Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Low Power and Low Price

Back at CES earlier this year, we came across a couple of interesting motherboards that were neither AM3+ nor FM2+.  These small, sparse, and inexpensive boards were actually based on the unannounced AM1 platform.  This socket is actually the FS1b socket that is typically reserved for mobile applications which require the use of swappable APUs.  The goal here is to provide a low cost, upgradeable platform for emerging markets where price is absolutely key.

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AMD has not exactly been living on easy street for the past several years.  Their CPU technologies have not been entirely competitive with Intel.  This is their bread and butter.  Helping to prop the company up though is a very robust and competitive graphics unit.  The standalone and integrated graphics technology they offer are not only competitive, but also class leading in some cases.  The integration of AMD’s GCN architecture into APUs has been their crowning achievement as of late.

This is not to say that AMD is totally deficient in their CPU designs.  Their low power/low cost designs that started with the Bobcat architecture all those years back have always been very competitive in terms of performance, price, and power consumption.  The latest iteration is the Kabini APU based on the Jaguar core architecture paired with GCN graphics.  Kabini will be the part going into the FS1b socket that powers the AM1 platform.

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Kabini is a four core processor (Jaguar) with a 128 unit GCN graphics part (8 GCN cores).  These APUs will be rated at 25 watts up and down the stack.  Even if they come with half the cores, it will still be a 25 watt part.  AMD says that 25 watts is the sweet spot in terms of performance, cooling, and power consumption.  Go lower than that and too much performance is sacrificed, and any higher it would make more sense to go with a Trinity/Richland/Kaveri solution.  That 25 watt figure also encompasses the primary I/O functionality that typically resides on a standalone motherboard chipset.  Kabini features 2 SATA 6G ports, 2 USB 3.0 ports, and 8 USB 2.0 ports.  It also features multiple PCI-E lanes as well as a 4x PCI-E connection for external graphics.  The chip also supports DisplayPort, HDMI, and VGA outputs.  This is a true SOC from AMD that does a whole lot of work for not a whole lot of power.

Click here to read the rest of the article!

Intel's ARM escalation

Subject: General Tech | July 30, 2013 - 09:41 AM |
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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Tech Talk

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Jaguar Hits the Embedded Space

 

It has long been known that AMD has simply not had a lot of luck going head to head against Intel in the processor market.  Some years back they worked on differentiating themselves, and in so doing have been able to stay afloat through hard times.  The acquisitions that AMD has made in the past decade are starting to make a difference in the company, especially now that the PC market that they have relied upon for revenue and growth opportunities is suddenly contracting.  This of course puts a cramp in AMD’s style, but with better than expected results in their previous quarter, things are not nearly as dim as some would expect.

Q1 was still pretty harsh for AMD, but they maintained their marketshare in both processors and graphics chips.  One area that looks to get a boost is that of embedded processors.  AMD has offered embedded processors for some time, but with the way the market is heading they look to really ramp up their offerings to fit in a variety of applications and SKUs.  The last generation of G-series processors were based upon the Bobcat/Brazos platform.  This two chip design (APU and media hub) came in a variety of wattages with good performance from both the CPU and GPU portion.  While the setup looked pretty good on paper, it was not widely implemented because of the added complexity of a two chip design plus thermal concerns vs. performance.

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AMD looks to address these problems with one of their first, true SOC designs.  The latest G-series SOC’s are based upon the brand new Jaguar core from AMD.  Jaguar is the successor to the successful Bobcat core which is a low power, dual core processor with integrated DX11/VLIW5 based graphics.  Jaguar improves performance vs. Bobcat in CPU operations between 6% to 13% when clocked identically, but because it is manufactured on a smaller process node it is able to do so without using as much power.  Jaguar can come in both dual core and quad core packages.  The graphics portion is based on the latest GCN architecture.

Read the rest of the AMD G-Series release by clicking here!

Intel Leaks Valleyview and Bay Trail Slides

Subject: Processors | January 6, 2013 - 02:09 PM |
Tagged: valleyview, low power, Intel, Bay Trail, atom

When the original Intel Atom hit the scene, it was a reasonably large success for Intel with the massive explosion of netbooks.  The original design was very simplistic, but was fairly power efficient.  The weak link of the original Atom was the 945 chipset graphics that were not only underpowered, but were based on a relatively power hungry desktop chipset.  The eventual competition from AMD featured a next generation low power core based on the Bobcat architecture which featured a modern graphics core that was more than adequate for most scenarios.

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Intel never stood still, but their advancement of the low power cores was slow as compared to the massive leaps and bounds we saw from the original Core architecture in 2006 on the desktop and server markets.  Typically these products lagged the desktop products in terms of process nodes, but they continued to advance these cores little by little.

