AMD Launches Piledriver-based Opteron 6300 Server Chips

Subject: Processors | November 6, 2012 - 01:15 PM |
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 - 02:25 PM |
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 - 04:53 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 - 02:44 PM |
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 - 05:58 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

Intel Planning 10-core Xeon E5-2600 V2 Ivy Bridge-EP CPU

Subject: Processors | October 17, 2012 - 06:48 AM |
Tagged: xeon E5-2600 v2, lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-EP, Intel, 22nm

A recently leaked slide reveals one of Intel’s upcoming Xeon-branded server chips coming in Q3 2013. The Xeon E5-2600 V2 is an Ivy Bridge-EP processor and will be compatible with motherboards featuring the LGA 2011 socket.

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The Xeon E5-2600 V2 in particular has a 70W TDP (thermal design power) rating while the highest-end Ivy Bridge-EP CPUs will have TDPs of up to 130W. The E5-2600 V2 has 10 physical cores, and with HyperThreading it can handle a maximum of 20 threads. Each physical core has access to 256KB L2 cache and the chip has a total of 30MB L3 cache. Further, this (and other) Ivy Bridge-EP processor will support up to 1866MHz DDR3 system RAM.

Interestingly, the Xeon E5-2600 V2 is merely the middle of the road part for Intel. The company will be releasing processors that are even higher-end than this one. They will have up to 12 physical cores which means up to 24 threads. And paired with Intel's 22nm manufacturing process and 3D transistors, these chips will fit right into workstations and server rooms.

Source: Guru 3D

ASUS Maximus V Extreme-ly fast overclock.

Subject: General Tech, Motherboards, Processors | October 2, 2012 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: overclock, asus

ASUSTeK has just accomplished a new world record overclock with their ASUS Maximus V Extreme motherboard. They calculated 1 million digits of Pi in a time of 5s 94ms which beats the current best time 5s 125ms according to HWBot. This result once validated lands the Maximus V Extreme in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place positions.

ASUS has once again broke records in the Pi eating contest with their Maximus V Extreme motherboard.

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It must be a fun day for an overclocker when you get to play with Liquid Helium. While I attended the Physics department of Queen’s University up here in Canada the facility was known for its condensed matter group. Much of the building was fitted with piping to recapture and recondense the Helium after its experiments strictly due to how much it cost and how rare it is. If someone offers for you to break an overclocking record with it you are obliged to say yes.

The achieved overclock appears to be tuned towards the application. Memory frequency was kept at 1333 MHz with a FSB of about 110 MHz. I would expect this multiplier-centric overclock is designed to keep the overclock focused on sheer number crunching which Super Pi likely relies on over memory bandwidth. Perhaps reduced memory timings might even come in to play for applications like this?

ASUS broke a few records with their Liquid Helium attempt. As of time of writing none of these records have been updated to the HWBot leaderboard.

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With Super Pi running to 1 million digits Asus and their team recorded a time of 5s 94ms -- 31 milliseconds faster than the current leading time of 5s 125ms. The current leaderboard already contains the ASUS Maximus V Extreme motherboard in Gold, Silver, and Bronze positions. This podium has already been well represented by the Maximus V.

When you cannot be satisfied with 1 million digits of pi you can run the marathon to 32 million digits.

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The most current record that I could find was set by a team sponsored by GSkill who achieved the time of 4min 44sec 609ms just a couple of weeks ago. ASUS and their team - which apparently has at least one member, “Smoke”, in common with the team GSkill assembled - also beat this record by almost 2 full seconds with a score of 4min 43s 0ms.

Finally, the real Trinity reviews arrive

Subject: Processors | October 2, 2012 - 04:56 PM |
Tagged: vishera, trinity, Steamroller, piledriver, bulldozer, amd, a8, a6, A4, a10, 5800K, 5600K

The NDA is over and we can finally tell you all about the new generation of Trinity, especially the compute portion which we were not allowed to discuss in the controversial preview.  Part of the good news is the price, Legit Reviews found the highest MSRP is $122 for the A10-5800K and it is currently available, though at $130.  The performance increase from the previous generation is decent for multicore applications though not so much for single threaded applications, overall you can expect general computing performance in line with Core i3 but not Core i5.  Gaming on the other hand did show much improvement, especially with you compare the built in HD7660D to Intel's current HD4000 and HD3500.  You can catch Josh's review right here.

