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In addition to Intel's announcement of new Xeon processors, the company is launching three new Atom-series processors for servers later this year. The new processor lineups include the Intel Atom S12x9 family for storage applications, Rangeley processors for networking gear, and Avoton SoCs for low-power micro-servers.
The Intel Atom S12x9 family takes the existing S1200 processors and makes a few tweaks to optimize the SoCs for storage servers and other storage appliances. For reference, the Intel Atom S1200 series of processors feature sub-9W TDPs, 1MB of cache, and two physical CPU cores clocked at up to 2GHz. However, Intel did not list the individual S12x9 SKUs or specifications, so it is unknown if they will also be clocked at up to 2GHz. The new Atom S12x9 processors will feature 40 PCI-E 2.0 lanes (26 Root Port and 16 Non-Transparent Bridge) to provide ample bandwidth between I/O and processor. The SoCs also feature hardware RAID acceleration, Native Dual-Casting, and Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh. Native Dual-Casting allows data to be read from one source and written to two memory locations simultaneously while Asynchronous DRAM Self-Refresh protects data during a power failure.
The new chips are available now to customers and will be available in OEM systems later this year. Vendors that plan to release systems with the S12x9 processors include Accusys, MacroSAN, Qnap, and Qsan.
Intel is also introducing a new series of processors --- codenamed Rangeley -- is intended to power future networking gear. The 22nm Atom SoC is slated to be available sometime in the second half of this year (2H'13). Intel is positioning the Rangeley processors at entry-level to mid-range routers, switches, and security appliances.
While S12x9 and Rangeley are targeted at specific tasks, the company is also releasing a general purpose Atom processor codenamed Avoton. The Avoton SoCs are aimed at low power micro-servers, and is Intel's answer to ARM chips in the server room. Avoton is Intel's second generation 64-bit Atom processor series. It uses the company's Silvermont architecture on a 22nm process. The major update with Avoton is the inclusion of an Ethernet controller built into the processor itself. According to Intel, building networking into the processor instead of as a chip on a separate add-on board results in "significant improvements in performance per watt." These chips are currently being sampled to partners, and should be available in Avoton-powered servers later this year (2H'13).
This year is certainly shaping up to be an interesting year for Atom processors. I'm excited to see how the battle unfolds between the ARM and Atom-based solutions in the data center.
Subject: Processors | April 3, 2013 - 08:35 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: mobile, Lenovo, electrical engineering, chip design, arm
According to a recent article in the EE Times, Beijing-based PC OEM Lenovo many be entering the mobile chip design business. An anonymous source allegedly familiar with the matter has indicated that Lenovo will be expanding its Integrated Circuits design team to 100 engineers by the second-half of this year. Further, Lenovo will reportedly task the newly-expanded team with designing an ARM processor of its own to join the ranks of Apple, Intel, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Huawei, Samsung, and others.
It is unclear whether Lenovo simply intends to license an existing ARM core and graphics module or if the design team expansion is merely the begining of a growing division that will design a custom chip for its smartphones and Chromebooks to truly differentiate itself and take advantage of vertical integration.
Junko Yoshida of the EE Times article notes that Lenovo was turned away by Samsung when it attempted to use the company's latest Exynos Octa processor. I think that might contribute to the desire to have its own chip design team, but it may also be that the company believes it can compete in a serious way and set its lineup of smartphones apart from the crowd (as Apple has managed to do) as it pursues further Chinese market share and slowly moves its phones into the United States market.
Details are scarce, but it is at least an intriguing protential future for the company. It will be interesting to see if Lenovo is able to make it work in this extremely-competitive and expensive area.
Do you think Lenovo has what it takes to design its own mobile chip? Is it a good idea?
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 20, 2013 - 06:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, nvidia, GTC 2013
NVIDIA develops processors, but without an x86 license they are only able to power ARM-based operating systems. When it comes to Windows, that means Windows Phone or Windows RT. The latter segment of the market has disappointing sales according to multiple OEMs, which Microsoft blames them for, but the jolly green GPU company is not crying doomsday.
NVIDIA just skimming the Surface RT, they hope.
As reported by The Verge, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was optimistic that Microsoft would eventually let Windows RT blossom. He noted how Microsoft very often "gets it right" at some point when they push an initiative. And it is true, Microsoft has a history of turning around perceived disasters across a variety of devices.
They also have a history of, as they call it, "knifing the baby."
I think there is a very real fear for some that Microsoft could consider Intel's latest offerings as good enough to stop pursuing ARM. Of course, the more the pursue ARM, the more their business model will rely upon the-interface-formerly-known-as-Metro and likely all of its certification politics. As such, I think it is safe to say that I am watching the industry teeter on a fence with a bear on one side and a pack of rabid dogs on the other. On the one hand, Microsoft jumping back to Intel would allow them to perpetuate the desktop and all of the openness it provides. On the other hand, even if they stick with Intel they likely will just kill the desktop anyway, for the sake of user confusion and the security benefits of cert. We might just have less processor manufacturers when they do that.
So it could be that NVIDIA is confident that Microsoft will push Windows RT, or it could be that NVIDIA is pushing Microsoft to continue to develop Windows RT. Frankly, I do not know which would be better... or more accurately, worse.
Subject: Processors | March 12, 2013 - 02:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: VLIW4, trinity, Richland, piledriver, notebook, mobile, hd 8000, APU, amd, A10-5750
The differences between Richland and Trinity are not earth shattering but there are certainly some refinements implemented by AMD in the A10-5750. One very noticeable one is support for DDR3-1866 as well as better power management for both the CPU and GPU; with new temperature balancing algorithms and measurement the ability to balance the load properly has increased from Trinity. Many AMD users will be more interested in the GPU portion of the die than the CPU, as that is where AMD actually has as lead on Intel and this particular chip contains the HD8650G, with clocks of 720MHz boost and 533MHz base and increase from the previous generation of 35 and 37MHz respectively. You can read more about the other three models that will be released over at The Tech Report.
"AMD has formally introduced the first members of its Richland APU family. We have the goods on the chips and Richland's new power management tech, which combines temperature-based inputs with bottleneck-aware clock boosting."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD Richland APU Preview: Trinity Gets a Facelift @ Hardware Canucks
- 2013 AMD Mobile APU (Richland) @ Bjorn3D
- Westmere-EP to Sandy Bridge-EP: The Scientist Potential Upgrade @ AnandTech
- AMD Phenom II X4 955, Phenom II X4 960T, Phenom II X6 1075T and Intel Pentium G2120, Core i3-3220, Core i5-3330 @ ixbt.com
- AMD FX-8350 @ iXBT Labs
- The new Opteron 6300: Finally Tested! @ AnandTech
- Intel Core i5-3570K vs. i7-3770K Ivy Bridge @ techPowerUp
Subject: Processors | February 20, 2013 - 09:35 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Tegra 4i, tegra 4, tegra 3, Tegra 2, tegra, phoenix, nvidia, icera, i500
The NVIDIA Tegra 4 and Shield project were announced at this year’s CES, but there were other products in the pipeline that were just not quite ready to see the light of day at that time. While Tegra 4 is an impressive looking part for mobile applications, it is not entirely appropriate for the majority of smart phones out there. Sure, the nebulous “Superphone” category will utilize Tegra 4, but that is not a large part of the smartphone market. The two basic issues with Tegra 4 is that it pulls a bit more power at the rated clockspeeds than some manufacturers like, and it does not contain a built-in modem for communication needs.
The die shot of the Tegra 4i. A lot going on in this little guy.
NVIDIA bought up UK modem designer Icera to help create true all-in-one SOCs. Icera has a unique method with building their modems that they say is not only more flexible than what others are offering, but also much more powerful. These modems skip a lot of fixed function units that most modems are made of and rely on high speed general purpose compute units and an interesting software stack to create smaller modems with greater flexibility when it comes to wireless standards. At CES NVIDIA showed off the first product of this acquisition, the i500. This is a standalone chip and is set to be offered with the Tegra 4 SOC.
Yesterday NVIDIA introduced the Tegra 4i, formerly codenamed “Grey”. This is a combined Tegra SOC with the Icera i500 modem. This is not exactly what we were expecting, but the results are actually quite exciting. Before I get too out of hand about the possibilities of the chip, I must make one thing perfectly clear. The chip itself will not be available until Q4 2013. It will be released in limited products with greater availability in Q1 2014. While NVIDIA is announcing this chip, end users will not get to use it until much later this year. I believe this issue is not so much that NVIDIA cannot produce the chips, but rather the design cycles of new and complex cell phones do not allow for rapid product development.
