Brace Yourself: The PC Perspective CES 2013 Coverage is Coming!

Subject: Graphics Cards, Networking, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2013 - 07:47 AM |
Tagged: CES, ces 2013, pcper

It's that time of year - the staff at PC Perspective is loaded up and either already here in Las Vegas, on their way to Las Vegas or studiously sitting at their desk at home - for the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show!  I know you are on our site looking for all the latest computer hardware news from the show and we will have it.  The best place to keep checking is our CES landing page at http://pcper.com/ces.  The home page will work too. 

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We'll have stories covering companies like, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, ASUS, MSI, Gigabyte, Zotac, Sapphire, Galaxy, EVGA, Lucid, OCZ, Western Digital, Corsair and many many more that I don't feel like listing here.  It all starts Sunday with CES Unveiled and then the NVIDIA Press Conference where they will announce...something.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the PC Perspective Podcast as we will be bringing you daily podcasts wrapping up each day.  We are also going to try to LIVE stream them on our PC Perspective Live! page but times and bandwidth will vary.

Coverage of CES 2013 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2013 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

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

Leaked Intel Roadmap: Pretty Much No Changes

Subject: General Tech, Processors | January 3, 2013 - 03:00 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell, Ivy Bridge-E

Intel creates a bunch of roadmaps as portions of their corporate slideshows and similarly to their development cycles: they get leaked like clockwork.

Last quarter’s roadmap revealed intentions for Intel to release the higher-end Ivy Bridge-E processors a whole quarter after dropping non-enthusiast Ivy Bridge from retail. That leak ended speculation from the prior quarter about the fate of Ivy Bridge-E with Haswell and Sandy Bridge-E pushing Ivy Bridge out of Intel’s second quarter 2013 lineup. After all, would Intel push higher-end SKUs of obsolete components? Would they just skip to Haswell-E? Could Sandy Bridge-E be slowly eaten away by the Xeon and lower end markets and left without a replacement? Apparently not the latters.

This quarter was much less dramatic but still interesting none-the-less.

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I cannot Haswell-E'sburger.

The most obvious data point to pull from this slide is that nothing changed; information was only added. Ivy Bridge-E is still on target to launch a little less than a year from now. What we were given is expected SKUs names of the Haswell parts.

From i5 up to Sandy Bridge-E we will have approximately 5 SKUs ranging from the i5-4570 up to the i7-4770K. Room is still left for SKUs above the i7-4770K and the i5-4670K although Intel does not show any direct intentions to produce such chips. WCCF Tech believes from previous rumors that Ivy Bridge-E will consist of four SKUs: i7-4930, i7-4960, i7-4970, and i7-4990.

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I also cannot Haswell at all???

Intel’s lower-end roadmap was also leaked within the same post. Apparently Ivy Bridge has more legs in that price range with Haswell being delayed for a quarter for Pentium and i3 processors. Haswell is completely absent in the Celeron price point with the original Sandy Bridge sticking around for a whole year from now.

This clearly is not a panicked situation for Intel on the high-end. Three leaked roadmaps in a row show for all practical purposes the same identical vision. I will be curious to see how performance compares between Ivy Bridge-E and its older little brother Haswell; clearly Ivy Bridge-E will make more sense from the point of view of RAM-intensive applications, but will certain applications be able to better utilize Haswell and its new architecture?

Who do you think will win in a fistfight, Ha’s well Ghul or Poison Ivy Bridge-E?

Source: WCCF Tech

Too New for GNU: Development Not Always Smooth as Cilk

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2012 - 01:25 PM |
Tagged:

Due to Phoronix being particularly interesting lately, how would you like a little more open-source news?

GCC is one of the most important compilers for C/C++-based software due to its ubiquity both in where it can run as well as where it can compile to. Intel has a lot of experience developing for compilers, to say the least. Creating a competing product does not stop Intel from contributing to the project, however.

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Aww, looks like he wants a hug.

Intel created C/C++ language extensions known as “Cilk Plus” designed to help developers parallelize their code on multithreaded processors. Both the compiler and run-time portions of Cilk Plus has been made open source and were submitted to be included into GCC. Unfortunately, for reasons which are currently unclear, GCC completed development of version 4.8 of their software without the inclusion of Cilk Plus.

Patches developed by Intel have been available since the summer awaiting approval from the official maintainers of GCC. Because the deadline passed without inclusion of the completed code, we will allegedly need to wait until at least 2014 -- maybe longer -- before Cilk Plus has another chance to be included in the GCC.