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"The internal testing from AMD that we can see above shows a 37% increase in the 3DMark 11 score between the first generation A-Series Llano and this generation of A-Series Trinity. While our numbers don't match their numbers exactly, our Llano system scored 1115 3Dmarks while the AMD internal testing showed 1150 3DMarks. Our AMD A10-5800K scored 1521 3DMarks while they scored 1570. The overall difference was remarkably similar, AMD is boasting an increase of 37% and we saw a difference of 36.4%..."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

AMD Vishera (Piledriver-based) Desktop CPU Pricing Leaked By Retailer

Subject: Processors | September 29, 2012 - 10:46 PM |
Tagged: vishera, piledriver, amd, am3+

Trinity APUs are not the only Piledriver-based processors that AMD will be releasing this year. Trinity is coming next month, but later this year AMD should be putting out Vishera processors based on Piledriver CPUs cores – and without integrated GPUs. And now, thanks to a retailer leaking details on its website, we now know some basic specifications – and more importantly – pricing.

For the uninitiated, Vishera is AMD’s next generation processor. It will use the existing AM3+ socket, and is built on a 32nm HKMG manufacturing process. Further, the CPUs are based on the Piledriver architecture which features a number of efficiency improvements over Bulldozer.  Thanks to the architecture tweaks, and Cyclos Semiconductor’s resonant clock mesh technology that reduces the amount of power needed to keep the clock frequency synced across the entire chip. The architecture tweaks result in improved instructions per clock (IPC), improved floating point performance, leakage reduction, AMD Turbo Core 3, and new FMA3, AVX, AVS1.1, AES, and F16C instructions among other improvements.

For more information on the Piledriver architecture, and where AMD is taking it with Vishera, read the “AMD: Vishera and Beyond” editorial we recently posted. Also relevant is our mobile Trinity (A10-4600M) review which gives some small hints at the kind of CPU improvements we can expect with desktop Piledriver CPU cores versus the previous generation.

According to eTeknix, the recently leaked information from Bottom Line Telecomunications includes clock speed, core count, amount of cache, TDP and pricing for four of AMD's upcoming FX series Vishera processors: the FX 4300, FX 6300, FX 8320, and FX 8350. The FX 4300 is a quad core processor clocked at 3.8GHz with 8MB of cache and a 95W TDP (thermal design power). It was priced at $131.62 on the company's website. The FX 6300 CPU brings the core count up to six, and increases the cache to 14MB. It keeps the same 95W TDP as the FX 4300 but is clocked at 3.5GHz and costs $175.77.

The FX 8320 and FX 8350 are both eight core processors and have a 125W TDP. The FX 8320 is a $242.05 part with 16MB cache and comes clocked at 3.5GHz. The FX 8350 keeps the same 16MB cache but is clocked at 4GHz and, as a result, costs more at $253.06.

The FX 8320 in particular appears to be a neat processor, and will likely be the more popular of the two FX 8000 series as enthusiasts will overclock it match (or exceed) the FX 8350 while paying the cheaper price (since the only thing you are really giving up with the lower-end part is clockspeed, and not cache)!

It will be interesting to see if the Piledriver-based chips are worth the price though, since we have yet to see independant CPU performance benchmarks for either Vishera or Trinity. The following table is the leaked information from shopBLT mentioned above in table form.

shopBLT Item # Manufacturer Part # Description Price
BPW4489 FD4300WMHKBOX FX 4300 QC CPU AM3+ 8MB 95W 3.8GHz Box $131.62
BPW4488 FD6300WMHKBOX FX 6300 6C CPU AM3+ 14MB 95W 3.5GHz Box $175.77
BPW4487 FD8320FRHKBOX FX 8320 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 3.5GHz box $242.05
BPW4486 FD8350FRHKBOX FX 8350 8C CPU AM3+ 16MB 125W 4GHz Box $253.06

Speaking of pricing, AMD will not only be competing with Intel's Sandy Bridge processors, but its latest Ivy Bridge chips as well, so pricing will be key to AMD selling its CPUs. In the following chart, we compared AMD's upcoming Vishera processors (based on the leaked information above) to Intel's latest Ivy Bridge parts. Because we do not know what the performancer of Piledriver will be, we matched up the Bulldozer CPUs to the Intel competition based on pricing. Essentially, we attempted to find the the Ivy Bridge CPU with the closest price tag to the Vishera processors' price. Intel's 22nm process has definitely given the company a leg up on TDPs, but you do get as many as twice the cores (and cache) with AMD for the price. The FX 8350 is an odd part in that it does not have a good Ivy Bridge equivalent, because there is no approximately $250 Ivy Bridge CPU. The next-closest CPU is the Core i7-3770 at just-over $300. Note that it may end up being that a lower priced chip will actually perform equivalently (or outperform) to the FX 8350 – we just do not know at this point and the only basis for matching these up for sake of comparison is price right now.

