Subject: Processors | March 1, 2012 - 03:42 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel
A sharp pair of eyes at Guru of 3D spotted a pdf on an Intel site which has since been taken down. While it is too bad we cannot give you the original PDF, Guru3D did post the pertinent information for those waiting patiently for Ivy Bridge to finally arrive.
As you can see the TDPs are impressively low, the desktop models ranging from 77W at the top end down to a 35W rating on the only dual core desktop model. On the mobile side the TDPs range between 17W to 35W, with more than half of those models being dual core. Also worth noting is the new graphics core, the HD4000 which is only available to two of the Core-i5 models, if you want the new core on a desktop then the Core-i7 is the way to go. On the mobile side, all models are listed as having HD4000 which might help Intel compete against AMD's Llano as consumers will not have to investigate the Intel chip in their laptop to determine which level of graphics processor they possess. Making a purchasing decision easier will go a long way to giving peace of mind to consumers that only want to spend their money and not their time researching before they buy.
Still no solid release date though.
Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets | February 29, 2012 - 12:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: just delivered, z77a-gd65, Z77, sandy bridge, msi, Ivy Bridge, Intel
In preparation for Intel's 3rd generation of Intel Core microprocessor architecture (can you see we are dancing around things already), MSI has started showing a new line of motherboards. While at CES in January we saw the Z77A-GD65 option that will be available soon and offers some interesting new specs and features.
The Z77A-GD65 sports Military Class III components as well as support for a host of new items including PCI Express 3.0 and USB 3.0. While we can't share much more than that in terms of details I thought it might be worth showing off a few shots of the upcoming motherboard from our friends at MSI.
Subject: Processors | February 28, 2012 - 12:51 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: trinity, FX-8120, FX-6200, FX-4170, FX, FM3, bulldozer, amd, am3+
Since AMD held their Analysts’ Day, we have not heard a whole bunch from their CPU division. The graphics side has been in full gear launching the HD 7000 series of products, and soon we will see the final pieces of that particular puzzle fall into place. What about the CPU group? We have heard about Trinity for ages now, but that particular launch is still months away. The last CPU update detailed the “K” series of unlocked Llano chips. What about Bulldozer? Is there a new stepping? How is GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ 32 nm SOI/HKMG progressing?
I don’t have all those answers, unfortunately. Since AMD proceeded to sack most of the PR team, our contacts have all but disappeared. Questions emailed to AMD are often not returned. Requests for CPU information (or samples) are ignored. Are these people just simply overworked, or is AMD clamping down on information? Hard to say. My guess here is that they are taking the philosophy of, “No news is good news.” If a company does not send out review samples, they do not have to deal with products receiving bad reviews. I am not saying that the FX processors are necessarily bad, but they do not match up well against Intel’s latest Sandy Bridge parts. At least AMD parts are priced appropriately overall for their level of performance. If we look at overall results, the FX-8150 does match up fairly well with the i5-2500K, and they both exist very close to each other in price points.
What we do know is that AMD has released two new processors into the market with the FX-4170 and the FX-6200. The FX-4170 is a new dual module (four core) 125 watt TDP part that is clocked at an amazing 4.2 GHz stock speed, and a turbo that goes to 4.3 GHz. This is the fastest consumer grade processor in terms of clockspeed, but it obviously is not the fastest processor on Earth. The original FX-4100 is a 95 watt TDP part at 3.6 GHz stock/3.8 GHz turbo, 4 MB L2 cache, and 8 MB of L3. The FX-6200 is perhaps the more interesting of the two. It has a base clock of 3.8 GHz and a max turbo speed of 4.1 GHz. This is a pretty hefty increase from the FX-6100 with its base 3.3 GHz and 3.9 GHz turbo. The 6100 is a 95 watt TDP part while the new 6200 is 125 watt TDP. The 6200 is a three module (six core) part with 6 MB of L2 cache and 8 MB of L3.
The last bit of news is that the FX-8120 is getting a price cut to put it more in line against the competition. The email that we received about this and the previous announcements was amazingly generic and fairly uninformative. We do not know the prices, we do not know the rollout schedule, and we have no idea how much the FX-8120 is going to be chopped. We have seen the retail market already cut the prices down on the FX-8xxx series. The high end FX-8150 was introduced around $289 but now it can be readily available for $259. Now that demand has dropped in the PC sector and AMD’s supply has caught up, it is no wonder we are seeing new SKUs and the lowering of prices.
My goal is to try to get a hold of some of these parts, as they do look interesting from a value standpoint. The FX-6200 is of great interest for many users due to the nice provisioning of cores, L3 caches, and speeds. Throw in a decent price for this particular product, and it could be a favorite for budget enthusiasts who want to stick with AMD products. The area where it does fall down is that of TDP when compared to Intel’s Sandy Bridge parts at that price point. The jump to 3.8 GHz base speed and 4.1 GHz turbo should make it very comparable in stock clocked performance to anything Intel has in that price range.
Overclocking could be interesting here, but since it is already a 125 watt TDP part I do not know how much headroom these products have. 4.8 GHz is very likely, but on air cooling I would not expect overclocked speeds to reach much more above that. Still, these are interesting parts and give plenty of bang for their price. Add in pretty mature support for AM3+ motherboards, and AMD still has a chance with enthusiasts. The only real issue that is looming is PCI-E 3.0 support for the AM3+ ecosystem. We have not heard anything about the upcoming (or is it cancelled?) 1090FX chipset, other than it is based on 890FX/990FX and should not support PCI-E 3.0. With AMD’s push for APUs, I would expect the upcoming Trinity parts to introduce PCI-E 3.0. AMD also looks like they will start funneling the enthusiasts towards FM2 platforms and Trinity based parts. While AMD looks to support AM3+ with Piledriver based cores, my best guess here is that AM3+ will be phased out sooner rather than later.
The next 6 months will be critical for AMD and their path moving forwards. At the very least we will have a better idea of where the company is going under the new management. I am still expecting some big changes from AMD, and if Trinity can give Intel a run for its money in terms of per clock CPU performance, then they could have a winner on their hands and adjust their roadmap to further exploit that particular product release.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 12:30 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra 3, quad-core, k3v2, k3, Huawei
Never heard of Huawei? Well you will going forward. The Chinese telecommunications company that claims 110,000 employees, 46% of which are planted in R&D departments, is entering in the market to compete against Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, Texas Instruments, NVIDIA and others by building an ARM-based SoC for its own mobile devices.
Details are limited for now though we expect to hear more as Mobile World Congress progresses but here is what we know. The Huawei K3V2 CPU will be a quad-core Cortex A9 part with "16 GPUs" - though we don't have any reference what is meant by "a GPU". The A9s will run at either 1.2 GHz or 1.5 GHz and Huawei does mention that these will have
64-bit support a 64-bit memory controller as compared to the 32-bit controller on Tegra 3.
The company did have some performance claims that put the K3V2 ahead of the Galaxy Nexus (Exynos 3110) and ASUS Transformer Prime (Tegra 3). If you believe in marketing slides the new Huawei CPU will be about twice as fast in GPU performance and 49% faster in purely CPU-based tests while using 30% less power. Man, if we had a dollar for every time someone claimed these kinds of gains...
Hopefully we'll see some tests on this new SoC soon in the form of the Huawei Ascend D quad phone available this year.
Subject: Processors | February 26, 2012 - 10:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, Ivy Bridge, delay
If you hadn't heard yet, last week we talked about a potential delay to the release of Intel's upcoming Ivy Bridge processor. Well pretty much everything we feared was "kind of" confirmed by Intel's Sean Maloney when he said:
“I think maybe it’s June now."
Huh. It's gets worse though as Maloney apparently was "blaming the push back on the complexity of the new manufacturing process." That process in particular was the 22nm tri-gate technology that Intel has been touting as one of its biggest developments in recent years.
Is this completely altered now??
The EETimes story gets more specific with date quotes from Jim McGregor of In-Stat.
Jim McGregor of In-Stat told EE Times that according to his industry sources in Taiwan, Intel's Ivy Bridge server parts were only delayed from April 8 until April 29, though the dual core i5 and i7 parts for notebooks had been pushed out from a planned May 13th launch to June 3.
Last week we were hearing that Intel would still launch Ivy Bridge parts in April but wouldn't send out the mass shipments until June, and while that is still possible, that seems much less likely after hearing Maloney's words today.
And if you haven't had enough bad news for today, there is this comment that pretty much backs up my thoughts that I laid out in our 190th episode of the PC Perpsective Podcast last week:
“It doesn’t really matter because there’s not really any compelling competition right now,” said one industry analyst on condition of anonymity, referring to AMD’s recent lag in the market.
AMD, we need you in our lives so badly. Please don't leave us here...alone...
