Another Boring Presentation...?
In my old age I am turning into a bit of a skeptic. It is hard to really blame a guy; we are surrounded by marketing and hype, both from inside companies and from their fans. When I first started to listen in on AMD’s Core Innovation Update presentation, I was not expecting much. I figured it would be a rehash of the past year, more talk about Mullins/Beema, and some nice words about some of the upcoming Kaveri mobile products.
I was wrong.
AMD decided to give us a pretty interesting look at what they are hoping to accomplish in the next three years. It was not all that long ago that AMD was essentially considered road kill, and there was a lot of pessimism that Rory Read and Co. could turn AMD around. Now after a couple solid years of growth, a laser-like focus on product development based on the IP strengths of the company, and a pretty significant cut of the workforce, we are seeing an AMD that is vastly different from the one that Dirk Meyers was in charge of (or Hector Ruiz for that matter). Their view for the future takes a pretty significant turn from where AMD was even 8 years ago. x86 certainly has a future for AMD, but the full-scale adoption of the ARM architecture looks to be what finally differentiates this company from Intel.
Look, I’m Amphibious!
AMD is not amphibious. They are working on being ambidextrous. Their goal is not only to develop and sell x86 based processors, but also be a prime moving force in the ARM market. AMD has survived against a very large, well funded, and aggressive organization for the past 35 years. They believe their experience here can help them break into, and thrive within, the ARM marketplace. Their goals are not necessarily to be in every smartphone out there, but they are leveraging the ARM architecture to address high growth markets that have a lot of potential.
There are really two dominant architectures in the world with ARM and x86. They power the vast majority of computing devices around the world. Sure, we still have some Power and MIPS implementations, but they are dwarfed by the combined presence of x86 and ARM in modern devices. The flexibility of x86 allows it to scale from the extreme mobile up to the highest performing clusters. ARM also has the ability to scale in performance from handhelds up to the server world, but so far their introduction into servers and HPC solutions has been minimal to non-existent. This is an area that AMD hopes to change, but it will not happen overnight. A lot of infrastructure is needed to get ARM into that particular area. Ask Intel how long it took for x86 to gain a handhold in the lucrative server and workstation markets.
More Details from Lisa Su
The executives at AMD like to break their own NDAs. Then again, they are the ones typically setting these NDA dates, so it isn’t a big deal. It is no secret that Kaveri has been in the pipeline for some time. We knew a lot of the basic details of the product, but there were certainly things that were missing. Lisu Su went up onstage and shared a few new details with us.
Kaveri will be made up of 4 “Steamroller” cores, which are enhanced versions of the previous Bulldozer/Trinity/Vishera families of products. Nearly everything in the processor is doubled. It now has dual decode, more cache, larger TLBs, and a host of other smaller features that all add up to greater single thread performance and better multi-threaded handling and performance. Integer performance will be improved, and the FPU/MMX/SSE unit now features 2 x 128 bit FMAC units which can “fuse” and support AVX 256.
However, there was no mention of the fabled 6 core Kaveri. At this time, it is unlikely that particular product will be launched anytime soon.
Retiring the Workhorses
There is an inevitable shift coming. Honestly, this has been quite obvious for some time, but it has just taken AMD a bit longer to get here than many have expected. Some years back we saw AMD release their new motto, “The Future is Fusion”. While many thought it somewhat interesting and trite, it actually foreshadowed the massive shift from monolithic CPU cores to their APUs. Right now AMD’s APUs are doing “ok” in desktops and are gaining traction in mobile applications. What most people do not realize is that AMD will be going all APU all the time in the very near future.
We can look over the past few years and see that AMD has been headed in this direction for some time, but they simply have not had all the materials in place to make this dramatic shift. To get a better understanding of where AMD is heading, how they plan to address multiple markets, and what kind of pressures they are under, we have to look at the two major non-APU markets that AMD is currently hanging onto by a thread. In some ways, timing has been against AMD, not to mention available process technologies.
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2013 - 01:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Steamroller, piledriver, Kaveri, Kabini, hUMA, hsa, GCN, bulldozer, APU, amd
AMD may have united GPU and CPU into the APU but one hurdle had remained until now, the the non-uniformity of memory access between the two processors. Today we learned about one of the first successful HAS projects called Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, aka hUMA, which will appear in the upcoming Kaveri chip family. The use of this new technology will allow the on-die CPU and GPU to access the same memory pool, both physical and virtual and any data passed between the two processors will remain coherent. As The Tech Report mentions in their overview hUMA will not provide as much of a benefit to discrete GPUs, while they will be able to share address space the widely differing clock speeds between GDDR5 and DDR3 prevent unification to the level of an APU.
Make sure to read Josh's take as well so you can keep up with him on the Podcast.
"At the Fusion Developer Summit last June, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster teased Kaveri, AMD's next-generation APU due later this year. Among other things, Papermaster revealed that Kaveri will be based on the Steamroller architecture and that it will be the first AMD APU with fully shared memory.
Last week, AMD shed some more light on Kaveri's uniform memory architecture, which now has a snazzy marketing name: heterogeneous uniform memory access, or hUMA for short."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD’s new heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access
- hUMA; AMD’s Heterogeneous Unified Memory Architecture @ Hardware Canucks
- Compro TN50W Cloud Network Camera @ Tweaktown
- Wifi Pineapple project uses updated hardware for man-in-the-middle attacks @ Hack a Day
- New OpenWRT Drops Support For Linux 2.4, Low-Mem Devices @ Slashdot
- HP mashes up ProLiant, Integrity, BladeSystem, and Moonshot server @ The Register
- Acer selling tablet using Intel Y series processor @ The Register
- CERN Celebrates 20 Years of an Open Web (and Rebuilds 1st Web Page) @ Slashdot
- BitFenix 5K YouTube Subscriber Giveaway @ eTeknix
heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access
Several years back we first heard AMD’s plans on creating a uniform memory architecture which will allow the CPU to share address spaces with the GPU. The promise here is to create a very efficient architecture that will provide excellent performance in a mixed environment of serial and parallel programming loads. When GPU computing came on the scene it was full of great promise. The idea of a heavily parallel processing unit that will accelerate both integer and floating point workloads could be a potential gold mine in wide variety of applications. Alas, the promise of the technology did not meet expectations when we have viewed the results so far. There are many problems with combining serial and parallel workloads between CPUs and GPUs, and a lot of this has to do with very basic programming and the communication of data between two separate memory pools.
CPUs and GPUs do not share common memory pools. Instead of using pointers in programming to tell each individual unit where data is stored in memory, the current implementation of GPU computing requires the CPU to write the contents of that address to the standalone memory pool of the GPU. This is time consuming and wastes cycles. It also increases programming complexity to be able to adjust to such situations. Typically only very advanced programmers with a lot of expertise in this subject could program effective operations to take these limitations into consideration. The lack of unified memory between CPU and GPU has hindered the adoption of the technology for a lot of applications which could potentially use the massively parallel processing capabilities of a GPU.
The idea for GPU compute has been around for a long time (comparatively). I still remember getting very excited about the idea of using a high end video card along with a card like the old GeForce 6600 GT to be a coprocessor which would handle heavy math operations and PhysX. That particular plan never quite came to fruition, but the idea was planted years before the actual introduction of modern DX9/10/11 hardware. It seems as if this step with hUMA could actually provide a great amount of impetus to implement a wide range of applications which can actively utilize the GPU portion of an APU.
Moving Towards BGA Only?
The sky is falling. Does this mean that Chicken Little is panicking for no reason or is Chicken Little the Cassandra of our time? It has been widely reported that Intel will not be offering the next generation Broadwell architecture as a LGA based product. Broadwell is a 14 nm product that will integrate southbridge functions into the chip, making it essentially a SOC. It will be offered only as a BGA only product, which means that it will be soldered onto a motherboard with no chance of being able to be swapped out. Broadwell is the successor to the upcoming Haswell, itself a 22 nm product that features many architectural changes to both the CPU and graphics portion as compared to the current 22 nm Ivy Bridge.
Will Broadwell be the death of the desktop industry and enthusiasts? Will LGA become as scarce as chicken teeth? Will we ever see a product with a swappable CPU after 2014?
Broadwell is aimed at TDPs ranging from 10 watts to 57 watts. Current high end Ivy Bridge parts max out at 77 watts and do not feature any southbridge type functionality. So that means that another 5 to 7 watts are added in for the chipset when discussing basic system TDPs. So we are looking at around 87 watts for a top end product when including SATA and USB functionality. 30 watts is a pretty big deal in OEM circles. We see right off the bat that Intel is aiming this architecture at a slightly different market, or at least a changing marketplace.
The unease that we are seeing is essentially this; Intel appears to be trying to take more profits from this setup and pass more costs onto the motherboard industry. This is not necessarily new for Intel, as they did this when transitioning to the LGA socket. LGA sockets are more expensive and more troublesome for the motherboard manufacturers as compared to a more traditional pin based interface. AMD continues to use pin based chips as this lowers the cost that is incurred by the motherboard manufacturers, and it also lowers overall support issues. LGAs are pretty solid, but it is very easy to bend one or more of those contacts so that they in fact do not create a solid connection with the CPU. This is something that is uncommon with pin based CPUS, but the downside of pin based is that it is more expensive to produce the CPU in the first place as compared to a LGA chip which only features the pads on the substrate of the CPU.
Subject: Processors | October 23, 2012 - 02:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, Steamroller, piledriver, FX-8350, fx-8150, FX-6300, FX-6200, bulldozer, amd
The FX-8350 Vishera processor from AMD has finally arrived with 8 fully unlocked cores of polished Piledriver processing power. With Piledriver there are no huge changes to the existing Bulldozer architecture, this is more of a polishing and optimizing the existing architecture and [H]ard|OCP's testing bears that out. While faster than the previous generation FX-8150 it still lags behind Intel's Ivy Bridge processors, disappointing but certainly expected. The unlocked cores do lend themselves somewhat to overclocking, with [H] hitting a stable 4.6GHz with all cores enabled, a 10% jump in frequency. At that speed it does better when competing with Intel's offerings, until you overclock them as well at which point the comparative performance suffers somewhat.
Make sure to catch Josh's review, covering both the 8 core FX-8350 and the $132 FX-6300 which has a disabled module; bringing back memories of older AMD chips whose modules could be brought back to life.
"AMD's new Piledriver core technology should not be a surprise to any enthusiast as much of its "embargoed" information has already been exposed on the Net. Today we take the AMD FX series model 8350 desktop variant, code named Vishera, and look at it in an enthusiast way as we expose its IPC at 4GHz, and a bit of overclocking."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD's FX-8350 processor @ The Tech Report
- AMD FX-8350 "Vishera" Linux Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- AMD FX-8350 8-Core Black Edition Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD Vishera FX-8350 Review @ OCC
- The Vishera Review: AMD FX-8350, FX-8320, FX-6300 and FX-4300 Tested @ AnandTech
- AMD FX-8350: Piledriver @ Bjorn3D
- AMD FX-8350 @ Overclockers.com
- AMD FX-8350 vs Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.8GHz - Multi-GPU Gaming Performance @ VR-Zone
- FX-8350 vs. Core i5-3470 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD FX-8350 (AM3+) Piledriver Processor Review @ eTeknix
- AMD FX-8350 Unlocked "Vishera" Octal Core CPU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD FX-8350 Vishera Desktop Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 @ Legion Hardware
- AMD Piledriver FX Review - FX 8350, 8320, 6300 vs Intel Core i5 and i3 @ hardCOREware
- AMD FX-8350 Processor Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 Piledriver @ TechSpot
- FX-8350 CPU Review; AMD's Vishera Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD FX8350 BE / Gigabyte HD7970 / ASUS Sabretooth 990FX R2 @ Kitguru
- AMD FX 8350 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD FX-8350 - "Piledriver" for AMD Socket AM3+ @ techPowerUp
Bulldozer to Vishera
Bulldozer is the word. Ok, perhaps it is not “the” word, but it is “a” word. When AMD let that little codename slip some years back, AMD enthusiasts and tech journalists started to salivate about the possibilities. Here was a unique and very new architecture that promised excellent single thread performance and outstanding multi-threaded performance all in a package that was easy to swallow and digest. Probiotics for the PC. Some could argue that the end product for Bulldozer and probiotics are the same, but I am not overly fond of writing articles containing four letter colorful metaphors.
The long and short of Bulldozer is that it was a product that was pushed out too fast, it had specifications that were too aggressive for the time, and it never delivered on the promise of the architecture. Logically there are some very good reasons behind the architecture, but implementing these ideas into a successful product is another story altogether. The chip was never able to reach the GHz range it was supposed to and stay within reasonable TDP limits. To get the chip out in a timely manner, timings had to be loosened internally so the chip could even run. Performance per clock was pretty dismal, and the top end FX-8150 was only marginally faster than the previous top end Phenom II X6 1100T. In some cases, the X6 was still faster and a more competent “all around” processor.
There really was not a whole lot for AMD to do about the situation. It had to have a new product, and it just did not turn out as nicely as they had hoped. The reasons for this are legion, but simply put AMD is competing with a company that is over ten times the size, with the resulting R&D budgets that such a size (and margins) can afford. Engineers looking for work are a dime a dozen, and Intel can hire as many as they need. So, instead of respinning Bulldozer ad nauseum and releasing new speed grades throughout the year by tweaking the process and metal layer design, AMD let the product line sit and stagnate at the top end for a year (though they did release higher TDP models based on the dual module FX-4000 and triple module FX-6000 series). Engineers were pushed into more forward looking projects. One of these is Vishera.