  AMD       Intel      
Processor Model FX 4300 FX 6300 FX 8320 FX 8350 Core i3 3220 Core i5 3550P Core i5-3570K Core i7 3770
No. of cores (HT) 4 6 8 8 2 (4) 4 4 4 (8)
Cache 8MB 14MB 16MB 16MB 3MB 6MB 6MB 8MB
Clockspeed (turbo) 3.8GHz 3.5GHz 3.5GHz 4GHz 3.3GHz 3.1GHz (3.5) 3.4GHz (3.8) 3.4GHz (3.9)
pGPU n/a n/a n/a n/a HD2500 n/a HD4000 HD4000
TDP 95W 95W 125W 125W 55W 77W 77W 77W
Price $131.62 $175.77 $242.05 $253.06 $129.99 $189.99 $229.99 $309.99

The Intel processors were chosen base on pricing and not performance per-se. Note that the i5-3550P does not include integrated graphics.

Another interesting match up is the comparison between AMD's next generation Vishera processors and its current generation Zambezi Bulldozer CPUs.

zambezi vs vishera.png

The FX 4300 cache number seems like the only oddity, but is based on leaked information above.

Assuming that the leaked pricing ends up being accurate, AMD has put itself in an odd position with Vishera. Across the board, the Piledriver-based chips are notably more expensive than the Bulldozer predecessors. The next generation chips are offering up higher clockspeeds – and in some cases – lower TDPs. On the other hand, they are coming in at a premium, and AMD is already facing stiff competition from Intel’s Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge processors.

AMD will really have to bring the promised performance improvements in order to move its Vishera chips at these prices. Performance is key, and unfortunately that's one aspect of Piledriver that we don't yet know beyond AMD's claims. Personally, I'm hopeful that they will deliver on the claimed efficiency tweaks and that Vishera will be a success. At the very least, it should offer a nice upgrade for owners of AM3+ motherboards.

After the Trinity launch, we should have more information on the the level of CPU performance we can expect from Piledriver. Keep an eye on PC Perspective for more information on Vishera and the Piledriver architecture in general as it comes in!

Read more about AMD's Piledriver microarchitecture.

Source: eTeknix

That's why it is called a preview not a review

Subject: Processors | September 27, 2012 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: trinity, preview, papermaster launch, disappoint, amd, A10 5800K

By now you have probably realized that there is some commotion surrounding AMD's preview of their new Trinity chips.  As you can see below, many sites chose to post this preview as it is new information, regardless of the limits that AMD required reviewers to submit to.  Before you woke up this morning you did not have the knowledge you do now about Trinity's power consumption and gaming performance, for example Legit Reviews results, and on the 2nd you will get the rest of the results, which is not too far off in the future.

While limiting reviewers to a certain set of benchmarks for a preview is not a popular move for readers or writers, it is nothing new.  From Kyle's take on NVIDIA's reviewers guide to the driver wars which have gone on and on and on for longer than it is easy to find links for; there is a dirty side to reviewing.  Sometimes companies release new products and go out of their way to ensure that reviewers do not get their hands on before the products are for sale.  Of course reviewers occasionally go out and buy those products and once they get them on their test benches it becomes obvious why the companies did not send out review samples.  You don't have to like these practices, or accept them, but please realize that it is nothing new when you are lodging your complaints ... and do lodge complaints to the manufacturers if you find yourself upset.  Here at PC Perspective we want to give you all the information we can, even if it means we can only give it to you piecemeal, you do still get it.

