Subject: Mobile | April 8, 2014 - 07:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, snapdragon, qualcomm, LTE, ARMv8, adreno, 64-bit
Qualcomm has announced two new flagship 64-bit SoCs with the Snapdragon 808 and Snapdragon 810. The new chips will begin sampling later this year and should start showing up in high end smartphones towards the second half of 2015. The new 800-series parts join the previously announced mid-range Snapdragon 610 and 615 which are also 64-bit ARMv8 parts.
The Snapdragon 810 is Qualcomm's new flagship processor. The chip features four ARM Cortex A57 cores and four Cortex A53 cores in a big.LITTLE configuration, an Adreno 430 GPU, and support for Category 6 LTE (up to 300 Mbps downloads) and LPDDR4 memory. This flagship part uses the 64-bit ARMv8 ISA. The new Adreno 430 GPU integrated in the SoC is reportedly 30% faster than the Adreno 420 GPU in the Snapdragon 805 processor.
In addition to the flagship part, Qualcomm is also releasing the Snapdragon 808 which pairs two Cortex A57 CPU cores and four Cortex A53 CPU cores in a big.LITTLE configuration with an Adreno 418 (approximately 20% faster than the popular Adreno 320) GPU. This chip supports LPDDR3 memory and Qualcomm's new Category 6 LTE modem.
Both the 808 and 810 have Adreno GPUs which support OpenGL ES 3.1. The new chips support a slew of wireless I/O including Categrory 6 LTE, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC.
Qualcomm is reportedly planning to produce these SoCs on a 20nm process. For reference, the mid-range 64-bit Snapdragon 610 and 615 use a 28nm LP manufacturing process. The new 20nm process (presumably from TSMC) should enable improved battery life and clockspeed headroom on the flagship parts. Exactly how big the mentioned gains will be will depend on the specific manufacturing process, with smaller gains from a bulk/planar process shrink or greater improvements coming from more advanced methods such as FD-SOI if the new chip on a 20nm process is the same transistor count as one on a 28nm process (which is being used in existing chips).
The 808 and 810 parts are the new high-end 64-bit chips which will effectively supplant the 32-bit Snapdragon 805 which is a marginal update over the Snapdragon 800. The naming conventions and product lineups are getting a bit crazy here, but suffice it to say that the 808 and 810 are the effective successors to the 800 while the 805 is a stop-gap upgrade while Qualcomm moves to 64-bit ARMv8 and secures manufacturing for the new chips which should be slightly faster CPU-wise, notably faster GPU-wise and more capable with the faster cellular modem support and 64-bit ISA support.
For those wondering, the press release also states that the company is still working on development of its custom 64-bit Krait CPU architecture. However, it does not appear that 64-bit Krait will be ready by the first half of 2015, which is why Qualcomm has opted to use ARM's Cortex A57 and A53 cores in its upcoming flagship 808 and 810 SoCs.
Subject: General Tech | April 3, 2014 - 03:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Braswell, Bay Trail, Intel, SoC, 14nm, idf
Intel's Atom has finally shaken the bad name that its progenitors have born as Bay Trail proves to be a great implementation of an SoC. At IDF we received a tantalizing glimpse at the next generation of SoC from Intel, the 14nm Braswell chip though little was said of their ultra low powered Cherry Trail SoC for tablets. Braswell is more than just a process shrink, Intel is working to increase their support of Chromebooks and Android by creating a 64-bit Android kernel that supports Android 4.4. This seems to have paid off as Kirk Skaugen mentioned to The Inquirer that Intel chips will be present in 20 soon to be released models, up from 4 currently.
"INTEL HAS REVEALED PLANS to launch Braswell, a more powerful successor to the Bay Trail system on a chip (SoC) line used in low-cost devices like Chromebooks and budget PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel chip revenue declined in 2013 as worldwide total grew by five percent @ The Inquirer
- TSMC capacity booked to the end of 3Q14 @ DigiTimes
- What took you so long Apple? 26 remote exec bugs die in OS X Safari @ The Register
- MSI/Informatique OC Academy featuring HWinfo Pro OC Team @ Madshrimps
Subject: Motherboards | March 6, 2014 - 01:33 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, mini ITX, micro ATX, Kabini, FS1B, asrock, AM1
ASRock has joined the AM1 Platform fray with three of its own FS1B socketed motherboards: the AM1B-M, AM1B-ITX, and AM1H-ITX. The new motherboards come in Mini ITX and Micro ATX form factors that support all of Kabini’s I/O options including USB 3.0, SATA III, and PCI-E 2.0 connections.
The two mini ITX motherboards (the AM1B-ITX and AM1H-ITX) feature a FS1B SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots, four SATA III 6Gbps ports, and a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot running at PCI-E 2.0 x4. ASRock is using two SATA III ports from the Kabini SoC and two SATA III ports from an ASMedia ASM1061 chipset. Both boards utilize the Realtek RTL8111GR NIC to provide gigabit Ethernet.
The AM1H-ITX board builds upon the features of the AM1B-ITX by adding a mini PCI-E connector. While the AM1B-ITX uses a 5.1 channel Realtek ALC662 chipset, the AM1H-ITX uses a 7.1 channel ALC892 chipset that supports both analog and optical S/PDIF outputs.
Beyond the mini ITX boards, ASRock is launching the micro ATX AM1B-M. This board features the FS1B Kabini SoC socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (16GB @ 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (running at x4), and a PCI-E x1 slot. The board further offers Gigabit Ethernet and 5.1 channel audio. Noticeably absent is the additional ASMedia chipset that adds two SATA III ports.
Additionally, the three boards have internal headers for extra USB ports and TPM security chips (the exact configuration of which depends on the specific board). The table below breaks down the basic differences between the boards.
|ASRock AM1B-M||ASRock AM1B-ITX||ASRock AM1H-ITX|
|Memory||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)||2 x DDR3 (16GB @ 1600MHz)|
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)
1 x PC-E 2.0 x1 (@ x 1)
|1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16 (@ x 4)||
1 x PCI-E 2.0 x16
1 x mPCI-E
|Storage||2 x SATA III||
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
2 x SATA III from Kabini SoC
2 x SATA III from ASMedia ASM1061
|Audio||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC662||Realtek ALC892|
As with the other AMD hardware partners, ASRock has not released pricing or availability information. You can expect the micro ATX to be the cheapest of the bunch, with the two mini ITX boards commanding a slight premium for their reduced size and bolstered I/O options. The boards with four SATA III ports would make for great home server options by not requiring a PCI-E card to connect more than two SATA drives. The boards will support Athlon and Sempron branded AMD Kabini SoCs, and the combination of a board and SoC will cost approximately $60 according to AMD.
While the AM1 Platform is restricted to single channel memory (a Kabini memory controller limitation) versus Bay Trail's dual channel memory support, the AM1 Platform offers SATA 6Gbps and a GCN-based graphics part. Bay Trail may have a leg up in memory bandwidth and TDPs, socketed Kabini offers more storage bandwidth and graphics performance. I'm interested to see how the two platform stack up, and what the new boards are able to do.
Subject: Motherboards | March 5, 2014 - 11:35 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, msi, mini ITX, Kabini, FS1B, AM1
MSI recently introduced its first motherboard based around AMD’s new AM1 platfrom called the AM1I. The new board uses the mini ITX form factor while supporting a Kabini SoC and all of its IO options including SATA III, USB 3, Gigabit Ethernet, and triple display outputs.
The AM1I sports a FS1B CPU socket, two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 32GB single channel memory at 1600MHz), two SATA III 6Gbps ports, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot (electrically x4), and a single mPCI-E connector. The mini ITX AM1I motherboard further features a TPM connector, 7.1 channel Realtek ALC887 audio chipset, and a Realtek RTL8111G Gigabit Ethernet controller.
The AM1 Platform uses the FS1B socket and a new cooler mounting system (though the boards spotted at CES used a traditional FM2/AM3 HSF mount). So far, it appears the only heatsinks available will be those bundled with Kabini chips in retail boxes.
The rear I/O panel of the AM1I includes:
- 2 x PS/2
- 3 x Video outputs
- 1 x HDMI
- 1 x DVI
- 1 x VGA
- 2 x USB 3.0
- 2 x USB 2.0
- 1 x RJ45 (GbE)
- 3 x analog audio outputs
MSI has not released exact pricing or availability, but expect the board to arrive sometime in mid-April for well under $40 (AMD has stated that the AM1 platform (FS1B motherboard plus a Kabini SoC) will cost around $60). Note that AM1 platform boards are extremely low cost because the IO is contained within the Kabini chip and not by on-motherboard chipsets.
Subject: Processors | February 26, 2014 - 11:46 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos 5, big.little, arm, 28nm
Samsung recently announced two new 32-bit Exynos 5 processors with the eight core Exynos 5 Octa 5422 and six core Exynos 5 Hexa 5260. Both SoCs utilize a combination of ARM Cortex-A7 and Cortex-A15 CPU cores along with ARM's Mali graphics. Unlike the previous Exynos 5 chips, the upcoming processors utilize a big.LITTLE configuration variant called big.LITTLE MP that allows all CPU cores to be used simultaneously. Samsung continues to use a 28nm process node, and the SoCs should be available for use in smartphones and tablets immediately.
The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5422 offers up eight CPU cores and an ARM Mali T628 MP6 GPU. The CPU configuration consists of four Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 2.1GHz and four Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.5GHz. Devices using this chip will be able to tap up to all eight cores at the same time for demanding workloads, allowing the device to complete the computations and return to a lower-power or sleep state sooner. Devices using previous generation Exynos chips were faced with an either-or scenario when it came to using the A15 or A7 groups of cores, but the big.LITTLE MP configuration opens up new possibilites.
While the Octa 5422 occupies the new high end for the lineup, the Exynos 5 Hexa 5260 is a new midrange chip that is the first six core Exynos product. This chip uses an as-yet-unnamed ARM Mali GPU along with six ARM cores. The configuration on this SoC is four low power Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz paired with two Cortex-A15 cores clocked at 1.7GHz. Devices can use all six cores at a time or more selectively. The Hexa 5260 offers up two higher powered cores for single threaded performance along with four power sipping cores for running background tasks and parallel workloads.
The new chips offer up access to more cores for more performance at the cost of higher power draw. While the additional cores may seem like overkill for checking email and surfing the web, the additional power can enable things like onboard voice recognition, machine vision, faster photo filtering and editing, and other parallel-friendly tasks. Notably, the GPU should be able to assist with some of this parallel processing, but GPGPU is still relatively new whereas developers have had much more time to familiarize themselves with and optimize applications for multiple CPU threads. Yes, the increasing number of cores lends itself well to marketing, but that does not preclude them from having real world performance benefits and application possibilities. As such, I'm interested to see what these chips can do and what developers are able to wring out of them.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 19, 2014 - 03:28 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, SoC, atom, haswell, Haswell-E, Airmont, Ivy Bridge-EX
Every few months, we get another snapshot at some of Intel's products. This timeline has a rough placement for every segment, from their Internet of Things (IoT) product, the Quark, up to the Xeon E7 v2. While it covers from now through December, it is not designed to be a strict schedule and might contain an error or two.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
First up is Ivy Bridge-EX (Xeon E7 v2). PCMag has an interesting rundown on these parts in depth, although some aspects are a little fuzzy. These 22nm-based chips range from 6 to 15 cores and can access up to 1.5TB of memory, per socket. Intel also claims they will support up to four times the I/O bandwidth for disk and network transactions. Naturally, they have all the usual virtualization and other features that are useful for servers. Most support Turbo Boost and all but one have Hyper-Threading Technology.
Jumping back to the VR-Zone editorial, the timeline suggests that the Quark X1000 will launch in April. As far as I can tell, this is new information. Quark is Intel's ultra low-end SoC that is designed for adding intelligence to non-computing devices. One example given by Intel at CES was a smart baby bottle warmer.
The refresh of Haswell is also expected to happen in April.
Heading into the third quarter, we should see Haswell-E make an appearance for the enthusiast desktop and moderately high-end server. This should be the first time since Sandy Bridge-E (2011) that expensive PCs get a healthy boost to single-threaded performance, clock for clock. Ivy Bridge-E, while a welcome addition, was definitely aimed at reducing power consumption.
Ending the year should be the launch of Airmont at 14nm. The successor to Silvermont, Airmont will be the basis of Cherry Trail tablets and lower end PCs at the very end of the year. Moorefield, which is Airmont for smartphones, is not listed on this roadmap and should not surface until 2015.
It wouldn’t be February if we didn’t hear the Q4 FY14 earnings from NVIDIA! NVIDIA does have a slightly odd way of expressing their quarters, but in the end it is all semantics. They are not in fact living in the future, but I bet their product managers wish they could peer into the actual Q4 2014. No, the whole FY14 thing relates back to when they made their IPO and how they started reporting. To us mere mortals, Q4 FY14 actually represents Q4 2013. Clear as mud? Lord love the Securities and Exchange Commission and their rules.
The past quarter was a pretty good one for NVIDIA. They came away with $1.144 billion in gross revenue and had a GAAP net income of $147 million. This beat the Street’s estimate by a pretty large margin. As a response, trading of NVIDIA’s stock has gone up in after hours. This has certainly been a trying year for NVIDIA and the PC market in general, but they seem to have come out on top.
NVIDIA beat estimates primarily on the strength of the PC graphics division. Many were focusing on the apparent decline of the PC market and assumed that NVIDIA would be dragged down by lower shipments. On the contrary, it seems as though the gaming market and add-in sales on the PC helped to solidify NVIDIA’s quarter. We can look at a number of factors that likely contributed to this uptick for NVIDIA.
Subject: General Tech | January 29, 2014 - 01:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: SoC, seattle, opteron, arm, amd, A1100
The Opteron A1100 will be the name born by AMD's first SoC, which we knew previously as Seattle and is the first chip which will contain ARM Cortex A57 architecture working in tandem with AMDs. It will be a full 64bit chip and will sport up to 4MB of shared L2 cache and 8MB of shared L3 cache and it will support of to four DIMMs of either DDR3 or DDR4 in dual channel with ECC. It will boot using UEFI into a Linux environment based on Fedora and will be optimized to handle web front ends and data centre tasks. As far as connectivity it will have 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0 and 8 SATA 3 ports. You can follow links from The Register to see the AMD Press Release.
"CHIP DESIGNER AMD is preparing to sample its 64-bit ARM based server processors codenamed Seattle, which will be the company's first stab at a system on chip (SoC) design for data centre products."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Heatsink Tester Shows Thermal Resistance Isn’t Futile @ Hack a Day
- Socle agrees to merge with Foxconn @ DigiTimes
- Teeny, tiny state machine could BREATHE NEW LIFE into Moore's Law @ The Register
- Toshiba twirls its HAMR, ponders whether to smash spinning rust @ The Register
- Good news! Today is Data Privacy Day ... Stop sniggering at the back @ The Register
- Ubuntu Now Often Leads Windows 7 On Intel SNB Graphics Performance @ Phoronix
- Warning - Microsoft Opened A Security Hole In Internet Explorer 11 @ Tech ARP
Subject: General Tech | January 6, 2014 - 02:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, SoC, nvidia, kepler, k1, cortex a15, CES, arm, A15
Project X Logan K1 is the first big news out of CES from NVIDIA and represents a bit of a change from what we were expecting. The current belief was that the SoC would have four 28nm Cortex A15 processors but that will only be one flavour of K1, a Denver based dual core version will also be released. Those ARMv8 64-bit processors will natively handle 64 bit applications while the A15 version that The Tech Report had taken pictures of will be limited to 32 bit applications, though that will not matter in many mobile applications. You should also check out Ryan's deep dive into the new Denver and Kepler version here.
"In early 2011, during a CES press event, Nvidia revealed its Project Denver CPU initiative. On Sunday evening, at another CES press conference, the company provided a glimpse of the first Denver-based processor: the Tegra K1. This next-generation SoC features dual Denver CPU cores clocked at up to 2.5GHz. The cores were designed by Nvidia, and they're compatible with the 64-bit ARMv8 instruction set. They have a seven-way superscalar pipeline and a hefty 192KB of L1 cache."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- A Look at NVIDIA’s Most Ambitious SoC Yet: Tegra K1 @ Techgage
- Yahoo adverts infect 27,000 people per hour with malware @ The Inquirer
- Acer cozies up to Google with new 'droid PCs and fondleslab, Chromebook @ The Register
- Trewgrip mobile QWERTY hands-on @ The Inquirer
- China touch panel makers focus on bezel-free applications in 2014 @ DigiTimes
- Intel Ivy Bridge Linux Performance Stepped Up In 2013 @ Phoronix
- AT&T takes aim at T-Mobile with $450 cashback lure @ The Register
- HP: We're axing 29,000 workers? Add another 5,000 to that @ The Register
- Zetta Z15 HD Security Camcorder @ NikKTech
- Seagate updates Backup Plus Slim HDD with smartphone support @ The Inquirer
- MAKE at CES: Follow our Live Blogging Here
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Once known as Logan, now known as K1
NVIDIA has bet big on Tegra. Since the introduction of the SoC's first iteration, that much was clear. With the industry push to mobile computing and the decreased importance of the classic PC design, developing and gaining traction with a mobile processor was not only an expansion of the company’s portfolio but a critical shift in the mindset of a graphics giant.
The problem thus far is that while NVIDIA continues to enjoy success in the markets of workstation and consumer discrete graphics, the Tegra line of silicon-on-chip processors has faltered. Design wins have been tough to come by. Other companies with feet already firmly planted on this side of the hardware fence continue to innovate and seal deals with customers. Qualcomm is the dominant player for mobile processors with Samsung, MediaTek, and others all fighting for the same customers NVIDIA needs. While press conferences and releases have been all smiles and sunshine since day one, the truth is that Tegra hasn’t grown at the rate NVIDIA had hoped.
Solid products based on NVIDIA Tegra processors have been released. The first Google Nexus 7 used the Tegra 3 processor, and was considered the best Android tablet on the market by most, until it was succeeded by the 2013 iteration of the Nexus 7 this year. Tegra 4 slipped backwards, though – the NVIDIA SHIELD mobile gaming device was the answer for a company eager to show the market they built compelling and relevant hardware. It has only partially succeeded in that task.
With today’s announcement of the Tegra K1, previously known as Logan or Tegra 5, NVIDIA hopes to once again spark a fire under partners and developers, showing them that NVIDIA’s dominance in the graphics fields of the PC has clear benefits to the mobile segment as well. During a meeting with NVIDIA about Tegra K1, Dan Vivoli, Senior VP of marketing and a 16 year employee, equated the release of the K1 to the original GeForce GPU. That is a lofty ambition and puts of a lot pressure on the entire Tegra team, not to mention the K1 product itself, to live up to.
Tegra K1 Overview
What we previously knew as Logan or Tegra 5 (and actually it was called Tegra 5 until just a couple of days ago), is now being released as the Tegra K1. The ‘K’ designation indicated the graphics architecture that powers the SoC, in this case Kepler. Also, it’s the first one. So, K1.
The processor of the Tegra K1 look very familiar and include four ARM Cortex-A15 “r3” cores and 2MB of L2 cache with a fifth A15 core used for lower power situations. This 4+1 design is the same that was introduced with the Tegra 4 processor last year and allows NVIDIA to implement a style of “big.LITTLE” design that is unique. Some slight modifications to the cores are included with Tegra K1 that improve performance and efficiency, but not by much – the main CPU is very similar to the Tegra 4.
NVIDIA also unveiled late last night that another version of the Tegra K1 that replaces the quad A15 cores with two of the company's custom designs Denver CPU cores. Project Denver, announced in early 2011, is NVIDIA's attempt at building its own core design based on the ARMv8 64-bit ISA. This puts this iteration of Tegra K1 on the same level as Apple's A7 and Qualcomm's Krait processors. When these are finally available in the wild it will be incredibly intriguing to see how well NVIDIA's architects did in the first true CPU design from the GPU giant.
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