Podcast #458 - Intel Xeons, ThunderBolt 3 GPU chassis, Affordable 10GbE, and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2017 - 11:40 AM |
Tagged: xeon, x299, video, thunderbolt 3, sapphire, RX470, rift, radeon, podcast, nand, Intel, HDK2, gigabyte, external gpu, asus, 10GbE

PC Perspective Podcast #458 - 07/13/17

Join us for Intel Xeon launch, external ThunderBolt3 GPUs, 10Gb Ethernet, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:38:08
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: ASUS XG-C100C lol
    2. Jeremy: Um, well I keep meaning to play Deserts of Kharak
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

A massive lineup

The amount and significance of the product and platform launches occurring today with the Intel Xeon Scalable family is staggering. Intel is launching more than 50 processors and 7 chipsets falling under the Xeon Scalable product brand, targeting data centers and enterprise customers in a wide range of markets and segments. From SMB users to “Super 7” data center clients, the new lineup of Xeon parts is likely to have an option targeting them.

All of this comes at an important point in time, with AMD fielding its new EPYC family of processors and platforms, for the first time in nearly a decade becoming competitive in the space. That decade of clear dominance in the data center has been good to Intel, giving it the ability to bring in profits and high margins without the direct fear of a strong competitor. Intel did not spend those 10 years flat footed though, and instead it has been developing complimentary technologies including new Ethernet controllers, ASICs, Omni-Path, FPGAs, solid state storage tech and much more.

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Our story today will give you an overview of the new processors and the changes that Intel’s latest Xeon architecture offers to business customers. The Skylake-SP core has some significant upgrades over the Broadwell design before it, but in other aspects the processors and platforms will be quite similar. What changes can you expect with the new Xeon family?

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Per-core performance has been improved with the updated Skylake-SP microarchitecture and a new cache memory hierarchy that we had a preview of with the Skylake-X consumer release last month. The memory and PCIe interfaces have been upgraded with more channels and more lanes, giving the platform more flexibility for expansion. Socket-level performance also goes up with higher core counts available and the improved UPI interface that makes socket to socket communication more efficient. AVX-512 doubles the peak FLOPS/clock on Skylake over Broadwell, beneficial for HPC and analytics workloads. Intel QuickAssist improves cryptography and compression performance to allow for faster connectivity implementation. Security and agility get an upgrade as well with Boot Guard, RunSure, and VMD for better NVMe storage management. While on the surface this is a simple upgrade, there is a lot that gets improved under the hood.

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We already had a good look at the new mesh architecture used for the inter-core component communication. This transition away from the ring bus that was in use since Nehalem gives Skylake-SP a couple of unique traits: slightly longer latencies but with more consistency and room for expansion to higher core counts.

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Intel has changed the naming scheme with the Xeon Scalable release, moving away from “E5/E7” and “v4” to a Platinum, Gold, Silver, Bronze nomenclature. The product differentiation remains much the same, with the Platinum processors offering the highest feature support including 8-sockets, highest core counts, highest memory speeds, connectivity options and more. To be clear: there are a lot of new processors and trying to create an easy to read table of features and clocks is nearly impossible. The highlights of the different families are:

  • Xeon Platinum (81xx)
    • Up to 28 cores
    • Up to 8 sockets
    • Up to 3 UPI links
    • 6-channel DDR4-2666
    • Up to 1.5TB of memory
    • 48 lanes of PCIe 3.0
    • AVX-512 with 2 FMA per core
  • Xeon Gold (61xx)
    • Up to 22 cores
    • Up to 4 sockets
    • Up to 3 UPI links
    • 6-channel DDR4-2666
    • AVX-512 with 2 FMA per core
  • Xeon Gold (51xx)
    • Up to 14 cores
    • Up to 2 sockets
    • 2 UPI links
    • 6-channel DDR4-2400
    • AVX-512 with 1 FMA per core
  • Xeon Silver (41xx)
    • Up to 12 cores
    • Up to 2 sockets
    • 2 UPI links
    • 6-channel DDR4-2400
    • AVX-512 with 1 FMA per core
  • Xeon Bronze (31xx)
    • Up to 8 cores
    • Up to 2 sockets
    • 2 UPI links
    • No Turbo Boost
    • 6-channel DDR4-2133
    • AVX-512 with 1 FMA per core

That’s…a lot. And it only gets worse when you start to look at the entire SKU lineup with clocks, Turbo Speeds, cache size differences, etc. It’s easy to see why the simplicity argument that AMD made with EPYC is so attractive to an overwhelmed IT department.

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Two sub-categories exist with the T or F suffix. The former indicates a 10-year life cycle (thermal specific) while the F is used to indicate units that integrate the Omni-Path fabric on package. M models can address 1.5TB of system memory. This diagram above, which you should click to see a larger view, shows the scope of the Xeon Scalable launch in a single slide. This release offers buyers flexibility but at the expense of complexity of configuration.

Continue reading about the new Intel Xeon Scalable Skylake-SP platform!

Rumor: Intel May Discontinue Pentium G4560 Processor

Subject: Processors | July 10, 2017 - 11:11 PM |
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.)


Cannibalization of its Core i3 sales might have Intel quietly killing off its best value CPU, if unnamed sources in a DigiWorthy report (via TechPowerUp) can be believed.

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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.

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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.

