Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Clean Sheet and New Focus

It is no secret that AMD has been struggling for some time.  The company has had success through the years, but it seems that the last decade has been somewhat bleak in terms of competitive advantages.  The company has certainly made an impact in throughout the decades with their 486 products, K6, the original Athlon, and the industry changing Athlon 64.  Since that time we have had a couple of bright spots with the Phenom II being far more competitive than expected, and the introduction of very solid graphics performance in their APUs.

Sadly for AMD their investment in the “Bulldozer” architecture was misplaced for where the industry was heading.  While we certainly see far more software support for multi-threaded CPUs, IPC is still extremely important for most workloads.  The original Bulldozer was somewhat rushed to market and was not fully optimized, while the “Piledriver” based Vishera products fixed many of these issues we have not seen the non-APU products updated to the latest Steamroller and Excavator architectures.  The non-APU desktop market has been served for the past four years with 32nm PD-SOI based parts that utilize a rebranded chipset base that has not changed since 2010.

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Four years ago AMD decided to change course entirely with their desktop and server CPUs.  Instead of evolving the “Bulldozer” style architecture featuring CMT (Core Multi-Threading) they were going to do a clean sheet design that focused on efficiency, IPC, and scalability.  While Bulldozer certainly could scale the thread count fairly effectively, the overall performance targets and clockspeeds needed to compete with Intel were just not feasible considering the challenges of process technology.  AMD brought back Jim Keller to lead this effort, an industry veteran with a huge amount of experience across multiple architectures.  Zen was born.

 

Hot Chips 28

This year’s Hot Chips is the first deep dive that we have received about the features of the Zen architecture.  Mike Clark is taking us through all of the changes and advances that we can expect with the upcoming Zen products.

Zen is a clean sheet design that borrows very little from previous architectures.  This is not to say that concepts that worked well in previous architectures were not revisited and optimized, but the overall floorplan has changed dramatically from what we have seen in the past.  AMD did not stand still with their Bulldozer products, and the latest Excavator core does improve upon the power consumption and performance of the original.  This evolution was simply not enough considering market pressures and Intel’s steady improvement of their core architecture year upon year.  Zen was designed to significantly improve IPC and AMD claims that this product has a whopping 40% increase in IPC (instructions per clock) from the latest Excavator core.

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AMD also has focused on scaling the Zen architecture from low power envelopes up to server level TDPs.  The company looks to have pushed down the top end power envelope of Zen from the 125+ watts of Bulldozer/Vishera into the more acceptable 95 to 100 watt range.  This also has allowed them to scale Zen down to the 15 to 25 watt TDP levels without sacrificing performance or overall efficiency.  Most architectures have sweet spots where they tend to perform best.  Vishera for example could scale nicely from 95 to 220 watts, but the design did not translate well into sub-65 watt envelopes.  Excavator based “Carrizo” products on the other hand could scale from 15 watts to 65 watts without real problems, but became terribly inefficient above 65 watts with increased clockspeeds.  Zen looks to address these differences by being able to scale from sub-25 watt TDPs up to 95 or 100.  In theory this should allow AMD to simplify their product stack by offering a common architecture across multiple platforms.

Click to continue reading about AMD's Zen architecture!

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Pushing the 8 Cores

It seems like yesterday when I last talked about an AMD refresh!  Oh wait, it almost was.  Some weeks ago I was able to cover the latest AMD APU offerings that helped to flesh out the Kaveri lineup.  We thought AMD was done for a while.  Color us wrong.  AMD pulled out all the stops and set up an AM3+ refresh!  There is a little excitement here, I guess.  I am trying to contain the tongue-in-cheek lines that I am oh-so-tempted to write.

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AMD is refreshing their FX lineup in the waning days of Summer!

