MWC 12: Huawei enters the mobile SoC world with quad-core K3V2

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, quad-core, k3v2, k3, Huawei

Never heard of Huawei?  Well you will going forward.  The Chinese telecommunications company that claims 110,000 employees, 46% of which are planted in R&D departments, is entering in the market to compete against Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, NVIDIA and others by building an ARM-based SoC for its own mobile devices.

Huawei_Logo.jpg

Details are limited for now though we expect to hear more as Mobile World Congress progresses but here is what we know.  The Huawei K3V2 CPU will be a quad-core Cortex A9 part with "16 GPUs" - though we don't have any reference what is meant by "a GPU".  The A9s will run at either 1.2 GHz or 1.5 GHz and Huawei does mention that these will have 64-bit support a 64-bit memory controller as compared to the 32-bit controller on Tegra 3.

The company did have some performance claims that put the K3V2 ahead of the Galaxy Nexus (Exynos 3110) and ASUS Transformer Prime (Tegra 3).  If you believe in marketing slides the new Huawei CPU will be about twice as fast in GPU performance and 49% faster in purely CPU-based tests while using 30% less power.  Man, if we had a dollar for every time someone claimed these kinds of gains...

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Photo from TheVerge.com

Hopefully we'll see some tests on this new SoC soon in the form of the Huawei Ascend D quad phone available this year.

Source: The Verge

Intel Ivy Bridge delay is confirmed essentially

Subject: Processors | February 26, 2012 - 10:38 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, delay

If you hadn't heard yet, last week we talked about a potential delay to the release of Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor.  Well pretty much everything we feared was "kind of" confirmed by Intel's Sean Maloney when he said:

“I think maybe it’s June now."

Huh.  It's gets worse though as Maloney apparently was "blaming the push back on the complexity of the new manufacturing process."  That process in particular was the 22nm tri-gate technology that Intel has been touting as one of its biggest developments in recent years. 

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Is this completely altered now??

The EETimes story gets more specific with date quotes from Jim McGregor of In-Stat. 

Jim McGregor of In-Stat told EE Times that according to his industry sources in Taiwan, Intel's Ivy Bridge server parts were only delayed from April 8 until April 29, though the dual core i5 and i7 parts for notebooks had been pushed out from a planned May 13th launch to June 3.

Last week we were hearing that Intel would still launch Ivy Bridge parts in April but wouldn't send out the mass shipments until June, and while that is still possible, that seems much less likely after hearing Maloney's words today. 

And if you haven't had enough bad news for today, there is this comment that pretty much backs up my thoughts that I laid out in our 190th episode of the PC Perpsective Podcast last week:

“It doesn’t really matter because there’s not really any compelling competition right now,” said one industry analyst on condition of anonymity, referring to AMD’s recent lag in the market.

AMD, we need you in our lives so badly.  Please don't leave us here...alone...

Source: EETimes

MWC 12: Samsung to compete with Tegra on quad-core CPU

Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: tegra, Samsung, quad-core, MWC 12, MWC, exynos

While details are still sparse as we await the official start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tonight/tomorrow, it appears that Samsung plans to announce a new quad-core processor as part of its Exynos line.  It will be the first Samsung SoC based on 32nm technology rather than the 45nm currently in production and will be available in both quad- and dual-core variant.

According to the story over at Unwiredview it will be available in frequencies ranging from 200 MHz all the way up to 1.5 GHz while offering lower power consumption than current options.  I am curious how this actually stacks up though as we have seen that Tegra 3 doesn't REALLY offer lower power consumption and longer battery life even though that was a promise from NVIDIA.  It definitely can offer less power consumption per performance unit, but in the end battery life is king for these mobile devices.  

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What about graphics performance?  The story had this to say:

The new Exynos comes paired with the latest version of Samsung’s own graphics chip, which has 4 pixel processors and 1 geometry engine with 128 KB L2 cache. The graphics support OpenGL ES 2.0 and can generate up to 57 MPolygons/s.

