Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | July 19, 2014 - 03:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon, Intel, avx-512, avx
It is difficult to know what is actually new information in this Intel blog post, but it is interesting none-the-less. Its topic is the AVX-512 extension to x86, designed for Xeon and Xeon Phi processors and co-processors. Basically, last year, Intel announced "Foundation", the minimum support level for AVX-512, as well as Conflict Detection, Exponential and Reciprocal, and Prefetch, which are optional. This, earlier blog post was very much focused on Xeon Phi, but it acknowledged that the instructions will make their way to standard, CPU-like Xeons at around the same time.
This year's blog post brings in a bit more information, especially for common Xeons. While all AVX-512-supporting processors (and co-processors) will support "AVX-512 Foundation", the instruction set extensions are a bit more scattered.
|Conflict Detection Instructions||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Exponential and Reciprocal Instructions||No||Yes||Yes|
|Byte and Word Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Doubleword and Quadword Instructions||Yes||No||No|
|Vector Length Extensions||Yes||No||No|
Source: Intel AVX-512 Blog Post (and my understanding thereof).
So why do we care? Simply put: speed. Vectorization, the purpose of AVX-512, has similar benefits to multiple cores. It is not as flexible as having multiple, unique, independent cores, but it is easier to implement (and works just fine with having multiple cores, too). For an example: imagine that you have to multiply two colors together. The direct way to do it is multiply red with red, green with green, blue with blue, and alpha with alpha. AMD's 3DNow! and, later, Intel's SSE included instructions to multiply two, four-component vectors together. This reduces four similar instructions into a single operating between wider registers.
Smart compilers (and programmers, although that is becoming less common as compilers are pretty good, especially when they are not fighting developers) are able to pack seemingly unrelated data together, too, if they undergo similar instructions. AVX-512 allows for sixteen 32-bit pieces of data to be worked on at the same time. If your pixel only has four, single-precision RGBA data values, but you are looping through 2 million pixels, do four pixels at a time (16 components).
For the record, I basically just described "SIMD" (single instruction, multiple data) as a whole.
This theory is part of how GPUs became so powerful at certain tasks. They are capable of pushing a lot of data because they can exploit similarities. If your task is full of similar problems, they can just churn through tonnes of data. CPUs have been doing these tricks, too, just without compromising what they do well.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 11:37 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quarterly earnings, GCN, financial results, APU, amd
Today, AMD posted financial results for its second quarter of 2014. The company posted quarterly revenue of $1.44 billion, operating income of $63 million, and ultimately a net loss of $36 million (or $0.05 loss per share). The results are an improvement over both the previous quarter and a marked improvement over the same quarter last year.
The chart below compares the second quarter results to the previous quarter (Q1'14) and the same quarter last year (Q2'13). AMD saw increased revenue and operating income, but a higher net loss versus last quarter. Unfortunately, AMD is still saddled with a great deal of debt, which actually increased from 2.14 billion in Q1 2014 to $2.21 billion at the end of the second quarter.
|Q2 2014||Q1 2014||Q2 2014||Q2 2013|
|Revenue||$1.44 Billion||$1.40 Billion||$1.44 Billion||$1.16 Billion|
|Operating Income||$63 Million||$49 Million||$63 Million||($29 Million)|
|Net Profit/(Loss)||($36 Million)||($20 Million)||($36 Million)||($74 Million)|
The Computing Solutions division saw increased revenue of 1% over last quarter, but revenue fell 20% year over year due to fewer chips being sold.
On the bright side, the Graphics and Visual Solutions group saw quarterly revenue increase by 5% over last quarter and 141% YoY. The massive YoY increase is due, in part, to AMD's Semi-Custom Business unit and the SoCs that have come out of there (including the chips used in the latest gaming consoles).
Further, the company is currently sourcing 50% of its wafers from Global Foundries.
“Our transformation strategy is on track and we expect to deliver full year non-GAAP profitability and year-over-year revenue growth. We continue to strengthen our business model and shape AMD into a more agile company offering differentiated solutions for a diverse set of markets.”
-AMD CEO Rory Reed
AMD expects to see third quarter revenue increase by 2% (plus or minus 3%). Following next quarter, AMD will begin production of its Seattle ARM processors. Perhaps even more interesting will be 2016 when AMD is slated to introduce new x86 and GCN processors on a 20nm process.
The company is working towards being more efficient and profitable, and the end-of-year results will be interesting to see.
Also read: AMD Restructures. Lisa Su Is Now COO @ PC Perspective
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 05:16 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: open-source, open source, fbx, epic games, Blender
Blender, probably the most popular, open source 3D creation suite (sorry Wings!), was given a healthy donation of $13,500 USD by Epic Games. According to the tweet from Ton Roosendaal, Chairman of the Blender Foundation, this is intended to support FBX development, which is becoming the industry standard method of importing and exporting 3D models, skeletons, animations, and so forth. It is also for "epic-game-style navigation controls" (not sure what this is -- Unreal Editor-style controls maybe??)
EpicGames donates 10k euro (13.5k usd) to Blender Development Fund. Is support for more FBX work + epic-game-style nagivation controls. #b3d
— Ton Roosendaal (@tonroosendaal) July 5, 2014
FBX support would definitely be a welcome area of development. It exists, but not at the level of other 3D applications, because those could link directly to Autodesk's library. The format is owned by Autodesk after they acquired Kaydara in 2006. Its closed-source SDK was put under a license that was incompatible with Blender and its public documentation was non-existent. Since then, the Blender community has been working on reverse-engineered support. They have come a long way, the exporting from Blender and importing into Unreal Engine 4 is apparently reasonable, today. Of course, with Epic's focus on the indie developer, $13,500 seems like a good investment to help it continue.
Beyond its status as the default import format into Unreal Engine 4.x, FBX is also standard in many different modeling applications. While it is fairly easy to move around most base, polygonal geometry (and UVs to properly apply materials to them) from suite to suite, the same cannot be said for animation data, and so forth. FBX was designed to be a single pipeline for all of that.
Hopefully, Blender can become a first-class citizen.
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: zip drive, powerpc, IBM, apple
Ah, sweet nostalgia. It seems like only a short while ago that Apple was saved by IBM, and Motorola, granting access to the PowerPC chips which were near the top of the field back in 1991. The Motorola 68K was falling behind the Pentium MMX chips in PCs and Apple needed some way to compete in the market and the 200-MHz 603e PowerPC was the answer. Now history is repeating itself with a partnership between IBM and Apple to bring iPhone apps to the enterprise, with apps specifically for enterprise environments as well as updates to existing apps to make them more enterprise friendly. Read up on your history, or refresh your memories of times gone by as well as what this partnership will bring in the future on Slashdot.
"Apple and IBM, which just announced partnership to bring iOS and cloud services to enterprises, have helped each other before. IBM played a key role in turning the Macintosh into a successful hardware platform at a point when it — and the company itself — were struggling. Nearly 25 years ago, IBM was a part of an alliance that gave Apple access to PowerPC chips for Macintosh systems that were competitive, if not better performing in some benchmarks, than the processors Intel was producing at the time for Windows PCs."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Imagination launches a tiny GPU for the next generation of wearable technology @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft announces 18,000 job cuts with Nokia to bear the brunt @ The Inquirer
- Gust catches Amazon's skirt, reveals glimpse of 'Netflix for books' @ The Register
- Price cuts, new features coming for Office 365 small biz customers @ The Register
- Nanoxia EU Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: General Tech | July 17, 2014 - 12:54 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Z97-WS, video, quakecon 2014, quakecon, podcast, flash voyager gtx, corsair, asus, 760T
PC Perspective Podcast #309 - 07/17/2014
Join us live from Quakecon 2014 as we talk about the ASUS Z97-WS, Corsair Flasy Voyager GTX and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, and Morry Tietelman
Week in Review:
0:06:00 ASUS Z97-WS Motherboard Review
News items of interest:
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2014 - 07:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, nividia, budget, 1080p, r7 265, gtx 750 ti, r7 260x
[H]ard|OCP's testing was performed using an i7-3770K but for those looking at the G3258 or other lower priced processors their results will still hold true. As of this posting all three of these cards are within $15 of the $150 mark so even including taxes and shipping you can get your hands on one for less than $200. If you have a 1080p monitor and want the best bang for your buck, which card is the best choice? The results were not absolutely clear cut and your experience may vary depending on the overclock you can achieve but in the end one card stood out, see which one in their full review.
"Today we continue our quest at finding the best value for 1080p gaming at less than $200. We are looking at two video cards from ASUS, the R7 265 DirectCU II and the GTX 750 Ti DirectCU II OC. We will compare across a variety of 1080p gaming, and draw our conclusion on the best value between the R7 260X, R7 265, and GTX 750 Ti."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- ASUS ROG Striker Platinum GTX 760 4GB @ [H]ard|OCP
- The NVIDIA TITAN Z Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Asus GTX780 Ti ROG Matrix @ Kitguru
- Swiftech Komodo NV-LE GPU Block Review @HiTech Legion
- MSI R9 280 GAMING 3G @ X-bit Labs
- HIS Radeon R9 290 iPower IceQ X2 OC @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sapphire Radeon R9 280 Dual-X 3GB Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2014 - 04:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Mantle, battlefield 4, BF4
Mantle is currently supported by the Nitrous, Frostbite 3 and CRYENGINE engines, and the current official list of released or soon to be released games that support the new API has reached eight AAA titles. eTeknix lined up three of these games to test, Battlefield 4, Thief and PvZ Garden Warfare to test on an R9 290X paired with both a AMD FX-8350 and an FX-4100. For BF4 with the Ultra preset, no V-Sync @ 1920 x 1080 both systems saw a noticeable jump in performance and Thief even more so for the FX8350 system. Check out the full results in their review.
"The biggest claim to fame of this new low-overhead API is its use in EA’s Battlefield 4 blockbuster and the support it has from EA’s famous FrostBite 3 Engine. However, what is all the fuss about? How does Mantle actually perform in practice? Why should you even care about it? These are questions we are hoping to address today."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- What's the scariest thing in the world? Ask your teenage daughter @ Polygon
- Yes, Of Course: Grim Fandango Remaster Confirmed For PC @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Baldur’s Dash: Pillars Of Eternity Beta Begins Next Month @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Developer: "consoles couldn't possibly handle" Star Citizen @ HEXUS
- AMD Mantle support coming to GTA V and CoD: AW says report @ HEXUS
- Braben On Elite, Oc Rift, Dodgy Gravity & Doing Space Right @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
- Aperture Tag Is A Whole New Portal Game… Without Portals @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: win8 mobile, win 8.1, nokia, lumia, skype, microsoft, cyan
If you own a Nokia Lumia phone which runs Win 8.1 then there is an update with quite a few interesting features available. US customers will see a Cortana update while all users will gain the ability to search their phone with Bing, an IE11 update, encrypted S/MIME and improved VPN support. There are quite a few app updates and users of the 1520 and Icon get Nokia Rich Recording and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 which improves both audio and video options. Check out Cyan at The Register but don't stop there because according to The Inquirer you will no longer need to be a Premium Skype member to make group calls from your mobile device as it is now a free feature for all.
"Nokia is rolling out Windows Phone 8.1 as an over-the-air update that comes bundled with "Cyan," a special feature package that's exclusive to Lumia devices."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The Linux Supercomputers We Secretly Fear Will Become Sentient @ Linux.com
- Linksys WRT1900AC Dual Band Smart WiFi Wireless AC Router Review @ Legit Reviews
- Can nothing trip up the runaway cash monster that is Intel? Well... @ The Register
- ASMedia, Asustek executives suspected of insider trading @ DigiTimes
Subject: General Tech, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 04:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: google, google play, Android, android l
If you have looked at Google's recent design ideologies, first announced at Google I/O 2014, you will see them revolve around skeuomorphism in its most basic sense. By that, I do not mean that they want to make it look like a folder, a metal slab, or a radio button. Their concept is that objects should look like physical objects which behave with physical accuracy, even though they are just simulations of light.
Image Credit: Android Police (and their source)
Basically, rather than having a panel with a toolbar, buttons, and columns, have a background with a page on it. Interface elements which are affected by that panel are on it, while more global actions are off of it. According to Android Police, who make clear that they do not have leaked builds and readers should not believe anything until/unless it ships, the Google Play Store will be redesigned with this consistent, albeit broad, design metric.
Basically, if you are navigation bar, pack your desk and get out.
If true, when will these land? Anyone's guess. One speculation is that it will be timed with the release of Android "L" in Autumn. Their expectation, however, is that it will be one of many updates Google will make across their products in a rolling pattern. Either way, I think it looks good... albeit similar to many modern websites.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 16, 2014 - 03:37 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: quarterly results, quarterly earnings, quarterly, Intel, earnings
Another fiscal quarter brings another Intel earnings report. Once again, they are doing well for themselves as a whole but are struggling to gain a foothold in mobile. In three months, they sold 8.7 billion dollars in PC hardware, of which 3.7 billion was profit. Its mobile division, on the other hand, brought in 51 million USD in revenue, losing 1.1 billion dollars for their efforts. In all, the company is profitable -- by about 3.84 billion USD.
One interesting metric which Intel adds to their chart, and I have yet to notice another company listing this information so prominently, is their number of employees, compared between quarters. Last year, Intel employed about 106,000 people, which increased to 106,300 two quarters ago. Between two quarters ago and this last quarter, that number dropped by 1400, to 104,900 employees, which was about 1.3% of their total workforce. There does not seem to be a reason for this decline (except for Richard Huddy, we know that he went to AMD).
Image Credit: Anandtech
As a final note, Anandtech, when reporting on this story, added a few historical trends near the end. One which caught my attention was the process technology vs. quarter graph, demonstrating their smallest transistor size over the last thirteen-and-a-bit years. We are still slowly approaching 0nm, following an exponential curve as it approaches its asymptote. The width, however, is still fairly regular. It looks like it is getting slightly longer, but not drastically (minus the optical illusion caused by the smaller drops).
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