Is the AMD FX-9590 5.0 GHz processor getting a price drop?

Subject: Processors | August 23, 2013 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: piledriver, FX-9590, amd

Over the last couple of days we had heard rumors about a potential price drop on the 5.0 GHz (Turbo Speed) AMD FX-9590 processor that was released in June.  As the week progressed, the likelihood of this being true skyrocketed as several online outlets are showing much lower than expected pricing on the 8-core 220 watt CPU.

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Aria.co.uk - listed at £299

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Overclockers.co.uk - listed at £279

Two different UK-based online and retail outlets were showing the FX-9590 for sale for as low as £279 or $434 USD.  That is a big price drop from £699 rate ($1008 USD) and obviously is causing quite a stir in the community.  This puts the latest entries in the world of AMD FX just above the other parts like the standard FX-8350 in terms of cost which was definitely NOT the case in June or July. 

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In the US, the FX-9590 is still selling at Newegg as an OEM part but the current price is stuck at $879!

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So why all the fuss?  AMD claims that these are NOT price drops at AMD's request and that instead are the result of "business to business" negotiations.  The official statement from AMD is as follows:

AMD channel partners are able to deliver the AMD FX-9000-series processor, AMD’s fastest and most powerful  desktop processor, in highly customized systems and solutions in a manner that provides AMD fans access to the technology. We are excited to see high levels of interest in our AMD FX 9000-series processors, and will continue to work with our valued channel partners to ensure our products are readily available to the enthusiast community.

If you're like me, you don't really take anything interesting away from this statement other than "no comment."  So what is really happening?

First, according to AMD the FX-9590 was never intended to be sold as an OEM part and rather was supposed to ship only in pre-built systems from companies like iBuyPower or in bundles that include a motherboard and cooler along with the processor.  If these bundles were slow sellers though it seems plausible that the retailers would find ways to expire the bundle program and "accidentally" start selling the processors alone.  Based on photos from ReviewBros that appears to be the case.

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Photo source: ReviewBros

In reality though, this is the pricing that we would have liked to see the FX-9590 ship at originally and the first sets of reviews (that we were not included on) might have been much more positive.  At $430 USD the FX-9590 competes with the higher end Core i7 Haswell processors in terms of performance but obviously uses quite a bit more power to get there. 

If you are interested in buying a bundle or a system with the FX-9590 I do expect there to be some updates to pricing from all of the same system builders that launched with the processor originally to reflect these "business to business" happenings.  I have already expressed interest to AMD and a couple of boutique builders in reviewing a system with these pricing and placement adjustments. 

As for the idea of a "price drop", things are just more complicated than that.  AMD tells me that because it was never intended to sell as an OEM part any pricing changes are not a result of AMD's demands.  Honestly I don't know why AMD is so opposed to just saying there has been a price drop other than the negative reaction of the initial launch buyers; but that is always the case in the enthusiast market. 

Regardless of the verbiage, the fact is that you'll likely be able to find the AMD FX-9590 and its 5.0 GHz Turbo clock rate available at lower prices in systems and on store shelves (though without AMD's consent) for much closer to the actual performance/value they offer.  I'll take it.

Futuremark Gets Down To... Its... Business with VR-Zone

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 23, 2013 - 01:31 AM |
Tagged: Futuremark, AnTuTu, benchmarking

VR-Zone tossed the bees nest in a paint shaker and received a fairly sedate outcome.

A little background information is required. AnTuTu, a mobile benchmark developed by AnTuTu Labs, has been accused of inaccurate scores and bias towards specific hardware. Leaked BayTrail-T benchmarks, surpassing our expectations of Intel's capabilities, were harshly refuted based on AnTuTu's credibility. More recently, certain Samsung GPUs have been allegedly recorded self-overclocking during that benchmark but not elsewhere.

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Scene from Cloud Gate, latest Windows 3DMark.

Oliver Baltuch, president of Futuremark, accepted an interview with VR-Zone to discuss business and ethics in their marketplace. Futuremark is a direct competitor to AnTuTu and a household name in the benchmarking community. Being modest Fins, self-proclaimed, they did not wish to discuss whether AnTuTu was less honest than they are. Futuremark does disagree with AnTuTu's process, however, and has some suggestions for better results.

