Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

The AMD Closed Loop System

Closed loop water cooling is not new, but it certainly is a pretty hot topic now.  Some of the first units out there had some interesting issues (like internal corrosion clogging everything up), but once those teething problems were solved the closed loop systems turned out to be pretty effective and easy to install.  Initially these units had the performance of a top end air cooler, but with a lot lower noise.  The latest generation of liquid cooling systems (LCS) is now further improved and provides performance approaching that of larger, more complex cooling systems.  These products will not replace exotic systems like phase change, but they provide a lot of cooling in a fairly decent sized package.

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Clean lines and graphics give this box a striking look without being tacky.

Last year with the introduction of the AMD FX-8150, AMD decided to create a SKU which not only included the CPU, but also a fairly robust LCS.   This unit is based on an Asetek design which features a double wide cooler/reservoir with the push-me/pull-ya fan combination.  Other manufacturers offer this particular product under a variety of names, but this is simply an AMD FX branded unit with some small cosmetic changes to differentiate it from other units.

AMD will eventually offer this cooler with the new Vishera based FX-8350 CPU (or at least we assume they will), and we wanted to take this combination out for a spin.  In our FX-8350 review we did not hit the overclocking targets that AMD had set.  In most literature that we were provided AMD stated that most FX-8350 parts would be able to hit around 5 GHz with some aggressive cooling.  In our review I was able to get to around 4.6 GHz max and around 4.5 GHz stable with better than average cooling.  The results were not as impressive as we had hoped, but we again did not have a top end cooling solution such as what AMD provides with this particular LCS.

With a brand new LCS in hand, I retested the FX-8350 to see how hard it could be pushed.  I also wanted to see how this particular unit performance in terms of thermal properties.  The results were quite surprising for me, as this is my first real experience with a LCS.

Click here to continue reading about the AMD FX-8350 overclock with liquid cooling!

Too New for GNU: Development Not Always Smooth as Cilk

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 28, 2012 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged:

Due to Phoronix being particularly interesting lately, how would you like a little more open-source news?

GCC is one of the most important compilers for C/C++-based software due to its ubiquity both in where it can run as well as where it can compile to. Intel has a lot of experience developing for compilers, to say the least. Creating a competing product does not stop Intel from contributing to the project, however.

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Aww, looks like he wants a hug.

Intel created C/C++ language extensions known as “Cilk Plus” designed to help developers parallelize their code on multithreaded processors. Both the compiler and run-time portions of Cilk Plus has been made open source and were submitted to be included into GCC. Unfortunately, for reasons which are currently unclear, GCC completed development of version 4.8 of their software without the inclusion of Cilk Plus.

Patches developed by Intel have been available since the summer awaiting approval from the official maintainers of GCC. Because the deadline passed without inclusion of the completed code, we will allegedly need to wait until at least 2014 -- maybe longer -- before Cilk Plus has another chance to be included in the GCC.

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Details Revealed By Leaked Slide

Subject: Processors, Mobile | December 19, 2012 - 03:26 AM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 4, SoC, nvidia, cortex a15, arm

Earlier this year, NVIDIA showed off a roadmap for its Tegra line of mobile system on a chip (SoC) processors. Namely, the next generation Tegra 4 mobile chip is codenamed Wayne and will be the successor to the Tegra 3.

Tegra 4 will use a 28nm manufacturing process and feature improvements to the CPU, GPU, and IO components. Thanks to a leaked slide that appeared on Chip Hell, we now have more details on Tegra 4.

NVIDIA Tegra 4 Leaked Slide.jpg

The 28nm Tegra 4 SoC will keep the same 4+1 CPU design* as the Tegra 3, but it will use ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores instead of the Cortex A9 cores used in the current generation chips. NVIDIA is also improving the GPU portion, and Tegra 4 will reportedly feature a 72 core GPU based on a new architecture. Unfortunately, we do not have specifics on how that GPU is set up architecturally, but the leaked slide indicates that the GPU will be as much as 6x faster than NVIDIA’s own Tegra 3. It will allegedly be fast enough to power displays with resolutions from 1080p @ 120Hz to 4K (refresh rate unknown). Don’t expect to drive games at native 4K resolution, however it should run a tablet OS fine. Interestingly, NVIDIA has included hardware to hardware accelerate VP8 and H.264 video at up to 2560x1440 resolutions.