Samsung claims that the new processor will offer 26% more performance compared to Exynos parts based on the 45nm process and I assume they are referring to dual-core vs dual-core results.  Other claims include battery life improvements of "up to 50%" - we'd love to see it but we'll wait for actual devices to ship and showcase it before really getting excited. 

The good news is that quad-core performance will be coming to more devices and NVIDIA won't be the only SoC designer on the block offering them.  The use-cases for quad-core performance on a mobile device, phone or tablet, may still be in question though we never doubt the software side of the equation to utilize as much horsepower as it is provided. 

Source: Unwiredview

MWC 12: TI OMAP5 will beat your A9 with its own two cores

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15

Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.

Chuck Norris joke.

Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.

Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.

About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich.  Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.

We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.

AMD and Cyclos reduces clock power usage with Piledriver

Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 22, 2012 - 06:01 PM |
Tagged: amd, Cyclos, piledriver

AMD has its own announcements about power consumption for the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week. A few days ago we reported on Intel’s success integrating Wi-Fi transceivers into the CPU to reduce power consumption. Cyclos Semiconductor discussed their resonant clock mesh (RCM) technology which reduces waste energy dissipated when keeping the chip synchronized. AMD announced that this technology would be introduced in their upcoming Piledriver APUs and Opteron processors.

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Excuse me, good sir. Do you have the time?

Tom’s Hardware put up an article to discuss the announcement with a small explanation of what is going on.

Inductive-capacitive oscillators are leveraged in mesh-based high-performance clock distribution networks to deliver "high-precision timing while dissipating almost no power." In effect, RCM promises to recycle clock power to enable lower power consumption or higher clock speeds.

For a more specific explanation, I turned to Josh Walrath. Chips are timed by a clock signal -- any overclocker will attest to that. Over time chips became larger and more complex which of course requires a larger and more complex system to propagate the clock signal through. Slowly but surely those circuits became large enough that the energy they dissipate simply by being powered becomes less and less negligible.

What Cyclos contributes is cleverly using inductor-capacitor circuits to keep the energy stored in the clock circuit mesh. With more of the energy stored in the mesh it just requires a small energy shove to trigger the signal after the initial charge. Also, less energy lost also means less heat dissipation which helps your battery as well as your heatsink.

Cyclos Semiconductor states that power savings are between 5 to 30 percent dependent on the chip design. In AMD’s case, they expect approximately 5 to 10 percent power savings in their Piledriver implementation. While AMD is the first implementation of Cyclos’ technology, it is not known what Intel currently has done or will potentially do to solve the problem.

Wi-Fi on Rosepoint SoC die. Intel flexes before ARM wrestle.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 20, 2012 - 01:50 AM |
Tagged: Rosepoint, ISSCC 2012, ISSCC, Intel

If there is one thing that Intel is good at, it is writing a really big check to go in a new direction right when absolutely needed. Intel has released press information on what should be expected from their presence at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference which is currently in progress until the 23rd. The headliner for Intel at this event is their Rosepoint System on a Chip (SoC) which looks to lower power consumption by rethinking the RF transceiver and including it on the die itself. While the research has been underway for over a decade at this point, pressure from ARM has pushed Intel to, once again, throw money at R&D until their problems go away.

Intel could have easily trolled us all and have named this SoC "Centrino".

Almost ten years ago, AMD had Intel in a very difficult position. Intel fought to keep clock-rates high until AMD changed their numbering scheme to give proper credit to their higher performance-per-clock components. Intel dominated, legally or otherwise, the lower end market with their Celeron line of processors.

AMD responded with series of well-timed attacks against Intel. AMD jabbed Intel in the face and punched them in the gut with the release of the Sempron processor line nearby filing for anti-trust against Intel to allow them to more easily sell their processors in mainstream PCs.