Subject: Processors | October 2, 2012 - 04:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, bulldozer, amd, a8, a6, A4, a10, 5800K, 5600K
The NDA is over and we can finally tell you all about the new generation of Trinity, especially the compute portion which we were not allowed to discuss in the controversial preview. Part of the good news is the price, Legit Reviews found the highest MSRP is $122 for the A10-5800K and it is currently available, though at $130. The performance increase from the previous generation is decent for multicore applications though not so much for single threaded applications, overall you can expect general computing performance in line with Core i3 but not Core i5. Gaming on the other hand did show much improvement, especially with you compare the built in HD7660D to Intel's current HD4000 and HD3500. You can catch Josh's review right here.
"The internal testing from AMD that we can see above shows a 37% increase in the 3DMark 11 score between the first generation A-Series Llano and this generation of A-Series Trinity. While our numbers don't match their numbers exactly, our Llano system scored 1115 3Dmarks while the AMD internal testing showed 1150 3DMarks. Our AMD A10-5800K scored 1521 3DMarks while they scored 1570. The overall difference was remarkably similar, AMD is boasting an increase of 37% and we saw a difference of 36.4%..."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD’s Trinity Faces Off With Intel’s Ivy Bridge @ SemiAccurate
- AMD “Virgo” Platform: 2nd Generation APU @ Bjorn3D
- AMD A10-5800K APU Performance Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD A10-5800K and A8-5600K APUs for Socket FM2 @ techPowerUp
- AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU Review @ TechwareLabs
- Asus F2A85-V Pro & AMD A10 5800K (w/ HD7660D) @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K & A8-5600K Review: Trinity on the Desktop, Part 2 @ AnandTech
- AMD A10 5800K APU processor review and MSI FM-2 A85XA-G65 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD A10-5800K Unlocked "Trinity" Quad Core APU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD A8-3850 CPU review @ Rbmods
- Gigabyte F2A85X-UP4 & AMD A10 5800K @ Kitguru
- AMD A10-5800K / A8-5600K full review: Trinity for desktops @ Hardware.info
- AMD Trinity for Desktops. Part 1: Graphics Core @ X-bit Labs
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- All Core i3 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel Core i3 3225 and 3220 review: entry-level Ivy Bridge @ Hardware.info
Trinity Finally Comes to the Desktop
Trinity. Where to start? I find myself asking that question, as the road to this release is somewhat tortuous. Trinity, as a product code name, came around in early 2011. The first working silicon was shown that Summer. The first actual release of product was the mobile part in late Spring of this year. Throughout the summer notebook designs based on Trinity started to trickle out. Today we cover the release of the desktop versions of this product.
AMD has certainly had its ups and downs when it comes to APU releases. Their first real APU was Zacate, based on the new Bobcat CPU architecture. This product was an unmitigated success for AMD. Llano, on the other hand, had a pretty rocky start. Production and various supply issues caused it to be far less of a success than hoped. These issues were oddly enough not cleared up until late Spring of this year. By then mobile Trinity was out and people were looking towards the desktop version of the chip. AMD saw the situation, and the massive supply of Llano chips that it had, and decided to delay introduction of desktop Trinity until a later date.
To say that expectations for Trinity are high is an understatement. AMD has been on the ropes for quite a few years in terms of CPU performance. While the Phenom II series were at least competitive with the Core 2 Duo and Quad chips, they did not match up well against the latest i7/i5/i3 series of parts. Bulldozer was supposed to erase the processor advantage Intel had, but it came out of the oven as a seemingly half baked part. Piledriver was designed to succeed Bulldozer, and is supposed to shore up the architecture to make it more competitive. Piledriver is the basis of Trinity. Piledriver does sport significant improvements in clockspeed, power consumption, and IPC (instructions per clock). People are hopeful that Trinity would be able to match the performance of current Ivy Bridge processors from Intel, or at least get close.
So does it match Intel? In ways, I suppose. How much better is it than Bulldozer? That particular answer is actually a bit surprising. Is it really that much of a step above Llano? Yet another somewhat surprising answer for that particular question. Make no mistake, Trinity for desktop is a major launch for AMD, and their continued existence as a CPU manufacturer depends heavily on this part.