Digging into a specific market
A little while ago, I decided to think about processor design as a game. You are given a budget of complexity, which is determined by your process node, power, heat, die size, and so forth, and the objective is to lay out features in the way that suits your goal and workload best. While not the topic of today's post, GPUs are a great example of what I mean. They make the assumption that in a batch of work, nearby tasks are very similar, such as the math behind two neighboring pixels on the screen. This assumption allows GPU manufacturers to save complexity by chaining dozens of cores together into not-quite-independent work groups. The circuit fits the work better, and thus it lets more get done in the same complexity budget.
Carrizo is aiming at a 63 million unit per year market segment.
This article is about Carrizo, though. This is AMD's sixth-generation APU, starting with Llano's release in June 2011. For this launch, Carrizo is targeting the 15W and 35W power envelopes for $400-$700 USD notebook devices. AMD needed to increase efficiency on the same, 28nm process that we have seen in their product stack since Kabini and Temash were released in May of 2013. They tasked their engineers to optimize their APU's design for these constraints, which led to dense architectures and clever features on the same budget of complexity, rather than smaller transistors or a bigger die.
15W was their primary target, and they claim to have exceeded their own expectations.
Backing up for a second. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.
When I met with AMD last month, I brought up the Bulldozer architecture with many individuals. I suspected that it was a quite clever design that didn't reach its potential because of external factors. As I started this editorial, processor design is a game and, if you can save complexity by knowing your workload, you can do more with less.
Bulldozer looked like it wanted to take a shortcut by cutting elements that its designers believed would be redundant going forward. First and foremost, two cores share a single floating point (decimal) unit. While you need some floating point capacity, upcoming workloads could use the GPU for a massive increase in performance, which is right there on the same die. As such, the complexity that is dedicated to every second FPU can be cut and used for something else. You can see this trend throughout various elements of the architecture.
Subject: Motherboards | May 29, 2015 - 08:03 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Godavari, asus, amd
If you are running an ASUS FM2+ board and you want to install the shiny new AMD A10-7870K Godavari processor then it is time to fire up either the ASUS USB BIOS Flashback or ASUS EZ Update tools. Below is a list of all of UEFI versions for all compatible motherboards which you will need to update to in order to boot the new processor. If you do not see your motherboard on the list then it is likely it will not support the new processor, keep an eye on the relevant page on ASUS for more information.
Gigabyte has also release updates to support the new APU, head to their downloads page and search for the model of motherboard you are currently using for the latest UEFI BIOS to flash to.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2015 - 03:26 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: catalyst, amd, 15.5 beta
Last night AMD released a new Catalyst driver, 15.5 Beta, that targets performance improvements in both Project Cars and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. You can pick up the new driver for both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 right here. The full display driver version is 14.502.1014.1001.
The specific changes?
Highlights of AMD Catalyst™ 15.5 Beta Windows Driver
Crossfire Profile Update for:
- The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt
Performance Improvements for the following :
- The Witcher 3 - Wild Hunt : Up to 10% performance increase on single GPU Radeon R9 and R7 Series graphics products
- Project Cars - Up to 17% performance increase on single GPU Radeon R9 and R7 Series graphics products
Users of the Radeon R9 295X2 will be glad to see support for their hardware added for The Witcher 3 and just about everyone will be glad to see some dramatic performance improvements in Project Cars and Witcher 3. We know from testing internally as well as widely reported issues that AMD Radeon graphics cards had issues with Project Cars, resulting in performance well behind comparable NVIDIA GeForce hardware. With as much as 17% improvement for Radeon R9 and R7 hardware though, hopefully that frame rate increases quite a bit.
We'll be doing some testing with this new driver here today, and if anything jumps out at us, we'll be sure to let you know!
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2015 - 03:05 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumors, radeon, hbm, graphics, gpu, Fury, Fiji, amd
Another rumor has emerged about an upcoming GPU from AMD, and this time it's a possible name for the HBM-powered Fiji card a lot of us have been speculating about.
