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

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 18, 2012 - 06:06 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 - 10:52 AM |
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.

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"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:

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Source: TechPowerUp

Intel may delay shipments of Ivy Bridge processors

Subject: Processors | February 16, 2012 - 12:47 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 - 03:57 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 - 11:02 AM |
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 - 09:31 AM |
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 - 10:01 AM |
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 - 01:51 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 21, 2012 - 10:09 PM |
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 - 11:08 AM |
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 - 01:10 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 - 03:21 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.

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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 - 05:13 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 - 02:12 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."

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Source: Phoronix

WonderMedia Announces PRIZM WM8950 with Android 4.0 Support

Subject: Processors, Mobile | January 5, 2012 - 10:47 AM |
Tagged: WonderMedia, PRIZM WM8950, SoC, arm, cortex-a9

Taipei, Taiwan, January 5, 2012 -WonderMedia Technologies, Inc, a leading innovator of energy-efficient, feature-rich system-on-chip platforms, today announced the WonderMedia PRIZM WM8950 SoC.Combining a highly energy-efficient ARM Cortex-A9 core running at 800MHz with advanced graphics and stunning 1080p video playback capabilities, the WonderMedia PRIZM WM8950 further extends WonderMedia's leadership in the fast-growing Android media tablet market.

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Prizm WM8950The next generation WonderMedia PRIZM platform and software suite provides customers an easy migration path to a Cortex-A9 SoC and offers support for the latest Android 4.0 and Windows CE 7.0 operating systems. With its high-performance, and feature-rich design, the WM8950 is also optimized for a wide range of innovative system design applications, including smartbooks, Smart TV, SmartStream for wireless display and multimedia streaming, networked projectors, digital signage, and thin clients.

"Our line of PRIZM platforms has spurred the explosive growth in the Android media tablet market," commented Tzumu Lin, President and CEO, WonderMedia Technologies, Inc. "The new WM8950 delivers greater computing power and richer multimedia experiences to meet the ever growing global demand for affordable smart mobile devices."

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PRIZM WM8950 Highlights:

  • 800MHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor
  • ARM Mali-400 3D graphics Processor
  • Multi-standard 1080p video decoding engine
  • H.264 video encoding
  • DDR3/LPDDR2 DRAM interface
  • Multiple video interface including HDMI, LVDS, and DVO
  • Flexible networking and peripheral interface
  • Advanced hardware security engine
  • Android 4.0 and Windows CE7.0 support

Intel Releases New Cedar Trail Atom Processors

Subject: Processors | December 28, 2011 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: pine trail, netbook, Intel, cedar trail, atom, 32nm

Intel has been pumping out quite a few new processors lately, with new Sandy Bridge-E CPUs, a new Sandy Bridge i7 2700K processor coming out, and now a new line of Atom CPUs sneaking in the news right before the new year!  Not to mention, they are also working on Ivy Bridge.

The new Atom CPUs are of the Cedar Trail variety and succeed the older Pine Trail-M Atom processors.  Currently, there are three Cedar Trail chips that will be available as soon as January in OEM systems including the N2600, N2800, and D2700 CPUs.  Further, the new chips are 32nm and have a 22x22mm package size.  These little chips are destined to power netbooks, tablets, embedded devices (think medical devices, ruggedized tablets, machinery).  Yes, Intel still believes in netbooks, and feels as though emerging markets will keep the market alive and growing as people want for cheap computers that are able to get them on the web.  While the netbook is losing popularity in the US, Intel expects the South American, Eastern European, and African markets to see great interest in the netbook platform.  Their netbook plans involve three price tiers with accompanying use cases including netbooks at $200 with minimal features and a price to match that enables people to access the web all the way to $400+ netbooks with lots of features that would fill out the market up to where the Ultrabook territory begins at around $900.

