Subject: General Tech, Processors | August 6, 2012 - 02:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Ivy Bridge-E, Intel
According to VR-Zone, an Intel roadmap has surfaced which outlines the upper end of the company’s CPU product line through the end of 3rd Quarter 2013. The most interesting albeit also most confusing entry is the launch of Ivy Bridge-E processors in the quarter after the Haswell mainstream parts.
So apparently the lack of high-performance CPU competition unhooked Intel’s tick-tock-clock.
The latest Intel CPU product roadmap outlines the company’s expected product schedule through to the end of Q3 2013. The roadmap from last quarter revealed that Intel’s next architecture, Haswell, would be released in the second quarter of 2013 with only Sandy Bridge-E SKUs to satisfy the enthusiasts who want the fastest processors and the most available RAM slots. It was unclear what would eventually replace SBE as the enthusiast part and what Intel expects for their future release cycles.
I can Haswell-E’zburger?
(Photo Credit: VR-Zone)
Latest rumors continue to assert that Sandy Bridge-E X79 chipset-based motherboards will be able to support Ivy Bridge-E with a BIOS update.
The downside: personally, not a big fan of upgrading CPUs frequently.
In the past I have never kept a motherboard and replaced a CPU. While I have gone through the annoyance of applying thermal paste – and guessing where Arctic Cooling stains will appear over the next 2 weeks – I tend to even just use the default thermal tape which comes with the stock coolers. I am not just cheap or lazy either; I simply tend to not feel a jump in performance unless I allow three to five years between CPU product cycles to pass by.
But that obviously does not reflect all enthusiasts.
But how far behind on the enthusiast architectures will Intel allow themselves to get? Certainly someone with my taste in CPU upgrades should not wait 8-10 years to upgrade our processors if this doubling of time-between-releases continues?
What do you think is the future of Intel’s release cycle? Is this a one-time blip trying to make Ivy Bridge scale up or do you expect that Intel will start releasing progressively more infrequently on the upper end?
Subject: Processors | August 1, 2012 - 08:38 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: x86-64, x86, MIPS, Jim Keller, arm, amd, Alpha
There has been quite a bit of news lately from AMD, and very little of it good. What has perhaps dominated the headlines throughout this past year was the amount of veteran AMD employees who have decided (or were pushed) to seek employment elsewhere. Not much has been said from these departing employees, but Rory Read certainly started things off with a bang by laying off some 10% of the company just months into his tenure.
Now we finally have some good news in terms of employment. AMD has hired a pretty big name in the industry. Not just a big name, but a person who was one of the primary leads on two of AMD’s most successful architectures to date. Jim Keller is coming back to AMD, and at a time where it seems AMD needs some veteran leadership who is very in touch with not just the industry, but CPU architecture design.
Jim was a veteran of DEC and worked on some of the fastest Alpha processors of the time. Much could be written about DEC and how they let what could have been one of the most important and profitable architectures in computing history sit essentially on the back burner while they focused on seemingly dinosaur age computing. After the Alpha was sold off and DEC sold away, Jim found his way to AMD and played a very important role at that company.
The first product was helping to launch the K7, and worked primarily with system engineering. The vast majority of design work for the K7 was finished by the time he signed on, but he apparently worked quite a bit on integrating it into the new socket architecture that was derived from the DEC Alpha. Where Jim really earned his keep was in co-authoring the x86-64 specification and being lead architect on the AMD K8 series of processors. While he left in 1999, the mark he left on AMD is essentially indelible.
After AMD he joined Sibyte (Broadcom) and was lead architect on a series of MIPS processors used in networking devices. This lasted until 2003 and he again left the company seemingly more prosperous than when he began.
PA-Semi was the next stop and he worked again primarily on networking specific SOCs utilizing the PowerPC architecture. So far, by counting fingers, Jim has worked on five major ISAs (Alpha, x86, x86-64, MIPS, and PowerPC). These chips were able to power networking devices with 10 Gb throughput. PA-Semi was then purchased by Apple in 2007/2008.
At Apple Jim was now Director of Platform Architecture and worked with yet another major ISA; ARM. Jim worked to develop several major and successful products with the A4 and A5 processors that have powered the latest iPhone and iPad products from the Cupertino giant. To say that this individual has had his fingers in some very important pies is an understatement.