The rumor from VideoCardz via Expreview (have to love the multiple layers of reporting here) states the the new card will be named Radeon Fury:
"Radeon Fury would be AMD’s response to growing popularity of TITAN series. It is yet unclear how AMD is planning to adopt Fury naming schema. Are we going to see Fury XT or Fury PRO? Well, let’s just wait and see. This rumor also means that Radeon R9 390X will be a direct rebrand of R9 290X with 8GB memory."
Of course this is completely unsubstantiated, and Fury is a branding scheme from the ATI days, but who knows? I can only hope that if true, AMD will adopt all caps: TITAN! FURY! Feel the excitement. What do you think of this possible name for the upcoming AMD flagship GPU?
Subject: Editorial | May 28, 2015 - 05:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X99, video, sapphire, r9 285, podcast, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, gigabyte, Fiji, DAC, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #351 - 05/28/2015
Join us this week as we discuss AMD Fiji Leaks, rumors on GTX 980 Ti, a great $99 portable DAC, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:18:06
Big Things, Small Packages
Sapphire isn’t a brand we have covered in a while, so it is nice to see a new and interesting product drop on our door. Sapphire was a relative unknown until around the release of the Radeon 9700 Pro days. This was around the time when ATI decided that they did not want to be so vertically integrated, so allowed other companies to start buying their chips and making their own cards. This was done to provide a bit of stability for ATI pricing, as they didn’t have to worry about a volatile component market that could cause their margins to plummet. By selling just the chips to partners, ATI could more adequately control margins on their own product while allowing their partners to make their own deals and component choices for the finished card.
ATI had very limited graphics card production of their own, so they often would farm out production to second sources. One of these sources ended up turning into Sapphire. When ATI finally allowed other partners to produce and brand their own ATI based products, Sapphire already had a leg up on the competition by being a large producer already of ATI products. They soon controlled a good portion of the marketplace by their contacts, pricing, and close relationship with ATI.
Since this time ATI has been bought up by AMD and they no longer produce any ATI branded cards. Going vertical when it come to producing their own chips and video cards was obviously a bad idea, we can look back at 3dfx and their attempt at vertical integration and how that ended for the company. AMD obviously produces an initial reference version of their cards and coolers, but allows their partners to sell the “sticker” version and then develop their own designs. This has worked very well for both NVIDIA and AMD, and it has allowed their partners to further differentiate their product from the competition.
Sapphire usually does a bang up job on packaging the graphics card. Oh look, a mousepad!
Sapphire is not as big of a player as they used to be, but they are still one of the primary partners of AMD. It would not surprise me in the least if they still produced the reference designs for AMD and then distributed those products to other partners. Sapphire is known for building a very good quality card and their cooling solutions have been well received as well. The company does have some stiff competition from the likes of Asus, MSI, and others for this particular market. Unlike those two particular companies, Sapphire obviously does not make any NVIDIA based boards. This has been a blessing and a curse, depending on what the cycle is looking like between AMD and NVIDIA and who has dominance in any particular marketplace.
Subject: Mobile, Shows and Expos | May 27, 2015 - 04:27 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: z51, z41, tech world, r9 m375, r9 m360, Lenovo, ideapad 100, amd
Today at their Tech World event in Beijing, Lenovo is taking the opportunity to announce some new mainstream notebook options.
First off, we have simply the Lenovo Z41 and Z51. The 14-inch Z41 and 15.6-inch Z51 aim to refresh the previous Z40 and Z50 with Broadwell CPUs as well as new AMD discrete GPU options.
Lenovo is using the Broadwell-U class of CPUs here as you would find in ultra books, so don't expect a CPU powerhouse, but for productivity style tasks these machines should hit the sweet spot of Price vs Performance with a starting price of $549 for the base Z51.
Paired with the new AMD R9-M360 (Z41) or M375 (Z51) these notebooks should also be able to play mainstream titles on the integrated 1080p display while coming in just over $800.
Lenovo also announced a low-cost entry into the ideapad line utilizing Intel's BayTrail-M processors. The ideapad 100 is available in both 14-inch and 15-inch variants and seems to be aimed at the low-cost Chromebook market.