Let me explain the situation from my point of view.  The FX lineup for AM3+ has not done a whole lot since the initial release of the Piledriver based FX-8350 and family (Vishera).  Piledriver was a pretty significant update from Bulldozer as it slightly improved IPC and greatly improved power consumption (all the while helping to improve clockspeed by a small degree).  There were two updates before this one, but they did not receive nearly as much coverage.  These updates were the FX-6350 and the FX-9000 series.  The FX-6350 is quite popular with the budget enthusiast crowd who still had not moved over to the Intel side of the equation.  The FX-9000 series were OEM only initially and reaching up to $1000 at the high end.  During that time since the original Vishera chips were released, we have seen the Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures (with a small refresh with Haswell with the 2nd gen products and the latest Socket 2011 units).

Click here to read the rest of the review on AMD's latest FX refresh!

The renewed FX-9590, still up to 5GHz

Subject: Processors | June 23, 2014 - 04:05 PM |
Tagged: amd, fx 9590, vishera

Hardware Canucks have just let out AMD's secret on a new take on a Vishera processor, the FX-9590 which will come with a Cooler Master Seidon 120 AIO LCS which will add $40 to the original $320 price tag.  The base clock of the 8 CPUs will still be 4.7GHz, 5GHz boost buit with the TDP of 219W the watercooler should allow the boost clock to be maintained longer.  If you ever planned on overclocking the FX-9590 but never picked it up because of the challenge of cooling it, then here is your chance.

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"It all started with a tweet. AMD teased an unnamed new FX-series chip on Twitter and we've got the inside track. It's a refreshed 5GHz FX-9590 with an included water cooling unit."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

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.

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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. 

Click to read the entire article here!

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

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.

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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.

Click here to read the entire editorial!

 

Just how does a 5GHz AMD chip perform?

Subject: Processors | July 19, 2013 - 04:13 PM |
Tagged: vishera, TWKR, piledriver, FX-9590, Centurion, amd

As we have been discussing the 220W TDP 5GHz AMD FX-9590 recently it seems a good idea to show what level of performance you can expect from this chip.  Hardware Canucks had a chance to benchmark the performance of this chip using both synthetic benchmarks and some gaming tests.  When they tried to overclock the chip they ran into difficulties with not only heat, as you would expect but they also ran into an issue with power, they maxed out the amount that the board could provide.  Single thread performance is not up to par with SandyBridge-E but in properly designed multi-threaded programs the performance is impressive, though perhaps not for an $800+ chip. 

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"With the FX-9590, AMD has taken their Piledriver architecture and pushed it to the absolute limit. By running at an astounding 5GHz, this new CPU is the fastest in the FX-series stable."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

AMD FX-9000 Series Now Available

Subject: Systems | July 16, 2013 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: vishera, TWKR, piledriver, FX-9590, FX-9370, Centurion, amd

If you are looking for an AMD system you can really brag about then the arrival of FX-9590 powered systems at popular retailers like NCIX and system builders like Puget Sound and CyberPower.  Clocked at 5GHz stock it is the highest frequency consumer CPU on the market and as long as you can tame the 220W TDP you might be able to take the chip even higher.  Not every retailer has listed their new systems at the time of posting but right now you can pick up a GENESIS system from Origin that sports a watercooled FX-9590 and depending on your choices the GPU(s) can be watercooled as well.

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Velocity Micro also has a system ready for purchase and the Gamer Scorpius 9500 from Cyberpower will be ready in the very near future.  As you are unlikely to see these CPUs for sale in retail boxes this may be your only chance to get a hold of one of these chips.  The prices of the systems will vary widely depending on what components you want inside but keep in mind that you are buying a completely build and thoroughly tested machine with a warranty so don't dismiss these systems without comparing the pricing to what you would pay to build a machine yourself. 

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More information on AMD's mysterious 5GHz chip

Subject: General Tech | June 13, 2013 - 04:45 PM |
Tagged: vishera, piledriver, FX-9590, FX-9370, Centurion, amd

The Tech Report managed to get some more information out of AMD about the new FX-9000 series that the net has been buzzing about.  We now have confirmation that the base clocks for the FX-9590 and FX-9370 are 4.7GHz and 4.4GHz.  They also confirmed that 220W TFP is relatively accurate which will make these the hottest chips on the market.  While you won't see these chips officially for sale outside of specially built systems, there is a chance a few might pop up on eBay and if you are curious how they might perform there is a link in The Tech Report's article to an overclocked Vishera which will give you a rough idea.