Tegra 4i really should not be confused for the slightly earlier Tegra 4. The 4i actually uses the 4th revision of the Cortex A9 processor rather than the Cortex A15 in the Tegra 4. The A9 has been a mainstay of modern cell phone processors for some years now and offers a great deal of performance when considering die size and power consumption. The 4th revision improves IPC of the A9 in a variety of ways (memory management, prefetch, buffers, etc.), so it will perform better than previous Cortex A9 solutions. Performance will not approach that provided by the much larger and complex A15 cores, but it is a nice little boost from what we have previously seen.
The Tegra 4 features a 72 core GPU (though NVIDIA has still declined to detail the specifics of their new mobile graphics technology- these ain’t Kepler though), while the 4i features a nearly identical unit featuring 60 cores. There is no word so far as to what speed these will be running at or how performance really compares to the latest graphics products from ARM, Imagination, or Qualcomm.
The chip is made on TSMC’s 28 nm HPM process and features core speeds up to 2.3 GHz. We again have no information on if that will be all four cores at that speed or turbo functionality with one core. The design adopts the previous 4+1 core setup with four high speed cores and one power saving core. Considering how small each core is (Cortex A9 or A15) it is not a waste of silicon as compared to the potential power savings. The HPM process is the high power version rather than the LPM (low power) used for Tegra 4. My guess here is that the A9 cores are not going to pull all that much power anyway due to their simpler design as compared to A15. Hitting 2.3 GHz is also a factor in the process decision. Also consider that +1 core that is fabricated slightly differently than the other four to allow for slower transistor switching speed with much lower leakage.
The die size looks to be in the 60 to 65 mm squared range. This is not a whole lot larger than the original Tegra 2 which was around 50 mm squared. Consider that the Tegra 4i has three more cores, a larger and more able GPU portion, and the integrated Icera i500 modem. The modem is a full Cat 3 LTE capable unit (100 mbps), so bandwidth should not be an issue for this phone. The chip has all of the features of the larger Tegra 4, such as the Computational Photography Architecture, Image Signal Processor, video engine, and the “optimized memory interface”. All of those neat things that NVIDIA showed off at CES will be included. The only other major feature that is not present is the ability to output 3200x2000 resolutions. This particular chip is limited to 1920x1200. Not a horrific tradeoff considering this will be a smartphone SOC with a max of 1080P resolution for the near future.
We expect to see Tegra 4 out in late Q2 in some devices, but not a lot. While Tegra 4 is certainly impressive, I would argue that Tegra 4i is the more marketable product with a larger chance of success. If it were available today, I would expect its market impact to be similar to what we saw with the original 28nm Krait SOCs from Qualcomm last year. There is simply a lot of good technology in this core. It is small, it has a built-in modem, and performance per mm squared looks to be pretty tremendous. Power consumption will be appropriate for handhelds, and perhaps might turn out to be better than most current solutions built on 28 nm and 32 nm processes.
NVIDIA also developed the Phoenix Reference Phone which features the Tegra 4i. This is a rather robust looking unit with a 5” screen and 1080P resolution. It has front and rear facing cameras, USB and HDMI ports, and is only 8 mm thin. Just as with the original Tegra 3 it features the DirectTouch functionality which uses the +1 core to handle all touch inputs. This makes it more accurate and sensitive as compared to other solutions on the market.
Overall I am impressed with this product. It is a very nice balance of performance, features, and power consumption. As mentioned before, it will not be out until Q4 2013. This will obviously give the competition some time to hone their own products and perhaps release something that will not only compete well with Tegra 4i in its price range, but exceed it in most ways. I am not entirely certain of this, but it is a potential danger. The potential is low though, as the design cycles for complex and feature packed cell phones are longer than 6 to 7 months. While NVIDIA has had some success in the SOC market, they have not had a true homerun yet. Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 had their fair share of design wins, but did not ship in numbers that came anywhere approaching Qualcomm or Samsung. Perhaps Tegra 4i will be that breakthrough part for NVIDIA? Hard to say, but when we consider how aggressive this company is, how deep their developer relations, and how feature packed these products seem to be, then I think that NVIDIA will continue to gain traction and marketshare in the SOC market.