Leap forward a few years and we saw the eventual demise of the netbook and the massive uptake of mobile computing.  Mobile computing was primarily comprised of tablets and smartphones.  Intel was late to the party as compared to products from Qualcomm, Samsung, and NVIDIA.  A fire was lit under the Atom group at Intel, as the competition had far surpassed the company in ultra-mobile parts.

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Happily for those of us paying attention, the 3D Center Forum has released some very interesting slides about the 22 nm generation of Atom products and the platforms they will be integrated into.  Valleyview is the SoC while Bay Trail is the platform.

Valleyview is based on Intel’s 22 nm process and will be a next generation Atom processor with a multitude of new features.  It will be a SoC as it will no longer require a traditional southbridge.  It will have improved graphics as compared to the most recent Atom processors.  While the SoC will feature USB 3.0, it will not embrace SATA-6G or PCI-E 3.0.  The CPU will go up to quad core units that will be 50% to 100% faster than current parts.  These new chips will also introduce a boost functionality (think desktop Turbo Boost) that will run the frequency equal to or greater than 2.7 GHz.

Power is of course the primary concern, and these products will be offered from 3 watts and below (Bay Trail T) and up to 12 watts (Bay Trail D)  These products will not be competing with the Haswell products which are rumored to get around 10 watts at the very lowest.

While Intel has been slow to react to the mobile push, they are starting to get that ball rolling.  It will be very interesting to see if they can move fast enough to outrun and outwit the ARM based competition, not to mention AMD’s latest 28 nm products that will be released in the first half of 2013.

AMD's new ultra low power CPU, the G-T16R

Subject: General Tech | June 25, 2012 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: low power, geode, G-T16R, embedded, amd

The new embedded processor from AMD replaces the old Geode series and brings new performance to the ultra low end as this is a 4.5W TPD processor.   The G-T16R APU supports Windows 7 Embedded Compact 7, Green Hills Integrity and Express Logic Thread X operating systems which makes the lack of support for DirectX 11 a moot point as these OSes are not about to need that support to begin with.  The ultra low TDP means that no fan is required to use this processor and so you can expect an average draw of 2.3W from the system.

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DirectX 11 might be missing but looking below you can see that there is a lot of other features included with this chip, from SATA 6Gbps to HD audio as well as HDMI out and support for PCIe 2.0 4x cards, you can get quite a bit from this little chip.  Check out the ASUS press release here or just read the summary available at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP DESIGNER AMD launched its lowest power accelerator processing unit (APU) yet with the 4.5W TDP G-T16R.

AMD's G series embedded GPUs have been offering some of the lowest power DirectX 11 capable chips for some time and now the firm has brought the TDP down even further with the G-T16R. Although the G-T16R doesn't support DirectX 11, it claims considerable performance benefits over the almost archaic but popular Geode LX embedded processors."

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Source: The Inquirer

Intel Centerton; the next big thing in Micro Machines

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2012 - 09:32 AM |
Tagged: microserver, Centerton, seamicro, atom, low power

Microservers are the newest old idea to hit the PR flacks, anyone who remembers the original blade servers already has a good idea what a microserver is.  Intel has once again tried to take ownership of a form factor, in this case defining what they feel the market should consider a microserver.  In some ways, the single socket design seems to run counter to current low power servers, which tend towards large arrays of low powered APUs but at the same time when you no longer have to worry about the interconnects between those APUs you can drop the price significantly.

AMD has had several forays into this market and while Intel has never put much effort into this segment vendors like Dell and HP have been creating microservers using an Intel processor for some time.  This heralds a change in Intel's strategy when taking on ARM and AMD in the server room, with the 6W Atom Centerton chip they announced at IDF.  The Inquirer was also told of 10W and 15W parts which would be more powerful although they could also require a bit more space than what the 6W part could survive in.  It seems that those looking for inexpensive servers which require very little infrastructure will have a lot of choices to spend their money on by the end of this year.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel dropped an Atom bomb on the second day of IDF in Beijing, announcing its 'Centerton' microserver chip that will draw just a miserly 6W of thermal design power (TDP).

It defines a microserver as a computer with one socket, error correction, 64-bit processing, and minimal memory and I/O. The Atom Centerton platform will have two cores, Hyperthreading and support for ECC DDR3 as well as VT-x virtualisation technology. Intel said the Atom Centerton chip will be available in the second half of this year."

