Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | November 23, 2012 - 01:18 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, CEO
Intel has not had any financial or directional problems nor have they experienced a revolving door in upper management, at least to my knowledge. Paul Otellini was expected to remain at the helm of the chip giant until he turned 65 at which point he would enjoy a wonderful retirement. He would have commanded the company for a full decade.
Intel recently announced that Otellini will leave the company and retire at 62.
Possibly the most important part of the story might be the non-story piece: there does not appear to be any reason for him to leave. The board apparently did not want him to go. ARM holds a large lead in momentum over Intel, during Paul’s watch, in the mobile market but even then the future looks promising with early commentaries about Clover Trail. If I had to guess I would posit that his decision to step down is entirely for personal and possibly sudden circumstances. That was just a guess, however.
To further speculation about its abruptness, Intel does not seem to have anyone in mind as a replacement in just 6 months’ time. For the first time Intel will consider fulfilling the position from outside the company.
In related news, Intel’s stock made a slight dip in value after the abrupt announcement. While the decline was slight it does echo the reluctance mentioned earlier and shows that even the stock market approved of Intel’s performance over the last eight years.
We go inside the Wii U
Last night after the midnight release of the new Nintendo Wii U gaming console, we did what any self respecting hardware fan would do: we tore it apart. That's right, while live on our PC Perspective Live! page, we opened up a pair of Wii U consoles, played a couple of games on the Deluxe while we took a tri-wing screwdriver to the second. Inside we found some interesting hardware (and a lot more screws) and at the conclusion of the 5+ hour marathon, we had a reassembled system with only a handful of leftover screws!
If you missed the show last night we have archived the entire video on our YouTube channel (embedded below) as well as the photos we took during the event in their full resolution glory. There isn't much to discuss about the teardown other than what we said in the video but I am going to leave a few comments after each set of four images.
OH! And if you missed the live event and want to be apart of another one, we are going to be holding a Hitman: Absolution Game Stream on our Live Page sponsored by AMD with giveaways like Radeon graphics cards and LOTS of game keys! Stop by again and see us on http://pcper.com/live on Tuesday the 20th at 8pm ET.
During the stream we promised photos of everything we did while taking it apart, so here you go! Click to get the full size image!
Getting inside the Wii U was surprisingly easy as the white squares over the screws were simply stickers and we didn't have to worry about any clips breaking, etc. The inside is dominated by the optical drive provided by Panasonic.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 17, 2012 - 04:09 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: layoffs, amd
Personally, I am starting to get numb to AMD restructuring news -- and that is never good.
Less than a month ago we reported on the semiconductor design company’s decision to cut 15% of their workforce. The company still has life in it and has a respectable presence in all upcoming videogame consoles along with its inclusion within many consumer laptops and desktops but it is clearly not as much life as they need.
Original rumors stated that cuts could be on the order of 10-30% which 15% would be on the lighter side of. With rumors of more cuts coming in January I wonder if this was a last minute decision to break up the layoffs into two less dramatic installments.
One of the beauties of the tech industry is the low cost of starting or turning a company around; it would be irresponsible to completely count out a player while it still has access to millions of capital. AMD is also sitting upon lots of assets which could be liquidated and their employees have ridiculous talent to be employable elsewhere. I have been noticing that most chatter about the topic is not based in concern with AMD and their employee’s future but with concern about an x86 competitor to Intel.
This is pretty much the same concern which I have been having about Windows 8: the house of cards may be standing but it is still a house of cards. We rely upon the proprietary standards which Intel and others impose upon the art, the word being used both in literal and “artisan / practical art” contexts which includes utensil applications.
Concern mounts but practically no-one grafts it to similar instabilities in other platforms.
No I am not saying abolish technology patents or anything like that: I am simply saying that this is yet another drop in the torrent of concerns with content upstream to proprietary platforms.
These issues rightfully cause alarm but are not isolated events.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 6, 2012 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: piledriver, opteron 6300, amd, Abu Dhabi
Low power, high density server designs are very important but it is nice to see updates on the more powerful server processors as well, something quite rare so far in 2012. AMD has finally released their Opteron 6300 family, with ten members bearing between 8 to 16 cores and all running at over 3GHz. We don't have any reviews to offer, so the only performance benchmarks are from AMD's press releases, but you can expect more change than just an increase in frequency as this is a Piledriver based chip. The Register has put together a high level overview of the new Opterons or you can head on over to AMD to check out the information on offer there. Cray is already shipping servers based on these chips, with Dell and HP releasing a variety of servers in the near future.
