Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Very Minor Changes

November 14th, 2011 - that is the date that Intel introduced the LGA 2011 socket and the Sandy Bridge-E processor. Intel continued their pattern of modifying their mainstream architecture, Sandy Bridge at the time, into a higher performance (and higher priced) enthusiast class. The new socket differentiated these components into their own category for workstation users and others who demand top performance. Today Intel officially unveils the Ivy Bridge-E platform with essentially the same mindset.

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The top end offering under the IVB-E name is the Core i7-4960X, a six-core, HyperThreaded processor with Turbo Boost technology and up to 15MB of L3 cache.  Sound familiar?  It should. There is really very little different about the new 4960X when compared to the Sandy Bridge-E Core i7-3960X released in 2011.  In fact, the new processors use the exact same socket and will work on the same X79 motherboards already on the market.  (Pending, of course, on whether your manufacturer has updated the UEFI/Firmware accordingly.) 

 

The Ivy Bridge-E Platform

Even though the platform and features are nearly identical between Sandy Bridge-E and Ivy Bridge-E there are some readers that might need a refresher or maybe had never really investigated Socket 2011 products before today.  I'll step through the major building blocks of the new Core i7-4960X just in case.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i7-4960X Ivy Bridge-E Processor!!

Ivy Bridge E arrives with a murmur

Subject: Processors | August 30, 2013 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: x79, lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-E, i7-4960X

The i7-4960X has arrived and the fact that it is compatible with current LGA2011 boards might be the biggest hurdle for the Intel sales team.  [H]ard|OCP tested it on a brand new ASUS X79 Deluxe and while it did prove to be a bit faster than a 3930K, or for that matter a 4770K, as well as using a little less power at full load it just does not offer enough of a jump to make swapping your SB-E chip out.  Idle power is impressively low and if you are on an older LGA 1366 board you will certainly notice a jump, so there will certainly be a market for this generation of Intel chip.

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"We debut Intel's next $1000 Extreme Desktop processor, the Core i7-4960X, this time with Ivy Bridge architecture and a couple of extra cores thrown in for good measure. It is a beast of a CPU for those that can actually harness its power and bandwidth, but how much better is it than Sandy Bridge-E and Haswell at the same clocks?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Is the AMD FX-9590 5.0 GHz processor getting a price drop?

Subject: Processors | August 23, 2013 - 03:28 PM |
Tagged: piledriver, FX-9590, amd

Over the last couple of days we had heard rumors about a potential price drop on the 5.0 GHz (Turbo Speed) AMD FX-9590 processor that was released in June.  As the week progressed, the likelihood of this being true skyrocketed as several online outlets are showing much lower than expected pricing on the 8-core 220 watt CPU.

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Aria.co.uk - listed at £299

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Overclockers.co.uk - listed at £279

Two different UK-based online and retail outlets were showing the FX-9590 for sale for as low as £279 or $434 USD.  That is a big price drop from £699 rate ($1008 USD) and obviously is causing quite a stir in the community.  This puts the latest entries in the world of AMD FX just above the other parts like the standard FX-8350 in terms of cost which was definitely NOT the case in June or July. 

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In the US, the FX-9590 is still selling at Newegg as an OEM part but the current price is stuck at $879!

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So why all the fuss?  AMD claims that these are NOT price drops at AMD's request and that instead are the result of "business to business" negotiations.  The official statement from AMD is as follows:

AMD channel partners are able to deliver the AMD FX-9000-series processor, AMD’s fastest and most powerful  desktop processor, in highly customized systems and solutions in a manner that provides AMD fans access to the technology. We are excited to see high levels of interest in our AMD FX 9000-series processors, and will continue to work with our valued channel partners to ensure our products are readily available to the enthusiast community.

If you're like me, you don't really take anything interesting away from this statement other than "no comment."  So what is really happening?

First, according to AMD the FX-9590 was never intended to be sold as an OEM part and rather was supposed to ship only in pre-built systems from companies like iBuyPower or in bundles that include a motherboard and cooler along with the processor.  If these bundles were slow sellers though it seems plausible that the retailers would find ways to expire the bundle program and "accidentally" start selling the processors alone.  Based on photos from ReviewBros that appears to be the case.

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Photo source: ReviewBros

In reality though, this is the pricing that we would have liked to see the FX-9590 ship at originally and the first sets of reviews (that we were not included on) might have been much more positive.  At $430 USD the FX-9590 competes with the higher end Core i7 Haswell processors in terms of performance but obviously uses quite a bit more power to get there. 

If you are interested in buying a bundle or a system with the FX-9590 I do expect there to be some updates to pricing from all of the same system builders that launched with the processor originally to reflect these "business to business" happenings.  I have already expressed interest to AMD and a couple of boutique builders in reviewing a system with these pricing and placement adjustments. 

As for the idea of a "price drop", things are just more complicated than that.  AMD tells me that because it was never intended to sell as an OEM part any pricing changes are not a result of AMD's demands.  Honestly I don't know why AMD is so opposed to just saying there has been a price drop other than the negative reaction of the initial launch buyers; but that is always the case in the enthusiast market. 

Regardless of the verbiage, the fact is that you'll likely be able to find the AMD FX-9590 and its 5.0 GHz Turbo clock rate available at lower prices in systems and on store shelves (though without AMD's consent) for much closer to the actual performance/value they offer.  I'll take it.

Futuremark Gets Down To... Its... Business with VR-Zone

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 23, 2013 - 01:31 AM |
Tagged: Futuremark, AnTuTu, benchmarking

VR-Zone tossed the bees nest in a paint shaker and received a fairly sedate outcome.

A little background information is required. AnTuTu, a mobile benchmark developed by AnTuTu Labs, has been accused of inaccurate scores and bias towards specific hardware. Leaked BayTrail-T benchmarks, surpassing our expectations of Intel's capabilities, were harshly refuted based on AnTuTu's credibility. More recently, certain Samsung GPUs have been allegedly recorded self-overclocking during that benchmark but not elsewhere.

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Scene from Cloud Gate, latest Windows 3DMark.

Oliver Baltuch, president of Futuremark, accepted an interview with VR-Zone to discuss business and ethics in their marketplace. Futuremark is a direct competitor to AnTuTu and a household name in the benchmarking community. Being modest Fins, self-proclaimed, they did not wish to discuss whether AnTuTu was less honest than they are. Futuremark does disagree with AnTuTu's process, however, and has some suggestions for better results.

The design process for 3D Mark Android begun with 25 pages of specification proposal. Each vendor is given a chance to reply to that proposal and these responses are compared. Changes to the specification must be reviewed by a committee sitting between the financial department and the engineering department.

Baltuch made the point that all of their finances for the last five years, according to Finnish law, can be reviewed for about $7 USD. Despite being a private company, the law mandates no deals can be made in secret.

On the engineering side of things, drivers are approved only if they follow specific guidelines. Unapproved results will be removed from their website and leaderboards followed by a polite conversation with the manufacturer. Drivers are not allowed to identify their benchmarks intent on modifying settings due to that information.

Almost every benchmark they release gets negative responses from some upset vendor or vendors.

The relatively short interview is wrapped up with commentary on iOS benchmarks. Futuremark is nearing completion of their first benchmarking app. Apple disallows apps to exceed 60 frames per second, through vsync, which unnecessarily hinders benchmark scores. Working around this, Futuremark developed a method to render frames which are not displayed on screen to keep the processors from idling once at frame rate cap.

Ryan must love that idea...

This concept has, according to the interview, reached internal QA review and is expected to be released in a few weeks.

Futuremark develops benchmarks for x86 Windows, Windows RT, Android, and iOS. Scores are intended to scale linearly to their metrics and are designed to allow cross-platform performance comparisons.

Also check out our interview with Oliver Baltuch from last February discussing 3D Mark.

Source: VR-Zone

Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will NOT utilize AMD hUMA with Kabini-based SoC

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd

UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).

You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture.  hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.

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Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:

The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory.  Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.

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There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect.  After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on.  AMD further clarified with us:

Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.

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So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.

NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA.  That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.

UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment.  Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true.  Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information. 

So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory?  Maybe.  And the Xbox One?  Maybe.  At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter.  Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...

AMD Gains GPU Market Share From Last Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, APU, amd

Despite a slight decline in PC sales compared to last quarter, graphics processors are on the rise. Jon Peddie Research attributes the heightened interest in graphics, with a decline in systems, to a trend towards multiple GPUs in a system. Crossfire and SLI, according to the report, are not driving this drift but they are relevant. More importantly, consumers are adding discrete graphics to systems with integrated solutions.

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AMD has experienced an increase in shipments of 47% for laptop APUs. Desktop heterogeneous processors declined but, in all, shipments increased 11%. Intel, likewise, saw an increase albeit just 6%. NVIDIA declined 8%. AMD now enjoys a 5.8% lead in total market share over NVIDIA.

Many PCs have access to multiple graphics processors simultaneously. With an increase of available GPUs, software developers might take the plunge into fully supporting heterogeneous architectures. You could imagine a game which offloads physics or AI pathfinding to secondary graphics. Sure, the increased heat would slightly limit the turbo-performance of the CPU, but the increased parallel performance should overtake that decreased serial performance for a sensible developer.

JPR claims an average of nearly 1.4 GPUs available per system.

The increased laptop heterogeneous processors is a major win for AMD. Still, I wonder how much Never Settle played in to users dropping discrete graphics into machines which would otherwise have integrated (chipset or processor) graphics. The discrete graphics market has declined and yet somehow AMD got a boost from double-attach or replaced graphics.

The report only discusses consumer x86 tablets, desktops, laptops, and some hybrid between the previous three categories. Other processor architectures or x86 servers are not covered.

Source: JPR

Desktop Ivy Bridge-E Could Overclock Quite Well? Price?

Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 11, 2013 - 04:26 PM |
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Ivy Bridge was well known, just not in a good way, for its overclocking ability. We noted how sharply temperatures rose when frequencies were increased above factory recommendations in our i7 3770K review. Performance scaled well but, even with a decent aftermarket cooler, only did so while close to the boiling point of water. As Ryan described it,

To be fair, the 1.3v setting for this processor is on the upper limit of what you should be using according to many reports.  The 22nm process is great for low power consumption but apparently not great for overclocking - higher voltages result in much higher temperatures than what we would have seen on Sandy Bridge.

(...)

...and a 24% boost in TrueCrypt. Pretty impressive results actually. But things are getting HOT under our Corsair H80 as it was unable to keep the CPU from breaching the 80C mark.

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According to a roadmap received by VR-Zone, the pinnacle of Ivy Bridge-E until at least Q2 2014 will be the Core i7-4960X which, last month, failed to excite enthusiasts when benchmarks leaked. The story kept true from mainstream: it remains in Sandy Bridge-E's ballpark but requires less power. I am sure that Amazon Web Services will be thrilled...

We have wondered if Intel intends to punt this launch, fulfill commitments to Socket 2011 and nothing more, in preparation of Haswell-E. We may never see the i7-4960X overthrown, Xeon notwithstanding, until after the socket is retired.

But, now, we get to the hopeful news.

Unlike the prior generation, Sandy Bridge-E, the i7-4960X will not be a crippled Xeon architecture with disabled cores. While still a 6-core part, it will be so natively. Previously, the 6-core Sandy Bridge-E was an 8-core product with two disabled. This is an advantage because, assuming the locked cores could never be restored, their absence should allow greater overclocking headroom. Factor in the quad-channel DDR3-1866, which itself should have decent overclock potential, and users might have more room to be enthusiastic enthusiasts.

Overclocking capacity was the biggest unknown from last month's leaks. It is now looking a little more hopeful, at least for those with Sandy Bridge-E and an intent to replace their CPU before their motherboard.

And the pricing...?

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Image credit, VR-Zone.

According to the above table, originally from VR-Zone, the top two Ivy Bridge-E SKUs are expected to come in cheaper by $50-$70 than the Sandy Bridge-E models they retire. The quad-core i7-4820K is the exception, being priced within $5 of its ancestor.

Ivy Bridge-E is expected to launch in just a couple of months.

Source: VR-Zone

Qualcomm works out their ARMs and not their core?

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Mobile | August 3, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, mediatek, arm

MediaTek, do you even lift?

According to a Taiwan Media Roundtable transcript, discovered by IT World, Qualcomm has no interest, at least at the moment, in developing an octo-core processor. MediaTek, their competitor, recently unveiled an eight core ARM System on a Chip (SoC) which can be fully utilized. Most other mobile SoCs with eight cores function as a fast quad-core and a slower, but more efficient, quad-core processor with the most appropriate chosen for the task.

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Anand Chandrasekher of Qualcomm believes it is desperation.

So, I go back to what I said: it's not about cores. When you can't engineer a product that meets the consumers' expectations, maybe that’s when you resort to simply throwing cores together. That is the equivalent of throwing spaghetti against the wall and seeing what sticks. That's a dumb way to do it and I think our engineers aren't dumb.

The moderator, clearly amused by the reaction, requested a firm clarification that Qualcomm will not launch an octo-core product. A firm, but not clear, response was given, "We don't do dumb things". Of course they would not commit to swearing off eight cores for all eternity, at some point they may find core count to be their bottleneck, but that is not the case for the moment. They will also not discuss whether bumping the clock rate is the best option or whether they should focus on graphics performance. He is just assured that they are focused on the best experience for whatever scenario each product is designed to solve.

And he is assured that Intel, his former employer, still cannot catch them. As we have discussed in the past: Intel is a company that will spend tens of billions of dollars, year over year, to out-research you if they genuinely want to play in your market. Even with his experience at Intel, he continues to take them lightly.

We don't see any impact from any of Intel's claims on current or future products. I think the results from empirical testers on our products that are currently shipping in the marketplace is very clear, and across a range of reviewers from Anandtech to Engadget, Qualcomm Snapdragon devices are winning both on experience as well as battery life. What our competitors are claiming are empty promises and is not having an impact on us.

Qualcomm has a definite lead, at the moment, and may very well keep ahead through Bay Trail. AMD, too, kept a lead throughout the entire Athlon 64 generation and believed they could beat anything Intel could develop. They were complacent, much as Qualcomm sounds currently, and when Intel caught up AMD could not float above the sheer volume of money trying to drown them.

Then again, even if you are complacent, you may still be the best. Maybe Intel will never get a Conroe moment against ARM.

Your thoughts?

Source: IT World

Intel Ivy Bridge-E Processors Available In September Starting At $310

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 06:47 AM |
Tagged: lga 2011, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel

Intel’s Ivy Bridge-E processors are on their way to enthusiasts and should be available as soon as September 4th according to TechPowerUp. The new HEDT parts are compatible with LGA 2011 motherboards and the CPUs bring performance and power efficiency increases to the enthusiast platform.

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The Ivy Bridge-E parts start at $310 and will be price competitive with the existing Sandy Bridge-E and high end Haswell parts. The Core i7-4820K is the lowest-end Ivy Bridge-E processor. This quad core part has base and turbo clockspeeds of 3.7 GHz and 3.9 GHz respectively, 10MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. It will cost $310.

Beyond that, the Core i7-4930K is the lowest-end six core IVB-E processor. It has six cores clocked at 3.4 GHz base and 3.9 GHz turbo, 12MB L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This part will cost $555.

Finally, the top end Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition is a six core CPU clocked at 3.6 GHz base and 4.0 Ghz turbo with 15MB of L3 cache, 48 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and a quad channel memory controller. This Ivy Bridge-E HEDT CPU will cost $990.

Compared to the existing Sandy Bridge-E chips, IVB-E is actualy coming out of the gate with lower initial MSRPs. Further, the i7-4820K is actually about $30 cheaper than the Core i7-4770K “Haswell” CPU. The six core i7-4930K may be more enticing to those comparing the enthusiast LGA 2011 platform and the LGA 1150 platform, however. The six core Ivy Bride-E part is about $215 more expensive than the $340 four core Haswell i7-4770K which may be a small enough gap that enthusiasts are willing to make the jump for the extra two cores. Granted, Haswell is a bit faster in some respects than IVB-E (according to leaked benchmarks), but the extra two cores gives it a healthy multi-threaded performance advantage.

Read more about Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge-E processors.

Source: TechPowerUp

Rumored AMD Carrizo APU (Kaveri Successor) Will Support FM2+ Socket

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, fm2, carrizo, APU, amd radeon, amd

Rumors recently surfaced via VR-Zone china that AMD’s Kaveri APU successor will be code-named Carrizo, and it will be compatible with the upcoming FM2+ socket and AMD A88X chipset that Kaveri will use. 

AMD’s Carrizo APUs will reportedly be available in TDPs up to 65W and will feature Excavator CPU cores along with a next generation Radeon GPU. Much like Kaveri, Carrizo will be fully HSA compliant. The chips will also include support for DDR4.

Carrizo will allegedly begin sampling in August 2014 with mass production starting around December. That means Carrizo will be available for purchase within the first half of 2015.

FM2+ boards like the ASUS A55BM-A/USB3 are rumored to support AMD's Carrizo APUs (the successor to Kaveri).

The rumors also suggest that Carrizo will be joined by a low power “Beema” System on a Chip (SoC) and a BGA-based Nolan APU for embedded systems. Details on these complementary chips are scarce, however. Perhaps most telling is last bit of the article that suggests that AMD will not be releasing a AM3+ Vishera CPU-only processor successor. It seems AMD is going all in as an APU company after all.

I have been looking forward to the launh of AMD's Kaveri since AFDS 2012, and Carrizo appears to be a refinement of that chip. It should be more power efficient and faster thanks to architecture tweaks and process shrinks. I think that AMDs architecture and HSA approach has potential, and I'm excited to see what these upcoming chips can do with regards to performance.