At around this time, Intel decided to entirely pivot their product direction and made plans to take their Netburst architecture behind the shed. AMD has yet to recover from the tidal wave which the Core architectures crashed upon them.

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Intel wishes to stop assaulting your battery indicator.

With the surge of ARM processors that have been fundamentally designed for lower power consumption than Intel’s x86-based competition, things look bleak for the expanding mobile market. Leave it to Intel to, once again, simply cut a gigantic check.

Intel is in the process of cutting power wherever possible in their mobile offerings. To remain competitive with ARM, Intel is not above outside-the-box solutions including the integration of more power-hungry components directly into the main processor. Similar to NVIDIA’s recent integration of touchscreen hardware into their Tegra 3 SoC, Intel will push the traditionally very power-hungry Wi-Fi transceivers into the SoC and supposedly eliminate all analog portions of the component in the process.

I am not too knowledgeable about Wi-Fi transceivers so I am not entirely sure how big of a jump Intel has made in their development, but it appears to be very significant. Intel is said to discuss this technology more closely during their talk on Tuesday morning titled, “A 20dBm 2.4GHz Digital Outphasing Transmitter for WLAN Application in 32nm CMOS.”

This paper is about a WiFi-compliant (802.11g/n) transmitter using Intel’s 32nm process and techniques leveraging Intel transistors to achieve record performance (power consumption per transmitted data better than state-of-the art). These techniques are expected to yield even better results when moved to Intel’s 22nm process and beyond.

What we do know is that the Rosepoint SoC will be manufactured at 32nm and is allegedly quite easy to scale down to smaller processes when necessary. Intel has also stated that while only Wi-Fi is currently supported, other frequencies including cellular bands could be developed in the future.

We will need to wait until later to see how this will affect the real world products, but either way -- this certainly is a testament to how much change a dollar can be broken into.

Source: Intel

Intel urges you to program better now, not the same -- later.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 18, 2012 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: Intel, mobile, developer

Clay Breshears over at Intel posted about lazy software optimization over on the Intel Software Blog. His post is a spiritual resurrection of the over seven year’s old article by Herb Sutter, “The Free Lunch is Over: A Fundamental Turn Toward Concurrency in Software.” The content is very similar, but the problem is quite different.

The original 2004 article urged developers to heed the calls for the multi-core choo choo express and not hang around on the single core platform (train or computing) waiting for performance to get better. The current article takes that same mentality and applies it to power efficiency. Rather than waiting for hardware that has appropriate power efficiency for your application, learn techniques to bring your application into your desired power requirements.

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"I believe your program is a little... processor heavy."

The meat of the article focuses on the development of mobile applications and the concerns that developers should have with battery conservation. Of course there is something to be said about Intel promoting mobile power efficiency. While developers could definitely increase the efficiency of their code, there is still a whole buffet of potential on the hardware side.

If you are a developer, particularly of mobile or laptop applications, Intel has an education portal for best power efficiency practices on their website. Be sure to check it out and pick up the tab once in a while, okay?

Source: Intel Blog

Can you effectively patch up a Bulldozer?

Subject: Processors | February 17, 2012 - 01:52 PM |
Tagged: fx-8150, FX, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 990fx

AMD's $270 flagship processor, the 3.6GHz FX-8150 had a mixed reception as the hype which lead up to the release built up our expectations to a point that the processor could not live up to.  Part of the disappointment has been blamed on the Windows 7 thread scheduler, which AMD described as not being optimized for their architecture, which lead to the release of hotfix files KB2645594 and KB2646060.  TechPowerUp revisited their benchmarks to see if these patches effectively increase the performance of multi-threaded tasks; single threaded tasks are dependant on processor speed so they should be unaffected by the patches.

dozer patch.jpg

"After settling on the market, with all the quirks and bugs supposedly fixed, all the hype and disappointment blown away, we put AMD's FX-8150 under the scope. Benchmarks are done with and without the Windows 7 hotfix and in depth overclocking should resolve any doubts you have about AMD's flagship processor."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: TechPowerUp

Intel may delay shipments of Ivy Bridge processors

Subject: Processors | February 16, 2012 - 03:47 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, delay

Some unfortunate news is making the rounds today surrounding a potential delay of the upcoming Intel Ivy Bridge processor.  A story over at Digitimes is reporting that due to an abundance of inventory on current generation Sandy Bridge parts, Intel will start to trickle out Ivy Bridge in early April but will hold off on the full shipments until after June.

