Subject: Processors | July 24, 2012 - 12:07 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: TSMC, ARMv8, arm, 64-bit, 3d transistors, 20nm
Yesterday ARM announced a multi-year partnership with fab TSMC to produce sub-20nm processors that utilize 3D FinFET transistors. The collaboration and data sharing between the two companies will allow the fabless ARM SoC company the ability to produce physical processors based on its designs and will allow TSMC a platform to further its process nodes and FinFET transistor technology. The first TSMC-produced processors will be based on the ARMv8 architecture and will be 64-bit compatible.
The addition of 3D transistors will allow the ARM processors to be even more power efficient and suitable for both mobile devices. Alternatively, it could allow for higher clockspeeds at the same TDP ratings as current chips. The other big news is that the chips will be moving to a 64-bit compatible design, which is huge considering ARM processors have traditionally been 32-bit. By moving to 64-bit, ARM is positioning itself for server and workstation adoption, especially with the recent ARM-compatible Windows 8 build due to be released soon. Granted, ARM SoCs have a long way to go before taking market share from Intel and AMD in the desktop and server markets in a big way but it is slowly but surely becoming more competitive with the x86-64 giants.
TSMC’s R&D Vice President Cliff Hou stated that the collaboration between ARM and TSMC will allow TSMC to optimize its FinFET process to target “high speed, low voltage and low leakage.” ARM further qualified that the partnership would give ARM early access to the 3D transistor FinFET process that could help create advanced SoC designs and ramp up volume production.
I think this is a very positive move for ARM, and it should allow them to make much larger inroads into the higher-end computing markets and see higher adoption beyond mobile devices. On the other hand, it is going to depend on TSMC to keep up and get the process down. Considering the issues with creating enough 28nm silicon to meet demand for AMD and NVIDIA’s latest graphics cards, a sub-20nm process may be asking a lot. Here’s hoping that it’s a successful venture for both companies, however.
You can find more information in the full press release.
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 02:39 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: quad core, arm, SoC, Android, xbmc, htpc, mini-itx
This week has been rife with ARM computers. The latest ARM system comes in the form of a mini-ITX form factor motherboard and quad core ARM processor combination from embedded system manufacturer Kontron. Named the KTT30/mITX, it measures 17 cm x 17 cm, the little motherboard provides a plethora of IO ports and the relatively short (depth-wise) motherboard would be great in a HTPC box, assuming the software is there (an XBMC release ported over from the Raspberry Pi build would be nice to see, for example).
The motherboard is paired with a quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor running at 900 MHz, video hardware acceleration coprocessor, and up to 2GB of DDR3L memory. It is reportedly capable of playing back 1080p H.264 videos. Internal connectors include two SD card clots, a SIM card socket, and two mPCIe connectors. Rear board IO includes three USB 2.0 ports (one micro, two regular-sized type A), an HDMI port, Gigabit Ethernet NIC, S/PDIF audio, two RS232 serial ports, and three analog audio output jacks.
It looks like a neat little board, though only if the price is right. If it is prohibitively expensive, it may be bumping up against AMD’s APU and accompanying motherboards. And because the APUs can utilize x86-64 software, that is a big positive in its favor. With that said, if this board is cheap enough, it could make sense as the base of a cheap HTPC.
Read more about the Mini-ITX ARM-powered system over at Fanless Tech.
Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2012 - 08:53 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SFF, Samsung, linux, hardkernel, Exynos 4, computer, arm
If you are an Android developer and have been itching to get your hands on some high end, quad core hardware, than Korean company HardKernel may have just what you’re looking for. The new ODROID-X is an Android developer board (meaning it comes as just a single board computer sans case or accessories. For $129 plus shipping and customs fees, you can have a 90 x 94mm PCB with a Samsung Exynos 4412 ARM Cortex-A9 quad core at 1.4 GHz (1MB cache), Mali 400 GPU, 1GB RAM, and runs on a 5V, 2A power adapter.
IO for the ODROID-X includes headphone and microphone jacks, six USB 2.0 ports, 10/100 Ethernet, SDHC card slot, 50-pin GPIO connector, UART serial connector, MIPI-CAM camera connector, HDMI, and a power jack. In other words, it is extremely expandable. It is capable of outputting 1080p video over HDMI when using the H.264 video codec thanks to dedicated hardware acceleration. Hardkernel will happily sell you accessories but you would likely be better off buying it from a local retailer or online shop that is in-country to avoid the extra shipping and customs fees. The power jack and other ports are standard, so there aren’t any worries there. Android 4.0 ICS is reportedly available for download, though no word yet on when the newly announced Android 4.1 "Jelly Bean" OS build will be up on the site.
Thanks to the Samsung Exynos 4, you definitely have more oomph than the 700 MHz ARMv7 in the Raspberry Pi, though this board isn’t nearly as small (and costs about four times as much). If you need the extra horsepower, this may be worth considering at this price but be sure figure out the import taxes and shipping for your location to figure out what it will really cost you to get your hands on. Read more about the ODROID-X's specifications over at the Hardkernel website.
Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2012 - 02:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Calexda, arm, cortex-a9, ECX-1000
Looking at the picture below you can see what Calxeda's ARM based server node will look like, an add-in card which requires two PCIe 2.0 slots to communicate with the mainboard. On the node are four Cortex A9 CPUs, each with two PCI-Express 2.0 controllers, a DDR3 memory controller, and a SATA 2.0 disk controller, as well as an integrated Layer 2 distributed fabric switch for ethernet connectivity. The mainboard these are connected to does very little, this server will depend on ethernet for its interconnect for now but it is likely that they will find something else to use though they may end up needing to license from AMD or Intel.
The Register took a look at the comparative benchmarks which came with this release, an Intel Xeon E3-1240 with one Ethernet port and 16GB of DDR3 which should be roughly equivalent to the new HP Redstone servers. They had some questions about the methodology used for the power usage on the Intel system as it was not describing the most power efficient usage of the Intel system and perhaps was not representative of the Intel system they actually benchmarked at all. Check out the benchmark as well as Calxeda's response in the full article.
"Calxeda, the ARM server-chip upstart that HP tapped for its "Redstone" hyperscale servers last November, is getting ready to ramp up production on the server cards that use its quad-core EnergyCore ARM processors, and is making waves with benchmarks while promising to do a better job with comparative testing against x86 architectures."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tyan has server options at Computex @ SemiAccurate
- Seagate cuts revenue forecast despite record unit sales @ The Register
- DNSchanger shutdown may kick 300,000 offline on Monday @ The Register
- Netgear R6300 802.11ac router review @ Hardware.Info
Subject: Processors | June 26, 2012 - 05:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, cortex-a9, e-350, i7-3770k, z530, Ivy Bridge, atom, Zacate
Taking a half dozen PandaBoard ESes from Texas Instruments that have a 1.2GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor onboard, Phoronix built a 12-core ARM machine to test out against AMD's E-350 APU as well as Intel's Atom Z530 and a Core i7 3770K. Before you you make the assumption that the ARM's will be totally outclassed by any of these processors, Phoronix is testing performance per Watt and the ARM system uses a total of 31W when fully stressed and idles below 20W, which gives ARM a big lead on power consumption.
Phoronix tested out these four systems and the results were rather surprising as it seems Intel's Ivy Bridge is a serious threat to ARM. Not only did it provide more total processing power, its performance per Watt tended to beat ARM and more importantly to many, it is cheaper to build an i7-3770K system than it is to set up a 12-core ARM server. The next generation of ARM chips have some serious competition.
"Last week I shared my plans to build a low-cost, 12-core, 30-watt ARMv7 cluster running Ubuntu Linux. The ARM cluster that is built around the PandaBoard ES development boards is now online and producing results... Quite surprising results actually for a low-power Cortex-A9 compute cluster. Results include performance-per-Watt comparisons to Intel Atom and Ivy Bridge processors along with AMD's Fusion APU."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD FX-8120 Black Edition CPU Review (with Asus M5A99X EVO) @ Kitguru
- Intel Core i7-3720QM: Mobile Ivy Bridge @ Techspot
- Sandy Bridge for servers: Intel Xeon E5-2600 review @ Hardware.Info
- Desktop CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Mobile CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
Subject: General Tech | June 20, 2012 - 01:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: surface, ultrabook, Pegatron, windows rt, windows 8, tablet, microsoft, arm, tegra 3
You've met Microsoft's two new Surface Tablet by now, either in Scott's write up or elsewhere on the net and are aware that there is a less expensive ARM and Tegra 3 version and a more expensive Ivy Bridge model. What you might not have known is the expected pricing, a lack that DigiTimes remedies this morning with the prediction the WinRT model will cost at least $600 and the Win8 model more than $800. Both are being assembled by Pegatron Technology but the amount being assembled is still unknown. The Surface Tablet is certainly attention grabbing but it costs significantly more than other tablets and many full notebooks, but it likely to be lower priced than either Intel or Apple's ultraportable devices which puts it in an odd spot in the market. How many will be willing to pay that much for a multi-touch tablet with dock?
"Sources from notebook players have revealed that Microsoft's 10.6-inch Surface tablet PCs will be outsourced to Pegatron Technology for assembly; however, there is still not a firm estimate for order volumes.
The sources also estimated the end-market price of the Windows 8 Pro-based Surface tablet PC with Ivy Bridge processor to be at least above US$799, while the Windows RT-based model, featuring Nvidia's Tegra 3, will be priced above US$599."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The obligatory Surface blog post @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA Responds To Linus Torvalds @ Slashdot
- Getting root on a Sony TV @ Hack a Day
- Fujitsu cracks 278-digit crypto @ The Register
- Mellanox FDR InfiniBand pushes PCI-Express 3.0 to the limits @ The Register
- Nikon D3200 Review @ TechReviewSource
- How to Convert Cassette Tapes to CDs or MP3 Files @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | June 14, 2012 - 02:53 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: tahiti 2, podcast, nvidia, Intel, hsa, corsair, arm, amd, 550d
PC Perspective Podcast #206 - 06/14/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Corsair 550D Chassis, AMD licensing ARM, AMD Tahiti 2 GPUs 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 RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malvantano and Scott Michaud
This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
Program length: 1:22:58
- 0:00:20 Introduction
- 1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 0:02:00 ioSafe SoloPro and Synology DiskStation 212+ Review
- 0:13:05 Origin EOS17 Gaming Notebook Review
- 0:18:00 Corsair Obsidian 550D Case Review
- 0:22:00 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!
- 0:24:10 AMD, ARM, Ti, Imagination and MediaTek for HSA Foundation
- 0:34:30 AMD licenses ARM Cortex-A5 for APUs
- 0:39:45 Sapphire passive Radeon HD 7770
- 0:42:50 ASUS ROG laptop first with 802.11ac
- 0:47:50 AMD could be releasing Tahiti 2 GPU next week
- 0:49:16 Unreal Engine 4 looks pretty awesome...
- 0:55:05 AMD Wireless Display standard coming soon
- 0:56:45 Apple does indeed release high-res 15" laptop
- 1:02:00 New MacBooks Sporting 6Gb/s Samsung 830 Series SSD Controllers
- 1:04:18 AMD Kevari 3rd gen APU to hit 1 TFLOPS performance
- 1:06:45 Link_A_Media controller explored
- 1:09:45 AMD FirePro W600 launched
- 1:13:55 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: That Doctor he was getting drunk with
- Jeremy: It's heeere and on the Leaderboard
- Josh: Not for the faint of heart. Or wallet.
- Allyn: Windows 8 Release Preview is out
- Scott: Mount and Blade: Warband: Napoleonic Wars (because you can never have too many subtitles)
- Tim: Corsair Obsidian 550D I've been drooling over this since CES! )
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
- 1:22:00 Closing
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2012 - 11:46 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: live blog, arm, APU, amd, AFDS
Day 3 - Thursday, June 14th
We are here at AFDS 2012 for the day 3 keynotes - join us as find out what else AMD has in store.
If you are looking for Tuesday or Wednesday keynotes and information on the announcement of the HSA Foundation, you can find it below, after the break!
Subject: Processors | June 13, 2012 - 10:00 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: TrustZone, hsa, Cortex-A5, cortex, arm, APU, amd, AFDS
Last year after that particular AFDS, there was much speculation that AMD and ARM would get a whole lot closer. Today we have confirmed that in two ways. The first is that AMD and ARM are founding members of the HSA Foundation. This endeavor is a rather ambitious project that looks to make it much easier for programmers to access the full computer power of a CPU/GPU combo, or as AMD likes to call them, the APU. The second confirmation is one that has been theorized for quite some time, but few people have actually hit upon the actual implementation. This second confirmation is that AMD is licensing ARM cores and actually integrating them into their x86 based APUs.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 12, 2012 - 01:31 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: texas instruments, mediatek, imagination, hsa foundation, hsa, arm, amd, AFDS
Today is a big day for AMD as they, along with four other major players in the world of processors and SoCs, announced the formation of the HSA Foundation. The HSA Foundation is a non-profit consortium created to define and promote an open approach to heterogeneous computing. The primary goal is to make it easier for software developers to write and program for the parallel power of GPUs. This encompasses both integrated and discrete of which the HSA (heterogeneous systems architecture) Foundation wants to enable users to take full advantage of all the processing resources available to them.
On stage at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit in Bellevue, WA, AMD announced the formation of the consortium in partnership with ARM, Imagination Technologies, MediaTek, and Texas Instruments; some of the biggest names in computing.
The companies will work together to drive a single architecture specification and simplify the programming model to help software developers take greater advantage of the capabilities found in modern central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs), and unlock the performance and power efficiency of the parallel computing engines found in heterogeneous processors.
There are a lot of implications in this simple statement and there are many questions that are left open ended to which we hope to get answered this week while at AFDS. The idea of a "single architecture specification" set a lot of things in motion and makes us question the direction of both AMD and the traditionally ARM-based companies of the HSA Foundation will be moving in. AMD has had the APU, and the eventual complete fusion of the CPU and GPU, on its roadmap for quite a few years and has publicly stated that in 2014 they will have their first fully HSA-capable part. We are still assuming that this is an x86 + Radeon based part, but that may or may not be the long term goal; ideas of ARM-based AMD processors with Radeon graphics technology AND of Radeon based ARM-processors built by other companies still swirl amongst the show. There are even rumors of Frankenstein-like combinations of x86 and ARM based products for niche applications.
Looks like there is room for a few more founding partners...
Obviously ARM and others have their own graphics IP (ARM has Mali, Imagination Technology has Power VR) and those GPUs can be used for parallel processing in much the same way that we think of GPU processing on discrete GPUs and APUs today. ARM processor designers are well aware of the power and efficiency benefits of utilizing all of the available transistors and processing power correctly and the emphasis on an HSA-style system design makes a lot of sense moving forward.
My main question for the HSA Foundation is its goals: obviously they want to promote the simplistic approach for programmers, but what does that actually translate to on the hardware side? It is possible that both x86 and ARM-based ISAs can continue to exist with libraries and compilers built to correctly handle applications for each architecture, but that would seem to me to be against the goals of such a partnership of technology leaders.
In a meeting with AMD personnel, the most powerful and inspiring idea from the HSA Foundation is summed up with this:
"This is bigger than AMD. This is bigger than the PC ecosystem."
The end game is to make sure that all software developers can EASILY take advantage of both traditional and parallel processing cores without ever having to know what is going on under the hood. AMD and the other HSA Foundation members continue to tell us that this optimization can be completely ISA-agnostic – though the technical blockages for that to take place are severe.
AMD will benefit from the success of the HSA Foundation by finally getting more partners involved in promoting the idea of heterogeneous computing, and powerful ones at that. ARM is the biggest player in the low power processor market responsible for the Cortex and Mali architectures found in the vast majority of mobile processors. As those partners trumpet the same cause as AMD, more software will be developed to take advantage of parallel computing and AMD believes their GPU architecture gives them a definite performance advantage once that takes hold.
What I find most interesting is the unknown – how will this affect the roadmaps for all the hardware companies involved? Are we going to see the AMD APU roadmap shift to an ARM-IP system? Will we see companies like Texas Instruments fully integrate the OMAP and Power VR cores into a single memory space (or ARM with Cortex and Mali)? Will we eventually see NVIDIA jump onboard and lend their weight towards true heterogenous computing?
We have much more the learn about the HSA Foundation and its direction for the industry but we can easily say that this is probably the most important processor company collaboration announcement in many years – and it does so without the 800 pound gorilla that is Intel in attendance. By going after the ARM-based markets where Intel is already struggling to compete in, AMD can hope to create a foothold with technological and partnership advantages and return to a seat of prominence. This harkens back to the late 1990s when AMD famously put together the "virtual gorilla" with many partners to take on Intel.