Intel is not slowing down, exclamation exclamation. Haswell-E for Holiday 2014 question mark.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | June 15, 2013 - 07:02 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge-E, Haswell-E

In my analysis of the recent Intel Computex keynote, I noted that the displayed confidence came across more as repressing self-doubt. It did not seem, to me, like Intel wants to abandon the high-end enthusiast but rather catch up with their low performance and high efficiency competitors; they just know they are secure in that market. Of course, we could see mid-range choices dwindle and prices stagnate, but I cast doubt that Intel wants to exit the enthusiast market despite their silence about Ivy Bridge-E.

Haswell-E1.jpg

All Images, Credit: VR-Zone

And Intel, now, wants to return some confidence to their high-end consumers comma they are not slowing down exclamation point exclamation point.

VR-Zone, the site which published Ivy Bridge-E's lazy release roadmap, are also the ones to suggest Haswell-E will come before mainstream Broadwell offerings. Once again, all is right with the world. Slated for release around holiday 2014, just a year after Ivy Bridge-E, Haswell-E will come alongside the X99 chipset. Instead of Broadwell, the back to school window of 2014 will by filled by a refresh of 22nm Haswell products with a new 9-series chipset.

Seriously, it's like watching the face of Intel's Tick-Tock while a repairman is tweaking the gears.

Haswell-E2.jpg

In terms of specifications, Haswell-E will come in 8 and 6-core offerings with up to 20MB of cache. Apart from the inclusion of DDR4 support, the main advantage of Haswell-E over the upcoming Ivy Bridge-E is supposed to be raw performance; VR-Zone estimates up to 33-50% better computational strength. A depressingly novel area of improvement as of recent...

Lastly, with recent discussion of the awkwardly hobbled K-series parts, our readers might be happy to know that all Haswell-E parts will be unlocked to overclocking. This, again, leads me to believe that Intel is not hoping to suffocate the enthusiast market but rather sort their users: mid-range consumers will take what they are given and, if they object, send them on the bus to Funk-E town.

Haswell-E3.jpg

Note, while the headlining slide definitively says "All Processors Unlocked"...

... this slide says "For K and Extreme series products." I will assume the latter is out of date?

Which begs the question: what does our readers think about that potential strategy? It could lead to mainstream performance products being pushed down into BGA-territory, but cements the existence of an enthusiast platform.

Source: VR-Zone

Intel Prevents Overclocking of non-K Haswell Processors, and Strips Virtualization and TSX Features From K Parts

Subject: Processors | June 13, 2013 - 09:59 AM |
Tagged: tsx, overclocking, Intel, i7-4770k, haswell

First revealed at IDF Beijing, Intel's latest generation 4th Generation Core "Haswell" processors enjoy a refined architecture, improved processor graphics, an integrated voltage regulator (FIVR), and for the enthusiast crowd, new methods for overclocking.

In truth, the methods for overclocking Haswell are very similar to those used to overclock Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors. However, Intel has further unlocked the new Haswell CPUs. Enthusiasts can set an overclocked Turbo clockspeed, use additional base clock (BCLK) values (100 MHz, 125 MHz, and 167 MHz), and overclock the unlocked processor graphics core clockspeed and memory clockspeed (memory in 200 MHz or 266 MHz steps). The additional BCLK values allow for easy overclocks without putting the other subsystems (such as the PCI-E bus, GPU, and memory) out of spec, which is important for the PCI-E bus which needs to be close to 100 MHz for a stable system.

The following PC Perspective articles have further information on overclocking unlocked "K" edition Haswell processors:

Although Intel's overclocking reveal at IDF was fairly detailed, the company did not get into specifics on how overclocking would work on non-K chips.

On that note, the crew over at the Tech Report uncovered some rather disheartening facts such that the non-K edition Haswell processors will, essentially, be locked at stock speeds and not overclockable (they are slightly more locked down than previous generations).

While the K edition Haswell processors, such as the Core i7-4770K, will enjoy unlocked multipliers, unlocked GPU and memory clockspeeds, and additional BCLK options, the standard non-K chips (ie Core i7-4770, Core i5-4670, et al) will have locked multipliers, no Turbo Boost clockspeed overclocking, and will not be allowed to use the additional 125 MHz and 167 MHz BLCK options, which effectively makes overclocking these standard chips impossible. It may still be possible to push the BLCK up a few MHz, but without the extra stepping and gearing ratio options, the other component clockspeeds based off that same base clock are going to go out of spec and will become unstable fairly quickly as you try to push that BLCK up.

