Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 29, 2013 - 12:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: techcon, Intel, arm techcon, arm, Altera, 14nm
In February of this year Intel and Altera announced that they would be partnering to build Altera FPGAs using the upcoming Intel 14nm tri-gate process technology. The deal was important for the industry as it marked one of the first times Intel has shared its process technology with another processor company. Seen as the company's most valuable asset, the decision to outsource work in the Intel fabrication facilities could have drastic ramifications for Intel's computing divisions and the industry as a whole. This seems to back up the speculation that Intel is having a hard time keeping their Fabs at anywhere near 100% utilization with only in-house designs.
Today though, news is coming out that Altera is going to be included ARM-based processing cores, specifically those based on the ARMv8 64-bit architecture. Starting in 2014 Altera's high-end Stratix 10 FPGA that uses four ARM Cortex-A53 cores will be produced by Intel fabs.
The deal may give Intel pause about its outsourcing strategy. To date the chip giant has experimented with offering its leading-edge fab processes as foundry services to a handful of chip designers, Altera being one of its largest planned customers to date.
Altera believes that by combing the ARMv8 A53 cores and Intel's 14nm tri-gate transistors they will be able to provide FPGA performance that is "two times the core performance" of current high-end 28nm options.
While this news might upset some people internally at Intel's architecture divisions, the news couldn't be better for ARM. Intel is universally recognized as being the process technology leader, generally a full process node ahead of the competition from TSMC and GlobalFoundries. I already learned yesterday that many of ARM's partners are skipping the 20nm technology from non-Intel foundries and instead are looking towards the 14/16nm FinFET transitions coming in late 2014.
ARM has been working with essentially every major foundry in the business EXCEPT Intel and many viewed Intel's chances of taking over the mobile/tablet/phone space as dependent on its process technology advantage. But if Intel continues to open up its facilities to the highest bidders, even if those customers are building ARM-based designs, then it could drastically improve the outlook for ARM's many partners.
UPDATE (7:57pm): After further talks with various parties there are a few clarifications that I wanted to make sure were added to our story. First, Altera's FPGAs are primarly focused on the markets of communication, industrial, military, etc. They are not really used as application processors and thus are not going to directly compete with Intel's processors in the phone/tablet space. It remains to be seen if Intel will open its foundries to a directly competing product but for now this announcement regarding the upcoming Stratix 10 FPGA on Intel's 14nm tri-gate is an interesting progression.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | October 28, 2013 - 07:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, Broadwell-K, Broadwell
Ivy Bridge-E was confirmed for this holiday season and Haswell-E was proclaimed to follow in Holiday 2014 bringing good tidings of comfort and joy (and DDR4). Broadwell, the Haswell architecture transitioned to a 14nm process technology, was expected to be delayed until at least 2015 because it was not on any roadmap before that.
Image credit: VR-Zone China
Until recently when something called "Broadwell-K" popped up slated for late Holiday 2014.
VR-Zone China, the site which broke this story (machine translated), cautiously assumes Broadwell-K signifies the platform will first arrive for the mainstream enthusiast. This would align with Intel's current "K" branding of unlocked processors and make sense to be introduced for the Consumer product segment without a Business offering.
If true, which seems likely, the question then becomes why. So let us speculate!
One possible (but almost definitely incorrect) reason is that Intel was able to get the overclocking challenges at 22nm solved and, thus, they want to build hype over what the enthusiasts can accomplish. Josh Walrath, our monitor of the fabrication industry's pulse at PC Perspective, did not bother entertaining the idea. His experiences suggest 14nm and 22nm are "not so different".
But, in the same discussion, Ryan wondered if Intel just could not get power low enough to release anything besides the upper mainstream parts. Rather than delay further, release the parts as they can fit in whatever TDP their market demands. Josh believes that is "as good [of a theory] as any". This also seems like a very reasonable possibility to me, too.
Two other theories: yields are sufficient for the "K" market (but nowhere else) or that Intel could be throwing a bone to the mid-range (lower than Haswell-E) enthusiast by letting them lead. It could also be almost any combination of the above or more.
