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

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Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

Specifications and Design

Intel is at an important crossroads for its consumer product lines. Long accused of ignoring the gaming and enthusiast markets, focusing instead on laptops and smartphones/tablets at the direct expense of the DIY user, Intel had raised prices and only shown limited ability to increase per-die performance over a fairly extended period. The release of the AMD Ryzen processor, along with the pending release of the Threadripper product line with up to 16 cores, has moved Intel into a higher gear; they are more prepared to increase features, performance, and lower prices now.

We have already talked about the majority of the specifications, pricing, and feature changes of the Core i9/Core i7 lineup with the Skylake-X designation, but it is worth including them here, again, in our review of the Core i9-7900X for reference purposes.

  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
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 18/36 16/32 14/28 12/24 10/20 8/16 6/12 4/8 4/4
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
Memory Support ? ? ? ? DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes ? ? ? ? 44 28 28 16 16
TDP 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 112 watts 112 watts
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $339 $242

There is a lot to take in here. The three most interesting points are that, one, Intel plans to one-up AMD Threadripper by offering an 18-core processor. Two, which is potentially more interesting, is that 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. Third, we also see the first ever branding of Core i9.

Intel only provided detailed specifications up to the Core i9-7900X, which is a 10-core / 20-thread processor that has 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, it includes 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0, an increase of 4 lanes over Broadwell-E, it has quad-channel DDR4 memory up to 2666 MHz and it has 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.

  Core i9-7900X Core i7-6950X Core i7-7700K
Architecture Skylake-X Broadwell-E Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 10/20 10/20 4/8
Base Clock 3.3 GHz 3.0 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo Boost 2.0 4.3 GHz 3.5 GHz 4.5 GHz
Turbo Boost Max 3.0 4.5 GHz 4.0 GHz N/A
Cache 13.75MB 25MB 8MB
Memory Support DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2400
Quad Channel
DDR4-2400
Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes 44 40 16
TDP 140 watts 140 watts 91 watts
Socket 2066 2011 1151
Price (Launch) $999 $1700 $339

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, which 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!

intel1.jpg

It is worth noting the performance gap between the 7820X and the 7900X. That $400 gap seems huge and out of place when compared to the deltas in the rest of the stack that never exceed $300 (and that is at the top two slots). Intel is clearly concerned about the Ryzen 7 1800X and making sure it has options to compete at that point (and below) but feels less threatened by the upcoming Threadripper CPUs. Pricing out the 10+ core CPUs today, without knowing what AMD is going to do for that, is a risk and could put Intel in the same position as it was in with the Ryzen 7 release.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i9-7900X Processor!

Intel Skylake-X and Skylake-SP Utilize Mesh Architecture for Intra-Chip Communication

Subject: Processors | June 15, 2017 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: xeon scalable, xeon, skylake-x, skylake-sp, skylake-ep, ring, mesh, Intel

Though we are just days away from the release of Intel’s Core i9 family based on Skylake-X, and a bit further away from the Xeon Scalable Processor launch using the same fundamental architecture, Intel is sharing a bit of information on how the insides of this processor tick. Literally. One of the most significant changes to the new processor design comes in the form of a new mesh interconnect architecture that handles the communications between the on-chip logical areas.

Since the days of Nehalem-EX, Intel has utilized a ring-bus architecture for processor design. The ring bus operated in a bi-directional, sequential method that cycled through various stops. At each stop, the control logic would determine if data was to be the collected to deposited with that module. These ring bus stops are located at memory controllers, CPU cores / caches, the PCI Express interface, memory controllers, LLCs, etc. This ring bus was fairly simple and easily expandable by simply adding more stops on the ring bus itself.

xeon-processor-5.jpg

However, over several generations, the ring bus has become quite large and unwieldly. Compare the ring bus from Nehalem above, to the one for last year’s Xeon E5 v5 platform.

intel-xeon-e5-v4-block-diagram-hcc.jpg

The spike in core counts and other modules caused a ballooning of the ring that eventually turned into multiple rings, complicating the design. As you increase the stops on the ring bus you also increase the physical latency of the messaging and data transfer, for which Intel compensated by increasing bandwidth and clock speed of this interface. The expense of that is power and efficiency.

For an on-die interconnect to remain relevant, it needs to be flexible in bandwidth scaling, reduce latency, and remain energy efficient. With 28-core Xeon processors imminent, and new IO capabilities coming along with it, the time for the ring bus in this space is over.