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Details Revealed By Leaked Slide

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, arm

Earlier this year, NVIDIA showed off a roadmap for its Tegra line of mobile system on a chip (SoC) processors. Namely, the next generation Tegra 4 mobile chip is codenamed Wayne and will be the successor to the Tegra 3.

Tegra 4 will use a 28nm manufacturing process and feature improvements to the CPU, GPU, and IO components. Thanks to a leaked slide that appeared on Chip Hell, we now have more details on Tegra 4.

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Leaked Slide.jpg

The 28nm Tegra 4 SoC will keep the same 4+1 CPU design* as the Tegra 3, but it will use ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores instead of the Cortex A9 cores used in the current generation chips. NVIDIA is also improving the GPU portion, and Tegra 4 will reportedly feature a 72 core GPU based on a new architecture. Unfortunately, we do not have specifics on how that GPU is set up architecturally, but the leaked slide indicates that the GPU will be as much as 6x faster than NVIDIA’s own Tegra 3. It will allegedly be fast enough to power displays with resolutions from 1080p @ 120Hz to 4K (refresh rate unknown). Don’t expect to drive games at native 4K resolution, however it should run a tablet OS fine. Interestingly, NVIDIA has included hardware to hardware accelerate VP8 and H.264 video at up to 2560x1440 resolutions.

Additionally, Tegra 4 will feature support for dual channel DDR3L memory, USB 3.0 and hardware accelerated secuity options including HDCP, Secure Boot, and DRM which may make Tegra 4 an attractive option for Windows RT tablets.

The leaked slide has revealed several interesting details on Tegra 4, but it has also raised some questions on the nitty-gritty details. Also, there is no mention of the dual core variant of Tegra 4 – codenamed Grey – that is said to include an integrated Icera 4G LTE cellular modem. Here’s hoping more details surface at CES next month!

* NVIDIA's name for a CPU that features four ARM CPU cores and one lower power ARM companion core.

Source: Chip Hell

Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0 Coming Soon and Will Be Sold Directly to Consumers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 14, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: virtu MVP, virtu, lucid, ces 2013, CES

In preparation for the upcoming CES 2013 show in January we have started having some pre-meeting discussions with various companies, one of which was Lucid.  While speaking with them we learned some interesting news about the upcoming v2.0 release of their Virtu MVP software including new features and a new availability option.

Lucid's Virtu MVP software is the technology that allows DIY PC builders and notebook vendors to easily accommodate utilization of both integrated and discrete graphics in a single system without the need to adjust settings or to move monitor cables around.  With Virtu MVP you can take advantage of the QuickSync technology of your Ivy Bridge processor but still utilize the performance of a discrete graphics card for gaming.  This can all be managed and handled on a single display with a single cable. 

Other additions like Virtual Vsync and HyperFormance were added in MVP and aim to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Virtu enhances the overall user experience.  And while Matt Smith liked the results from the software in his recent testing with an Origin laptop, there were a couple things that bugged us: the interface and the inability to get the software on your own.

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Next month Lucid will be launching the new version 2.0 of its software that should increase the responsiveness of the interface while also drastically improving the visuals and style.  Also included will be native Windows 8 support.

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Perhaps the most interesting news is that Lucid will soon start offering the software directly to consumers as a download instead of requiring that you get it from your motherboard or system vendor.  This is great news for users that have purchased motherboards without Virtu software and those of you that might want to buy a really low cost board that would lack those features as well.  You will apparently be able to buy it in Q1 from www.lucidlogix.com and the price should be "under $30" which likely indicates a $29.99 starting offer. 

What we don't know is how this will affect Lucid's motherboard partners - will they stop carrying the software as a bundle going forward or will they still offer it on select SKUs?  Lucid wouldn't divulge any of that yet but I assume we'll find out more at CES next month.

ASUS Partners with VIA for Tablet SoCs

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 13, 2012 - 01:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, VIA

We have not heard too much about VIA Technologies developing CPUs in recent history. They still hold an x86 license until at least some time in 2013. VIA also develops ARM SoCs, apparently, and have recently struck a deal to get in multiple 7-inch tablets by Asustek. These models will be exclusively sold to China.

