Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 18, 2013 - 07:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xeon, Ivy Bridge-E, Intel
Tom's Hardware acquired, from... somewhere, an early engineering sample of the upcoming Core i7-4960X. Intel was allegedly not involved with this preview and were thus, I would expect, not the supplier for their review unit. While the introductory disclaimer alluded to some tensions between Intel and themselves, for us: we finally have a general ballpark of Ivy Bridge-E's performance. Sure, tweaks could be made before the end of this year, but this might be all we have to go on until then.
Both images, credit, Tom's Hardware.
When browsing through the benchmarks, I noticed three key points:
- Single-threaded: slightly behind mainstream Haswell, similar to Sandy Bridge-E (SBE).
eight cores(Update 1: This was a 6-core part) are better than SBE, but marginal given the wait.
- Power efficiency: Ivy Bridge-E handily wins, about 30% more performance per watt.
These results will likely be disappointing to enthusiasts who seek the highest performance, especially in single-threaded applications. Data centers, on the other hand, will likely be eager for Xeon variants of this architecture. The higher-tier Xeon E5 processors are still based on Socket 2011 Sandy Bridge-E including, for instance, those powering the highest performance Cluster Compute instances at Amazon Web Services.
But, for those who actually are salivating for the fastest at all costs, the wait for Ivy Bridge-E might as well be postponed until Haswell-E reaches us, allegedly, just a year later. That architecture should provide significant increases in performance, single and multi-threaded, and is rumored to arrive the following year. I may have just salted the wounds of those who purchased an X79 motherboard, awaiting Ivy Bridge-E, but it might just be the way to go for those who did not pre-invest in Ivy Bridge-E's promise.
Again, of course, under the assumption that these benchmarks are still valid upon release. While a complete product re-bin is unlikely, we still do not know what clock rate the final silicon will be capable of supporting, officially or unofficially.
Keep calm, and carry a Haswell?
Subject: Processors | July 12, 2013 - 10:06 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, BGA, Bay Trail, haswell, roadmap
There has been a ton of BGA processor stories over the past year, with the most recent being that Intel will not be releasing the BGA-only 14nm Broadwell processors next year. It is not all bad news for BGA fans though, because Intel is reportedly introducing new BGA versions of Haswell-based chips late this year and in the first half of 2014.
According to a leaked road-map, Intel will release three new Bay Trail based BGA chips under the Pentium and Celeron brands by Q4 2013. Additionally, next year the company will launch three high performance BGA-only Haswell-based processors.
On the low end, Intel will launch three new Bay Trail-D based processors. The J1750 and J1850 will be Celerons while the J2850 will have Pentium branding. The specifications are available in the chart below.
|Base Clockspeed||Cores / Threads||Cache||GPU||GPU Clockspeed|
|Pentium J2850||2.4 GHz||4 / 4||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 792 MHz|
|Celeron J1850||2.0 GHz||4 / 4||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 792 MHz|
|Celeron J1750||2.4 GHz||2 / 2||2 MB||Intel HD||688 / 750 MHz|
For the enthusiast crowd that favors small systems (like Intel’s NUC), the company is releasing three new Haswell-based BGA processors under its Core i5 and Core i7 branding. Specifications for these high end chips are located in the chart below. Interestingly, these Haswell chips in a BGA package come with Intel's much faster Iris 5200 processor graphics. A high end desktop CPU SKU with Intel's GT3e (GT3 GPU with embedded memory) still eludes enthusiasts, however despite the BGA packaging. Note that the BGA Core processors are not coming until at least next year, according to the roadmap (which does note that dates are subject to change).
|Base Clockspeed||Cores / Threads||Cache||GPU||GPU Clockspeed|
|Core i7 4770R||3.2 GHz||4 / 8||6 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1300 MHz|
|Core i5 4670R||3.0 GHz||4 / 4||4 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1300 MHz|
|Core i5 4570R||2.7 GHz||4 / 4||4 MB||Intel Iris 5200||1150 MHz|
There has definitely been resistance against Intel’s BGA lineups by the enthusiast crowd, for fear that customization and DIY abilities would be hampered and that BGA would take over and displace LGA (socketed CPUs). In this particular case though, I think the new BGA processors are a good thing and so long as there continues to be LGA options for the DIY and enthusiast crowd, I look forward to seeing what platforms these new BGA chips are used in and what motherboard manufacturers offer with them (if they are even offered at retail at all, and not just to OEMs).
I think a BGA version of a desktop CPU with Intel's fastest GT3e processor graphics would actually be welcome since it appears that an LGA version is out of the question, and would be one way to sway desktop users over to Intel's BGA strategy and have them be open to similar options in future chips, such as Broadwell in 2015.
Battle of the IGPs
Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers. What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing.
Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks. Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs. It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.
Battle of the IGPs
Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today. With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products. In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up.
When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself. Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments. Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later. Now is later.
So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air. A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options. Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2. The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | July 5, 2013 - 03:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, Intel, Bay Trail-T, Bay Trail
Bay Trail is still seasons away but engineering samples are, and this should be no surprise, already in use at least for research and development purposes. Someone, somewhere down the line, decided to run a benchmark which was posted online. AnTuTu, the benchmark utilized, measures a spread of factors including memory, integer performance, floating point performance, 3D performance, and so forth. Unfortunately it does also include some non-CPU/GPU factors in its score, albeit barely, so best take it with a grain of salt.
Image Credit: The Droid Guy
The Silvermont-based chip, clocked at an... actually quite modest 1101 MHz, received a synthetic score of 43416. To put that in comparison: arguably the fastest ARM processor on the market, the Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800, tends to find itself with a score around the 30,000-32,000 range which is about 27-31% slower than Intel. The very popular albeit soon deprecated Nexus 7, powered by the Tegra 3, scores 12726.
Personally, I am getting a little flashback of the Intel vs. AMD battle about 8 years ago. We seem to be close to a Conroe (Core 2 Duo) vs. AMD Athlon 64 FX point between Intel and ARM. Intel eclipsed the AMD Athlon 64
FX-57 (update: I meant FX-62) and kept throwing more money at research than AMD could possibly afford. Unless ARM can severely undercut Bay Trail, Intel could follow past trends and simply bury their competitors with tens of billions in capital investment until their products are so far ahead that consumers default to Intel products.
If history repeats itself, this leaves Qualcomm and others in a difficult position. The solution seems to be either to tread water in a price point that Intel ignores or to collectively dump money into ARM and run the "out-research Intel" treadmill. Remember, this is a company who will dump twice AMD's revenue into their Research and Development year-over-year to keep ahead. Unlike Intel's GPU efforts, which did not seem like a problem that cash could solve alone, they know how to make processors.
I would not make business decisions under the assumption x86 will keep Intel hobbled indefinitely.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 3, 2013 - 03:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Richland, APU, amd
Accidents happen. AMD has been rolling out their Richland APUs for the last month and partners have been keeping up with supporting products. While common, the problem with rolling releases is the potential confusion over what has and what has not been released. Unfortunately for MSI, their support chart for FM2 CPUs includes a couple of products which are news to us.
AMD will be able to hit the 45W TDP with the, apparently, upcoming A8-6500T and A10-6700T APUs. Tom's Hardware seemed to have slightly different information, their chart does not exactly jive with the one posted by MSI; for instance, they claimed the T suffix implied a low power variant when MSI's chart confirmed a 45W TDP... fairly loud and clear. As such, our table will be my best attempt at combining both charts along with a bit more leaked GPU information from TechPowerUP.
|Base Clock||2.1 GHz||2.5 GHz|
|L2 Cache||4 MB||4 MB|
|L3 Cache||0 MB (N/A)||0 MB (N/A)|
Radeon HD 8550D
(Not HD 8650D)
|Radeon HD 8650D|
|GPU Clock||720 MHz||720 MHz|
|GPU Boost Clock||844 MHz (???)||844 MHz (???)|
|GPU Shader Count||256||384|
It is impossible to know expected price, release window, or even whether the product still exists. For that, we will need to wait for an official unveiling... or at least another unofficial one.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems | June 26, 2013 - 10:27 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: supercomputing, supercomputer, titan, Xeon Phi
The National Supercomputer Center in Guangzho, China, will host the the world's fastest supercomputer by the end of the year. The Tianhe-2, English: "Milky Way-2", is capable of nearly double the floating-point performance of Titan albeit with slightly less performance per watt. The Tianhe-2 was developed by China's National University of Defense Technology.
Photo Credit: Top500.org
Comparing new fastest computer with the former, China's Milky Way-2 is able to achieve 33.8627 PetaFLOPs of calculations from 17.808 MW of electricity. The Titan, on the other hand, is able to crunch 17.590 PetaFLOPs with a draw of just 8.209 MW. As such, the new Milky Way-2 uses 12.7% more power per FLOP than Titan.
Titan is famously based on the Kepler GPU architecture from NVIDIA, coupled with several 16-core AMD Opteron server processors clocked at 2.2 GHz. This concept of using accelerated hardware carried over into the design of Tianhe-2, which is based around Intel's Xeon Phi coprocessor. If you include the simplified co-processor cores of the Xeon Phi, the new champion is the sum of 3.12 million x86 cores and 1024 terabytes of memory.
... but will it run Crysis?
... if someone gets around to emulating DirectX in software, it very well could.
Subject: Processors | June 21, 2013 - 09:39 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Intel, haswell, cpu, Broadwell, 14nm
Alongside the good news of 8-core Haswell-E parts, VR-Zone revealed an updated Intel road map that makes no mention of the 14nm Haswell architecture die shrink Broadwell. Broadwell was originally intended to be the next "tick" in Intel's yearly "tick-tock" chip release schedule set to release next year. If recent reports are true, this will no longer be the case. Instead, 2014 will be dominated (at least on the Intel side of things) by consumer Haswell and enthusiast-grade Haswell-E chips.
What is going on with Broadwell?
Broadwell is essentially supposed to be a CPU using the Haswell micro-architecture that is built on a (impressively) smaller 14nm manufacturing process. There may be a few minor tweaks to the architecture or updates to the instruction set extensions, but the big difference between Broadwell and Haswell is the die shrink from 22nm to 14nm. The die shrink will allow for better low-power performance and will be beneficial in battery-powered mobile devices first and foremost. Likely as a result of the main benefits being mobile parts, Intel has previously announced that Broadwell chips would be BGA only, which means that there would not be a traditional LGA socket-ed desktop part. Broadwell chips would only come soldered onto motherboards in bare-bones systems, laptops, and tablets for example.
Despite the small architectural differences, the die shrink alone is a monumental task. Intel needs to not only be able to shrink Haswell and its wealth of transistors to 14nm, but it has to do so in a way that allows them to get the yields and power efficiency characteristics that they want. This is extremely hard, and the move to manufacturing nodes below 22nm is going to get exceedingly difficult. Intel accomplished 22nm with its Tri-gate 3D transistors, but with 14nm they are going to have to push beyond that, and even with its huge money vault, physics is working against them in a big way here. As a result of the huge challenges of moving to 14nm, it seems at this point that Broadwell will not be ready in time for a 2014 launch after all. Instead, Intel is now shooting for a 2015 launch of the BGA Broadwell chips alongside the LGA (socket-ed) 14nm Sky Lake processors (the "tock" to Broadwell's "tick").
Some enthusiasts and media have painted the Broadwell delay to be, at least in part, due to less competition from AMD. That is possible, but I can't help but thinking that slowing down Broadwell is the last thing Intel would want to do. The sooner Intel is able to move its Haswell (and future) micro-architecture-based chips to 14nm and beyond, the sooner AMD is put all that much farther behind. If Intel had managed 14nm Broadwell in 2014, AMD would have been screwed out of a lot of SFF NUC-type systems as well as mobile devices as they would not really be able to compete on performance or power efficiency! (Then Intel could happily focus on trying to bring down ARM in the mobile space, which it seems to want to do heh.) In some internal discussion with PC Perspective's Josh Walrath, I think that Intel would have loved to bring 14nm chips next year but, because of manufacturing process woes, the chips are simply not ready.
The new plan: Refresh Haswell in 2014 with a new Z97 chipset
Now, with the launch of Broadwell moved back to at least 2015, consumers will now be presented with a refresh of 22nm Haswell chips on the consumer side around Q2 2014 and the upcoming launch of enthusiast-platform Haswell-E processors in the second half of 2014.