Subject: Processors | January 25, 2013 - 06:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: haswell, Intel, overclocking, speculation, BCLK
hardCOREware is engaging in a bit of informed speculation on how overclocking the upcoming Haswell chips will be accomplished. Now that Intel has relaxed the draconian lock down of frequencies and multipliers that they enforced for a few generations of chips, overclockers are once again getting excited about their new chips. They talk about the departure of the Front Side Bus and the four frequencies which overclockers have been using in modern generations and then share their research on why the inclusion of a GPU on the CPU might just make overclockers very happy.
"This is an overclocking preview of Intel’s upcoming Haswell platform. We have noticed that they have made an architectural change that may be a great benefit to overclockers. Check out our thoughts on the potential return of BCLK overclocking!"
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i7-3960x vs. i7-3970x@Bjorn3D
- Intel Core i3-3220 v. Intel Core i3-3225 Review @ MissingRemote
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Testing Memory Speeds on AMD's A10-5800K Trinity APU @ Legit Reviews
- AMD A10 5700K APU @ Guru of 3D
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 23, 2013 - 02:42 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: southern islands, sony, ps4, playstation 4, orbis, Kaveri, bulldozer, APU, amd
Earlier today a report from Kotaku.com posted some details about the upcoming PlayStation console, code named Orbis and sometimes just called the PS4. Kotaku author Luke Plunkett got the information from a 90 page PDF that details the development kit so the information is likely pretty accurate if incomplete. It discusses a new controller and a completely new accounts system but I was mostly interested in the hardware details given.
We'll begin with the specs. And before we go any further, know that these are current specs for a PS4 development kit, not the final retail console itself. So while the general gist of the things you see here may be similar to what makes it into the actual commercial hardware, there's every chance some—if not all of it—changes, if only slightly.
This is key to keep in mind because here are the specs listed on the report:
- 8GB of system memory
- 2.2GB of graphics memory
- 4 module (8 core) AMD Bulldozer CPU
- AMD "R10xx" based GPU
- 4x USB 3.0 ports and 2x Ethernet connections
- Blu-ray drive
- 160GB HDD
- HDMI and optical audio output
We are essentially talking about an AMD FX-series processor with a Southern Islands based discrete card and I am nearly 100% sure that this will not match the configuration of the shipping system. Think about it - would a console developer really want to have a processor that can draw more than 100 watts inside its box in addition to a discrete GPU? I doubt it.
Instead, let's go with the idea that this developer kit is simply meant to emulate some final specifications. More than likely we are looking at an APU solution that combines Bulldozer or Steamroller cores along with GCN-based GPU SIMD arrays. The most likely candidate is Kaveri, a 28nm based product that meets both of those requirements. Josh recently discussed the future with Kaveri in a post during CES, worth checking out. AMD has told us several times that Kaveri should be able to hit the 1.0 TFLOPs level of performance and if we compare to the current discrete GPUs would enable graphics performance similar to that of an under-clocked Radeon HD 7770.
There is some room for doubt though - Kaveri isn't supposed to be out until "late Q4" though its possible that the PS4 will be the first customer. It is also possible that AMD is making a specific discrete GPU for implementation on the PS4 based on the GCN architecture that would be faster than the graphics performance expected on the Kaveri APU.
When speaking with our own Josh Walrath on this rumor, he tended to think that Sony and AMD would not use an APU but would rather combine a separate CPU and GPU on a single substrate, allowing for better yields than a combined APU part. In order to make up for the slower memory controller interface (on substrate is not as fast as on-die) AMD might again utilize backside cache, just like the one used on the Xbox 360 today. With process technology improvements its not unthinkable to see that jump to 30 or 40MB of cache.
With the debate of a 2013 or 2014 release still up in the air, there is plenty of time for this to change still but we will likely know for sure after our next trip to Taipei.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2013 - 05:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, haswell, Intel
Oh certification, how I loathe thee.
At the Intel CES 2013 keynote, Intel announced a few new requirements for OEMs to manufacture Haswell-based ultrabooks. Intel clearly wants to push OEMs to utilize several of their more cherished features and as such they will not allow products to be released without these features.