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"So far, it appears that these APUs have an advantage over Intel's Ivy Bridge processors when it comes to graphics. The new AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU in these APUs is clearly superior to the GPU found in equivalent and even more expensive Ivy Bridge processors. Additional tests will have to wait until October 2nd, as that is when AMD is allowing full reviews of the new 'Trinity' APUs..."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Apple's A6 Processor Uses Hand Drawn ARM Cores to Boost Performance

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 27, 2012 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: SoC, PowerVR, iphone, arm, apple, a6

Apple's latest smartphone was unveiled earlier this month, and just about every feature has been analyzed extensively by reviewers and expounded upon by Apple. However, the one aspect that remains a mystery is the ARM System on a Chip that is powering the iPhone 5. There has been a great deal of speculation, but the officially Apple is not talking. The company has stated that the new processor is two times faster than its predecessor, but beyond that it will be up to reviewers to figure out what makes it tick.

After the press conference PC Perspective's Josh Walrath researched what few hints there were on the new A6 processor, and determined that there was a good chance it was an ARM Cortex A15-based design. Since then some tidbits of information have come out that suggest otherwise, however. Developers for iOS disovered that the latest SDK suggest new functionality for the A6 processor, including some new instruction sets. That discovery tended credence to the A6 possibly being Cortex A15, but it did not prove that it wasn't. Following that, Anandtech posted an article that stated it was in a licensed Cortex A15 design. Rather, the A6 was a custom Apple-developed chip that would, ideally, give users the same level of performance without needing significantly more power – and without waiting for a Cortex A15 chip to be manufactured.

Finally, thanks to the work of the enthusiasts over at Chipworks, we have physical proof that, finally, reveals details about Apple's A6 SoC. By stripping away the outer protective layers, and placing the A6 die under a powerful microscope, they managed to get an 'up close and personal' look at the inside of the chip.

Apple A6 ARM SoC.jpg

Despite the near-Jersey Shore (shudder) levels of drama between Apple and Samsung over the recent trade dress and patent infringement allegations, it seems that the two companies worked together to bring Apple's custom processor to market. The researchers determined that the A6 was based on Samsung's 32nm CMOS manufacturing process. It reads APL0589B01 on the inside, which suggests that it is of Apple's own design. Once the Chipworks team sliced open the processor further, they discovered proof that Apple really did craft a custom ARM processor.

In fact, Apple has created a chip with dual ARM CPU cores and three GPU cores (PowerVR). The CPU cores support the ARMv7s instruction set, and Apple has gone with a hand drawn design. Rather than employ computer libraries to automatically lay out the logic in the processor, Apple and the engineers acquired from its purchase of PA Semi have manually drawn out the processor by hand. This chip has likely been in the works for a couple of years now, and the 96.71mm^2 sized die will offer up some notable performance improvements.

microscope.jpg

It seems like Apple has opted to go for an expensive custom chip rather than opt for a licensed Cortex A15 design. That combined with the hand drawn layout should give Apple a processor with better performance than its past designs without requiring significantly more power.

At a time when mobile SoC giant Texas Instruments is giving up on ARM chips for tablets and smartphones, and hand drawn designs are becoming increasingly rare (even AMD has given up), I have to give Apple props for going with a custom processor laid out by hand. I'm interested to see what the company is able to do with it and where they will go from here. 

Chipworks and iFixIt also took a look at the LTE modem, Wi-Fi chip, audio amplifier, and other aspects of the iPhone 5's internals, and it is definitely worth a read for the impressive imagery alone.

Source: ifixit

Ivy Bridge versus Sandy Bridge in a power consumption showdown

Subject: Processors | September 18, 2012 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Ivy Bridge, Intel

iXBT Labs wanted to see how the two most current generations of Intel processors compare when running identical tasks.  To put the processors under maximum load they used Linpack and Furmark as well as looking at video playback.  In the case of the Furmark and Linpack+Furmark tests it might have been nice to see a power versus performance metric, as better performance on the benchmarks could make a slightly less power hungry CPU even more attractive.  However the video playback is a great example of what you can expect in the way of power draw as no one wants a faster processor to play their movie back at an increased speed, a 2 hour movie should take 2 hours to play.  That makes the second metric a little more valuable for those on battery power.  Take a quick peek at their 2 page article here.

