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!

CES 2013: Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800 SoCs

Subject: Mobile | January 11, 2013 - 09:05 AM |
Tagged: SoC, qualcomm 800, qualcomm 600, qualcomm, krait, ces 2013, CES, arm, adreno 330, adreno 320

Qualcomm introduced two new high end mobile processors at CES earlier this week. Known as the Snapdragon 600 and Snapdragon 800, the new SoCs take the company’s Krait CPU cores to the next level. Both of the new chips are based on a 28nm HPm manufacturing process and feature faster (and more efficienct) CPU and GPU portions.

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The Qualcomm Snapdragon 600 is SoC with four Krait 300 CPU cores clocked at 1.9GHz along with an Adreno 320 GPU, and 4G LTE modem. The Snapdragon 600 also supports LPDDR3 RAM. The Adreno 320 GPU features suport fro OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, and Renderscript Compute technologies. According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 600 is 40% faster than the Snapdragon S4 Pro processor used in devices like the Google Nexus 4 smartphone. Also, the Adreno 320 GPU is up to 3-times faster than the previous-generation A225.

The Snapdragon 600 SoC is inteded for smartphones, and we should start to see the new processor shipping with new devices by Q2 2013.

Meanwhile, the Snapdragon 800 processor takes performance up yet another notch over the company’s existing chips. The new SoC includes four Krait 400 CPU cores clocked at 2.3GHz, an Adreno 330 GPU, support for 2x32-bit LPDDR3 at 800MHz (12.8Gbps), and a 4G LTE modem. The chip also features two image signal processors (ISP) that can handle up to four cameras and 55MP (total) resolution. Devices with the Snapdragon 800 processor will be able to record 1080p30 video as well as encode and decode stored videos with up to 4K resolutions. As far as wireless, the Snapdragon 800 includes a 4G LTE modem and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. The upcoming SoC can handle 4K video output and HD audio in the form of DTS-HD, Dolby Digital+, and 7.1 Surround Sound.

The Adreno 330 GPU in the Snapdragon 800 chip also supports OpenGL ES 3.0, OpenCL, and Rednderscript Computer technologies. It can output 4K video and reportedly offers up to twice the compute performance versus the Adreno 320 GPU in the Snapdragon 600 processor.

According to Qualcomm, the Snapdragon 800 processor as a whole is up to 75% faster than the Snapdragon S4 Pro SoC. Qualcomm is aiming this processor at “premium” high end devices including Smart TVs, tablets, consumer electronics devices (ie: blu ray players with apps), and smartphones. Qualcomm expects to see devices powered by the new SoC become available sometime around the middle of 2013 (1H’13).

The new chips appear to offer up some noticeable performance and efficiency improvements over the current generation of Snapdragon processors. The Snapdragon 800 in particular is an impressive-sounding design. I am interested to see how it stacks up against competing chips such as NVIDIA’s Tegra 4, Samsung’s next-gen Exynos lineup, and whatever chip Apple has up its sleeve for the next iPad/iPhone refresh. This year is shaping up to be an exciting year for ARM-based SoCs!

If you are interested in the new silicon, Qualcomm has teased a few more details on its blog.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

Source: Qualcomm

CES 2013: Samsung Teases Eight Core Exynos Octa SoC

Subject: Mobile | January 10, 2013 - 06:29 AM |
Tagged: SoC, Samsung, exynos octa, exynos, ces 2013, CES, big.little, arm

Samsung talked up a new ARM SoC during CES that will become the new high-end part of its Exynos 5 lineup. The Samsung Exynos 5 Octa is, as the name suggests, an eight core processor. It is built on a 28nm manufacturing process and employs ARM's big.LITTLE architecture.

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While Samsung is not ready to share all the detailed under-the-hood details, the Exynos 5 Octa has four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz paired with four Cortex A7 cores clocked at 1.2GHz. With big.LITTLE, the SoC has both high performance, high powr cores and lower power cores. The configuration is invisible to the end user, and the chip will use the Cortex A15 cores when in 3D applications or other CPU load intensive applications. Then, while the phone is idle or simply running background applications (notifications, checking email, updating twitter and facebook feeds, ect), the SoC will power down the Cortex A15 cores and use the lower power-drawing A7 cores. Ideally, this will give users a "best of both worlds" situation and a balance of performance and battery life.

Samsung claims that the Exynos 5 Octa offers up to twice the 3D performance of other existing current-generation SoCs. However, we do not yet have details on the GPU improvements (if any) over Samsung's other Exynos 5 chips much less benchmark-able products running this chip yet so it is difficult to say whether that statement is true or not. Also, Samsung claims as much as a 70% improvement in power savings over its dual core Exynos 5 processor, which is certainly a bold claim.

According to Engadget, Samsung plans to reveal all the nitty-gritty details on the eight-core Exynos 5 Octa SoC at the International Solid State Circuits Conference on February 19, 2013. It should give NVIDIA's "4+1" core Tegra 4 a run for its money, at lest on the CPU front (and maybe 3D graphics as well, but it's hard to say at this point).

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

CES 2013: Intel Announces Atom Z2420 Processor for Smartphones

Subject: General Tech | January 8, 2013 - 11:28 AM |
Tagged: SoC, smartphones, Intel, atom z2420, atom

Intel recently announced a new Atom-series Z2420 processor aimed at low-cost smartphones.   The new System on a Chip will complement the existing Medfield and Clover Trail+ line – which are for higher-performance devices – by being aimed at the low cost phones in developing markets. The Atom Z2420 combines a CPU, L2 cache, GPU, memory controller, cryptography  engine, image signal processor, and fixed function hardware used for video encoding and decoding. The chip is designed to be low power and is manufactured on Intel’s 32nm High-k metal gate process technology. According to Intel, the Co-PoP package measures 12 mm x 12 mm making it suitable for the intended smartphone form factor.

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Specifications include a single core processor with 512KB of L2 cache running at 1.2 GHz that supports Intel’s HyperThreading, Burst, and low power C6 state technologies. With HyperThreading, it can utilize two threads and with Burst, the processor can dynamically scale frequency to balance power usage and CPU load. The Intel GMA GPU uses PowerVR SGX540 graphics cores clocked at 400 Mhz. It is compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 and OpenVG 1.1. The GPU is rated at 40 MTS peak polygons and a 2000 MPPS peak fill rate. Additionally, the SoC features hardware that can hardware encode/decode 30 FPS 1080p video in H.264, H.263, and MP4. Further, the hardware can hardware accelerate decoding of VC1, WMV9 but it cannot hardware accelerate encoding of those two additional formats. The Atom Z2420 SoC supports dual channel LPDDR2 memory clocked at 400 MHz. The Image Signal Processor (ISP) can support a 1.2MP and 8MP front and rear cameras. The SoC can support 15 FPS burst capture, video image stabilization, and HD video recording.

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Intel has positioned the Atom Z2420 SoC at the Android operating system, and has even built a reference smartphone with the new processor. Acer, Lava, and Safaricom are among the companies lined up to produce future budget smartphones with the new SoC. Unfortunately, Atom Z2420-powered smartphones are not headed to the United States. Intel is sticking to developing markets suchs as India, Latin America, and Africa. Here's hoping next year Intel (finally) feels its mobile (smartphone) hardware is ready to compete with the ARM giants and that it pushes for Atom-powered smartphones in additional countries (including the US). Until then, you can find more information on the current generation Z2420 in the press release (PDF).

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

Source: Intel

CES 2013: NVIDIA Officially Releases Tegra 4 SoC

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2013 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, ces 2013, CES, arm

Details about NVIDIA’s latest system on a chip (SoC) for mobile devices leaked last month. On Sunday, NVIDIA officially released its Tegra 4 chip, and talked up more details on the new silicon.

Interestingly, the leaked information from the slide held true over the weekend when NVIDIA officially unveiled it during a press conference. The new chip is manufactured on a 28nm, low power, high-k metal gate process.  It features four ARM Cortex-A15 CPU cores running at up to 1.9GHz, one (additional) low power Cortex-A15 companion core, a NVIDIA GeForce GPU with 72 cores (not unified shader design unfortunately). In addition, the Tegra 4 SoC includes the company’s i500 programmable soft modem, and a number of fixed function hardware used for audio and image processing.

According to Anandtech, the majority of GPU cores in the Tegra 4 are 20-bit pixel shaders though exact specifications on the GPU are still unknown. Further, the i500 modem currectly supports LTE UE Category 3 on the WCDMA band with an LTE 4 modem expected in the future.

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Image Credit: ArsTechnica attended the NVIDIA press conference.

Tegra 4 will support dual channel LP-DDR3 memory, USB 3.0, and a technology that NVIDIA is calling its Computational Photography Architecture that allegedly will allow real-time HDR imagery with still and video shoots.

According to NVIDIA, Tegra 4 will be noticeably faster than its predecessors and the competing SoCs from Apple and Qualcomm et al. When compared to the Nexus 10 (Samsung Exynos 5 SoC) and the stock Android web browser, the Tegra 4 device (Chrome browser) opened pages in 27 seconds versus the Nexus 10’s 50 second benchmark time. Users will have to wait for retail devices with Tegra 4 hardware for independent benchmarks, however. Thanks to the higher top-end clockspeed and beefier GPU, you can expect Tegra 4 to be faster than Tegra 3, but until reviewers get their hands on Tegra 4-powered devices it is difficult to say just how much faster it is.

Speaking of hardware, the Tegra 4 chip will most likely be used in tablets (and not smartphones). Here’s hoping we see some prototype Tegra 4 devices or product announcements later this week at CES.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

Source: Ars Technica

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Details Revealed By Leaked Slide

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, arm

Earlier this year, NVIDIA showed off a roadmap for its Tegra line of mobile system on a chip (SoC) processors. Namely, the next generation Tegra 4 mobile chip is codenamed Wayne and will be the successor to the Tegra 3.