ASUS set a goal of 12 million sales for tablet PCs for 2013 and one way to accomplish that milestone is to provide cheap but decent devices. This goal is firmly in the same order of magnitude as iPad sales. Still, ASUS already has a fairly big presence in the tablet market with its strong Transformer line and more notably Google’s Nexus 7.

VIA will provide ARM Cortex A9 processors for the lower end of ASUS’ product line. The model which they will be embedded in will retail for somewhere between $99-$149 USD. These devices will be available in China for the Lunar New Year season of 2013.

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Interestingly Asustek has not contracted out Pegatron to manufacture the device, opting instead for Wistron Corp. to fulfill the order. The two companies, Pegatron and Asustek, were once one-in-the-same; founded by a businessman with a fascination for the Greek mythological Pegasus. The company changed with the climate like any other and Pegatron was spun off into its own independent entity. Since then, Pegatron has been hard at work developing laptops and tablets for ASUS as well as picking up orders from Apple and others.

The first shipment of 2-3 million manufactured devices is rumored to be delivered to Asus by the end of December. Perhaps these sales can help bolster VIA and their ability to develop CPUs once more?

Source: CENS

New Details of Haswell, Intel Core 4000 Series Processors

Subject: Processors | December 12, 2012 - 02:07 PM |
Tagged: haswell, Intel, i7-4770k

A (translated) report coming from VR-Zone shows a table that is giving us just a bit more information about the upcoming Intel Haswell architecture and processors. 

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First, it looks like Intel is going to lean into the same naming scheme for these parts calling them the Core i3/i5/i7 4000 series parts, starting with the Core i7-4770K as the highest end option.  It will be a quad-core HyperThreaded part with a maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 3.9 GHz, very similar to the speeds and feed of today.

Graphics will be updated and called the HD 4600 with a clock rate as high as 1250 MHz.  The memory controller will remain dual-channel with support for DDR3-1600.

The only other item worth mentioning is the 84 watt TDP, up from the 77 watt TDP of the current Ivy Bridge lineup

All that is left to know now is ... pretty much everything including the performance of these new cores, the new graphics architecture and how that higher TDP will be utilized. 

Source: VR-Zone

Intel claims to support sockets as well into 'foreseeable future'

Subject: Processors | December 6, 2012 - 10:21 AM |
Tagged: socket, BGA, Intel, amd

Okay, so this has been an interesting debate.  After the first rumors and reports that Intel might be killing the DIY PC (or at least crippling it) by removing the socketed option for future processors after the Broadwell architecture, the Internet had a hissy-fit.  Josh debated here that the future didn't look at that bleak at all and AMD chimed in later with its commitment to sockets into 2014 and beyond

It looks like Intel has officially addressed the issue through a story at MaximumPC.com:

Intel remains committed to the growing desktop enthusiast and channel markets, and will continue to offer socketed parts in the LGA package for the foreseeable future for our customers and the Enthusiast DIY market. However, Intel cannot comment on specific long-term product roadmap plans at this time, but will disclose more details later per our normal communication process.

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While those in the community that see the glass half empty will look at Intel's use of "foreseeable future" as a red herring, we have to at least attempt to take Intel at its word until any more details might be released to counter it. 

Let the debate continue!

Source: MaximumPC

AMD will continue to support socketed processors well into the future

Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: socket, Intel, BGA, amd

Over the past week or more we have been seeing a lot of news about Intel's rumored move to leave the world of socket-based processors behind after the pending Broadwell parts are released as BGA - ball grid array - and are soldered to motherboards directly.  I would highly encourage everyone to read Josh's thoughts on the subject that are not nearly as damning as others might have you believe.

However, we got this official note from AMD earlier in the week that I thought I would share:

AMD has a long history of supporting the DIY and enthusiast desktop market with socketed CPUs & APUs that are compatible with a wide range of motherboard products from our partners.  That will continue through 2013 and 2014 with the “Kaveri” APU and FX CPU lines.  We have no plans at this time to move to BGA only packaging and look forward to continuing to support this critical segment of the market.

As the company that introduced new types of BGA packages in ultrathin platforms several years ago, and today offers BGA-packaged processors for everything from ultrathin notebooks to all-in-one desktops, to embedded applications and tablets, we certainly understand Intel’s enthusiasm for the approach.  But for the desktop market, and the enthusiasts with whom AMD has built its brand, we understand what matters to them and how we can continue to bring better value and a better experience.

Obviously AMD is trying to persuade PC builders that not only is its path the safest in the future but maybe that supporting AMD today might help make sure it can arrive to the future well enough to continue the enthusiast path.

