Noctua Focused on Ryzen with NH-L9a-AM4 and NH-L12S Low-Profile Coolers

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 25, 2017 - 10:43 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, noctua, low-profile, htpc, cooler, APU, amd, AM4, air cooling

AMD's popularity with Ryzen CPUs (and upcoming APUs) has made waves across the industry, and Noctua have jumped in with a pair of low-profile offerings that update previous designs for cramped case interiors.

First up is the new version of the NH-L9a:

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"The new NH-L9a-AM4 is an AM4-specific revision of Noctua’s award-winning NH-L9a low-profile CPU cooler. At a height of only 37mm, the NH-L9a is ideal for extremely slim cases and, due to its small footprint, it provides 100% RAM and PCIe compatibility as well as easy access to near-socket connectors, even on tightly packed mini-ITX motherboards."

Next is the new NH-L12S:

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"The new S-version of the renowned NH-L12 not only adds AM4 support but also gives more flexibility and improved performance in low-profile mode. Thanks to the new NF-A12x15 PWM slim 120mm fan, the NH-L12S provides even better cooling than the previous model with its 92mm fan. At the same time, the NH-L12S is highly versatile: with the fan installed on top of the fins, the cooler is compatible with RAM modules of up to 45mm in height. With the fan installed underneath the fins, the total height of the cooler is only 70mm, making it suitable for use in many compact cases."

Noctua says that these new coolers now shipping "and will be available shortly", with an MSRP of $39.90 for the NH-L9a-AM4 and $49 for the NH-L12S.

Source: Noctua

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Technical Conference Releases

Subject: General Tech | September 20, 2017 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, FinFET, FD-SOI, 12nm, 14nm, 14nm+, 22FDX, 28FDX, 12FDX, amd, Vega, ryzen

The day after Intel had its Technology and Manufacturing expo in China, GLOBALFOUNDRIES kicks off their own version of the event and has made a significant number of announcements concerning upcoming and next generation process technologies. GF (GLOBALFOUNDRIES) had been the manufacturing arm of AMD until it was spun off as its own entity in 2009. Since then GF has been open to providing fabless semiconductor firms a viable alternative to TSMC and other foundries. Their current 14nm process is licensed from Samsung, as GF had some significant issues getting their own version of that technology into production. GF looks to be moving past their process hiccups in getting to FinFET technologies as well as offering other more unique process nodes that will serve upcoming mobile technologies very well.
 
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The big announcement today was the existence of the 12LP process. This is a "12 nm" process that looks to be based off of their previous 14nm work. It is a highly optimized variant that offers around 15% better density and 10% better performance than current 14/16nm processes from competing firms. Some time back GF announced that it would be skipping the 10nm node and going directly to 7nm, but it seems that market forces have pushed them to further optimize 14nm and offer another step.  Regular process improvement cadences are important to fabless partners as they lay out their roadmaps for future products.
 
12FP is also on track to be Automotive Grade 2 Certified by Q4 2017, which opens it up to a variety of automotive applications. Self-driving cars are the hot topic these days and it appears as though GF will be working with multiple manufacturers including Tesla. The process also has an RF component that can be utilized for those designs.
 
There had been some questions before this about what GF would do between 14nm and their expected 7nm offering. AMD had previously shown a roadmap with the first generation Zen being offered on 14nm and a rather nebulous sounding 14nm+ process. We now know that 12LP is going to be the process that AMD leverages for Zen and Vega refreshes next year. GF is opening up risk production in 1H 2018 for early adopters. This typically means that tuning is still going on with the process, and wafer agreements tend to not hinge on "per good die". Essentially, just as the wording suggest, the monetary risks of production fall more on the partner rather than the foundry. I would expect the Zen/Vega refreshes to start rolling out mid-Summer 2018 if all goes well with 12LP.
 
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RF is getting a lot of attention these days. In the past I had talked quite a bit about FD-SOI and the slow adoption of that technology. In the 5G world that we are heading to, RF is becoming far more important. Currently GF has their 28FDX and 22FDX processes which utilize FD-SOI (Fully Depleted Silicon On Insulator). 22FDX is a dual purpose node that can handle both low-leakage ASICs as well as RF enabled products (think cell-phone modems). GF has also announced a new RF centric process node called 8SW SOI. This is a 300mm wafer based technology at Fab 10 located in East Fishkill, NY. This was once an IBM fab, but was eventually "given" to GF for a variety of reasons. The East Fishkill campus is also a center for testing and advanced process development.
 
22FDX is not limited to ASIC and RF production. GF is announcing that it is offering eMRAM (embedded magnetoresistive non-volatile memory) support. GF claims that ic an retain data through a 260C solder reflow while retaining data for more than 10 years at 125C. These products were developed through a partnership with Everspin Technologies. 1Gb DDR MRAM chips have been sampled and 256Mb DDR MRAM chips are currently available through Everspin. This technology is not limited to standalone chips and can be integrated into SOC designs utilizing eFlash and SRAM interface options.
 
GLOBALFOUNDRIES has had a rocky start since it was spun off from AMD. Due to aggressive financing from multiple sources it has acquired other pure play foundries and garnered loyal partners like AMD who have kept revenue flowing. If GF can execute on these new technologies they will be on a far more even standing with TSMC and attract new customers. GF has the fab space to handle a lot of wafers, but these above mentioned processes could be some of their first truly breakthrough products that differentiates itself from the competition.

EPYC headed for the top of the charts!

Subject: Systems | September 19, 2017 - 06:57 PM |
Tagged: 7351P, amd, EPYC

Patrick Kennedy of Serve The Home has just published his server-centric test EPYC test results and in his own words, "while AMD is very competitive at the high-end, its mainstream offerings are competing with de-featured Xeon Silver CPUs and absolutely obliterate what Intel is offering."

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The EPYC 7351P, which should sell for roughly $750 was tested against Intel's Xeon Silver 4108 which runs about $440 in various server applications such as GROMACS, OpenSSL and even a chess benchmark.  The tests were done with single socket EPYCs, the "P" series, which are offered at a significant discount when compared to AMD's dual socket family; benchmarked against Intel's Xeon Silver in both single and dual socket configurations.  The only time that the Xeon's performance came close to the single socket 7351P were when they were configured in dual socket systems, even then AMD's EPYC chip came out on top, often by a significant margin.

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Raw performance is not the only advantage AMD offers on EPYC, the feature sest also far outstrips the somewhat watered down Xeon Silver family.  The single socket 7351P offers 128 PCIe lanes while a dual socket Xeon Silver can only offer 96 and EPYC can handle up to 2TB of DDR4-2666 in its eight channel memory controller whereas Intel is limited to 1.5TB DDR4-2400 in a dual socket server nor can it support dual AVX-512 nor Omni-Path fabric.

Intel does have some advantages that come with the maturity of their platform, including superb NVMe hotswap support as well as QuickAssist and they do have higher end Xeon Gold chips which include the aforementioned features that the Xeon Silver line lacks, however they are also significantly more expensive than EPYC. 

You can expect more tests to appear in the future as STH invested a lot of money in new hardware to test and as the tests can take days to complete there will be some delay before they have good data to share.  It is looking very positive for AMD's EPYC family, they offer an impressive amount of value for the money and it will be interesting to see how Intel reacts.

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More Threadripper waterblocks, including an unfamiliar name

Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 19, 2017 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: XSPC, water cooler, Threadripper, RayStorm Neo, Bykski, amd, A-RYZEN-Th-X

[H]ard|OCP have been hard at work testing a variety of Threadripper compatible AIO watercoolers, sometimes with their own adapters as these products are very new.  They just revisited the XSPC RayStorm Neo which performed exceptionally and also note that the retail version will not feature mounting for AM4 processors.  The second waterblock they tested was the Bykski A-RYZEN-Th-X, not a familiar name but also a very effective choice for cooling ThreadRipper processors.  Take a look at the testing process as well as their recommended methods for properly spreading thermal paste on AMD's new big silicon.

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"We have been waiting for AMD Threadripper CPU custom cooling parts to make their way to us. We have our first two purpose-built Threadripper waterblocks from XSPC and Bykski. We put both these coolers to the test with our 4GHz overclocked Threadripper in hour long stress tests to see how our temperatures fare."

Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Raven Ridge rumours

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2017 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, raven ridge, Bristol Ridge, Ryzen 5 2500U, Zen, Vega, 14nm

If the rumours are true, the new 14nm Raven Ridge based AMD Ryzen 5 2500U will offer an impressive jump in performance compared to AMD's current generation of APUs.  The Inquirer's source suggests the new APU will offer a 50% jump in single threaded performance and an impressive 90% advantage on multi-threaded performance.  The multithreaded performance improvement may be the headline but seeing a huge increase in single threaded applications, AMD's recent Achilles Heel, shows some interesting improvements to Zen.  This will also mark the arrival of their first APU with Vega onboard, so you can expect better graphics performance as well.  The benchmark numbers and links are here.

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"LEAKED BENCHMARKS for AMD's forthcoming Raven Ridge APUs suggest that upcoming devices, expected to be launched in time for Christmas, will outperform current Bristol Ridge APUs by up to 90 per cent on multicore applications."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

AMD Ryzen 5 2500U APU With Vega Graphics Spotted in Geekbench Benchmarks

Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2017 - 03:32 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen 5, ryzen, raven ridge, APU, amd

Back in May AMD made Ryzen Mobile official indicating that the APUs previously known as "Raven Ridge" would be launching in the second half of 2017. As that launch window closes, more details are starting to trickle out including benchmarks scores. The latest appearance of Raven Ridge is in a Geekbench benchmark score results page where a "Ryzen 5 2500U" APU achieves a single core score of 3,561 and a multi-core score of 9,421. These are fairly impressive results on their own, but especially considering that Ryzen Mobile chips are reportedly using up to 50% less power versus last generation Bristol Ridge processors while handily beating them in performance offered.

AMD has previously claimed that its Ryzen Mobile (Raven Ridge) APUs will offer up to 50% more CPU performance and 40% more GPU performance compared to its 7th Generation APUs. The leaked Geekbench scores seem to back up those claims (for the most part) with the Ryzen 5 2500U scoring slightly above 36% better single core performance and 48% better multi-core performance compared to the AMD A12-9800 APU with the latter being due primarily to the addition of SMT to the processor design allowing for twice the number of CPU threads (eight total). The performance improvements are also due to the move from Excavator to a Zen-based design on a smaller more power efficient process node. What is most impressive about this mobile part is that it is that much faster than a 65W quad core (4 core / 4 thread) desktop Bristol Ridge APU clocked at 3.8 GHz base and 4.2 GHz boost while using approximately half the power!

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The Geekbench benchmark is only one data point, but is still a positive sign. One thing it does not reveal is clockspeed as while it lists 2.0 GHz that number is likely only the base and not the maximum boost frequency. Further, details on the Vega-based GPU are still unknown although the Infinity Fabric should help tremendously in reducing the bottleneck and keeping the on die GPU fed with data while gaming especially when paired with fast dual channel memory or HBM (I just hope that Ryzen Mobile is not held back like previous generation mobile APUs were with laptop manufacturers pairing them with single channel memory setups). We also do not know officially the number of stream processors that will be included in any of the Vega GPUs used in Ryzen Mobile with past rumors going up to 1024 SPs (mobile parts will likely be capped at 512 or 768 at the extreme). AMD claims that Ryzen Mobile will offer up to 40% more GPU performance, which to me suggests that we will possibly see higher GPU core counts but for the most part performance improvements are going to come from architecture improvements.

I am really interested to see how Raven Ridge plays out and hope that it is one step closer to finally realizing that HSA future AMD has been promsing me for years!

Also read: AMD Teases Ryzen Mobile APUs with Zen CPU Cores and On-Die Vega Graphics

Source: Guru3D

IBC 2017: AMD Radeon Pro Graphics Cards Will Support External Graphics Card (eGPU) Docks

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 16, 2017 - 01:43 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, Radeon Pro WX 5100, radeon pro, prorender, amd

At IBC 2017 (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam AMD made several announcements surrounding its Radeon Pro graphics cards for workstations. The graphics cards, which are aimed at professionals and replace the FirePro lineup, are now shipping to AMD customers with the Radeon Pro WX 5100 and WX 7100 available now and the higher end Radeon Pro WX 9100 and Radeon Pro SSG available from distributors and systems partners starting at the end of this quarter. The former two (the WX 5100 and WX 7100) carry a SEP (suggested e-tail price) of $499 and 799 respectively and are now officially support usage in external graphics setups (eGPU) for use with mobile workstations that can connect to an external graphics dock with the Pro series GPUs for things like 4K video editing and rendering on-the-go.

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Currently AMD is partnered with Sonnet Technologies for the eGPU support and the Radeon Pro graphics cards fully support docks such as the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box. Of course, being able to plug into the raw computing horsepower does not mean much if it cannot be effectively utilized, and to that end AMD revealed several software design wins including the integration of its cross-platform OpenCL-based ray tracing renderer Radeon ProRender into MAXON Cinema 4D Release 19. ProRender is supported in the Adobe After Effects integration of Cinema 4D R19, and it is the first major application to implement it. Further, the Foundry Nuke 11 and Avid Media Composer 8.9 are also able to see performance improvements in effects rendering by using OpenCL-based programming techniques to harness GPU horsepower.