"Customers using big ol' fat x86 servers didn't have much to jump for joy about this year. There just isn't a lot going on. But to make things interesting, AMD is now goosing the performance of its top-end parts with the launch of its "Abu Dhabi" Opteron 6300s, which sport the "Piledriver" cores that already debuted in the FX Series of high-end desktop chips."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Canon PowerShot G15 Review @ TechReviewSource
- Logitech TV Cam HD review: couch Skyping @ Hardware.Info
- The Thomson / Technicolor TG784n Port Forwarding Guide @ TechARP
- ARM and Imagination take over MIPS for $350m @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft integrates Kinect Fusion project into SDK @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft to replace Windows Live Messenger with Skype @ The Inquirer
- Windows 8 Review – Part Two: The Things I Love @ Techgage
- Rosewill RCM-3640HD 3.0 MegaPixel Webcam Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- Get Ready For The Holidays @ Bjorn3D/Kingston
Subject: Processors | November 6, 2012 - 01:15 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: server, piledriver, opteron, datacenter, cpu, amd
AMD announced new server processors on Monday based on the same Piledriver architecture used in the Trinity APUs and Vishera desktop CPUs we recently reviewed. With the release of the Opteron 6300 series, AMD is bringing Piledriver to the server room.
The new chips – similar to the desktop counterparts – bring several performance improvements over the previous generation 6200 series Opterons based on the Bulldozer architecture. AMD is positioning the chips as a upgrade path to existing servers and on merits of performance-per-dollar efficiency. As is AMD's fashion, the new chips are competitively priced and "good enough" performance-wise. With 6300, AMD has stated the goal is to reduce the TCO, or Total Cost of Ownership for servers used in data centers, supercomputers, and enterprises by being compatible with existing AMD server platforms with a BIOS upgrade and representing efficiency improvements over previous chips.
The Opteron 6300 series CPUs themselves build upon the Vishera desktop parts by adding more cores and more L3 cache. The server parts will have up to 16 cores clocked at 2.8GHz base and 3.2GHz turbo. They will have TDP ratings between 85W and 140W and will feature prices from $500 to $1,400. On the cache front, the chips have a 16KB L1 data cache per core, 64KB L1 instruction cache per module, 1MB L2 cache per core, and a shared 16MB cache per socket. AMD has included a quad channel memory controller that supports DDR3 up to 1866 MHz and 1.5TB per server in 4P configurations. AMD has rounded out the chips with four x16 HyperTransport 3.0 links rated at 6.4 GT/s per link. Up to 4 processors per server will be supported, which means a maximum of 64 cores.
With Piledriver, AMD added a number of new instructions including FMA3, BMI, and F16c. The company has also implemented server tweaks to the Bulldozer design to improve branch prediction, instructions per clock, scheduling, and reduced the power draw at higher clockspeeds allowing for the chps to clock higher while staying within the same power envelope of the Bulldozer-based Opteron 6200 series.
AMD is using the same socket as the 6200 series processors, and the new chips can be deployed as an upgrade to the old servers without needing a new motherboard.
When pitting the new Opteron 6380 to the previous-generation 6278, AMD is claiming a number of performance increases, including a 24-percent and 40-percent improvement in SPECjob2005 and SPECpower_ssj2008 respectively.
Further, the company is claiming competitive performance in server workloads with the Intel competition. AMD offers up benchmarks showing the Opteron 6380 and Xeon E5-2690 trading wins, with the AMD part being slower in the STREAM benchmark, but being slightly faster in LAMPS and NAMD. The allure of the Opteron, according to AMD is that the AMD part is almost half the price of the Intel processor, and is hoping the lower priced parts will encourage adoption. AMD argues that the money saved could easily go towards more RAM or more storage (or simply be saved of course).
The company has announced that its first major design win is Big Red II supercomputer at Indiana University. Built by Cray, the Big Red II will feature 21,000+ Opteron 6300-series CPU cores paired with NVIDIA GPUs. It represents a massive increase in computing power over IU’s previous Big Red supercomputer with 4,100 CPU cores, and will be used for medical, physics, chemistry, and climate research. Beyond that, AMD has stated more that 30 hardware vendors are slated to introduce servers based on the new Piledriver-based Opteron processors including HP, Dell, Cray, SGI, Supermicro, Sugon, and (of course) SeaMicro. On the software side of things, AMD is working with Microsoft, VMware, Xen, Red Hat, and Openstack. The company also stated that it is leaning on the experience and knowledge gained from the HSA Foundation to improve software support and guide the future direction of Opteron development.
