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: General Tech | May 7, 2015 - 02:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Carrizo-L, A8-7410, A6-7310, E2-7110, E1-7010, APU
AMD has provided information on their new Carrizo-L based 7000 series of chips featuring the A8-7410, A6-7310 and the A4-7210 as well as the E2-7110 and E1-7010. The two E series chips replace the low powered Beema APS, the E1-6010 and E2-6110 which were found in All-in-One machines with the new E2-7110 being the first of that series to have four cores. The other three models are new desktop chips with newer graphics cores, the full feature set you would expect and slightly higher TDPs than the E-Series.
The existing AMD A-Series Desktop APUs have seen a price reduction today with prices for the top end A10-7850K reduced to $127 with the low end A4-7300 costing a mere $42 which helps AMD's positioning as a supplier in the lower end of the market. You can see the entire price list as well as some information about the new R300 series of GPUs in their post.
"The AMD A-series APU are also the world’s best SoCs for DirectX 12, as independent testing showed a 41% framerate increase under DirectX 12 – read more in the AMD blog here. Additionally, using DirectX 12 the AMD A-series APU was able to demonstrate an incredible 511% increase in performance per watt.
Finally, with a suitably equipped AMD socket FM2+ motherboard featuring DisplayPort, AMD A-series APUs also support AMD FreeSync to deliver all the incredible experience benefits detailed in our AMD blog here."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 175: The Zen of chipmaking and ARM's Cortex-A72 revealed
- Zen chips headed to desktops, servers in 2016 @ The Tech Report
- Next Thing Co. Releases “World’s First” $9 Computer @ MAKE:Blog
- Getting Started in Open Source Software @ Linux.com
- Google Updates: Android M, Nexus 9 discount and Google Maps in Madagascar @ The Inquirer
- Samsung will open its biggest chip plant in the first half of 2017 @ The Inquirer
- Rip up your AMD obits: Gaming, VR, embedded chips to lift biz out of the red by 2016, allegedly @ The Register
- FCC wants to know if carriers can grab some of YOUR WiFi signal @ The Register
- Enter to win a limited-edition Asus GeForce GTX 980
Subject: Motherboards | May 4, 2015 - 02:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: processor, msi, motherboard, Godavari, FM2+, cpu, APU, amd
MSI has revealed a new FM2+ motherboard lineup with support for upcoming AMD Godavari processors, further indicating the launch of these new CPUs will be very soon though no official announcement has yet been made by AMD.
As reported back in January when the lineup allegedly leaked the new Godavari SKUs feature higher clocks on both processor and, more significantly, in GPU cores in upcoming APUs like the rumored 8850K. MSI states that "these new models are available in ATX, micro-ATX, and mini-ATX form factors and are backwards compatible with FM2 processors (Kaveri, Richland, Trinity, 6000 and 5000 series)", so it makes sense to consider these new models for future compatibility if shopping for an FM2 motherboard today. It remains to be seen if vendors will offer support for Godavari through BIOS updates, though it does at least seem likely.
For those interested here is the list of new MSI AMD FM2+/FM2 motherboard models:
- A68HM-E33 V2
- A88XM-E45 V2
- A78M-E35 V2
- A88XM-P33 V2
- A78M-E45 V2
- A88X-G41 PC Mate V2
- A88XM-E35 V2
- A88XI AC V2
The familiar Military Class 4 and OC Genie 4 branding is visible across the lineup, and the new models also feature "a rich blend of features and technologies, such as onboard LAN, PCI Express 3.0 x16, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0 and multiple display support".
Subject: Processors | February 24, 2015 - 06:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Puma+, Puma, Kaveri, ISSCC 2015, ISSCC, GCN, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, APU, amd
While it is utterly inconceivable that Josh might have missed something in his look at Carrizo, that hasn't stopped certain Canadians from talking about Gila County, Arizona. AMD's upcoming processor launch is a little more interesting than just another Phenom II launch, especially for those worried about power consumption. With Adaptive Voltage and Frequency Scaling the new Excavator based chips will run very well at the sub-15W per core pair range which is perfect for POS, airplane entertainment and even in casinos. The GPU portion speaks to those usage scenarios though you can't expect an R9 295 at that wattage. Check out Hardware Canucks' coverage right here.