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"We measured consumed power and energy consumption of four configurations based on the same testbed and four different CPUs belonging to two platforms: Intel Core i7-2700K (Sandy Bridge) and Intel Core i7-3770K (Ivy Bridge), Intel Core i5-2400 (Sandy Bridge) and Intel Core i5-3450 (Ivy Bridge)."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: iXBT Labs

AMD Binning Trinity APUs With Defective GPUs as CPU-Only Athlon Processors

Subject: Processors | September 13, 2012 - 01:03 PM |
Tagged: trinity, fm2, cpu, athlon, APU, AMD A series, amd, a75

NVIDIA’s new Kepler graphics cards (such as the GTX 660 we recently reviewed) will be getting most of the PC enthusiast attention today, but there is a bit of news about AMD to talk about as well.

The Trinity APU die.

Thanks to a Gigabyte motherboard compatibility list that was accidentally leaked to the internet, it was revealed that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) would be repurposing Trinity APU dies that don’t quite make the cut due to non-operative graphics cores. Instead of simply discarding the processors, AMD is going to bin the chips into at least three CPU-only Athlon-branded processors. The Athlon X4 730, X4 740, and X4 750K are the three processors that are (now) public knowledge. All three of the CPUs have TDP ratings of 65W, and the X4 750K is even unlocked – allowing for overclocking. Further, the processors are all quad core parts with a total of 4MB of L2 cache (1MB per core).

The new Athlon-branded processors will be supported by the A75 chipset and will plug into FM2-socket equipped motherboards.

The following chart details the speeds and feeds of the Athlon processors with Trinity CPU cores.

  Clockspeed TDP
Athlon X4 730 2.8GHz 65W
Athlon X4 740 3.2GHz 65W
Athlon X4 750K 3.4GHz 65W

 

Unfortunately, there is no word on pricing or availability. You can expect them to be significantly cheaper than the fully fledged Trinity processors to keep them price-competitive and in-line with the company's traditional CPU-only processors.

Would you consider rolling a Trinity-based Athlon in a budget build?

Read about the new direction of AMD as it moves to producing Vishera processors and beyond.

Source: Bit-Tech

Intel Dives in to Oil!

Subject: General Tech, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Systems, Shows and Expos | September 12, 2012 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: mineral oil, Intel

Intel has been dunking servers in oil for the last year and found the practice to be both safe and effective. Ironically it has been almost a year since we played around with mineral oil cooling – and when we did – we did not want to upgrade or fix anything. Intel agrees.

Intel inside, slick mess outside.

Often cooling a computer with a radiant that is not air focuses on cooling a handful of specific components and leaving the rest exposed to air. Gigabyte in their recent live presentation showed how the company reduced waste heat on the motherboard as it delivers power to the CPU as the latter likely receives more cooling than the former. With mineral oil you are able to more efficiently cool the entire system by immersing it in a better coolant than air.

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This still makes Ken wake up in a cold sweat… is what we convince ourselves.

After a full year of testing servers, Intel has decided that oil immersion cooling should be utilized by more server hosts to cut costs over traditional air conditioning. In their test they used heat sinks which were designed for air and dunked them pretty much unmodified into the mineral oil dielectric. Apart from the mess of it – Intel engineers always carried cleaning cloths just in case – Intel seems to only sing praise for results of their study.

Of course Intel could not help but promote their upcoming Phi platform which you may know as the ancestor of Larabee.

Now the real question is whether Intel just wanted to shamelessly plug themselves – or whether they are looking so closely at alternative cooling solutions as a result of their upcoming Phi platform. Will we eventually see heat dissipation concerns rear their heads with the new platform? Could Intel either be sitting on or throttling Phi because they are waiting for a new heat dissipation paradigm?

Could be interesting.

Live Blog: Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2012 Keynotes

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors | September 11, 2012 - 11:52 AM |
Tagged: Intel, idf, idf 2012, keynote

The Intel Developer Forum is one of the best places in the world to get information and insight on the future of technology directly from those that creat it.  Join me as I live blog (Wi-Fi connection dependent as always!) the keynotes from all three days at http://pcper.com/live!!

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Be sure to stop by our PC Perspective Live page at 9am PT on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday!!

Intel Haswell CPUs to Have 10W TDP, Perfect for Mobile Devices

Subject: Processors | September 6, 2012 - 01:10 PM |
Tagged: ultrabook, Intel, haswell, cpu, 10w tdp

Intel’s next generation Haswell CPU architecture is set to lower the bar even further on power efficiency by requiring only 10W of cooling. As the company’s mainstream processor, and replacement for Ivy Bridge, it is set to launch in the first half of 2013.