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If Intel even starts to heavily side with BGA processors, is a move to AMD in your future again?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

AMD Releases Opteron 4300 and 3300 Server Processors

Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 11:58 AM |
Tagged: servers, opteron 4300, opteron 3300, opteron, amd

AMD has officially released a number of new server processors based on its latest Piledriver cores. The new Opteron 4300 and Opteron 3300 series processors will replace the 4200 and 3200 series, and are aimed at the server market. The 4300 series uses Socket C32 while the Opteron 3300 processors use socket AM3+. They are significantly cheaper Piledriver-based parts than the higher-end Opteron 6300 series processors. AMD is aiming these lower cost Opterons at servers hosting websites and internal applications for small to medium businesses.

There are a total of nine new Opteron processors, with three being 3300 series an six being 4300 series.  Both the 3300 and 4300 series Opterons are socket compatible with the previous generation 3200 and 4200 series respectively, allowing for an upgrade path in existing servers. According to AMD, the new Piledriver-based processors have 24% higher performance per watt and use 15% less power than the previous generation parts based on the SPECpower and SPECint benchmarks. AMD is also touting support for low power 1.25V memory with the new chips.

The chart below details the specifications and pricing all of the new Opteron parts.

Opteron 4300 and 3300.png

The new AMD Opteron 3300 series includes two quad core and one eight core processor. The parts range from 1.9GHz to 2.6GHz base and have TDPs from 25W to 65W for the lowest and top end parts respectively. AMD-P, AMD-V, and AMD Turbo Core technologies are also supported. As far as memory goes, the 3300 series supports up to four DIMMs and 32GB per CPU. Further, a single x16 HyperTransport 3.0 link rated at 5.2GT/s is included.

Moving up to the 4300 series comes with an increase in price but you also get more cores, more memory, and faster clockspeeds. The Opteron 4300 series has one quad core 4310 EE, three six core CPUs, and two eight core parts. Base clocks range from 2.2GHz to 3.1GHz while boost clocks start at 3.0GHz and go to 3.8GHz. On the low end, the Opteron 4310 EE has a 35W TDP and the top-end 4386 has a 95W TDP. The 4300 series supports dual channel DDR3 1866 memory with up to six DIMMs and 192GB per CPU. Moving up from the 3300 series also gets you two x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links at 6.4 GT/s.

The new server processors are available now with prices ranging from $174 to $501. In addition, pre-built server options from Supermicro and Seamicro (SM15000) are currently available, with options from Dell and a number of other companies on the way. The prices seem decent, and these chips could make the base for a nice 2P server that brings you Piledriver improvements for much less than the relatively expensive 6300 series processors that we covered previously.

Intel Might Become a Foundry -- For ARM? If Apple Goes x86

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 4, 2012 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: Intel, arm, apple

Hopefully I did not make your head hurt too much with that title.

Intel announced early in the year the opening of their fabrication labs to certain other developers, none of which competing with anything Intel does. We joked about how this is the end of the world as we know it although we feel fine. As it turns out, the world might end December 2012: RBC rumors that Intel might fulfill orders of ARM processors taking away that responsibility from Samsung.

Of course, there will always be a catch. It is possible that Intel will allow Apple to manufacture their ARM-based processors at Intel if Apple switches their tablets to x86-based products. No-one said the apocalypse must be an irrational event.

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When pigs fly? Challenge accepted.

If this rumor comes to fruition - and that is a mighty large if - we finally know that a line of apathy exists within Intel. Intel fabricating an architecture that they directly compete with is a big deal, ignore their motive.

Intel has allegedly made a compromise, definitively this time. We debated fairly heavily whether Intel made a compromise when they allowed FBGAs to be manufactured at their facilities. This time there is no question about whether Intel will make a concession to better its company as a whole.

I have no doubt that Intel desires to stomp competing platforms but we should all doubt that Intel would never step into some middle ground. After all, Intel is not even suffering at this point by any measure. Imagine if the situation actually begins to look dire.