"AMD has been working hard on their mobile Carrizo architecture and they're now releasing some details about these Excavator architecture-equipped next generation APUs."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD's new Carrizo: The x86 notebook processor that thinks it's a GPU @ The Register
- AMD Carrizo APU Details Revealed @ TechARP
- AMD FX-8320E Performance On Linux @ Phoronix
- Intel Broadwell HD Graphics 5500: Windows 8.1 vs. Linux @ Phoronix
- Preliminary Tests Of Intel Sandy Bridge & Ivy Bridge vs. Broadwell @ Phoronix
AMD Details Carrizo Further
Some months back AMD introduced us to their “Carrizo” product. Details were slim, but we learned that this would be another 28 nm part that has improved power efficiency over its predecessor. It would be based on the new “Excavator” core that will be the final implementation of the Bulldozer architecture. The graphics will be based on the latest iteration of the GCN architecture as well. Carrizo would be a true SOC in that it integrates the southbridge controller. The final piece of information that we received was that it would be interchangeable with the Carrizo-L SOC, which is a extremely low power APU based on the Puma+ cores.
A few months later we were invited by AMD to their CES meeting rooms to see early Carrizo samples in action. These products were running a variety of applications very smoothly, but we were not informed of speeds and actual power draw. All that we knew is that Carrizo was working and able to run pretty significant workloads like high quality 4K video playback. Details were yet again very scarce other than the expected timeline of release, the TDP ratings of these future parts, and how it was going to be a significant jump in energy efficiency over the previous Kaveri based APUs.
AMD is presenting more information on Carrizo at the ISSCC 2015 conference. This information dives a little deeper into how AMD has made the APU smaller, more power efficient, and faster overall than the previous 15 watt to 35 watt APUs based on Kaveri. AMD claims that they have a product that will increase power efficiency in a way not ever seen before for the company. This is particularly important considering that Carrizo is still a 28 nm product.
Subject: Processors | January 29, 2015 - 10:41 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumor, processors, Kaveri, Godavari, cpu, Athlon X4, APU, amd
VR-Zone has published a report with a detailed slide showing upcoming AMD Godavari processors, and the updated lineup includes 12 new models.
The release schedule indicates a spring availability for most of the new APUs, with the Athlon X4 850 and 870K shipping in May. The APU line gets a new flagship desktop part with the A10-8850K, and this appears to be a higher-clocked version of the A10-7850K, with a 100MHz higher boost clock (4.1 GHz vs. 4.0 GHz) and a higher GPU clock of 856 MHz (vs. 720 MHz).
Of particular interest for the potential budget quad-core buyer is the Athlon X4 870K, a new 95W part which would presumably replace the X4 860K - a processor that has seen inconsistent availability (and is currently unavailable on Newegg). With more games being released that require a quad-core to run, these sub-$100 Athlon CPUs present a great value in constructing a low-cost gaming system these days.
The slide does not indicate a change in the 28nm process from Kaveri, and it should be safe to assume these will not represent a significant architectural change. The modest clock increases from Kaveri will result in some performance gains, and this is good for consumers assuming these will sell at the same price points as the outgoing models.
Subject: General Tech | January 23, 2015 - 12:56 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: msi, beema, APU, amd, all in one, AIO
MSI will soon release three new All In One PCs under its Adora and Entertainment series. The new PCs are powered by AMD’s Beema APU and are aimed at light duty home computing and commercial applications respectively.
MSI AE200 5M and AE220 5M AIO PC
The AIOs are clad in a white plastic casing with a clear bezel surrounding the matte display. The Adora20 5M offers a 19.5” 1600 x 900 screen while the AE200 5M and AE220 5M feature a 19.5” 1600 x 900 and 21.5” 1920 x 1080 displays respectively. All the displays use MSI’s anti flicker, blue light reduction, and optional anti-glare technologies to reduce eye strain. The panels are multi-touch capable as well.
As far as I/O, the AIOs have webcams, optical disc drives, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, HDMI, RJ45 Ethernet, analog audio in/out, and an SD card reader. All of the PCs support 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. The Entertainment series PCs (AE200 5M and AE220 5M) further add a Mini-PCIe connection and a COM port on the back to support barcode scanners, card readers, and other legacy peripherals.
