Subject: General Tech | February 8, 2018 - 11:21 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, amd, raven ridge, 2500U, APU, Intel, xeon-d, dell, EPYC, vaunt, Tobii
PC Perspective Podcast #486 - 02/08/18
Join us this week for a recap of news and reviews including AMD Mobile APUs, new Xeon-D processors, EPYC offerings from Dell, and more!
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Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Ken Addison
Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg
Program length: 1:16:53
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
0:27:45 Dell's Epyc package
Picks of the Week:
For the first time in several years, the notebook market has gotten very interesting from a performance standpoint. First, we had Intel’s launch of its Kaby-Lake Refresh 8th Generation processors which packed a true quad-core CPU into a 15W package. Then, we heard about AMD’s Raven Ridge which aimed to combine a quad-core mobile CPU with Radeon Vega graphics into that same 15W power target.
Even though the excitement over Raven Ridge may have subsided a bit after Intel and AMD’s joint announcement of Vega graphics combined with Intel CPUs in the Kaby-Lake G platform, that is still yet to be released and will reside in a significantly higher class of power usage.
So today we are taking a look at AMD’s Raven Ridge, what may be AMD’s first worthy entry into the thin-and-light notebook market.
For our Raven Ridge testing, we are taking a look at the HP Envy x360, which at the time of writing is the only machine to be shipping with these Ryzen Mobile processors (although more machines have been announced and are coming soon). Additionally, we also wanted to wait a while for the software ecosystem on this new platform to stabilize (more on that later).
Beating AMD and Analyst Estimates
January 30th has rolled around and AMD released their Q4 2017 results. The results were positive and somewhat unexpected. I have been curious how the company fared and was waiting for these results to compare them to the relatively strong quarter that Intel experienced. At the Q3 earnings AMD was not entirely bullish about how Q4 would go. The knew that it was going to be a down quarter as compared to an unexpectedly strong third quarter, but they were unsure how that was going to pan out. The primary reason that Q4 was not going to be as strong was due to the known royalty income that AMD was expecting from their Semi-Custom Group. Q4 has traditionally been bad for that group as all of their buildup for the holiday season came from Q1 and Q2 rampings of the physical products that would be integrated into consoles.
The results exceeded AMD’s and analysts’ expectations. They were expecting in the $1.39B range, but their actual revenue came in at a relatively strong $1.48B. Not only was the quarter stronger than expected, but AMD was able to pull out another positive net income of $61M. It has been a while since AMD was able to post back to back profitable quarters. This allowed AMD to have a net positive year to the tune of $43M where in 2016 AMD had a loss of $497M. 2017 as a whole was $1.06B more in revenue over 2016. AMD has been historically lean in terms of expenses for the past few years, and a massive boost in revenue has allowed them to invest in R&D as well as more aggressively ramp up their money making products to compete more adequately with Intel, who is having their own set of issues right now with manufacturing and security.
Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen, CES 2018, CES, APU, amd, 2400G, 2200G
Though AMD might not use the term APU anymore, that’s what we are looking at today. The Ryzen + Vega processor (single die implementation, to be clear) for desktop solutions will begin shipping February 12 and will bring high-performance integrated graphics to low cost PCs. Fully titled the “AMD Ryzen Desktop Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics”, this new processor will utilize the same AM4 socket and motherboards that have been shipping since March of 2017. Finally, a good use for those display outputs!
Though enthusiasts might have little interest in these parts, it is an important step for AMD. Building a low-cost PC with a Ryzen CPU has been difficult due to the requirement of a discrete graphics card. Nearly all of Intel’s processors have integrated graphics, and though we might complain about the performance it provides in games, the truth is that the value of not needing another component is crucial for reducing costs.
Without an APU that had both graphics and the company’s greatly improved Zen CPU architecture, AMD was leaving a lot of potential sales on the table. Also, the market for entry-level gaming in small form factor designs is significant.
Two models will be launching: the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. Clock speeds are higher than what exists on the Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 and match the core and thread count. The 2400G includes 11 Compute Units (704 stream processors) and the 2200G has 8 CUs (512 stream processors). The TDP of both is 65 watts.
The pricing configuration gives AMD some impressive placement. The $169 Ryzen 5 2400G will offer much better graphics performance than the $30 more expensive Core i5-8400 (based on current pricing) and has equivalent performance to the $100+ higher Core i5-8400 and NVIDIA GT 1030 discrete solution.
When looking at CPU performance, the new Ryzen processors offer higher scores than the units they are replacing. They do this while adding Vega graphics capability and matching or lower prices.
AMD even went as far to show the overclocking headroom that the Ryzen APU can offer. During an on-site demo we saw the Ryzen 5 2400G improve its 3DMark score by 39% with memory frequency and GPU clock speed increases. Moving the GPU clock from ~1100 MHz to 1675 MHz will mean a significant increase in power consumption, and I do question the size of the audience that wants to overclock an APU. Still – cool to see!