The Opteron 6300 series is an interesting release that brings several improvements to the company’s server chip offerings. At launch, there are 10 processors to choose from, ranging from the quad core 6308 clocked at 3.5GHz for $501 to the top-end 6386 SE with 16 cores (2.8GHz base, 3.5GHz max turbo) and a $1,392 price tag. The 6366HE is an interesting part as well. It is the same price as the 12-core, 115W TDP Opteron 6348, but its has 16 lower-clocked cores and an 85W TDP. With the non-HE edition processors with 16 cores starting at $703, the 6366HE for $575 is a decent deal if you need multi-threading more than a fewer number of higher clocked cores.
Another bit that I found intriguing is that in a few years, AMD will (likely, if all goes according to plan) be offering processors for just about every type of server. They will have low cost, low power ARM Cortex-A57 based chips, Accelerated Processing Units (APUs) well suited to mixed workloads including GPU-accelerated tasks, and CPU-only chips with lots of traditional x86-64 cores. It seems that Intel will continue to hold the high end on pure performance, but AMD and its SeaMicro server division have not given up competing in the server room by a long shot.
The Piledrive architecture and Vishera desktop CPU review and The future of AMD: Vishera and Beyond at PC Perspective.
Subject: Processors | October 31, 2012 - 02:25 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: smartphone, R&D, prototype, Intel
Intel researchers located at the company’s Barcelona, Spain labs are working on multi-core solutions. Specifically, the researchers are looking to bring massive numbers of processing cores to smartphones and tablets. The x86 chip giant hopes to see as many as 48 core processors powering mobile devices within the next five to ten years.
Currently, quad core System on a Chip (SoC) processors represent the highest number of cores in a mobile device, so a 48 core processor would be an absolutely massive jump. Of course, there are several issues that Intel will need to address in order for such a chip to be feasible. The package size, TDP, and power draw will all need to be drastically reduced in order to fit into the power envelope and form factor of smartphones in particular. The biggest issue standing in the way of such a chip though is software. Massively multi-threaded software is still extremely rare, and on mobile devices is no where close to effectively utilizing the number of cores Intel wants to provide.
Image credit: Computer Wold. A prototyping platform running software to research efficient multi-core processing.
Analyst Patrick Moorhead argues that five to ten years is effectively an eternity in technology-time, and by the time the hardware with massive numbers of cores is feasible, the software will be there. Intel is a bit less optimistic, but hopeful that developers will embrace the idea of multiple low power cores versus a few high clocked, power hungry cores. Such a transition in the software industry would allow smartphones to multitask much more efficiently than they do now, and would no longer have to comprise on the extent of background tasks in order to keep the user interface stable and snappy.
Intel is currently using cloud computers to analyze multi-threading and what tasks can be parallelized. The company envisions being able to encrypt email, listen to media, sync with backup services, and use voice recognition without needing to reach out to Internet-connected servers at the same time. Cores would be able to split the work or dedicate certain numbers of cores to tasks like the UI or video playback. Intel has already demonstrated the ability to turn off unused portions of the CPU to save power as well as its turbo boost modes to increase clockspeeds when there is TDP headroom. It will be interesting to see a 48 core chip, especially if software developers can be coerced into doing tasks with massive numbers of cores in mind.
Interestingly, AMD is going for heterogeneous cores (CPU cores, GPU cores, ARM cores, etc) while Intel is using its process node and chip technology lead to throw large numbers of homogenous cores at the problem of processing. In the end though, it all comes down to battery tech and software enabling these kinds of advancements. I'm hopeful that I'll see these kinds of currently mind-blowing chips in my future smartphone, however.
Computer World has a write-up with quotes from the Intel engineers working on the multi-core smartphone chip, which is worth a read. What do you think about the prospects of a 48 core chip in your handheld mobile device?
Subject: Processors | October 29, 2012 - 04:53 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: processors, arm, amd, 64-bit
On a not very technically reliable webcast today, AMD has announced that it will produce 64-bit processors based on the ARM architecture and combine them with the "Freedom Fabric" they acquired with the purchase of SeaMicro.