Subject: Processors, Mobile | February 26, 2012 - 01:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra, Samsung, quad-core, MWC 12, MWC, exynos
While details are still sparse as we await the official start of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona tonight/tomorrow, it appears that Samsung plans to announce a new quad-core processor as part of its Exynos line. It will be the first Samsung SoC based on 32nm technology rather than the 45nm currently in production and will be available in both quad- and dual-core variant.
According to the story over at Unwiredview it will be available in frequencies ranging from 200 MHz all the way up to 1.5 GHz while offering lower power consumption than current options. I am curious how this actually stacks up though as we have seen that Tegra 3 doesn't REALLY offer lower power consumption and longer battery life even though that was a promise from NVIDIA. It definitely can offer less power consumption per performance unit, but in the end battery life is king for these mobile devices.
What about graphics performance? The story had this to say:
The new Exynos comes paired with the latest version of Samsung’s own graphics chip, which has 4 pixel processors and 1 geometry engine with 128 KB L2 cache. The graphics support OpenGL ES 2.0 and can generate up to 57 MPolygons/s.
Samsung claims that the new processor will offer 26% more performance compared to Exynos parts based on the 45nm process and I assume they are referring to dual-core vs dual-core results. Other claims include battery life improvements of "up to 50%" - we'd love to see it but we'll wait for actual devices to ship and showcase it before really getting excited.
The good news is that quad-core performance will be coming to more devices and NVIDIA won't be the only SoC designer on the block offering them. The use-cases for quad-core performance on a mobile device, phone or tablet, may still be in question though we never doubt the software side of the equation to utilize as much horsepower as it is provided.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 25, 2012 - 07:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: texas instruments, MWC 12, arm, A9, A15
Texas Instruments could not wait until Mobile World Congress to start throwing punches. Despite their recent financial problems resulting in the closure of two fabrication plants TI believes that their product should speak for itself. Texas Instruments recently released a video showing their dual-core OMAP5 processor based on the ARM Cortex-A15 besting a quad-core ARM Cortex-A9 in rendering websites.
Chuck Norris joke.
Even with being at a two core disadvantage the 800 MHz OMAP5 processor was clocked 40 percent slower than the 1.3 GHz Cortex A9. The OMAP5 is said to be able to reach 2.5 GHz if necessary when released commercially.
Certain portions of the video did look a bit fishy however. Firstly, CNet actually loaded quicker on the A9 processor but it idled a bit before advancing to the second page. The A9 could have been stuck loading an object that the OMAP 5 did not have an issue with, but it does seem a bit weird.
About the fishiest part of the video is that the Quad-Core A9, which we assume to be a Tegra 3, is running on Honeycomb where the OMAP5 is running Ice Cream Sandwich. Ice Cream Sandwich has been much enhanced for performance over Honeycomb.
We have no doubt that the ARM Cortex-A15 will be much improved over the current A9. The issue here is that TI cannot successfully prove that with this demonstration.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | February 22, 2012 - 06:01 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Cyclos, piledriver
AMD has its own announcements about power consumption for the International Solid-State Circuits Conference this week. A few days ago we reported on Intel’s success integrating Wi-Fi transceivers into the CPU to reduce power consumption. Cyclos Semiconductor discussed their resonant clock mesh (RCM) technology which reduces waste energy dissipated when keeping the chip synchronized. AMD announced that this technology would be introduced in their upcoming Piledriver APUs and Opteron processors.
Excuse me, good sir. Do you have the time?
Tom’s Hardware put up an article to discuss the announcement with a small explanation of what is going on.
Inductive-capacitive oscillators are leveraged in mesh-based high-performance clock distribution networks to deliver "high-precision timing while dissipating almost no power." In effect, RCM promises to recycle clock power to enable lower power consumption or higher clock speeds.
For a more specific explanation, I turned to Josh Walrath. Chips are timed by a clock signal -- any overclocker will attest to that. Over time chips became larger and more complex which of course requires a larger and more complex system to propagate the clock signal through. Slowly but surely those circuits became large enough that the energy they dissipate simply by being powered becomes less and less negligible.
What Cyclos contributes is cleverly using inductor-capacitor circuits to keep the energy stored in the clock circuit mesh. With more of the energy stored in the mesh it just requires a small energy shove to trigger the signal after the initial charge. Also, less energy lost also means less heat dissipation which helps your battery as well as your heatsink.