A fourth-generation ultrabook must contain the following features:
- Touch interaction support
- Intel WiDi support
- Installed Antivirus and Anti-Malware, Intel-owned McAfee will have an announcement soon.
These three certification requirements lead to two major points of contention with me: non-Windows 8 operating systems as well as Intel potentially strong-arming McAfee into your machine. When Intel requires touch support for Haswell-based ultrabooks, they basically declare that Windows 7 and Linux will not be around.
That requirement could seem minor depending on what Intel McAfee will soon announce after Intel’s announcement that Antivirus and Anti-Malware will be required on ultrabooks. Windows 8 already comes with Microsoft Security Essentials pre-installed and as such Intel might strong-arm vendors into using McAfee. It would not be a stretch to speculate that McAfee will have some deep attachment to the Haswell architecture. Unfortunately we will need to wait until Intel makes their announcement.
Intel also claims that ultrabooks will have touch-based products in the $599 price points very soon.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2013 - 05:13 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, vizio, amd
Why not open up CES-proper discussion with a tablet announcement?
AMD has begun their push into the tablet space with Vizio being one of their first OEM partners to announce products at CES. Due to AMD being one of the select few to still maintain a proper x86 license, they are about your only option outside of Intel for a true Windows 8 tablet. Vizio took them up on that position.
The Vizio Tablet PC, seemingly a play on their original Android-based Vizio tablet with an added declaration that “I am a PC”, will run standard Windows 8 certified as Microsoft Signature. No bloatware will be included which should help users experience the performance that 60-day antivirus trials and auto-launched demo notifications absorb.
On the technical side, the Tablet PC is loaded with 2 GB of RAM, an 11.6” full 1080p display, and a 1.0 GHz AMD Z60 processor. 64 GB of solid state storage is included although Windows 8 has been known to stake claims to a large portion of that. Readers of our site would probably have a primary computing device although this might be worth watching as a secondary device. You do not have a whole lot of other options for Flash support or access to non-default browsers.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Processors | January 6, 2013 - 05:09 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: valleyview, low power, Intel, Bay Trail, atom
When the original Intel Atom hit the scene, it was a reasonably large success for Intel with the massive explosion of netbooks. The original design was very simplistic, but was fairly power efficient. The weak link of the original Atom was the 945 chipset graphics that were not only underpowered, but were based on a relatively power hungry desktop chipset. The eventual competition from AMD featured a next generation low power core based on the Bobcat architecture which featured a modern graphics core that was more than adequate for most scenarios.
Intel never stood still, but their advancement of the low power cores was slow as compared to the massive leaps and bounds we saw from the original Core architecture in 2006 on the desktop and server markets. Typically these products lagged the desktop products in terms of process nodes, but they continued to advance these cores little by little.
Leap forward a few years and we saw the eventual demise of the netbook and the massive uptake of mobile computing. Mobile computing was primarily comprised of tablets and smartphones. Intel was late to the party as compared to products from Qualcomm, Samsung, and NVIDIA. A fire was lit under the Atom group at Intel, as the competition had far surpassed the company in ultra-mobile parts.
Happily for those of us paying attention, the 3D Center Forum has released some very interesting slides about the 22 nm generation of Atom products and the platforms they will be integrated into. Valleyview is the SoC while Bay Trail is the platform.
Valleyview is based on Intel’s 22 nm process and will be a next generation Atom processor with a multitude of new features. It will be a SoC as it will no longer require a traditional southbridge. It will have improved graphics as compared to the most recent Atom processors. While the SoC will feature USB 3.0, it will not embrace SATA-6G or PCI-E 3.0. The CPU will go up to quad core units that will be 50% to 100% faster than current parts. These new chips will also introduce a boost functionality (think desktop Turbo Boost) that will run the frequency equal to or greater than 2.7 GHz.
Power is of course the primary concern, and these products will be offered from 3 watts and below (Bay Trail T) and up to 12 watts (Bay Trail D) These products will not be competing with the Haswell products which are rumored to get around 10 watts at the very lowest.
While Intel has been slow to react to the mobile push, they are starting to get that ball rolling. It will be very interesting to see if they can move fast enough to outrun and outwit the ARM based competition, not to mention AMD’s latest 28 nm products that will be released in the first half of 2013.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Networking, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2013 - 10:47 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, pcper
It's that time of year - the staff at PC Perspective is loaded up and either already here in Las Vegas, on their way to Las Vegas or studiously sitting at their desk at home - for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show! I know you are on our site looking for all the latest computer hardware news from the show and we will have it. The best place to keep checking is our CES landing page at http://pcper.com/ces. The home page will work too.