The Ryzen CPU with Vega graphics is a product we all expected to see, it’s the first perfect marriage of AMD’s revitalized CPU division and its considerable advantage in integrated graphics. It has been a long time since one of AMD’s APUs appeared interesting to me and stoked my desire to build a low-cost, mainstream gaming build. Looks for reviews in just a few short weeks!
Subject: General Tech, Motherboards | November 30, 2017 - 06:48 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asus, AM4, ryzen, Vega, ryzen mobile, APU, raven ridge
ASUS recently made new BIOS updates available for several of its motherboards that suggest desktop Raven Ridge APUs are coming soon. The BIOS updates contain AGESA! V9 RavenPi-FPS-AM4 126.96.36.199 along with Raven Generic VBIOS to add support for the Zen-based Raven Ridge CPU cores and Vega-based graphics.
Desktop Raven Ridge APUs have been promised in AMD roadmaps for awhile now, but details are still scarce. These desktop parts have the same four CPU cores as Ryzen Mobile Ryzen 5 2500U and Ryzen 7 2700U, but will run with higher TDPs (up to 65W) and higher clockspeeds along with a much larger GPU with up to 11 CUs (704 Vega cores). As of this writing the rumors of a HBM-equipped APU is still just that, a rumor. The first desktop Raven Ridge parts are sure to use standard DDR4, however.
Speculation over at [H] suggests that ASUS may have jumped the gun a bit on making the BIOS updates available by a few days which suggests that AMD is planning a December launch for the desktop parts (likely a soft launch though hopefully not as terribly long as Bristol Ridge!) and BIOS updates coming from other manufacturers at that time.
Guru3D has a list of links to the BIOS updates currently available from ASUS covering 13 of their motherboards including X370, B350, and A320 PRIME series motherboards and X370 and B350 ROG STRIX motherboards. Missing from the AMD AM4 lineup are the EX-A320M-GAMING, PRIME A320M-C and -C R2.0, and ROG CROSSHAIR VI Hero and Extreme boards.
Interestingly, desktop Raven Ridge is the second APU generation to work with the AM4 socket, and is is allegedly not the last. AMD has stated previously that it intends to support the AM4 socket for quite a while and their own roadmaps list support for at least two more Ryzen CPU generations and one more generation of APUs. Specifically, AMD plans to support Bristol Ridge, Raven Ridge, and Picasso (which is essentially the Zen+ APU generation) APUs along with Summit Ridge (Zen), Pinnacle Ridge (“12nm” Zen+), and Matisse (“7nm” Zen 2) CPUs on the same AM4 socket which is refreshing to see. Of course, AMD is introducing new chipsets (e.g. X400 series with Pinnacle Ridge) with each new generation, but it is nice to know that at least there is an upgrade path if you want it and don’t need whatever new I/O the new motherboards offer.
A potential game changer?
I thought we were going to be able to make it through the rest of 2017 without seeing AMD launch another family of products. But I was wrong. And that’s a good thing. Today AMD is launching the not-so-cleverly-named Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line that will bring the new Zen processor architecture and Vega graphics architecture onto a single die for the ultrathin mobile notebook platforms. This is no minor move for them – just as we discussed with the AMD EPYC processor launch, this is a segment that has been utterly dominated by Intel. After all, Intel created the term Ultrabook to target these designs, and though that brand is gone, the thin and light mindset continues to this day.
The claims AMD makes about its Ryzen mobile APU (combination CPU+GPU accelerated processing unit, to use an older AMD term) are not to be made lightly. Right up front in our discussion I was told this is going to be the “world’s fastest for ultrathin” machines. Considering that AMD had previously been unable to even enter those markets with previous products, both due to some technological and business roadblocks, AMD is taking a risk by painting this launch in such a light. Thanks to its ability combine CPU and GPU technology on a single die though, AMD has some flexibility today that simply did not have access to previously.
From the days that AMD first announced the acquisition of ATI graphics, the company has touted the long-term benefits of owning both a high-performance processor and graphics division. By combining the architectures on a single die, they could become greater than the sum of the parts, leveraging new software directions and the oft-discussed HSA (heterogenous systems architecture) that AMD helped create a foundation for. Though the first rounds of APUs were able to hit modest sales, the truth was that AMD’s advantage over Intel’s on the graphics technology front was often overshadowed by the performance and power efficiency advantages that Intel held on the CPU front.
But with the introduction of the first products based on Zen earlier this year, AMD has finally made good on the promises of catching up to Intel in many of the areas where it matters the most. The new from-the-ground-up design resulted in greater than 50% IPC gains, improved area efficiency compared to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake core design, and enormous gains in power efficiency compared to the previous CPU designs. When looking at the new Ryzen-based APU products with Vega built-in, AMD claims that they tower over the 7th generation APUs with up to 200% more CPU performance, 128% more GPU performance, and 58% lower power consumption. Again, these are bold claims, but it gives AMD confidence that it can now target premium designs and form factors with a solution that will meet consumer demands.
AMD is hoping that the release of the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U can finally help turn the tides in the ultrathin notebook market.
|Core i7-8650U||Core i7-8550U||Core i5-8350U||Core i5-8250U||Ryzen 7 2700U||Ryzen 5 2500U|
|Architecture||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Kaby Lake Refresh||Zen+Vega||Zen+Vega|
|Base Clock||1.9 GHz||1.8 GHz||1.7 GHz||1.6 GHz||2.2 GHz||2.0 GHz|
|Max Turbo Clock||4.2 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.6 GHz|
|System Bus||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s||DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s||DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s||N/A||N/A|
|Graphics||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||UHD Graphics 620||Vega (10 CUs)||Vega (8 CUs)|
|Max Graphics Clock||1.15 GHz||1.15 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.1 GHz||1.3 GHz||1.1 GHz|
The Ryzen 7 2700U will run 200 MHz higher on the base and boost clocks for the CPU and 200 MHz higher on the peak GPU core clock. Though both systems have 4-cores and 8-threads, the GPU on the 2700U will have two additional CUs / compute units.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | October 16, 2017 - 05:07 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, raven ridge, APU, ryzen 7 2700u, Ryzen 5 2500U, ryzen 7 pro 2700u
Hot on the heels of the HP leak that showed the first AMD Raven Ridge based notebook that may be hitting store shelves later this year, another leak of potential Raven Ridge APU performance is cycling through. The AMD Ryzen 7 2700U with integrated Vega-based graphics architecture, and also rumored to have a ~35-watt TDP, is showing 3DMark11 graphics scores near that of the discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX150.
With a graphics score of 4072, the integrated graphics on the upcoming AMD APU is slightly behind the score of 4570 from the MX150, a difference of 11.5%. Interestingly, the Physics score on the Raven Ridge APU of 6419 is solid as well, and puts an interesting light on the 8th gen KBL-R processors. As you can see in the graph below, from two systems we already have in-house with quad-core parts, CPU performance is going to vary dramatically from one machine to the next depending on the thermal headroom of the physical implementation.
The HP Spectre x360 with the Core i7-8550U and the MX150 GPU is able to generate a Physics score of 8278, well above the leaked result of the Raven Ridge APU. However, when we ran the 3DMark11 on the ASUS Zenbook 3 UX490UA with the same Core i7-8550U, the Physics score was 6627, a 19% drop! Clearly there are configurability shifts that will adjust the performance of the 8th gen Intel parts. We are diving more into this effect in a couple of upcoming reviews.
Though the true power consumption of these Ryzen 7 2700U systems is still up in the air, AMD has claimed for some time that it would have the ability to compete with Intel for the first time in several generations. If these solutions turn out to be in the 35-watt range, which would be at or lower than the typical 15-watt Intel CPU and 25-watt NVIDIA discrete GPU combined, AMD may have a winning combination for mobile performance users to entertain.
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2017 - 03:14 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Vega M, Ryzen 5 2500U, ryzen, laptop, hp, Envy x360, APU, amd, 2-in-1
Details on the first notebook featuring an AMD Ryzen APU were revealed by HP from a data sheet on an upcoming Envy x360 2-in-1 notebook, though the PDF was subsequently pulled and now the page leads to a 404. Thankfully, VideoCardz.com has a screen capture:
HP datasheet capture via VideoCardz.com
In addition to the AMD Ryzen 5 2500U quad-core CPU with integrated Radeon Vega M graphics, the notebook as configured offered just a single 8GB stick of DDR4-2400 - and we all know APU’s like memory bandwidth, so hopefully this will be offered with a dual-channel option (memory “up to 16GB” is offered).
The current HP Envy x360 2-in-1 design (image credit: HP)
Storage for this Ryzen 5-powered 2-in-1 is listed as a 256 GB PCIe NVMe SSD, and the convertible design offers a 15.6-inch 1920x1080 IPS multi-touch display, premium B&O sound, and of course runs Windows 10.
Naturally, we'll have to wait for some official word from HP on this, as the page and document were apparently put up in error - but not before a few outlets (other than VideoCardz posts include ComputerBase and PC Gamer) released the details from the datasheet. Perhaps that will prompt an announcement? (Here's hoping.)
Subject: Cases and Cooling | September 25, 2017 - 10:43 AM | Sebastian Peak
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:
"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:
"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.
Subject: General Tech | September 16, 2017 - 03:32 AM | Tim Verry
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!
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.