There is one saving grace for enthusiasts considering a non-K part, however. The standard non-K CPUs will have Intel's latest TSX extensions and enterprise virtualization technologies enabled.

Although quite the head scratcher, Intel has decided to disable TSX, vPro, and VT-d on the unlocked K edition chips. The TSX extensions are not widely used yet, but will provide a noticeable performance boost to future programs that do take advantage of them by allowing developers to essentially mark off sections of code that can be run independently, and thus increase the multi-threaded-ness of the application by running as much code in parallel across multiple cores as possible. Further, the vPro and VT-d features are used by virtual machine applications (with VT-d being more relevant to the consumer side of things).

In short, Intel has continued to lock down and artificially limit its chips, as many enthusiasts suspected would happen. Standard non-K Haswell processors are more locked down than ever, and even the premium unlocked K CPUs suffer with the (odd) removal of TSX and virtualization support. As Mr. Gasior points out, enthusiasts are going to be faced with an odd choice where they can either spend extra money on a premium K part that will overclock but is limited in other ways, or go with the lower cost part that has all of the ISA extensions and virtualization support turned on... but is not overclockable.

In my opinion, locking down the standard chips is one thing-- Intel needs to incentivize enthusiasts to go with the more expensive (~$25 premium) unlocked K processors some how -- but if those same enthusiasts are spending extra money for a premium chip, they should get all the features the accompanying non-K SKU has as well as overclocking.

What do you think about the artificial limitations placed on the various Haswell SKUs?

Source: Tech Report

E3 2013: AMD tells the press their gaming initiatives

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 13, 2013 - 02:26 AM |
Tagged: E3, E3 13, amd

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is the biggest event of the year for millions of gamers. The majority of coverage ends up gawking over the latest news out of Microsoft, Sony, or Nintendo, and we certainly will provide our insights in those places if we believe they have been insufficiently explained, but E3 is also a big time for PC gamers too.

AMD_fx.jpg

5 GHz and unlocked to go from there.

AMD, specifically, has a lot to say this year. In the year of the next-gen console reveals, AMD provides the CPU architecture for two of the three devices and have also designed each of the three GPUs. This just leaves a slight win for IBM, who is responsible for the WiiU main processor, for whatever that is worth. Unless the Steam Box comes to light and without ties to AMD, it is about as close to a clean sweep as any hardware manufacturer could get.

But for the PCs among us...

For those who have seen the EA press conference, you have probably seen lots of sports. If you stuck around after the sports, you probably saw Battlefield 4 being played by 64 players on stage. AMD has been pushing, very strongly, for developer relations over the last year. DICE, formerly known for being an NVIDIA-friendly developer, did not exhibit Battlefield 4 "The Way It's Meant to be Played" at the EA conference. According to one of AMD's Twitter accounts:

 

 

On the topic of "Gaming Evolved" titles, AMD is partnering with Square Enix to optimize Thief for GCN and A-Series APUs. The Press Release specifically mentioned Eyefinity and Crossfire support along with a DirectX 11 rendering engine; of course, the enhancements with real, interesting effects are the seemingly boring ones they do not mention.

The last major point from their E3 event was the launch of their 5 GHz FX processors. For more information on that part, check out Josh's thoughts from a couple of days ago.

Source: AMD

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

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

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

fx_logo.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

Update:

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

Source: AMD

Win an AMD A10-6800K Richland APU + SimCity!!

Subject: Editorial, Processors | June 10, 2013 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: SimCity, Richland, giveaway, contest, APU, amd, a10-6800k

Odd, turns out I found two brand new AMD A10-6800K Richland APUs sitting on my desk this morning.  I called AMD to ask what this was all about and they said that if I didn't need them, I might as well give them away to our readers. 

"Oh, and throw in a free copy of the new SimCity while you're at it," they told me.

apugiveaway.jpg

Who am I to argue?

So let's have a giveaway! 

We are handing out two AMD A10-6800K "Richland" APUs for you to build a brand new PC around and including a key for SimCity with each of them.  If you haven't read Josh's review of the A10-6800K APU you should definitely do so; it will help educate you on exactly what you are getting - for FREE. 

apubmarks.png

To enter, I need you to leave a comment on this very news post below telling us what you would build with a brand new A10 APU - you don't have to be registered to do so but we'd sure like it if you were.  (Make sure you leave your correct email address so I can get in touch with you if you win.)  Also, feel free to stop by the PC Perspective YouTube channel and either give our videos a gander or subscribe.  I think we put out some great content there and we'd like more of you to see it. 

I will pick one winner on June 17th and another on June 24th so you have two separate weeks to potentially win! 

