Subject: Mobile | October 17, 2017 - 03:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: SoC, Snapdragon 636, snapdragon, qualcomm, octa-core, mobile platform, Kryo 260, Kryo, cpu, adreno, 8-core
Qualcomm's latest mobile platform is the Snapdragon 636, positioned (at least numerically) between the Snapdragon 630 and 660 introduced earlier this year, and offering a very impressive set of features for mid-range devices - even reaching parity with the Snapdragon 800-series in some respects.
Qualcomm claims CPU performance gains of up to 40% from the Kryo 260 cores in the Snapdragon 636 compared to the ARM Cortex-A53 cores found in the Snapdragon 630, and the switch to Kryo brings the new Snapdragon 636 closer to the specs of the Snapdragon 660 - also an 8-core Kryo 260 design (though the higher-numbered platform does boast slightly higher clocks from its eight CPU cores at 2.2 GHz vs. 1.8 GHz from the 636).
The Snapdragon 636 also features the same X12 LTE modem found in the existing Snapdragon 630/660, which is capable of up to 600 Mbps download speeds (3 x 20 Hz carrier aggregation, 256-QAM) and 150 Mbps peak upload (2 x 20 Hz aggregation, 64-QAM).
Graphics duties are performed by the Adreno 509, and 18:9 FHD+ displays are supported. The Snapdragon 636 also includes the Hexagon 680 DSP (which we first saw in the Snapdragon 820) with Spectra 160 ISP for supported image capture "of up to 24 megapixels with zero shutter lag while supporting smooth zoom, fast autofocus and true-to-life colors for outstanding image quality", according to Qualcomm.
This new Snapdragon 636 also offers Qualcomm's Aqstic codec (another feature inherited from the 800-series) for high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz PCM, along with dual-oscillator support (separate clock generators for 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz based sample rates!) and a 130dB dynamic range with a very low THD+N of -109dB.
To expand on what the Aqstic codec in the SD636 provides, the separate clock generators are a fascinating addition in a world where many codecs resample the common 44.1 kHz - pretty much all digital music at or below CD quality - to 48 kHz during playback. Having a proper 44.1 kHz clock means native playback without the interpolation and subsequent filtering required when altering the original signal to an incompatible sample rate.
The Snapdragon 636 - which is both "pin and software-compatible" with existing Snapdragon 660 and 630 mobile platforms, according to Qualcomm - is expected to ship to customers beginning in November.
Subject: Processors | August 29, 2017 - 12:00 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Xeon W, xeon scalable, xeon, workstation, processor, Intel, cpu
Intel has officially announced their new workstation processor lineup, with Xeon Scalable and Xeon W versions aimed at both professional and mainstream workstation systems.
"Workstations powered by Intel Xeon processors meet the most stringent demands for professionals seeking to increase productivity and rapidly bring data to life. Intel today disclosed that the world-record performance of the Intel Xeon Scalable processors is now available for next-generation expert workstations to enable photorealistic design, modeling, artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, and virtual-reality (VR) content creation."
The first part of Intel’s product launch announcement are the new Xeon Scalable processors, first announced in July, and these are dual-socket solutions targeting professional workstations. Versions with up to 56 cores/112 threads are available, and frequencies of up to 4.20 GHz are possible via Turbo Boost. Intel is emphasising the large performance impact of upgrading to these new Xeon processors with a comparison to older equipment (a trend in the industry of late), which is relevant when considering the professional market where upgrades are far slower than the enthusiast desktop segment:
“Expert workstations will experience up to a 2.71x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system and up to 1.65x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
The second part of announcement are new Xeon W processors, which will be part of Intel’s mainstream workstation offering. These are single-socket processors, with up to 18 cores/36 threads and Turbo Boost frequencies up to 4.50 GHz. The performance impact with these new Xeon W CPUs compared to previous generations is not as great as the Xeon Scalable processors above, as Intel offers the same comparison to older hardware with the Xeon W:
“Mainstream workstations will experience up to a 1.87x boost in performance compared to a 4-year-old system4 and up to 1.38x higher performance compared to the previous generation.”
Full PR is available from Intel's newsroom.
Subject: Processors | August 8, 2017 - 12:04 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: processor, Intel, cpu, Core, coffee lake, 8th generation core
Intel has announced a live event on August 21 to reveal the new 8th-generation Core processor family. The Facebook Live stream will be available on both Intel's Facebook page or simply by visiting the Intel Newsroom, and it begins at 8:00 PDT (11:00 EDT) on 8/21.