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The new Cedar Trail processors improve upon the previous gen Atom chips by quite a bit, according to Intel.  The graphics aspect in particular has been improved such that 1080p HD Youtube and HD Netflix streams are playable at at least 24 FPS.  Something that early netbooks using Intel's integrated graphics will never be able to do.  Intel further estimates a 50% lower TDP and a 28% processor performance increase over the Pine Trail chips.  Further, the new Cedar Trail chips have more cache at 2 x 512 L2 cache(s), higher clockspeeds, lower TDP, higher C-State (C6 vs C4E)/lower power usage in sleep mode, a 200MHz higher clocked graphics card (400MHz vs 200 MHz), and increased memory speeds (DDR3 800 and 1066 vs DDR3-667).  The fastest Nxx chip, the N2800 manages a .2GHz clock speed increase while also knocking off 2 watts from the TDP versus the previous top N570.

Needless to say, Cedar Trail is looking very good, on paper at least.  The individual chip specifications are listed below.

  CPU Clock Speed Graphics Clock Speed TDP
N2600 1.60 GHz 400 MHz 3.5 W
N2800 1.86 GHz 640 MHz 6.5 W
D2700 2.10 GHz 640 MHz 10 W

What are your thoughts on the new Cedar Trail chips, do you think they will provide enough "oomph" to make new netbooks desirable again?  Some more information can be found here and straight from Intel here.

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Atom cannibalizes our market! Move it to someone else’s!

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 27, 2011 - 11:33 PM |
Tagged: intel atom, Intel, atom

Intel’s Atom processors were created as a tier below their Celeron product line. Netbooks, then running VIA Nano processors, have started to gain popularity since their introduction in late 2007. Intel’s Atom processors took the place of the VIA parts since that time. In 2009, Intel has stated that they have seen approximately twenty percent of their sales of notebook processors replaced with sales of their cheaper Atom processors. Intel still maintains the Atom processor line, but apparently with new goals in mind.

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Up and ATOM!!!

According to Digitimes, the demand for Intel’s Atom processors has declined recently. Intel, in response, decided to market that tier of parts to embedded and server customers for use in network-attached storage devices and very low-end servers. Intel is also rumored to have plans to shrink the process size of Atom in 2013 to 22nm and again shrink process size to 14nm in 2014. The upcoming 32nm Atom processor is expected by the second quarter of 2012.

Source: Digitimes

Intel Medfield x86 SoC Targets Android Phones and Tablets

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 26, 2011 - 10:44 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Medfield, Android, x86, SoC

Intel hopes that 2012 will finally be the year they see mainstream phones with Intel inside.  Despite Intel's attempts to tell us otherwise for the past several generations, the upcoming Medfield design is the first truly serious attempt to enter the phone and tablet market currently dominated by the many ARM-based partners of phone manufacturers all over the world.  A recent post over at Technology Review discussed the advantages that Medfield offers over previous Intel Atom-based designs with Steve Smith, Intel's VP of Architecture.

First shown at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco this past September, a Medfield-based reference design has many believing in what some thought was impossible but what others thought was inevitable: Intel x86 cores in a phone that matters.  Why the change from many in the analyst space?  Medfield is the first option from Intel that is truly a single-chip solution, removing design space concerns and power consumption issues that previous Atom-architecture solutions were saddled with. 

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Intel showed Technology Review the Android-based reference phone running Gingerbread.

The phone prototype seen by Technology Review was similar in dimensions to the iPhone 4 but noticeably lighter, probably because the case was made with more plastic and less glass and metal. It was running the version of Google's operating system shipping with most Android phones today, known as Gingerbread; a newer version, Ice Cream Sandwich, was released by Google only about a month ago.

Intel has a lot of experience in the consumer markets though it took a shift inside the company to really put the focus on phones and tablets over netbooks and convertible-notebooks.  At the recent showing not only did they have the reference design phone but also an iPad-like tablet device running Ice Cream Sandwich, another key to the consumer's dollar.  And as you can clearly see in the diagram below, there is a lot of money being made that Intel wants in on.  A LOT.

intel_phone_chart.jpg

Source: Technology Review, IDC

Intel will also enjoy a process technology advantage over the competition with current Medfield SoCs built on the company's internal 32nm process and the upcoming 22nm technology promises even more power consumption advantanges.  ARM designs are built at different foundries including Samsung and TSMC and while they are competitive, no one can keep up with Intel on this front. 

