AMD builds semi-custom SoC with Zen and Vega for Chinese gaming market

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | August 3, 2018 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, SoC, ryzen, China, APU, amd

This story originally appeared on ShroutResearch.com.

Continuing down the path with its semi-custom design division, AMD today announced a partnership with Chinese company Zhongshan Subor to design and build a new chip to be utilized for both a Chinese gaming PC and Chinese gaming console.

The chip itself will include a quad-core integration of the Zen processor supporting 8 threads at a clock speed of 3.0 GHz, no Turbo or XFR is included. The graphics portion is built around a Vega GPU with 24 Compute Units running at 1.3 GHz. Each CU has 64 stream processors giving the “Fenghuang” chip a total of 1536 SPs. That is the same size GPU used in the Kaby Lake-G Vega M GH part, but with a higher clock speed.

The memory system is also interesting as Zhongshan Subor has integrated 8GB of GDDR5 on a single package. (Update: AMD has clarified that this is a GDDR5 memory controller on package, and the memory itself is on the mainboard. Much more sensible.) This is different than how Intel integrated basically the same product from AMD as it utilized HBM2 memory. As far as I can see, this is the first time that an AMD-built SoC has utilized GDDR memory for both the GPU and CPU outside of the designs used for Microsoft and Sony.

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This custom built product will still support AMD and Radeon-specific features like FreeSync, the Radeon Software suite, and next-gen architecture features like Rapid Packed Math. It is being built at GlobalFoundries.

Though there are differences in the apparent specs from the leaks that showed up online earlier in the year, they are pretty close. This story thought the custom SoC would include a 28 CU GPU and HBM2. Perhaps there is another chip design for a different customer pending or more likely there were competing integrations and the announced version won out due to cost efficiency.

Zhongshan Subor is a Chinese holding company that owns everything from retail stores to an education technology business. You might have heard its name in association with a gluttony of Super Famicom clones years back. I don’t expect this new console to have near the reach of an Xbox or PlayStation but with the size of the Chinese market, anything is possible if the content portfolio is there.

It is interesting that despite the aggressiveness of both Microsoft and Sony in the console space in regards to hardware upgrades this generation, this Chinese design will be the first to ship with a Zen-based APU, though it will lag behind the graphics performance of the Xbox One X (and probably PS4 Pro). Don’t be surprised if both major console players integrate a similar style of APU design with their next-generation products, pairing Zen with Vega.

Revenue for AMD from this arrangement is hard to predict but it does get an upfront fee from any semi-custom chip customer for the design and validation of the product. There is no commitment for a minimum chip purchase so AMD will see extended income only if the console and PC built around the APU succeeds.

Enthusiasts and PC builders have already started questioning whether this is the type of product that might make its way to the consumer. The truth is that the market for a high-performance, fully-integrated SoC like this is quite small, with DIY and SI (system integrator) markets preferring discrete components most of the time. If we remove the GDDR5 integration, which is one of the key specs that makes the “Fenghuang” chip so interesting and expensive, I’d bet the 24 CU GPU would be choked by standard DDR4/5 DRAM. For now, don’t hold out hope that AMD takes the engineering work of this Chinese gaming product and applies it to the general consumer market.

Zen 2 "Rome" EPYC CPU on 7nm on track for 2018 sampling, 2019 release

Subject: Processors | June 5, 2018 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: Zen 2, Zen, rome, amd

The first whiffs of Zen 2 are finally reaching us. During the AMD press conference at Computex today CEO Dr. Lisa Su stood on stage and held up the first public showing of Rome, the codename for AMD’s next-generation EPYC enterprise processor family.

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Rome is exciting because it will be the first 7nm high-performance processor in the market, and it makes the 10nm production problems that Intel is having all the more troublesome for the blue-chip giant. And because Rome will be socket compatible with the currently shipping EPYC systems, there is a huge potential for market penetration through 2019.

AMD stated that it would be sampling Rome-based Zen 2 processors to partners in the second half of 2018, with launch in 2019. AMD does have silicon back in the labs, up and running. No more timing detail was given than that.

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The competitive statement of AMD putting timeframes on its 7nm server processors, rumored to be going up to 64-cores PER SOCKET, while Intel struggles with its move to 10nm, is significant. AMD still targets a 5% market share for server processors by the end of the year, but it might be 2019 that proves to be a more significant year for the company’s drive back into the server space.