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If Intel is indeed delaying shipping Ivy Bridge it likely isn't due to pressure from AMD and with the announcement by top brass there it seems likely Intel will retain the performance lead on the CPU side of things from here on out.  With the release of Windows 8 coming in the fall of 2012 Intel's partners (and Intel internally) are likely going to be using that as the primary jumping off point for the architecture transition. 

If ever there was a reason to support AMD and competition in general, this is exactly that.  Without pressure from a strong offering from the opposition Intel is free to adjust their product schedule based on internal financial reasons rather than external consumer forces.  While we will still see some Ivy Bridge availability in April (according to Digitimes at least) in order to avoid a marketing disaster, it seems that the wide scale availability of the Intel design with processor graphics performance expected to be double that of Sandy Bridge won't be until the summer.

Source: Digitimes

Intel Haswell Processors To Launch In First Half of 2013

Subject: Processors | February 12, 2012 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: shark bay, Intel, haswell, cpu

Intel's Ivy Bridge processor, the upcoming "tick" in Intel's clock-esque world domination strategy, has yet to be released and we are already getting rumors and leaked information coming in about the "tock" that will be Ivy Bridge's successor in the 22nm Haswell processors (as part of the Shark Bay platform). Ivy Bridge processors will bring incremental performance improvements and lower power usage on the same 1155 socket that Sandy Bridge employs.

Haswell; however, will move to (yet another) socket LGA 1150 on the desktop, and will bring incremental improvements over Ivy Bridge. Improvements include much faster integrated processor graphics and the AVX2 instruction set. Unfortunately, Intel will be returning to an increased TDP (thermal design power) with Haswell compared to the lower TDP from Sandy Bridge to Ivy Bridge.

According to Domain Haber, who claims to have gotten their hands on a leaked road map, Intel will be launching Ivy Bridge through the end of this year, and then will debut their Haswell processors in the first half of 2013. The alleged road map can be seen below.

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What I found interesting about the road map is that there is no mention of an Ivy Bridge-E or Haswell-E processor. Instead, the current Sandy Bridge-E chips are shown occupying the high end and enthusiast segment through at least the first half of 2013 and the launch of Haswell. Whether enthusiasts will continue to choose the Sandy Bridge-E processors for that long will remain to be seen, however. Also strange is that, according to VR-Zone, Intel will have three tiers of integrated graphics performance with GT1, GT2, and GT3. They will then place the fastest graphics core in the mobile chips and leave the slower graphics cores in the desktop chips. Discrete cards are not dead yet, it seems (unless you're rocking an AMD APU of course).

Have you invested in a Sandy Bridge-E setup, or are you still holding onto an older chip to wait for the best performance upgrade for your money?  If you have bought into SB-E, do you think it'll last you into 2013?

Source: VR-Zone

AMD shows 18mm thin reference ultrathin notebook based on Trinity

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | February 2, 2012 - 02:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, trinity, hsa, ultrabook, ultrathin

Today at the AMD Financial Analyst day in Sunnyvale, Lisa Su, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Global Business Units, showed off a reference design from Compal of an 18mm think ultrathin notebook that they are obviously hoping to compete with Intel's Ultrabook push.

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The notebook is based on AMD's upcoming Trinity APU that improves on the CPU and GPU performance of the currently available Llano APU.  There weren't many details though Su did state they were hoping for prices in the $600-800 range would could but a lot of pressure on Intel. 