Source: CNN

The A10 5800K on LN2

Subject: Processors | December 4, 2012 - 10:52 AM |
Tagged: amd, APU, A10 5800K, overclocking, LN2

It is worth remembering the AMD A10 5800K for a number of reasons, a mere $120 gets you not only a relatively decent CPU, the onboard 7660D will function quite effectively for streaming HD video or light gaming.  As well it is unlocked which means you can overclock both processors; MadShrimps hit 1186MHz on the 7660D from the 800MHz base clock and could easily reach 4.5GHz on the CPU cores.  Make sure to pick up memory of 1600MHz or more to feed that GPU and don't expect to see these overclocks on air, but perhaps a good liquid cooler might get you close to some of these scores.  If you know someone who needs a new multipurpose PC and looks at you blankly when you ask if it needs to be able to play Crysis, you could do worse than AMD's A10 5800K.

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"Who hasn't heard about the following phrase? The Future is Fusion! Unless you have been living under a rock for the last years, this AMD marketing slogan was pretty much everywhere. AMD wanted to create a platform that was mainly very affordable, where a dedicated graphics card was not a must, while being power efficient, especially for the mobile market and up to the task to satisfy our multimedia, digital desires/needs. One option already existed in the form of an integrated graphic chips solutions on the motherboard. However the latter had non-conforming performance for todays standards. This all lead to the creation of the APU, Accelerated Processing Unit. The first steps to make Fusion a reality. The FM1 socket Llano CPUs was AMD's first succesful try in this new market. As usual the competition caught up, so time for a new revision of the AMD APU. Hello world this is platform Virgo calling... Time to have a look at AMD's latest Trinity socket FM2 APU."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: MadShrimps

Intel CEO Paul Otellini Resigns in May 2013, Two Years Early

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | November 22, 2012 - 10:18 PM |
Tagged: Intel, CEO

Intel has not had any financial or directional problems nor have they experienced a revolving door in upper management, at least to my knowledge. Paul Otellini was expected to remain at the helm of the chip giant until he turned 65 at which point he would enjoy a wonderful retirement. He would have commanded the company for a full decade.

Intel recently announced that Otellini will leave the company and retire at 62.

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Possibly the most important part of the story might be the non-story piece: there does not appear to be any reason for him to leave. The board apparently did not want him to go. ARM holds a large lead in momentum over Intel, during Paul’s watch, in the mobile market but even then the future looks promising with early commentaries about Clover Trail. If I had to guess I would posit that his decision to step down is entirely for personal and possibly sudden circumstances. That was just a guess, however.

To further speculation about its abruptness, Intel does not seem to have anyone in mind as a replacement in just 6 months’ time. For the first time Intel will consider fulfilling the position from outside the company.

In related news, Intel’s stock made a slight dip in value after the abrupt announcement. While the decline was slight it does echo the reluctance mentioned earlier and shows that even the stock market approved of Intel’s performance over the last eight years.

AMD Facing Even More Layoffs

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 17, 2012 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: layoffs, amd

Personally, I am starting to get numb to AMD restructuring news -- and that is never good.

Less than a month ago we reported on the semiconductor design company’s decision to cut 15% of their workforce. The company still has life in it and has a respectable presence in all upcoming videogame consoles along with its inclusion within many consumer laptops and desktops but it is clearly not as much life as they need.

Original rumors stated that cuts could be on the order of 10-30% which 15% would be on the lighter side of. With rumors of more cuts coming in January I wonder if this was a last minute decision to break up the layoffs into two less dramatic installments.

amd-new.png

One of the beauties of the tech industry is the low cost of starting or turning a company around; it would be irresponsible to completely count out a player while it still has access to millions of capital. AMD is also sitting upon lots of assets which could be liquidated and their employees have ridiculous talent to be employable elsewhere. I have been noticing that most chatter about the topic is not based in concern with AMD and their employee’s future but with concern about an x86 competitor to Intel.

This is pretty much the same concern which I have been having about Windows 8: the house of cards may be standing but it is still a house of cards. We rely upon the proprietary standards which Intel and others impose upon the art, the word being used both in literal and “artisan / practical art” contexts which includes utensil applications.

Concern mounts but practically no-one grafts it to similar instabilities in other platforms.

No I am not saying abolish technology patents or anything like that: I am simply saying that this is yet another drop in the torrent of concerns with content upstream to proprietary platforms.

These issues rightfully cause alarm but are not isolated events.

