Subject: Editorial | July 29, 2018 - 07:49 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: TSMC, Skylake, ryzen, Results, Q2, Intel, amd, 7nm, 2018, 10nm
The day after AMD announced their quarterly results, Intel followed up with a very impressive quarter of their own. Intel has reported another record quarter with $17B in revenue and $5B net. The business is extremely healthy and they continue to provide a lot of value and returns to shareholders. Typically Q2 is the second slowest quarter of the year, but Intel was able to improve their revenues by $900M over Q1. In certain quarters a 5% increase may not be all that large, but it is a significant jump from Q1 to Q2.
Intel reported that nearly all areas of the company have grown. Client Computing Group showed a 6% increase year over year, which is good news for the industry in general as many have (often) predicted that the PC market is in decline. This is also in the face of renewed competition from AMD and their Zen architecture based products. AMD also has grown steadily over the past year in terms of shipping products, so that further reinforces the impression that the PC market continues to grow steadily.
The data-centric business is steadily closing the gap between it and the PC centric group. CCG posted $8.7B in revenues while the data groups combined came in at around $8.1B. The Data Center Group was $5.5B of that result. It is up a very impressive 27% yoy. Intel has what seems to be a juggernaut in the data center with their Xeon products, and that growth is quite likely to continue growing as the need for data processing in our information rich world seemingly knows no bounds.
Intel raised their outlook for the year by nearly $2B to an impressive $69B in revenues. This is easily 10x that of their primary competitor. 2018 has certainly been a very profitable year for Intel and it looks to continue that trend throughout the last two quarters. Intel continues to improve upon their 14nm processes and it has allowed them to achieve a 61.4% margin. Compare this to AMD’s 37% margin and we can understand why 2018 is looking so good. Intel has lost a little bit on margin as compared to last year, but the amount of products being shipped is simply stunning as compared to its rival.
There were some expecting AMD to be taking up more of Intel’s marketshare, but that has not been the case. If anything, while AMD’s bottom line has improved, Intel appears to have actually taken more share in an expanding market. Unlike 2003 when AMD had the superior product with the Athlon 64 over Intel’s Pentium 4, the current Ryzen CPUs are “merely” competitive. While the performance and efficiency jump for AMD’s architecture is impressive considering the previous “Bulldozer” based generation, they now offer comparable performance with a price/core count advantage over Intel. This has not been enough to convince people and organizations to change en masse to AMD’s offerings. In 2003 a 2 GHz Athlon 64 was outperforming a 3.2 GHz Pentium 4. AMD was able to continue outperforming Intel even though they were at a serious process disadvantage.
While Q3 and Q4 look to continue Intel’s string of record quarters, things do not look as rosy when we get into 2019. Intel has had an endless stream of problems getting their advanced 10nm process up and running. It was originally expected to replace Intel’s 14nm process around two years after that particular process had been introduced. Then it turned into three years. Now we are five years into Intel using a 14nm variant for their latest generation of products. Intel used to have a 18 to 24 month lead over the competition when it comes to process technology, but now that advantage has all but evaporated. In theory Intel’s 10nm process is superior to what TSMC is offering with its 7nm in terms of die size, power, and transistor performance. However, those advantages do not amount to anything if it is unworkable. Intel has been very tight lipped with analysts and shareholders about the exact issues it is facing with the direction they set on with 10nm. It seems the combination of materials, tolerances, and self-aligned quad patterning is problematic enough that Intel cannot get consistent results with yields and bins.
In the conference call Intel said that 10nm parts will be available on shelves by the holiday season of 2019. This means that Intel expects to hit high volume manufacturing near the end of 1H 2019. Intel further stated that data center parts will be shipping shortly after desktop and mobile, so most expect the first products to hit in Q1 2020. The problem that Intel will is that TSMC will be starting volume manufacturing of their 7nm parts shortly, if not already. AMD has 7nm EPYC sampling to partners and has spoken of a 1H introduction of those parts in volume. AMD will be introducing the Zen 2 architecture in that time on both server and desktop, and they are hinting at a significant IPC uplift with these parts.
If Intel is able to hit its 10nm goal in late 2019, AMD will have around a nine month window where they theoretically could have a superior product than Intel. AMD will surely come ahead from a density standpoint. If we combine this with the potential IPC improvement and a small uplift in transistor performance, then Zen 2 products should be able to outclass anything Intel comes out with. If AMD is really on the ball, then their EPYC processors could have a year to themselves without a comparable product from Intel.