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Source: The Inquirer

Samsung's lean green random access memory machine

Subject: Memory | March 23, 2012 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: Samsung, Samsung Green PC3-12800, low profile, low power

There is a reason that Samsung's branding of these new DIMMs is green; they suck a mere 1.35V at their full speed of DDR3 1600MHz @ 11-11-11-28 and with the low profile they will fit in just about any machine.  Of more interest to some readers would be their overclocking potential, which TechPowerUp explored and discovered that 2400 MHz with 1.575V was not only possible but also stable.  They also went the other way and discovered the DIMMs could still run at stock speeds at 1.2V which gives you a lot to tweak on this RAM.  Read on to see how the DIMMs performed and to learn a little about tWCL as well.

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"Several tech forums are buzzing about Samsung's lastest "Green" 30 nm DDR3, that sips the voltage, and sits on a tiny low-profile PCB. We snagged a pair to see what all the fuss is about, and boy, were we surprised!"

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Source: TechPowerUp

Collision alert! ARM, AMD and Intel are all headed for the same market

Subject: General Tech | February 9, 2012 - 09:07 AM |
Tagged: arm, Intel, amd, atom, low power, cortex, Medfield, hondo

To revive an old buzzword some of you may have forgotten, ubiquitous computing is the current holy grail of the computing industry.  If AMD, Intel, ARM and to a lesser extent NVIDIA, can get the market to prefer one of their low power processors over the competitions there is a lot of money to be made in the mobile market.  The way that they are approaching the market is very different however.   In Intel's case they pride themselves on the general computation power of their upcoming Medfield processor though that comes at the cost of power consumption and less graphics capabilities.  AMD. like Intel, are trying to reduce the power consumption of their chips and though they lag behind in general CPU performance the graphics capabilities are generally considered superior.

Then there is ARM, which is striving to overcome its reputation of providing chips low in power, both electrically and computationally.  Their latest Cortex processors are certainly display a vast improvement in performance compared to previous generations.  The power consumption may have increased but not to the levels of consumption of the Intel and AMD chips.  Intel and AMD need to continue lowering their power consumption without sacrificing power while ARM needs to increase performance without impacting the power consumption before anyone can be considered a clear winner.  There is another consideration which DigiTimes points out; right now ARM is winning the price war which could be every bit as important as power consumption or computational power.

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"While Intel and AMD have been making efforts to develop low power processors for use in smartphones and tablet PCs, they cannot compete with solutions from ARM in terms of price, according to notebook makers."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD Countering Ultrabooks With Ultrathin Notebooks

Subject: Systems, Mobile | January 12, 2012 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: CES, ultrathin, trinity, piledriver, PC, notebook, low power, amd, 17 watt

Intel is the driving force behind the Ultrabook platform, a category of thin and light notebooks that are ideally less than $1,000 USD and deliver solid mobile performance and battery life. AMD is still playing catch up in CPU performance; however, they have been moderately successful with their Llano APU parts due to the better integrated GPU versus Intel's graphics processor. With Trinity, the successor to Llano, AMD is claiming up to 25% faster CPU performance and a 50% increase in graphics processor performance, and all while sipping half the power of current Llano chips.

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The 17 watt TDP Trinity die.

It seems that AMD has seen the Ultrabook boom that Intel is experiencing and wants a piece of the action. Thanks to the Trinity performance improvements and power sipping TDPs, AMD is confident that it can design and market thin and light notebooks of their own. They plan to market their notebooks as "Ultrathins." Exact hardware specifications of the Ultrathins are not known. We do know that they will be powered by dual and quad core 17 watt TDP versions of the AMD Trinity APU, which you can read more about here. The company is planning for its Ultrathins to start at $500 USD, a few hundred less than the lowest cost Ultrabooks from Intel. Beyond that, we can only speculate. Fortunately, we may not have to wait long for more information as AMD plans to reveal more information about their Ultrathin strategy next month at their financial analyst meeting, according to Ars.

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A Trinity powered laptop at CES

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Ars Technica

Panel Self Refresh; a new way to save power

Subject: Displays | September 30, 2011 - 10:27 AM |
Tagged: mobile, low power, panel self refresh

The idea behind Panel Self Refresh is a sound one, when displaying static images there is no need for the GPU portion of your processor to be refreshing it at full speed.  If you simply leave the displayed image in the frame buffer you can turn off the GPU and get significant power savings.  It will not help when you are streaming media but if you are reading emails or a pdf file or even browsing pictures, you should see some extension to the life of your battery.  Hardware Secrets describes the technology in their article here.

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"Manufacturers are always looking for innovative ways to save battery life on laptops. With the embedded DisplayPort 1.3 interface (eDP 1.3), VESA, the Video Standards Association behind DisplayPort, came up with a new idea, the Panel Self Refresh (PSR). Let's see how it works."

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