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Live Blog: AMD Financial Analyst Day

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors | February 2, 2012 - 12:31 PM |
Tagged: reports, gpu, fad, cpu, APU, analyst, amd

Consider this fair warning: tomorrow here at PC Perspective you will learn the future of AMD.  Sound over dramatic?  We don't think so.  After a pretty interesting year in 2011 for the company and AMD has said on several occasions that this year's Financial Analyst Day was going to reveal a lot about what the future holds for them on the GPU, CPU and APU front.  

Hopefully we will learn what AMD plans to do after the cancelation of the second-generation of ultra lower power APUs, how important discrete graphics will be going forward and what life there is for the processor architecture after Bulldozer.  

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We will be in Sunnyvale at the AMD campus covering the event and we will be holding a live blog at the same time...right here.  The event starts at 9am PST on February 2nd, aso be sure you set your calendars and bookmark this page for all the news!!

Intel Adds Seven New Sandy Bridge Processors To Their Lineup

Subject: Processors | January 31, 2012 - 01:01 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Quick Sync, P-series, Intel, i5-2550K

According to this article over at Anandtech, Intel has rather quietly launched seven new processors based on their Sandy Bridge architecture. The most interesting aspect about the new CPUs is not new features or more performance. Rather, it is the lack of features that caught my attention as three of the new additions will not have a functional graphics core.

The three processors without useable IGPs have a "P" moniker in there names which has been stated by VR-Zone to mean that they do not have a graphics core. On the positive side of things, the processors are a bit cheaper than their counterparts with functional GPUs. Such a SKU would compliment P67 motherboards that would not allow users to use the Quick Sync technology with a discrete card present anyway.

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The new processors include three Core i5 Sandy Bridge desktop processors and four mobile Celeron chips. On the desktop side of things, we have the new i5-2550K quad core CPU with 6 MB of cache running at 3.4 GHz and a $225 tray price while the i5 2500K MSRP remains at $216 and runs at 3.30 GHz. VR-Zone further reported that this new "K" model would be unlocked but was also one of the three processors that would not have a functional graphics core. Moving down the performance line, the i5 2450P is a quad core part running at 3.2 GHz for $195 and provides a $10 cheaper alternative to the current multiplier locked i5 2500. Last up is the i5 2450P, which will be the IGP-less alternative to the i5 2400 at $184. This part is also a quad core; however, it is only clocked at 3.1 GHz and will sell for $177.

The new Intel Celeron chips are all mobile parts and include two standard voltage and two ultra low voltage (ULV) processors. The Celeron M B815 is a dual core chip running at 1.6 GHz for $86 and the Celeron M B720 is a single core CPU running at 1.7 GHz for $70. The ULV processors are the Celeron M ULV 867 and ULV 797. The ULV 867 is a dual core part at 1.3 GHz for $134 while the ULV 797 is a single core part running at 1.4 GHz for $107.

Are you still running a P67 motherboard interested in eschewing Intel's Quick Sync in a Z68 board for a bit more stock performance and a cheaper price? I think that these new "P" series chips will be something that OEMs will like though I think enthusiast interest will depend on what kind of overclocking headroom they end up having as they aren't all that much cheaper than their current graphics core packing counterparts.

Source: Anandtech

A 71 CPU 2011 round up (the year, not the socket)

Subject: Processors | January 30, 2012 - 04:51 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, sandybridge, llano, bulldozer, Sandy Bridge E

If you are looking for a quick way to contrast the processors that were released this year then iXBT Labs has a review for you.  They've added their CPU/APU reviews for the past year together and compiled some rather lengthy charts which reflect the comparative performance of a few older chips as well as the majority of chips released this year.  Both Intel and AMD desktop and server chips are included, mobile users will need to look elsewhere to compare chips designed specifically for laptops.  Their benchmarks range from 3D modelling to 3D gaming as well as compression, office suites and raster graphics processing so no matter what purpose you will be putting these chips to you should be able to get an idea what chips to be on the look out for.