Starting with the HEDT and Xeon products released this year, Intel will be using a new on-chip design called a mesh that Intel promises will offer higher bandwidth, lower latency, and improved power efficiency. As the name implies, the mesh architecture is one in which each node relays messages through the network between source and destination. Though I cannot share many of the details on performance characteristics just yet, Intel did share the following diagram.

intelmesh.png

As Intel indicates in its blog on the mesh announcements, this generic diagram “shows a representation of the mesh architecture where cores, on-chip cache banks, memory controllers, and I/O controllers are organized in rows and columns, with wires and switches connecting them at each intersection to allow for turns. By providing a more direct path than the prior ring architectures and many more pathways to eliminate bottlenecks, the mesh can operate at a lower frequency and voltage and can still deliver very high bandwidth and low latency. This results in improved performance and greater energy efficiency similar to a well-designed highway system that lets traffic flow at the optimal speed without congestion.”

The bi-directional mesh design allows a many-core design to offer lower node to node latency than the ring architecture could provide, and by adjusting the width of the interface, Intel can control bandwidth (and by relation frequency). Intel tells us that this can offer lower average latency without increasing power. Though it wasn’t specifically mentioned in this blog, the assumption is that because nothing is free, this has a slight die size cost to implement the more granular mesh network.

Using a mesh architecture offers a couple of capabilities and also requires a few changes to the cache design. By dividing up the IO interfaces (think multiple PCI Express banks, or memory channels), Intel can provide better average access times to each core by intelligently spacing the location of those modules. Intel will also be breaking up the LLC into different segments which will share a “stop” on the network with a processor core. Rather than the previous design of the ring bus where the entirety of the LLC was accessed through a single stop, the LLC will perform as a divided system. However, Intel assures us that performance variability is not a concern:

Negligible latency differences in accessing different cache banks allows software to treat the distributed cache banks as one large unified last level cache. As a result, application developers do not have to worry about variable latency in accessing different cache banks, nor do they need to optimize or recompile code to get a significant performance boosts out of their applications.

There is a lot to dissect when it comes to this new mesh architecture for Xeon Scalable and Core i9 processors, including its overall effect on the LLC cache performance and how it might affect system memory or PCI Express performance. In theory, the integration of a mesh network-style interface could drastically improve the average latency in all cases and increase maximum memory bandwidth by giving more cores access to the memory bus sooner. But, it is also possible this increases maximum latency in some fringe cases.

Further testing awaits for us to find out!

Source: Intel

Computex 2017: ASUS Announces Prime and TUF Intel X299 Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | May 30, 2017 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: x299, VROC, skylake-x, raid, NVMe, LiveDash, kaby lake-x, Intel, HEDT, computex 2017, asus, 802.11ad

Alongside the announcement of Intel's Core i9 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs, ASUS has unveiled details of their X299 motherboards. While we've already taken a look updates to the Republic of Gamers line of products, ASUS also released details about their "Prime" and "TUF" X299 products.

Prime_x299_Deluxe_3D-3-AURA.jpg

ASUS PRIME

The Prime line of motherboards from ASUS are their entry-level options for any given platform. However just because they are the lowest cost boards doesn't mean that they are lacking in features.

All X299 Prime motherboards feature 3-way SLI thanks to the additional PCIe lanes available in the X299 platform (supported 44 lane CPUs are required). These available x16 slots are all reinforced with ASUS SafeSlot technology to help prevent heavy GPUs from damaging your motherboard.

The new Prime motherboards also feature the Realtek S1220A which we first saw on ASUS's Z270 products. ASUS claims that the S1220A paired with high-quality audio components on board help produce an onboard sound that rivals some dedicated sound cards.

Additionally, all X299 boards feature RGB LED headers with Aura Sync compatibility for maximum customizability. 

For the storage-focused, Intel VROC technology found on ASUS's X299 boards will allow for high-speed M.2 NVMe SSD RAIDs without being bottlenecked by chipset bandwidth, unlike on the Z270 platform.

Though the use of an add-in card users will be able to RAID multiple M.2 SSDs into a bootable array, utilizing full bandwidth from the available CPU PCIe lanes. ASUS even says that you can link multiple of these VROC cards together! 

In addition to these features, the Prime X299-Deluxe adds some very exciting features

Prime_x299_Deluxe_WiFI+MB-2.jpg

Wireless networking has seen an enhancement with the adoption of integrated 802.11ad Wi-Fi. This brand new wireless technology capable of 4.6Gbps transfer speeds uses spectrum in the 60Ghz range. While these high-speed radio waves cannot penetrate surfaces like walls, for applications like super fast file transfer between PCs in one room, or high-quality video streaming to wireless displays this should be ideal.

