Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2015 - 01:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, qualcomm, Samsung, patents, sueball
A judge has ruled that six of the seven patent disputes that NVIDIA has filed are valid and will proceed to court for judgment. These patents involve the use of graphics coprocessors in mobile devices and have been judged to be worded in such a way that it does not matter if those GPUs are ARM, Imagination Technologies or Qualcomm. This is not the end of the dispute, merely a pretrial to see if the claims are valid and worth going to trial. Of course Qualcomm and Samsung dispute NVIDIA's claims and in Samsung's case they have already launched a counter suit claiming NVIDIA has violated six of their own patents. You can read about the history of the latest legal battle in the tech world as well as today's judgment over at The Register.
"Nvidia has won an important early victory in its ongoing patent litigation against Qualcomm and Samsung, with a judge in the US International Trade Commission ruling in Nvidia's favor as to the language of the disputed patents."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Compute Stick with Ubuntu Linux is cheaper than Windows version @ The Inquirer
- Mozilla Rolls Back Firefox 37's Opportunistic Encryption Over Security Issue @ Slashdot
- Intel: We came here to bury our Mobile chip business, not praise it @ The Register
- iFixit slaps the Galaxy S6 Edge with lowly three out of 10 repairability score @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2015 - 04:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Samsung, qualcomm, 14 nm, snapdragon 820
If DigiTimes has called it right Qualcomm will be using Samsung to fab the new Snapdragon 820, likely on the same line as Samsung used for the 14 nm EXynos 7420. TSMC's 16 nm tech is slightly behind in quality to Samsung's current 14 nm and Qualcomm really wants to replace the current Snapdragon 810 as soon as possible. This move makes sense strategically seeing as how Samsung will be using its own processors in the new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 and Qualcomm may look to leverage their status as a customer to try to get their Snapdragon back into future Samsung products.
"Qualcomm's next-generation application processor (AP), the Snapdragon 820, is expected to outsource to Samsung Electronics using a 14nm node, which the Korea-based foundry house has demonstrated as a proven process as showcased by the performance and power consumption of its14nm EXynos 7420 CPU developed in house, according to Digitimes Research."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NASA-ESA Project Will Shoot an Asteroid To See What Happens @ Slashdot
- Open Xchange teams with PowerDNS and Dovecot to create open source powerhouse @ The Inquirer
- Yes, AT&T, you do have to go to court with the FTC @ The Register
- BES12 Cloud goes live with support for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BB10 devices @ The Inquirer
- Check Your Grill’s Remaining Propane? There’s An App For That @ MAKE:Blog
Process Technology Overview
We have been very spoiled throughout the years. We likely did not realize exactly how spoiled we were until it became very obvious that the rate of process technology advances hit a virtual brick wall. Every 18 to 24 months we were treated to a new, faster, more efficient process node that was opened up to fabless semiconductor firms and we were treated to a new generation of products that would blow our hair back. Now we have been in a virtual standstill when it comes to new process nodes from the pure-play foundries.
Few expected the 28 nm node to live nearly as long as it has. Some of the first cracks in the façade actually came from Intel. Their 22 nm Tri-Gate (FinFET) process took a little bit longer to get off the ground than expected. We also noticed some interesting electrical features from the products developed on that process. Intel skewed away from higher clockspeeds and focused on efficiency and architectural improvements rather than staying at generally acceptable TDPs and leapfrogging the competition by clockspeed alone. Overclockers noticed that the newer parts did not reach the same clockspeed heights as previous products such as the 32 nm based Sandy Bridge processors. Whether this decision was intentional from Intel or not is debatable, but my gut feeling here is that they responded to the technical limitations of their 22 nm process. Yields and bins likely dictated the max clockspeeds attained on these new products. So instead of vaulting over AMD’s products, they just slowly started walking away from them.
Samsung is one of the first pure-play foundries to offer a working sub-20 nm FinFET product line. (Photo courtesy of ExtremeTech)
When 28 nm was released the plans on the books were to transition to 20 nm products based on planar transistors, thereby bypassing the added expense of developing FinFETs. It was widely expected that FinFETs were not necessarily required to address the needs of the market. Sadly, that did not turn out to be the case. There are many other factors as to why 20 nm planar parts are not common, but the limitations of that particular process node has made it a relatively niche process node that is appropriate for smaller, low power ASICs (like the latest Apple SOCs). The Apple A8 is rumored to be around 90 mm square, which is a far cry from the traditional midrange GPU that goes from 250 mm sq. to 400+ mm sq.
The essential difficulty of the 20 nm planar node appears to be a lack of power scaling to match the increased transistor density. TSMC and others have successfully packed in more transistors into every square mm as compared to 28 nm, but the electrical characteristics did not scale proportionally well. Yes, there are improvements there per transistor, but when designers pack in all those transistors into a large design, TDP and voltage issues start to arise. As TDP increases, it takes more power to drive the processor, which then leads to more heat. The GPU guys probably looked at this and figured out that while they can achieve a higher transistor density and a wider design, they will have to downclock the entire GPU to hit reasonable TDP levels. When adding these concerns to yields and bins for the new process, the advantages of going to 20 nm would be slim to none at the end of the day.