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Told you it was big, visit iXBT Labs if you want the readable version.

"The year 2011 has ended, so it's high time to sum up the results and see the general picture. If you're looking to upgrade, we hope this will make choosing a processor easier."

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Source: iXBT Labs

500 people attend AMD [H]ardOCP FX GamExperience 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | January 22, 2012 - 01:09 AM |
Tagged: overclocking, hardocp, ati, amd, 7970

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More than 500 people made the trip to Eddie Deen’s Ranch in Dallas, Texas to attend AMD and HardOCP’s FX Game Experience event today. Many of the tech industry’s heavy hitters were on hand with interactive booths to showcase their latest PC hardware and provide people with around $50,000 in giveaways and prizes. 

 

Check out our video coverage of the AMD [H]ardOCP FX GamExperience 2012 event!

 

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ASUS, MSI, and Sapphire each brought their latest respective AMD-based motherboards and performance graphics cards to showcase at the event, including their HD Radeon 7950 and 7970 offerings. ASUS also gave the audience a closer look at some of their other PC gaming peripherals, wireless routers, and Blu ray burners.

 

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HardOCP founder Kyle Bennett put on a show for the crowd with numerous raffle drawings and crazy contests for people to win new AMD processors and other hardware from MSI, Gigabyte, ASUS, Corsair, Ergotech, Antec, Maingear, Optoma, Patriot Memory, Astro, Sapphire, Western Digital, ArcSoft, ASRock, vReveal, Diamond Multimedia, and Zotac. 

Check out all of our coverage of the AMD [H]ardOCP FX GamExperience 2012!!

Intel Launching Pilot Overclocking Protection Plan

Subject: Processors | January 19, 2012 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: tuning plan, processors, overvolting, overclocking, cpu

Intel relatively recently started producing unlocked "K" series processors that enabled easy overclocking by way of increasing the multiplier. This is a feature that was traditionally reserved for the thousand dollar Extreme Edition products. AMD then followed suit with its own line of "K" series APUs (despite having FX and Black Edition branding already, but that's another story). Well, it is now Intel's turn to leap frog AMD who has traditionally been the overclocker friendly company. Yesterday Intel launched a new pilot program that overclockers and enthusiasts are sure to enjoy. The new Performance Tuning Protection Plan is a program aimed at users of "K" and "X" (unlocked and extreme edition) processors who are adventurous enough to overclock and overvolt their chips to wrangle the best possible performance from them. While the company has stressed that they still do not officially endorse overclocking or otherwise running their CPUs out of Intel specifications, the Performance Tuning Protection Plan is an additional service that can be added in addition to (though seperate from) the existing warranty wherein Intel will furnish a free replacement processor to any users that (unintentionally) damage their processors as a result of overclocking or increasing the voltage. Read on for more details.

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The new Performance Tuning Protection Plan will be offered directly from Intel as well as various resellers and can be purchased for any of Intel's K series, X series, or Socket 2011 processors. Only one plan can be applied per processor, and once the CPU has been replaced with a replacement processor through the plan, the insurance does not "roll over" to the replacement part. This means that a second chance is all you get. If the replacement CPU fails as a result of overclocking or overvolting you're out of luck. The Protection Plan is further an additional expense that will applied in addition to the standard 3 year manufacturer's warranty. It only covers damage caused by running the processor out of spec. After purchasing the processor, users can buy the protection plan for a one time fee, and it will kick in within approximately 30 days of buying the plan. Intel says the delay is caused by the time needed for the various plan supporting databases to sync up and for payment to clear.

Prices vary depending on which processor you want to protect with the plan. The Performance Tuning Protection Plan pricing for currently supported processors is listed in the chart below.