Anandtech also had some interesting information to share from an investor conference earlier this month about the power consumption and performance levels of Medfield. 

intel_phone_power.png

Source: Anandtech.com

The diagram shows that power consumption on Medfield should be competitive with the current ARM-based SoC leaders in the market today.  Areas like 3G standby, basic audio playback and video playback should be accomplished with minimal power draw in order to have battery life extended to at least current expectations.  The performance graphs here on Browser Mark and "Graphics" are impressive as well though obviously we have a TON of missing information to really make the graph meaningful.  Anand puts it well:

Barring any outright deception however, there seems to be potential in Medfield.

I tend to believe that Intel is too smart to misjudge a product to investors, but remember how impressive the initial performance results of Larrabee were for years? 

I am hopeful and excited for Intel's mobility plans in 2012 as other information we have seen looks impressive.  Let's see what CES has to offer.

Give your project good CARMA, get a CUDA on ARM dev kit!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 20, 2011 - 01:34 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, CUDA, CARMA, capital letters, arm

Okay so the pun was a little obvious, but NVIDIA has just announced the specifications and name for the development kit used to develop for their ARM-based GPU computing platform. The development kit will provide a method to build and test applications on a platform similar to what will be found in the Barcelona Supercomputing Centre’s upcoming GPU supercomputer until you are ready to deploy the finished application with real data on the real machine. Such is the life of a development units.

CARMA.jpg

Carma: What goes around, comes around... right Intel?

The development kit is quite modest in its specifications:

  • Tegra3 ARM A9 CPU
  • Quadro 1000M GPU (96 CUDA Cores)
  • 2GB system RAM, 2GB GPU RAM
  • 4x PCIe Gen1 CPU to GPU link
  • 1000Base-T networking support
  • SATA, HDMI, DisplayPort, USB.
 
While the specifications are somewhere between a high-end tablet and a modest workstation, the real story is the continued progress by NVIDIA into the High Performance Computing (HPC) market. NVIDIA seems to be certain that they are able to (ARM-)wrestle more market share from Intel and other players such as IBM on the high performance front. Many would probably speculate about NVIDIA’s crushing in towards the home market from both ends, but I expect that creating a compelling ARM product for a desktop PC will never be the problem for NVIDIA: it is a lack of anything compelling to run on it these days for a desktop user.
Source: NVIDIA Blogs

Microsoft Releases Update to Improve Bulldozer... I thought?

Subject: Processors | December 16, 2011 - 09:41 AM |
Tagged: amd, bulldozer, cpu, processor, windows, microsoft

Intel was far from demolished when AMD's Bulldozer came to town. Users still clung to hope that Microsoft's Windows 7 was not optimized to take advantage of Bulldozer's multi-core environment. Vindication came sweetly with a knowledge base article and a patch from Microsoft confirming the issue and offering a solution. While they can still feel comfortable knowing they were right, the solution has been pulled from Microsoft's website without any announced reason. Who should we feel sorry for: those who didn't download it yet, or those who did?

amd_bulldozer_performance boost.jpg

This picture is more meme-worthy than we realized...
99 hotfix and ah this ain't one? If you're having kernel problems I feel bad for you son.

 

To be entirely fair, Microsoft's knowledge base article was quite clear in its instruction to users regarding this hotfix.

A supported hotfix is available from Microsoft. However, this hotfix is intended to correct only the problem that is described in this article. Apply this hotfix only to systems that are experiencing the problem described in this article. This hotfix might receive additional testing. Therefore, if you are not severely affected by this problem, we recommend that you wait for the next software update that contains this hotfix.

Still, AMD users have another reason to be upset as if they needed one. The hotfix will come, and will come in completely stable form; it just looks like today is not that day. If you already received this update and have experienced technical difficulties, the comment form awaits.

Source: VR-Zone