The design process for 3D Mark Android begun with 25 pages of specification proposal. Each vendor is given a chance to reply to that proposal and these responses are compared. Changes to the specification must be reviewed by a committee sitting between the financial department and the engineering department.

Baltuch made the point that all of their finances for the last five years, according to Finnish law, can be reviewed for about $7 USD. Despite being a private company, the law mandates no deals can be made in secret.

On the engineering side of things, drivers are approved only if they follow specific guidelines. Unapproved results will be removed from their website and leaderboards followed by a polite conversation with the manufacturer. Drivers are not allowed to identify their benchmarks intent on modifying settings due to that information.

Almost every benchmark they release gets negative responses from some upset vendor or vendors.

The relatively short interview is wrapped up with commentary on iOS benchmarks. Futuremark is nearing completion of their first benchmarking app. Apple disallows apps to exceed 60 frames per second, through vsync, which unnecessarily hinders benchmark scores. Working around this, Futuremark developed a method to render frames which are not displayed on screen to keep the processors from idling once at frame rate cap.

Ryan must love that idea...

This concept has, according to the interview, reached internal QA review and is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Futuremark develops benchmarks for x86 Windows, Windows RT, Android, and iOS. Scores are intended to scale linearly to their metrics and are designed to allow cross-platform performance comparisons.

Also check out our interview with Oliver Baltuch from last February discussing 3D Mark.

Source: VR-Zone

Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will NOT utilize AMD hUMA with Kabini-based SoC

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd

UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).

You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture.  hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.

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Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:

The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory.  Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.

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There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect.  After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on.  AMD further clarified with us:

Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.

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So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.

NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA.  That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.

UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment.  Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true.  Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information. 

So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory?  Maybe.  And the Xbox One?  Maybe.  At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter.  Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...

AMD Gains GPU Market Share From Last Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, APU, amd

Despite a slight decline in PC sales compared to last quarter, graphics processors are on the rise. Jon Peddie Research attributes the heightened interest in graphics, with a decline in systems, to a trend towards multiple GPUs in a system. Crossfire and SLI, according to the report, are not driving this drift but they are relevant. More importantly, consumers are adding discrete graphics to systems with integrated solutions.

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AMD has experienced an increase in shipments of 47% for laptop APUs. Desktop heterogeneous processors declined but, in all, shipments increased 11%. Intel, likewise, saw an increase albeit just 6%. NVIDIA declined 8%. AMD now enjoys a 5.8% lead in total market share over NVIDIA.

Many PCs have access to multiple graphics processors simultaneously. With an increase of available GPUs, software developers might take the plunge into fully supporting heterogeneous architectures. You could imagine a game which offloads physics or AI pathfinding to secondary graphics. Sure, the increased heat would slightly limit the turbo-performance of the CPU, but the increased parallel performance should overtake that decreased serial performance for a sensible developer.

JPR claims an average of nearly 1.4 GPUs available per system.

The increased laptop heterogeneous processors is a major win for AMD. Still, I wonder how much Never Settle played in to users dropping discrete graphics into machines which would otherwise have integrated (chipset or processor) graphics. The discrete graphics market has declined and yet somehow AMD got a boost from double-attach or replaced graphics.

The report only discusses consumer x86 tablets, desktops, laptops, and some hybrid between the previous three categories. Other processor architectures or x86 servers are not covered.

Source: JPR

Desktop Ivy Bridge-E Could Overclock Quite Well? Price?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 11, 2013 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Ivy Bridge was well known, just not in a good way, for its overclocking ability. We noted how sharply temperatures rose when frequencies were increased above factory recommendations in our i7 3770K review. Performance scaled well but, even with a decent aftermarket cooler, only did so while close to the boiling point of water. As Ryan described it,

To be fair, the 1.3v setting for this processor is on the upper limit of what you should be using according to many reports.  The 22nm process is great for low power consumption but apparently not great for overclocking - higher voltages result in much higher temperatures than what we would have seen on Sandy Bridge.