This type of competition does not mean that Intel will simply shrivel up and die, but it is causing investors to rethink holding onto the stock after the pretty impressive run up over the past several years. Intel still has more fab space available to it than AMD could dream of at this point. There will be a lot of competition for 7nm wafer starts that will be shared by AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, and Apple (not to mention dozens of other fab-less semi firms). AMD could very well sell as many chips as it can make, but it simply cannot address the needs of all of the markets that it is competing in. If GLOBALFOUNDRIES 7nm process is similar to TSMC’s, then we will see AMD be able to supply far greater amounts of product to the market, but GF is at least six months behind TSMC when it comes to ramping up their next generation process line. I would not expect GF based CPUs to hit anytime before Q2 2019, if not towards the end of that quarter.
Does this mean that Intel expects nothing except doom and gloom throughout 2019 and possibly into 2020? I do not think so. Intel will retain its market dominance, but it looks to be experiencing a situation that is a combination of a competitor hitting its stride as well as some bad luck/poor planning with manufacturing. This should open the door for AMD to make significant advances in marketshare and allow the company to make some serious money by improving their ASPs as well as shipping more parts.
2018 will undoubtedly be a record year for Intel. It is 2019 that is giving pause to investors and shareholders. If Intel can clean up its 10nm process in a timely manner they will close the door on any advances from AMD. If the company continues to experience issues with 10nm and never in fact gets it out the door, then it will be a long couple of years til Intel gets out their 7nm process. The rumor is that engineers have been pulled off of 7nm to fix 10nm. If this is the case, then I hesitate to even think when we will be seeing that upcoming node coming to fruition.
Subject: General Tech | February 28, 2018 - 12:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, kaby lake, Skylake, security, spectre, meltdown
"Intel recently released stable microcode updates to mitigate the Spectre vulnerability on Skylake and newer CPUs. We ran back-to-back tests with and without the patch on one of our Kaby Lake systems to see just how much performance suffers in exchange for safety."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- EUV Defects Cited in 5-nm Node @ EE Times
- Intel pushes out stable Spectre fixes for Broadwell and Haswell machines @ The Inquirer
- You can Ring my bell: Amazon pays ONE BEEEEELLION+ dollars for smart home upstart @ The Register
- 4G found on Moon @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | February 21, 2018 - 01:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: spectre, Skylake, kaby lake, Intel, coffee lake
Intel has pushed out a new set of microcode patches which should mitigate Spectre on Skylake, Kaby Lake and Coffee Lake. The new patches come with a feature which customers have been clamouring for; a lack of the spontaneous reboots which plagued systems that had taken advantage of the originally released fixes. The Inquirer did not receive any information on the performance hit of these new fixes, though they should be comparable to the effect of the originals. Drop by for more info and links to Intel's patch roadmap.
"The latest Spectre-mitigating updates from Intel have passed "extensive testing by customers and industry partners to ensure the updated versions are ready for production," according to Intel's Navin Shenoy. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- iPhone X 'slump' is real, whisper supply chain moles @ The Register
- Hackers hijack Tesla's unsecured AWS account to mine cryptocurrency
- Year-old vuln turns Jenkins servers into Monero mining slaves @ The Register
- Acer Windows Mixed Reality headset @ The Inquirer
Subject: Processors | September 25, 2017 - 03:19 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: skylake-x, Skylake, Intel, Core i9, 7980xe, 7960x
You cannot really talk about the new Skylake-X parts from Intel without bringing up AMD's Threadripper as that is the i9-7980XE and i9-7960X's direct competition. From a financial standpoint, AMD is the winner, with a price tag either $700 or $1000 less than Intel's new flagship processors. As Ryan pointed out in his review, for those whom expense is not a consideration it makes sense to chose Intel's new parts as they are slightly faster and the Xtreme Edition does offer two more cores. For those who look at performance per dollar the obvious processor of choice is ThreadRipper; for as Ars sums up in their review AMD offers more PCIe lanes, better heat management and performance that is extremely close to Intel's best.
"Ultimately, the i9-7960X raises the same question as the i9-7900X: Are you willing to pay for the best performing silicon on the market? Or is Threadripper, which offers most of the performance at a fraction of the price, good enough?"
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i9 7980XE Linux Benchmarks: 18 Core / 36 Threads For $1999 USD @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i9 7960X Linux Benchmarks @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i9 7980XE & Core i9 7960X Review @ OCC
- Intel Core i9-7980XE Extreme Edition – 18 cores of overclocked CPU madness @ Kitguru
- Intel Core i9-7980XE & 7960X @ Techspot
- AMD A12-9800 @ Techspot
Specifications and Architecture
It has been an interesting 2017 for Intel. Though still the dominant market share leader in consumer processors of all shapes and sizes, from DIY PCs to notebooks to servers, it has come under attack with pressure from AMD unlike any it has felt in nearly a decade. It started with the release of AMD Ryzen 7 and a family of processors aimed at the mainstream user and enthusiast markets. That followed by the EPYC processor release moving in on Intel’s turf of the enterprise markets. And most recently, Ryzen Threadripper took a swing (and hit) at the HEDT (high-end desktop) market that Intel had created and held its own since the days of the Nehalem-based Core i7-920 CPU.