Additionally, Tegra 4 will feature support for dual channel DDR3L memory, USB 3.0 and hardware accelerated secuity options including HDCP, Secure Boot, and DRM which may make Tegra 4 an attractive option for Windows RT tablets.

The leaked slide has revealed several interesting details on Tegra 4, but it has also raised some questions on the nitty-gritty details. Also, there is no mention of the dual core variant of Tegra 4 – codenamed Grey – that is said to include an integrated Icera 4G LTE cellular modem. Here’s hoping more details surface at CES next month!

* NVIDIA's name for a CPU that features four ARM CPU cores and one lower power ARM companion core.

Source: Chip Hell

Lucid Virtu MVP 2.0 Coming Soon and Will Be Sold Directly to Consumers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 14, 2012 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: virtu MVP, virtu, lucid, ces 2013, CES

In preparation for the upcoming CES 2013 show in January we have started having some pre-meeting discussions with various companies, one of which was Lucid.  While speaking with them we learned some interesting news about the upcoming v2.0 release of their Virtu MVP software including new features and a new availability option.

Lucid's Virtu MVP software is the technology that allows DIY PC builders and notebook vendors to easily accommodate utilization of both integrated and discrete graphics in a single system without the need to adjust settings or to move monitor cables around.  With Virtu MVP you can take advantage of the QuickSync technology of your Ivy Bridge processor but still utilize the performance of a discrete graphics card for gaming.  This can all be managed and handled on a single display with a single cable. 

Other additions like Virtual Vsync and HyperFormance were added in MVP and aim to improve the gaming experience in the same way that Virtu enhances the overall user experience.  And while Matt Smith liked the results from the software in his recent testing with an Origin laptop, there were a couple things that bugged us: the interface and the inability to get the software on your own.

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Next month Lucid will be launching the new version 2.0 of its software that should increase the responsiveness of the interface while also drastically improving the visuals and style.  Also included will be native Windows 8 support.

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Perhaps the most interesting news is that Lucid will soon start offering the software directly to consumers as a download instead of requiring that you get it from your motherboard or system vendor.  This is great news for users that have purchased motherboards without Virtu software and those of you that might want to buy a really low cost board that would lack those features as well.  You will apparently be able to buy it in Q1 from www.lucidlogix.com and the price should be "under $30" which likely indicates a $29.99 starting offer. 

What we don't know is how this will affect Lucid's motherboard partners - will they stop carrying the software as a bundle going forward or will they still offer it on select SKUs?  Lucid wouldn't divulge any of that yet but I assume we'll find out more at CES next month.

Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

Intel Board Team Creates New Form Factor

In many ways the desktop computer needs to evolve.  Yes, I know that PC gaming is not only thriving and growing but for the majority of consumers the need to have a box in their office that measures 2' x 3' x 1', taking up leg room under the desk is...exaggerated.  Intel thinks they have a solution for this, a new form factor for a PC they are calling the NUC - Next Unit of Computing.

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By utilizing low power versions of the Intel Ivy Bridge mobile processors Intel has shrunk the desktop PC to a size even smaller than mini-ITX and hopes they can address various market segments with this new design.

Check out our video right here and continue on for the full written review!

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While the consumer that simply needs a basic computing box is definitely a target for Intel and its board division, they are hoping to hit the mainstream markets with interactive displays, digital signage, marketing, analytics and more.  And though the design we are looking at today has a very specific form factor, the low power boards themselves could easily be placed into nearly any industrial design.

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For a size reference, the Intel NUC is a 4-in x 4-in design that is noticeably smaller than even the mini-ITX form factor that is quickly becoming popular in the DIY markets.  The NUC does not have a removable processor though so what you buy is what you get with only a few components that are upgradeable. 

Continue reading our review of the Intel Next Unit of Computing (NUC) System!!

ASUS Partners with VIA for Tablet SoCs

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 13, 2012 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: asus, VIA

We have not heard too much about VIA Technologies developing CPUs in recent history. They still hold an x86 license until at least some time in 2013. VIA also develops ARM SoCs, apparently, and have recently struck a deal to get in multiple 7-inch tablets by Asustek. These models will be exclusively sold to China.

ASUS set a goal of 12 million sales for tablet PCs for 2013 and one way to accomplish that milestone is to provide cheap but decent devices. This goal is firmly in the same order of magnitude as iPad sales. Still, ASUS already has a fairly big presence in the tablet market with its strong Transformer line and more notably Google’s Nexus 7.

VIA will provide ARM Cortex A9 processors for the lower end of ASUS’ product line. The model which they will be embedded in will retail for somewhere between $99-$149 USD. These devices will be available in China for the Lunar New Year season of 2013.

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Interestingly Asustek has not contracted out Pegatron to manufacture the device, opting instead for Wistron Corp. to fulfill the order. The two companies, Pegatron and Asustek, were once one-in-the-same; founded by a businessman with a fascination for the Greek mythological Pegasus. The company changed with the climate like any other and Pegatron was spun off into its own independent entity. Since then, Pegatron has been hard at work developing laptops and tablets for ASUS as well as picking up orders from Apple and others.

The first shipment of 2-3 million manufactured devices is rumored to be delivered to Asus by the end of December. Perhaps these sales can help bolster VIA and their ability to develop CPUs once more?

Source: CENS

New Details of Haswell, Intel Core 4000 Series Processors

Subject: Processors | December 12, 2012 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: haswell, Intel, i7-4770k

A (translated) report coming from VR-Zone shows a table that is giving us just a bit more information about the upcoming Intel Haswell architecture and processors. 

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First, it looks like Intel is going to lean into the same naming scheme for these parts calling them the Core i3/i5/i7 4000 series parts, starting with the Core i7-4770K as the highest end option.  It will be a quad-core HyperThreaded part with a maximum Turbo Boost frequency of 3.9 GHz, very similar to the speeds and feed of today.

Graphics will be updated and called the HD 4600 with a clock rate as high as 1250 MHz.  The memory controller will remain dual-channel with support for DDR3-1600.

The only other item worth mentioning is the 84 watt TDP, up from the 77 watt TDP of the current Ivy Bridge lineup

All that is left to know now is ... pretty much everything including the performance of these new cores, the new graphics architecture and how that higher TDP will be utilized. 

Source: VR-Zone

Intel claims to support sockets as well into 'foreseeable future'

Subject: Processors | December 6, 2012 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: socket, BGA, Intel, amd

Okay, so this has been an interesting debate.  After the first rumors and reports that Intel might be killing the DIY PC (or at least crippling it) by removing the socketed option for future processors after the Broadwell architecture, the Internet had a hissy-fit.  Josh debated here that the future didn't look at that bleak at all and AMD chimed in later with its commitment to sockets into 2014 and beyond

It looks like Intel has officially addressed the issue through a story at MaximumPC.com:

Intel remains committed to the growing desktop enthusiast and channel markets, and will continue to offer socketed parts in the LGA package for the foreseeable future for our customers and the Enthusiast DIY market. However, Intel cannot comment on specific long-term product roadmap plans at this time, but will disclose more details later per our normal communication process.

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While those in the community that see the glass half empty will look at Intel's use of "foreseeable future" as a red herring, we have to at least attempt to take Intel at its word until any more details might be released to counter it. 

Let the debate continue!

Source: MaximumPC

AMD will continue to support socketed processors well into the future

Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: socket, Intel, BGA, amd

Over the past week or more we have been seeing a lot of news about Intel's rumored move to leave the world of socket-based processors behind after the pending Broadwell parts are released as BGA - ball grid array - and are soldered to motherboards directly.  I would highly encourage everyone to read Josh's thoughts on the subject that are not nearly as damning as others might have you believe.

However, we got this official note from AMD earlier in the week that I thought I would share:

AMD has a long history of supporting the DIY and enthusiast desktop market with socketed CPUs & APUs that are compatible with a wide range of motherboard products from our partners.  That will continue through 2013 and 2014 with the “Kaveri” APU and FX CPU lines.  We have no plans at this time to move to BGA only packaging and look forward to continuing to support this critical segment of the market.

As the company that introduced new types of BGA packages in ultrathin platforms several years ago, and today offers BGA-packaged processors for everything from ultrathin notebooks to all-in-one desktops, to embedded applications and tablets, we certainly understand Intel’s enthusiasm for the approach.  But for the desktop market, and the enthusiasts with whom AMD has built its brand, we understand what matters to them and how we can continue to bring better value and a better experience.

Obviously AMD is trying to persuade PC builders that not only is its path the safest in the future but maybe that supporting AMD today might help make sure it can arrive to the future well enough to continue the enthusiast path.

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If Intel even starts to heavily side with BGA processors, is a move to AMD in your future again?  Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

AMD Releases Opteron 4300 and 3300 Server Processors

Subject: Processors | December 5, 2012 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: servers, opteron 4300, opteron 3300, opteron, amd

AMD has officially released a number of new server processors based on its latest Piledriver cores. The new Opteron 4300 and Opteron 3300 series processors will replace the 4200 and 3200 series, and are aimed at the server market. The 4300 series uses Socket C32 while the Opteron 3300 processors use socket AM3+. They are significantly cheaper Piledriver-based parts than the higher-end Opteron 6300 series processors. AMD is aiming these lower cost Opterons at servers hosting websites and internal applications for small to medium businesses.

There are a total of nine new Opteron processors, with three being 3300 series an six being 4300 series.  Both the 3300 and 4300 series Opterons are socket compatible with the previous generation 3200 and 4200 series respectively, allowing for an upgrade path in existing servers. According to AMD, the new Piledriver-based processors have 24% higher performance per watt and use 15% less power than the previous generation parts based on the SPECpower and SPECint benchmarks. AMD is also touting support for low power 1.25V memory with the new chips.

The chart below details the specifications and pricing all of the new Opteron parts.

Opteron 4300 and 3300.png

The new AMD Opteron 3300 series includes two quad core and one eight core processor. The parts range from 1.9GHz to 2.6GHz base and have TDPs from 25W to 65W for the lowest and top end parts respectively. AMD-P, AMD-V, and AMD Turbo Core technologies are also supported. As far as memory goes, the 3300 series supports up to four DIMMs and 32GB per CPU. Further, a single x16 HyperTransport 3.0 link rated at 5.2GT/s is included.

Moving up to the 4300 series comes with an increase in price but you also get more cores, more memory, and faster clockspeeds. The Opteron 4300 series has one quad core 4310 EE, three six core CPUs, and two eight core parts. Base clocks range from 2.2GHz to 3.1GHz while boost clocks start at 3.0GHz and go to 3.8GHz. On the low end, the Opteron 4310 EE has a 35W TDP and the top-end 4386 has a 95W TDP. The 4300 series supports dual channel DDR3 1866 memory with up to six DIMMs and 192GB per CPU. Moving up from the 3300 series also gets you two x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links at 6.4 GT/s.

The new server processors are available now with prices ranging from $174 to $501. In addition, pre-built server options from Supermicro and Seamicro (SM15000) are currently available, with options from Dell and a number of other companies on the way. The prices seem decent, and these chips could make the base for a nice 2P server that brings you Piledriver improvements for much less than the relatively expensive 6300 series processors that we covered previously.