Starting at $249, the ideapad 100 seems like it will be a good option for users looking for a secondary option for basic web browsing and office tasks.
Stay tuned for more from Lenovo's Tech World Event this week!
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 23, 2015 - 01:46 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, hbm, high bandwidth memory, amd, Fiji
During this week's podcast, Josh and the team went through an in-depth discussion of the new memory technology that AMD will be using on the upcoming Fiji GPU, HBM (high bandwidth memory). In case you don't regularly listen to our amazing PC Perspective Podcast, we have cut out the portion that focuses on HBM so that everyone can be educated on what this new technology will offer for coming GPUs.
Enjoy! Be sure to subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube channel for more videos like this!
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 22, 2015 - 01:39 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: wce, radeon, Fiji, amd, 390x
UPDATE (5/22/15): Johan Andersson tweeted out this photo this morning, with the line: "This new island is one seriously impressive and sweet GPU. wow & thanks @AMDRadeon ! They will be put to good use :)" Looks like we can confirm that at least one of the parts AMD is releasing does have the design of the images we showed you before, though the water cooling implementation is missing or altered.
File this under "rumor" for sure, but a cool one none the less...
After yesterday's official tidbit of information surrounding AMD's upcoming flagship graphics card for enthusiasts and its use of HBM (high bandwidth memory), it appears we have another leak on our hands. The guys over at Chiphell have apparently acquired some stock footage of the new Fiji flagship card (whether or not it will be called the 390X has yet to be seen) and it looks...awesome.
In that post from yesterday I noted that with an HBM design AMD could in theory build an add-in card that is of a different form factor than anything we have previously seen for a high end part. Based on the image above, if this turns out to be the high end Fiji offering, it appears the PCB will indeed be quite small as it no longer requires memory surrounding the GPU itself. You can also see that it will in fact be water cooled though it looks like it has barb inlets rather than a pre-attached cooler in this image.
The second leaked image shows display outputs consisting of three full-size DisplayPort connections and a single HDMI port.
All of this could be faked of course, but if it is, the joker did a damn good job of compiling all the information into one design. If it's real, I think AMD might finally have a match for the look and styling of the high-end GeForce offerings.
What do you think: real or fake? Cool or meh? Let us know!
Subject: Motherboards | May 22, 2015 - 03:34 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: msi, amd, 990fx, FX-8370, FX-9590, sli, crossfire, SoundBlaster, killer nic, usb 3.1
Several weeks ago MSI officially announced the 990FXA-Gaming motherboard for the AM3+ market. The board is based on the tried and true 990FX and SB950 combo, but it adds a new wrinkle to the game: USB 3.1 support. MSI has released the other AMD based USB 3.1 board on the market, the 970 Krait.
Quite a few people were excited about this part, as the AM3+ market has been pretty stagnant as of late. This is not necessarily surprising considering that AMD has not launched a new AM3+ chip since Fall of 2014 with a couple of "efficiency" chips as well as the slightly faster FX-8370.
There was some speculation based on early photographs that the board could have a more robust power delivery system than previous AM3+ boards, but alas, that is not the case. Upon closer inspection it appears as though MSI has gone the 6+2 phase route. If there are good quality components in there, you can potentially run the 220 watt TDP FX-9000 series parts, but these puppies are not officially supported. In fact, I received an email saying that I might want to be really careful in my choice of CPUs as well as being extremely careful when overclocking.
The board still has some real potential at being a really nice home for the 125 watt TDP and below parts. The audio portion looks very well designed and features the SoundBlaster Cinema 2. It supports both SLI and CrossFire in native 2 x 16x (highly doubtful with 3 cards with the way the slots are configured). It has the Killer NIC ethernet suite which may or may not be a selling point, depending on who you ask.
Overall the board is an interesting addition to the club, but I really wouldn't trust it with the FX-9000 series chips. I have a 970 Gaming that came with the FX-9590 that had a similar power delivery system, and it ran like a champ; there is a possibility that the board will run this combination. This is going to be installed this weekend and I will start the benchmarking! Keep tuned!