Between the time Threadripper was announced and when it shipped, Intel made an interesting move. It decided to launch and announce its updated family of HEDT processors dubbed Skylake-X. Only available in a 10-core model at first, the Core i9-7900X was the fastest tested processor in our labs, at the time. But it was rather quickly overtaken by the likes of the Threadripper 1950X that ran with 16-cores and 32-threads of processing. Intel had already revealed that its HEDT lineup would go to 18-core options, though availability and exact clock speeds remained in hiding until recently.
|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|
|Memory Support||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2666
|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?|
Today we are now looking at both the Intel Core i9-7980XE and the Core i9-7960X, 18-core and 16-core processors, respectively. The goal from Intel is clear with the release: retake the crown as the highest performing consumer processor on the market. It will do that, but it does so at $700-1000 over the price of the Threadripper 1950X.
Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2017 - 01:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: surface, microsoft, Skylake
Paul Thurrott has posted a reasoned look at the recent negative rating Consumer Reports have handed the Microsoft Surface and Intel's reaction to it. There were problems with the release of Skylake powered Surface products and Microsoft initially laid the blame fully on Intel; which proved awkward when they conversed with Lenovo about the problems Skylake caused as Lenovo had not had a similar experience. Instead the reliability issues stemmed from Microsoft's drivers and when you break down the issues, most had to do with frozen screens and unresponsive touch interfaces.
Microsoft have since rectified this issue and the new Surface products do not have the same issues as the previous models. There is an interesting bit of speculation in the article about the fallout of this issue, it could be that this was the driving force behind Microsoft's sudden push to have Windows 10 run on ARM processors. For more on that as well as some interesting background on how companies measure the success of their products you should head over to read the full article. At the very least you can bask in the glory of the quote from an internal memo at the beginning of the article, describing your purchase as an "ownership journey with our products".
"Thurrott.com has seen an internal Microsoft memo that indicates that the software giant is readying a broader campaign to undercut this past week’s news from Consumer Reports. It also provides greater insight into why Microsoft believes the Consumer Reports recommendations are incorrect."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Notebook lithium battery prices rising @ DigiTimes
- Infosec eggheads rig USB desk lamp to leak passwords via Bluetooth @ The Register
- A Year Later, You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free @ Techspot
- Firmware update blunder bricks hundreds of home 'smart' locks @ The Register
- Revealed: The naughty tricks used by web ads to bypass blockers @ The Register
- We'll deliver 'in a few weeks' says troubled ZX Spectrum reboot firm @ The Register
- Linksys LGS326P 26-Port Smart Gigabit PoE+ Switch Review @ NikKTech
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: General Tech | June 2, 2017 - 04:02 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: asrock, H110, Skylake, bitcoin, cryptocurrency, mining, storj, computex, computex 2017
ASRock showed off an upcoming motherboard at Computex that features 13 PCI-Express slots and is aimed squarely at crypto currency miners. The new H110 Pro BTC+ is an ATX board based on Intel’s H110 chipset and LGA 1151 socket (Skylake CPUs). The board is dominated by 12 PCI-E x1 slots and a single PCI-E x16 slot (I suppose for mounting a SAS card and Burst mining or running Storj heh), but it also has slots for two DDR4 DIMMs, a single M.2 port, and four SATA ports. The board also supports Intel Gigabit Ethernet, ELNA audio, USB 3.0 and DVI and HDMI video outputs for the Intel iGPU.
The upcoming board is powered by a 24 pin ATX, 8 pin EPS, and two Molex connectors for the PCI-E slots. The H110 Pro BTC+ appears to have a decent power phase setup for an H110 motherboard as well. ASRock showed off the motherboard running eight GPUs on Windows at Computex, though with Linux it is possible go beyond that and run all 13 GPUs. The H110 chipset does mean that miners would need to spend money on a newer CPU and DDR4 memory, but they would save money by buying fewer motherboards and/or port multipliers.
Exact specifications along with pricing and availability are still unknown, but expect the mining crowd to jump on this so if you are interested in it be sure to set up email alerts for when it will become available so that you can get in before the miners make it go out of stock everywhere like the RX 580s! (heh)
An abundance of new processors
During its press conference at Computex 2017, Intel has officially announced the upcoming release of an entire new family of HEDT (high-end desktop) processors along with a new chipset and platform to power it. Though it has only been a year since Intel launched the Core i7-6950X, a Broadwell-E processor with 10-cores and 20-threads, it feels like it has been much longer than that. At the time Intel was accused of “sitting” on the market – offering only slight performance upgrades and raising prices on the segment with a flagship CPU cost of $1700. With can only be described as scathing press circuit, coupled with a revived and aggressive competitor in AMD and its Ryzen product line, Intel and its executive teams have decided it’s time to take enthusiasts and high end prosumer markets serious, once again.
Though the company doesn’t want to admit to anything publicly, it seems obvious that Intel feels threatened by the release of the Ryzen 7 product line. The Ryzen 7 1800X was launched at $499 and offered 8 cores and 16 threads of processing, competing well in most tests against the likes of the Intel Core i7-6900X that sold for over $1000. Adding to the pressure was the announcement at AMD’s Financial Analyst Day that a new brand of processors called Threadripper would be coming this summer, offering up to 16 cores and 32 threads of processing for that same high-end consumer market. Even without pricing, clocks or availability timeframes, it was clear that AMD was going to come after this HEDT market with a brand shift of its EPYC server processors, just like Intel does with Xeon.
The New Processors
Normally I would jump into the new platform, technologies and features added to the processors, or something like that before giving you the goods on the CPU specifications, but that’s not the mood we are in. Instead, let’s start with the table of nine (9!!) new products and work backwards.
|Core i9-7980XE||Core i9-7960X||Core i9-7940X||Core i9-7920X||Core i9-7900X||Core i7-7820X||Core i7-7800X||Core i7-7740X||Core i5-7640X|
|Architecture||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Skylake-X||Kaby Lake-X||Kaby Lake-X|
|Base Clock||?||?||?||?||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.5 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost 2.0||?||?||?||?||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.5 GHz||4.2 GHz|
|Turbo Boost Max 3.0||?||?||?||?||4.5 GHz||4.5 GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Cache||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||13.75MB||11MB||8.25MB||8MB||6MB|
|DDR4-2666 Dual Channel|
|TDP||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||112 watts||112 watts|
There is a lot to take in here. The most interesting points are that Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor but it also wants to change the perception of the X299-class platform by offering lower price, lower core count CPUs like the quad-core, non-HyperThreaded Core i5-7640X. We also see the first ever branding of Core i9.
Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, a 10-core / 20-thread processor with a base clock of 3.3 GHz and a Turbo peak of 4.5 GHz using the new Turbo Boost Max Technology 3.0. It sports 13.75MB of cache thanks to an updated cache configuration, includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and a 140 watt TDP. The new LGA2066 socket will be utilized. Pricing for this CPU is set at $999, which is interesting for a couple of reasons. First, it is $700 less than the starting MSRP of the 10c/20t Core i7-6950X from one year ago; obviously a big plus. However, there is quite a ways UP the stack, with the 18c/36t Core i9-7980XE coming in at a cool $1999.
The next CPU down the stack is compelling as well. The Core i7-7820X is the new 8-core / 16-thread HEDT option from Intel, with similar clock speeds to the 10-core above it, save the higher base clock. It has 11MB of L3 cache, 28-lanes of PCI Express (4 higher than Broadwell-E) but has a $599 price tag. Compared to the 8-core 6900K, that is ~$400 lower, while the new Skylake-X part iteration includes a 700 MHz clock speed advantage. That’s huge, and is a direct attack on the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X that sells for $499 today and cut Intel off at the knees this March. In fact, the base clock of the Core i7-7820X is only 100 MHz lower than the maximum Turbo Boost clock of the Core i7-6900K!
Subject: Processors | February 23, 2017 - 11:07 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, Skylake, kaby lake, delidding, relidding
[H]ard|OCP have been spending a lot of time removing the integrated heatspreader on recent Intel chips to see what effect it has on temperatures under load. Along the way we picked up tips on 3D printing a delidder and thankfully there was not much death along the way. One of their findings from this testing was that it can be beneficial to reattach the lid after changing out the thermal interface material and they have published a guide on how to do so. You will need a variety of tools, from Permatex Red RTV to razor blades, by way of isopropyl alcohol and syringes; as well as a steady hand. You may have many of the items on hand already and none are exceptionally expensive.
"So we have covered a lot about taking your shiny new Intel CPUs apart lately, affectionately known as "delidding." What we have found in our journey is that "relidding" the processor might be an important part of the process as well. But what if you do not have a fancy tool that will help you put Humpty back together again?"
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Kaby Lake i5-7600K CPU Re-Lid Overclocking @ [H]ard|OCP
- Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu Linux OpenGL Benchmarks With A Core i7 7700K @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i3 2100 Sandy Bridge vs. Core i3 7100 Kabylake Performance @ Phoronix
- Pentium G4500 @ Hardware Secrets