Lower Power, Same Performance
AMD is in a strange position in that there is a lot of excitement about their upcoming Zen architecture, but we are still many months away from that introduction. AMD obviously needs to keep the dollars flowing in, and part of that means that we get refreshes now and then of current products. The “Kaveri” products that have been powering the latest APUs from AMD have received one of those refreshes. AMD has done some redesigning of the chip and tweaked the process technology used to manufacture them. The resulting product is the “Godavari” refresh that offers slightly higher clockspeeds as well as better overall power efficiency as compared to the previous “Kaveri” products.
One of the first refreshes was the A8-7670K that hit the ground in November of 2015. This is a slightly cut down part that features 6 GPU compute units vs. the 8 that a fully enabled Godavari chip has. This continues to be a FM2+ based chip with a 95 watt TDP. The clockspeed of this part goes from 3.6 GHz to 3.9 GHz. The GPU portion runs at the same 757 MHz that the original A10-7850K ran at. It is interesting to note that it is still a 95 watt TDP part with essentially the same clockspeeds as the 7850K, but with two fewer GPU compute units.
The other product being covered here is a bit more interesting. The A10-7860K looks to be a larger improvement from the previous 7850K in terms of power and performance. It shares the same CPU clockspeed range as the 7850K (3.6 GHz to 3.9 GHz), but improves upon the GPU clockspeed by hitting around 800 MHz. At first this seems underwhelming until we realize that AMD has lowered the TDP from 95 watts down to 65 watts. Less power consumed and less heat produced for the same performance from the CPU side and improved performance from the GPU seems like a nice advance.
AMD continues to utilize GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28 nm Bulk/HKMG process for their latest APUs and will continue to do so until Zen is released late this year. This is not the same 28 nm process that we were introduced to over four years ago. Over that time improvements have been made to improve yields and bins, as well as optimize power and clockspeed. GF also can adjust the process on a per batch basis to improve certain aspects of a design (higher speed, more leakage, lower power, etc.). They cannot produce miracles though. Do not expect 22 nm FinFET performance or density with these latest AMD products. Those kinds of improvements will show up with Samsung/GF’s 14nm LPP and TSMC’s 16nm FF+ lines. While AMD will be introducing GPUs on 14nm LPP this summer, the Zen launch in late 2016 will be the first AMD CPU to utilize that advanced process.
Subject: Displays | May 2, 2016 - 05:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: freesync, amd, about damn time
Better late than never, our friend Robert Hallock has informed the world that AMD has updated their FreeSync display list with response ranges and panel types. Having the physical size of the display, the resolution and the accepted inputs are necessary but this update offers a much better look at the displays you will be getting. If you are unwilling to give up the colour reproduction of a IPS panel for the speed of an TN this is invaluable to you, as is pointing out the few VA based monitors.
Listing the top and bottom frequencies of the variable refresh displays is arguably even more important. We now know that currently only the Acer XR341CK and BX340CK, the Nixeus NX-VUE24 and the Viewsonic XG2701 are capable of dropping to 30Hz and that a total of 17 models can reach 144Hz. Check out the list for the available 4K displays as well as regular 1440p and ultra-wide 1440p displays in the list and refer back to it regularly as there are a few monitors awaiting final specifications and more coming out in the near future.
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2016 - 12:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: SoC, nfme, gpu, cpu, amd
Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (NFME) is a Chinese company that packages and tests integrated circuits. Recently, AMD has been working with China to reach that large market, especially given their ongoing cash concerns. This time, AMD sold 85% of its stake in two locations, AMD Penang, Malaysia and AMD Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, to NFME and formed a joint venture with them, called TF-AMD Microelectronics Sdn Bhd.
I see two interesting aspects to this story.
First, AMD gets about $320 million USD in this transaction, after taxes and fees, and it also retains 15% of this venture. I am curious whether this will lead to a long-term source of income for AMD, even though the press release claims that this structure will be “cost neutral”. Either way, clearing a third of a billion dollars should help AMD to some extent. That equates to about two-to-three quarters of net-loss for the company, so it gives them about six-to-nine extra months of life on its own. That's not too bad if the transaction doesn't have any lasting consequences.
Second, NFME now has access to some interesting packaging and testing technologies. NFME's website claims that this allows them to handle dies up to 800mm2, substrates with up to 18 layers, and package sizes up to 75mm. These specifications sound like it pulls from their GPU experience, which could bring all of that effort and knowledge to completely different fields.
The press release states that 1,700 employees will be moved from AMD to this venture. They do not state whether any jobs are affected over and above this amount, though.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 29, 2016 - 07:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, dx12, async shaders
Earlier in the month [H]ard|OCP investigated the performance scaling that Intel processors display in DX12, now they have finished their tests on AMD processors. These tests include Async computing information, so be warned before venturing forth into the comments. [H] tested an FX 8370 at 2GHz and 4.3GHz to see what effect this had on the games, the 3GHz tests did not add any value and were dropped in favour of these two turbo frequencies. There are some rather interesting results and discussion, drop by for the details.
"One thing that has been on our minds about the new DX12 API is its ability to distribute workloads better on the CPU side. Now that we finally have a couple of new DX12 games that have been released to test, we spend a bit of time getting to bottom of what DX12 might be able to do for you. And a couple sentences on Async Compute."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- XFX R9 Fury Triple Dissipation Review @ OCC
- AMD Radeon Pro Duo Preview @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA VR performance featuring ASUS @ Kitguru
- ASUS GTX 950 2 GB (no power connector) @ techPowerUp
- Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 NVIDIA OpenGL Performance @ Phoronix
History and Specifications
The Radeon Pro Duo had an interesting history. Originally shown as an unbranded, dual-GPU PCB during E3 2015, which took place last June, AMD touted it as the ultimate graphics card for both gamers and professionals. At that time, the company thought that an October launch was feasible, but that clearly didn’t work out. When pressed for information in the Oct/Nov timeframe, AMD said that they had delayed the product into Q2 2016 to better correlate with the launch of the VR systems from Oculus and HTC/Valve.
During a GDC press event in March, AMD finally unveiled the Radeon Pro Duo brand, but they were also walking back on the idea of the dual-Fiji beast being aimed at the gaming crowd, even partially. Instead, the company talked up the benefits for game developers and content creators, such as its 8192 stream processors for offline rendering, or even to aid game devs in the implementation and improvement of multi-GPU for upcoming games.
Anyone that pays attention to the graphics card market can see why AMD would make the positional shift with the Radeon Pro Duo. The Fiji architecture is on the way out, with Polaris due out in June by AMD’s own proclamation. At $1500, the Radeon Pro Duo will be a stark contrast to the prices of the Polaris GPUs this summer, and it is well above any NVIDIA-priced part in the GeForce line. And, though CrossFire has made drastic improvements over the last several years thanks to new testing techniques, the ecosystem for multi-GPU is going through a major shift with both DX12 and VR bearing down on it.
So yes, the Radeon Pro Duo has both RADEON and PRO right there in the name. What’s a respectable PC Perspective graphics reviewer supposed to do with a card like that if it finds its way into your office? Test it of course! I’ll take a look at a handful of recent games as well as a new feature that AMD has integrated with 3DS Max called FireRender to showcase some of the professional chops of the new card.
Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2016 - 01:50 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: video, radeon pro duo, podcast, nzxt, nvidia, Manta, GTX 1080, GT 710, GP104, amd, Alpha 12
PC Perspective Podcast #397 - 04/28/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, NZXT Manta, AMD's new deal with China, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:16:15
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
1:01:45 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Jeremy: Bad name, but decent books
Subject: Systems | April 27, 2016 - 03:51 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Nintendo, amd
Not a whole lot to go off for this announcement. I mean, hints have been dropped, partners have made announcements, and leaks have surfaced for over a year at this point. The only thing that today brings is a release window: March 2017. The final name, exact specifications, and even whatever the thing is that makes this console different, are all currently unknown. Given that E3 2016 will be the last E3 before release, though, I expect that we will find out all about it in June.
Speaking of announcement dates, though, today is an odd one. Midnight (PST) on a seemingly random Wednesday in April doesn't hold any significance to me. Sure, it aligns with their earnings report for investors. Maybe a release date would help raise their stock price (or buffer its potential fall) but it doesn't mean a whole lot for its fans. Does that matter, though? Maybe not.
While this site is PC-oriented, we do touch on console coverage. When the WiiU launched, Ryan disassembled the console over the course of a five-hour livestream, which was archived YouTube. (He dismantled the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 as well.) We are also interested in how AMD benefits from this whole arrangement. That company is one of the few sources for x86 processors, which gaming consoles have been flocking to, as well as high-end graphics. Combine the two, and you can get a relatively cheap system that is quite competent (for not having a discrete, add-in graphics card) at gaming workloads. According to AMD's previous earnings call, they secured multiple design wins, but we'll need to wait and see whether this is one, and whether it includes the CPU this time. As an aside, Nintendo also recently joined the Khronos Group, so that could eventually be interesting for our readers, too... or not.
Subject: Processors | April 26, 2016 - 05:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Wraith, Godavari, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, FM2+, amd, X4 880K
Remember that FM2+ refresh which Josh informed you about back in March? The APUs have started arriving on test benches and can be benchmarked independently to see what this ~$100 processor and the Wraith cooler are capable of. Neoseeker compares the new 880K against the older FX-4350 in a long series of benchmarks which show the 880K to be the better part in most cases. There are some interesting exceptions to this, in which the FX-4350's slightly higher frequency allows it to pull ahead by a small margin so there are cases where the less expensive chip would make sense. Read the full review to see which chip makes more sense for you.