(...)

...and a 24% boost in TrueCrypt. Pretty impressive results actually. But things are getting HOT under our Corsair H80 as it was unable to keep the CPU from breaching the 80C mark.

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According to a roadmap received by VR-Zone, the pinnacle of Ivy Bridge-E until at least Q2 2014 will be the Core i7-4960X which, last month, failed to excite enthusiasts when benchmarks leaked. The story kept true from mainstream: it remains in Sandy Bridge-E's ballpark but requires less power. I am sure that Amazon Web Services will be thrilled...

We have wondered if Intel intends to punt this launch, fulfill commitments to Socket 2011 and nothing more, in preparation of Haswell-E. We may never see the i7-4960X overthrown, Xeon notwithstanding, until after the socket is retired.

But, now, we get to the hopeful news.

Unlike the prior generation, Sandy Bridge-E, the i7-4960X will not be a crippled Xeon architecture with disabled cores. While still a 6-core part, it will be so natively. Previously, the 6-core Sandy Bridge-E was an 8-core product with two disabled. This is an advantage because, assuming the locked cores could never be restored, their absence should allow greater overclocking headroom. Factor in the quad-channel DDR3-1866, which itself should have decent overclock potential, and users might have more room to be enthusiastic enthusiasts.

Overclocking capacity was the biggest unknown from last month's leaks. It is now looking a little more hopeful, at least for those with Sandy Bridge-E and an intent to replace their CPU before their motherboard.

And the pricing...?

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Image credit, VR-Zone.

According to the above table, originally from VR-Zone, the top two Ivy Bridge-E SKUs are expected to come in cheaper by $50-$70 than the Sandy Bridge-E models they retire. The quad-core i7-4820K is the exception, being priced within $5 of its ancestor.

Ivy Bridge-E is expected to launch in just a couple of months.

Source: VR-Zone

Qualcomm works out their ARMs and not their core?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm

MediaTek, do you even lift?

According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.

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Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.

So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.

The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.

And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.

We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.

Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.

Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.

Your thoughts?

Source: IT World

Intel Ivy Bridge-E Processors Available In September Starting At $310

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E processors are on their way to enthusiasts and should be available as soon as September 4th according to TechPowerUp. The new HEDT parts are compatible with LGA 2011 motherboards and the CPUs bring performance and power efficiency increases to the enthusiast platform.

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The Ivy Bridge-E parts start at $310 and will be price competitive with the existing Sandy Bridge-E and high end Haswell parts. The Core i7-4820K is the lowest-end Ivy Bridge-E processor. This quad core part has base and turbo clockspeeds of 3.7 GHz and 3.9 GHz respectively, 10MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. It will cost $310.

Beyond that, the Core i7-4930K is the lowest-end six core IVB-E processor. It has six cores clocked at 3.4 GHz base and 3.9 GHz turbo, 12MB L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This part will cost $555.

Finally, the top end Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition is a six core CPU clocked at 3.6 GHz base and 4.0 Ghz turbo with 15MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This Ivy Bridge-E HEDT CPU will cost $990.

Compared to the existing Sandy Bridge-E chips, IVB-E is actualy coming out of the gate with lower initial MSRPs. Further, the i7-4820K is actually about $30 cheaper than the Core i7-4770K “Haswell” CPU. The six core i7-4930K may be more enticing to those comparing the enthusiast LGA 2011 platform and the LGA 1150 platform, however. The six core Ivy Bride-E part is about $215 more expensive than the $340 four core Haswell i7-4770K which may be a small enough gap that enthusiasts are willing to make the jump for the extra two cores. Granted, Haswell is a bit faster in some respects than IVB-E (according to leaked benchmarks), but the extra two cores gives it a healthy multi-threaded performance advantage.

Read more about Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors.

Source: TechPowerUp

Rumored AMD Carrizo APU (Kaveri Successor) Will Support FM2+ Socket

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, fm2, carrizo, APU, amd radeon, amd

Rumors recently surfaced via VR-Zone china that AMD’s Kaveri APU successor will be code-named Carrizo, and it will be compatible with the upcoming FM2+ socket and AMD A88X chipset that Kaveri will use. 

