Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: Intel

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.

pic1.jpg

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
Architecture Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Skylake-X Zen Zen Zen
Process Tech 14nm+ 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 16/32 12/24 8/16
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
Cache 24.75MB 22MB 19.25MB 16.5MB 13.75MB 11MB 8.25MB 40MB 38MB ?
Memory Support DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666
Quad Channel
DDR4-2666 Quad Channel DDR4-2666 Quad Channel
PCIe Lanes 44 44 44 44 44 28 28 64 64 64
TDP 165 watts 165 watts 165 watts 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 140 watts 180 watts 180 watts 180 watts?
Socket 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 2066 TR4 TR4 TR4
Price $1999 $1699 $1399 $1199 $999 $599 $389 $999 $799 $549

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.

Continue reading our review of the Intel Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X!

Podcast #466 - ECS Z270, Clutch Chairz, AMD market share, Lenovo Yoga, and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 7, 2017 - 09:46 AM |
Tagged: z270, Yoga 920, Yoga 720, video, Threadripper 1900x, superfish, skylake-x, podcast, Lenovo, IFA 2017, HP S700 Pro, GTX 1080, gigabyte, ECS, Die shot, Core i7-6700K, Core i5-6600k, Clutch Chairz, Aorus X5, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #466 - 09/07/17

Join us for discussion on ECS Z270 motherboards, Clutch Chairz, AMD market share, Lenovo Yoga, 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, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano

Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg

Program length: 1:15:50

Podcast topics of discussion:
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. 0:25:05 Casper
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. 1:09:10 Allyn: FolderTimeUpdate
  4. Closing/outro

Source:

Intel Skylake-X 18-core Die Pictured. It's Massive.

Subject: Processors | September 5, 2017 - 11:16 AM |
Tagged: skylake-x, Intel

We are just starting to ramp back up here after the long holiday weekend, so let's start with something that is both interesting and easy to absorb. High-profile overclocker Der8auer has gotten his hands on an 18-core Skylake-X processor and did exactly what you would expect - delidded it. 

The takeaway from this is two-fold. First, the die appears very clean, indicating that Intel has still not decided to solder these high-end processors and is going with a standard thermal interface between the die and the heat spreader. 

18c-die.jpg

Source: Der8auer

Also...it's friggin huge. Look at the 10-core die from the Core i9-7900X that was observed earlier this year and compare it to the image above. 

10c-die.jpg

Though the camera angles aren't ideal, comparing the layout of the die to the physical substrate, which IS the same size between all the Skylake-X processors, you can see how much larger this 18-core die truly is. Expect to see the 18, 16, 14, and even the 12-core processors to use the same physical die. 

Source: Der8auer
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: MSI

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

The MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard features a black PCB with a black chrome overlay covering the board's heat sinks and rear panel cover. The chipset overlay has fingers that extend in between the PCIe x16 slots in the areas just under the two PCIe x1 slots. Further, there is a plastic overlay protecting the audio components above the PCIe slots. MSI integrated LEDS into the rear panel cover, the VRM heat sink, the chipset cover, and the audio cover for a unique look. The board is designed around the Intel X299 chipset with in-built support for the latest Intel LGA2066 Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processor line and Quad Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2667MHz speed. The X299 M7 Gaming ACK can be found in retail with an MRSP of $399.99.

03-board-profile.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

04-board-flyapart.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

MSI integrated the following features into the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard: six SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; one U.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 32Gbps port; a Killer E2500 Gigabit controller; a Killer 802.ac wireless controller; four PCI-Express x16 slots; two PCI-Express x1 slots; a Realtek ALC1220 8-Channel audio subsystem; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

05-pwr-components.jpg

Courtesy of MSI

To power the X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard, MSI integrated a 12 phase digital power delivery system dubbed Military Class VI. The Military Class VI integrated components included Titanium Choke II chokes, 10 year-rated Dark capacitors, and Dark chokes.

Continue reading our preview of the MSI X299 Gaming M7 ACK motherboard!

Counting Cores ... Intel on the Bench

Subject: Processors | July 14, 2017 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: Intel, i7-7700k, i7-7800x, kaby lake, skylake-x

There is a $50 difference in price between these two chips, $390 versus $340, which will be within the price range of many of enthusiasts.  The i7-7700K's cores run at a higher frequency but there are only four whereas the i7-7800X has a half dozen.  The memory configuration is also a factor, with the Skylake chip offering quad channel memory while the Kaby Lake only offers dual channel.  The size of the cache may not have a huge impact on gaming performance but you need to consider the number of PCIe lanes; is 16 sufficient or will you need 28?

Techspot seeks to answer this question with a large number of gaming benchmarks, including PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.

2017-07-12-image.jpg

"Although we consider the Ryzen 5 1600 to be the sweet spot for building a new high-end gaming rig, many of you interested in going Intel want to know whether it makes more sense to buy the Core i7-7700K or the new 7800X?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Techspot
Subject: Motherboards
Manufacturer: GIGABYTE

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

02-board_0.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

For the launch of the Intel X299 chipset motherboards, GIGABYTE chose their AORUS brand to lead the charge. The AORUS branding differentiates the enthusiast and gamer friendly products from other GIGABYTE product lines, similar to how ASUS uses the ROG branding to differentiate their high performance product line. The X299 AORUS Gaming 3 is among GIGABYTE's intial release boards offering support for the latest Intel HEDT chipset and processor line. Built around the Intel X299 chlipset, the board supports the Intel LGA2066 processor line, including the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors, with support for Quad-Channel DDR4 memory running at a 2667MHz speed. The X299 AORUS Gaming 3 can be found in retail with an MRSP of $279.99.

03-board-profile_0.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE integrated the following features into the X299 AORUS Gaming 3 motherboard: eight SATA III 6Gbps ports; two M.2 PCIe Gen3 x4 32Gbps capable ports with Intel Optane support built-in; an Intel I219-V Gigabit RJ-45 port; five PCI-Express x16 slots; Realtek® ALC1220 8-Channel audio subsystem; and USB 2.0, 3.0, and 3.1 Type-A and Type-C port support.

04-pwr-system.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

To power the board, GIGABYTE integrated integrated a 9-phase digital power delivery system into the X299 AORUS Gaming 3's design. The digital power system was designed with IR digital power controllers and PowIRstage ICs, Server Level Chokes, and Durable Black capacitors.

05-pcie-armor.jpg

Courtesy of GIGABYTE

Designed to withstand the punishment of even the largest video cards, GIGABYTE's Ultra Durable PCIe Armor gives added strength and retention force to the primary and secondary PCIe x16 video card slots (PCIe X16 slots 1 and 3). The PCIe slots are reinforced with a metal overlay that is anchored to the board, giving the slot better hold capabilities (both side-to-side and card retention) when the board is used in a vertical orientation.

Continue reading our preview of the GIGABYTE X299 AORUS Gaming 3 motherboard!

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.

skylake-basics.png

"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

 

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:
Author:
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