A big thanks goes out to AMD for supplying the APUs and copies of SimCity for this giveaway.  Good luck!!

Source: AMD

Computex 2013: Intel Demos Baytrail Tablet, Haswell Ultrabook, Ivy Bridge Passive Tablet

Subject: Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2013 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: computex, computex 2013, Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge, k900, Lenovo, baytrail, silvermont, ultrabook, acer, aspire s7

Intel had a host of new technologies to show off at Computex this year, starting of course with the Haswell processor launch.  Hopefully you have read our review of the Core i7-4770K LGA1150 CPU already but thanks to some video sent our way, we have other interesting bits to share.

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Below you will see Intel demonstrating four new products.  First is the Acer Aspire S7 using a Haswell dual-core platform playing back 4K content.  Next up is an Ivy Bridge tablet that is running completely fanless (passive) thus generating no noise at all while still offering impressive CPU and graphics performance.  Intel then pulls a Lenovo K900 Android smartphone out of its pocket powered by the Clovertrail+ enabled Atom Z2580 SoC.  Finally, we get a sneak peak at the next-generation of SoC designs with a look at a Silvermont-based Baytrail tablet running at 2560x1440. 

Just when you thought it was going to calm down AMD drops Richland on your lap

Subject: Processors | June 5, 2013 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: VLIW4, trinity, Richland, piledriver, fm2, APU, amd, a10, 6800K, 6700

Richland is here, in the form of the A10-6800K with a 4.1GHz base clock and 4.4GHz Turbo clock, support for DDR3-2133 and an improved GPU called the 8670D with 384 shaders and a 844MHz clock speed ... all for $142!  Computationally you can compare it to a Core i3 or a slower Core i5 but graphically this CPU is head and shoulders above the competition as you can see in X-Bit Labs' testing.  You really need to keep the price in mind, as it may not provide as much power as a Core-i5 it costs about half as much which can mean a lot to someone on a tight budget, especially when they can skip purchasing a discrete GPU altogether.

Make sure to check out Josh's reivew where he contrasts the last few generations of AMD chips.

XB_rich.jpg

"AMD decided to refresh their Socket FM2 platform and release a new generation of hybrid processors for it based on Richland design. This is exactly the one that earned the “Elite Performance APU Platform” title in the mobile segment."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source:

PCPer Live! ASUS Z87 Motherboard and Intel Haswell Live Event!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | June 4, 2013 - 10:40 AM |
Tagged: z87, video, overclocking, live, i7-4770k, haswell, ASUS ROG, asus

While we run around with our hair on fire trying to get ready for the Intel Haswell and Z87 product launch this weekend, I wanted to let everyone know about a live stream event we will be holding on Tuesday, June 4th.  JJ from ASUS, a crowd favorite for sure, will be joining us LIVE in studio to talk all about the new lineup of ASUS Z87 motherboards.  We'll also discuss performance and overclocking capabilities of the new processor and platform.

rog1.jpg

ASUS Z87 and Haswell Live Stream

10am PT / 1pm ET - June 4th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Be sure you stop by and join in the show!  Questions will be answered, prizes will be given out and fun will be had!  Who knows, maybe we can break some stuff live as well??  On hand to give away to those of you joining the live stream, we'll have these prizes:

  • 2 x ASUS Z87 Motherboards
  • 1 x ASUS Graphics card

Methods for winning will be decided closer to the event, but if you are watching live, you'll be included.  And we'll ship anywhere in the world!

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ASUS and I also want the event to be interactive, so we want your questions.  We'll of course being paying attention to the chat room on our live page but you'll have better luck if you submit your questions about the ASUS Z87 products and Haswell processors before hand, in the comments section below.  You don't have to register to ask and we'll have the ability to read them beforehand! 

I'll update this post with more information after the reviews and stories start to hit, so keep an eye here for more details!!

You've met Haswell, but have you overclocked it?

Subject: Processors | June 3, 2013 - 06:53 PM |
Tagged: haswell, z87, overclocking

If you haven't read your fill about Haswell's architecture you should cast your eyes onto Ryan's full review for an indepth look at the new design of Intel's Core processors.  If you have already done your homework and are now more interested in how well this new processor can overclock then heading to [H]ard|OCP will satisfy your curiosity.  When testing for the best overclock [H] utilized two different Z87 boards from ASUS to ensure we could see what the processor could do, not just what the motherboard was capable of but in the end the results were similar.  They also included a quick guide at the end for those wanting to apply an overclock without spending a lot of time in the BIOS.   Check it out here.

Hhaswell.png

"Intel's clock keeps ticking and today lands on a "tock" in the development cycle. The new desktop Haswell processor represents a new microarchitecture built on the tried and true 22nm process technology that we have come to know and love with Intel's current Ivy Bridge microarchitecture. But what does Haswell mean for the computer enthusiast?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1: Intel inside an Android?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 3, 2013 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, atom, Clover Trail+, SoC, Samsung, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1

While Reuters is being a bit cagey with their source, if true: Intel may have nabbed just about the highest profile Android tablet design win possible. The, still currently unannounced, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is expected to embed Intel's Clover Trail+ System on a Chip (SoC). Samsung would not be the largest contract available in the tablet market, their previous tablets ship millions of units each; they are a good OEM vendor to have.

Source: BGR India

Samsung is also known for releasing multiple versions of the same device for various regions and partners. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 did not have a variety of models with differing CPUs like, for instance, the Galaxy S4 phone did; the original "10.1" contained an NVIDIA Tegra 2 and the later "2 10.1" embed a TI OMAP 4430 SoC. It is entirely possible that Intel won every Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tablet ever, but it is also entirely possible that they did not.

Boy Genius Report India (BGR India, video above) also claims more specific hardware based on a pair of listings at GLBenchmark. The product is registered under the name Santos10: GT-P5200 being the 3G version, and GT-P5210 being the Wi-Fi version.

These specifications are:

  • Intel Atom Z2560 800-933 MHz dual-core SoC (4 threads, 1600 MHz Turbo)
  • PowerVR SGX 544MP GPU (OpenGL ES 2.0)
  • 1280x800 display
  • Android 4.2.2

I am not entirely sure what Intel has to offer with Clover Trail+ besides, I would guess, reliable fabrication. Raw graphics performance is still about half of Apple's A6X GPU although, if the leaked resolution is true, it has substantially less pixels to push without being attached to an external display.

Maybe Intel made it too cheap to refuse?

Source: Reuters

New Silvermont Atom Chips Will Use Pentium and Celeron Branding

Subject: Processors | June 2, 2013 - 11:32 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, pentium, Intel, haswell, celeron, atom, 22nm

In addition to the impending launch of Intel's desktop Haswell processors, the company is also working on new Atom-series chips based on Intel's Silvermont architecture. Ryan Shrout wrote about the upcoming Atom architecture a few weeks ago, and you can read up on it here. However, in short, Atoms using the Silvermont architecture are 22nm SoCs with a Hyper Threaded, dual-module quad core design that comes with burst-able clockspeeds and up to 2.5x the performance of chips using the previous generation Saltwell architecture. Intel is promising up to a 50% IPC (instructions per clock) increase, and 4.7x lower power versus previous generation Atom CPUs.

A block diagram of Intel's upcoming Silvermont architecture.

With that said, over the weekend I read an interesting article over at PC World that hinted at these new Silvermont-based Atom processors taking up the Pentium and Celeron branded CPU mantle. In speaking with Intel employee Kathy Gill, the site learned that Intel will be using the Silvermont architecture in code-named Bay Trail-M and Bay Trail-D processors for notebooks and desktops respectively. The Bay Trail code name isn't new, but Intel's use of the Pentium and Celeron branding for these Atom chips is. For the past few generations, Intel has re-purposed lower-tier or lower binned Core processors as Pentiums or Celerons by disabling features and/or clocking them lower. It seems that Intel finally believes that its Atom lineup is good enough to serve those low-end desktop and notebook CPU purposes under the budget brand families.

Intel Celeron Logo.jpg

Kathy Gill further stated that "we aren't ready to disclose additional details on Haswell plans at this time,” which does not rule out Haswell-based Celeron and Pentium chips. It does not confirm them either, however.

After a chat with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath on the issue, I'm not certain which direction Intel will take, but I do believe that Intel will (at least) favor the Atom chips for the Pentium and Celeron brands/lines because the company will see much better profit margins with the Silvermont-based chips compared to Haswell-based ones. On the other hand, Intel would lose out on the ability to re-brand low binning Core i3s as Pentium or Celeron CPUs. Further, going with both architectures would complicate matters and invite a good amount of brand confusion for many consumers in spite of allowing a mix of better profit margins and re-purposing chips that otherwise wouldn't make the cut (admittedly, Intel probably has to artificially limit some number of chips to keep up with the volume of Pentium and Celerons needed, it's difficult to say to what extent though).

Hopefully we will know more about Intel's Bay Trail CPUs and branding plans at Computex later this week.

What do you think of this move by Intel, and will the Silvermont-based Bay Trail chips be up to the task?

Source: PC World

AIDA64 Version 3.00 Released

Subject: Processors | June 2, 2013 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: Kabini, haswell, FinalWire, aida64

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 3.00 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition and Business Edition of the software.

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Courtesy of FinalWire

Source: FinalWire

Xbox One announced, the games: not so much.

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Systems | May 21, 2013 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: xbox one, xbox

xbox-one-head.jpg

Almost exactly three months have passed since Sony announced the Playstation 4 and just three weeks remain until E3. Ahead of the event, Microsoft unveiled their new Xbox console: The Xbox One. Being so close to E3, they are saving the majority of games until that time. For now, it is the box itself as well as its non-gaming functionality.

First and foremost, the raw specifications:

  • AMD APU (5 billion transistors, 8 core, on-die eSRAM)
  • 8GB RAM
  • 500GB Storage, Bluray reader
  • USB 3.0, 802.11n, HDMI out, HDMI in

The hardware is a definite win for AMD. The Xbox One is based upon an APU which is quite comparable to what the PS4 will offer. Unlike previous generations, there will not be too much differentiation based on available performance; I would not expect to see much of a fork in terms of splitscreen and other performance-sensitive features.

xbox-one-controller.jpg

A new version of the Kinect sensor will also be present with all units which developers can depend upon. Technically speaking, the camera is higher resolution and more wide-angle; up to six skeletons can be tracked with joints able to rotate rather than just hinge. Microsoft is finally also permitting developers to use the Kinect along with a standard controller to, as they imagine, allow a user to raise their controller to block with a shield. That is the hope, but near the launch of the original Kinect, Microsoft filed a patent to allow sign language recognition: has not happened yet. Who knows whether the device will be successfully integrated into gaming applications.

Of course Microsoft is known most for system software, and the Xbox runs three lightweight operating environments. In Windows 8, you have the Modern interface which runs WinRT applications and you have the desktop app which is x86 compatible.

The Xbox One borrows more than a little from this model.

The home screen, which I am tempted to call the Start Screen, for the console has a very familiar tiled interface. They are not identical to Windows but they are definitely consistent. This interface allows for access to Internet Explorer and an assortment of apps. These apps can be pinned to the side of the screen, identical to Windows 8 modern app. I am expecting there to be "a lot of crossover" (to say the least) between this and the Windows Store; I would not be surprised if it is basically the same API. This works both when viewing entertainment content as well as within a game.

Xbox_Home_UI_EN_US_Male_SS.jpg

These three operating systems run at the same time. The main operating system is basically a Hyper-V environment which runs the two other operating systems simultaneously in sort-of virtual machines. These operating systems can be layered with low latency, since all you are doing is compositing them in a different order.

Lastly, they made reference to Xbox Live, go figure. Microsoft is seriously increasing their server capacity and expects developers to utilize Azure infrastructure to offload "latency-insensitive" computation for games. While Microsoft promises that you can play games offline, this obviously does not apply to features (or whole games) which rely upon the back-end infrastructure.

xbox-one-live.jpg

And yes, I know you will all beat up on me if I do not mention the SimCity debacle. Maxis claimed that much of the game requires an online connection due to the complicated server requirements; after a crack allowed offline functionality, it was clear that the game mostly operates fine on a local client. How much will the Xbox Live cloud service offload? Who knows, but that is at least their official word.

Now to tie up some loose ends. The Xbox One will not be backwards compatible with Xbox 360 games although that is no surprise. Also, Microsoft says they are allowing users to resell and lend games. That said, games will be installed and not require the disc, from what I have heard. Apart from the concerns about how much you can run on a single 500GB drive, once the game is installed rumor has it that if you load it elsewhere (the rumor is even more unclear about whether "elsewhere" counts accounts or machines) you will need to pay a fee to Microsoft. In other words? Basically not a used game.

Well, that has it. You can be sure we will add more as information comes forth. Comment away!

Source: Xbox.com

HP SlateBook x2: Tegra 4 on Android 4.2.2 in August

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 15, 2013 - 09:02 PM |
Tagged: tegra 4, hp, tablets

Sentences containing the words "Hewlett-Packard" and "tablet" can end in a question mark, an exclamation mark, or a period on occasion. The gigantic multinational technology company tried to own a whole mobile operating system with their purchase of Palm and abandoned those plans just as abruptly with such a successful $99 liquidation of $500 tablets, go figure, that they to some extent did it twice. The operating system was open sourced and at some point LG swooped in and bought it, minus patents, for use in Smart TVs.