Source: All Things D

Finally something new for the server team from AMD

Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 6, 2012 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: piledriver, opteron 6300, amd, Abu Dhabi

AMD_6300.jpg

Low power, high density server designs are very important but it is nice to see updates on the more powerful server processors as well, something quite rare so far in 2012.  AMD has finally released their Opteron 6300 family, with ten members bearing between 8 to 16 cores and all running at over 3GHz.  We don't have any reviews to offer, so the only performance benchmarks are from AMD's press releases, but you can expect more change than just an increase in frequency as this is a Piledriver based chip.  The Register has put together a high level overview of the new Opterons or you can head on over to AMD to check out the information on offer there.  Cray is already shipping servers based on these chips, with Dell and HP releasing a variety of servers in the near future.

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"Customers using big ol' fat x86 servers didn't have much to jump for joy about this year. There just isn't a lot going on. But to make things interesting, AMD is now goosing the performance of its top-end parts with the launch of its "Abu Dhabi" Opteron 6300s, which sport the "Piledriver" cores that already debuted in the FX Series of high-end desktop chips."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Register

AMD Launches Piledriver-based Opteron 6300 Server Chips

Subject: Processors | November 6, 2012 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: server, piledriver, opteron, datacenter, cpu, amd

AMD announced new server processors on Monday based on the same Piledriver architecture used in the Trinity APUs and Vishera desktop CPUs we recently reviewed. With the release of the Opteron 6300 series, AMD is bringing Piledriver to the server room.

The new chips – similar to the desktop counterparts – bring several performance improvements over the previous generation 6200 series Opterons based on the Bulldozer architecture. AMD is positioning the chips as a upgrade path to existing servers and on merits of performance-per-dollar efficiency. As is AMD's fashion, the new chips are competitively priced and "good enough" performance-wise. With 6300, AMD has stated the goal is to reduce the TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership for servers used in data centers, supercomputers, and enterprises by being compatible with existing AMD server platforms with a BIOS upgrade and representing efficiency improvements over previous chips.

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The Opteron 6300 series CPUs themselves build upon the Vishera desktop parts by adding more cores and more L3 cache. The server parts will have up to 16 cores clocked at 2.8GHz base and 3.2GHz turbo. They will have TDP ratings between 85W and 140W and will feature prices from $500 to $1,400. On the cache front, the chips have a 16KB L1 data cache per core, 64KB L1 instruction cache per module, 1MB L2 cache per core, and a shared 16MB cache per socket. AMD has included a quad channel memory controller that supports DDR3 up to 1866 MHz and 1.5TB per server in 4P configurations. AMD has rounded out the chips with four x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links rated at 6.4 GT/s per link. Up to 4 processors per server will be supported, which means a maximum of 64 cores.

Opteron_6300_die_shot_16_core.jpg

With Piledriver, AMD added a number of new instructions including FMA3, BMI, and F16c. The company has also implemented server tweaks to the Bulldozer design to improve branch prediction, instructions per clock, scheduling, and reduced the power draw at higher clockspeeds allowing for the chps to clock higher while staying within the same power envelope of the Bulldozer-based Opteron 6200 series.

AMD is using the same socket as the 6200 series processors, and the new chips can be deployed as an upgrade to the old servers without needing a new motherboard.

Screenshot (339).png

When pitting the new Opteron 6380 to the previous-generation 6278, AMD is claiming a number of performance increases, including a 24-percent and 40-percent improvement in SPECjob2005 and SPECpower_ssj2008 respectively.

Further, the company is claiming competitive performance in server workloads with the Intel competition. AMD offers up benchmarks showing the Opteron 6380 and Xeon E5-2690 trading wins, with the AMD part being slower in the STREAM benchmark, but being slightly faster in LAMPS and NAMD. The allure of the Opteron, according to AMD is that the AMD part is almost half the price of the Intel processor, and is hoping the lower priced parts will encourage adoption. AMD argues that the money saved could easily go towards more RAM or more storage (or simply be saved of course).

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The company has announced that its first major design win is Big Red II supercomputer at Indiana University. Built by Cray, the Big Red II will feature 21,000+ Opteron 6300-series CPU cores paired with NVIDIA GPUs. It represents a massive increase in computing power over IU’s previous Big Red supercomputer with 4,100 CPU cores, and will be used for medical, physics, chemistry, and climate research. Beyond that, AMD has stated more that 30 hardware vendors are slated to introduce servers based on the new Piledriver-based Opteron processors including HP, Dell, Cray, SGI, Supermicro, Sugon, and (of course) SeaMicro. On the software side of things, AMD is working with Microsoft, VMware, Xen, Red Hat, and Openstack. The company also stated that it is leaning on the experience and knowledge gained from the HSA Foundation to improve software support and guide the future direction of Opteron development.

