Subject: Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 09:27 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Skylake, Intel, idf 2014, idf, 14nm
2015 is shaping up to be an interesting year for Intel's consumer processor product lines. We are still expected to see Broadwell make some kind of debut in a socketed form in addition to the mobile releases trickling out beginning this holiday, but it looks like we will also get our first taste of Skylake late next year.
Skylake is Intel's next microarchitecture and will be built on the same 14nm process technology currently shipping with Broadwell-Y. Intel stated that it expects to see dramatic improvements in all areas of measurement including performance, power consumption and silicon efficiency.
On stage the company demoed Skylake running the 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark though without providing any kind of performance result (obviously). That graphics demo was running on an engineering development board and platform and though it looked incredibly good from where we were sitting, we can't make any guess as to the performance quite yet.
Intel then surprised us by bringing a notebook out from behind the monitor showing Skylake up and running in a mobile form factor decoding and playing back 4K video. Once again, the demo was smooth and impressive though you expect no more from an overly rehearsed keynote.
Intel concluded that it was "excited about the health of Skylake" and that they should be in mass production in the first quarter of 2015 with samples going out to customers. Looking even further down the rabbit hole the company believes they have a "great line of sight to 10nm and beyond."
Even though details were sparse, it is good news for Intel that they would be willing to show Skylake so early and yet I can't help but worry about a potentially shorter-than-expected life span for Broadwell in the desktop space. Mobile users will find the increased emphasis on power efficiency a big win for thin and light notebooks but enthusiast are still on the look out for a new product to really drive performance up in the mainstream.
Subject: Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 05:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tablet, reference design program, Intel, idf 2014, idf, google, aosp, Android
During today's keynote of the Intel Developer Forum, Google and Intel jointly announced a new program aimed to ease the burden of Android deployment and speed up the operating system update adoption rates that have often plagued the ecosystem.
In today's Android market, whether we are talking about x86 or ARM-based SoC designs, the process to release a point update to the operating system is quite complicated. ODMs have to build unique operating system images for each build and each individual SKU has to pass Google Media Services (GMS). This can be cumbersome and time consuming, slowing down or preventing operating system updates from ever making it to the consumer.
With the Intel Reference Design Program, the company will provide it's partners with a single binary that allows them to choose from a pre-qualified set of components or a complete bill of materials specification. Obviously this BOM will include Intel x86 processors like Bay Trail but it should help speed up the development time of new hardware platforms. Even better, OEMs and ODMs won't have to worry about dealing with the process of passing GMS certification leaving the hardware vendor to simply release the hardware to the market.
But, an even bigger step forward, is Intel's commitment on the software side. Everyone knows how fragmented the Android OS market with just 20% of the hardware on the Play Store running Android KitKat. For devices built on the Reference Design Program, Intel is going to guarantee software updates within 2 weeks of AOSP (Android Open Source Project) updates. And, that update support will be given for two years after the release of the launch of the device.
This combination of hardware and software support from Intel to its hardware ODMs should help ignite some innovation and sales in the x86 Android market. There aren't any partners to announce support for this Reference Design Program but hopefully we'll hear about some before the end of IDF. It will be very interesting to see what ARM (and its partners) respond with. There are plenty of roadblocks holding back the quick uptake of x86 Android tablets but those companies would be blind to ignore the weight that Intel can shift when the want to.
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 9, 2014 - 03:02 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: idf, idf 2014, Intel, keynote, live blog
Today is the beginning of the 2014 Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco! Join me at 9am PT for the first of our live blogs of the main Intel keynote where we will learn what direction Intel is taking on many fronts!
Subject: General Tech, Systems, Mobile | September 9, 2014 - 05:49 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, asus, core m, broadwell-y, Broadwell, 14nm, ultrabook
This will probably be the first of many notebooks announced that are based on Core M. These processors, which would otherwise be called Broadwell-Y, are the "flagship" CPUs to be created on Intel's 14nm, tri-gate fabrication process. The ASUS ZenBook UX305 is a 13-inch clamshell notebook with one of three displays: 1920x1200 IPS, 1920x1200 multi-touch IPS, or 3200x1800 multi-touch IPS. That is a lot of pixels to pack into such a small display.
While the specific processor(s) are not listed, it will use Intel HD Graphics 5300 for its GPU. This is new with Broadwell, albeit their lowest tier. Then again, last generation's 5000 and 5100 were up in the 700-800 GFLOP range, which is fairly high (around medium quality settings for Battlefield 4 at 720p). Discrete graphics will not be an option. It will come with a choice between 4GB and 8GB of RAM. Customers can also choose between a 128GB SSD, or a 256GB SSD. It has a 45Wh battery.