So how about that Android?

HP-slatex2-01.jpg

The floodgates are open on Tegra 4 with HP announcing their SlateBook x2 hybrid tablet just a single day after NVIDIA's SHIELD move out of the projects. The SlateBook x2 uses the Tegra 4 processor to power Android 4.2.2 Jellybean along with the full Google experience including the Google Play store. Along with Google Play, the SlateBook and its Tegra 4 processor are also allowed in TegraZone and NVIDIA's mobile gaming ecosystem.

As for the device itself, it is a 10.1" Android tablet which can dock into a keyboard for extended battery life, I/O ports, and well, a hardware keyboard. You are able to attach this tablet to a TV via HDMI along with the typical USB 2.0, combo audio jack, and a full-sized SD card slot; which half any given port is available through is anyone's guess, however. Wirelessly, you have WiFi a/b/g/n and some unspecified version of Bluetooth.

HP-slatex2-02.jpg

The raw specifications list follows:

  • NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC
    • ARM Cortex A15 quad core @ 1.8 GHz
    • 72 "Core" GeForce GPU @ ~672MHz, 96 GFLOPS
  • 2GB DDR3L RAM ("Starts at", maybe more upon customization?)
  • 64GB eMMC SSD
  • 1920x1200 10.1" touch-enabled IPS display
  • HDMI output
  • 1080p rear camera, 720p front camera with integrated microphone
  • 802.11a/b/g/n + Bluetooth (4.0??)
  • Combo audio jack, USB 2.0, SD Card reader
  • Android 4.2.2 w/ Full Google and TegraZone experiences.

If this excites you, then you only have to wait until some point in August; you will also, of course, need to wait until you save up about $479.99 plus tax and shipping.

Source: HP

Haswell Laptop specs! NEC LaVie L to launch in Japan

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Systems, Mobile | May 14, 2013 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: haswell, nec

While we are not sure when it will be released or whether it will be available for North America, we have found a Haswell laptop. Actually, NEC will release two products in this lineup: a high end 1080p unit and a lower end 1366x768 model. Unfortuantely, the article is in Japanese.

nec_haswell_01.jpg

IPS displays have really wide viewing angles, even top and bottom.

NEC is known for their higher-end monitors; most people equate the Dell Ultrasharp panels with professional photo and video production, but their top end offers are ofter a tier below the best from companies like NEC and Eizo. The laptops we are discussing today both contain touch-enabled IPS panels with apparently double the contrast ratio of what NEC considers standard. While these may or may not be the tip-top NEC offerings, they should at least be putting in decent screens.

Obviously the headliner for us is the introduction of Haswell. While we do not know exactly which product NEC decided to embed, we do know that they are relying upon it for their graphics performance. With the aforementioned higher-end displays, it seems likely that NEC is intending this device for the professional market. A price-tag of 190000 yen (just under $1900 USD) for the lower end and 200000 yen (just under $2000 USD) for the higher end further suggests this is their target demographic.

nec_haswell_02.jpg

Clearly a Japanese model.

The professional market does not exactly have huge requirements for graphics performance, but to explicitly see NEC trust Intel for their GPU performance is an interesting twist. Intel HD 4000 has been nibbling, to say the least, on the discrete GPU marketshare in laptops. I would expect this laptop would contain one of the BGA-based parts, which are soldered onto the motherboard, for the added graphics performance.

As a final note, the higher-end model will also contain a draft 802.11ac antenna. It is expected that network performance could be up to 867 megabits as a result.

Of course I could not get away without publishing the raw specifications:

LL850/MS (Price: 200000 yen):

  • Fourth-generation Intel Core processor with onboard video
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD w/ 32GB SSD caching
  • BDXL (100-128GB BluRay disc) drive
  • IEEE 802.11ac WiFi adapter, Bluetooth 4.0
  • SDXC, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, USB3.0, 2x2W stereo Yamaha speakers
  • 1080p IPS display with touch support
  • Office Home and Business 2013 preinstalled?

LL750/MS (Price: 190000 yen):

  • Fourth-generation Intel Core processor with onboard video
  • 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HDD (no SSD cache)
  • (Optical disc support not mentioned)
  • IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi adapter, Bluetooth 4.0
  • SDXC, Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI, USB3.0, 2x2W stereo Yamaha speakers
  • 1366x768 (IPS?) touch-enabled display

Corsair has, well, Haswell PSU support chart

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Processors | May 10, 2013 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: c6, c7, haswell, PSU, corsair

I cannot do it captain! I don't have the not enough power!