Internally, the PCs are powered by a low power AMD “Beema” APU, up to 8GB of DDR3L memory, and a single 2.5” SATA III hard drive or SSD. The Beema APUs in question are the AMD A4-6210 and E2-6110 with the Adora20 5M getting the latter chip. Both processors are 15W 28nm SoCs with four Puma+ x86 cores and discrete Radeon GCN graphics. The A4-6210 and E2-6110 are similarly configured but the A4-6210 has higher clockspeeds on the quad core CPU (up to 1.8GHz vs 1.5GHz) and 128 GCN graphics cores (600MHz vs 500MHz). Josh wrote up an article following the launch of Beema that goes into more details, but the gist of it is that Beema is competing with Intel’s Bay Trail Atom chips in this area and the chips tend to trade benchmark wins. Depending on the application used under Windows 7/8.1, users should see roughly similar performance versus an Atom based system. I will admit to being surprised to see AMD get a design win here given the huge popularity of Bay Trail, but in this form factor Beema should do well.
Rear IO of the AE220 5M and AE200 5M PCs.
As is usually the case with these sort of announcements, there is no word on pricing or availability yet. Keep in mind that the AE200 5M and AE220 5M are aimed at businesses for use as kiosks, checkout terminals, product demonstrations, et al while the Adora20 5M is aimed more towards consumers who need a second PC or a primary PC for those with basic (mostly web-based or media playback focused) needs.
Subject: Processors | January 18, 2015 - 05:16 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, rumor, processor, leak, iris pro, Intel, graphics, cpu, carrizo, APU, amd
A new report of leaked benchmarks paints a very interesting picture of the upcoming AMD Carrizo mobile APU.
Image credit: SiSoftware
Announced as strictly mobile parts, Carrizo is based on the next generation Excavator core and features what AMD is calling one of their biggest ever jumps in efficiency. Now alleged leaked benchmarks are showing significant performance gains as well, with numbers that should elevate the IGP dominance of AMD's APUs.
Image credit: WCCFtech
"The A10 7850K scores around 270 Mpix/s while Intel’s HD5200 Iris Pro scores a more modest 200 Mpix/s. Carriso scores here over 600 Mpix/s which suggests that Carrizo is more than twice as fast as Kaveri and three times faster than Iris Pro. To put this into perspective this is what an R7 265 graphics card scores, a card that offers the same graphics performance inside the Playstation 4."
While the idea of desktop APUs with greatly improved graphics and higher efficency is tantalizing, AMD has made it clear that these will be mobile-only parts at launch. When asked by Anandtech, AMD had this to say about the possibility of a desktop variant:
“With regards to your specific question, we expect Carrizo will be seen in BGA form factor desktops designs from our OEM partners. The Carrizo project was focused on thermally constrained form factors, which is where you'll see the big differences in performance and other experiences that consumers value.”
The new mobile APU will be manufactured with the same 28nm process as Kaveri, with power consumption up to 35W for the Carrizo down to a maximum of 15W for the ultra-mobile Carrizo-L parts.
Subject: General Tech, Systems | January 16, 2015 - 11:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nuc, fitlet-x, fitlet-i, fitlet-b, fitlet, compulab, APU, amd
The Israeli PC manufacturer, CompuLab Ltd., has announced three lines of small, fanless systems. They will be smaller than the NUC and run AMD APUs, from the E1 to the A4, which CompuLab claims are more powerful than NUCs of comparable prices. They can be configured with either Windows (7, 8, or 10) or Linux Mint. They are officially classified as Industrial PCs, and the 5-year warranty reinforces that association, but others might also be interested.
Let's start in the middle with the Fitlet-i. With a TDP of 4.5W, it is powered by an AMD A4-6400T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.6 GHz boost). It can be configured with up to 8GB of DDR3 memory.