Haswell will be based on a new socket called LGA 1150, and is said to feature incremental performance improvements over Ivy Bridge. Further, Haswell CPUs will include one of three tiers of GT1, GT2, or GT3 processor graphics along with the AVX2 instruction set.

What is interesting about the recent report by The Verge is that previous rumors suggested that Haswell would have higher TDP ratings than both Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge. Considering Ivy Bridge has several 35W desktop models, and a few 17W mobile parts, the reported 10W TDP of Haswell seems to indicate that at least the mobile editions of Haswell will actually have much lower TDPs than Ivy Bridge. (It is not clear if detkop and non ultra-low-voltage (ULV) chips will see similar TDP improvements or not.)

The 10W TDP would mean that ultrabooks and other thin-and-light laptops could use smaller heatsinks and suggests that the processors will be more power efficient resulting in battery life improvements (which are always welcome). The Verge further quoted an Intel representative in stating that "It's really the first product we're building from the ground up for ultrabook."

While the lowest-power Haswell chips won’t be powerhouses on the performance front, with the improvements over Ivy Bridge to the CPU and GPU it should still handily best the company’s Atom lineup. Such a feat would allow Haswell to secure a spot powering future Windows 8 slates and other mobile devices where Atom is currently being used.

Just the fact that Intel has managed to get its next generation mainstream CPU architecture down to 10W is impressive, and I’m looking forward to see what kinds of devices such a low power x86-64 chip will enable.

Stay tuned for more Haswell news as the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) next week should be packed with new information. Here's hoping that the desktop chips manage some (smaller) TDP improvements as well!

Source: The Verge

New Low-Cost 35W Ivy Bridge Processors Coming

Subject: Processors | September 4, 2012 - 10:46 AM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Ivy Bridge, Intel, core i3, 35w

Back in March of this year, Intel launched a slew of third generation Core Ivy Bridge processors. At the high end sat the Core i7-3770K with 4 cores, hyperthreading, 3.5 GHz clockspeed (3.9 GHz Turbo Boost), 8 MB L3 cache, and a 77W TDP for $332. The lineup went down in features – and price – from there all the way to the Core i5-3330S. The 3330S had four cores, 6 MB of L3 cache, a 65W TDP, and a clockspeed of 2.7 GHz (3.2 GHz Turbo Boost). Further, just about every CPU that was not a K, S, or T edition came equipped with the older HD 2500 integrated processor graphics. While the list comprised 18 new processors, the lower-end Core i3 Ivy Bridge CPUs were noticeably absent.

Fortunately, FanlessTech has managed to get ahold of pricing and specifications for five of those lower cost Intel chips. The new additions to Intel's lineup include three Ivy Bridge processors and two Sandy Bridge CPUs. Specifically, we have the i3-3240T, i3-3220T, Pentium G2100T, Pentium G645T, and Pentium G550T. All of those parts have a TDP of 35W and are priced very affordably.

Model   Cores / Threads Clockspeed  L3 Cache TDP Launch Price ($USD)
i3-3240T Ivy Bridge 2/4 2.90 GHz 3MB 35W $138
i3-3220T Ivy Bridge 2/4 2.80 GHz 3MB 35W $117
Pentium G2100T Ivy Bridge 2/2 2.60 GHz 3MB 35W $75
Pentium G645T Sandy Bridge 2/2 2.50 GHz 3MB 35W $64
Pentium G550T Sandy Bridge 2/2 2.20 GHz 2MB 35W $42

 

The Core i3-3240T and i3-3220T are dual core Ivy Bridge processors build on a 22nm process, and are priced at just over $100. The cheapest Ivy Bridge CPU is actually the Pentium G2100T at $75 so the barrier to entry for Intel’s latest chips is much lower than it was a few months ago. Intel’s second generation Core architecture is still alive and kicking as well with the Pentium G645T and G550T at $64 and $42 respectively.

Two specifications are still unkown: Turbo Boost clockspeeds (if any) and which version of processor graphics these chips will feature. On the graphics front, I think HD 2500 is a safe bet but Intel may throw everyone a curve ball and pack the higher-end processor graphics into the low end units – which are arguably the (computers) that need the better GPU the most.

Granted, these lower cost processors are not going to give you near the performance of the i7-3770K that we recently reviewed, but they are still important for low power and budget desktops. Bringing the power efficiency improvements of Ivy Bridge down to under $100 is definitely a good thing.

As far as availability, you can find some of the new low TDP processors at online retailers now (such as the Core i3-3220T), but others are not for sale yet. While I do not have any exact dates, they should be available shortly.

How would you put these low TDP dual cores to work?

Source: FanlessTech

AMD Adds New AMD FX-4130 CPU, Announces New Pricing for Desktop Processors

Subject: Processors | August 27, 2012 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, am3+, fx-4130

AMD has good news for those looking to build or upgrade an AMD powered system as they are lowering their prices on processors across the board as well as adding the new four core Socket AM3+ FX-4130, with a 3.8GHz base clock and 3.9GHz in Turbo.  It is not yet for sale but is expected to retail for $112, easily affordable for most users looking for a lower cost system.

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"The value proposition for the first generation AMD A-Series APUs is also compelling: A quad-core CPU and a DirectX® 11 highly-capable gaming GPU on a single-chip with more than 500 GFLOPs of compute power, for under $100 (A8 3850). Working together, the CPU and GPU can accelerate a range of applications to outperform a stand-alone CPU in some use cases. The lower-power first generation AMD A-Series APUs are even more affordable and are receiving positive reviews for small-form factor HTPCs as well.  Price reductions across the first generation AMD A-Series APUs stack are in effect now, so please check your local retailer!"

 

Source: AMD

Intel's new HD2500 on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 20, 2012 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: linux, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i5-3470, hd 2500

The new Ivy Bridge processors introduced a new member of Intel's graphics processor called the HD 2500, which has received less than positive reviews as the previous HD 3000 outperforms it.  However those tests were for Windows applications and games, whereas the testing at Phoronix specifically pertains to the performance under Linux.  They compare the i5-2400S, i5-2500K, i5-3470, and i7-3770K together in a series of benchmarks to not only test the performance but also their compatibility with Linux.  It seems that perhaps the performance of the HD3000 and HD2500 are much closer in Linux than they were running under Windows, though both still lose out to the HD4000.

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"Since the launch of Intel's Ivy Bridge processors earlier this year there have been many benchmarks of the Intel Core i7 3770K with its integrated HD 4000 graphics and then more recently have been Linux testing of the Intel Core i7 3517UE from the CompuLab Intense-PC and Intel Core i7-3615QM as found on the Apple Retina MacBook Pro. The newest Intel Ivy Bridge chip to play with at Phoronix is the Intel Core i5 3470, which bears an Intel HD 2500 graphics core. In this article are benchmarks of the Intel HD 2500 Ivy Bridge graphics with the open-source Intel Linux graphics driver stack."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

PC Perspective Hardware Workshop 2012 @ Quakecon 2012 in Dallas, TX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards, Cases and Cooling, Processors, Memory, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | August 9, 2012 - 10:30 PM |
Tagged: video, workshop, streaming, quakecon, prizes, live, giveaways

It is that time of year again: another installment of the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop!  Once again we will be presenting on the main stage at Quakecon 2012 being held in Dallas, TX August 2-5th.  

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Main Stage - Quakecon 2012

Saturday, August 4th, 2pm CT

Our thanks go out to the organizers of Quakecon for allowing us and our partners to put together a show that we are proud of every year.  We love giving back to the community of enthusiasts and gamers that drive us to do what we do!  Get ready for 2 hours of prizes, games and raffles and the chances are pretty good that you'll take something out with you - really, they are pretty good!

Our thanks for this year's workshop logo goes to John Pastor!!

Our primary partners at the event are those that threw in for our ability to host the workshop at Quakecon and for the hundreds of shirts we have ready to toss out!  Our thanks to NVIDIA, MSI Computer and Corsair!!

 

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Live Streaming

If you can't make it to the workshop - don't worry!  You can still watch the workshop live on our page right here as we stream it over one of several online services.  Just remember this URL: http://pcper.com/workshop and you will find your way!

Case Mod Competition

Along with the Hardware Workshop, PC Perspective is working with Modders Inc on the annual case mod contest!  There are two categories for the competition: "Scratch Built" and "In the Box" that will allow those that build their computer enclosures from the ground up to compete separately from those that heavily modify their existing cases and systems.

For more details, be sure to check out the on going thread at the Modders Inc Forums!

Prize List (will continue to grow!)

Continue reading to see the list of prizes for the workshop!!!

Source: PCPer