Screenshot (336).png

The Opteron 6300 series is an interesting release that brings several improvements to the company’s server chip offerings. At launch, there are 10 processors to choose from, ranging from the quad core 6308 clocked at 3.5GHz for $501 to the top-end 6386 SE with 16 cores (2.8GHz base, 3.5GHz max turbo) and a $1,392 price tag. The 6366HE is an interesting part as well. It is the same price as the 12-core, 115W TDP Opteron 6348, but its has 16 lower-clocked cores and an 85W TDP. With the non-HE edition processors with 16 cores starting at $703, the 6366HE for $575 is a decent deal if you need multi-threading more than a fewer number of higher clocked cores.

Another bit that I found intriguing is that in a few years, AMD will (likely, if all goes according to plan) be offering processors for just about every type of server. They will have low cost, low power ARM Cortex-A57 based chips, Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) well suited to mixed workloads including GPU-accelerated tasks, and CPU-only chips with lots of traditional x86-64 cores. It seems that Intel will continue to hold the high end on pure performance, but AMD and its SeaMicro server division have not given up competing in the server room by a long shot.

[

Further reading:

The Piledrive architecture and Vishera desktop CPU review and The future of AMD: Vishera and Beyond at PC Perspective.

Intel Wants To See 48-Core Processors In Future Smartphones

Subject: Processors | October 31, 2012 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: smartphone, R&D, prototype, Intel

Intel researchers located at the company’s Barcelona, Spain labs are working on multi-core solutions. Specifically, the researchers are looking to bring massive numbers of processing cores to smartphones and tablets. The x86 chip giant hopes to see as many as 48 core processors powering mobile devices within the next five to ten years.

Currently, quad core System on a Chip (SoC) processors represent the highest number of cores in a mobile device, so a 48 core processor would be an absolutely massive jump. Of course, there are several issues that Intel will need to address in order for such a chip to be feasible. The package size, TDP, and power draw will all need to be drastically reduced in order to fit into the power envelope and form factor of smartphones in particular. The biggest issue standing in the way of such a chip though is software. Massively multi-threaded software is still extremely rare, and on mobile devices is no where close to effectively utilizing the number of cores Intel wants to provide.

Intel Prototype Chip.jpg

Image credit: Computer Wold. A prototyping platform running software to research efficient multi-core processing.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead argues that five to ten years is effectively an eternity in technology-time, and by the time the hardware with massive numbers of cores is feasible, the software will be there. Intel is a bit less optimistic, but hopeful that developers will embrace the idea of multiple low power cores versus a few high clocked, power hungry cores. Such a transition in the software industry would allow smartphones to multitask much more efficiently than they do now, and would no longer have to comprise on the extent of background tasks in order to keep the user interface stable and snappy.

Intel is currently using cloud computers to analyze multi-threading and what tasks can be parallelized. The company envisions being able to encrypt email, listen to media, sync with backup services, and use voice recognition without needing to reach out to Internet-connected servers at the same time. Cores would be able to split the work or dedicate certain numbers of cores to tasks like the UI or video playback. Intel has already demonstrated the ability to turn off unused portions of the CPU to save power as well as its turbo boost modes to increase clockspeeds when there is TDP headroom. It will be interesting to see a 48 core chip, especially if software developers can be coerced into doing tasks with massive numbers of cores in mind.

Interestingly, AMD is going for heterogeneous cores (CPU cores, GPU cores, ARM cores, etc) while Intel is using its process node and chip technology lead to throw large numbers of homogenous cores at the problem of processing. In the end though, it all comes down to battery tech and software enabling these kinds of advancements. I'm hopeful that I'll see these kinds of currently mind-blowing chips in my future smartphone, however.

Computer World has a write-up with quotes from the Intel engineers working on the multi-core smartphone chip, which is worth a read. What do you think about the prospects of a 48 core chip in your handheld mobile device?

AMD Announces It Will Build 64-bit ARM Processors for Server Markets

Subject: Processors | October 29, 2012 - 01:53 PM |
Tagged: processors, arm, amd, 64-bit

On a not very technically reliable webcast today, AMD has announced that it will produce 64-bit processors based on the ARM architecture and combine them with the "Freedom Fabric" they acquired with the purchase of SeaMicro.