AMD’s Carrizo APUs will reportedly be available in TDPs up to 65W and will feature Excavator CPU cores along with a next generation Radeon GPU. Much like Kaveri, Carrizo will be fully HSA compliant. The chips will also include support for DDR4.

Carrizo will allegedly begin sampling in August 2014 with mass production starting around December. That means Carrizo will be available for purchase within the first half of 2015.

FM2+ boards like the ASUS A55BM-A/USB3 are rumored to support AMD's Carrizo APUs (the successor to Kaveri).

The rumors also suggest that Carrizo will be joined by a low power “Beema” System on a Chip (SoC) and a BGA-based Nolan APU for embedded systems. Details on these complementary chips are scarce, however. Perhaps most telling is last bit of the article that suggests that AMD will not be releasing a AM3+ Vishera CPU-only processor successor. It seems AMD is going all in as an APU company after all.

I have been looking forward to the launh of AMD's Kaveri since AFDS 2012, and Carrizo appears to be a refinement of that chip. It should be more power efficient and faster thanks to architecture tweaks and process shrinks. I think that AMDs architecture and HSA approach has potential, and I'm excited to see what these upcoming chips can do with regards to performance.

ASUS Releases BIOS Updates To Support Ivy Bridge-E CPUs On Its X79 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards, Processors | July 30, 2013 - 05:00 AM |
Tagged: P9X79, Ivy Bridge-E, IVB-E, bios, ASUS ROG Rampage IV GENE X79, asus

ASUS has released BIOS updates for all of its LGA 2011 X79 motherboards that add support for Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors. The update enables enthusiasts to upgrade from their existing Sandy Bridge-E CPU to an Ivy Bridge-E model which adds marginal improvements in performance and power efficiency. Supported processors include the Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition, Core i7-4930K, and the Core i7-4820K. According to benchmarks by Tom's Hardware, the top-end Ivy Bridge-E i7-4960X exhibits up to 30% improvements in performance per watt along with being slightly faster in multi-threaded performance than SB-E. Of course, single threaded performance was shown to be similar to that of Sandy Bridge-E but slower than Haswell.

All of ASUS' X79 boards (including the ROG Rampage, TUF, and P9X79 series) will be getting a BIOS update which will be made available for download on the company's support website or via the individual motherboard product pages. The following chart indicates the motherboard and associated BIOS version number that adds support for IVB-E.

Motherboard BIOS Version Supporting IVB-E
ROG Rampage IV Extreme 4206
ROG Rampage IV Formula 4004
ROG Rampage IV Gene 4206
TUF Sabertooth X79 4104
P9X79 Series 4104

To grab the update, head over to the ASUS support site and type in your motherboard model name to get the appropriate BIOS file.

Will you be upgrading your LGA 2011 rig to Ivy Bridge-E?

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD A10-6800K APU Overclocked to 8.2GHz

Subject: Processors | July 28, 2013 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: Richland, overclocking, LN2, APU, amd, a10-6800k

A Finnish overclocker known as “The Stilt” recently pushed an AMD Richland APU to 8.2GHz using liquid nitrogen. In doing so, The Stilt broke the world record for APU overclocking, besting his previous overclock attempt.

AMD A10-6800K Richland APU Overclocked to 8GHz.jpg

Specifically, the chip was a retail version of the AMD A10-6800K “Richland” APU. It was overclocked to 8203.01 MHz with a 130.21 MHz base clock and 63x multiplier. Even more impressive is that The Stilt managed the overclock with less voltage -- 1.968 volts -- than his earlier (and lower) overclock. For comparison, the earlier overclock brought the A10-6800K to 8000.48 MHz using 2.008 volts.

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The system used to overclock the APU included an ASUS F2A85-V Pro motherboard, 8GB of AMD DDR3 Performance memory, and a Radeon HD 7750 graphics card. The overclocker used liquid nitrogen to cool the APU while the GPU was left at stock settings and with its default air cooler. The RAM was overclocked to 2083.6 MHz with 10-11-10-27 timings.