The Haswell (LGA 1150) refresh will include better binned chips with a lineup that is likely to see a slight speed bump in stock clockspeed across the board as well as an updated Z97 chipset. The new chipset will support 1000 MB/s SATA Express and boot-level malware protection technology in the form of Intel Device Protection and Boot Guard. Granted motherboards using the updated Z97 chipset are not going to be all that alluring to those users already running Z87 chipsets with their Haswell processors. However, users that have not yet upgraded might as well go with the newer chipset and enjoy the small tweaks and benefits that go along with it. In other words, if you were holding out waiting to upgrade to a Broadwell CPU plus motherboard combo, you are going to be waiting at least another year. You will be able to grab a refreshed Haswell CPU and a Z87 or Z97 chipset-based motherboard next year though (which should still be a healthy upgrade if you have a pre-Sandy Bridge system).
Also worth noting is that if you have already upgraded to Haswell, you can rest easy knowing that you have at least another year of your chip being the newest model--quite a feat considering how fast the tech world traditionally moves!
On the other hand, if Haswell just isn't fast enough, there is always Haswell-E to look forward to in 2014! Haswell-E will bring 8-core, 16-thread chips with 20MB of L3 cache (up to ~140W TDP) and the X99 chipset, which should keep the top-end enthusiast market happy no matter the state of Broadwell.
I'm looking forward to more details regarding the 14nm manufacturing process, and hoping that once the chips are on the way the company will be willing to talk about some of the challenges and issues they faced moving to such a small process node (perhaps at IDF? One can hope.) In the mean time, Haswell has another year to shine and make Intel money while AMD works on its HSA and APU strategies.
What do you think about the 14nm Broadwell delay? Does it impact you, or were you waiting for Haswell-E anyway?
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 19, 2013 - 08:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: overclock, amd
Thankfully, they were not "firing" on all four cylinders; while Ryan does prefer thermite, overclockers tend to prefer liquid nitrogen. There are some distinct advantages of ice over fire, the main one for computer users is the potential for massive bumps in frequency and voltage. Of course, you cannot really get any effective use out of a machine that relies on a steady stream of fluid cold enough that it takes less digits to write out its temperature in Kelvin, but a large bump makes good bragging rights.
Finnish overclocker, "The Stilt", managed to push his four-core part to 8000.39 MHz just long enough to have CPU-Z validate his accomplishment. With a frequency multiplier of 63.0 atop a bus speed of 126.99, this gets within 800MHz of the AMD FX-8350 running on just one module (6 of 8 cores disabled) recorded by ASUS late last year.
But no, it will probably not run Crysis.
OpenCL Support in a Meaningful Way
Adobe had OpenCL support since last year. You would never benefit from its inclusion unless you ran one of two AMD mobility chips under Mac OSX Lion, but it was there. Creative Cloud, predictably, furthers this trend with additional GPGPU support for applications like Photoshop and Premiere Pro.
This leads to some interesting points:
- How OpenCL is changing the landscape between Intel and AMD
- What GPU support is curiously absent from Adobe CC for one reason or another
- Which GPUs are supported despite not... existing, officially.
This should be very big news for our readers who do production work whether professional or for a hobby. If not, how about a little information about certain GPUs that are designed to compete with the GeForce 700-series?
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 17, 2013 - 08:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: haswell, Intel, Second Opinion
Ryan reviewed the Core i7 4770K earlier in the month and found it an impressive product. He was not able to properly test the CPU paired with a discrete GPU because of time restraints; we value results measured from direct monitor output, which takes longer than FRAPS and other software results. Still, Ryan believes that the boost in raw CPU performance justifies its existence in desktops without a funky "-E" tagged along for good luck.
For a second opinion, you could check NitroWare to see what a cynical Aussie thinks of Intel's latest offering. Of note, they compare software-measured frame rates between the on-chip GPU and those measured from a GTX 460 on Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge, and Haswell. He is nothing if not thorough, collecting his findings over 20 pages.
Ultimately he finds that if you are running Ivy Bridge, you will not benefit too much from the upgrade; Sandy Bridge users and earlier, on the other hand, might want to consider this platform... unless they are wanting to jump into the enthusiast-slot offerings coming up late this year and Haswell-E late the following year.
Also be sure to check back when we have our frametime measurements complete!