We'll have stories covering companies like, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Zotac, Sapphire, Galaxy, EVGA, Lucid, OCZ, Western Digital, Corsair and many many more that I don't feel like listing here. It all starts Sunday with CES Unveiled and then the NVIDIA Press Conference where they will announce...something.
Also, don't forget to subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast as we will be bringing you daily podcasts wrapping up each day. We are also going to try to LIVE stream them on our PC Perspective Live! page but times and bandwidth will vary.
PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 3, 2013 - 06:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge-E
Intel creates a bunch of roadmaps as portions of their corporate slideshows and similarly to their development cycles: they get leaked like clockwork.
Last quarter’s roadmap revealed intentions for Intel to release the higher-end Ivy Bridge-E processors a whole quarter after dropping non-enthusiast Ivy Bridge from retail. That leak ended speculation from the prior quarter about the fate of Ivy Bridge-E with Haswell and Sandy Bridge-E pushing Ivy Bridge out of Intel’s second quarter 2013 lineup. After all, would Intel push higher-end SKUs of obsolete components? Would they just skip to Haswell-E? Could Sandy Bridge-E be slowly eaten away by the Xeon and lower end markets and left without a replacement? Apparently not the latters.
I cannot Haswell-E'sburger.
The most obvious data point to pull from this slide is that nothing changed; information was only added. Ivy Bridge-E is still on target to launch a little less than a year from now. What we were given is expected SKUs names of the Haswell parts.
From i5 up to Sandy Bridge-E we will have approximately 5 SKUs ranging from the i5-4570 up to the i7-4770K. Room is still left for SKUs above the i7-4770K and the i5-4670K although Intel does not show any direct intentions to produce such chips. WCCF Tech believes from previous rumors that Ivy Bridge-E will consist of four SKUs: i7-4930, i7-4960, i7-4970, and i7-4990.
I also cannot Haswell at all???
Intel’s lower-end roadmap was also leaked within the same post. Apparently Ivy Bridge has more legs in that price range with Haswell being delayed for a quarter for Pentium and i3 processors. Haswell is completely absent in the Celeron price point with the original Sandy Bridge sticking around for a whole year from now.
This clearly is not a panicked situation for Intel on the high-end. Three leaked roadmaps in a row show for all practical purposes the same identical vision. I will be curious to see how performance compares between Ivy Bridge-E and its older little brother Haswell; clearly Ivy Bridge-E will make more sense from the point of view of RAM-intensive applications, but will certain applications be able to better utilize Haswell and its new architecture?
Who do you think will win in a fistfight, Ha’s well Ghul or Poison Ivy Bridge-E?
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2012 - 04:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Due to Phoronix being particularly interesting lately, how would you like a little more open-source news?
GCC is one of the most important compilers for C/C++-based software due to its ubiquity both in where it can run as well as where it can compile to. Intel has a lot of experience developing for compilers, to say the least. Creating a competing product does not stop Intel from contributing to the project, however.
Aww, looks like he wants a hug.
Intel created C/C++ language extensions known as “Cilk Plus” designed to help developers parallelize their code on multithreaded processors. Both the compiler and run-time portions of Cilk Plus has been made open source and were submitted to be included into GCC. Unfortunately, for reasons which are currently unclear, GCC completed development of version 4.8 of their software without the inclusion of Cilk Plus.
Patches developed by Intel have been available since the summer awaiting approval from the official maintainers of GCC. Because the deadline passed without inclusion of the completed code, we will allegedly need to wait until at least 2014 -- maybe longer -- before Cilk Plus has another chance to be included in the GCC.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 03:26 AM | Tim Verry
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.
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.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 14, 2012 - 05:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: virtu MVP, virtu, lucid, ces 2013, CES
In preparation for the upcoming CES 2013 show in January we have started having some pre-meeting discussions with various companies, one of which was Lucid. While speaking with them we learned some interesting news about the upcoming v2.0 release of their Virtu MVP software including new features and a new availability option.