Numerous connectivity options are available: 802.11 a, g, n, or ac; Bluetooth 4.0; three USB 3.0 ports; Micro HDMI (out); a 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack; and a microSD card slot. It has a single, front-facing, 720p webcam.
In short, it is an Ultrabook. Pricing and availability are currently unannounced.
Subject: General Tech | September 8, 2014 - 04:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: IBM, Intel, txt, mcafee
Intel have been diligently working on their Trusted Execution Technology to provide security on the actual silicon and with their purchaser of McAfee this technology has quickly improved over the past year. IBM subsidiary Softlayer, who offer cloud storage, have announced that the will be implementing TXT along with the Intel Trusted Platform module to offer enhanced security on their servers. This should make them attractive to government and law enforcement agencies which utilize clouds storage as well as businesses that need to keep their customers data secure. They are not the first to consider TXT but are among the largest of vendors who are currently deploying servers that take advantage of the new security. Check out more at The Register.
"BIG BLUE IBM has announced that its Softlayer subsidiary will be the first cloud service to offer bare metal servers powered by Intel technology that provides monitoring and security down to the microchip level."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Acer Aspire R13 hands-on @ The Inquirer
- The Five Nigerian Gangs Behind Most Craigslist Buyer Scams @ Slashdot
- Salesforce cloud goes titsup: Users face another long weekend @ The Register
- Firefall and Roccat - Play for Free and win peripherals @ HardwareHeaven
Server and Workstation Upgrades
Today, on the eve of the Intel Developer Forum, the company is taking the wraps off its new server and workstation class high performance processors, Xeon E5-2600 v3. Known previously by the code name Haswell-EP, the release marks the entry of the latest microarchitecture from Intel to multi-socket infrastructure. Though we don't have hardware today to offer you in-house benchmarks quite yet, the details Intel shared with me last month in Oregon are simply stunning.
Starting with the E5-2600 v3 processor overview, there are more changes in this product transition than we saw in the move from Sandy Bridge-EP to Ivy Bridge-EP. First and foremost, the v3 Xeons will be available in core counts as high as 18, with HyperThreading allowing for 36 accessible threads in a single CPU socket. A new socket, LGA2011-v3 or R3, allows the Xeon platforms to run a quad-channel DDR4 memory system, very similar to the upgrade we saw with the Haswell-E Core i7-5960X processor we reviewed just last week.
The move to a Haswell-based microarchitecture also means that the Xeon line of processors is getting AVX 2.0, known also as Haswell New Instructions, allowing for 2x the FLOPS per clock per core. It also introduces some interesting changes to Turbo Mode and power delivery we'll discuss in a bit.
Maybe the most interesting architectural change to the Haswell-EP design is per core P-states, allowing each of the up to 18 cores running on a single Xeon processor to run at independent voltages and clocks. This is something that the consumer variants of Haswell do not currently support - every cores is tied to the same P-state. It turns out that when you have up to 18 cores on a single die, this ability is crucial to supporting maximum performance on a wide array of compute workloads and to maintain power efficiency. This is also the first processor to allow independent uncore frequency scaling, giving Intel the ability to improve performance with available headroom even if the CPU cores aren't the bottleneck.
Subject: General Tech, Networking, Processors | September 8, 2014 - 04:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: xeon e5-2600 v3, xeon e5, Intel
So, to coincide with their E5-2600 v3 launch, Intel is discussing virtualized LANs and new, high-speed PCIe-based, networking adapters. Xeons are typically used in servers and their networking add-in boards will often shame what you see on a consumer machine. One of these boards supports up to two 40GbE connections, configurable to four 10GbE, for all the bandwidth.
The Intel XL710 is their new network controller, which I am told is being manufactured at 28nm. It is supposedly more power efficient, as well. In their example, a previous dual 10-gigabit controller will consume 5.2W of power while a single 40-gigabit will consume 3.3W. In terms of a network adapter, that is a significant reduction, which is very important in a data center due to the number of machines and the required air conditioning.
As for the virtualized networking part of the announcement, Intel is heavily promoting Software-defined networking (SDN). Intel mentioned two techniques to help increase usable bandwidth and decrease CPU utilization, which is important at 40 gigabits.
Receive Side Scaling disabled
The first is "generic segmentation offload" for VXLAN (VXLAN GSO) that allows the host of any given connection to chunk data more efficiently to send out over a virtual network.
Generic Segmentation Offload disabled
The second is TCP L4 Receive Side Scaling (RSS), which splits traffic between multiple receive queues (and can be managed by multiple CPU threads). I am not a network admin and I will not claim to know how existing platforms manage traffic at this level. Still, Intel seems to claim that this NIC and CPU platform will result in higher effective bandwidth and better multi-core CPU utilization (that I expect will lead to lower power consumption).