"Today we take a look at the AMD Athlon X4 880K, a quad-core FM2+ processor with 4.0/4.2GHz base/Turbo clocks and unlocked multiplier priced at under $100 USD. It's designed for enthusiasts on a budget looking for the fastest multi-core Athlon processor yet without any integrated GPU to add to the cost. It even shares the 95W TDP of AMD's higher-end APUs for optimized power consumption that further leads to more overclocking headroom."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- The AMD Athlon X4 880K Review @ Hardware Canucks
- A10-7870K vs. Core i3-6100 CPU @ Hardware Secrets
- £150 Gaming CPU: AMD FX 8370 (w/ Wraith) vs Intel Core i5-6400 @ Kitguru
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 25, 2016 - 04:41 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: graphics driver, crimson, amd
AMD's new Crimson driver has just been released with new features including official support for the new Radeon Pro Duo as well as both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive VR headsets. It also adds enhanced support for AMD's XConnect technology for external GPUs connected via a Thunderbolt 3 interface. Crossfire profile updates include Hitman, Elite Dangerous and Need for Speed and they have also resolved the ongoing issue with the internal update procedure not seeing the newest drivers. If you are having issues with games crashing to desktop on launch you will still need to disable the AMD Gaming Evolved overlay, unfortunately.
"The latest version of Radeon Software Crimson Edition is here with 16.4.2. With this version, AMD delivers many quality improvements, updated/introduced new CrossFire profiles and delivered full support for AMD’s XConnect technology (including plug’n’play simplicity for Thunderbolt 3 eGFX enclosures configured with Radeon R9 Fury, Nano or 300 Series GPUs.) Best of all, our DirectX 12 leadership continues to be strong, as shown by the performance numbers below."
The Dual-Fiji Card Finally Arrives
This weekend, leaks of information on both WCCFTech and VideoCardz.com have revealed all the information about the pending release of AMD’s dual-GPU giant, the Radeon Pro Duo. While no one at PC Perspective has been briefed on the product officially, all of the interesting data surrounding the product is clearly outlined in the slides on those websites, minus some independent benchmark testing that we are hoping to get to next week. Based on the report from both sites, the Radeon Pro Duo will be released on April 26th.
AMD actually revealed the product and branding for the Radeon Pro Duo back in March, during its live streamed Capsaicin event surrounding GDC. At that point we were given the following information:
- Dual Fiji XT GPUs
- 8GB of total HBM memory
- 4x DisplayPort (this has since been modified)
- 16 TFLOPS of compute
- $1499 price tag
The design of the card follows the same industrial design as the reference designs of the Radeon Fury X, and integrates a dual-pump cooler and external fan/radiator to keep both GPUs running cool.
Based on the slides leaked out today, AMD has revised the Radeon Pro Duo design to include a set of three DisplayPort connections and one HDMI port. This was a necessary change as the Oculus Rift requires an HDMI port to work; only the HTC Vive has built in support for a DisplayPort connection and even in that case you would need a full-size to mini-DisplayPort cable.
The 8GB of HBM (high bandwidth memory) on the card is split between the two Fiji XT GPUs on the card, just like other multi-GPU options on the market. The 350 watts power draw mark is exceptionally high, exceeded only by AMD’s previous dual-GPU beast, the Radeon 295X2 that used 500+ watts and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z that draws 375 watts!
Here is the specification breakdown of the Radeon Pro Duo. The card has 8192 total stream processors and 128 Compute Units, split evenly between the two GPUs. You are getting two full Fiji XT GPUs in this card, an impressive feat made possible in part by the use of High Bandwidth Memory and its smaller physical footprint.
|Radeon Pro Duo||R9 Nano||R9 Fury||R9 Fury X||GTX 980 Ti||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 290X|
|GPU||Fiji XT x 2||Fiji XT||Fiji Pro||Fiji XT||GM200||GM200||GM204||Hawaii XT|
|Rated Clock||up to 1000 MHz||up to 1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory||8GB (4GB x 2)||4GB||4GB||4GB||6GB||12GB||4GB||4GB|
|Memory Clock||500 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||5000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||4096-bit (HMB) x 2||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)||384-bit||384-bit||256-bit||512-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||1024 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s||336 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||320 GB/s|
|TDP||350 watts||175 watts||275 watts||275 watts||250 watts||250 watts||165 watts||290 watts|
|Peak Compute||16.38 TFLOPS||8.19 TFLOPS||7.20 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||5.63 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||5.63 TFLOPS|
|Transistor Count||8.9B x 2||8.9B||8.9B||8.9B||8.0B||8.0B||5.2B||6.2B|
The Radeon Pro Duo has a rated clock speed of up to 1000 MHz. That’s the same clock speed as the R9 Fury and the rated “up to” frequency on the R9 Nano. It’s worth noting that we did see a handful of instances where the R9 Nano’s power limiting capability resulted in some extremely variable clock speeds in practice. AMD recently added a feature to its Crimson driver to disable power metering on the Nano, at the expense of more power draw, and I would assume the same option would work for the Pro Duo.