Source: TechPowerUp

The evolution of Skulls, digging through the Trail and in the Canyon

Subject: Processors | July 6, 2017 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: Skull Canyon, skulltrail, Intel

Remember back in 2007 when Intel introduced the Skulltrail system, that unique system built on a QX9775s motherboard and an pair of LGA771 CPUs with support for four GPUs?  It has been a decade and we have a new Intel Skull-themed product, the Skull Canyon NUC so why not compare the two?  That is exactly what TechPowerUp did, reassembling a Skulltrail system and watercooling it to pit it against the tiny little NUC.  Before you click, consider for a moment if you truly believe a limited edition system that was more powerful than any enthusiast system can really be surpassed by a low power, tiny form factor NUC with modern components.  Then head over and see if you were right.

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"A battle of the ages - can the biggest and baddest setup from 2008 beat out the pocket-sized NUC? We ran each through a large variety of tests, from professional applications to gaming, to see just how far Intel's technology has come."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD's market share is Ryzen

Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: passmark, amd, Intel, ryzen, market share

The designers of Passmark benchmarking software have noticed a trend in the past year, a surge in the number of AMD processors being tested.  The jump is quite impressive and even if it does not directly represent sales it certainly suggests that AMD's recent launch of Ryzen has been attracting enthusiasts.  At the beginning of the year AMD accounted for just over 18% of the benchmarks being run but as of now over a quarter of all benchmarks are being run on AMD processors.  With Threadripper on the horizon this number could grow, though perhaps not as dramatically as with the launch of the lower priced Ryzen family.  Drop by The Inquirer for more.

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"However, AMD's share has bounced back this year, rising from 18.1 per cent logged at the beginning of the first quarter to 26.2 per cent at the beginning of the third quarter. Intel's share has dipped to 73.8 per cent at the same time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: The Inquirer

Plan 9 from Skylake-X

Subject: Processors | June 28, 2017 - 03:03 PM |
Tagged: 7900x, Core i9, Intel, skylake-x, x299

The Tech Report recently wrapped up the first part of their review of Intel's new Core i9-7900X, focusing on its effectiveness in production machine.  Their benchmarks cover a variety of scientific tasks such as PhotoWorxx, FPU Julia and Mandel as well as creativity benchmarks like picCOLOR, DAWBench DSP 2017 and STARS Euler3D.  During their testing they saw the same peaks in power consumption as Ryan did in his review, 253W under a full Blender load.  Their follow up review will focus on the new chips gaming prowess, for now you should take a look at how your i9-7900X will perform for you when you are not playing around.

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"Intel's Core i9-7900X and its Skylake-X brethren bring AVX-512 support, a new cache hierarchy, and a new on-die interconnect to high-end desktops. We examine how this boatload of high-performance computing power advances the state of the art in productivity applications."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

A game of memory, testing Intel's sensitivity to RAM frequency

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2017 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: gaming, Intel, ddr3, ddr4

Overclockers Club have completed a daunting task, testing the effect of RAM frequency on game performance from DDR3-1333 through DDR4-3200.  In theory Intel's chips will not see the same improvements as AMD's Ryzen, lacking Infinity Fabric which has proved to be sensitive to memory frequency.  Since OCC cover two generations of RAM they also needed to test with two different processors, in this case the i7-4770K and i7-7700K and they tested performance at 1440p as well as 1080p.  Read the full article to see the full results which do show some performance deltas, however they nothing compared to spending more on your GPU.

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"After running through all of the tests, it appears that what I previously thought was an easy and clear answer is in fact more complicated. With the evidence provided I can safely say that memory can play a large role in some games over all frame rates. However, other factors like the processor, type of video card, and resolution will usually provide bigger impact in the final frame rates. Strictly speaking of game performances, the fastest memory tested does yield better results."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

Today Intel is launching a new line of client SSDs - the SSD 545S Series. These are simple, 2.5" SATA parts that aim to offer good performance at an economical price point. Low-cost SSDs is not typically Intel's strong suit, mainly because they are extremely rigorous on their design and testing, but the ramping up of IMFT 3D NAND, now entering its second generation stacked to 64-layers, should finally help them get the cost/GB down to levels previously enjoyed by other manufacturers.

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Intel and Micron jointly announced 3D NAND just over two years ago, and a year ago we talked about the next IMFT capacity bump coming as a 'double' move. Well, that's only partially happening today. The 545S line will carry the new IMFT 64-layer flash, but the capacity per die remains the same 256Gbit (32GB) as the previous generation parts. The dies will be smaller, meaning more can fit on a wafer, which drives down production costs, but the larger 512Gbit dies won't be coming until later on (and in a different product line - Intel told us they do not intend to mix die types within the same lines as we've seen Samsung do in the past).

Specifications

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There are no surprises here, though I am happy to see a 'sustained sequential performance' specification stated by an SSD maker, and I'm happier to see Intel claiming such a high figure for sustained writes (implying this is the TLC writing speed as the SLC cache would be exhausted in sustained writes).

I'm also happy to see sensical endurance specs for once. We've previously seen oddly non-scaling figures in prior SSD releases from multiple companies. Clearly stating a specific TBW 'per 128GB' makes a lot of sense here, and the number itself isn't that bad, either.

Packaging

packaging.jpg

Simplified packaging from Intel here, apparently to help further reduce shipping costs.

Read on for our full review of the Intel 545S 512GB SSD!

Microcode Bug Affects Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2017 - 08:53 AM |
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.

Intel CPUs.jpg

"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.

Source: The Register

Podcast #455 - Intel Skylake-X, AMD EPYC 7000 series, IBM 5nm, 802.11ad, and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 22, 2017 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: video, Surface Pro, skylake-x, podcast, Intel, IBM, EPYC, amd, 802.11ad, 5nm

PC Perspective Podcast #455 - 06/22/17

Join us for talk about Intel Skylake-X, AMD EPYC 7000 series, IBM 5nm, 802.11ad, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg, Ken Addison

Program length: 1:36:49
 
Podcast topics of discussion:
 
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Source: