Centaur Technology Extends Their Website Countdown...

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 08:38 PM |
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).

Android-x86.png

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.

Well... crap.

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.

Intel Developer Forum (IDF) 2014 Keynote Live Blog

Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 11:02 AM |
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!

intelicon.jpg

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

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.

slides01.jpg

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.

slides02.jpg

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.

Continue reading our overview of the new Intel Xeon E5-2600 v3 Haswell-EP Processors!!

Intel Networking: XL710 Fortville 40 Gigabit Ethernet and VXLAN Acceleration

Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 12:29 PM |
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.

intel-40gb-nic-01.png

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.

intel-40gb-nic-3.jpg

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.

intel-40gb-nic-2.jpg

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).

intel-40gb-nic-4.jpg

Both enabled

If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.

Source: Intel

Intel Graphics Drivers Claim Significant Improvements

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | September 6, 2014 - 05:25 PM |
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.

inteltf2.jpg

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".

The Intel Iris and HD graphics driver is available from Intel, for both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows 7, 8, and 8.1, on many Haswell-based GPUs.

Source: Intel

Intel Sent Us a Containment Chamber with Parts Inside

Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets, Memory, Storage | September 5, 2014 - 01:21 PM |
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:

Intel Announces Core M Processor Lineup Using Broadwell-Y

Subject: Processors | September 5, 2014 - 12:11 PM |
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.

  5Y70 5Y10a 5Y10
Cores/Threads 2/4 2/4 2/4
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
L3 Cache 4MB 4MB 4MB
TDP 4.5 watts 4.5 watts 4.5 watts
Intel vPro Y N N
Intel TXT Y N N
Intel VT-d Y Y Y
Intel VT-x Y Y Y
AES-NI Y Y Y
1K Pricing $281 $281 $281

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.

bwdy1.jpg

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. 

bwdy2.jpg

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.

Source: Intel

You've probably noticed Intel launched a new family of chips

Subject: Processors | September 4, 2014 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, haswell, ddr4, core i7, 5960X

[H]ard|OCP reviewed Intel's brand new Extreme processor, the Haswell-E i7-5960X as weill as posting a large amount of Intel's launch slides detailing the new features present in this series of CPU.  As you can see from the picture they used the same funky white ASUS motherboard which Ryan used in his review but chose a Koolance EX2-755 watercooler as opposed to the Corsair H100i which allowed them to hit 4.5GHz with 1.301v CPU core voltage, slightly lower than Ryan managed.  In the end, while extremely impressed by the CPU they saw little benefits to gaming and recommend this CPU to those who spend most of their time encoding video, manipulating huge images and of course those who just want the best CPU on the planet.

14092645759hVccBAGr0_2_2.jpg

"There are many members of the "1366 X58 Enthusiast Overclockers Club" that have been waiting with bated breath for Intel's launch of the new X99 Express Chipset and new family of Core i7 Haswell-E processors. All this new hardware comes bundled with brand new DDR4 RAM technology packing huge bandwidth as well."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Pushing the 8 Cores

It seems like yesterday when I last talked about an AMD refresh!  Oh wait, it almost was.  Some weeks ago I was able to cover the latest AMD APU offerings that helped to flesh out the Kaveri lineup.  We thought AMD was done for a while.  Color us wrong.  AMD pulled out all the stops and set up an AM3+ refresh!  There is a little excitement here, I guess.  I am trying to contain the tongue-in-cheek lines that I am oh-so-tempted to write.

pic_01.jpg

AMD is refreshing their FX lineup in the waning days of Summer!

Let me explain the situation from my point of view.  The FX lineup for AM3+ has not done a whole lot since the initial release of the Piledriver based FX-8350 and family (Vishera).  Piledriver was a pretty significant update from Bulldozer as it slightly improved IPC and greatly improved power consumption (all the while helping to improve clockspeed by a small degree).  There were two updates before this one, but they did not receive nearly as much coverage.  These updates were the FX-6350 and the FX-9000 series.  The FX-6350 is quite popular with the budget enthusiast crowd who still had not moved over to the Intel side of the equation.  The FX-9000 series were OEM only initially and reaching up to $1000 at the high end.  During that time since the original Vishera chips were released, we have seen the Intel Ivy Bridge and Haswell architectures (with a small refresh with Haswell with the 2nd gen products and the latest Socket 2011 units).

Click here to read the rest of the review on AMD's latest FX refresh!

Interview with Intel's Matt Dunford about Haswell-E and X99

Subject: Processors, Chipsets | August 29, 2014 - 07:25 PM |
Tagged: video, Intel, X99, Haswell-E, core i7-5960x, 5960X, ddr4

Though my review of the Intel Core i7-5960X Haswell-E processor was posted earlier today, we hosted a live stream later in the afternoon where Allyn and I talked about the launch. We were also able to welcome Matt Dunford, Princpal Evangelist at Intel to talk about his role in the Haswell-E release, the future of the platform, how DDR4 memory fits into it all and much more.

The video is embeded in the processor review now as well but I have included it separately below for those of you that want to jump straight in.

My thanks goes out to Matt from Intel for joining us on the live stream and to all the viewers that came by to submit questions and participate!