Tegra 4 will use a 28nm manufacturing process and feature improvements to the CPU, GPU, and IO components. Thanks to a leaked slide that appeared on Chip Hell, we now have more details on Tegra 4.

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Leaked Slide.jpg

The 28nm Tegra 4 SoC will keep the same 4+1 CPU design* as the Tegra 3, but it will use ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores instead of the Cortex A9 cores used in the current generation chips. NVIDIA is also improving the GPU portion, and Tegra 4 will reportedly feature a 72 core GPU based on a new architecture. Unfortunately, we do not have specifics on how that GPU is set up architecturally, but the leaked slide indicates that the GPU will be as much as 6x faster than NVIDIA’s own Tegra 3. It will allegedly be fast enough to power displays with resolutions from 1080p @ 120Hz to 4K (refresh rate unknown). Don’t expect to drive games at native 4K resolution, however it should run a tablet OS fine. Interestingly, NVIDIA has included hardware to hardware accelerate VP8 and H.264 video at up to 2560x1440 resolutions.

Additionally, Tegra 4 will feature support for dual channel DDR3L memory, USB 3.0 and hardware accelerated secuity options including HDCP, Secure Boot, and DRM which may make Tegra 4 an attractive option for Windows RT tablets.

The leaked slide has revealed several interesting details on Tegra 4, but it has also raised some questions on the nitty-gritty details. Also, there is no mention of the dual core variant of Tegra 4 – codenamed Grey – that is said to include an integrated Icera 4G LTE cellular modem. Here’s hoping more details surface at CES next month!

* NVIDIA's name for a CPU that features four ARM CPU cores and one lower power ARM companion core.

Source: Chip Hell

Now Intel owns 3DLabs and they may be making better mobiles with them

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | November 20, 2012 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Creative, SoC, ziilabs

Ziilabs might not be a name you recognize now, but it is one you were likely familiar with at one time.  That is the current name of 3DLabs which was purchased by Creative back in 2002 and is now responsible for SoC development at Creative, especially integrating the StemCell media processor into the ARM chips which make the basis of the mobile processors.  Intel paid $30 million for physical resources and assets along with $20 million for patents, giving them the ability to move from their current solution for Atom processors, PowerVR to the StemCell architecture.  Could it be possible that with a stronger Atom that Intel might be able to power more cell phones and take a larger share of that market as well?  Check out more at The Inquirer.

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"CHIPMAKER Intel will license patents from Ziilabs and purchase assets from the UK based chip designer.

Ziilabs is a UK based subsidiary of Creative Technology focusing on system on chip (SoC) designs for smartphones and tablets. While the firm has yet to register on the public conciousness, it clearly has been on Intel's radar for a while and announced a $50m asset sale and patent licensing deal."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Intel Launches New Dual Core D2560 Atom Processor

Subject: General Tech | October 29, 2012 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: SoC, saltwell, Intel, hyperthreading, cedarview, atom

 

Intel has launched a new Atom-series processor called the Atom D2560. It is a 32nm processor based on the Saltwell microarchitecture, and it replaces the D2550 as the top chip in the lineup.

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The D2560 has two x86 cores clocked at 2.0 GHz with support for Intel’s HyperThreading technology for four total threads. The Atom CPU supports SSE2, SSE3, and SSSE3 instructions. Further, it has 1MB of L2 cache. CPU cores are not the only thing Intel has packed into the Atom chip, however. A GPU clocked at 640 MHz and integrated memory controller are also included. The Atom IMC supports a single channel of DDR3 clocked at 1066MHz – with a maximum of 4GB with a single DIMM.

The D2560 has a 10W TDP rating and is available to OEMs for $47 per 1000 chips (tray pricing).

Learn more about Intel’s Atom-series processors at PC Perspective.

ARM snaps graphics marketshare from the dragon

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | October 22, 2012 - 02:00 PM |
Tagged: arm, qualcomm, marketshare, SoC, imagination, Vivante, jon peddie, mali

ARM has made some serious impact on the mobile market with their Mali GPU on their SoC, with Jon Peddie Research reporting they have doubled their market share over the past year.  That number is even more impressive when you pair it with the 91.3% growth in the mobile GPU market.  Another player, Vivante, quadrupled their share of the market and while their products are found primarily in Asia you may recognize them as a member of the HSA.  Their success comes at a cost to Imagination and Qualcomm, both of whom have seen their market shares drop. NVIDIA is currently making up 2.5% of the GPU market for tablets and smartphones which is not too bad when you consider that the other four main players all license their processors out while NVIDIA remains the sole provider of its Tegra SoCs.  Get more numbers at The Inquirer.

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"CHIP DESIGNERS ARM and Vivante have achieved significant market share gains in the system-on-chip (SoC) GPU market while Imagination and Qualcomm have seen their market shares fall."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Apple's A6 Processor Uses Hand Drawn ARM Cores to Boost Performance

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6

Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.

After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.

Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.

Apple A6 ARM SoC.jpg

Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.

In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.

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It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.

At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here. 

Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.

Source: ifixit