We have been discussing the ultra-low power state of Haswell processors for a little over a week and how it could be detrimental to certain power supplies. Power supply manufacturers never quite expected that you could have as little as a 0.05 Amp (0.6W) draw on the 12V rail without being off. Since then, companies such as Enermax started to list power supplies which have been tested and are compliant with the new power requirements.

PSU Series Model Haswell
Compatibility
Comment
AXi AX1200i Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX860i Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX760i Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX AX1200 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX860 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX850 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX760 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX750 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
AX650 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
HX HX1050 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
HX850 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
HX750 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
HX650 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX-M TX850M Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX750M Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX650M Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX TX850 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX750 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
TX650 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
GS GS800 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
GS700 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
GS600 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
CX-M CX750M Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
CX600M TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
CX500M TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
CX430M TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
CX CX750 Yes 100% Compatible with Haswell CPUs
CX600 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
CX500 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
CX430 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
VS VS650 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
VS550 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
VS450 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating
VS350 TBD Likely compatible — currently validating

Above is Corsair's slightly incomplete chart as of the time it was copied from their website, 3:30pm on May 10th, 2013; so far it is coming up all good. Their blog should be updated as new products get validated for the new C6 and C7 CPU sleep states.

The best part of this story is just how odd it is given the race to arc-welding (it's not a podcast so you can't Bingo! hahaha!) supplies we have been experiencing over the last several years. Simply put, some companies never thought that component manufacturers such as Intel would race to the bottom of power draws.

Source: Corsair

AMD to erupt Volcanic Islands GPUs as early as Q4 2013?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 8, 2013 - 09:32 PM |
Tagged: Volcanic Islands, radeon, ps4, amd

So the Southern Islands might not be entirely stable throughout 2013 as we originally reported; seismic activity being analyzed suggests the eruption of a new GPU micro-architecture as early as Q4. These Volcanic Islands, as they have been codenamed, should explode onto the scene opposing NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 700-series products.

It is times like these where GPGPU-based seismic computation becomes useful.

The rumor is based upon a source which leaked a fragment of a slide outlining the processor in block diagram form and specifications of its alleged flagship chip, "Hawaii". Of primary note, Volcanic Islands is rumored to be organized with both Serial Processing Modules (SPMs) and a Parallel Compute Module (PCM).

Radeon9000.jpg

So apparently a discrete GPU can have serial processing units embedded on it now.

Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) is a set of initiatives to bridge the gap between massively parallel workloads and branching logic tasks. We usually make reference to this in terms of APUs and bringing parallel-optimized hardware to the CPU. In this case, we are discussing it in terms of bringing serial processing to the discrete GPU. According to the diagram, the chip within would contain 8 processor modules each with two processing cores and an FPU for a total of 16 cores. There does not seem to be any definite identification whether these cores would be based upon their license to produce x86 processors or their other license to produce ARM processors. Unlike an APU, this is heavily skewed towards parallel computation rather than a relatively even balance between CPU, GPU, and chipset features.

Now of course, why would they do that? Graphics processors can do branching logic but it tends to sharply cut performance. With an architecture such as this, a programmer might be able to more efficiently switch between parallel and branching logic tasks without doing an expensive switch across the motherboard and PCIe bus between devices. Josh Walrath suggested a server containing these as essentially add-in card computers. For gamers, this might help out with workloads such as AI which is awkwardly split between branching logic and massively parallel visibility and path-finding tasks. Josh seems skeptical about this until HSA becomes further adopted, however.

Still, there is a reason why they are implementing this now. I wonder, if the SPMs are based upon simple x86 cores, how the PS4 will influence PC gaming. Technically, a Volcanic Island GPU would be an oversized PS4 within an add-in card. This could give AMD an edge, particularly in games ported to the PC from the Playstation.

This chip, Hawaii, is rumored to have the following specifications:

  • 4096 stream processors
  • 16 serial processor cores on 8 modules
  • 4 geometry engines
  • 256 TMUs
  • 64 ROPs
  • 512-bit GDDR5 memory interface, much like the PS4.
  • 20 nm Gate-Last silicon fab process
    • Unclear if TSMC or "Common Platform" (IBM/Samsung/GLOBALFOUNDRIES)

Softpedia is also reporting on this leak. Their addition claims that the GPU will be designed on a 20nm Gate-Last fabrication process. While gate-last is considered to be not worth the extra effort in production, Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator (FD-SOI) is apparently "amazing" on gate-last at 28nm and smaller fabrication. This could mean that AMD is eying that technology and making this design with intent of switching to an FD-SOI process, without a large redesign which an initially easier gate-first production would require.

Well that is a lot to process... so I will leave you with an open question for our viewers: what do you think AMD has planned with this architecture, and what do you like and/or dislike about what your speculation would mean?

Source: TechPowerUp

Intel plans a new Atom every year, starting with Silvermont

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 6, 2013 - 02:34 PM |
Tagged: silvermont, merrifield, Intel, Bay Trail, atom

The news today is all about shrinking the Atom, both in process size and power consumption.  Indeed The Tech Report heard talk of milliwatts and SoC's which shows the change of strategy Intel is having with Atom from small footprint HTPCs to POS and other ultra-low power applications.  Hyperthreading has been dropped and Out of Order processing has been brought in which makes far more sense for the new niche Atom is destined for. 

Make sure to check out Ryan's report here as well.

TR_core-block.png

"Since their debut five years ago, Intel's Atom microprocessors have relied on the same basic CPU core. Next-gen Atoms will be based on the all-new Silvermont core, and we've taken a closer look at its underlying architecture."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Overclocker Pushes An Intel Haswell Core i7-4770K CPU Beyond 7GHz

Subject: Processors | May 3, 2013 - 06:45 AM |
Tagged: z87, overclocking, Intel, haswell, core i7 4770k, 7ghz

OCaholic has spotted an interesting entry in the CPU-Z database. According to the site, an overclocker by the handle of “rtiueuiurei” has allegedly managed to push an engineering sample of Intel’s upcoming Haswell Core i7-4770K processor past 7GHz.

Intel Core i7-4770K Overclocked Beyond 7GHz.jpg

If the CPU-Z entry is accurate, the overclocker used a BCLK speed of 91.01 and a multiplier of 77 to achieve a CPU clockspeed of 7012.65MHz. The chip was overclocked on a Z87 motherboard along with a single 2GB G.Skill DDR3 RAM module. Even more surprising than the 7GHz clockspeed is the voltage that the overclocker used to get there: an astounding 2.56V according to CPU-Z.

From the information Intel provided at IDF Beijing, the new 22nm Haswell processors feature an integrated voltage regulator (IVR), and the CPU portion of the chip’s voltage is controlled by the Vccin value. Intel recommends a range of 1.8V to 2.3V for this value, with a maximum of 3V and a default of 1.8V. Therefore, the CPU-Z-reported number may actually be correct. On the other hand, it may also just be a bug in the software due to the unreleased-nature of the Haswell chip.

Voltage questions aside, the frequency alone makes for an impressive overclock, and it seems that the upcoming chips will have decent overclocking potential!

Source: OCaholic

Possible power supply issues for Intel Haswell CPUs

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | May 1, 2013 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: power supply, Intel, idle, haswell, c7, c6

I came across an interesting news story posted by The Tech Report this morning that dives into the possibility of problems with Intel's upcoming Haswell processors and currently available power supplies.  Apparently, the new C6 and C7 idle power states that give the new Haswell architecture benefits for low power scenarios place a requirement of receiving a 0.05 amps load on the 12V2 rail.  (That's just 50 milliamps!)  Without that capability, the system can exhibit unstable behavior and a quick look at the power supply selector on Intel's own website is only listing a couple dozen that support the feature. 

haswellpsu.jpg

This table from VR-Zone, the source of the information initially, shows the difference between the requirements for 3rd (Ivy Bridge) and 4th generation (Haswell) processors.  The shift is an order of magnitude and is quite a dramatic change for PSU vendors.  Users of Corsair power supplies will be glad to know that among those listed with support on the Intel website linked above were mostly Corsair units!

A potential side effect of this problem might be that motherboard vendors simply disable those sleep states by default.  I don't imagine that will be a problem for PC builders anyway since most desktop users aren't really worried about the extremely small differences in power consumption they offer.  For mobile users and upcoming Haswell notebook designs the increase in battery life is crucial though and Intel has surely been monitoring those power supplies closely. 

I asked our in-house power supply guru, Lee Garbutt, who is responsible for all of the awesome power supply reviews on pcper.com, what he thought about this issue.  He thinks the reason more power supplies don't support it already is for power efficiency concerns:

Most all PSUs have traditionally required "some load" on the various outputs to attain good voltage regulation and/or not shut down. Not very many PSUs are designed yet to operate with no load, especially on the critical +12V output. One of the reasons for this is efficiency. Its harder to design a PSU to operate correctly with a very low load AND to deliver high efficiency. It would be easy just to add some bleed resistance across the DC outputs to always have a minimal load to keep voltage regulation under control but then that lowers efficiency.

Source: Tech Report