Cyclos Semiconductor states that power savings are between 5 to 30 percent dependent on the chip design. In AMD’s case, they expect approximately 5 to 10 percent power savings in their Piledriver implementation. While AMD is the first implementation of Cyclos’ technology, it is not known what Intel currently has done or will potentially do to solve the problem.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Systems, Mobile, Shows and Expos | February 20, 2012 - 01:50 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Rosepoint, ISSCC 2012, ISSCC, Intel
If there is one thing that Intel is good at, it is writing a really big check to go in a new direction right when absolutely needed. Intel has released press information on what should be expected from their presence at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference which is currently in progress until the 23rd. The headliner for Intel at this event is their Rosepoint System on a Chip (SoC) which looks to lower power consumption by rethinking the RF transceiver and including it on the die itself. While the research has been underway for over a decade at this point, pressure from ARM has pushed Intel to, once again, throw money at R&D until their problems go away.
Intel could have easily trolled us all and have named this SoC "Centrino".
Almost ten years ago, AMD had Intel in a very difficult position. Intel fought to keep clock-rates high until AMD changed their numbering scheme to give proper credit to their higher performance-per-clock components. Intel dominated, legally or otherwise, the lower end market with their Celeron line of processors.
AMD responded with series of well-timed attacks against Intel. AMD jabbed Intel in the face and punched them in the gut with the release of the Sempron processor line nearby filing for anti-trust against Intel to allow them to more easily sell their processors in mainstream PCs.
At around this time, Intel decided to entirely pivot their product direction and made plans to take their Netburst architecture behind the shed. AMD has yet to recover from the tidal wave which the Core architectures crashed upon them.
Intel wishes to stop assaulting your battery indicator.
With the surge of ARM processors that have been fundamentally designed for lower power consumption than Intel’s x86-based competition, things look bleak for the expanding mobile market. Leave it to Intel to, once again, simply cut a gigantic check.
Intel is in the process of cutting power wherever possible in their mobile offerings. To remain competitive with ARM, Intel is not above outside-the-box solutions including the integration of more power-hungry components directly into the main processor. Similar to NVIDIA’s recent integration of touchscreen hardware into their Tegra 3 SoC, Intel will push the traditionally very power-hungry Wi-Fi transceivers into the SoC and supposedly eliminate all analog portions of the component in the process.
I am not too knowledgeable about Wi-Fi transceivers so I am not entirely sure how big of a jump Intel has made in their development, but it appears to be very significant. Intel is said to discuss this technology more closely during their talk on Tuesday morning titled, “A 20dBm 2.4GHz Digital Outphasing Transmitter for WLAN Application in 32nm CMOS.”
This paper is about a WiFi-compliant (802.11g/n) transmitter using Intel’s 32nm process and techniques leveraging Intel transistors to achieve record performance (power consumption per transmitted data better than state-of-the art). These techniques are expected to yield even better results when moved to Intel’s 22nm process and beyond.
What we do know is that the Rosepoint SoC will be manufactured at 32nm and is allegedly quite easy to scale down to smaller processes when necessary. Intel has also stated that while only Wi-Fi is currently supported, other frequencies including cellular bands could be developed in the future.
We will need to wait until later to see how this will affect the real world products, but either way -- this certainly is a testament to how much change a dollar can be broken into.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | February 18, 2012 - 09:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, mobile, developer
Clay Breshears over at Intel posted about lazy software optimization over on the Intel Software Blog. His post is a spiritual resurrection of the over seven year’s old article by Herb Sutter, “The Free Lunch is Over: A Fundamental Turn Toward Concurrency in Software.” The content is very similar, but the problem is quite different.
The original 2004 article urged developers to heed the calls for the multi-core choo choo express and not hang around on the single core platform (train or computing) waiting for performance to get better. The current article takes that same mentality and applies it to power efficiency. Rather than waiting for hardware that has appropriate power efficiency for your application, learn techniques to bring your application into your desired power requirements.
"I believe your program is a little... processor heavy."
The meat of the article focuses on the development of mobile applications and the concerns that developers should have with battery conservation. Of course there is something to be said about Intel promoting mobile power efficiency. While developers could definitely increase the efficiency of their code, there is still a whole buffet of potential on the hardware side.
If you are a developer, particularly of mobile or laptop applications, Intel has an education portal for best power efficiency practices on their website. Be sure to check it out and pick up the tab once in a while, okay?
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