What exactly is being discussed? Intel provides these bullet points for the event which is to take place just before the upcoming national solar eclipse:
- Don’t be caught in the dark. Learn how the 8th Gen Intel Core processor family will offer blazing fast performance.
- Hear directly from Gregory Bryant, senior vice president of the Client Computing Group at Intel, and others about the details on the latest processor family and what it can help you do.
- Discover how immersive experiences will bring you from spectator to participant with 8th Gen Intel Core processor capabilities.
- Don’t just take our word for it. See the power of 8th Gen Intel Core technology come to life in the hands of a VR creator and imaging technologist.
- Get a sneak peek at some of the amazing system designs based on 8th Gen Intel Core processors.
- Start planning for what new 8th Gen Intel Core processor-based device to purchase in the holiday season and even before.
- Don’t worry, you won’t miss the solar eclipse. Tune in before it descends upon Oregon and the West Coast and then makes its way across the U.S.
- See how the 8th Gen Intel Core processor is designed for today and what comes next.
We will cover the event which will provide official details on the rumored Coffee Lake CPU lineup. Stay tuned!
Subject: Processors | August 7, 2017 - 01:34 PM | Jim Tanous
Tagged: X-Series, processor, Intel, cpu, Core i9, core i7
Intel launched the first half of its X-Series processor lineup earlier this year, releasing up to the 10-core i9-7900X. But with the upcoming release of AMD's 16-core Threadripper 1950X, the real interest among enthusiasts are the specs of Intel's high core count X-Series parts.
After previously teasing partial specs for these parts, Intel today finally unveiled the complete details, starting out with the i9-7920X (12 cores/24 threads) with a 2.9GHz base and up to 4.4GHz boost clock and topping out with the i9-7980XE (18 cores/36 threads) with a 2.6GHz base and 4.4GHz max boost clock. Check the table below for the complete specifications:
|i9-7980XE||i9-7960X||i9-7940X||i9-7920X||i9-7900X||i7-7820X||i7-7800X||TR 1950X||TR 1920X||TR 1900X|
|Base Clock||2.6 GHz||2.8 GHz||3.1 GHz||2.9 GHz||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.8 GHz|
|Turbo Boost 2.0||4.2 GHz||4.2 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost Max 3.0||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.4 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.5 GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel|
|TDP||165 watts||165 watts||165 watts||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||180 watts||180 watts||180 watts?|
From a pure core-count perspective, the Threadripper 1950X goes up against Intel's i9-7960X, but with a $700 difference in price. With Intel CPUs holding and IPC advantage over AMD, however, it's likely that the i9-7920X, and perhaps even the 7900X, will best Threadripper in certain gaming and productivity workloads.
Also interesting in Intel's announcement today are the base clocks of the 12-core i9-7920X (2.9GHz) and the 14-core i9-7940X (3.1GHz). Intel pushed the TDP of the 7940X to 165W, allowing it to increase the base clock over its 12-core counterpart. This suggests that Intel expects the 14-core 7940X, at a price-point of $1399, to be a popular choice in terms of price-to-performance.
Finally, Intel's release today reveals that all of the upcoming X-Series parts will have 44 PCIe lanes, compared to the 64 lanes AMD is offering on all Threadripper parts. There was some debate in the office this morning about how Intel's 44 lanes should cover most configurations for the foreseeable future, but this still remains one clear advantage for AMD's platform.
Intel's 4- to 10-core processors are already on the market. Intel says that the 12-core 7920X will launch August 28th, while the 14- to 18-core parts will launch about a month later, on September 25th.
Subject: Processors | August 3, 2017 - 10:06 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumor, report, processor, Intel, cpu, core i7, core i5, core i3, coffee lake
You may have heard that Intel's upcoming 8th-generation processors, code named Coffee Lake, won't be compatible with the current Z270 chipset motherboards. Last week we had another round of rumors and reports about these upcoming - and totally incompatible - new CPUs, with wccftech reporting some details on what to expect with the new processors. Spoiler: MORE CORES.
Image credit: Tech Advisor
We begin with the Intel Core i7-8700K, which will reportedly be the company's first mainstream 6-core processor, with previous hex-core offerings limited to HEDT and server. The i7-8700K will run slightly below the current 4-core i7-7700K, with a base frequency of 3.7 GHz (vs. 4.2 GHz with the i7-7700K) and single-core Turbo speeds topping out at 4.3 GHz according to the report. Another point of interest with the 6-core i7 part is TDP, with 95W needed where even the current HEDT parts are into the 130W territory. What of the Core i5? This is where things get a little more interesting, as there appear to be 6-core parts in the i5 family as well, without Hyper-Threading of course. Even the Core i3 parts jump to 4-core configurations with Coffee Lake, which would obviously be another first.