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"On Tuesday, AMD introduced its new FX-9000-series processors. The company quoted their peak Turbo speeds (5GHz for the FX-9590, 4.7GHz for the FX-9370) and a rough time frame for availability ("this summer"), but it revealed little else. We were left wondering about base clocks, power envelopes, and potential retail availability."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AMD Releases First 5 GHz Processor for Consumers, FX-9590 and FX-9370

Subject: Processors | June 11, 2013 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: vishera, TWKR, piledriver, FX-9590, FX-9370, Centurion, amd

We have all heard the rumors, but it appears to be true.  We had originally heard about a “Centurion” product which would be for extreme overclockers on the AMD side, running at 5 GHz with a 220 watt TDP.  Now we finally get to see what all the fuss is about.  AMD is releasing two new Vishera based processors that, for the time being, will be limited to system integrators and will be available later this summer.

fx_logo.jpg

The top end product is the FX-9590 which has a top turbo speed of 5 GHz.  This will be a full four module implementation with the 8 MB of L3 cache.  AMD did not give any other details for this particular part.  We do not know what the base clock is, we do not know what the TDP is, and we can only assume that the northbridge/L3 cache will be clocked at the standard 2.2 GHz that we have seen on previous Vishera parts.

The second product is the FX-9370 which is again a four module part that has a top turbo speed of 4.7 GHz.  Remember that the four modules each have two “cores”, so it is still considered an eight core part.  These processors are unlocked, so they can be further overclocked if one so desires.  TDP and other details were again skipped for this particular part.

These parts will be going to system integrators first, and I am not entirely sure that AMD will sell them on the market direct to consumers.  If AMD does in fact sell to consumers (not implied at all in the press release) then they likely will have to bundle it with a very robust cooler.  Probably something along the lines of what we saw with the original FX-8150 LCS bundle.

Consider that the FX-8350 is a 4 GHz base clock product with a max turbo of 4.2 GHz and having a TDP of 125 watts, we probably have to assume that the 220 watt number bandied about is accurate.  A pretty beefy air cooler would be required, or the aforementioned liquid cooling system.  AMD also likely had GLOBALFOUNDRIES change the “mix” when fabricating these parts.  These batches probably feature more leaky transistors that can achieve higher speeds without an extreme amount of voltage.

This is an interesting move by AMD.  Remember those TWKR chips that they released that were designed for LN2 use?  There were a very limited number of those units, and we can imagine that while the FX-9000 series will be in greater numbers they still will not be commonplace on the retail market.  SI’s like Maingear will be introducing systems this summer featuring these chips.  Performance will be good with these solutions, but the tradeoff is of course power consumption and heat production as compared to similarly performing (and stock clocked) Intel i7 3770K and 4770K parts.

AMD is doing their best to address the enthusiast market, but until Kaveri hits the streets we will not see any major upgrades beyond these parts.

Update:

We received some further info about this chip.  The TDP is up in the 220 watt region.  It utilizes Turbo Core 3.0 to help achieve those speeds, so it seems that some of the work that went into Richland has made it into these latest FX processors.  BIOS updates are probably a must.  These chips will only be going to system integrators (SIs) and will be bundled with a liquid cooling system.  We have no idea what the price will be since these will only be sold to SIs.  Systems should be available after July 16.

Source: AMD

Podcast #249 - Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 2, 2013 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, Indiegogo, corair, obsidian, 350d, mATX, frame rating, 4k, titan, 7990, 690, Oculus, rift, VR, 3d, amd, amd fx, vishera, hUMA, hsa

PC Perspective Podcast #249 - 05/02/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 350D, Frame Rating in 4K, the Oculus Rift and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Scott Michaud and Morry Teitelman

Program length: 1:04:02

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Windows Movie Maker lets you record webcam videos!
    2. Jeremy: anti-pick - hotels that don't offer a RJ45 jack in the rooms!
    3. Allyn: Ventev USB charging stuff (home / auto)
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro