Google to Develop CPUs (For Themselves)?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 15, 2013 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: Intel, google, arm

Amazon, Facebook, and Google are three members of a fairly exclusive club. These three companies order custom server processors from Intel (and other companies). Jason Waxman of Intel was quoted by Wired, "Sometimes OEMs and end customers ask us to put a feature into the silicon and it sort of depends upon how big a deal it is and whether it has to be invisible or proprietary to a customer. We're always happy to, if we can find a way to get it into the silicon".

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Now, it would seem, that Google is interested in developing their own server processors based on architecture licensed from ARM. This could be a big deal for Intel as Bloomberg believes Google accounts for a whole 4.3% of the chip giant's revenue.

Ouch.

Of course this probably does not mean Google will spring up a fabrication lab somewhere. That would just be nutty. It is still unclear whether they will cut in ARM design houses, such as AMD or Qualcomm, or whether they will take ARM's design and run straight to TSMC, GlobalFoundries, or IBM with it.

I am sure there would be many takers for some sizable fraction of 4.3% of Intel's revenue.

Source: Bloomberg

Intel Broadwell to Reach 3.5W and Other Details!

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 14, 2013 - 01:07 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell

This leak is from China DIY and, thus, machine-translated into English from Chinese. They claim that Broadwell is coming in the second half of 2014 and will be introduced in three four series:

  • H will be the high performance offerings
  • U and Y have very low power consumption
  • M will fit mainstream performance

The high performance offerings will have up to four CPU cores, 6MB of L3 cache, support for up to 32GB of memory, and thermal rating of 47W. The leak claims that some will be configurable down to 37W which is pretty clearly its "SDP" rating. The problem, of course, is whether 47W is its actual TDP or, rather, another SDP rating. Who knows.

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The H series is said to be available in either one or two chips.  Both a separate PCH and CPU version will exist as well as a single-chip solution that integrates the PCH on-die.

There is basically nothing said about the M series beyond acknowledging its existence.

The U and Y series will be up to dual-core with 4MB L3 cache. The U series will have a thermal rating of 15W to 28W. The Y series will be substantially lower at 4.5W configurable down to 3.5W. No clue about which of these numbers are TDPs and which are SDPs. You can compare this earlier reports that Haswell will reach as low as 4.5W SDP.

Hopefully we will learn more about these soon and, perhaps, get a functional timeline of Intel releases. Seriously, I think I need to sit down and draw a flowchart some day.

Source: China DIY

TSMC Begins 16nm FinFET-based 3D Chip Production

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 14, 2013 - 12:08 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, process node, 16nm

Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) is one of the few chip fabrication companies in the world (especially when you omit the memory producers, etc.). Their customers include: AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and even a few Intel Atom processors have come out of their lines at one point. They will take money from just about anyone who wants a chip.

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According to Bit-Tech, a few customers will even have access to 16nm before the end of the year.

The catch, which of course there is one, is that production runs will be very small. We would love to see a gigantic run of new AMD or NVIDIA GPUs based on 16nm but that will not be the case (and not just because Volcanic Islands and Maxwell are both 2Xnm products). The first customers, while otherwise anonymous, will be interested in mobile systems-on-a-chip (SoCs).

On the plus side, when future 1Xnm designs come out, TSMC's production could be reasonably caught up to make a smooth launch.

Intel, the current leader in the fabrication world, targeted a slightly smaller 14nm process and have already begun producing a few odds and ends at that level. Full production has not even really started yet.

Just so you can get an idea of the complexity we are dealing with: 16nm fabrication creates details that are just ~32 atoms in width.

Source: Bit-Tech

AMD Seattle: 64-bit ARM for the Data Center in 2014

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 13, 2013 - 10:55 PM |
Tagged: opteron, arm, amd

The ARMv8 architecture extends the hardware platform to 64-bit. This increase is mostly useful to address massive amounts of memory but can also have other benefits for performance. I think many of us remember the excitement prior to x86-64 and the subsequent let-down when we realized that, for most applications, typical vector extensions kept up in performance especially considering the compatibility issues of the day. It needed to happen but it was a hard sell until... it was just ubiquitous.

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AMD has not kept it secret that they are developing 64-bit ARM processors for data centers but, until this week, further details were scarce. Under the codename, "Seattle", these processors will be available in four and eight cores. The Opteron branding will expand beyond x86 to include these new processors. The pitch to enterprises is simple: want both ARM and x86? Why bother with two vendors!

Seattle will also support up to 128GB of ECC memory and 10 Gigabit Ethernet for dense, but power efficient, compute clusters. It will be manufactured on the 28nm process.

The majority of AMD's blog post proclaimed its commitment to software support and it is definitely true that they hold a very high status in both the Linux and Apache Foundations. ARMv8 is supported in Linux starting with kernel 3.7.

Seattle is expected to launch in the second half of 2014.

Source: AMD

A Few More Haswell Refresh (2014) Details

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 13, 2013 - 05:49 PM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell

Intel will begin to refresh their Haswell line of processors, according to VR-Zone, starting in Q2 and continue into Q3. This will be accompanied by their 9-series of motherboard chipsets. The Intel Core i7-4770 and Core i7-4771 will be replaced, not just surpassed, by the Core i7-4790. That said, the only difference is a 100MHz bump to both the base and turbo CPU frequencies.

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The K-series processors will come in Q3 and are said to be based on Haswell-E with DDR4 memory. I find this quite confusing because of previous reports that Broadwell-K would appear at roughly the same time. I am unsure what this means for Broadwell-K and I am definitely unsure why some Haswell-E components would be considered part of the Haswell refresh instead of the Haswell-E launch.

My gut instinct believes that VR-Zone is simply confused or that Microsoft and Google Translate are both terrible at understanding this article.

Source: VR-Zone

(HCW) AMD A10-6790K APU Review and Benchmarks

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 10, 2013 - 03:56 PM |
Tagged: Richland, amd

AMD has been heavily promoting their Kaveri platform leading up to its January launch. This new generation of parts should slowly replace Richland with faster and HSA-compliant silicon. AMD added a new member of the Richland family on October 29th, however, called the A10-6790K. With a base frequency of 4.1 GHz (turbo to 4.3 GHz) and 384 shader cores clocked at 844 MHz, it has a maximum theoretical compute power of 779 GFLOPs.

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Image Credit: HCW

Carl Nelson of Hardcoreware (HCW) picked one of these APUs up and tested it against a number of metrics (including OpenCL performance) and four similarly priced competitors. Specifically, he found Battlefield 4 playable on low (~35 FPS) at 720p without a discrete graphics solution especially for a home theater PC (HTPC).

Even though better things are on the horizon, you may want to check out his review if only as comparison to what will arrive next month. Who knows, maybe this fits your $120-130 price point.

Source: Hardcoreware

The 25W, four core Xeon E3 1230Lv3

Subject: Processors | December 9, 2013 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: xeon e3, Intel, haswell, 1230Lv3

Server chips with low power consumption are in style an the Xeon E3-1230Lv3 certainly qualifies at a tiny 25W TDP.  It is a Haswell chip running at a peak speed of 1.8GHz which would be great for a small business or for a home server.  eTeknix compared the performance of this chip to the i7-4770K with a TDP more than three times that of the Xeon which is perhaps a little unfair to the E3 but is a familiar chip to most enthusiasts.  That said the Xeon doesn't fall too far behind in many tests and at $250 it is less expensive to slap into a Z87 motherboard and it will reduce your power bill somewhat.

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"Intel’s Xeon E3-1230Lv3 CPU has been a hotly anticipated processor for a wide variety of target audiences – home users, office users, small business users and enterprise users. Today we’ve got an opportunity to put Intel’s enterprise Xeon E3-1230Lv3 CPU to the test in a professional home user or “prosumer” type of environment, by pairing it up with SuperMicro’s server-grade C7Z87-OCE motherboard. The Intel Xeon E3-1230Lv3 is an important CPU because it offers four cores, eight threads, a 1.8GHz base frequency, a 2.8GHz Turbo frequency and 8MB of cache all for a tiny TDP of just 25W."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: eTeknix

AMD A10-7850K and A10-7700K Kaveri Leaks Including Initial GPU Benchmarks

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 3, 2013 - 01:12 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd

The launch and subsequent availability of Kaveri is scheduled for the CES time frame. The APU unites Steamroller x86 cores with several Graphics Core Next (GCN) cores. The high-end offering, the A10-7850K, is capable of 856 GFLOPs of compute power (most of which is of course from the GPU).

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Image/Leak Credit: Prohardver.hu

We now know about two SKUs: the A10-7850K and the A10-7700K. Both parts are quite similar except that the higher model is given a 200 MHz CPU bump, 3.8 GHz to 4.0 Ghz, and 33% more GPU units, 6 to 8.

But how does this compare? The original source (prohardver.hu) claims that Kaveri will achieve an average 28 FPS in Crysis 3 on low at 1680x1050; this is a 12% increase over Richland. It also achieved an average 53 FPS with Sleeping Dogs on Medium which is 26% more than Richland.

These are healthy increases over the previous generation but do not even account for HSA advantages. I am really curious what will happen if integrated graphics become accessible enough that game developers decide to target it for general compute applications. The reduction in latency (semi-wasted time bouncing memory between compute devices) might open this architecture to where it can really shine.

We will do our best to keep you up to date on this part especially when it launches at CES.

Source: ProHardver

Intel Xeon Phi to get Serious Refresh in 2015?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 28, 2013 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Xeon Phi, gpgpu

Intel was testing the waters with their Xeon Phi co-processor. Based on the architecture designed for the original Pentium processors, it was released in six products ranging from 57 to 61 cores and 6 to 16GB of RAM. This lead to double precision performance of between 1 and 1.2 TFLOPs. It was fabricated using their 22nm tri-gate technology. All of this was under the Knights Corner initiative.

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In 2015, Intel plans to have Knights Landing ready for consumption. A modified Silvermont architecture will replace the many simple (basically 15 year-old) cores of the previous generation; up to 72 Silvermont-based cores (each with 4 threads) in fact. It will introduce the AVX-512 instruction set. AVX-512 allows applications to vectorize 8 64-bit (double-precision float or long integer) or 16 32-bit (single-precision float or standard integer) values.

In other words, packing a bunch of related problems into a single instruction.

The most interesting part? Two versions will be offered: Add-In Boards (AIBs) and a standalone CPU. It will not require a host CPU, because of its x86 heritage, if your application is entirely suited for an MIC architecture; unlike a Tesla, it is bootable with existing and common OSes. It can also be paired with standard Xeon processors if you would like a few strong threads with the 288 (72 x 4) the Xeon Phi provides.

And, while I doubt Intel would want to cut anyone else in, VR-Zone notes that this opens the door for AIB partners to make non-reference cards and manage some level of customer support. I'll believe a non-Intel branded AIB only when I see it.

Source: VR-Zone

Components Deals: Amazon Gold Box has Core i7-4770K for $299, Intel 240GB 530 SSD for $149

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Storage | November 19, 2013 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: i7-4770k, gold box, deals, amazon, 530 series

I don't often post about the Amazon Gold Box deals, but today the company has some great offerings specific to PC enthusiasts and DIY builders that you might want to take advantage of.  Please keep in mind though that these deals are only good today, November 19th!!

The flagship offering is the Intel Core i7-4770K, the company's highest end LGA1150 Haswell processor, is on sale for $299; $60 off the normal MSRP. That is the best price I have seen on that flagship CPU with the exception of in-store offerings from MicroCenters. 

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For those of you on a tighter budget, Amazon has the Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge processor on sale for $199

Another great price can be had on the Intel 530 Series 240GB SSD that is going for $149; well under the MSRP price. 

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You can also find good deals on a pair of Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 cards including the OC model with boost for $239 or the Vapor-X model for $289, both after rebates. 

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Here are some other interesting deals, all found on the Gold Box deal page:

And just remember: these deals are only good today, November 19th!!

Source: Amazon