Rumor: Google To Host Press Briefing on September 29th

September 22, 2015 - 08:37 PM |

Well, the event is apparently official. It's the contents that are rumored...

It's been a little while since Google announced new Android phones, almost a year in fact. Two phones have been rumored this year, which are allegedly named the Nexus 5X and the Nexus 6P. I am not sure how much of the leaks are pure speculation, versus grounded in actual fact, so I will leave it as an exercise to you to read a couple of links that summarize them. A grain of salt will be necessary of course. It's not that we are afraid to look at rumors, as we do so frequently, but I'd rather not play arbitrator this time. I don't think that I can research this topic enough to arrive at a sufficient level of confidence at the moment.


What I can say is that Google will host an event on September 29th, 2015, to announce whatever they have. The invitations have gone out to sites like CNet and it will present devices that use Android 6.0 M, which Google announced stands for “Marshmallow” last August. An updated Chromecast is also expected to be launched at the same event.

Samsung Announces New Branding and Future SSD Capacity Expansion with their New 48-Layer V-NAND

Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 06:10 PM |

During yesterday's SSD Summit, obscured by their 950 PRO launch was new branding for their 32 (and now 48) layer Vertical NAND technology:

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/V-NAND branding.JPG]

This new branding is more in line with what folks were calling their NAND anyway (Samsung was previously using the term '3D VNAND'. Dropping the 3D made sense, as it was implied with the 'V').

Also of interest were some announcements of upcoming higher capacities of their existing models:


4TB 850 EVO and PRO? Yes please.


1TB in the 850 EVO M.2 edition, and while there is no slide for this, the 950 PRO is also expected to be updated with a 1TB model within the same time frame as well.

How is all of this expansion possible? The answer is their third generation V-NAND, which is 48 layers and 256 GBit (32 GB) capacity per die. Samsung intends to roll this flash out and update all model lines currently using V-NAND technology. This decision was made by Samsung's Senior VP of Marketing, UnSoo Kim:

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/DSC06006.jpg] before you get out the pitchforks and form up the 'don't change the flash without a new model' lynch mob, I'd like to point out a few things that make this change different than what you might have seen in the past.

  • Samsung is trying to prevent confusion by adding product lines with nearly identical specs.
  • Samsung is being very open about this change (others were secretive / deceptive).
  • Samsung has promised that they will only implement this change in a way that *increases* the performance and *decreases* the power consumption of these products.

I did leave the Q+A with some further questions about this change. The lower capacities of the 850 EVO still see slower write performance when writing straight to TLC flash (SLC cache is full). This is because there are fewer dies available to write the data, and each die can only write so fast in TLC mode. Since the 48-layer V-NAND is to have double the capacity per die, that would mean half the dies per SSD and possibly slower write speeds in the overall product.

I approached UnSoo Kim after the Q+A and asked this specific question, and his answer was both interesting and refreshing. First, he understood my question immediately and assured me that they will not roll out 256Gbit 48-layer V-NAND into their smaller capacity models - in order to prevent any performance reduction over their current 32-layer equipped parts. Second, he told me that they also intend to produce a 128Gbit variant of 48-layer V-NAND at some point in the future, and use *that* part to substitute the 128Gbit 32-layer V-NAND in those smaller capacity models, keeping the die counts (and therefore sequential write speeds) equal. That additional variant of their third generation V-NAND is the only way (in my mind) that they could update their smaller capacity parts without losing performance, and it was great to see that Samsung has thought out the execution of this rollout in such a proper manner.

Driving your RAM at 3.6GHz

September 22, 2015 - 06:08 PM |

Bringing the frequency of your RAM up to 3600MHz certainly has an effect on price compared to DIMMs clocked at 2666MHz but does the performance justify that cost?  The timings of 17-18-18-38 @ 2T are tight for RAM of this frequency, though not as tight as 15-15-15-35 but perhaps that gives you some room for overclocking?  As shown in TechPowerUp's review it is not quite that easy, for example many Intel Z170 boards simply don't support these frequencies and updating your BIOS should be your first step before working with these DIMMs.  Synthetic benchmarks benefited from the full speed of these DIMMs but when it comes to actual gaming the results are negligible, especially considering you will be paying roughly triple the price for these DIMMs.  On the other hand if you simply need to have the best components on the market in your system you should check out the full review.


"Intel's new Skylake platform comes with DDR4 at increased memory speeds, and the first to help us investigate the benefits of high-performance DDR4 is G.Skill's latest design, the Ripjaws V. Wrapped in a new look, these ultra-fast 3600 MHz modules push the limits of your Skylake CPU."

Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:



MSI Makes Desktop Gaming Graphics Mobile with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU

September 22, 2015 - 02:57 PM |

It will cost you a pretty penny to pick up but if you are a laptop gamer the new MSI GT72 Dominator Pro is going to tempt you.  The laptop contains the mobile GTX 980 which Ryan recently covered, powerful enough to make G-SYNC run smoothly as well as offering support for sending 4K video. The actual notebook display is 1080p, sufficient for mobile gaming but you will want to invest in a serious 4K HDMI monitor to game on when you are at home. The PR is below and you can read more about the options and models straight from MSI right here.


City of Industry, Calif. – Sept 22, 2015 – MSI Computer Corp, a leading manufacturer of computer hardware products and solutions, celebrates its 29th anniversary, presenting the availability of its flagship gaming notebook, the GT72 Dominator Pro, with NVIDIA’s most advanced and highest performance GPU, the GeForce GTX 980.

Designed to bring desktop gaming graphics to a notebook, NVIDIA’s latest GeForce GTX GPU runs all 2048 cores at full clocks and full performance, resulting in the most immersive experience available. NVIDIA’s newest GPU is also built for overclocking and virtual reality, with NVIDIA Maxwell architecture and loaded with NVIDIA GameWorks VR Technologies for blistering fast and highly responsive VR graphics. 3D Mark 11 performance, when over-clocking, is expected to reach over P14,500 points, which is as powerful as that of desktops with GTX980 graphics. MSI fans may experience smoother DirectX 12 extreme gaming effects on Windows 10 for enhanced image quality and details with 3K or even 4K resolutions.

“The combination of NVIDIA’s latest GPU and the cutting edge components inside the GT72 Dominator Pro will astound even the most serious desktop gamers,” says Andy Tung, president of MSI Pan America. “The GT72 Dominator has always been a mobile gaming beast, and now the beast is even more powerful.”

MSI’s refreshed GT72 Dominator Pro armed with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU is ready to shatter records with Intel’s latest Core i7 processor, up to 32 GBs of DDR4 RAM, Killer Gaming Network Connectivity, and more. In additional, it enjoys NVIDIA’s BatteryBoost technology for longer battery life, NVIDIA’s Optimus technology that optimizes notebook performance, and a vast array of other features such as G-SYNC and Surround gameplay technology.

A quick overview of the iPhone 6s

September 22, 2015 - 02:35 PM |

For those interested The Inquirer has a quick breakdown of the specifications of the coming iPhone 6s.  At 138x67x7.1mm, it is a tiny bit thicker than the original iPhone 6 and so it also weighs slightly more at 143g.  The screen is unchanged at 4.7" with a 1334x750 resolution but it will now support 3D Touch that allows the phone to react differently depending on how much force you use while touching it. The Inquirer compares it to the Huawei Mate S's force-sensitive screen, if you have had experiences with that particular phone.  As usual Apple is not saying much about the processor but we do know it will be upgraded to an ARM A9 from the A8 present in the original.  Read on for more details right here.


"AS EXPECTED, Apple has announced that the next iPhones will be the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S Plus, updates to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S Plus."