In all, it is an impressive overclock considering all four CPU cores were left enabled! More details along with validation of the overclock can be found over at HWBot.

Also read: AMD A10-6800K and A10-6700 Review: Richland Finally Lands @ PC Perspective

Source: HWBot

Haswell to Reach 4.5W SDP in Limited Quantities

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 23, 2013 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: SDP, haswell

Intel has just lowered their lowered thermal expectations for Haswell if, of course, you use SDP as your metric. Scenario Design Point (SDP), as opposed to Thermal Design Power (TDP), describes how much heat dissipation is required for the product at some, usually underclocked, performance target. SDP does not need to affect burst performance, however, as the chip can still up-clock given some extra headroom.

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While we don't know OEM partners, Intel could be green, with HP Envy?

It describes long-term cooling requirements, not instantaneous power draws.

In terms of SDP, Intel expected to ship 6W products based on their 4th generation core architecture. Today, Intel announced a limited stock will dip below that target, capable of just 4.5W in waste heat. OEMs who purchase from this limited binning will be able to include Haswell in even thinner active or passively cooled designs.

Intel has not described exact specifications, partners, or shipping dates.

Source: Intel

Samsung Exynos 5 Octa Returns to ARM Mali GPUs

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | July 23, 2013 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, mali, exynos

Exynos, the line of System on a Chip (SoC) products from Samsung, were notably absent of ARM Mali GPUs. This, apparently, struck concern over how viable Mali will continue to be and whether ARM will continue to lose designs to competitors such as Imagination Technologies.

ARM-Mali-T628.jpg

Then Samsung announced, Monday evening for us North Americans, the upcoming Exynos 5 Octa Processor will embed six ARM Mali-T628 GPU cores. The T628 GPU cores are capable of OpenCL 1.1 and OpenGL ES 3.0 standards which should allow applications to offload heavy batches of tasks, such as computational photography processing, with high efficiency and performance.

The Exynos 5 Octa contains four ARM Cortex-A15 cores at 1.8GHz, supported by four additional Cortex-A7 cores clocked at 1.3GHz. These processors are currently being sampled and should be produced in August.

Read on for the press blast from Samsung PR.

Just how does a 5GHz AMD chip perform?

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

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

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

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Engineering Sample of Intel Core i7-4960X, Ivy Bridge-E

Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 18, 2013 - 07:41 PM |
Tagged: xeon, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Tom's Hardware acquired, from... somewhere, an early engineering sample of the upcoming Core i7-4960X. Intel was allegedly not involved with this preview and were thus, I would expect, not the supplier for their review unit. While the introductory disclaimer alluded to some tensions between Intel and themselves, for us: we finally have a general ballpark of Ivy Bridge-E's performance. Sure, tweaks could be made before the end of this year, but this might be all we have to go on until then.

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Single Threaded

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Multi Threaded

Both images, credit, Tom's Hardware.

When browsing through the benchmarks, I noticed three key points:

  • Single-threaded: slightly behind mainstream Haswell, similar to Sandy Bridge-E (SBE).
  • Multi-threaded: eight cores (Update 1: This was a 6-core part) are better than SBE, but marginal given the wait.
  • Power efficiency: Ivy Bridge-E handily wins, about 30% more performance per watt.

These results will likely be disappointing to enthusiasts who seek the highest performance, especially in single-threaded applications. Data centers, on the other hand, will likely be eager for Xeon variants of this architecture. The higher-tier Xeon E5 processors are still based on Socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-E including, for instance, those powering the highest performance Cluster Compute instances at Amazon Web Services.

But, for those who actually are salivating for the fastest at all costs, the wait for Ivy Bridge-E might as well be postponed until Haswell-E reaches us, allegedly, just a year later. That architecture should provide significant increases in performance, single and multi-threaded, and is rumored to arrive the following year. I may have just salted the wounds of those who purchased an X79 motherboard, awaiting Ivy Bridge-E, but it might just be the way to go for those who did not pre-invest in Ivy Bridge-E's promise.

Again, of course, under the assumption that these benchmarks are still valid upon release. While a complete product re-bin is unlikely, we still do not know what clock rate the final silicon will be capable of supporting, officially or unofficially.

Keep calm, and carry a Haswell?

Intel Launching New BGA Processors: Three New Bay Trail Chips in Q4 and Three Haswell CPUs in 2014

Subject: Processors | July 12, 2013 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: Intel, BGA, Bay Trail, haswell, roadmap

There has been a ton of BGA processor stories over the past year, with the most recent being that Intel will not be releasing the BGA-only 14nm Broadwell processors next year. It is not all bad news for BGA fans though, because Intel is reportedly introducing new BGA versions of Haswell-based chips late this year and in the first half of 2014.

According to a leaked road-map, Intel will release three new Bay Trail based BGA chips under the Pentium and Celeron brands by Q4 2013. Additionally, next year the company will launch three high performance BGA-only Haswell-based processors.

Intel Roadmap Showing New BGA Bay Trail and Haswell Processors.jpg

On the low end, Intel will launch three new Bay Trail-D based processors. The J1750 and J1850 will be Celerons while the J2850 will have Pentium branding. The specifications are available in the chart below.

10W TDP BGA Bay Trail CPUs (ETA: Q4'13)
  Base Clockspeed Cores / Threads Cache GPU GPU Clockspeed
Pentium J2850 2.4 GHz 4 / 4 2 MB Intel HD 688 / 792 MHz
Celeron J1850 2.0 GHz 4 / 4 2 MB Intel HD 688 / 792 MHz
Celeron J1750 2.4 GHz 2 / 2 2 MB Intel HD 688 / 750 MHz

For the enthusiast crowd that favors small systems (like Intel’s NUC), the company is releasing three new Haswell-based BGA processors under its Core i5 and Core i7 branding. Specifications for these high end chips are located in the chart below. Interestingly, these Haswell chips in a BGA package come with Intel's much faster Iris 5200 processor graphics. A high end desktop CPU SKU with Intel's GT3e (GT3 GPU with embedded memory) still eludes enthusiasts, however despite the BGA packaging. Note that the BGA Core processors are not coming until at least next year, according to the roadmap (which does note that dates are subject to change).

65W TDP BGA Haswell CPUs (ETA: 2014)
  Base Clockspeed Cores / Threads Cache GPU GPU Clockspeed
Core i7 4770R 3.2 GHz 4 / 8 6 MB Intel Iris 5200 1300 MHz
Core i5 4670R 3.0 GHz 4 / 4 4 MB Intel Iris 5200 1300 MHz
Core i5 4570R 2.7 GHz 4 / 4 4 MB Intel Iris 5200 1150 MHz

There has definitely been resistance against Intel’s BGA lineups by the enthusiast crowd, for fear that customization and DIY abilities would be hampered and that BGA would take over and displace LGA (socketed CPUs). In this particular case though, I think the new BGA processors are a good thing and so long as there continues to be LGA options for the DIY and enthusiast crowd, I look forward to seeing what platforms these new BGA chips are used in and what motherboard manufacturers offer with them (if they are even offered at retail at all, and not just to OEMs).

I think a BGA version of a desktop CPU with Intel's fastest GT3e processor graphics would actually be welcome since it appears that an LGA version is out of the question, and would be one way to sway desktop users over to Intel's BGA strategy and have them be open to similar options in future chips, such as Broadwell in 2015.

Source: eTeknix

Intel's Bay Trail (-T) can ARM Wrestle. Leaked Benchmarks.

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail

Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.

The Droid Guy compiled it with a few scores from competing, ARM, devices.

intel-baytrail-t.png

Image Credit: The Droid Guy

The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.

Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64 FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.

If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.

I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.