Jim now rejoins AMD as CVP and Chief Architect of CPU Cores. He will report directly to Mark Papermaster. His primary job is to improve execution efficiency and consistency, as well as implement next generation features into future CPU cores which will keep AMD competitive with not only Intel, but other rising competitors in the low power space. This is finally some good news for AMD as they are actually adding talent rather than losing it. While Jim may not be able to turn the company around overnight, he does look to be an important piece of the puzzle with a huge amount of experience and knowhow with multiple CPU ISA. If there is anyone that can tackle the challenges in front of AMD in the face of a changing world, this might be the guy. So far he has had a positive impact in every stop he has made, and perhaps this could prove to be the pinnacle of his career. Or it could be where his career goes to die. It is hard to say, but I do think that AMD made a good hire with Jim.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Systems | July 31, 2012 - 08:35 PM | Scott Michaud
Eurogamer and Digital Foundry believe that a next-generation Xbox developer kit somehow got into the hands of an internet user looking to fence it for $10,000. If the rumors are true, a few interesting features are included in the kit: an Intel CPU and an NVIDIA graphics processor.
A little PC perspective on console gaming news…
If the source and people who corroborate it are telling the truth: somehow Microsoft lost control of a single developer’s kit for their upcoming Xbox platform. Much like their Cupertino frenemies who lost an iPhone 4 in a bar which was taken and sold for $5000 to a tech blog, the current owner of the Durango devkit is looking for a buyer for a mere $10000. It is unlikely he found it on a bar stool.
One further level of irony, the Xbox 360 alpha devkit were repurposed Apple Mac Pros.
Image source: DaE as per its own in-image caption.
Alpha developer kits will change substantially externally but often do give clues to what to expect internally.
The first Xbox 360 software demonstrations were performed on slightly altered Apple Mac Pros. At that time, Apple was built on a foundation of PowerPC by IBM while the original Xbox ran Intel hardware. As it turned out, the Xbox 360 was based on the PowerPC architecture.
Huh, looks like a PC.
The leaked developer kit for the next Xbox is said to be running X86 hardware and an NVIDIA graphics processor. 8GB of RAM is said to be present on the leaked kit albeit that only suggests that the next Xbox will have less than 8GB of RAM. With as cheap as RAM is these days -- a great concern for PC gamers would be that Microsoft would load the console to the brim with memory and remove the main technical advantage of our platform. Our PCs will still have that advantage once our gamers stop being scared of 64-bit compatibility issues. As a side note, those specifications are fairly identical to the equally nebulous specs rumored for Valve’s Steam Box demo kit.
The big story is the return to x86 and NVIDIA.
AMD is not fully ruled out of the equation if they manage to provide Microsoft with a bid they cannot refuse. Of course practically speaking AMD only has an iceball’s chance in Hell of have a CPU presence in the upcoming Xbox – upgraded from snowball. More likely than not Intel will pick up the torch that IBM kept warm for them with their superior manufacturing.
PC gamers might want to pay close attention from this point on…
Contrast the switch for Xbox from PowerPC to X86 with the recent commentary from Gabe Newell and Rob Pardo of Blizzard. As Mike Capps has allured to – prior to the launch of Unreal Tournament 3 – Epic is concerned about the console mindset coming to the PC. It is entirely possible that Microsoft could be positioning the Xbox platform closer to the PC. Perhaps there are plans for cross-compatibility in exchange for closing the platform around certification and licensing fees?
Moving the Xbox platform closer to the PC in hardware specifications could renew their attempts to close the platform as has failed with their Games for Windows Live initiative. What makes the PC platform great is the lack of oversight about what can be created for it and the ridiculous time span for compatibility for what has been produced for it.
It might be no coincidence that the two companies who are complaining about Windows 8 are the two companies who design their games to be sold and supported for decades after launch.
And if the worst does happen, PC gaming has been a stable platform despite repetitive claims of its death – but could the user base be stable enough to handle a shift to Linux? I doubt that most would even understand the implications of proprietary platforms on art to even consider it. What about Adobe and the other software and hardware tool companies who have yet to even consider Linux as a viable platform?
The dark tunnel might have just gotten longer.
Subject: Processors | July 24, 2012 - 12:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: TSMC, ARMv8, arm, 64-bit, 3d transistors, 20nm
Yesterday ARM announced a multi-year partnership with fab TSMC to produce sub-20nm processors that utilize 3D FinFET transistors. The collaboration and data sharing between the two companies will allow the fabless ARM SoC company the ability to produce physical processors based on its designs and will allow TSMC a platform to further its process nodes and FinFET transistor technology. The first TSMC-produced processors will be based on the ARMv8 architecture and will be 64-bit compatible.
The addition of 3D transistors will allow the ARM processors to be even more power efficient and suitable for both mobile devices. Alternatively, it could allow for higher clockspeeds at the same TDP ratings as current chips. The other big news is that the chips will be moving to a 64-bit compatible design, which is huge considering ARM processors have traditionally been 32-bit. By moving to 64-bit, ARM is positioning itself for server and workstation adoption, especially with the recent ARM-compatible Windows 8 build due to be released soon. Granted, ARM SoCs have a long way to go before taking market share from Intel and AMD in the desktop and server markets in a big way but it is slowly but surely becoming more competitive with the x86-64 giants.
TSMC’s R&D Vice President Cliff Hou stated that the collaboration between ARM and TSMC will allow TSMC to optimize its FinFET process to target “high speed, low voltage and low leakage.” ARM further qualified that the partnership would give ARM early access to the 3D transistor FinFET process that could help create advanced SoC designs and ramp up volume production.
I think this is a very positive move for ARM, and it should allow them to make much larger inroads into the higher-end computing markets and see higher adoption beyond mobile devices. On the other hand, it is going to depend on TSMC to keep up and get the process down. Considering the issues with creating enough 28nm silicon to meet demand for AMD and NVIDIA’s latest graphics cards, a sub-20nm process may be asking a lot. Here’s hoping that it’s a successful venture for both companies, however.
You can find more information in the full press release.
A selection of parts
AMD is without a doubt going through some very tough times with massive personnel issues as well as some problems with products and profitability. But that doesn’t mean the current product line from AMD is without merit and that you can’t build a great system for various environments, including those users looking for a mainstream and small form factor gaming and home theater PC.
While preparing for Quakecon 2012 we needed to build a system to take on the road for some minor editing and presentation control purposes. We wanted the PC to be small and compact, yet still powerful enough to take on some basic computing and gaming tasks. I happen to have some AMD Llano APUs in the office and thought they would fit perfectly.
If you are on the hunt for a small PC that can do some modest gaming and serve as an HTPC, then you might find our build here interesting. And while it isn't nearly as exciting as building a Llano PC while blindfolded - it's pretty close.
Case: Lian-Li PC-Q08B
Subject: Processors | July 20, 2012 - 11:21 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quarterly earnings, loss, APU, amd
AMD recently released its Q2 2012 earnings (as did Intel), and things are continuing to look bleak for the number two x86-64 processor company. The company stated that the lower than expected numbers were the result of a weak economy and during a time of the year when people are not buying computers. The may be some truth to that as the second quarter is in the post-Christmas holiday season lul and before the big back-to-school retail push. On the economy front, it’s harder for me to say but without going political or armchair economist on you, the market seems better than it has been but is really still recovering–At least from a consumer perspective.
AMD reported revenue of $1.41 billion in the second quarter of 2012, which does not seem terrible, but when compared to Intel’s $13.5 billion Q2 revenue, and the fact that AMD’s numbers represent an 11-percent lower value than last quarter and 10-percent decrease versus Q2 2011, it’s easy to say that things are not looking good for the company.
According to Paul Lilly over at MaximumPC, when breaking AMD’s numbers down by business segment it gets even worse. Its Computing Solutions business fell 13-percent versus the previous quarter and Q2 2011. On the other hand, the company has the ever-so-slightly better news that the graphics card division stayed the same versus last year and was down 5-percent versus last quarter. The company was quoted as stating that the respective revenue drops were due to lower desktop sales in China and Europe and a “seasonally down quarter.”
PC Perspective’s Josh Walrath recently wrote up an editorial (note: pre-earnings call) that talks about AMDs new plan to focus on APUs, take on less risk, and push out new products faster. As a future-looking article, it talks about the impact of the company’s upcoming VIshera and Kaveri processors as well as AMD’s increased focus on heterogeneous system architectures. It remains to be seen if that new path for company will help them to make money or if it will hurt them. AMD cautions that Q3 2012 may not see increased revenue, but here’s hoping that they will be able to pull together for a strong Q4 and sell chips during the big holiday shopping season.
I for one am excited about the prospects of Kaveri and believe that HSA could work and is what AMD needs to focus on as it is one advantage that they have over NVIDIA and Intel – NVIDIA does not have an x86-64 license and Intel’s processor graphics leave room for improvement, to put it mildly. AMD may not have the best CPU cores, but it’s not an inherently bad design and where they are moving with the full convergence of the CPU and GPU is much farther ahead of the other big players.
Read more about AMD's Q2 2012 earnings (transcript).
Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 12, 2012 - 03:51 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, llano, APU, comiccon
If you are in the San Diego area today or tomorrow, you should make it a point to stop by Belo San Diego (http://www.belosandiego.com/ 438 E Street), a night club near the convention area, to visit with the AMD and the Geek and Sundry group.
Felicia Day, most popular for her role in the web-series The Guild, will be part of the on going event between 10am and 2am both today (the 12th) and tomorrow sponsored by AMD. She is excited to be there - just look!
If you stop by the Belo nightclub during those hours you can take home a FREE AMD A8-3870K APU (with accompanying motherboard) if you agree to use your social media outlets (Twitter and Facebook) to tell your friends about the experience. You will in fact become an AMD Social Media Reviewer!
Sorry, if you aren't in the San Diego area, you are out of luck on this promotion. This is just another reason why attending ComicCon is so enticing!
Subject: Processors | June 26, 2012 - 05:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, e-350, i7-3770k, z530, Ivy Bridge, atom, Zacate
Taking a half dozen PandaBoard ESes from Texas Instruments that have a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor onboard, Phoronix built a 12-core ARM machine to test out against AMD's E-350 APU as well as Intel's Atom Z530 and a Core i7 3770K. Before you you make the assumption that the ARM's will be totally outclassed by any of these processors, Phoronix is testing performance per Watt and the ARM system uses a total of 31W when fully stressed and idles below 20W, which gives ARM a big lead on power consumption.
Phoronix tested out these four systems and the results were rather surprising as it seems Intel's Ivy Bridge is a serious threat to ARM. Not only did it provide more total processing power, its performance per Watt tended to beat ARM and more importantly to many, it is cheaper to build an i7-3770K system than it is to set up a 12-core ARM server. The next generation of ARM chips have some serious competition.
"Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD FX-8120 Black Edition CPU Review (with Asus M5A99X EVO) @ Kitguru
- Intel Core i7-3720QM: Mobile Ivy Bridge @ Techspot
- Sandy Bridge for servers: Intel Xeon E5-2600 review @ Hardware.Info
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
A slightly lower cost Ivy Bridge
Just a couple of short months ago, Intel released the desktop versions of its latest CPU architecture codenamed Ivy Bridge – and officially named the Intel 3rd Generation Core Processor. Ivy Bridge has a much cleaner sound to it if you ask me.
At launch, we tested and reviewed the highest-end offering, the Core i7-3770K, a quad-core HyperThreaded part that runs as fast as 3.9 GHz with Turbo Boost. It included the highest end processor graphics Intel has developed – the HD 4000. Currently selling for only $350, the i7-3770K is a fantastic processor, but isn't the bargain that many DIY PC builders are looking for. The new Core i5-3470 from Intel – the processor we are reviewing today – might be just that.
I am not going to spend time discussing the upgrades and benefits that the new Ivy Bridge processors offer over their predecessors, or the competition, from an architectural stand point. If you want some background on Ivy Bridge and why it does what it does, you'll want to read the first few pages of our original Core i7-3770K / Ivy Bridge review from April.
The Core i5-3470 Processor
Interestingly, in the initial information from Intel about the Ivy Bridge processor lineup, the Core i5-3470 wasn't even on the list. There was a 3450 and 3550, but nothing in between. The Core i5-3470 currently sells for about $200 and compares with some other Ivy Bridge processors with the following specifications:
Subject: Processors | June 19, 2012 - 11:46 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Xeon Phi, xeon e5, nvidia, larrabee, knights corner, Intel, HPC, gpgpu, amd
The one positive thing for Intel’s competitors is that it seems their enthusiasm for massively parallel computing is justified. Intel just entered that ring with a unique architecture that will certainly help push high performance computing more towards true heterogeneous computing.
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