If it works as advertised, it could be a win for customers who buy into the Intel ecosystem.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | September 6, 2014 - 09:25 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: iris pro, iris, intel hd graphics, Intel
I was originally intending to test this with benchmarks but, after a little while, I realized that Ivy Bridge was not supported. This graphics driver starts and ends with Haswell. While I cannot verify their claims, Intel advertises up to 30% more performance in some OpenCL tasks and a 10% increase in games like Batman: Arkham City and Sleeping Dogs. They even claim double performance out of League of Legends at 1366x768.
Intel is giving gamers a "free lunch".
The driver also tunes Conservative Morphological Anti-Aliasing (CMAA). They claim it looks better than MLAA and FXAA, "without performance impact" (their whitepaper from March showed a ~1-to-1.5 millisecond cost on Intel HD 5000). Intel recommends disabling it after exiting games to prevent it from blurring other applications, and they automatically disable it in Windows, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Windows 8.1 Photo.
Adaptive Rendering Control was also added in this driver. This limits redrawing identical frames by comparing the ones it does draw with previously drawn ones, and adjusts the frame rate accordingly. This is most useful for games like Angry Birds, Minesweeper, and Bejeweled LIVE. It is disabled when not on battery power, or when the driver is set to "Maximum Performance".
Subject: Motherboards, Processors, Chipsets, Memory, Storage | September 5, 2014 - 05:21 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: X99-Deluxe, SSD 730, Intel, Haswell-E, ddr4, asus, 5960X
Okay, I'll be the first to admit that I didn't know what I was getting into. When a couple of packages showed up at our office from Intel with claims that they wanted to showcase the new Haswell-E platform...I was confused. The setup was simple: turn on cameras and watch what happens.
So out of the box comes...a containment chamber. A carefully crafted, wood+paint concoction that includes lights, beeps, motors and platforms.
Want to see how Intel promotes the Core i7-5960X and X99 platform? Check out this video below.
Our reviews of products included in this video:
Subject: Processors | September 5, 2014 - 04:11 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, core m, broadwell-y, Broadwell, 14nm
In a somewhat surprising fashion, Intel has decided to announce (again) the Core M processor family that will be shipping this fall and winter using the Broadwell-Y SoC. I was able to visit Portland and talk with the process technology and architecture teams back in early August so much of the news coming out today about the improvements of 14nm tri-gate transistors, the smaller package size of Broadwell-Y and the goals for thinner, fanless designs is going to be a repeat for frequent PC Perspective readers. (You can see that original story, Intel Core M Processor: Broadwell Architecture and 14nm Process Reveal.)
What is new information today are specifics on the clock speeds and SKU offerings.
|Base Freq||1.10 GHz||800 MHz||800 MHz|
|Max Single Core Turbo||2.6 GHz||2.0 GHz||2.0 GHz|
|Max Dual Core Turbo||2.6 GHz||2.0 GHz||2.0 GHz|
|Max Quad Core Turbo||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Graphics||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5300||Intel HD Graphics 5300|
|Graphics Base/Max Freq||100/850 MHz||100/800 MHz||100/800 MHz|
|LPDDR3L Memory Speed||1600 MHz||1600 MHz||1600 MHz|
|TDP||4.5 watts||4.5 watts||4.5 watts|
Intel has planned three options, all with the same $281 pricing, though obviously based on volume and other deals with OEMs, these are likely to shift. The Core M 5Y70 is the highest performance part with a base clock speed of 1.10 GHz that can scale up to 2.6 GHz with one or both cores active. The other two parts launching today both feature 800 MHz base clocks and 2.0 GHz maximum Turbo speeds.
With that scaling information, and the wide range that the Intel HD Graphics 5300 can hit (100-800 MHz) Intel is doubling down on the benefits of fast and reliable Turbo Boost technology to give you high frequencies only when you need it most. This conserves power consumption the vast majority of time and allows Intel's partners to build fanless designs that are incredibly thin.
The 5Y10 and 5Y10a differ only in that the non-A variant has a configurable TDP down the 4.0 watts should the vendor opt for that.
Intel is also giving us a more detailed look at the Broadwell-Y PCH that includes a lot of I/O for such a small platform. Two channels of USB 3.0 can support four total ports and as many as four SATA 6G storage units can be integrated as well. These Y-SKUs look like they have 12 lanes of PCIe 2.0 available to them should a notebook vendor decide to use PCIe storage solutions (like M.2) rather than relying purely on SATA.
At least one partner has already announced a Core M product: the Lenovo ThinkPad Helix. It appears to be an amazing 11.6-in convertible tablet design. Without a doubt we'll encouter numerous other designs at the Intel Developer Forum that starts next Tuesday.