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In a move that is incredibly telling about the times we are in, but not really a surprise to those of us that follow the processor markets closely, AMD and ARM announced a partnership beyond previously discussed in public.  AMD will start production of ARM-based processors in 2014 and will be among the first to include 64-bit technology. 

The target for these processors will be the server market and AMD hopes to be at the forefront the often discussed ARM-in-the-server-world migration.  While that server opportunity size is debatable, with partners on stage like Facebook and RedHat, there is little doubt that it will have an affect on enterprise computing in the next 24 months.  AMD is hoping that its experience with the move to 64-bit technology in the x86 migration will aid them in development and migration in the ARM architecture world; one that is currently still limited to 32-bit. 

UPDATE: As being reported by Anand Shimpi this is in fact NOT an architecture license but is instead a processor license.  What does that mean?  AMD is not going to develop its own core (as Apple and NVIDIA do) but instead will fully integrate an upcoming 64-bit ARM core in new AMD products.

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Image source: EEBeat

SeaMicro's Freedom Fabric technology is another major angle that AMD has over other players in this field.  The fabric technology is meant to facilitate communication between multiple processors on a specialized bus, removing bottlenecks on the platform and network.  Dr. Lisa Su, SVP of Global Business at AMD, stated that simply connecting hundreds or thousands of ARM-based processors to each other isn't enough and moves the problem of computing management from the CPUs to the network itself.  Using Freedom Fabric, the AMD-based ARM processors would be able to much more efficiently communicate and thus maintain the promised power benefits of ARM servers.

AMD did state that they will continue to develop x86 processors going forward but you have to wonder about its dedication to that goal.  Working with ARM is a quick and easy way to get AMD into a growing market in the server world that Intel currently has no solutions for so it seems possible that this is simply a stop-gap until AMD can develop an x86-based solution.  It is hard to say for sure but for an organization in AMD's financial position, having options in multiple segments is certainly a good idea. 

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What you won't see yet is AMD's graphics technology in the ARM-based processors announced today.  This isn't an "ARM APU" but instead is a combination of SeaMicro and ARM for a very specific server workload. 

We'll have more on this announcement if anything else interesting is divulged, but you can find the entire press release from AMD after the break!

Piledrivers are elegant in comparison to Bulldozers

Subject: Processors | October 23, 2012 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: vishera, Steamroller, piledriver, FX-8350, fx-8150, FX-6300, FX-6200, bulldozer, amd

The FX-8350 Vishera processor from AMD has finally arrived with 8 fully unlocked cores of polished Piledriver processing power.  With Piledriver there are no huge changes to the existing Bulldozer architecture, this is more of a polishing and optimizing the existing architecture and [H]ard|OCP's testing bears that out.  While faster than the previous generation FX-8150 it still lags behind Intel's Ivy Bridge processors, disappointing but certainly expected.  The unlocked cores do lend themselves somewhat to overclocking, with [H] hitting a stable 4.6GHz with all cores enabled, a 10% jump in frequency.  At that speed it does better when competing with Intel's offerings, until you overclock them as well at which point the comparative performance suffers somewhat.

Make sure to catch Josh's review, covering both the 8 core FX-8350 and the $132 FX-6300 which has a disabled module; bringing back memories of older AMD chips whose modules could be brought back to life.

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"AMD's new Piledriver core technology should not be a surprise to any enthusiast as much of its "embargoed" information has already been exposed on the Net. Today we take the AMD FX series model 8350 desktop variant, code named Vishera, and look at it in an enthusiast way as we expose its IPC at 4GHz, and a bit of overclocking."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Hondo powered Win8 tablets; sweet spot or not?

Subject: Processors | October 18, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: homdo, AMD z-series, z-60 apu, tablet, win8

Could AMD powered tablets firt in a sweet spot for those looking to pick up one of these new Win8 powered devices?  They will certainly be more powerful than an ARM powered WinRT tablet and the graphics will be superior to Intel powered tablets.  The Z-60 will have two 1GHz Bobcat cores each with 512KB of L2 cache and the HD 6250 GPU with 80 DirectX 11-class shader ALUs which should give snappy performance up to a 1920x1200 resolution.  The Tech Report talks about the various benefits and penalties to choosing a Hondo based device over an Ivy Bridge powered on in their article here.

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"AMD is readying a new APU aimed at Window 8 tablets and hybrids. Otherwise known as Hondo, this Z-60 processor offers lower power consumption than AMD's existing APUs, and it comes with a side order of USB 3.0."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors