Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 12, 2014 - 01:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: apple, apple a8, SoC, iphone 6, iphone 6 plus
So one of the first benchmarks for Apple's A8 SoC has been published to Rightware, and it is not very different from its predecessor. The Apple A7 GPU of last year's iPhone 5S received a score of 20,253.80 on the Basemark X synthetic benchmark. The updated Apple A8 GPU, found on the iPhone 6, saw a 4.7% increase, to 21204.26, on the same test.
Again, this is a synthetic benchmark and not necessarily representative of real-world performance. To me, though, it wouldn't surprise me if the GPU is identical, and the increase corresponds mostly to the increase in CPU performance. That said, it still does not explain the lack of increase that we see, despite Apple's switch to TSMC's 20nm process. Perhaps it matters more in power consumption and non-gaming performance? That does not align well with their 20% faster CPU and 50% faster GPU claims...
Speaking of gaming performance, iOS 8 introduces the Metal API, which is Apple's response to Mantle, DirectX 12, and OpenGL Next Initiative. Maybe that boost will give Apple a pass for a generation? Perhaps we will see the two GPUs (A7 and A8) start to diverge in the Metal API? We shall see when more benchmarks and reviews get published.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 11, 2014 - 06:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, snapdragon 210, snapdragon, LTE, cheap tablet
The Snapdragon 210 was recently announced by Qualcomm to be an SoC for cheap, sub-$100 tablets and mobile phones. With it, the company aims to bring LTE connectivity to that market segment, including Dual SIM support. It will be manufactured on the 28nm process, with up to four ARM CPU cores and a Qualcomm Adreno 304 GPU.
According to Qualcomm, the SoC can decode 1080p video. It will also be able to manage cameras with up to 8 megapixels of resolution, including HDR, autofocus, auto white balance, and auto exposure. Let's be honest, you will not really get much more than that for a sub-$100 device.
The Snapdragon 210 has been given Quick Charge 2.0, normally reserved for the 400-line and up, refill the battery quickly when connected to a Quick Charge 2.0-supporting charger (ex: the Motorola Turbo Charger). Quick Charge 1.0 worked by optimizing how energy was delivered to the battery through a specification. Quick Charge 2.0 does the same, just with 60 watts of power (!!). For reference, the USB standard defines 2.5W, which is 5V at 0.5A, although the specification is regularly extended to 5 or 10 watts.
Devices featuring the Snapdragon 210 are expected for the first half of 2015.
Core M 5Y70 Early Testing
During a press session today with Intel, I was able to get some early performance results on Broadwell-Y in the form of the upcoming Core M 5Y70 processor.
Testing was done on a reference design platform code named Llama Mountain and at the heart of the system is the Broadwell-Y designed dual-core CPU, the Core M 5Y70, which is due out later this year. Power consumption of this system is low enough that Intel has built it with a fanless design. As we posted last week, this processor has a base frequency of just 1.10 GHz but it can boost as high as 2.6 GHz for extra performance when it's needed.
Before we dive into the actual result, you should keep in mind a couple of things. First, we didn't have to analyze the systems to check driver revisions, etc., so we are going on Intel's word that these are setup as you would expect to see them in the real world. Next, because of the disjointed nature of test were were able to run, the comparisons in our graphs aren't as great as I would like. Still, the results for the Core M 5Y70 are here should you want to compare them to any other scores you like.
First, let's take a look at old faithful: CineBench 11.5.
UPDATE: A previous version of this graph showed the TDP for the Intel Core M 5Y70 as 15 watts, not the 4.5 watt listed here now. The reasons are complicated. Even though the Intel Ark website lists the TDP of the Core M 5Y70, Intel has publicly stated the processor will make very short "spikes" at 15 watts when in its highest Turbo Boost modes. It comes to a discussion of semantics really. The cooling capability of the tablet is only targeted to 4.5-6.0 watts and those very short 15 watt spikes can be dissipated without the need for extra heatsink surface...because they are so short. SDP anyone? END UPDATE
With a score of 2.77, the Core M 5Y70 processor puts up an impressive fight against CPUs with much higher TDP settings. For example, Intel's own Pentium G3258 gets a score of 2.71 in CB11, and did so with a considerably higher thermal envelope. The Core i3-4330 scores 38% higher than the Core M 5Y70 but it requires a TDP 3.6-times larger to do so. Both of AMD's APUs in the 45 watt envelope fail to keep up with Core M.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 08:38 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: x86, VIA, centaur technologies
In early July, we reported on VIA's Centaur Technology division getting a new website. At the time, we anticipated that it would coincide with an announcement about Isaiah II, their rumored to be upcoming x86-based SoC (maybe even compatible with ARM, too).
Fifty-one days later, on August 31st, 2014, we came back at quarter-to-four EDT and let the website run its course, refreshing occasionally. 4 PM hit and... the counter stayed at 0 days, 0 hours, 0 minutes, and 0 seconds. Okay, I said. For about an hour, I refreshed occasionally because things could have happened on Labour Day weekend. I, then, came back late in the evening, and the day after. I next thought about it the week after, at which point the website was updated... with a timer that expires on September 30th, 2014.
So by the end of the month, we may find out what Centaur is trying to announce. I am a little less confident in the breadth of the announcement, given that the company waited for the timer to lapse before correcting their mistake. I would expect that if their big announcement, like a new SoC, were to hold up the launch, the company would have known ahead of time. At the moment, it sounds like a typical website redesign which got delayed.
I will hopefully be pleasantly surprised come the end of the month.
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 11:02 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: idf, idf 2014, Intel, keynote, live blog
Today is the beginning of the 2014 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco! Join me at 9am PT for the first of our live blogs of the main Intel keynote where we will learn what direction Intel is taking on many fronts!
Server and Workstation Upgrades
Today, on the eve of the Intel Developer Forum, the company is taking the wraps off its new server and workstation class high performance processors, Xeon E5-2600 v3. Known previously by the code name Haswell-EP, the release marks the entry of the latest microarchitecture from Intel to multi-socket infrastructure. Though we don't have hardware today to offer you in-house benchmarks quite yet, the details Intel shared with me last month in Oregon are simply stunning.
Starting with the E5-2600 v3 processor overview, there are more changes in this product transition than we saw in the move from Sandy Bridge-EP to Ivy Bridge-EP. First and foremost, the v3 Xeons will be available in core counts as high as 18, with HyperThreading allowing for 36 accessible threads in a single CPU socket. A new socket, LGA2011-v3 or R3, allows the Xeon platforms to run a quad-channel DDR4 memory system, very similar to the upgrade we saw with the Haswell-E Core i7-5960X processor we reviewed just last week.
The move to a Haswell-based microarchitecture also means that the Xeon line of processors is getting AVX 2.0, known also as Haswell New Instructions, allowing for 2x the FLOPS per clock per core. It also introduces some interesting changes to Turbo Mode and power delivery we'll discuss in a bit.
Maybe the most interesting architectural change to the Haswell-EP design is per core P-states, allowing each of the up to 18 cores running on a single Xeon processor to run at independent voltages and clocks. This is something that the consumer variants of Haswell do not currently support - every cores is tied to the same P-state. It turns out that when you have up to 18 cores on a single die, this ability is crucial to supporting maximum performance on a wide array of compute workloads and to maintain power efficiency. This is also the first processor to allow independent uncore frequency scaling, giving Intel the ability to improve performance with available headroom even if the CPU cores aren't the bottleneck.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xeon e5-2600 v3, xeon e5, Intel
So, to coincide with their E5-2600 v3 launch, Intel is discussing virtualized LANs and new, high-speed PCIe-based, networking adapters. Xeons are typically used in servers and their networking add-in boards will often shame what you see on a consumer machine. One of these boards supports up to two 40GbE connections, configurable to four 10GbE, for all the bandwidth.
The Intel XL710 is their new network controller, which I am told is being manufactured at 28nm. It is supposedly more power efficient, as well. In their example, a previous dual 10-gigabit controller will consume 5.2W of power while a single 40-gigabit will consume 3.3W. In terms of a network adapter, that is a significant reduction, which is very important in a data center due to the number of machines and the required air conditioning.
As for the virtualized networking part of the announcement, Intel is heavily promoting Software-defined networking (SDN). Intel mentioned two techniques to help increase usable bandwidth and decrease CPU utilization, which is important at 40 gigabits.
Receive Side Scaling disabled
The first is "generic segmentation offload" for VXLAN (VXLAN GSO) that allows the host of any given connection to chunk data more efficiently to send out over a virtual network.
Generic Segmentation Offload disabled
The second is TCP L4 Receive Side Scaling (RSS), which splits traffic between multiple receive queues (and can be managed by multiple CPU threads). I am not a network admin and I will not claim to know how existing platforms manage traffic at this level. Still, Intel seems to claim that this NIC and CPU platform will result in higher effective bandwidth and better multi-core CPU utilization (that I expect will lead to lower power consumption).
If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | September 6, 2014 - 05:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: iris pro, iris, intel hd graphics, Intel
I was originally intending to test this with benchmarks but, after a little while, I realized that Ivy Bridge was not supported. This graphics driver starts and ends with Haswell. While I cannot verify their claims, Intel advertises up to 30% more performance in some OpenCL tasks and a 10% increase in games like Batman: Arkham City and Sleeping Dogs. They even claim double performance out of League of Legends at 1366x768.
Intel is giving gamers a "free lunch".
The driver also tunes Conservative Morphological Anti-Aliasing (CMAA). They claim it looks better than MLAA and FXAA, "without performance impact" (their whitepaper from March showed a ~1-to-1.5 millisecond cost on Intel HD 5000). Intel recommends disabling it after exiting games to prevent it from blurring other applications, and they automatically disable it in Windows, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Windows 8.1 Photo.
Adaptive Rendering Control was also added in this driver. This limits redrawing identical frames by comparing the ones it does draw with previously drawn ones, and adjusts the frame rate accordingly. This is most useful for games like Angry Birds, Minesweeper, and Bejeweled LIVE. It is disabled when not on battery power, or when the driver is set to "Maximum Performance".
Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets, Memory, Storage | September 5, 2014 - 01:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99-Deluxe, SSD 730, Intel, Haswell-E, ddr4, asus, 5960X
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know what I was getting into. When a couple of packages showed up at our office from Intel with claims that they wanted to showcase the new Haswell-E platform...I was confused. The setup was simple: turn on cameras and watch what happens.
So out of the box comes...a containment chamber. A carefully crafted, wood+paint concoction that includes lights, beeps, motors and platforms.
Want to see how Intel promotes the Core i7-5960X and X99 platform? Check out this video below.
Our reviews of products included in this video:
Subject: Processors | September 5, 2014 - 12:11 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, core m, broadwell-y, Broadwell, 14nm
In a somewhat surprising fashion, Intel has decided to announce (again) the Core M processor family that will be shipping this fall and winter using the Broadwell-Y SoC. I was able to visit Portland and talk with the process technology and architecture teams back in early August so much of the news coming out today about the improvements of 14nm tri-gate transistors, the smaller package size of Broadwell-Y and the goals for thinner, fanless designs is going to be a repeat for frequent PC Perspective readers. (You can see that original story, Intel Core M Processor: Broadwell Architecture and 14nm Process Reveal.)
What is new information today are specifics on the clock speeds and SKU offerings.
|Base Freq||1.10 GHz||800 MHz||800 MHz|
|Max Single Core Turbo||2.6 GHz||2.0 GHz||2.0 GHz|
|Max Dual Core Turbo||2.6 GHz||2.0 GHz||2.0 GHz|
|Max Quad Core Turbo||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5300|
|Graphics Base/Max Freq||100/850 MHz||100/800 MHz||100/800 MHz|
|LPDDR3L Memory Speed||1600 MHz||1600 MHz||1600 MHz|
|TDP||4.5 watts||4.5 watts||4.5 watts|
Intel has planned three options, all with the same $281 pricing, though obviously based on volume and other deals with OEMs, these are likely to shift. The Core M 5Y70 is the highest performance part with a base clock speed of 1.10 GHz that can scale up to 2.6 GHz with one or both cores active. The other two parts launching today both feature 800 MHz base clocks and 2.0 GHz maximum Turbo speeds.
With that scaling information, and the wide range that the Intel HD Graphics 5300 can hit (100-800 MHz) Intel is doubling down on the benefits of fast and reliable Turbo Boost technology to give you high frequencies only when you need it most. This conserves power consumption the vast majority of time and allows Intel's partners to build fanless designs that are incredibly thin.
The 5Y10 and 5Y10a differ only in that the non-A variant has a configurable TDP down the 4.0 watts should the vendor opt for that.
Intel is also giving us a more detailed look at the Broadwell-Y PCH that includes a lot of I/O for such a small platform. Two channels of USB 3.0 can support four total ports and as many as four SATA 6G storage units can be integrated as well. These Y-SKUs look like they have 12 lanes of PCIe 2.0 available to them should a notebook vendor decide to use PCIe storage solutions (like M.2) rather than relying purely on SATA.
At least one partner has already announced a Core M product: the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix. It appears to be an amazing 11.6-in convertible tablet design. Without a doubt we'll encouter numerous other designs at the Intel Developer Forum that starts next Tuesday.