Processors Currently Eligible for the Intel Performance Tuning Protection Plan
Processor Price (USD) per CPU
Core i5 2500K $20
Core i7 2600K $25
Core i7 2700K $25
Core i7 3930K $35
Core i7 3960X $35

 

Intel is currently offering the new overclocking insurance for a limited time-- a six month trial run to be more specific. Starting January 18th, the company will begin selling the plan directly to customers on their website as well as through several resellers. Initially these resellers include CyberPower, Canada Computers and Electronics, Scan Computers, and Altech Computers. On February 13th, Intel will add additional resellers to the list. The pilot phase will last for six months; after which the company will "decide whether or not to proceed" with the plan. Obviously there is a slight risk for early adopters that after buying the plan, Intel will discontinue it at the six month mark; however, there is also a solid opportunity to overclock the heck out of the chips and have an official safety net for the next few months at the least. Are you running an unlocked processor, and if so will you be checking out the Tuning Protection Plan?

Source: Intel

AMD and IBM inside the Xbox Next?

Subject: Processors | January 18, 2012 - 04:10 PM |
Tagged: xbox next, IBM, amd, Power PC, southern islands, xbox 720, oban

SemiAccurate has been doing some digging into the hardware that will power the next XBox, perhaps a bit more successfully than Microsoft would like.  This builds on the rumours that they had collected in December of 2011 and confirms that the next generation console is only a partial win for AMD.  Oban is the code name for the CPU, which is being fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES for the most part and will be a variant model of IBM's Power PC architecture and not an x86 based chip.  AMD will provide a Graphics Core Next Southern Islands GPU to provide the graphical power, terrible news for NVIDIA's bottom line over the next several years as they lose out on at least one platform of the coming generation.  This will continue to sting as unlike PCs, consoles are not refreshed several times over a year and the current hardware will likely be powering the XBox Next for years to come.

From what SemiAccurate has gathered, Microsoft have ordered a huge run of the chips which will power the console and should guarantee availability in the Spring of 2013 which is the current predicted release date for the console.  Considering the low yields from GLOBALFOUNDRIES lately this seems likely a move to ensure that even a large amount of bad silicon will not have a major impact on their ability to provide deep supplies of XBox Next for retailers.  

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"If you crave more info about the upcoming XBox 720/Next, there is finally some concrete info. The one nice thing about this job is that proud parents like to talk, and that is exactly where this story begins."

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Source: SemiAccurate

Microsoft Rereleases Update to Improve Bulldozer... yeah.

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 11, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: windows, processor, microsoft, cpu, bulldozer, amd

Let us take a little break from the CES news with a load of bull -- a download of Bulldozer. If you have an eerie sense of being in this situation before then you may in fact have a bad memory as it did in fact happen and it was only about a month ago. Microsoft released an update in mid-December to optimize their operating systems for AMD Bulldozer technology; that patch disappeared without any listed reason. As of today, we have access to both the patch as well as most of the reason for the delay in the first place.

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

You know: part of me wants to see a Bulldozer go 100MPH, and another part of me fears greatly.

The first order of business is to explain to those who have an AMD FX series, Opteron 4200 series, and/or an Opteron 6200 series processor how to increase their potential performance: KB 2646060 and KB 2645594 each contain a patch which will optimize Windows to the Bulldozer architecture for most users when both are applied.

It turns out that Microsoft pulled the Bulldozer update last month when discussions with AMD revealed that the patch would not provide the promised performance increases for most users. The problem specifically centers on the Core Parking feature within Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2: after the hotfix in December was applied, Core Parking would still interfere with Bulldozer’s design by attempting to save power and sleep cores that were unused without understanding that Bulldozer cores are not typical cores. With Core Parking disabled for Bulldozer-based CPUs either through this hotfix or by changing your performance profiles to “High Performance” from the often default “Balanced” you would allow Bulldozer to run as it actually desires to run. According to how these bulletins are worded, should you have been on “High Performance” profile back in December before the hotfix was pulled you would have experienced what should only have been available starting today.

