Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Various

Application Profiling Tells the Story

It should come as no surprise to anyone that has been paying attention the last two months that the latest AMD Ryzen processors and architecture are getting a lot of attention. Ryzen 7 launched with a $499 part that bested the Intel $1000 CPU at heavily threaded applications and Ryzen 5 launched with great value as well, positioning a 6-core/12-thread CPU against quad-core parts from the competition. But part of the story that permeated through both the Ryzen 7 and the Ryzen 5 processor launches was the situation surrounding gaming performance, in particular 1080p gaming, and the surprising delta  that we see in some games.

Our team has done quite a bit of research and testing on this topic. This included a detailed look at the first asserted reason for the performance gap, the Windows 10 scheduler. Our summary there was that the scheduler was working as expected and that minimal difference was seen when moving between different power modes. We also talked directly with AMD to find out its then current stance on the results, backing up our claims on the scheduler and presented a better outlook for gaming going forward. When AMD wanted to test a new custom Windows 10 power profile to help improve performance in some cases, we took part in that too. In late March we saw the first gaming performance update occur courtesy of Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation where an engine update to utilize more threads resulted in as much as 31% average frame increase.

ping-amd.png

As a part of that dissection of the Windows 10 scheduler story, we also discovered interesting data about the CCX construction and how the two modules on the 1800X communicated. The result was significantly longer thread to thread latencies than we had seen in any platform before and it was because of the fabric implementation that AMD integrated with the Zen architecture.

This has led me down another hole recently, wondering if we could further compartmentalize the gaming performance of the Ryzen processors using memory latency. As I showed in my Ryzen 5 review, memory frequency and throughput directly correlates to gaming performance improvements, in the order of 14% in some cases. But what about looking solely at memory latency alone?

Continue reading our analysis of memory latency, 1080p gaming, and how it impacts Ryzen!!

The internet is whipping out some Core-i9 tales

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2017 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: rumour, Intel, Core i9

A two part rumour circulating the internet this morning, involving new processors and a new naming convention.  The leak that The Inquirer posted about this morning reveals six new Intel processors, two Kaby Lake-X processors with four cores running at a base clock of 4GHz or 4.3GHz depending on the model and TDPs of 112W.  More interesting are the new Kaby Lake-X processors which are referred to as Core i9 models, running from an i9-7800X @ 3.6GHz base to the i9-7920X which runs at an unspecified speed.  All will have four times the L2 cache of the current i7-7700K and Turbo 2.0 Boost Max to increase the frequency of several cores at once as well as Turbo Boost 3.0 for single-threaded workloads. 

It will be interesting to see if the Core i7 family continues as an upper middle class of processors with the i9 family replacing it's current standing or if the new processors will be priced like high end Xeons.

Capture.PNG

"The slide, which an Anandtech forum member claims is an internal Intel document, provides details of four new Skylake-X processors and two Kaby Lake-X CPUs. The Skylake-X processors are described as Core i9, and if the leak is genuinely - and that's a fairly big if - the new Core i9s will replace Core i7s as Intel's top-of the-pile PC chipset range."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

Podcast #448 - Mesh Networking, Corsair ONE PRO, Windows 10 S, and Vega Specs

Subject: Editorial | May 4, 2017 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, video, Vega, surface, Predator X27, podcast, ONE PRO, mesh, Intel, google wifi, eero, corsair, atom, Amplifi HD, acer

PC Perspective Podcast #448 - 05/04/17

Join us for mesh networking performance, Corsair ONE PRO, Microsoft / AMD / NVIDIA updates, 'leaked' Vega specs 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 54:15

Podcast topics of discussion:

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
  4. Closing/outro
 

Source:

New Microsoft Surface Laptop Announced with Windows 10 S

Subject: Mobile | May 2, 2017 - 11:33 AM |
Tagged: Windows 10 S, touchscreen, surface laptop, surface, microsoft, Intel, core i7, core i5

Microsoft has announced their new Surface Laptop, which notably leaked just yesterday, but the surprising part was not the hardware at all - however sleek and impressive it might be. Yes, it seems I spoke too soon with the Windows 10 S news, as this consumer (I assume) product is shipping with that new version of the OS which only allows apps to be installed from the Windows Store.

Surface Laptop.png

As to the hardware, it is milled from a block of aluminum (as shown in a very Apple-like video) and the heat pipes for the processor are milled into the bottom case to help make this so thin, but the laptop will undoubtedly feel warm to the touch during use (a fact which was mentioned on stage as a positive thing). The palmrest/keyboard is coated in a fabric material called Alcantara, rather than being bare metal and plastic. The combination of warmth (literally) and the fabric surface is supposed to make the new laptop feel very friendly, as the narrative went.

Surface Laptop Side.png

Thankfully (in my opinion, anyway) the bizarre flexible hinge of the prior Surface laptop is gone in favor of a conventional one - and with it the air gap from he previous design. Among the features mentioned for this new Surface were its PixelSense screen, which is the “thinnest LCD touch panel ever in a laptop”, and a very impressive 14.5 hour battery life. The standby power consumption was described as effectively zero, which suggests that a suspend state of some kind is standard to prevent drain when not in use. rather than a low-power sleep.

magenta.jpg

Image via Thurrott.com

Microsoft stated that two versions (Intel Core i5 and Core i7) will be available for pre-order beginning today, with the Core i5 model starting at $999. (Pricing on the Core i7 version was not mentioned.)