Finally, AMD casually reiterated another big design with for its professional series graphics cards with Radeon Pro Vega being used in the iMac Pro coming later this year. Considering the professional market is where the big money is to be made when it comes to graphics cards it is nice to see AMD making inroads with its revamped professional lineup and continuing to push for the cross platform OpenCL-based GPGPU technologies to be supported by the major software developers. Not much major news coming out of IBC from AMD (no new hardware revealed), but good news nonetheless.

Source: AMD

Gaming graphics for under $100

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 14, 2017 - 02:53 PM |
Tagged: RX 550, gt 1030, nvidia, amd, esports

If the majority of gaming time your PC spends is on CS:GO, Starcraft 2 or DOTA then it would be cruel to force a GTX 1080 or Vega 64 to do your heavy lifting.  In many twitch games there is even a distinct advantage to reducing graphics quality to its lowest settings when trying to improve your K/D ratio.  TechSpot decided to examine this segment of the market, testing a ~$70 GT 1030 and a ~$90 RX 550 on a variety of eSports titles.  The NVIDIA card outperformed AMD's offering across the board on low settings, however the RX 550 actually performed better on high quality settings though often both cards were below 60fps.  Check out their benchmarks as well as their advice for those shopping for budget GPUs right here.

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"It's time for another GPU battle, though this one is a bit different with GPUs under $100: from AMD we have the Radeon RX 550 and on Nvidia's side is the GeForce GT 1030. Our focus will be primarily on eSports titles including CS:GO, Overwatch and Dota 2 running on a Ryzen 3 test bench."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

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Source: TechSpot

Blender Foundation Releases Blender 2.79

Subject: General Tech | September 13, 2017 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: Blender, amd

The latest version of Blender, 2.79, makes a few significant changes, especially for users with AMD GPUs. Their main rendering engine, Cycles, has now reached feature-parity on OpenCL and CUDA. While those with NVIDIA GPUs will keep using the latter compute API, users of recent AMD GPUs can now (on Windows and Linux -- macOS requires a driver update) harness their graphics cards for higher performance.

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10 samples is actually very low. I'm usually in the 100-1000 range.

For the rest of us, there are four improvements that I would consider major. First, Cycles now has a denoise filter, which reduces speckles and thus should let you get away with fewer samples. Second, Filmic Color Management is now included by default, which can represent a much wider dynamic range. This was available as a user mod for a while, but you needed to manually install it. Third is a shadow catcher object for Cycles, which lets you render off translucent shadows onto dummy objects and composite them later (in Photoshop, After Effects, or Blender’s video editor).

Fourth, and most interesting to me, is their new PBR shader. I’ve done PBR materials in Cycles before, and it’s a bit of a pain to set up. If I don’t copy/paste from an existing material, it takes about 15-20 minutes of my time to wire together diffuse nodes, glossy nodes, Fresnel nodes, and so forth such that I can attach metal, bump, and so forth to it. Now? Just drag in one node and hook up the correct textures and colors, like the ones that are generated in Substance or Quixxel.

As always, Blender is free, so have fun.

Threadripping on MSI's new GAMING PRO CARBON AC

Subject: Motherboards | September 13, 2017 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: amd, msi, X399, Threadripper, GAMING PRO CARBON AC

MSI have added a GAMING PRO CARBON AC motherboard to their X399 offerings for AMD's ThreadRipper.  The exceptional socket makes the ATX board look a little disproportionate compared to previous members of this motherboard family but there is still a lot of space on the board.  There are four PCIe Express x16 Gen 3 slots along with two 1x slots, three M.2 ports and an impressive array of USB ports including two USB 3.1 Gen. 2 Type-C ports, a single USB 3.1 Gen. 3 Type-A and nine USB 3.1 Gen.1 Type-A ports.  The Guru of 3D provides benchmarks and overclocking results in their full review.

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"Let's check out another Ryzen Threadripper motherboard. We review the one from MSI as they have released their X399 Gaming Pro Carbon AC. The board is stylish, comes with very subtle LED effects and obviously offers everything you need from quadruple x16 PCI-Express slots, triple M2 SSD slots, quad-channel memory and some really supreme AC WIFI."

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Source: Guru of 3D