Oops: Leaked AMD APUs. A8-6500T and A10-6700T specs. Richland to hit 45W in quad-core APUs?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 3, 2013 - 03:12 AM |
Tagged: Richland, APU, amd

Accidents happen. AMD has been rolling out their Richland APUs for the last month and partners have been keeping up with supporting products. While common, the problem with rolling releases is the potential confusion over what has and what has not been released. Unfortunately for MSI, their support chart for FM2 CPUs includes a couple of products which are news to us.

amd-new.png

AMD will be able to hit the 45W TDP with the, apparently, upcoming A8-6500T and A10-6700T APUs. Tom's Hardware seemed to have slightly different information, their chart does not exactly jive with the one posted by MSI; for instance, they claimed the T suffix implied a low power variant when MSI's chart confirmed a 45W TDP... fairly loud and clear. As such, our table will be my best attempt at combining both charts along with a bit more leaked GPU information from TechPowerUP.

  A8-6500T A10-6700T
Core Count 4 4
Base Clock 2.1 GHz 2.5 GHz
Boost Clock (Unknown) (Unknown)
TDP 45W 45W
L2 Cache 4 MB 4 MB
L3 Cache 0 MB (N/A) 0 MB (N/A)
GPU Model
Radeon HD 8550D
(Not HD 8650D)
Radeon HD 8650D
GPU Clock 720 MHz 720 MHz
GPU Boost Clock 844 MHz (???) 844 MHz (???)
GPU Shader Count 256 384
TMU/ROP/Compute 16/8/4 24/8/4

It is impossible to know expected price, release window, or even whether the product still exists. For that, we will need to wait for an official unveiling... or at least another unofficial one.

Source: MSI

The Titan's Overthrown. Tianhe-2 Supercomputer New #1

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | June 26, 2013 - 10:27 PM |
Tagged: supercomputing, supercomputer, titan, Xeon Phi

The National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, will host the the world's fastest supercomputer by the end of the year. The Tianhe-2, English: "Milky Way-2", is capable of nearly double the floating-point performance of Titan albeit with slightly less performance per watt. The Tianhe-2 was developed by China's National University of Defense Technology.

tianhe-2-jack-dongarra-pdf-600x0.jpg

Photo Credit: Top500.org

Comparing new fastest computer with the former, China's Milky Way-2 is able to achieve 33.8627 PetaFLOPs of calculations from 17.808 MW of electricity. The Titan, on the other hand, is able to crunch 17.590 PetaFLOPs with a draw of just 8.209 MW. As such, the new Milky Way-2 uses 12.7% more power per FLOP than Titan.

Titan is famously based on the Kepler GPU architecture from NVIDIA, coupled with several 16-core AMD Opteron server processors clocked at 2.2 GHz. This concept of using accelerated hardware carried over into the design of Tianhe-2, which is based around Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor. If you include the simplified co-processor cores of the Xeon Phi, the new champion is the sum of 3.12 million x86 cores and 1024 terabytes of memory.

... but will it run Crysis?

... if someone gets around to emulating DirectX in software, it very well could.

Source: Top500

Intel Not Releasing 14nm Broadwell CPUs Next Year, Haswell and Haswell-E Will Dominate 2014

Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm

Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.

What is going on with Broadwell?

Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.

Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").

intel-logo.jpg

Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.

The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset

Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.

The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!

On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.

I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.

What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?

Source: VR-Zone

Running at 8.0GHz on All Four Cylinders

Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 19, 2013 - 08:37 PM |
Tagged: overclock, amd

Thankfully, they were not "firing" on all four cylinders; while Ryan does prefer thermite, overclockers tend to prefer liquid nitrogen. There are some distinct advantages of ice over fire, the main one for computer users is the potential for massive bumps in frequency and voltage. Of course, you cannot really get any effective use out of a machine that relies on a steady stream of fluid cold enough that it takes less digits to write out its temperature in Kelvin, but a large bump makes good bragging rights.

AMD-Overclock-CPUz.png

How about an A10-6800K overclocked to just over 8.0 GHz, with all four cores enabled?

Finnish overclocker, "The Stilt", managed to push his four-core part to 8000.39 MHz just long enough to have CPU-Z validate his accomplishment. With a frequency multiplier of 63.0 atop a bus speed of 126.99, this gets within 800MHz of the AMD FX-8350 running on just one module (6 of 8 cores disabled) recorded by ASUS late last year.

But no, it will probably not run Crysis.