Windows Central has posted specs for the new machines, reproduced below:

  • Display: 13.5-inch Pixel Sense display, 10 point multi-touch
  • Display Resolution: 2256 x 1504, at 201 ppi, Aspect Ratio: 3:2
  • Software: Windows 10 S
  • Processor: 7th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7
  • Storage: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB Solid State Drive (SSD)
  • Memory: 4GB, 8GB or 16GB RAM
  • Graphics: i5: Intel HD graphics 620, i7: Intel Iris Plus Graphics 640
  • Front Camera: 720p, Windows Hello face authentication
  • Speakers: Omnisonic Speakers with Dolby Audio Premium
  • Ports: One full-size USB 3.0, Mini DisplayPort, Headset jack, Surface Connect
  • Sensors: Ambient light sensor
  • Security: TPM chip for enterprise security
  • Battery Life: 14.5 hours of use
  • Pen: Surface Pen
  • Weight: 2.76 lbs
  • Dimensions: 12.13 inches x 8.78 inches x 0.57 inches

colors.jpg

Image via Thurrott.com

I will briefly editorialize here to mention the Windows 10 S problem here. That limitation might make sense for education, if Microsoft is providing a suite of apps that make sense for a school, but consumers will undoubtedly want more flexibility from their own devices. This is less consumer-friendly than even the Starter Edition of Windows from the past, which limited the number of running applications but not their provenance.

Source: Microsoft

Intel gives their Atom C2000 a longer half life

Subject: General Tech | April 28, 2017 - 12:40 PM |
Tagged: c2000, atom, Intel, Avoton

Intel have released a new C0 stepping of their Avoton based Atom C2000 series, which have been dying off at an alarming rate thanks to a flaw in the chip's low pin count bus clock outputs.  The chips are found in the Synology DS1815+ series as well as in Cisco routers, Dell servers and a variety of other products; the flaw in the LPC clock bus would cause them to enter a state in which a reboot would be fatal.  Intel has offered a patch for the motherboards of devices using these chips for a while and have now released new versions of these chips which do not suffer from the same problem.  

The Register accumulated a longer list of devices that could be at risk and technical details on the nature of the flaw here.

intel_avoton_atom_block_diagram.jpg

"Intel finally has reworked its flawed Atom C2000 chips, which have been failing at a greater-than-expected rate for about a year and a half."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

 

Source: The Register

Podcast #447 - Intel Optane, Watercooling, Mini ITX AM4, and Intel Optane

Subject: Editorial | April 27, 2017 - 12:19 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Win 3.11, ssd, riotoro, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, GTX 1080Ti, fsp, evga, EK Supremacy, corsair, biostar, asus, video

PC Perspective Podcast #447 - 04/27/17

Join us for loads of Intel Optane, multiple water cooling parts, a Mini-ITX AM4 board, 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: Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison, Morry Teitelman

Peanut Gallery: Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:50:22

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Factorio fans - 0.15 experimental is out! (new graphics)(dev test img)
    2. Morry: Bayonetta
  4. Closing/outro

 

 

Source:

Spent all your money on a new CPU and couldn't afford an SSD? Intel Optane Memory is here

Subject: Storage | April 24, 2017 - 05:20 PM |
Tagged: XPoint, srt, rst, Optane Memory, Optane, Intel, hybrid, CrossPoint, cache, 32GB, 16GB

At $44 for 16GB or $77 for a 32GB module Intel's Optane memory will cost you less in total for an M.2 SSD, though a significantly higher price per gigabyte.  The catch is that you need to have a Kaby Lake Core system to be able to utilize Optane, which means you are unlikely to be using a HDD.  Al's test show that Optane will also benefit a system using an SSD, reducing latency noticeably although not as significantly as with a HDD.

The Tech Report tested it differently, by sourcing a brand new desktop system with Kaby Lake Core APU that did not ship with an SSD.  Once installed, the Optane drive enabled the system to outpace an affordable 480GB SSD in some scenarios; very impressive for a HDD.  They also did peek at the difference Optane makes when paired with aforementioned affordable SSD in their full review.

requirements.png

"Intel's Optane Memory tech purports to offer most of the responsiveness of an SSD to systems whose primary storage device is a good old hard drive. We put a 32GB stick of Optane Memory to the test to see whether it lives up to Intel's claims."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction, Specifications, and Requirements

Introduction:

170421-115336a.jpg

Finally! Optane Memory sitting in our lab! Sure, it’s not the mighty P4800X we remotely tested over the past month, but this is right here, sitting on my desk. It’s shipping, too, meaning it could be sitting on your desk (or more importantly, in your PC) in just a matter of days.