In a move that is incredibly telling about the times we are in, but not really a surprise to those of us that follow the processor markets closely, AMD and ARM announced a partnership beyond previously discussed in public. AMD will start production of ARM-based processors in 2014 and will be among the first to include 64-bit technology.
The target for these processors will be the server market and AMD hopes to be at the forefront the often discussed ARM-in-the-server-world migration. While that server opportunity size is debatable, with partners on stage like Facebook and RedHat, there is little doubt that it will have an affect on enterprise computing in the next 24 months. AMD is hoping that its experience with the move to 64-bit technology in the x86 migration will aid them in development and migration in the ARM architecture world; one that is currently still limited to 32-bit.
UPDATE: As being reported by Anand Shimpi this is in fact NOT an architecture license but is instead a processor license. What does that mean? AMD is not going to develop its own core (as Apple and NVIDIA do) but instead will fully integrate an upcoming 64-bit ARM core in new AMD products.
SeaMicro's Freedom Fabric technology is another major angle that AMD has over other players in this field. The fabric technology is meant to facilitate communication between multiple processors on a specialized bus, removing bottlenecks on the platform and network. Dr. Lisa Su, SVP of Global Business at AMD, stated that simply connecting hundreds or thousands of ARM-based processors to each other isn't enough and moves the problem of computing management from the CPUs to the network itself. Using Freedom Fabric, the AMD-based ARM processors would be able to much more efficiently communicate and thus maintain the promised power benefits of ARM servers.
AMD did state that they will continue to develop x86 processors going forward but you have to wonder about its dedication to that goal. Working with ARM is a quick and easy way to get AMD into a growing market in the server world that Intel currently has no solutions for so it seems possible that this is simply a stop-gap until AMD can develop an x86-based solution. It is hard to say for sure but for an organization in AMD's financial position, having options in multiple segments is certainly a good idea.
What you won't see yet is AMD's graphics technology in the ARM-based processors announced today. This isn't an "ARM APU" but instead is a combination of SeaMicro and ARM for a very specific server workload.
We'll have more on this announcement if anything else interesting is divulged, but you can find the entire press release from AMD after the break!
Subject: Processors | October 23, 2012 - 02:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vishera, Steamroller, piledriver, FX-8350, fx-8150, FX-6300, FX-6200, bulldozer, amd
The FX-8350 Vishera processor from AMD has finally arrived with 8 fully unlocked cores of polished Piledriver processing power. With Piledriver there are no huge changes to the existing Bulldozer architecture, this is more of a polishing and optimizing the existing architecture and [H]ard|OCP's testing bears that out. While faster than the previous generation FX-8150 it still lags behind Intel's Ivy Bridge processors, disappointing but certainly expected. The unlocked cores do lend themselves somewhat to overclocking, with [H] hitting a stable 4.6GHz with all cores enabled, a 10% jump in frequency. At that speed it does better when competing with Intel's offerings, until you overclock them as well at which point the comparative performance suffers somewhat.
Make sure to catch Josh's review, covering both the 8 core FX-8350 and the $132 FX-6300 which has a disabled module; bringing back memories of older AMD chips whose modules could be brought back to life.
"AMD's new Piledriver core technology should not be a surprise to any enthusiast as much of its "embargoed" information has already been exposed on the Net. Today we take the AMD FX series model 8350 desktop variant, code named Vishera, and look at it in an enthusiast way as we expose its IPC at 4GHz, and a bit of overclocking."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD's FX-8350 processor @ The Tech Report
- AMD FX-8350 "Vishera" Linux Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- AMD FX-8350 8-Core Black Edition Processor Review @ Legit Reviews
- AMD Vishera FX-8350 Review @ OCC
- The Vishera Review: AMD FX-8350, FX-8320, FX-6300 and FX-4300 Tested @ AnandTech
- AMD FX-8350: Piledriver @ Bjorn3D
- AMD FX-8350 @ Overclockers.com
- AMD FX-8350 vs Intel Core i7-3770K @ 4.8GHz - Multi-GPU Gaming Performance @ VR-Zone
- FX-8350 vs. Core i5-3470 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD FX-8350 (AM3+) Piledriver Processor Review @ eTeknix
- AMD FX-8350 Unlocked "Vishera" Octal Core CPU Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- AMD FX-8350 Vishera Desktop Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 @ Legion Hardware
- AMD Piledriver FX Review - FX 8350, 8320, 6300 vs Intel Core i5 and i3 @ hardCOREware
- AMD FX-8350 Processor Review @ HardwareHeaven
- AMD FX-8350 and FX-6300 Piledriver @ TechSpot
- FX-8350 CPU Review; AMD's Vishera Arrives @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD FX8350 BE / Gigabyte HD7970 / ASUS Sabretooth 990FX R2 @ Kitguru
- AMD FX 8350 @ Guru of 3D
- AMD FX-8350 - "Piledriver" for AMD Socket AM3+ @ techPowerUp
Bulldozer to Vishera
Bulldozer is the word. Ok, perhaps it is not “the” word, but it is “a” word. When AMD let that little codename slip some years back, AMD enthusiasts and tech journalists started to salivate about the possibilities. Here was a unique and very new architecture that promised excellent single thread performance and outstanding multi-threaded performance all in a package that was easy to swallow and digest. Probiotics for the PC. Some could argue that the end product for Bulldozer and probiotics are the same, but I am not overly fond of writing articles containing four letter colorful metaphors.
The long and short of Bulldozer is that it was a product that was pushed out too fast, it had specifications that were too aggressive for the time, and it never delivered on the promise of the architecture. Logically there are some very good reasons behind the architecture, but implementing these ideas into a successful product is another story altogether. The chip was never able to reach the GHz range it was supposed to and stay within reasonable TDP limits. To get the chip out in a timely manner, timings had to be loosened internally so the chip could even run. Performance per clock was pretty dismal, and the top end FX-8150 was only marginally faster than the previous top end Phenom II X6 1100T. In some cases, the X6 was still faster and a more competent “all around” processor.
There really was not a whole lot for AMD to do about the situation. It had to have a new product, and it just did not turn out as nicely as they had hoped. The reasons for this are legion, but simply put AMD is competing with a company that is over ten times the size, with the resulting R&D budgets that such a size (and margins) can afford. Engineers looking for work are a dime a dozen, and Intel can hire as many as they need. So, instead of respinning Bulldozer ad nauseum and releasing new speed grades throughout the year by tweaking the process and metal layer design, AMD let the product line sit and stagnate at the top end for a year (though they did release higher TDP models based on the dual module FX-4000 and triple module FX-6000 series). Engineers were pushed into more forward looking projects. One of these is Vishera.
Subject: Processors | October 18, 2012 - 05:58 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: homdo, AMD z-series, z-60 apu, tablet, win8
Could AMD powered tablets firt in a sweet spot for those looking to pick up one of these new Win8 powered devices? They will certainly be more powerful than an ARM powered WinRT tablet and the graphics will be superior to Intel powered tablets. The Z-60 will have two 1GHz Bobcat cores each with 512KB of L2 cache and the HD 6250 GPU with 80 DirectX 11-class shader ALUs which should give snappy performance up to a 1920x1200 resolution. The Tech Report talks about the various benefits and penalties to choosing a Hondo based device over an Ivy Bridge powered on in their article here.
"AMD is readying a new APU aimed at Window 8 tablets and hybrids. Otherwise known as Hondo, this Z-60 processor offers lower power consumption than AMD's existing APUs, and it comes with a side order of USB 3.0."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD A8-5600K Trinity Desktop APU Review @ Legit Review
- AMD Piledriver/Trinity A10-5800K Compiler Tuning @ Phoronix
- AMD Trinity Review - A10 5800K vs Core i3 3220 @ HCW
- AMD A10-5800K Performance On Ubuntu Linux @ Phoronix
- AMD Trinity A10-5800K APU Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Launches Z-60 APU (Hondo) for Windows 8 @ Bjorn3D
- A10-5800K vs. Core i3-3220 CPU Review @ Hardware Secrets
- AMD's A10-5800K and A8-5600K 'Trinity' APUs @ The Tech Report
- AMD A8 5600K APU @ Guru3D
- AMD A8-5600K APU Trinity Desktop Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD A8-5600k APU Processor Review @ eTeknix
- AMD A10-5800K Trinity Desktop Processor @ Benchmark Reviews
- AMD A10-5800K Trinity APU @ Techspot
- AMD 2nd Generation A10 5800 & A8 5600 Desktop APU Review @ OCC
- AMD A10-5800K "Trinity" APU On Linux @ Phoronix
- All Core i5 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- All Core i7 Models @ Hardware Secrets