Or, of course, Broadwell-K could refer to something completely arbitrary. At this point, no-one knows but anyone can guess.
So then, your turn? Comments await.
The Really Good Times are Over
We really do not realize how good we had it. Sure, we could apply that to budget surpluses and the time before the rise of global terrorism, but in this case I am talking about the predictable advancement of graphics due to both design expertise and improvements in process technology. Moore’s law has been exceptionally kind to graphics. We can look back and when we plot the course of these graphics companies, they have actually outstripped Moore in terms of transistor density from generation to generation. Most of this is due to better tools and the expertise gained in what is still a fairly new endeavor as compared to CPUs (the first true 3D accelerators were released in the 1993/94 timeframe).
The complexity of a modern 3D chip is truly mind-boggling. To get a good idea of where we came from, we must look back at the first generations of products that we could actually purchase. The original 3Dfx Voodoo Graphics was comprised of a raster chip and a texture chip, each contained approximately 1 million transistors (give or take) and were made on a then available .5 micron process (we shall call it 500 nm from here on out to give a sense of perspective with modern process technology). The chips were clocked between 47 and 50 MHz (though often could be clocked up to 57 MHz by going into the init file and putting in “SET SST_GRXCLK=57”… btw, SST stood for Sellers/Smith/Tarolli, the founders of 3Dfx). This revolutionary graphics card at the time could push out 47 to 50 megapixels and had 4 MB of VRAM and was released in the beginning of 1996.
My first 3D graphics card was the Orchid Righteous 3D. Voodoo Graphics was really the first successful consumer 3D graphics card. Yes, there were others before it, but Voodoo Graphics had the largest impact of them all.
In 1998 3Dfx released the Voodoo 2, and it was a significant jump in complexity from the original. These chips were fabricated on a 350 nm process. There were three chips to each card, one of which was the raster chip and the other two were texture chips. At the top end of the product stack was the 12 MB cards. The raster chip had 4 MB of VRAM available to it while each texture chip had 4 MB of VRAM for texture storage. Not only did this product double performance from the Voodoo Graphics, it was able to run in single card configurations at 800x600 (as compared to the max 640x480 of the Voodoo Graphics). This is the same time as when NVIDIA started to become a very aggressive competitor with the Riva TnT and ATI was about to ship the Rage 128.
Subject: General Tech | October 17, 2013 - 01:06 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell, delay
Making changes to the CPU in a line of machines creates a much larger impact on a company than changing the GPU, as even if the socket remains the same there are often feature additions and other obstacles to overcome. DigiTimes points out that for vendors who are still rolling out new product lines based on Haswell the delay of Broadwell is good news as it gives them time to sell a few Haswell machines before the chip goes EOL. For consumers looking forward to the discounts on this generation of machine when the next generation is released this news is not as welcome but then again, vendors won't need to recover as much lost income as they would have if Broadwell was released according to its original schedule.
"Intel's decision to delay the mass shipment schedule of its 14nm Broadwell-based processors by one quarter from the end of 2013 is expected to buy brand vendors some time to finish their transition from Ivy Bridge to Haswell and allow them and Intel to readjust their steps in platform transitioning, according to sources from notebook players."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Early adopters struggle with Windows 8.1 update @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft saddles up for a ride on Sky Giraffe @ The Register
- Quark will not be enough for Intel to succeed in wearable or IoT markets @ DigiTimes
- Slip your SIM into a plastic sheath, WIPE international call charges @ The Register
- Rorschach test suggested as CAPTCHA replacement @ The Register
- iPin Mobile Laser Presenter for iPhone @ Funky Kit
- Papa's got a brand-new, undead-proof European carryall @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2013 - 01:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, delay, Broadwell, 14nm
Sad news for those hoping to see Broadwell as Brian Krzanich confirmed that the delays we first heard about in June are still true and Broadwell will not be available until some time in 2014. This slowdown of their Tick Tick strategy has been caused by the high density of defects on wafers which is driving the yields down on these chips which not only leads to less profitability but also means that supplies will be too low to go to market with. He did give The Register some positive news, Intel is working on reducing the time it takes to implement changes to chips in production and within the next year they hope to be able to make changes to a chip three months before it is slated for release without negatively effecting yeilds.
"One of the biggest tasks that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has set himself is reconfiguring Chipzilla so that it's quicker to build and deploy new products.
So it's a pity he has had to delay the rollout of 14-nanometer Broadwell processor chips until the first quarter of next year due to problems with quality control."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel slumps into mud despite lobbing Internet-of-Things, etc at buyers @ The Register
- How to Code Android Applications With Security In Mind @ Linux.com
- HGST pushes out bulk storage spinner with 5 power-sipping settings @ The Register
- Samsung's Green DDR4 data centre memory can save 45 terawatts per hour @ The Inquirer
- 35,000 vBulletin Sites Have Already Been Exploited By Week Old Hole @ Slashdot
- Building a Rail Gun @ Hack a Day
- Backup4all Professional and novaPDF Professional @ Computing on Demand
Subject: General Tech | October 14, 2013 - 12:37 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tablet, msata, Intel, haswell, fujitsu, Bay Trail-T
Fujitsu recently launched several new mobile devices for business users running Intel's latest Haswell and Atom chips. The "All New In Touch" portfolio includes three new Lifebook notebooks and two Stylistic slate-style tablets. All of the new devices are 14" or smaller, have long battery life (according to Fujitsu), and will be available later this month.
Specifically, the lineup includes the following devices:
- Lifebook T734
- Lifebook T904
- Lifebook U904
- Stylistic Q584
- Stylistic Q704
The Lifebook T734, T904, and U904 are notebooks powered by Intel's Haswell processors. They come with Windows 8.1, DDR3 memory (up to 12GB on some models), several storage options, backlit keyboards, and high resolution displays. The 734 can be fitted with an optical drive or second battery pack. The 13.3" T904 has a 2560x1440 IGZO rotatable/convertible display with touch and pen support while the 14" U904 has a 3200x1800 IGZO display.
The Fujitsu Lifebook U904.
All of the notebooks come with Windows 8.1, touchscreens, and enterprise-friendly security features.
Beyond the touchscreen-enabled notebooks, Fujitsu is launching two new tablets under its STYLISTIC brand: the Q584 and Q704. The Q584 is a 10.1" tablet with 2560x1600 display, smart card shell, and dockable keyboard. It is semi-ruggedized and is dust and water proof. It is powered by an Intel Bay Trail-T (quad core) processor clocked at 2.4GHz and either a 64GB or 128GB mSATA SSD. Other features include a 2MP front and 8MP rear camera and Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, and LTE radios.
The Fujitsu Stylistic Q584
The Stylistic Q704 steps the specifications up a bit to a 12.5" semi-ruggedized tablet powered by up to an Intel Haswell i7 vPro CPU, 8GB of LPDDR3 memory, and 256GB mSATA SSD. It has a 1920x1080 resolution display, 2MP front and 5MP rear cameras, and a smart card shell or dockable keyboard. Radios include Wi-Fi (dual band 802.11n), LTE, Bluetooth 4.0, and GPS.
The Stylistic tablets will come pre-loaded with Windows 8.1.
The entire Fujitsu lineup should be available later this month at various (not yet specified) price points. For business users, the new devices are worth a look (pending reviews that verify the battery life claims).
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | October 10, 2013 - 06:59 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, nvidia, Intel, Steam Machine
This should be little-to-no surprise for the viewers of our podcast, as this story was discussed there, but Valve has confirmed AMD and Intel graphics are compatible with Steam Machines. Doug Lombardi of Valve commented by email to, apparently, multiple sources including Forbes and Maximum PC.
Last week, we posted some technical specs of our first wave of Steam Machine prototypes. Although the graphics hardware that we've selected for the first wave of prototypes is a variety of NVIDIA cards, that is not an indication that Steam Machines are NVIDIA-only. In 2014, there will be Steam Machines commercially available with graphics hardware made by AMD, NVIDIA, and Intel. Valve has worked closely together with all three of these companies on optimizing their hardware for SteamOS, and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future.
Ryan and the rest of the podcast crew found the whole situation, "Odd". They could not understand why AMD referred the press to Doug Lombardi rather than circulate a canned statement from him. It was also weird why NVIDIA had an exclusive on the beta program with AMD being commercially available in 2014.
As I have said in the initial post: for what seems to be deliberate non-committal to a specific hardware spec, why limit to a single graphics provider?
Subject: General Tech | October 10, 2013 - 03:01 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, SteamOS, Steam Machine, Steam Box, R9 290X, r9 270x, r7 260x, quark, podcast, Intel, ASYS G750JX-DB71, arduino
PC Perspective Podcast #272 - 10/10/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Radeon R9 280X, R9 270X, R7 260X, Steam Machine Specs, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano
0:01:35 Batman: Arkham Winner and new contest!
Week in Review:
0:36:00 This episode is brought to you by Carbonite.com! Use offer code PC for two free months!
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Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech | October 9, 2013 - 03:04 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Cilk Plus, Intel
There is a punny word for a smooth experience and, when it comes to Intel "Cilk Plus" integration into GCC, ironically unfit. Version 4.8 was finalized by its committee without Intel's library... and a response to their emails. Once the deadline passed, the next earliest inclusion was at some point in 2014.
Fast forward to now: the library has been approved for inclusion to the project.
According to Phoronix, Cilk Plus extends C and C++ with features for programming in multiple threads (and multiple cores). There are two main advantages: solving for-loops in multiple threads and calling functions as a separate thread. Intel claims the for-loop unrolling feature is not a naive implementation; it will schedule your loop's inner tasks using a divide-and-conquer method to reduce overhead in assigning what does what.
We must still wait until 2014 for its inclusion, however. GCC 4.9, the release which is expected to include Cilk Plus, should arrive at some point within the first half of that year.
Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2013 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arduino, Intel, texas instruments, galileo, TRE
A telling quote to describe the Arduino community can be found in MAKE:Blog's talk with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich who relates a conversation with a developer who preferred to use Arduino boards for prototyping even when offered Intel boards for free. Today Intel has officially joined the Arduino team with the release of the Galileo which features a new 400MHz Intel Quark SoC with 256 MB of DRAM and Mini-PCIe slot, 100Mb Ethernet port, Micro SD slot, RS-232, and USB host and client ports for interfacing with the device. That puts it on even footing with the popular Raspberry Pi but with the ability to use Arduino shields and a mini-PCIe slot to open up some new possibilities which you will likely be reading about on Hack a Day after it is released.
That was not the only interesting bit of Arduino news out of the Maker Faire, Texas Instruments is also releasing the TRE which is essentially two Arduinos in one. The 1GHz Sitara AM335x processor is described as performing 100 times better than either the Arduino Leonardo or Uno and there is also a full AVR based Arduino present on the board to help process some tasks and to offer a more familiar environment to start playing with the Sitara from. According to The Inquirer you will be able to pick up a TRE sometime in the spring of next year.
"Krzanich’s own interest in Arduino was piqued when an outside developer told him about his product development project, and Krzanich asked him why he was using Arduino instead of an Intel board. Even when Kryzanich offered to make Intel products available to him at low cost or no cost, the developer said he valued the Maker community and the Arduino platform and he wasn’t willing to switch. Members of Krzanich’s team reached out to Massimo Banzi and they forged a partnership to develop the Galileo board and work together on future projects. Banzi said that he’s glad to have more resources and the scale of Intel to help the Arduino platform continue to develop new capabilities and reach new audiences."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Lies, damned lies and benchmarks @ The Inquirer
- In defence of defenestration: Microsoft MUST hurl Gates from the Windows @ The Register
- Cerberus circles BlackBerry as Canucks warn of more losses @ The Register
- Boffins offer ROUTER DEATHLIST for software-defined network builders @ The Register
- Asus RP-N53 Dual-Band Wireless N600 Range Extender @ eTeknix
- Beginners Guides: Repairing a Cracked / Broken Notebook LCD Screen @ PCSTATS
- Samsung Galaxy Gear Review @ TechReviewSource
- Rubber Band Blaster Shoots 10 Rounds a Second @ Hack a Day