Here are some more Mobile articles from around the web:


Who would have guessed? Microsoft's Cloud has a Linux lining

September 22, 2015 - 01:06 PM |

It is a strange new world we find ourselves, where part of Microsoft's Azure infrastructure will be built on Linux.  Azure Cloud Switch will allow software-defined networking to be used on Azure for those who are brave enough to dabble in SDN.  Microsoft will be incorporating the OpenCompute developed Switch Abstraction Interface based on Linux, as The Register points out this is likely due to a lack of similar functionality in Windows software.  In this particular case Microsoft will not be reinventing the wheel but will wisely focus on improving the functionality of Azure and Azure based products such as Office 365 which they have developed in house.  The 'cloud' is a strange place and it just got a little bit stranger.

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/windows azure.png]

"Redmond's revealed that it's built something called Azure Cloud Switch (ACS), describing it as “a cross-platform modular operating system for data center networking built on Linux” and “our foray into building our own software for running network devices like switches.”"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk


ASUS Updates Transformer Book Lineup with T100HA and TP200SA

Subject: Systems, Mobile | September 22, 2015 - 11:48 AM |

ASUS has updated their Transformer Book lineup today with new options for both the convertible tablet and 2-in-1 laptop designs.

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/T100HA_3K_Gray _(12)_NC.jpg]

First up we have the revised T100 model, the T100HA, which has a significant hardware update. Now featuring an Intel Atom (Cherry Trail) x5 Z8500 processor over the current T100TA's Bay Trail-T options, and the T100HA also features 4GB of memory standard.

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/T100HA_3K_Gray _(11).jpg]

Here's a look at the full specs from ASUS:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Atom 'Cherry Trail' x5 Z8500 (up to 2.24 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 10.1in WXGA (1280 x 800) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Tablet I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1 (5Gbps), 1x Micro USB port, 1x Micro HDMI, 1x Micro SD card slot, 1x headphone/mic combo jack
  • Keyboard dock I/O: 1x USB 2.0
  • Cameras: 2MP front / 5MP back
  • Operating System: Windows 10
  • Size: (Tablet) 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.33 inches; (Keyboard Dock) 
  • 10.43 x 6.89 x 0.28~0.39 inches
  • Weight: (Pad only) 1.28 lbs; (Keyboard dock) 1.04 lbs

Next up we have the Transformer Book Flip TP200SA, an 11.6-inch  2-in-1 design with an Intel Celeron N3050 (Braswell) processor.

[inline:files/news/2015-09-22/TP200SA_3G_Crystal Silver_(15).jpg]

Here are specs for the TP200SA:

  • Processor: Quad-core Intel Celeron 'Braswell' N3050 (up to 2.16 GHz, 2MB L2)
  • Display: 11.6in WXGA (1366 x 768) IPS panel
  • Memory & Storage: 4GB RAM, 64GB eMMC
  • Networking: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1
  • I/O: 1x Type-C USB 3.1 Gen1, 1x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0, 1x Micro 
  • HDMI, 1x Micro SD, 1x headphone/mic combo
  • Camera: VGA front
  • Operating system: Windows 10
  • Color: Dark Blue
  • Size: 11.69 x 7.93 x 0.73 inches
  • Weight: 2.65 lbs

These new Transformer Book models are set for a late September availability with pricing at $299 for the T100HA and $349 for the TP200SA.

Samsung Launches 950 PRO - 300,000 IOPS and 2.5 GB/sec from a M.2 V-NAND SSD!

Subject: Storage | September 22, 2015 - 02:39 AM |

I’ve been waiting a long time for Samsung to put their V-NAND flash memory into a PCIe connected SSD, and such a product has just been officially announced at the Samsung SSD Global Summit.


Samsung’s new product launching will be called the 950 PRO. This will be an M.2 2280 form factor product running at PCIe 3.0 x4. Equipped with Samsung’s 32-layer V-NAND and using the NVMe protocol enabled by a new UBX controller, the 950 PRO will be capable of up to an impressive 300,000 random read IOPS. Random writes come in at 110,000 IOPS and sequential throughputs are expected to be 2.5 GB/sec reads and 1.5 GB/sec for writes. Available capacities will be 256GB and 512GB.