The other features of the Fitlet-i are:
- Two 3.5mm stereo audio jacks (one in, one out)
- One S/PDIF port
- Four USB 2.0 ports
- Two USB 3.0 ports
- Two HDMI 1.4 ports
- Two Gigabit Ethernet ports
- 802.11ac (clarified Jan 17th: built in, with external antennas I believe)
- One microSD card slot
- One eSATA port, rated at 6Gbps
- One serial port (because industrial)
- One mSATA socket (low profile)
- One mini-PCIe socket (high profile, half or full size)
The Fitlet-X is similar to the above, except that it has four Gigabit Ethernet ports (instead of two), but it loses one USB 2.0 port (three total), has its Wireless downgraded to a USB 802.11n dongle, and it has no eSATA port. The extra pair of Gigabit Ethernet adapters is not the only perk though, as it has their “FACET card” interface, which provides 3 lanes of PCIe (if you want to take a risk on the interface).
That leaves us with the Fitlet-b, which is the base model. Its TDP is slightly lower, 3.95W, and is powered by an AMD E1-6200T APU at 1.0 GHz (1.4 GHz boost). It has just one Gigabit Ethernet port, two USB 3.0 ports, three USB 2.0 ports, the USB 802.11n dongle, and just a full-size mSATA (low profile) expansion for storage. It does have both HDMI 1.4a outputs though.
The Fitlet will be available in February, starting at $129 for the Fitlet-b barebone, via Amazon for North America and Europe. It will also be available directly from CompuLab and resellers for the rest of the world.
Subject: Processors | November 20, 2014 - 01:31 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: amd, APU, carrizo, Carrizo-L, Kaveri, Excavator, Steamroller, SoC, Intel, mobile
AMD has certainly gone about doing things in a slightly different manner than we are used to. Today they announced their two latest APUs which will begin shipping in the first half of 2015. These APUs are running at AMD and are being validated as we speak. AMD did not release many details on these products, but what we do know is pretty interesting.
Carrizo is based on the latest iteration of AMD’s CPU technology. Excavator is the codename for these latest CPU cores, and they promise to be smaller and more efficient than the previous Steamroller core which powers the latest Kaveri based APUs. Carrizo-L is the lower power variant which will be based on the Puma+ core. The current Beema APU is based on the Puma architecture.
Roadmaps show that the Carrizo APUs will be 28 nm products, presumably fabricated by GLOBALFOUNDRIES. Many were hoping that AMD would make the jump to 20 nm with this generation of products, but that does not seem to be the case. This is not surprising due to the limitations of that particular process when dealing with large designs that require a lot of current. AMD will likely be pushing for 16 nm FinFET for the generation of products after Carrizo.
The big Carrizo supposedly has a next generation GCN unit. My guess here is that it will use the same design as we saw with the R9 285. That particular product is a next generation unit that has improved efficiency. AMD did not release how many GCN cores will be present in Carizzo, but it will be very similar to what we see now with Kaveri. Carrizo-L will use the same GCN units as the previous generation Beema based products.
I believe AMD has spent a lot more time hand tuning Excavator instead of relying on a lot of automated place and route. This should allow them to retain much of the performance of the part, all the while cutting down on transistor count dramatically. Some rumors that I have seen point to each Excavator module being 40% smaller than Steamroller. I am not entirely sure they have achieved that type of improvement, but more hand layout does typically mean greater efficiency and less waste. The downside to hand layout is that it is extremely time and manpower intensive. Intel can afford this type of design while AMD has to rely more on automated place and route.
Carrizo will be the first HSA 1.0 compliant SOC. It is in fact an SOC as it integrates the southbridge functions that previously had been handled by external chips like the A88X that supports the current Kaveri desktop APUs. Carrizo and Carrizo-L will also share the same infrastructure. This means that motherboards that these APUs will be soldered onto are interchangeable. One motherboard from the partner OEMs will be able to address multiple markets that will see products range from 4 watts TDP up to 35 watts.
Finally, both APUs feature the security processor that allows them access to the ARM TrustZone technology. This is a very small ARM processor that handles the secure boot partition and handles the security requests. This puts AMD on par with Intel and their secure computing solution (vPro).
These products will be aimed only at the mobile market. So far AMD has not announced Carrizo for the desktop market, but when they do I would imagine that they will hit a max TDP of around 65 watts. AMD claims that Carrizo is one of the biggest jumps for them in terms of power efficiency. A lot of different pieces of technology have all come together with this product to make them more competitive with Intel and their process advantage. Time will tell if this is the case, but for now AMD is staying relevant and pushing their product releases so that they are more consistently ontime.