Introducing the AMD FSA
At AMD’s Fusion 11 conference, we were treated to a nice overview of AMD’s next generation graphics architecture. With the recent change in their lineup going from the previous VLIW-5 setup (powered their graphics chips from the Radeon HD 2900 through the latest “Barts” chip running the HD 6800 series) to the new VLIW-4 (HD 6900), many were not expecting much from AMD in terms of new and unique designs. The upcoming “Southern Isles” were thought to be based on the current VLIW-4 architecture, and would feature more performance and a few new features due to the die shrink to 28 nm. It turns out that speculation is wrong.
In late Q4 of this year we should see the first iteration of this new architecture that was detailed today by Eric Demers. The overview detailed some features that will not make it into this upcoming product, but eventually it will all be added in over the next three years or so. Historically speaking, AMD has placed graphics first, with GPGPU/compute as the secondary functionality of their GPUs. While we have had compute abilities since the HD 1800/1900 series of products, AMD has not been as aggressive with compute as has its primary competition. From the G80 GPUs and beyond, NVIDIA has pushed compute harder and farther than AMD has. With its mature CUDA development tools and the compute heavy Fermi architecture, NVIDIA has been a driving force in this particular market. Now that AMD has released two APU based products (Llano and Brazos), they are starting to really push OpenCL, Direct Compute, and the recently announced C++ AMP.
Continue reading for all the details on AMD's Graphics Core Next!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 16, 2011 - 02:41 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: llano, liveblog, fusion, APU, amd, AFDS
The AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 is set to begin at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT and promises to bring some interesting and forward looking news about the future of AMD's APU technology. We are going to cover the keynotes LIVE right here throughout the week so if you want to know what is happening AS IT HAPPENS, stick around!!
Subject: General Tech | June 16, 2011 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Intel, nvidia
In some sort of bizarre voyeuristic hardware love/hate triangle AMD, Intel and NVIDIA are all semi-intertwined and being observed by Microsoft. Speaking with The Inquirer the VP of product and platform marketing at AMD, Leslie Sobon, stated that there was no chance that Intel would attempt to purchase NVIDIA as AMD did with ATI. AMD's purchase was less about the rights to the Radeon series as it was taking possession of the intellectual property that ATI owned after a decade of creating GPUs and lead directly to the APUs that AMD has recently released which will likely become their main product. Intel already has a working architecture that combines GPU and CPU and doesn't need to purchase another company's IP in order to develop that type of product.
There is another reason for purchasing NVIDIA though, which has very little to do with their discreet graphics card IP and everything to do with Tegra and Fermi which are two specialized products which so far Intel doesn't have an answer for. A vastly improved and shrunken Atom might be able to push Tegra off of mobile platforms and perhaps specialized SandyBridge CPUs could accelerate computation like the Fermi products do but so far there are no solid leads, only speculation.
If you learn more from your failures than your successes then Intel knows a lot about graphics.
"CHIP DESIGNER AMD believes that it is on a divergent path from Intel thanks to its accelerated processor unit (APU) and that Intel buying Nvidia "would never happen"."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Find Out if Your Passwords Were Leaked by LulzSec Right Here @ Gizmodo
- Adobe patches critical bugs in Flash and Reader @ The Register
- Umi, we hardly knew ye: contemplating the fate of the videophone in 2011 @ Ars Technica
- 'A SHARK attacked my ROBOT', gasps ex-Sun exec @ The Register
- We’ve got a real bone to pick with this mouse @ Hack a Day
- Fun Quotes from the AFDS Media Roundtable @ SemiAccurate
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 09:14 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: opencl, amd, AFDS
If you are a developer of applications which requires more performance than a CPU alone can provide then you are probably having a gleeful week. Today Microsoft announced their competitor to OpenCL and we have a large write-up about that aspect of their keynote address. If you are currently an OpenCL developer you are not left out, however, as AMD has announced new tools designed to make your life easier too.
General Purpose GPU utilities: Because BINK won't satisfy this crowd.
(Logo trademark Apple Inc.)
AMD’s spectrum of enhanced tools includes:
- gDEBuger: An OpenCL and OpenGL debugger, profiler, and memory analyzer released as a plugin for Visual Studio.
- Parallel Path Analyzer (PPA): A tool designed to profile data transfers and kernel execution across your system.
- Global Memory for Accelerators (GMAC) API: Lets developers use multiple devices without needing to manage multiple data buffers in both the CPU and the GPU.
- Task Manager API: A framework to manage scheduling kernels across devices.
These tools and utilities should make the development of software easier and allow more developers to take the risk on the new technology. The GPU has already proven itself worthy of more and more important tasks and it is only a matter of time before it is finally ubiquitous enough that it is a default component as important as the CPU itself. As an ironic aside, that should spur the adoption of PC Gaming given how many people would have sufficient hardware.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 08:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: vliw, trinity, llano, fusion, evergreen, cayman, amd, AFDS
Well that was an interesting twist... During a talk on the next generation of GPU technology at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, one of the engineers was asked about Trinity, the next APU to be released in 2012 (and shown running today for the very first time). It was offered that Trinity in fact used a VLIW4 architecture rather than the VLIW5 design found in the just released Llano A-series APU.
A shader unit from the VLIW4-based Cayman architecture
That means that Trinity APUs will ship with Cayman-based GPU technology (6900 series) rather than the Evergreen (5000 series). While that doesn't tell us much in terms of performance simply because we have so many variables including shader counts and clocks, it does put to rest the rumor that Trinity was going to keep basically the same class of GPU technology that Llano had.
Trinity notebook shown for the first time today at AFDS. Inside is an APU with Cayman-class graphics.
AMD is definitely pushing the capabilities of APUs forward and if they can stay on schedule with Trinity, Intel might find the GPU portion of its Ivy Bridge architecture well behind again.
While the current Nintendo console’s internals are very underpowered compared to the competition from the Xbox 360 and PS3, the company looks to leapfrog those consoles in the graphics department with the upcoming Wii U console. According to Engadget, the new Nintendo offering will come equipped with a GPU much like that of AMD’s 4800 series. The custom R770 chip is DirectX 10.1 and multi-display capable, allowing the console to output up to four SD video streams.
While the proposed chip is last-generation in terms of PC gaming, on the console front it will be the current highest-end GPU, with the Xbox 360 using a custom ATI X1900 GPU and the PS3 employing a custom RSX (”Reality Synthesizer”) graphics chip based on NVIDIA’s 7800GTX PC graphics card.
What do you think about Nintendo’s move to employ the AMD GPU?
AMD lines up Llano
2006. That was the year where the product we are reviewing today was first consummated and the year that AMD and ATI merged in a $5.4 billion deal that many read about scratching their heads. At the time the pairing of a the 2nd place microprocessor company with the 2nd place graphics technology vendor might have seemed like an odd arrangement even with the immediate benefit of a unified platform of chipset, integrated graphics and processor to offer to mobile and desktop OEMs. In truth though, that was a temporary solution to a more long term problem that we now know as heterogeneous computing: the merging not just of these companies but all the computing workloads of CPUs and GPUs.
Five years later, and by most accounts more than a couple of years late, the new AMD that now sans-manufacturing facility is ready to release the first mainstream APU, Accelerated Processing Unit. While the APU name is something that the competition hasn't adopted, the premise of a CPU/GPU combination processing unit is not just the future, it is the present as well. Intel has been shipping Sandy Bridge, the first mainstream silicon with a CPU and GPU truly integrated together on a single die since January 2011 and AMD no longer has the timing advantage that we thought it would when the merger was announced.
For sanity sake, I should mention the Zacate platform that combines an ATI-based GPU with a custom low power x86 core called Bobcat for the netbook and nettop market that was released in November of 2010. As much as we like that technology it doesn't have the performance characteristics to address the mainstream market and that is exactly where Llano comes in.
AMD Llano Architecture
Llano's architecture has been no secret over the last two years as AMD has let details and specifications leak at a slow pace in order to build interest and excitement over the pending transition. That information release has actually slowed this year though likely to reduce expectations on the first generation APU with the release of the Sandy Bridge processor proving to be more potent than perhaps AMD expected. And in truth, while the Llano design as whole is brand new all of the components that make it up have been seen before - both the x86 Stars core and the Radeon 5000 series-class have been tested and digested on PC Perspective for many years.
For today's launch we were given a notebook reference platform for the Llano architecture called "Sabine". While the specifications we are looking at here are specific to this mainstream notebook platform nearly all will apply to the desktop release later in the year (perhaps later in the month actually).
The platform diagram above gives us an overview of what components will make up a system built on the Llano Fusion APU design. The APU itself is made up 2 or 4 x86 CPU cores that come from the Stars family released with the Phenom / Phenom II processors. They do introduce a new Turbo Core feature that we will discuss later that is somewhat analogous to what Intel has done with its processors with Turbo Boost.
There is a TON of more information, so be sure you hit that Read More link right now!!
PC Perspective Podcast #158 - MSI P67-GD80 Motherboard review, Antec Performance P280 case, Corsair Force 3 SSD recall and more!
Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2011 - 06:47 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, Intel, computex, amd, 990fx
PC Perspective Podcast #158 - 6/09/2011
This week we talk about the MSI P67-GD80 Motherboard review, Antec Performance P280 case, Corsair Force 3 SSD recall and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
This Podcast is brought to you by
- 0:00:33 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:01:50 AMD 990FX/SB950 Release: Asus SABERTOOTH 990FX and the MSI 990FXA-GD80
- 0:04:10 MSI P67A-GD80 LGA 1155 ATX Motherboard Review
- 0:06:42 MSI N560GTX-Ti HAWK Graphic Card Review
- 0:14:23 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI
, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
- 0:15:02 PowerColor Shows Off New 4GB AMD Graphics Card With Two Stock Clocked 6970 GPUs
- 0:20:18 Antec Performance P280 Case First Look at Computex
- 0:23:40 ECS Motherboards on display at Computex 2011
- 0:27:02 MSI shows Gen3 PCIe, X79 Motherboard and GTX 580 Extreme
- 0:33:12 Thermaltake Level 10 GT White, Frio GT and BigWater coolers and USB Power Strip
- 0:39:05 AMD Brings Back FX Branding For High-End CPUs and Motherboards at E3
- 0:40:18 Corsair recalls entire Force Series 3 SSD line, cites hardware defects
- 0:44:05 PNY and Asetek Team Up to Deliver Sealed-Loop Water Cooling for CPUs and Graphics Cards
- 0:48:30 Just Delivered. Large, nifty video card. - MSI N580GTX Lightning Extreme
- 0:49:45 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
- 0:51:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: Gold bar USB 3.0 drive
- Jeremy: Still like the newstweak, but if'n I used it up then IPv6 didn't destroy the world!
- Josh: Boston Lager Cut! http://www.samueladams.com/promos/lager-and-beef/lagercut.aspx
- Allyn: Intel 320 Warranty = 5 years
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:59:23 Closing
Subject: General Tech | June 9, 2011 - 11:27 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: acer, amd, desna, bobcat core, APU, AMD z-series, brazos
AMD's C-series and E-series of APUs have been selling quickly, with an estimated 1/2 million processors sold already to tablet and SFF PC builders and putting plenty of pressure on Intel's Atom+ION lineup. AMD has made themselves so popular by providing better performance at a lower TDP and power draw, mostly because of the age of the Oak Trail based CULVs, once Huron River arrives we may see that change drastically.
Now we learn that Acer has orders in for 80K of the new dual core 1GHz APU, with a TDP of 5.9W. Obviously AMD and the OEMs purchasing the chips are intending these for tablets and SFF PCs running Windows. There will be no need to wait for Win8's ARM architecture support if you are looking to run a Win7 ultramobile PC right now. ARM, Tegra and even Intel's announced Moorestown pull less power and are more appropriate for smart phones, so don't expect to be seeing Desna in that particular form factor.
"Acer has recently placed orders for 80,000 Z series APUs from AMD for use in tablet PCs, targeting the enterprise market, according to sources from upstream component makers. However, both Acer and AMD did not confirm the orders.
In addition to Acer, Micro-Star International (MSI) is also developing tablet PC models using AMD's APU.
Since Google Android 3.0 currently still has issues which need to be resolved, while the next-generation Android operating system codenamed Ice Cream Sandwich will not appear until the end of 2011, some tablet PC vendors have decided to launch Windows 7-based tablet PCs targeting the enterprise market to maintain their shipments.
Since Intel's Oak Trail-based Atom processor is higher in both price and power consumption, several notebook vendors have already started considering AMD's platform. In addition to Acer and MSI, some vendors have also started inquiring about AMD's Z series APU.
AMD's Z series APU is produced through Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 40nm process and is already shipping, targeting the Windows-based tablet PC market, noted the sources adding that they expect shipments of Z series APUs to reach at least 500,000 units in the second half of 2011, creating strong pressure on Intel's Oak Trail processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel starts talking about 8nm node @ SemiAccurate
- iCloud without Apple: your platform-agnostic alternatives @ Ars Technica
- Ex-Google engineer dubs Goofrastructure 'truly obsolete' @ The Register
- Canon REALiS SX80 Mark II Review @ TechReviewSource
- Wii U Specification Rumours @ XSreviews
- Computex 2011 recap: Intel Z68 motherboard dominates but AMD Bulldozer missing @ The Inquirer
Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 8, 2011 - 03:06 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Nintendo, E3, amd
Nintendo’s hardware manufacturers have been pretty stable for the last two generations of consoles. Following the NEC and SGI pairing of the Nintendo 64, Nintendo roped in the talents of IBM and AMD to create the hardware for the GameCube. With the transition to the Wii, AMD and IBM remained as the hardware producers for Nintendo’s console and with the announcement of the Wii U (the successor to the Wii) that will still remain true.
HOOOOOOOO Wii! (Image by Nintendo)
AMD published a press release to state that the Wii U will contain AMD Radeon HD graphics to power Nintendo’s first entry to the high definition club. AMD touted their experience in multiple display support during their Wii U press release which would be suitable for the LCD monitors embedded in their controllers. IBM also released a statement confirming that they are shipping multi-core 45nm parts for the Nintendo’s next-generation console but did not state any more details such as how many cores or their clock speed.
Nintendo is rarely ever vocal about the specifications of their consoles and this version is no different. For their entire press conference Nintendo did not even show the console itself opting to focus on the controller and software. Beyond the controller, the hardware looks to be comparable to Microsoft and Sony’s offering from the limited info and screen shots we have seen. More info should come up as we approach the Wii U’s launch in a little over a year.