Subject: Storage | March 31, 2015 - 07:01 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ssd, sata, Samsung, msata, M.2 SATA, 850 EVO, 500gb, 1TB, 120gb
As Al's review of the 850 EVO exists in a cat like superposition of being biased both for and against Samsung, perhaps you would like a second opinion. That is where The Tech Report's review comes in handy, which was published just a few short hours ago. Their findings were perfectly in line with the others, exactly the same performance as the 2.5" drives but in a nice bite sized form factor. The only drawback is the size, the new M.2's are missing the 1TB model at the moment.
"Samsung's 850 EVO SSD debuted in December inside the usual 2.5" case. Now, the drive is spreading to smaller mSATA and M.2 form factors. We've examined the new drives to see how the mini lineup compares to its full-sized forbear."
Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:
- Samsung 850 EVO mSATA and M.2 @ Bjorn3d
- Samsung 850 Evo mSATA/M.2 SSD @ HardwareHeaven
- Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SATA SSD @ The SSD Review
- 480GB HyperX Predator M.2 PCIe SSD @ Bjorn3d
- Crucial BX100 SSD @ Benchmark Reviews
- The OCZ Vector 180 SSD Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Enermax 2.5 and 3.5-Inch Mobile Drive Rack Roundup @ eTeknix
- Kingston SDXC UHS-1 Memory Card @ The SSD Review
- Silicon Power Stream S06 4TB USB 3.0 HDD Review @ Madshrimps
- Synology DS1815+ @ techPowerUp
Introduction, Specifications and Packaging
Following the same pattern that Samsung led with the 840 Pro and 840 EVO, history has repeated itself with the 850 Pro and 850 EVO. With the 850 EVO launching late last year and being quite successful, it was only a matter of time before Samsung expanded past the 2.5" form factor for this popular SSD. Today is that day:
Today we will be looking at the MSATA and M.2 form factors. To clarify, the M.2 units are still using a SATA controller and connection, and must therefore be installed in a system capable of linking SATA lanes to its M.2 port. As both products are SATA, the DRAM cache based RAPID mode included with their Magician value added software is also available for these models. We won't be using RAPID for this review, but we did take a look at it in a prior article.
Given that 850 EVOs use VNAND - a vastly different technology than the planar NAND used in the 840 EVO, we suspect it is not subject to the same flash cell drift related issues (hopefully to be corrected soon) in the 840 EVO. Only time will tell for sure on that front, but we have not see any of those issues present in 850 EVO models since their launch.
Cross sectional view of Samsung's 32-layer VNAND. Photo by TechInsights.
Samsung sampled us the M.2 SATA in 120GB and 500GB, and the MSATA in 120GB and 1TB. Since both are SATA-based, these are only physical packaging differences. The die counts are the same as the 2.5" desktop counterparts. While the pair of 120GB models should be essentially identical, we'll throw both in with the results to validate the slight differences in stated specs below.
Subject: General Tech | March 21, 2015 - 12:09 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: TSMC, SoC, Semiconductor, Samsung, process node, nvidia, gpu, fab
Want to liven up your weekend? Forget college basketball, we all know that few things are more exciting than SEC filings - and oh boy do we have a great read for you! (OK, this one is actually interesting!)
Ah, legal documents...
NVIDIA has disclosed in their latest 10-K filing that none other than Samsung is manufacturing some of the company’s chips. TSMC has been the source of GPUs for both AMD and NVIDIA for some time, but this filing (the full document is available from the SEC website) has a very interesting mention of the suppliers of their silicon under the “Manufacturing” section:
"We utilize industry-leading suppliers, such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company Limited and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, to produce our semiconductor wafers."
Back in December NVIDIA commented on its lawsuit against Samsung for alleged IP theft, which only makes this partnership seem more unlikely. However even Apple (which has their own famous legal history with Samsung, of course) has relied on Samsung for some of the production of their A-series SoCs, including the current crop of A8 chips. Business is business, and Samsung Foundry has been a reliable source of silicon for multiple manufacturers - particularly during times when TSMC has struggled to meet demand at smaller process nodes.
Samsung's Current Semiconductor Offering
It is unclear at this point whether the wafers produced by Samsung Semiconductor are for NVIDIA’s mobile parts exclusively, or if any of the desktop GPUs were produced there rather than at TSMC. The partnership could also be attributed simply to scale, just as Apple has augmented A8 SoC supply with their rival’s fab while primarily relying on TSMC. It will be interesting to see just how pervasive the chips produced by Samsung are within the NVIDIA lineup, and what future products might be manufactured with their newest 14nm FinFET process technology.
Subject: General Tech | March 17, 2015 - 01:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hsa foundation, hsa, amd, arm, Samsung, Imagination Technologies, HSAIL
We have been talking about the HSA foundation since 2013, a cooperative effort by AMD, ARM, Imagination, Samsung, Qualcomm, MediaTek and TI to design a heterogeneous memory architecture to allow GPUs, DSPs and CPUs to all directly access the same physical memory. The release of the official specifications today are a huge step forward for these companies, especially for garnering future mobile market share as physical hardware apart from Carrizo becomes available.
Programmers will be able to use C, C++, Fortran, Java, and Python to write HSA-compliant code which is then compiled into HSAIL (Heterogeneous System Architecture Intermediate Language) and from there to the actual binary executables which will run on your devices. HSA currently supports x86 and x64 and there are Linux kernel patches available for those who develop on that OS. Intel and NVIDIA are not involved in this project at all, they have chosen their own solutions for mobile devices and while Intel certainly has pockets deep enough to experiment NVIDIA might not. We shall soon see if Pascal and improvements Maxwell's performance and efficiency through future generations can compete with the benefits of HSA.
The current problem is of course hardware, Bald Eagle and Carrizo are scheduled to arrive on the market soon but currently they are not available. Sea Islands GPUs and Kaveri have some HSA enhancements but with limited hardware to work with it will be hard to convince developers to focus on programming HSA optimized applications. The release of the official specs today is a great first step; if you prefer an overview to reading through the official documents The Register has a good article right here.
"The HSA Foundation today officially published version 1.0 of its Heterogeneous System Architecture specification, which (if we were being flippant) describes how GPUs, DSPs and CPUs can share the same physical memory and pass pointers between each other. (A provisional 1.0 version went live in August 2014.)"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Droidberry dangles: Why the BlackBerry-Samsung alliance is big potatoes @ The Register
- BlackBerry: FREAK SSL bug affects BES, BBM and BlackBerry smartphones @ The Inquirer
- Apple will pay you to ditch your Android or BlackBerry smartphone @ The Inquirer
- Ext4 Filesystem Improvements to Address Scaling Challenges @ Linux.com
- Microsoft gives EMET divine powers to repel God Mode attack @ The Register
- Microsoft RE-BORKS Windows 7 patch after reboot loop horror @ The Register
- Fujitsu Could Help Smartphone Chips Run Cooler @ Slashdot
- Gigabyte announces financial results for 2014 @ DigiTimes
- 3D Audio Standard Released @ Slashdot
- NikKTech And Nanoxia Spring Break EU Giveaway
Subject: Storage | March 16, 2015 - 07:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: ssd, samsung 840 pro, Samsung, endurance
The Samsung 840 Pro was the last SSD standing in The Tech Report's experiment with a final score of over 2.4 petabytes written. Granted, only one (or two in the case of the Kingston HyperX) of each model participated, which means that one unit could have been top of its batch and another could have been bottom -- and can simply never know. What it does say, however, is that you really should not be worried about writing your SSD to death under normal (or even modestly abnormal) conditions.
This almost looks like one of our Frame Rating charts.
Again, that whole warning (above) about “this could be 100% binning luck” still holds true. Even so, here is the final ranking of contestants!
- Samsung 840 Pro (256GB)
- Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB with Compression)
- Corsair Neutron GTX (240GB)
- Samsung 840 (No Suffix and 250GB)
- Intel 335 (240GB)
- Kingston HyperX 3K (240GB)
The Tech Report notes that the Samsung drives did not warn users through SMART as much as their competitors. In both cases, death from write wearing was abrupt, albeit far into the future. I'd wonder what is next for them, but part of me expects that they never want to run anything like this again.
Introduction and Specifications
Had you asked me just a few years ago if 6-inch phones would not only be a viable option, but a dominant force in the mobile computing market, I would have likely rolled my eyes. At that time phones were small, tablets were big, and phablets were laughed at. Today, no one is laughing at the Galaxy Note 4, the latest iteration in Samsung’s created space of larger-than-you-probably-thought-you-wanted smartphones. Nearly all consumers are amazed by the size of the screen and the real estate this class of phone provides but some are instantly off put by the way the phone feels in the hand – it can come off as foreign, cumbersome, and unusable.
In my time with the new Galaxy Note 4 – my first extended-use experience with a phone of this magnitude – I have come to see the many positive traits that a larger phone can offer. There are some trade-offs of course, including the pocket/purse viability debate. One thing beyond question is that a large phone means a big screen. One that can display a large amount of data whether that be on a website or in a note-taking application. The extra screen real estate can instantly improve your productivity. To that end Samsung also provides a multi-tasking framework that lets you run multiple programs in a side-by-side view, similar to what the original version of Windows 8 did. It might seem unnecessary for an Android device, but as soon as you find the situation where you need it going back to a device without it can feel archaic.
A larger phone also means that there is more room for faster hardware, a larger camera sensor, and a bigger battery. Samsung even includes an active stylus called the S-Pen in the body of the device – something that few other modern tablets/phablets/phones feature.
Subject: General Tech | March 5, 2015 - 03:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: vulkan, vive, video, valve, titan x, strix, Silverstone, shield, Samsung, rv05, re vive, raven, podcast, nvidia, Nepton 240M, liquidvr, Khronos, Intel, htc, gtx 960, glnext, coolermaster, amd, 750ti
Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA SHIELD and Titan X, AMD Mantle, OpenGL Vulkan, and much more from GDC!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Ken Addison
Program length: 1:22:13
Week in Review:
News item of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Jeremy: Um, I don’t know, SteamOS sales I guess?