Chart credit Wccftech.com
To editoralize a bit, AMD seems to be in a highly influential position in the wake of Ryzen and Threadripper, as Intel is (reportedly, of course) upping the core counts for Core series processors. Sure, Intel could have done this anyway, but looking at their pre-Ryzen products they were quite happy selling 2 - 4 core parts for premium prices before. This is great news for anyone in an era of increasingly multi-thread optimized computing (as long as pricing remains at or below current offerings), and with this healthy competition the second half of the year might be the best time in a very long time to upgrade - be it Intel or AMD. Now, if only graphics cards would fall back down to earth...
Subject: Processors | July 10, 2017 - 11:11 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: value, rumor, report, processor, pentium, kaby lake, Intel, G4560, cpu, budget
Update 07/11/17: We have now heard from Intel on this subject, and they provided this statement regarding the availability of the Pentium G4560 processor:
"We continue to offer the Intel Pentium SKU referenced. What you have observed on websites are possibly part of a normal demand fluctuation."
(The original post follows.)
Image credit: ComputerBase via DigiWorthy
Sound far-fetched? It seems at least plausible that Intel might consider some sort of CPU-related moves to maintain profit margins with Ryzen providing some very real competition after several years of Intel dominance. The popularity of the 2-core/4-thread Pentium G4560 - a (theoretically) ~$60 Kaby Lake part that provides a very nearly Core i3-level experience (some features are missing) is not at all surprising, and the current lack of availability and subsequently higher pricing (lowest in-stock price at around $80 at time of publication) suggests that something is up with this CPU.
Chart via PCPartPicker
A low of $78.89 for the CPU with an MSRP of $64 is about a $15 markup, but this price is just going to increase if no fresh stock hits the market as these sell out.
Now some editorial: Why would Intel introduce what is essentially a slightly hobbled Core i3 into the market at half the cost of their cheapest Core i3 to begin with? I enthusiastically endorsed this seemingly questionable business decision (along with all of the buyers of this often out-of-stock CPU) when it first hit the market a few months ago, and now - if rumors are to be believed - the company might just be killing it off. This would be a move reminiscent of Nintendo's recent NES Classic, which was apparently too popular for its $59.99 price tag (and scalpers worldwide rejoiced). Nintendo, of course, killed the NES Classic when it was at its height of popularity, perhaps as it was just not profitable enough to justify continued production? (And besides, a soon-to-be-$300-on-eBay SNES Classic was in the works.)
Might the Pentium G4560 be Intel's NES Classic? It seems a little too likely for comfort.
Subject: Processors | June 26, 2017 - 08:53 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: xeon, Skylake, processor, pentium, microcode, kaby lake, Intel, errata, cpu, Core, 7th generation, 6th generation
A microcode bug affecting Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake processors with Hyper-Threading has been discovered by Debian developers (who describe it as "broken hyper-threading"), a month after this issue was detailed by Intel in errata updates back in May. The bug can cause the system to behave 'unpredictably' in certain situations.
"Under complex micro-architectural conditions, short loops of less than 64 instructions that use AH, BH, CH or DH registers as well as their corresponding wider register (eg RAX, EAX or AX for AH) may cause unpredictable system behaviour. This can only happen when both logical processors on the same physical processor are active."
Until motherboard vendors begin to address the bug with BIOS updates the only way to prevent the possibility of this microcode error is to disable HyperThreading. From the report at The Register (source):
"The Debian advisory says affected users need to disable hyper-threading 'immediately' in their BIOS or UEFI settings, because the processors can 'dangerously misbehave when hyper-threading is enabled.' Symptoms can include 'application and system misbehaviour, data corruption, and data loss'."
The affected models are 6th and 7th-gen Intel processors with HyperThreading, which include Core CPUs as well as some Pentiums, and Xeon v5 and v6 processors.
Subject: Processors | May 16, 2017 - 07:22 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Zen, Threadripper, ryzen, processor, HEDT, cpu, amd
AMD revealed their entry into high-end desktop (HEDT) with the upcoming Ryzen "Threadripper" CPUs, which will feature up to 16 cores and 32 threads.
Little information was revealed along with the announcement, other than to announce availablility as "summer 2017", though rumors and leaks surrounding Threadripper have been seen on the internet (naturally) leading up to today's announcement, including this one from Wccftech. Not only will Threadripper (allegedly) offer quad-channel memory support and 44 PCI Express lanes, but they are also rumored to be released in a massive 4094-pin package (same as "Naples" aka EPYC) that most assuredly will not fit into the AM4 socket.
Image credit: Wccftech
These Threadripper CPUs follow the lead of Intel's HEDT parts on X99, which are essentially re-appropriated Xeons with higher clock speeds and some feature differences such as a lack of ECC memory support. It remains to be seen what exactly will separate the enthusiast AMD platform from the EPYC datacenter platform, though the rumored base clock speeds are much higher with Threadripper.
Subject: Processors | May 16, 2017 - 06:49 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Zen, server, ryzen, processor, EPYC, datacenter, cpu, amd, 64 thread, 32 core
AMD has announced their new datacenter CPU built on the Zen architecture, which the company is calling EPYC. And epic they are, as these server processors will be offered with up to 32 cores and 64 threads, 8 memory channels, and 128 PCI Express lanes per CPU.
Some of the details about the upcoming "Naples" server processors (now EPYC) were revealed by AMD back in March, when the upcoming server chips were previewed:
- A highly scalable, 32-core System on Chip (SoC) design, with support for two high-performance threads per core
- Industry-leading memory bandwidth, with 8-channels of memory per "Naples" device. In a 2-socket server, support for up to 32 DIMMS of DDR4 on 16 memory channels, delivering up to 4 terabytes of total memory capacity.
- The processor is a complete SoC with fully integrated, high-speed I/O supporting 128 lanes of PCIe, negating the need for a separate chip-set
- A highly-optimized cache structure for high-performance, energy efficient compute
- AMD Infinity Fabric coherent interconnect for two "Naples" CPUs in a 2-socket system
- Dedicated security hardware
Compared to Ryzen (or should it be RYZEN?), EPYC offers a huge jump in core count and available performance - though AMD's other CPU announcement (Threadripper) bridges the gap between the desktop and datacenter offerings with an HEDT product. This also serves to bring AMD's CPU offerings to parity with the Intel product stack with desktop/high performance desktop/server CPUs.
EPYC is a large processor. (Image credit: The Tech Report)
While specifications were not offered, there have been leaks (of course) to help fill in the blanks. Wccftech offers these specs for EPYC (on the left):
(Image credit: Wccftech)
We await further information from AMD about the EPYC launch.
Build and Upgrade Components
Spring is in the air! And while many traditionally use this season for cleaning out their homes, what could be the point of reclaiming all of that space besides filling it up again with new PC hardware and accessories? If you answered, "there is no point, other than what you just said," then you're absolutely right. Spring a great time to procrastinate about housework and build up a sweet new gaming PC (what else would you really want to use that tax return for?), so our staff has listed their favorite PC hardware right now, from build components to accessories, to make your life easier. (Let's make this season far more exciting than taking out the trash and filing taxes!)
While our venerable Hardware Leaderboard has been serving the PC community for many years, it's still worth listing some of our favorite PC hardware for builds at different price points here.
Processors - the heart of the system.
No doubt about it, AMD's Ryzen CPU launch has been the biggest news of the year so far for PC enthusiasts, and while the 6 and 4-core variants are right around the corner the 8-core R7 processors are still a great choice if you have the budget for a $300+ CPU. To that end, we really like the value proposition of the Ryzen R7 1700, which offers much of the performance of its more expensive siblings for a really compelling price, and can potentially be overclocked to match the higher-clocked members of the Ryzen lineup, though moving up to either the R7 1700X or R7 1800X will net you higher clocks (without increasing voltage and power draw) out of the box.
Really, any of these processors are going to provide a great overall PC experience with incredible multi-threaded performance for your dollar in many applications, and they can of course handle any game you throw at them - with optimizations already appearing to make them even better for gaming.
Don't forget about Intel, which has some really compelling options starting even at the very low end (Pentium G4560, when you can find one in stock near its ~$60 MSRP), thanks to their newest Kaby Lake CPUs. The high-end option from Intel's 7th-gen Core lineup is the Core i7-7700K (currently $345 on Amazon), which provides very fast gaming performance and plenty of power if you don't need as many cores as the R7 1700 (or Intel's high-end LGA-2011 parts). Core i5 processors provide a much more cost-effective way to power a gaming system, and an i5-7500 is nearly $150 less than the Core i7 while providing excellent performance if you don't need an unlocked multiplier or those additional threads.