up or down as they please, while non-K edition chips will likely only permit lower multipliers with higher-than-default multipliers locked out. Further, Intel will allow the adventurous to overclock the BLCK value above the pre-defined 100, 125, and 167MHz options, but the chip maker expects most chips will max out at anywhere between five-to-seven percent higher than normal. PC Perspective’s Morry Teitelman speculates that slightly higher BCLK overclocks may be possible if you have a good chip and adequate cooling, however.
Similar to current-generation Ivy Bridge (and Sandy Bridge before that) processors, Intel will pack Haswell processors with its own HD Graphics pGPU. The new HD Graphics will be unlocked and the graphics ratio will be able to scale up to a maximum of 60 in 50MHz steps for a potential maximum of 3GHz. The new processor graphics cards will also benefit from Intel’s IVR (programmable voltage) circuitry. The HD Graphics and CPU are fed voltage from the integrated voltage regulator (IVR), and is controlled by adjusting the Vccin value. The default is 1.8V, but it supports a recommended range of 1.8V to 2.3V with a maximum of 3V.
Finally, Intel is opening up the memory controller to further overclocking. Intel will allow enthusiasts to overclock the memory in either 200MHz or 266MHz increments, which allows for a maximum of either 2,000MHz or 2,666MHz respectively. The default voltage will depend on the particular RAM DIMMs you use, but can be controlled via the Vddq IVR setting.
It remains to be seen how Intel will lock down the various processor SKUs, especially the non-K edition chips, but at least now we have an idea of how a fully-unlocked Haswell processor will overclock. On a positive note, it is similar to what we have become used to with Ivy Bridge, so similar overclocking strategies for getting the most out of processors should still apply with a bit of tweaking. I’m interested to see how the integration of the voltage regulation hardware will affect overclocking though. Hopefully it will live up to the promises of increased efficiency!
Are you gearing up for a Haswell overhaul of your system, and do you plan to overclock?
Subject: General Tech | April 17, 2013 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, otellini, earnings
The downturn in the PC market has depressed the earnings of Intel during Paul Otellini's last quarter as head of the company, but not as badly as many companies thanks to decent sales of data centre products. Their overall earnings are down $1bn from this quarter last year with their PC sales down 6.6% but their data centre sales up 7.5% when compared to Q1 2012. The numbers are not so rosy when you look at the last year of sales, PC down 6% and data centre down 6.9%, in line with expectations but far from good news. Intel has come a long way since 1974 when he first joined the company but even they are not immune to the decline in sales which has been hurting the industry recently. Get the full sales numbers at The Register.
"After 39 years at Chipzilla and over 80 earnings calls Paul Otellini has just finished his final one before stepping down in May. He didn't so much leave with a bang as a whimper.
The company booked $12.6bn in revenue for Q1 2013, down nearly a billion from the last quarter, and profits dropped 25 per cent to $2bn, over half of which will be given out as a dividend and another $553m used to buy back 25 million Intel shares. The results were broadly in line with analyst's expectations and Intel stock is up slightly in late trading."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Oracle critical patch plugs 128 security vulns @ The Register
- How to Install and Configure a Dedicated PhysX Video Card @ Hardware Secrets
- Google Drive and Gmail go down for some @ The Inquirer
- PLA4201 Powerline Ethernet Adapter @ VelocityReviews
- Magellan Switch Review @ TechReviewSource
The WindForce 450W GPU cooler was not the only piece of hardware Gigabyte showed off at its New Idea Tech Tour event in Berlin, Germany. The company also detailed a new small form factor PC called BRIX. The Gigabyte BRIX computer is set to compete with Zotac's Nano and Intel's Next Unit of Computing (NUC) PCs. There is no word on pricing or availability, but GIgabyte did delve into specifications of the tiny desktop PCs.
Computerbase.de was on hand at the New Idea event in Berlin.
The Gigabyte BRIX PC is similar to Intel's NUC with a small motherboard, Intel CPU, mSATA connector for storage, Mini PCI-E slot for a Wi-Fi card, and a small case. The BRIX system is slightly smaller than both the NUC and Zotac's Nano systems, though the BRIX motherboard itself is a bit larger than the NUC's. The BRIX motherboard measures 100 x 105mm and the case with internals measures 114.8 x 108 x 29.5mm and weighs 404 grams.
Internal specifications on the BRIX include an Intel ultrabook-class processor with sub-17W TDPs, two SO-DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB at 1600MHz), one mSATA port, and one Mini PCI-E slot. The BRIX further comes with a Wi-Fi card and VESA mount. Processor options include:
- Intel Celeron 1007U
- Intel Core i3-3227U
- Intel Core i5-3337U
- Intel Core i7-3537U
The top-end Core i7-3537U gives you a dual core processor with hyper-threading clocked at 2GHz and 3.1GHz max turbo and 4MB cache. Pretty impressive for such a tiny PC!
The Gigabyte BRIX features a single USB 3.0 port on the front of the glossy black case. Rear IO includes an additional USB 3.0 port, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort video output, and a single Gigabit LAN port.
The Gigabyte BRIX looks to be a decent system that will give Zotac and Intel some needed small form factor competition. Here's hoping Gigabyte will allow custom cases, as I would love to see a passively-cooled option!
Computerbase.de has further details on the Gigabyte BRIX PC as well as a gallery of photos from the event.
Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2013 - 01:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: usb. power over USB, Intel
A new type of USB cable is being demonstrated in Beijing, capable of delivering up to 100W of power over USB 2.0 or 3.0. In the demonstration below, the Dell provides both video and power to the monitor when it is plugged in, when on battery it immediately shuts off the monitor. Even better these cords are bidirectional and are able to sense which device requires power and which is the source of the power so you won't have to manually configure them. The Inquirer does point out a major hurdle to overcome, if one singular USB cord able to recharge the battery of any laptop, many laptop makers will see that as taking away one of their revenue streams; their proprietary power bricks and expensive replacement parts.
"BEIJING: THE USB IMPLEMENTERS FORUM (USB-IF) is showing off a prototype USB cable system at the Technology Showcase at IDF Beijing that can deliver up to 100W of power."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Cupertino funk @ The Tech Report
- PC shipments post the steepest decline ever in a single quarter, says IDC @ DigiTimes
- Intel demos inexpensive 100Gb/sec silicon photonics chip @ The Register
- Can Console Gaming Save AMD From Collapse? @ Benchmark Reviews
- HGST straps Intel Thunderbolt onto uber-pricey drives, docks @ The Register
- Hacking the Oculus Rift: the Oculight @ Hack a Day
- Microsoft Telling Users To Uninstall Bad Patch @ Slashdot
- Samsung Galaxy S4 set to ship with Wolfson audio chip @ The Inquirer
- Netgear WNDR3700v4 N600 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router Review @ Legit Reviews
- Ninjalane Podcast - 3D Printing and Borderlands 2 Ultimate Vault Hunter
- 4 Days Left to Win a PC Specialist Gaming System @ eTeknix