These performance increases are not for every application, however. AMD has stated that applications which are more sparsely multithreaded would benefit most from the update.

Workloads that are moderately threaded have the potential for uplift. This could include virtualization, database, or transactional environments that are “bursty” – a mixture of light and heavy transactions, or legacy applications that are by nature not very threaded. The more heavily threaded the application, the less the likely the uplift.

My intuition knowing this as well as the Core Parking issue is that once Windows finally wakes the Bulldozer core, your experience is maximal with the December patch; applications which only temporarily become multithreaded either do not wake the proper portions of the processor or wake the processor in time to be of maximum benefit.

It appears as if the removal of the hotfix last month was simply because AMD believed that while the patch was effective, it would not be correctly applied to the vast majority of customers without a second hotfix and thus give the appearance of little to no real benefits.

Source: AMD Blogs

AMD Shows Off Trinity APU Die And Trinity Powered Notebook

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | January 10, 2012 - 08:13 PM |
Tagged: VLIW-4, trinity, piledriver, CES, APU, amd

Today at CES, the Consumer Electronics Show, we got to see a demonstration by AMD of an AMD powered computer running dual monitors. Only, it was not just a dual monitor pushing desktop computer. In a surprise twist, AMD took the side panel off of the desktop computer to reveal that it was actually a laptop computer using their next generation AMD Trinity APU that was driving the game on one display, and the windows desktop on the other display. Even more, on the laptop screen itself, it was playing a 720p video.

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Here you can see the two displays that the Trinity powered laptop was driving with Dirt 3 on the left monitor and the Windows desktop on the right one where a video conversion was happening in the background. AMD did not get into any details regarding the transcode, however.

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This is the "desktop" computer case that they opened up to reveal that it was, in fact, a Trinity laptop that was driving all the displays.

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A die shot of the upcoming Trinity APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) sitting next to a USB flash drive. Specifications of the Trinity APUs have not yet been released by AMD; however, if this leak holds true the Trinity APUs will have either two or four Piledriver CPU cores and TDP (thermal design power) of 65 W, 100 W, and 125 Watts (depending on particular chip). Clock speeds will further vary between 2.2 and 3.8 GHz at stock speeds (will run a bit faster with Turbo Core 3.0). The GPU aspect will be clocked between 563 MHz and 711 MHz and is based on the VLIW4 technology of the Cayman graphics Cards (69xx). They estimate that it will deliver up to 30% more performance versus current Llano chips and will support all the fancy new X86 instruction sets like AVX and AES-NI. A nice boost and hopefully the real specifications will come close to this (or be even better, of course).

Update: Another interesting bit of information is that AMD will have a low power Trinity APU with a TDP of 17 watts and will supposedly deliver the same level of performance as the current Llano chips (that draw twice the power).

Update:  AMD has stated Trinity will deliver a 25% increase in CPU performance and a 50% increase in GPU performance versus current Llano APUs.  Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Trinity info as it develops.

PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.

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

How the performance under Linux has changed for Intel's integral GPU

Subject: Processors | January 5, 2012 - 05:12 PM |
Tagged: westmere, linux, ironlake, Arrandale

It has been a busy year for Phoronix as not only have they had a lot of hardware to review, also Linux developers have been quite busy this year updating drivers and the base kernel.  They decided that the beginning of 2012 was a perfect time to reflect on the effects of these changes, specifically the graphics driver that powers the Intel Core i3-330M.  The results are mixed, with one driver version excelling in a single task but lagging in others.  On the plus side, the performance never stays consistent which gives hope that there is still room for improvement and the performance has not plateaued.

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"Back in December I posted historical Intel Sandy Bridge benchmarks looking at the graphics performance over the course of 2011 that this latest-generation of Intel hardware has been supported under Linux. In this article are some similar Intel OpenGL benchmarks of each quarter going back to the end of 2010, but this time it is for the previous-generation Intel Ironlake hardware."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Phoronix