Intel-3D-Xpoint.png

The big deal about Optane is that it uses XPoint Memory, which has fast-as-lightning (faster, actually) response times of less than 10 microseconds. Compare this to the fastest modern NAND flash at ~90 microseconds, and the differences are going to add up fast. What’s wonderful about these response times is that they still hold true even when scaling an Optane product all the way down to just one or two dies of storage capacity. When you consider that managing fewer dies means less work for the controller, we can see latencies fall even further in some cases (as we will see later).

Read on for our full review of Optane Memory!

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: Intel

Introduction and Specifications

Introduction

Intel-3D-Xpoint.png

XPoint. Optane. QuantX. We've been hearing these terms thrown around for two years now. A form of 3D stackable non-volatile memory that promised 10x the density of DRAM and 1000x the speed and endurance of NAND. These were bold statements, and over the following months, we would see them misunderstood and misconstrued by many in the industry. These misconceptions were further amplified by some poor demo choices on the part of Intel (fortunately countered by some better choices made by Micron). Fortunately cooler heads prevailed as Jim Handy and other industry analysts helped explain that a 1000x improvement at the die level does not translate to the same improvement at the device level, especially when the first round of devices must comply with what will soon become a legacy method of connecting a persistent storage device to a PC.

Did I just suggest that PCIe 3.0 and the NVMe protocol - developed just for high-speed storage, is already legacy tech? Well, sorta.

ss-142.png

That 'Future NVM' bar at the bottom of that chart there was a 2-year old prototype iteration of what is now Optane. Note that while NVMe was able to shrink down the yellow bar a bit, as you introduce faster and faster storage, the rest of the equation (meaning software, including the OS kernel) starts to have a larger and larger impact on limiting the ultimate speed of the device.

800px-Nand_flash_structure.svg_.png

NAND Flash simplified schematic (via Wikipedia)

Before getting into the first retail product to push all of these links in the storage chain to the limit, let's explain how XPoint works and what makes it faster. Taking random writes as an example, NAND Flash (above) must program cells in pages and erase cells in blocks. As modern flash has increased in capacity, the sizes of those pages and blocks have scaled up roughly proportionally. At present day we are at pages >4KB and block sizes in the megabytes. When it comes to randomly writing to an already full section of flash, simply changing the contents of one byte on one page requires the clearing and rewriting of the entire block. The difference between what you wanted to write and what the flash had to rewrite to accomplish that operation is called the write amplification factor. It's something that must be dealt with when it comes to flash memory management, but for XPoint it is a completely different story:

reading_bits_in_crosspoint_array.jpg

XPoint is bit addressible. The 'cross' structure means you can select very small groups of data via Wordlines, with the ultimate selection resolving down to a single bit.

ss-141.png

Since the programmed element effectively acts as a resistor, its output is read directly and quickly. Even better - none of that write amplification nonsense mentioned above applies here at all. There are no pages or blocks. If you want to write a byte, go ahead. Even better is that the bits can be changed regardless of their former state, meaning no erase or clear cycle must take place before writing - you just overwrite directly over what was previously stored. Is that 1000x faster / 1000x more write endurance than NAND thing starting to make more sense now?

Ok, with all of the background out of the way, let's get into the meat of the story. I present the P4800X:

P4800X.jpg

Read on for our full review of the P4800X!

Rumor: Intel Expects Coffee Lake and Basin Falls Early

Subject: Processors | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: skylake-x, ryzen, kaby lake x, Intel, Core, coffee lake, amd

According to DigiTimes, Intel is expecting to release several new processors earlier than they had originally planned. That said, there are two issues with this report. The first point, which should be expected, is that it compares internal dates that were never meant to be public. It is not like Intel has changed their advertised roadmap.

The second problem is that it’s somewhat contradicted by Intel’s earlier, public statements.

Intel-logo.png

Their rumor claims that Intel will push up the launch of Basin Falls, which is Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, and X299, by about two months (around June). It also claims that Coffee Lake, which was originally scheduled for January 2018, will be released in August 2017. Both of these moves are being attributed to AMD’s new products.

The potential, somewhat, sort-of contradiction comes from a tweet that Intel made back in February. In it, they said that the 8th generation of Core processors are expected for 2H’17. This time frame doesn’t include January, although it only barely includes August, too. If Intel was always planning on launching Coffee Lake for the “back to school” season, then at least that half of DigiTimes’ story would be completely incorrect. On the other hand, if Intel’s tweet was talking about a sampling / paper launch in December, with volume shipment soon to follow, then DigiTimes would be fairly accurate.

We don’t know unless someone at Intel confirms either-or.

As for Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X, it would be interesting to see them launch at Computex / E3. Previous rumors (also from DigiTimes) that place it in the Gamescom, which is a huge gaming conference in Cologne. Interestingly, this rumor claims that only the four-, six-, eight-, and ten-core models will arrive at the time, with a twelve-core model waiting until the whole line was supposed to launch.

This omission makes me wonder if, in fact, Intel are rushing the launch, but they realize that they cannot get enough good chips to fill out the top-end SKU. In that case, it would make sense to push the smaller and partially-disabled chips out the door, while banking the big chips that can run all twelve cores at a reasonable voltage for some clock rate.

If so, that would, in fact, speak volumes about AMD’s roadmap (and Intel’s opinion of it).

Source: DigiTimes