Along with Intel VROC support, the Prime X299-Deluxe has dual onboard M.2 Slots and a single U.2 Slot for high-speed storage options.

The new LiveDash display is a small OLED panel on the motherboard that allows you to display system statistics as well as custom animations and text for additional customization.

Prime_x299_Deluxe_TBEX3.jpg

In addition to the features on the motherboard, ASUS is including their ThunderboltEX 3 expansion card with the Prime X299-Deluxe so that owners can utilize Thunderbolt 3 technology with up to 40Gbps of bandwidth.

ASUS TUF X299

The TUF line has always been focused on ultimate reliability and durability. This is accomplished with high-quality components and more stringent testing standards than other products. 

TUF X299 MARK1_KV1_AURA.png

The ASUS TUF X299 Mark 1 is the all-new flagship motherboard for the TUF line. Redesigned Thermal Armor design helps to streamline airflow across the motherboard while also providing cooling to the onboard M.2 slot.

The Fortifier backplate uses a carefully shaped metal plate to stiffen the board to prevent warping. A removable GPU holder is also supplied to help support the weight of heavy graphics cards.

The new version of ASUS TUF Detective software allows users to perform diagnostics wirelessly over an included USB Bluetooth adapter rather than depending on a wired connection like the previous implementation.

TUF X299 MARK2_2D_AURA.png

The TUF X299 Mark 2 removes the Thermal Armor and Fortifier, but retains all of the great reliability and durability aspects of the TUF Mark 2,

ASUS Prime X299-Deluxe, Prime X299-A and TUF X299 Mark 1 motherboards will be available at leading resellers in North America starting in late June

Source: ASUS
Author:
Manufacturer: Intel

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.

slides-3.jpg

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
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+
Cores/Threads 18/36 16/32 14/28 12/24 10/20 8/16 6/12 4/8 4/4
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
Memory Support ? ? ? ? DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Dual Channel
DDR4-2666 Dual Channel
PCIe Lanes ? ? ? ? 44 28 28 16 16
TDP 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 165 watts (?) 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 112 watts 112 watts
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $339 $242

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.

intel1.jpg

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!

Continue reading about the Intel Core i9 series announcement!

Dating Intel and AMD in 2017, we're going out for chips

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2017 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, rumour, release dates, ryzen, skylake-x, kaby lake x, Threadripper, X399, coffee lake

DigiTimes has posted an article covering the probable launch dates of AMD's new CPUs and GPUs as well as Intel's reaction to the release.  Not all of these dates are confirmed but it is worth noting as these rumours are often close to those eventually announced.  Naples will be the first, with the server chips launching at the end of June but that is just the start. July is the big month for AMD, with the lower end Ryzen 3 chips hitting the market as well as the newly announced 16 core Threadrippers and the X399 chipset.  That will also be the month we see Vega's Founders Frontier Edition graphics cards arrive.

Intel's Basin Falls platform; Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X along with the associated X299 chipset are still scheduled for Computex reveal and a late June or early August release.  Coffee Lake is getting pushed ahead however, it's launch has been moved up to late August instead of the beginning of next year. 

Even with Intel's counters, AMD's balance sheet is likely to be looking better and better as the year goes on which is great news for everyone ... except perhaps Intel and NVIDIA.

Vega FE Slide.png

"Demand for AMD's Ryzen 7- and Ryzen 5-series CPU products has continued rising, which may allow the chipmaker to narrow its losses to below US$50 million for the second quarter of 2017. With Intel also rumored to pay licensing fees to AMD for its GPUs, some market watchers believe AMD may turn profitable in the second quarter or in the third."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: DigiTimes

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

X marks the spot; rumours of Broadwell-E's successor appear

Subject: General Tech | December 8, 2016 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: rumour, Intel, skylake-x, kaby lake x, LGA 2066

DigiTimes today published a possibly accurate post on the upcoming replacement for the ageing Broadwell-E platform, Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X.  These chips will feature a new socket and along with that a new chipset, bearing the predictable name of X299.   The quoted prices seem to fit with Intel's pricing scheme, from $468 to $1,780 but we did not hear of any core counts or frequency ranges, the expected release date is about a year away.  The new chips will of course support DDR4 and we might see a hint of them at Gamescom 2017 in Germany.  They also state you can expect to see Intel's 7xxx family of chips and the accompanying Z270 and H270 chipsets at CES this January; a reasonable expectation.

Intel-Logo.jpg

"The new Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors will feature a new LGA 2066 socket and support DDR4 memory. The CPUs will pair with Intel's new X299 chipsets."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes