Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Broadwell-E Platform

It has been nearly two years since the release of the Haswell-E platform, which began with the launch of the Core i7-5960X processor. Back then, the introduction of an 8-core consumer processor was the primary selling point; along with the new X99 chipset and DDR4 memory support. At the time, I heralded the processor as “easily the fastest consumer processor we have ever had in our hands” and “nearly impossible to beat.” So what has changed over the course of 24 months?

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Today Intel is launching Broadwell-E, the follow up to Haswell-E, and things look very much the same as they did before. There are definitely a couple of changes worth noting and discussing, including the move to a 10-core processor option as well as Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0, which is significantly more interesting than its marketing name implies. Intel is sticking with the X99 platform (good for users that might want to upgrade), though the cost of these new processors is more than slightly disappointing based on trends elsewhere in the market.

This review of the new Core i7-6950X 10-core Broadwell-E processor is going to be quick, and to the point: what changes, what is the performance, how does it overclock, and what will it cost you?

Go.

Continue reading our review of the new Core i7-6950X 10-core processor!!

Simply FUD or a message from the Forced Upgrade Department?

Subject: General Tech | May 18, 2016 - 04:44 PM |
Tagged: Intel, microsoft, fud

DigiTimes has a doozy of a post title, stating that Intel plans to limit OS support on future processors starting with Kaby Lake and Apollo Lake CPUs.  Now this sounds horrible but you may be taking the word support out of context as it refers to the support that major customers require which leads to the so called errata (pdf example), not that the processors will be incapable of running any OS but Windows 10.  This may not matter so much to the average consumer but for industries and the scientific community this could result in huge costs as they would no longer be able to get fixes from Intel, unless they have upgraded to Windows 10.   That upgrade comes with its own costs, the monstrous amount of time it will take for compatibility testing, application updating and implementation; not to mention licensing fees.

AMD should take note of this, focus on continued legacy support and most importantly advertising that fact.  The price difference between choosing AMD over Intel could become even more compelling for these large customers and help refill AMD's coffers.

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"With Intel planning to have its next-generation processors support only Windows 10, industrial PC (IPC) players are concerned that the move will dramatically increase their costs and affect market demand, according to sources from IPC players."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: DigiTimes

ASUS Announces ROG STRIX X99 Gaming Motherboard for Intel Core i7 X-Series

Subject: Motherboards | May 10, 2016 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: X99, ROG, Republic of Gamers, Intel, asus

ASUS Republic of Gamers has announced a new X99 motherboard for the upcoming Intel Core i7 X-series processors, and the ROG STRIX X99 Gaming packs a number of features into its ATX form-factor.

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"ROG Strix has taken on a brand-new look and the time has come to debut the first motherboard in the ROG Strix Series. ROG Strix X99 Gaming is a new ATX motherboard based on the Intel X99 chipset, retrofitted with exclusive technologies to maximize the potential of the new Intel Core i7 X-series processor for socket LGA 2011-v3. ROG Strix X99 Gaming delivers performance you'll notice, while the bold new design featuring customizable colors highlights the centerpiece of a system others will notice"

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There is certainly no shortage of features with this new gaming board, including the company's SupremeFX audio, Intel NIC, 2x2 dual-band Wi-Fi with MU-MIMO support, SATA Express, M.2, and U.2 storage support, Thunderbolt 3, and a reinforced PCI-E slot for heavier GPUs. But the feature that will be the hardest to miss with the STRIX X99 Gaming motherboard has to be the customizable RGB lighting.

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"ROG Strix X99 Gaming features the aesthetics for gamers looking to personalize an illuminate gaming rig. Ten LED effects can be customized using ASUS Aura, an intuitive lighting control software for the built-in RGB LEDs and attached RGB strips (via the integrated 4-pin RGB strip header like the ones you can find on the ROG Maximus VIII Formula and Hero Alpha), allowing easy custom illumination that can be perfectly synchronized across the system or even the whole gaming desk with additional RGB strips."

As is often the case with new product announcements, pricing and availabilty were not revealed.

Source: ASUS ROG

Kaby Lake Benchmarks Might Have Been Leaked

Subject: Processors | May 9, 2016 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, Intel

Fudzilla claims that they have a screenshot of SiSoft benchmarks belonging to the Intel Core i7-7700k. I should note that image only mentions “Kabylake,” not any specific model number. It's possible that the branding will change this generation, and there's an infinitesimal chance that this is not highest level SKU of that specific chip, but it should be safe to assume that this is the 7700k, and that it will be branded as such. I'm just being over-cautious.

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Image Credit: Fudzilla

In terms of specifications, Kaby Lake will be a quad-core processor that runs at 3.6 GHz, 4.2 GHz turbo, backed with 8MB of L3 cache. The graphics processor has 24 CUs that can reach a clock of 1.15 GHz. If Intel hasn't changed the GPU architecture since Skylake, this equates to 192 FP32 processors and 442 GFLOPs. Apart from a lower CPU base clock, 3.6 GHz versus Skylake's 4.0 GHz, Kaby Lake seems to be identical to Skylake.

I was hoping to compare the benchmark results with Core i7-6700k, but I'm not sure which version of SiSoft they're using. The numbers don't seem to line up with our results (SiSoft 2013 SP3a) or the SiSoft 2015 benchmarks that I've found around the net (and even those 2015 benchmarks varied greatly). It might just be my lack of experience with CPU benchmarks, but I'd rather just present the data.

Source: Fudzilla

Speaking of Leaked Benchmarks: Broadwell-E

Subject: Processors | May 5, 2016 - 07:26 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell-E

NVIDIA is not the only one with leaked benchmarks this week -- it's Intel's turn!

Silicon Lottery down at the Overclock.net forums got their hands on the ten-core, twenty-thread, Intel Core i7-6950X. Because Silicon Lottery is all about buying CPUs, testing how they overclock, and reselling them, it looks like each of these results are overclocked. The base clock is listed as 3.0 GHz, but the tests were performed at 4.0 GHz or higher.

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Image Credit: Silicon Lottery via Overclock.net

They only had access to a single CPU, but they were able to get a “24/7” stable overclock at 4.3 GHz, pushed to 4.5 GHz for a benchmark or two. This could vary from part to part, as this all depends on microscopic errors that were made during manufacturing, and bigger chips have more surface area to run into them. These tiny imprecisions can require excess voltage to hit higher frequencies, causing a performance variation between parts. Too much, and the manufacturer will laser-cut under-performing cores, if possible, and sell it as a lesser part. That said, Silicon Lottery said that performance ran into a wall at some point, which sounds like an architectural limitation.

Broadwell-E is expected to launch at Computex.

Biostar is off to the races with the Z170GT7

Subject: Motherboards | May 2, 2016 - 08:59 PM |
Tagged: biostar, racing z170gt7, Z170, Intel

Biostar has a mixed reputation online, one similar to ASRock.  Those who have never used one despise the brand on the basis of reading that some guy somewhere once had some sort of problem with one.  Those who have used them are aware that they have some quirks but are decent boards when used for what they were designed for and don't tend to have significantly more issues than other brands.

With the Racing Z170GT7, Biostar is venturing out of its comfort zone as you do not expect to see an LN2 switch on one of their products, nor on a motherboard costing around $130.  It is not light on features either, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, an M.2 port and three SEx ports which are set up to be available as SATA 6Gbps ports as well.  The motherboard also has aesthetic heatsinks and 256 colour LEDs, all of which add up to something new from Biostar.  Check out the board in action over at TechPowerUp ... or not.

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"The Biostar Racing Z170GT7 is a fully-featured high-performance platform that includes an LN2 switch. Unlike previous motherboards from Biostar that were affordable with more basic features, this one has everything a gamer would want and does very well in our testing."

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Source: TechPowerUp

How Intel Job Cuts and Restructuring Affect Enthusiasts

Subject: Processors | April 21, 2016 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: restructure, Intel

Earlier this week Intel announced a major restructuring that will result in the loss of 12,000 jobs over the next several weeks, an amount equal to approximately 11% of the company's workforce. I've been sitting on the news for a while, trying to decide what I could add to the hundreds of reports on it and honestly, I haven't come to any definitive conclusion. But here it goes.

It's obviously worth noting the humanitarian part of this announcement - 12,000 people will be losing their job. I feel for them and wish them luck finding employment quickly. It sucks to see anyone lose their job, and maybe more so with a company that is still so profitable and innovative.

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The reasons for the restructuring are obviously complex, but the major concern is the shift in focus towards IoT (Internet of Things) and cloud infrastructure as the primary growth drivers. 

The data center and Internet of Things (IoT) businesses are Intel’s primary growth engines, with memory and field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) accelerating these opportunities – fueling a virtuous cycle of growth for the company. These growth businesses delivered $2.2 billion in revenue growth last year, and made up 40 percent of revenue and the majority of operating profit, which largely offset the decline in the PC market segment.

That last line is the one that might be the most concerning for enthusiasts and builders that read PC Perspective. The decline of the PC market has been a constant hum in the back of minds for the better part of 10 years. Everyone from graphics card vendors to motherboard manufacturers and any other product that depends on the consumer PC to be relevant, has been worried about what will happen as the PC continues in a southward spiral.

But it's important to point out that Intel has done this before, has taken the stance that the consumer PC is bad business. Remember the netbook craze and the rise of the Atom product line? When computers were "fast enough" for people to open up a browser and get to their email? At that point Intel had clearly pushed the enthusiast and high performance computing market to back burner. This also occurred when management pushed Intel into the mobile space, competing directly with the likes of Qualcomm in a market that it didn't quite have the product portfolio to do so.

Then something happened - PC gaming proved to be a growth segment after all. Intel started to realize that high end components mattered and they made attempts to recapture the market's mind share (as it never lost the market share). That is where the unlocked processors in notebooks and "anniversary edition" CPUs were born, in the labs of Intel where gamers and enthusiasts mattered. Hell the entire creation of the Devil's Canyon platform was predicated on the idea that the enthusiast community mattered.

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I thought we were moving in the right direction. But it appears we have another setback. Intel is going to downplay the value and importance of the market that literally defines and decides what every other consumer buys. Enthusiasts are the trend setters, the educators and the influencers. When families and friends and co-workers ask for suggestions for new phones, tablets and notebooks, they ask us. 

Maybe Intel is just in another cycle, another loop about the fate of the PC and what it means. Did tablets and the iPad kill off the notebook? Did mobile games on your iPhone keep users from flocking to PC games? Have the PS4 or Xbox One destroyed the market for PC-based gaming and VR? No. 

The potential worry now is that one of these times, as Intel feigns disinterest in the PC, it may stick.

Source: Intel

Podcast #396 - MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 21, 2016 - 05:37 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, msi, Intel, Playstation, ps4, neo, ps4k, phanteks, idf, Optane, XPoint, western digital, nvidia, GTX 1080

PC Perspective Podcast #396 - 04/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss MSI Gaming Notebooks, Intel Layoffs, the PlayStation Neo 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Knights Landing apparently knows Ninjitsu

Subject: General Tech | April 15, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: knights landing, Intel, CentOS

That's right, if you already hired a rock start ninja programmer, soon you will be able to give them the hardware they want as well.  Intel's new Knights Landing HPC Phi devices will sell under the unfortunate name of Ninja Development Platform and can be pre-ordered for just under $5000USD for the 72 core desktop model and upwards of $20,000 for a four node racked device.  According to the sources that The Register spoke with they will run using CentOS 7.2 and customers will be able to choose the amount and type of  memory and local storage they desire.  We do not have exact shipping dates yet, but we should see this 14nm silicon soon.

"Intel's fulfilling its 2015 promise to let developers get their hands on a Knights Landing developer platform before the 14 nm HPC silicon reaches general availability."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: The Register

IDF Shenzhen: Intel Demos 3D XPoint Optane File Copy at 2 GB/s

Subject: Storage | April 14, 2016 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: Optane, NVMe, Intel, idf

At IDF Shenzhen, Intel talked more about 3D XPoint (spoken cross-point). Initially launched in July of last year, 3D XPoint is essentially a form of phase change memory which has speeds closer to that of DRAM.

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It can be addressed at the byte level, unlike flash which transfers in pages (~8KB) and erases in blocks (~6MB). There have been a few demos since the initial launch, and this morning there was another:

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It is great to see XPoint / Optane technology being demonstrated again, but as far as demos go, this was not the best / fairest example that Intel could have put together. First of all, the 'NAND SSD' they are using is a Thunderbolt 3 connected external, which was clearly bottlenecked badly somewhere else in the chain (when was the last time you saw a 6 Gbit SATA SSD limited to only 283 MB/s?). Also, using SATA for the NAND example while using PCIe x4 NVMe for the Optane example seems a bit extreme to me.

The Optane side of the demo is seen going 1.94 GB/s. That is an impressive figure for sure, but it is important to note that a faster Intel 'NAND SSD' product has already been shipping for over a year:

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Yes, the P3700 (reviewed by us here), can reach the speeds seen in this demo, as evidenced by this ATTO run on one of our 1.6TB samples:

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Looking at the P3700 specs, we can see that the 2TB model performs even better and would likely beat the Optane SSD used in today's demo:

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Further, in the IDF 2015 demo (where they launched the Optane brand), Intel showed off Optane's random IO performance:

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This demo showed 464,300 4K random IOPS, and if you do the math, that works out to 1.9 GB/s *worth of random IO*, which is far more impressive than sequentials that basically match that of the current generation NVMe product of the same form factor and interface.

I'm still happy to see these demos happen, as it means we are absolutely going to see 3D XPoint in our hands sooner than later. That said, I'd also like to see demos that better demonstrate the strengths of the technology, because if today's demo was comparing apples to apples, it would have shown a P3700 matching the speed of Optane, which does not make the previously stated 1000x speed improvement nearly as obvious as it should be presented.