The 950 PRO will be shipping with a 5-year warranty rated at 200 terabytes written for the 256GB model and 400 TBW for the 512GB. That works out to just over 100GB per day for both capacities.

These hit retail in October and we currently have samples in hand for testing.


(for those curious, both capacities only have components on the front side of the PCB)

Full press blast after the break.

Good Morning (Night) From Seoul! New Samsung SSDs Are Coming!

Subject: Storage | September 21, 2015 - 11:32 AM |

As I hinted during last week's podcast, I am in Seoul, Korea to cover an upcoming press conference.


To those keen readers who have followed my previous trips here, it can only mean one thing -


..and with a Samsung SSD Global Summit comes product announcements. Those don't happen until tomorrow (late tonight for you folks back in the states), but I did notice a clue on the cover of our itinerary folder:


See it? Here, let me help:



A VNAND powered M.2 (presumably NVMe) SSD is *exactly* the thing I have been waiting for Samsung to unleash into the wild ever since we reviewed their NVMe SM951. Given that Samsung's prior M.2 offerings gave the Intel SSD 750 a run for its money all while consuming half the power, and did so with Samsung's older 2D Planar NAND, you can bet a VNAND version will be something to behold. Let's hope this new model is released as a consumer product and doesn't end up as OEM-channel unobtanium like the NVMe SM951 was!

Keep an eye out for additional posts from our coverage of the 2015 Samsung SSD Global Summit!

Happy Sesquimillenial Linux Game, Valve and Steam

September 20, 2015 - 09:21 PM |

While the number of games doesn't exactly mean much in isolation, a large amount of them have been making their way to Linux recently. Valve's first-party library is an obvious addition, as they have been jaded with Windows since 8.x scared just about anyone interested in back catalog support with their “Desktop as an App” attempts to isolate the Win32 APIs. Other developers have been following suit, especially since engines are being designed cross-platform as of late.


Milestones can be interesting, though. In this case, Steam crossed the 1,500 mark in games for Linux that are hosted on its service. Some equate this to “there exists 1500 games for Linux”, which isn't quite right, but the distribution platform is definitely a behemoth in the industry. It is the default way to purchase many new titles, and is a Linux host for ARK: Survival Evolved and Shadow of Mordor.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find anyone who listed what the 1500th title was. Sorry!

Microsoft Created a Private Linux Distro. Laugh It Up.

September 19, 2015 - 08:28 PM |

Azure Cloud Switch is an operating system, which is based on Linux, that Microsoft has created for their data centers. This software will be installed on their network appliances, such as switches, to let them control the features that their data centers require. It also helps them interface hardware together, since they now control the software stack regardless of hardware vendor.


This is naturally making tech websites doodle on their calendars as the company uses Windows for just about everything. While basing a portion of their infrastructure in Linux is a sign that Microsoft is embracing open source, this is not the first time. Back in 2003, which is not a Linux-friendly year for the company, Microsoft used Linux-based infrastructure from Akamai to provide DDoS and malware protection. It worked. They have even been attributed as a top contributor to the Linux kernel in the past.

The OS is internal to Microsoft, but it is in affiliation with the Open Compute Project. I'm not sure if we will ever see the OS or its full source publicly.

September Update of Xbox App for Windows 10 Released

September 19, 2015 - 07:29 PM |

The Xbox App for Windows 10 was touted as a major feature before launch, but you barely hear about it after. I will occasionally get a notification that I can record game footage, or a little pop-up after pressing the center button of my 360 controller. Other than that, I barely notice that it exists. A lot of the functionality is useful to manage their Xbox One or Xbox Live Gamertag (do they even call it that anymore?) but PC gamers barely have a reason to open it. Granted, I expect Microsoft hopes that will change after enough Xbox-aware games for Windows 10 hit market. It's early days.


Some currently use it though, and it has just received an update for them. Version 9.9.16003.00000 has added four new features, two of which implement automatic updates for friends and their activity feeds. The button to refresh is still present, which is always nice in case something goes wrong, but it shouldn't need to be pressed as the app should be pulling notifications from Microsoft's servers on its own.

The other two features are more interesting.

The Xbox App now supports “Console text entry”. This feature allows Xbox One users to type into the console's search boxes “and more” using Windows 10 devices, and, more importantly, their keyboards or keypads. A chat pad is being launched for the console soon, which plugs into the controller to give it a QWERTY keyboard, but supporting laptops is definitely nice.

The last feature is “Game progress comparison”. In the Achievements panel, you are able to click on the “compare” button to line up your achievement history next to your friends. As it turns out, Ryan has a higher score than me in Halo 3. That just won't do.

Microsoft has also announced that they will be providing a Beta app in the future, which will arrive later this month. You can pick it up from the Windows Store when it becomes available, if you want.

Cooler Master Launches QuickFire XTi Mechanical Keyboard

September 19, 2015 - 06:28 PM |

Once again, a mechanical keyboard with 104-key rollover claims to have 100% anti-ghosting, because that is expected from a marketing perspective. Once you have a key matrix that has each key isolated, which 104-key rollover strongly suggests, then ghosting cannot occur so “anti-ghosting” is meaningless. Unfortunately, keyboard companies are still compelled to advertise the feature on the box, but I hope our readers understand the difference.


Regardless, Cooler Master has launched the QuickFire XTi mechanical keyboard. It uses official Cherry MX switches, but not the Cherry MX RGB switches that were once exclusive to Corsair. Instead of 16 million colors in the typical human spectrum, it allows for 35 colors on the red-blue spectrum. This could be a problem for people who want yellow, white, or green keys, but acceptable if you'll keep it at colors in the range of red, blue, or magenta. I'm not particularly sure why they cut so much of the spectrum away, but it clearly made sense to them. The lighting can be animated, though.

Cooler Master is proud of their cable management, though. The cable is detachable with a micro USB head and braided. They also have a few different ways of routing the wire under the keyboard, allowing the cable to come out on the side that makes the most sense for your desk, which is particularly good for lefties.

The Cooler Master QuickFire XTi is available now for $150 USD. I've found it on Amazon for $123.86, though.

Cooler Master Launches V Series PSUs

September 19, 2015 - 06:08 PM |

Cooler Master has "announced the availability of" six power supplies in their “V” series. They are high efficiency products that are fully modular with flat cables for routing. They each use “100% high quality Japanese capacitors” and introduce “exclusive 3D Circuit Design”. Models are available in 550W, 650W, 750W, 850W, 1000W, and 1200W. The highest-end one was announced a while ago, back in 2014, but the line is now available and larger.


The V550, V650, V750, V850, and V1000 each carry an 80PLUS Gold certification for efficiency, while the V1200 is rated at 80PLUS Platinum. Cooler Master claims that their 3D technology, which uses full, separate circuit boards to distance noisy circuits from each other, provides three benefits. First, it reduces heat and improves heat dissipation. Second, it reduces inefficiency that could be introduced by signal noise, which sounds a bit weird for direct current but makes a bit of sense. Third, the reduced ripple and noise can lower long-term stress on the capacitors, which definitely does make sense to me.

Five of the six power supplies come with five-year warranties (the 1200W has a seven-year one). They are available now and range from around 90$ USD to around 300$ USD. The V1200 is currently 30$ off at 270$ USD on Amazon.

Arbor Solutions Announces FPC-7800 Fanless, Rugged PCs

September 19, 2015 - 05:34 PM |

This is an interesting product for a couple of reasons. First, it uses the fourth-generation Haswell processors, rather than the newer Skylake or Broadwell components. On the other hand, it uses LGA-1150 components up to the 45W Intel Core i7-4770TE, which explains the lack of Broadwell and Skylake, because only Core i3 Skylake processors fit both of those constraints currently.


The device is rated for -4F to 131F and an undisclosed amount of shock and vibration. They support 2.5” drives, but the site only lists Intel SSDs. You would probably not want a spinning hard drive in a PC that you are concerned about shock and vibration tolerances. It also supports up to 16GB of DDR3 (again, Haswell) RAM, which should give you a fairly robust system to leave running in the middle of nowhere.

Like other systems that we've seen earlier, the case itself acts as a heatsink, which brings the product's weight up to 14.1 pounds. When you deal with these types of cooling solutions, it's difficult to tell whether they are rated with still air, or a sufficient breeze to carry the heat away from the case fins. It's not something that's advertised.

No pricing or availability is listed.

Microsoft Releases Windows 10 Preview 10547 to Fast Ring

September 19, 2015 - 05:05 PM |

As we approach the first major update to Windows 10, Microsoft has released another build to Fast Ring users. Oddly enough, Slow Ring users have not received a single build yet, and rumors have the release scheduled for the October / November time frame. This build is bigger than some previous ones that we've seen, addressing issues from the Start Menu, Edge, Tablet Mode, first-party apps, and more.


The headlining feature is an option to increase the number of tiles that are available on Start. Currently, you are allowed to have 512 tiles, but a switch will bump that up to 2048. This will obviously help users who have a lot of different applications, but I personally find myself using Search a lot more. I would like to see Microsoft support multiple instances of the same application, so you can select between common command-line arguments without having tiles on your desktop, bringing Search and Start to parity with it.

Object RTC in Microsoft Edge is interesting from a developer perspective, though. This standard allows real-time audio and video communication, which is commonly used for applications like video conferencing -- but that is not even its most important application. The base standard, Web RTC, allows websites to create network sockets, including peer to peer. Mozilla created a game, BananaBread, which uses this -- not for audio or video chat -- but for multiplayer synchronization without a server (except to connect the initial handshake). Unfortunately, implementations that I've used is also hostile to networks without UPnP support... maybe Microsoft will push that in a good direction.

Build 10547 is available now for Fast Ring users from Windows Update.

Kingston Announces HyperX Savage DDR4

September 19, 2015 - 04:32 PM |

With Skylake bringing DDR4 to mainstream desktops, Kingston has updated another one of their product lines to the higher standard. Previously, the company had a line of XMP-compatible RAM with a low heatspreader, called Fury, and a line of high-performance sticks with tall heatspreaders. This means that there was no combination (from Kingston at least) that brings 3 GHz RAM to systems with big CPU coolers that hangs over RAM slots.


As expected, kits are available all the way up to 64 GB (8x8GB). That pack is rated at 2800 MHz with a CAS latency of 14, versus the highest-bandwidth 3000 MHz kit (4x8GB) with a CAS latency of 15.

The RAM is supposedly available now, but I cannot find any listing online. Overclockers claims that they found a 2 x 4GB kit on for $72 USD, but I cannot verify that because the listing appears to have been removed. Kingston HyperX Savage DDR4 comes with a lifetime warranty.

Star Wars Battlefront Beta Will Be Public

September 19, 2015 - 03:56 PM |

EA has announced a beta for Star Wars: Battlefront, which will apparently be open for everyone. This will take place in “early October” and contain three game modes, each of the two known ones with a single map. I expect that the third, unknown mode, Drop Zone, will also come with its own map, but it could technically reuse Hoth or Tatooine from Walker Assault and Survival, respectively.


If you are not a fan of online gaming, then EA is supporting single-player Survival mode. You will apparently require an internet connection, but it is unclear whether you need to have it active to play the offline mode, while you play it. Squadron Fighter mode will not be available in the beta, but Walker Assault has a bit of aircraft play, so you should get a taste of the controls (if you can ever find an available vehicle).

EA has also mentioned their Star Wars Battlefront Companion app. This will not be some kind of Commander Mode. It will apparently have a card game and social component. It will be available during the beta as a website, but the iOS and Android app will be “prior to the release of Star Wars Battlefront”.

The game will come out on November 17th, while the beta will be available in early October.

HP Split Imminent, and 30,000+ Employees Will Be Let Go

September 19, 2015 - 03:10 PM |

As we reported a while ago, Hewlett-Packard is planning to split into two. The move will separate the consumer products into “HP Inc” and enterprise products into “Hewlett-Packard Enterprise”. This makes sense, because enterprise clients know the full name, but many consumers probably do not. At the time, it was expected to result in 5000 jobs lost, resulting in 55,000 since the upper management focused on cutting expenses. Now, about a year later, and right before the split happens, we find out that 5000 is now well over 30,000, bringing the 55,000 figure to between 85,000 and 95,000.


Image Credit: Wikipedia

These are fairly severe cuts, but it depends on how you look at it. A typical corporate restructure is around 10% of employees as a rule of thumb. If you count the slow, rolling job cuts as a single restructure, then the Hewlett-Packard Company has cut about 25% - 30% of their workforce, albeit offset by some hiring and rehiring that naturally won't be reported on as much as cuts.

If you look at this deal as a single restructure however, then it is between 10-15%, which is somewhat normal. Personally, I would say that this is the slightly more honest way of reporting on the issue. These cuts are on the severe side, but I don't think it spells trouble for the companies (although it is terrible for the employees).

Jim Keller Leaves AMD

September 18, 2015 - 01:00 PM |

2012 was a significant year for AMD.  Many of the top executives left and there were many new and exciting hires at the company.  Lisa Su, who would eventually become President and CEO of AMD was hired in January of that year.  Rory Read seemed to be on a roll with many measures to turn around the company.  He also convinced some big name folks to come back to AMD from other lucrative positions.  One of these rehires was Jim Keller.


Jim Keller, breakin it down for AMD. Or doing "The Robot". Or both.

Today it was announced that Jim would be leaving AMD effective Sept. 18th.  He was back at AMD for three years and in that time headed up the CPU group.  He implemented massive changes that would result in the design of the upcoming Zen architecture.  There was a full scale ejection of the Bulldozer concept that powered AMD processors since 2011 with the FX-8150 introduction with the current Excavator core design to last through 2016 with the final product being "Bristol Ridge,"expected next summer.  Zen will not ship until late 2016 with the first full quarter of revenue in 2017.

Jim helped to develop the K7 and K8 processors from AMD.  He also was extremely influential in the creation of the X86-64 ISA that not only powers AMD’s parts, but also was adopted by Intel after their disastrous EPIC/IA64 ISA failed to go anywhere.  His past also includes work at DEC on the Alpha processors and before AMD at Apple working on the A4 and A5 SOCs.

We do not know any of the details about his leaving, and perhaps never will.  AMD has released an official statement that “Jim Keller is leaving AMD to pursue other opportunities, effective September 18”.  Looking at Jim’s past employment, he seems to move around a bit.  Perhaps he enjoys coming into a place, turning things around, implementing some new thinking, but then becomes bored with the daily routine of management, budget, and planning.

In the near future this change will not affect AMD’s roadmaps or product lineups.  We still will see Bristol Ridge as the follow-up for Godavari in Summer 2016 and the late 2016 introduction of Zen.  What can be said beyond that is hard to quantify.  There are a lot of smart and talented people still working at AMD and perhaps this allows someone there to step up and introduce the next generation of architectures and thinking at AMD.  Everybody likes the idea of a rockstar designer coming in to shake things up, but time moves on and new people become those rockstars.

We wish Jim well on his new journey and hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come for AMD.  Consumers need the competition that AMD brings to the table and we certainly hope we see them continue to release new products and stay on a schedule that will benefit both them and consumers.  Perhaps he will join fellow veteran Glenn Henry at VIA/Centaur and produce the next, great X86-64 chip.  Perhaps not.