Lucid's Virtu MVP software is the technology that allows DIY PC builders and notebook vendors to easily accommodate utilization of both integrated and discrete graphics in a single system without the need to adjust settings or to move monitor cables around. With Virtu MVP you can take advantage of the QuickSync technology of your Ivy Bridge processor but still utilize the performance of a discrete graphics card for gaming. This can all be managed and handled on a single display with a single cable.
Other additions like Virtual Vsync and HyperFormance were added in MVP and aim to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Virtu enhances the overall user experience. And while Matt Smith liked the results from the software in his recent testing with an Origin laptop, there were a couple things that bugged us: the interface and the inability to get the software on your own.
Next month Lucid will be launching the new version 2.0 of its software that should increase the responsiveness of the interface while also drastically improving the visuals and style. Also included will be native Windows 8 support.
Perhaps the most interesting news is that Lucid will soon start offering the software directly to consumers as a download instead of requiring that you get it from your motherboard or system vendor. This is great news for users that have purchased motherboards without Virtu software and those of you that might want to buy a really low cost board that would lack those features as well. You will apparently be able to buy it in Q1 from www.lucidlogix.com and the price should be "under $30" which likely indicates a $29.99 starting offer.
What we don't know is how this will affect Lucid's motherboard partners - will they stop carrying the software as a bundle going forward or will they still offer it on select SKUs? Lucid wouldn't divulge any of that yet but I assume we'll find out more at CES next month.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 13, 2012 - 04:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: asus, VIA
We have not heard too much about VIA Technologies developing CPUs in recent history. They still hold an x86 license until at least some time in 2013. VIA also develops ARM SoCs, apparently, and have recently struck a deal to get in multiple 7-inch tablets by Asustek. These models will be exclusively sold to China.
ASUS set a goal of 12 million sales for tablet PCs for 2013 and one way to accomplish that milestone is to provide cheap but decent devices. This goal is firmly in the same order of magnitude as iPad sales. Still, ASUS already has a fairly big presence in the tablet market with its strong Transformer line and more notably Google’s Nexus 7.
VIA will provide ARM Cortex A9 processors for the lower end of ASUS’ product line. The model which they will be embedded in will retail for somewhere between $99-$149 USD. These devices will be available in China for the Lunar New Year season of 2013.
Interestingly Asustek has not contracted out Pegatron to manufacture the device, opting instead for Wistron Corp. to fulfill the order. The two companies, Pegatron and Asustek, were once one-in-the-same; founded by a businessman with a fascination for the Greek mythological Pegasus. The company changed with the climate like any other and Pegatron was spun off into its own independent entity. Since then, Pegatron has been hard at work developing laptops and tablets for ASUS as well as picking up orders from Apple and others.
The first shipment of 2-3 million manufactured devices is rumored to be delivered to Asus by the end of December. Perhaps these sales can help bolster VIA and their ability to develop CPUs once more?
Subject: Processors | December 12, 2012 - 05:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: haswell, Intel, i7-4770k
A (translated) report coming from VR-Zone shows a table that is giving us just a bit more information about the upcoming Intel Haswell architecture and processors.
First, it looks like Intel is going to lean into the same naming scheme for these parts calling them the Core i3/i5/i7 4000 series parts, starting with the Core i7-4770K as the highest end option. It will be a quad-core HyperThreaded part with a maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 3.9 GHz, very similar to the speeds and feed of today.
Graphics will be updated and called the HD 4600 with a clock rate as high as 1250 MHz. The memory controller will remain dual-channel with support for DDR3-1600.
The only other item worth mentioning is the 84 watt TDP, up from the 77 watt TDP of the current Ivy Bridge lineup.
All that is left to know now is ... pretty much everything including the performance of these new cores, the new graphics architecture and how that higher TDP will be utilized.
Subject: Processors | December 6, 2012 - 01:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: socket, BGA, Intel, amd
Okay, so this has been an interesting debate. After the first rumors and reports that Intel might be killing the DIY PC (or at least crippling it) by removing the socketed option for future processors after the Broadwell architecture, the Internet had a hissy-fit. Josh debated here that the future didn't look at that bleak at all and AMD chimed in later with its commitment to sockets into 2014 and beyond.
It looks like Intel has officially addressed the issue through a story at MaximumPC.com:
Intel remains committed to the growing desktop enthusiast and channel markets, and will continue to offer socketed parts in the LGA package for the foreseeable future for our customers and the Enthusiast DIY market. However, Intel cannot comment on specific long-term product roadmap plans at this time, but will disclose more details later per our normal communication process.
While those in the community that see the glass half empty will look at Intel's use of "foreseeable future" as a red herring, we have to at least attempt to take Intel at its word until any more details might be released to counter it.
Let the debate continue!
Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 05:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: socket, Intel, BGA, amd
Over the past week or more we have been seeing a lot of news about Intel's rumored move to leave the world of socket-based processors behind after the pending Broadwell parts are released as BGA - ball grid array - and are soldered to motherboards directly. I would highly encourage everyone to read Josh's thoughts on the subject that are not nearly as damning as others might have you believe.
However, we got this official note from AMD earlier in the week that I thought I would share:
AMD has a long history of supporting the DIY and enthusiast desktop market with socketed CPUs & APUs that are compatible with a wide range of motherboard products from our partners. That will continue through 2013 and 2014 with the “Kaveri” APU and FX CPU lines. We have no plans at this time to move to BGA only packaging and look forward to continuing to support this critical segment of the market.
As the company that introduced new types of BGA packages in ultrathin platforms several years ago, and today offers BGA-packaged processors for everything from ultrathin notebooks to all-in-one desktops, to embedded applications and tablets, we certainly understand Intel’s enthusiasm for the approach. But for the desktop market, and the enthusiasts with whom AMD has built its brand, we understand what matters to them and how we can continue to bring better value and a better experience.
Obviously AMD is trying to persuade PC builders that not only is its path the safest in the future but maybe that supporting AMD today might help make sure it can arrive to the future well enough to continue the enthusiast path.
If Intel even starts to heavily side with BGA processors, is a move to AMD in your future again? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!
Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 02:58 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: servers, opteron 4300, opteron 3300, opteron, amd
AMD has officially released a number of new server processors based on its latest Piledriver cores. The new Opteron 4300 and Opteron 3300 series processors will replace the 4200 and 3200 series, and are aimed at the server market. The 4300 series uses Socket C32 while the Opteron 3300 processors use socket AM3+. They are significantly cheaper Piledriver-based parts than the higher-end Opteron 6300 series processors. AMD is aiming these lower cost Opterons at servers hosting websites and internal applications for small to medium businesses.
There are a total of nine new Opteron processors, with three being 3300 series an six being 4300 series. Both the 3300 and 4300 series Opterons are socket compatible with the previous generation 3200 and 4200 series respectively, allowing for an upgrade path in existing servers. According to AMD, the new Piledriver-based processors have 24% higher performance per watt and use 15% less power than the previous generation parts based on the SPECpower and SPECint benchmarks. AMD is also touting support for low power 1.25V memory with the new chips.
The chart below details the specifications and pricing all of the new Opteron parts.
The new AMD Opteron 3300 series includes two quad core and one eight core processor. The parts range from 1.9GHz to 2.6GHz base and have TDPs from 25W to 65W for the lowest and top end parts respectively. AMD-P, AMD-V, and AMD Turbo Core technologies are also supported. As far as memory goes, the 3300 series supports up to four DIMMs and 32GB per CPU. Further, a single x16 HyperTransport 3.0 link rated at 5.2GT/s is included.
Moving up to the 4300 series comes with an increase in price but you also get more cores, more memory, and faster clockspeeds. The Opteron 4300 series has one quad core 4310 EE, three six core CPUs, and two eight core parts. Base clocks range from 2.2GHz to 3.1GHz while boost clocks start at 3.0GHz and go to 3.8GHz. On the low end, the Opteron 4310 EE has a 35W TDP and the top-end 4386 has a 95W TDP. The 4300 series supports dual channel DDR3 1866 memory with up to six DIMMs and 192GB per CPU. Moving up from the 3300 series also gets you two x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links at 6.4 GT/s.
The new server processors are available now with prices ranging from $174 to $501. In addition, pre-built server options from Supermicro and Seamicro (SM15000) are currently available, with options from Dell and a number of other companies on the way. The prices seem decent, and these chips could make the base for a nice 2P server that brings you Piledriver improvements for much less than the relatively expensive 6300 series processors that we covered previously.