Source: AMD

Jim Keller Leaves Tesla for Intel

Subject: Editorial | April 26, 2018 - 02:34 AM |
Tagged: Zen, tesla, raja koduri, Jim Keller, Intel, Conroe, Banias, amd

Update: The official Intel announcement can be found here.

For anyone that follows the twists and turns of the semiconductor world, the name “Jim Keller” is approaching legendary proportions. He was a driving force in AMD’s K7 and K8 development, he moved on to PA Semi which was acquired by Apple to produce their class leading SoC’s for the iPhone, and then went back to AMD to become lead architect of the Zen architecture which powers the latest Ryzen CPUs from AMD. He then moved on to Tesla to be in charge of chip development for their autonomous driving program.

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Very little has been heard from Jim Keller while he was at Tesla. The assumption was that he continued to do his job there and worked hard to innovate the potential chip designs that would power next generation Tesla vehicles to have fully autonomous driving capabilities. While that program has been in its infancy, we have not heard of custom chips being utilized by Tesla in the latest cars.

Now we have confirmation that Jim has left Tesla and has in fact been hired by Intel. Some months back Raja Koduri was hired by Intel to be in charge of all core development with a special interest in GPUs. It looks as if Raja has persuaded Jim to hop on board and help with what appears to be a stagnant core development team on the CPU side.

Intel has a history of “not invented here” mentality that has in previous years caused massive problems with the company. The reliance on the Pentium IV and its further development allowed their primary competitor to sneak up on them and shake up the marketplace. It took a design group out of Israel to set Intel onto a better path with the Banias/Conroe architectures which then lead to the Core architecture that we have seen iterated upon for the past decade.

The company has stagnated again. While the current Core architecture is faster in terms of IPC than Zen, it is a company that has not pursued innovation in a manner that has kept its competitor at bay. Jim Keller went back to AMD and architected what would become the Zen family of chips. In the space of those years he was there, he took the best technology AMD had to offer and built from the ground up a new architecture that could compete against Intel for a fraction of the R&D costs that the semiconductor giant typically spends. Intel stands to lose some significant marketshare in mobile, desktop, and server with the latest offerings from AMD. Combine this with the issues that the manufacturing group have run into with their development of the 10nm process, Intel seems to finally realize that design is really what matters when manufacturing issues hit. We can remember back in the Athlon 64/Pentium 4 days when AMD was 18 months behind on process technology, but still held a power/performance edge over Intel. While manufacturing can give a large advantage to any chip, a great design will not have to rely as heavily on cutting edge process tech to be competitive. Intel should hold all the keys to creating a truly overpowering series of products for their primary markets, but AMD has shown up with the plucky architecture that could cause some serious perturbations throughout the mobile, desktop, and server markets.

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It seems that Raja is “getting the gang back together” to revamp the design culture at Intel to more adequately deal with threats to their CPU dominance across the board. They also are probably looking more closely at the ultra-mobile market that ARM has dominated for the past decade. Previous Atom designs have not come close to the efficiency needed to address those markets, but perhaps with a change of leadership and architects we can see Intel successfully address this very important area with high performance/high efficiency chips that we honestly expect them to be able to design.

Jim Keller to Intel looks to be a transformational move. Not just because of his expertise in architecture, but also a shift in how Intel goes about its daily business. Bringing this kind of expertise into the company is a watershed moment that moves away from the “not invented here” mentality that seems to dictate decisions at the company when they are not facing serious competition. We will see what kind of power Raja and Jim can leverage in changing the culture of the company. What cannot be denied is that Intel has frittered away its advantages in core design by not implementing aggressive product and feature changes for the past decade to insure its dominance in the CPU world. Compound this situation with the manufacturing woes at 10nm and we can see that Intel needed a shakeup.

Consider Intel shook.

 

Source: Intel

AMD EPYC "Rome" Rumors: 7nm, 64 Cores, 2 Designs

Subject: Processors | February 19, 2018 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: amd, Zen, Zen 2

WCCFTech found some rumors (scroll down near the bottom of the linked article) about AMD’s upcoming EPYC “Rome” generation of EPYC server processors. The main point is that users will be able to buy up to 64 cores (128 threads) on a single packaged processor. This increase in core count will likely be due to the process node shrink, from 14nm down to GlobalFoundries’ 7nm. This is not the same as the upcoming second-generation Zen processors, which are built on 12nm and expected to ship in a few months.

Rome is probably not coming until 2019.

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But when it does… up to 128 threads. Also, if I’m understanding WCCFTech’s post correctly, AMD will produce two different dies for this product line. One design will have 12 cores per die (x4 for 48 cores per package) and the other will have 16 cores per die (x4 for 64 cores per package). The reason why this is interesting is because AMD is, apparently, expecting to sell enough volume to warrant multiple chip designs, rather than just making a flagship and filling in SKUs with bin sorting and cutting off the cores that require abnormally high voltage for a given clock rate as parts with lesser core count. (That will happen too, as usual, but from two different intended designs instead of just the flagship.)

If it works out as AMD plans, this could be an opportunity to acquire prime market share away from Intel and their Xeon processors. The second chip might let them get into second-tier servers with an even more cost-efficient part, because a 12-core die will bin better than a 16-core one and, as mentioned, yield more from a wafer anyway.

Again, this is a common practice from a technical standpoint; the interesting part is that it could work out well for AMD from a strategic perspective. The timing and market might be right for EPYC in various classes of high-end servers.

Source: WCCFTech

More views from Raven Ridge, Ryzen 3 2200G and Ryzen 5 2400G roundup

Subject: Processors | February 13, 2018 - 03:10 PM |
Tagged: 2200G, 2400G, amd, raven ridge, ryzen, Zen

Ryan covered the launch of AMD's new Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G which you should have already checked out.  The current options on the market offer more setup variations and tests than there is time in the day, which is why you should check out the links below to get a full view of how these new APUs function.  For instance, The Tech Report tested using DDR4-3200 CL14 RAM when benchmarking, which AMD's architecture can take advantage of.  As far as productivity and CPU bound tasks perform, Intel's i5-8400 does come out on top, however it is a different story for the Vega APU.  The 11 CUs of the 2400G perform at the same level or slightly better than a GTX 1030 which could make this very attractive for a gamer on a budget. 

 

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"AMD's Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G bring Raven Ridge's marriage of Radeon Vega graphics processors and Zen CPU cores to the desktop. Join us as we see what a wealth of new technology in one chip means for the state of gaming and productivity performance from the same socket."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Raven Ridge Desktop

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the release of the Ryzen family of processors, the full breadth of the releases AMD put forth inside of 12 months is more apparent than ever. Though I feel like I have written summations of 2017 for AMD numerous times, it still feels like an impressive accomplishment as I reflect for today’s review. Starting with the Ryzen 7 family of processors targeting enthusiasts, AMD iterated through Ryzen 5, Ryzen 3, Ryzen Threadripper, Ryzen Pro, EPYC, and Ryzen Mobile.

Today, though its is labeled as a 2000-series of parts, we are completing what most would consider the first full round of the Ryzen family. As the first consumer desktop APU (AMD’s term for a processor with tightly integrated on-die graphics), the Ryzen 5 2400G and the Ryzen 3 2200G look very much like the Ryzen parts before them and like the Ryzen mobile APUs that we previously looked at in notebook form. In fact, from an architectural standpoint, these are the same designs.

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Before diving into the hardware specifications and details, I think it is worth discussing the opportunity that AMD has with the Ryzen with Vega graphics desktop part. By most estimates, more than 30% of the desktop PCs sold around the world ship without a discrete graphics card installed. This means they depend on the integrated graphics from processor to handle the functions of general compute and any/all gaming that might happen locally. Until today, AMD has been unable to address that market with its currently family of Ryzen processors, as they require discrete graphics solutions.

While most of our readers fall into the camp of not just using a discrete solution but requiring one for gaming purposes, there are a lot of locales and situations where the Ryzen APU is going to provide more than enough graphics horsepower. The emerging markets in China and India, for example, are regularly using low-power systems with integrated graphics, often based on Intel HD Graphics or previous generation AMD solutions. These gamers and consumers will see dramatic increases in performance with the Zen + Vega solution that today’s processor releases utilize.

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Let’s not forget about secondary systems, small form factor designs, and PCs design for your entertainment centers as possible outlets for and uses for Ryzen APUs even for the most hardcore of enthusiast. Mom or Dad need a new PC for basic tasks on a budget? Again, AMD is hoping to make a case today for those sales.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G!

CES 2018: AMD Announces 2nd Generation Ryzen CPUs for April, Threadripper for 2H 2018

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen+, Zen, ryzen 2000, ryzen, CES 2018, CES, amd

During AMD’s CES 2018 Tech Day, CEO Lisa Su announced the plans for the second-generation Ryzen processor roll-out in April. This is the revised design that has been rumored for months, with a process technology change and slight tweaks to features.

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Details are expectantly short, but what we know is that these parts will move from a 14nm process technology to 12nm from GlobalFoundries. AMD is calling the design “Zen+” and this is NOT Zen 2 – that is coming next year. You should expect higher clocks for Ryzen 2000-series processors and improvements to Precision Boost that will enable more consistent and gradual clock speed shifts in workloads of interesting like gaming.

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Also on the roadmap now are updated Threadripper processors with the same “Zen+” enhancements, coming out in 2H of 2018.

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The great news for enthusiasts that have already bought into AMD’s current generation platform is existing motherboards will support this processor update, as long as you have the associated BIOS. Motherboards are already being updated today for the channel (to support the Ryzen APU launch) so there should be little concern with compatibility come April.

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However, there IS a new chipset coming with “Zen+”, the AMD X470. Information on it is also slim, but it includes some optimizations and fixes. AMD had growing pains with the initial set of motherboard releases including power concerns and routing issues, both of which are addressed with the new design.

That’s all we know for now, but I am excited to get my hands on the Ryzen second-generation processors this spring to see how much performance and behavior has changed. Intel has definitely changed the landscape since Ryzen’s first release in March of 2017, so enthusiasts should welcome the back and forth competition cycle once again.

Source: PCPer

CES 2018: AMD Ryzen Desktop CPU with Vega Graphics Coming Feb 12

Subject: Processors | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen, CES 2018, CES, APU, amd, 2400G, 2200G

Though AMD might not use the term APU anymore, that’s what we are looking at today. The Ryzen + Vega processor (single die implementation, to be clear) for desktop solutions will begin shipping February 12 and will bring high-performance integrated graphics to low cost PCs. Fully titled the “AMD Ryzen Desktop Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics”, this new processor will utilize the same AM4 socket and motherboards that have been shipping since March of 2017. Finally, a good use for those display outputs!

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Though enthusiasts might have little interest in these parts, it is an important step for AMD. Building a low-cost PC with a Ryzen CPU has been difficult due to the requirement of a discrete graphics card. Nearly all of Intel’s processors have integrated graphics, and though we might complain about the performance it provides in games, the truth is that the value of not needing another component is crucial for reducing costs.

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Without an APU that had both graphics and the company’s greatly improved Zen CPU architecture, AMD was leaving a lot of potential sales on the table. Also, the market for entry-level gaming in small form factor designs is significant.

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Two models will be launching: the Ryzen 5 2400G and Ryzen 3 2200G. Clock speeds are higher than what exists on the Ryzen 5 1400 and Ryzen 3 1200 and match the core and thread count. The 2400G includes 11 Compute Units (704 stream processors) and the 2200G has 8 CUs (512 stream processors). The TDP of both is 65 watts.

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The pricing configuration gives AMD some impressive placement. The $169 Ryzen 5 2400G will offer much better graphics performance than the $30 more expensive Core i5-8400 (based on current pricing) and has equivalent performance to the $100+ higher Core i5-8400 and NVIDIA GT 1030 discrete solution.

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When looking at CPU performance, the new Ryzen processors offer higher scores than the units they are replacing. They do this while adding Vega graphics capability and matching or lower prices.

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AMD even went as far to show the overclocking headroom that the Ryzen APU can offer. During an on-site demo we saw the Ryzen 5 2400G improve its 3DMark score by 39% with memory frequency and GPU clock speed increases. Moving the GPU clock from ~1100 MHz to 1675 MHz will mean a significant increase in power consumption, and I do question the size of the audience that wants to overclock an APU. Still – cool to see!

The Ryzen CPU with Vega graphics is a product we all expected to see, it’s the first perfect marriage of AMD’s revitalized CPU division and its considerable advantage in integrated graphics. It has been a long time since one of AMD’s APUs appeared interesting to me and stoked my desire to build a low-cost, mainstream gaming build. Looks for reviews in just a few short weeks!

Source: PCPer
Author:
Subject: Processors, Mobile
Manufacturer: AMD

A potential game changer?

I thought we were going to be able to make it through the rest of 2017 without seeing AMD launch another family of products. But I was wrong. And that’s a good thing. Today AMD is launching the not-so-cleverly-named Ryzen Processor with Radeon Vega Graphics product line that will bring the new Zen processor architecture and Vega graphics architecture onto a single die for the ultrathin mobile notebook platforms. This is no minor move for them – just as we discussed with the AMD EPYC processor launch, this is a segment that has been utterly dominated by Intel. After all, Intel created the term Ultrabook to target these designs, and though that brand is gone, the thin and light mindset continues to this day.

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The claims AMD makes about its Ryzen mobile APU (combination CPU+GPU accelerated processing unit, to use an older AMD term) are not to be made lightly. Right up front in our discussion I was told this is going to be the “world’s fastest for ultrathin” machines. Considering that AMD had previously been unable to even enter those markets with previous products, both due to some technological and business roadblocks, AMD is taking a risk by painting this launch in such a light. Thanks to its ability combine CPU and GPU technology on a single die though, AMD has some flexibility today that simply did not have access to previously.

From the days that AMD first announced the acquisition of ATI graphics, the company has touted the long-term benefits of owning both a high-performance processor and graphics division. By combining the architectures on a single die, they could become greater than the sum of the parts, leveraging new software directions and the oft-discussed HSA (heterogenous systems architecture) that AMD helped create a foundation for. Though the first rounds of APUs were able to hit modest sales, the truth was that AMD’s advantage over Intel’s on the graphics technology front was often overshadowed by the performance and power efficiency advantages that Intel held on the CPU front.

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But with the introduction of the first products based on Zen earlier this year, AMD has finally made good on the promises of catching up to Intel in many of the areas where it matters the most. The new from-the-ground-up design resulted in greater than 50% IPC gains, improved area efficiency compared to Intel’s latest Kaby Lake core design, and enormous gains in power efficiency compared to the previous CPU designs. When looking at the new Ryzen-based APU products with Vega built-in, AMD claims that they tower over the 7th generation APUs with up to 200% more CPU performance, 128% more GPU performance, and 58% lower power consumption. Again, these are bold claims, but it gives AMD confidence that it can now target premium designs and form factors with a solution that will meet consumer demands.

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AMD is hoping that the release of the Ryzen 7 2700U and Ryzen 5 2500U can finally help turn the tides in the ultrathin notebook market.

  Core i7-8650U Core i7-8550U Core i5-8350U Core i5-8250U Ryzen 7 2700U Ryzen 5 2500U
Architecture Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Kaby Lake Refresh Zen+Vega Zen+Vega
Process Tech 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm+ 14nm 14nm
Socket BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 BGA1356 ? ?
Cores/Threads 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8 4/8
Base Clock 1.9 GHz 1.8 GHz 1.7 GHz 1.6 GHz 2.2 GHz 2.0 GHz
Max Turbo Clock 4.2 GHz 4.0 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.6 GHz
Memory Tech DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4/LPDDR3 DDR4 DDR4
Memory Speeds 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400/2133 2400 2400
Cache 8MB 8MB 6MB 6MB 6MB 6MB
System Bus DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI3 - 8.0 GT/s DMI2 - 6.4 GT/s DMI2 - 5.0 GT/s N/A N/A
Graphics UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 UHD Graphics 620 Vega (10 CUs) Vega (8 CUs)
Max Graphics Clock 1.15 GHz 1.15 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.1 GHz 1.3 GHz 1.1 GHz
TDP 15W 15W 15W 15W 12-25W
15W Nominal
12-25W
15W Nominal
MSRP $409 $409 $297 $297 ? ?

The Ryzen 7 2700U will run 200 MHz higher on the base and boost clocks for the CPU and 200 MHz higher on the peak GPU core clock. Though both systems have 4-cores and 8-threads, the GPU on the 2700U will have two additional CUs / compute units.

Continue reading our preview of the new AMD Ryzen Mobile Processor!

Raven Ridge rumours

Subject: General Tech | September 18, 2017 - 04:17 PM |
Tagged: amd, raven ridge, Bristol Ridge, Ryzen 5 2500U, Zen, Vega, 14nm

If the rumours are true, the new 14nm Raven Ridge based AMD Ryzen 5 2500U will offer an impressive jump in performance compared to AMD's current generation of APUs.  The Inquirer's source suggests the new APU will offer a 50% jump in single threaded performance and an impressive 90% advantage on multi-threaded performance.  The multithreaded performance improvement may be the headline but seeing a huge increase in single threaded applications, AMD's recent Achilles Heel, shows some interesting improvements to Zen.  This will also mark the arrival of their first APU with Vega onboard, so you can expect better graphics performance as well.  The benchmark numbers and links are here.

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"LEAKED BENCHMARKS for AMD's forthcoming Raven Ridge APUs suggest that upcoming devices, expected to be launched in time for Christmas, will outperform current Bristol Ridge APUs by up to 90 per cent on multicore applications."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer