Battle of the IGPs
Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers. What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing.
Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks. Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs. It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.
Battle of the IGPs
Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today. With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products. In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up.
When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself. Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments. Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later. Now is later.
So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air. A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options. Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2. The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand.
Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2013 - 02:41 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: valleyview, SoC, silvermont, pentium, Intel, celeron, Bay Trail, atom
A leaked Intel lineup reveals that the company's upcoming Bay Trail processors will also fall under not only the traditional Atom branding, but the Pentium and Celeron brands as well. The new lineup includes Bay Trail-D, Bay Trail-I, and Bay Trail M processors (note that Valleyview is the CPU codename, Bay Trail is the platform codename, with the CPU based on Intel's 22nm Silvermont architecture). The Bay Trail SoCs, which are based on the company's new 22nm Silvermont micro-architecture, include five processors in the Atom family, two in the Pentium family, and five processors that are part of the Celeron family.
All five of the Atom branded processors are Bay Trail-I chips. The leaked Atom lineup includes the following SKUs.
- Atom E3810 (Bay Trail-I): Single core at 1.46 GHz with 400 MHz GPU and 5W TDP
- Atom E3821 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.33 GHz with 533 MHz GPU and 6W TDP
- Atom E3822 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 7W TDP
- Atom E3823 (Bay Trail-I): Dual core at 1.75 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 8W TDP
- Atom E3840 (Bay Trail-I): Quad core at 1.91 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
Further, there will be one Bay Trail-M and one Bay Trail-D Silvermont-based CPU under the Pentium brand. Specifications on those two chips are below.
- Pentium N3510 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 2 GHz with 750 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
- Pentium J2850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
Finally, the new Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D SoCs under the Celeron brand includes two quad cores and three dual core CPUs.
According to this PDF, the N2805, N2810, and N2910 Celeron CPUs will have an MSRP of $132, though it seems as though the N2805 should be cheaper than that since it has much lower specifications than the other two. The new Celeron-branded chips have the following specifications.
- Celeron J1750 (Bay Trail-D): Dual core at 2.41 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
- Celeron J1850 (Bay Trail-D): Quad core at 2 GHz with 792 MHz GPU and 10W TDP
- Celeron N2805 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 1.46 GHz with 667 MHz GPU and 4.5W TDP (sub-2.5W SDP)
- Celeron N2810 (Bay Trail-M): Dual core at 2 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
- Celeron N2910 (Bay Trail-M): Quad core at 1.6 GHz with 756 MHz GPU and 7.5W TDP (4.5W SDP)
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on Bay Trail and Intel's first OoOE Atom micro-architecture as it develops.
- Intel Silvermont Architecture Updates Atom for Phones and Tablets @ PC Perspective
- Intel Launches Low-Power, High-Performance Silvermont Microarchitecture @ Intel Newsroom
- Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail
Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.
Image Credit: The Droid Guy
The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.
Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64
FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.
If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.
I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2013 - 12:45 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, corsair, 900D, 7790, 650ti boost, amd, Richland, nvidia, kepler, titan, Intel, ssd
PC Perspective Podcast #258 - 07/04/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 900D, HD 7790 vs GTX 650Ti BOOST, Leaked AMD APUs and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:14:23
Week in Review:
0:10:50 HD 7790 and 650 Ti BOOST Roundup
News items of interest:
0:58:25 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
We caught wind of a leaked Intel SSD Roadmap over at VRZone. The slide shows their rough release plans into early 2014:
Starting bottom-up, the old 320 Series (cropped slide bottom) and 330 Series are being phased out in light of the newer 500 series entrants. The 335 Series, driven by a SandForce controller and 20nm flash, may drop in capacity to only an 80GB model in order to drive customers towards the new 530 Series, which will replace both of the SandForce-driven 520 (SATA) and 525 Series (mSATA) offerings. The new 530 Series will be available in 80-480GB and connect via SATA, mSATA, and the newest M.2 SATA interfaces. You can learn more about M.2 by reading the first 6 or so slides from Paul Wassenberg's presentation from Storage Visions 2013. Here's a closer look at an M.2 unit:
From CES 2013, a Micron mSATA SSD (above) and M.2 SATA SSD (below).
With the 530 appearing to become Intel's big mainstream consumer push, they will also introduce a Pro 1500 and 2500 Series. I suspect Intel's own SATA 6Gb/sec controller will be lifted from their SSD DC S3500 and S3700 Series and trickled down into the Pro Series and possibly even into the 530 Series, though that is only speculation on my part.
For the enterprise, Intel will be further juggling their enterprise models around a bit, discontinuing the SSD 710 and possibly even the (25nm) S3700 in favor of the (20nm) S3500 Series, which will also see large gains in available capacity upwards of 800GB and even 1.6TB crammed into a 2.5" SATA unit. Intel's PCIe SSD 910 will eventually be replaced by what appears to be a quad-SSD-RAID variant of the current S3500 and S3700 Series units, dubbed P3500 and P3700, respectively. These models should show a substantial gain over the SSD 910, which did not perform spectacularly when compared to the newer SATA models available.
Akasa has debuted a new passively cooled chassis for Intel's NUC platform called the Newton. The new chassis measures 154mm x 150mm x 47mm and does double duty as both a case and passive (fan-less) heatsink for the Intel processor soldered onto the NUC motherboard.
Specifically, the Akasa Newton case can support the Intel D33217GKE or DCP847SKE NUC (Next Unit of Computing) motherboard, depending on whether you want an Intel Core i3-3217-U or a Celeron 847-U respectively.
The Akasa Newton case supports all of the IO of the NUC boards, including a single USB port on the front, and two USB ports, two HDMI outputs, and one Gigabit Ethernet port. The case also has two antenna jacks for the mini-PCIe WI-Fi card and a DC power in jack.
The case is entirely matte black with a brushed aluminum front bezel and curved corners. The boxy case comes with a VESA mount for attaching to the back of monitors or using a wall mount. The top of the case is finned to increase the surface area and aid in cooling the CPU.
Overall, it looks like a decent NUC chassis for a silent, passively cooled system. The Akasa Newton is available now for 50 Euros (including VAT).
Introduction and Specifications
Intel has pushed out many SSDs over the years, and unlike many manufacturers, they have never stopped heavily pushing SSD in the enterprise. They did so with their very first push of the X25-M / X25-E, where they seemingly came out of nowhere and just plunked down a pair of very heavy hitting SSDs. What was also interesting was that back then they seemed to blur the lines by calling their consumer offering 'mainstream', and considering it good enough for even some enterprise applications. Even though the die-hard stuff was left to the SLC-based X25-E, that didn't stop some consumers from placing them into their home systems. The X25-E used in this review came from a good friend of mine, who previously had it installed in his home PC.
With several enterprise class models out there, we figured it was high time we put them all alongside each other to see where things are at, and that's the goal of this particular piece. We were motivated to group them together by the recent releases of the DC S3500 and DC S3700 drives, both using Intel's new Intel 8-channel controller.
|X25-E||SSD 320||SSD 710||SSD 910*||DC S3500||DC S3700|
|Capacity||32, 64GB||40, 80, 120, 160, 300, 600GB||100, 200, 300GB||400, 800GB||80, 120, 160, 240, 300, 480, 600, 800GB||100, 200, 400, 800GB|
|Write (4k)||3.3k||23k (8GB span)||2.7k||18.7k||11k||32k|
- Since the SSD 910 is subdivided into 4 or 2 (depending on capacity) physical 200GB volumes, we chose to test just one of those physical units. Scaling can then be compared to other units placed into various RAID configurations. 910 specs were corrected to that of the single physical unit tested.
- All other listed specs are specific to the tested (bold) capacity point.
Starting with the good old X25-E, which pretty much started it all, is Intel's original SATA 3Gb/sec 10-channel controller. Despite minor tweaks, this same controller was used in the X25-M, X25-M G2, SSD 320 and SSD 710 Series. Prior to Intel releasing their own 6Gb/sec SATA controller, they filled some of those voids by introducing Marvell and SandForce controllers with the 510 and 520, respectively, but those two were consumer-oriented drives. For the enterprise, Intel filled this same gap with the 910 Series - a PCIe LSI Falcon SAS RAID controller driving 2 or 4 6Gb/sec SAS Hitachi Ultrastar SSDs. Finally (and most recently), Intel introduced their own SATA 6Gb/sec controller in the form of the DC S3500 and DC S3700. Both are essentially the same 8-channel controller driving 20nm or 25nm IMFT flash, respectively.
More to follow on the next page, where we dive into the guts of each unit.
Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Apple has seen a healthy boost in computer sales and adoption since the transition to Intel-based platforms in 2006, but the MacBook line has far and away been the biggest benefactor. Apple has come a long way both from an engineering standpoint and consumer satisfaction point since the long retired iBook and PowerBook lines. This is especially evident when you look at their current product lineup, and products like the 11” MacBook Air.
Even though it may not be the most popular opinion around here, I have been a Mac user since 2005 with the original Mac Mini, and I have used a MacBook as my primary computer since 2008. I switched to the 11” MacBook Air when it came out in 2011, and experienced the growing pains of using a low power platform as my main computer.
While I still have a desktop for the occasional video that I edit at home, or game I manage to find time to play, the majority of my day involves being portable. Both in class and at the office, and I quickly grew to appreciate the 11” form factor, as well as the portability it offers. However, I was quite dissatisfied with the performance and battery life that my ageing ultraportable offered. Desperate for improvements, I decided to see what two generations worth of Intel engineering afforded, and picked up the new Haswell-based 11” MacBook Air.
Since the redesign of the MacBook Air in 2010, the overall look and feel has stayed virtually the same. While the Mini DisplayPort connector on the side became a Thunderbolt connector in 2011, things are still pretty much the same.
In this way, the 2013 MacBook Air should provide no surprises. The one visual difference I can notice involves upgrading the microphone on the left side to a stereo array, causing there to be two grilles this time, instead of one. However, the faults I found in the past with the MacBook Air have nothing to do with the aesthetics or build quality of the device, so I am not too disappointed by the design stagnation.
From an industrial design perspective, everything about this notebook feels familiar to me, which is a positive. I still believe that Apple’s trackpad implementation is the best I've used, and the backlit chiclet keyboard they have been using for years is a good compromise between thickness and key travel.
Subject: Cases and Cooling, Systems | June 20, 2013 - 12:42 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, gtx 650, giada
Giada Technology has launched a new small form factor desktop PC with its upcoming D2308. The successor to the Giada D2305, the D2308 is a tiny PC that can be used for a variety of workloads. The mini PC, with up to a 70W system TDP, features an Intel "Haswell" processor and a discrete NVIDIA GPU (most likely mobile parts), which makes it a fairly powerful machine for the size!
The D2308 is enclosed in a black chassis with curved edges. Three Wi-Fi antennas stick up from the back of the PC. It looks rather like a home router or the mintBox PC, actually.
Internally, the Giada D2308 uses an Intel Core-i5 or Core i7 Fourth Generation Core CPU, a NVIDIA GTX 650 GPU with 1GB of video memory, up to 16GB DDR3 memory (in two SODIMM slots), a Realtek ALC662 5.1 HD audio codec, TPM module support, and two mini-PCI-E connectors for things like wireless cards or storage drives. The SFF PC can also accommodate a single 2.5" mechanical hard drive or SSD.
According to eTeknix, external IO includes two USB 2.0 ports, three USB 3.0 ports, a SD card reader, two HDMI video outputs, a Gigabit Ethernet port, and analog audio outputs. Pricing and availability have not yet been announced.
I have reached out to Giada for more information on the small form factor PC, but did not hear back from them in time for publication. I will update this post if the company responds to our questions. Although the D2308 is not a fan-less PC, it appears to have good hardware and would do well at a variety of HTPC, desktop, or office PC tasks.
Update: A Giada PC representative responded to our request for more information to let us know that the SFF PC uses the fourth generation Core i5/i7 processors and HM87 chipset along with NVIDIA GTX 650 graphics. It should be available towards the end of July.