AMD Releases Updated Raven Ridge Desktop APU Graphics Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | May 18, 2018 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: Vega, ryzen, raven ridge, Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition, r5 2400g, r3 2200g, amd

Today, AMD released the first driver update for the desktop Raven Ridge APUs since their launch in February of this year.

The new Q2 2018 drivers are based on AMD's current Radeon Software Adrenalin Edition release and bring features such as ReLive and the Radeon overlay to the Vega-powered desktop platform.

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We haven't had a lot of time to look for potential performance enhancements this driver brings yet, but we did do a quick 3DMark run on our Ryzen 5 2400G with memory running at DDR4-3200.

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Here, we see healthy gains of around 5% in 3DMark Firestrike for the new driver. While I wouldn't expect big gains for older titles, newer titles that have come out since the initial Raven Ridge drive release in February will see the biggest gains.

We are still eager to see the mobile iterations of AMD's Raven Ridge processors get updated drivers, as notebooks such as the HP Envy X360 have not been updated since they launched in November of last year.

It's good to see progress from AMD on this front, but they must work harder to unify the graphics drivers of their APU products into the mainstream graphics driver releases if they want those products to be taken seriously as gaming options.

Source: AMD

While we await Ryzen 5 Pro 2500U benchmarks, here's some Ryzen 5 2600 performance for you

Subject: Processors | May 16, 2018 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen 2, Ryzen 5 2600, Core i5-8400

There are no benchmarks of the new Ryzen Pro series to offer as of yet, so why not check out a few hundred benchmarks pitting the $190 Ryzen 5 2600 against the $180 Core i5-8400?  Techspot takes you on a tour of games, from ARK Survival Evolved through PUBG to Warhammer Total War to see what effect your choice of processor has when gaming on a GTX 1080 Ti.  When the dust settled there were two obvious choices for prospective buyers.  For those who want a simple solution, the i5-8400 makes sense as it will offer decent performance right out of the box, no fiddling required.  On the other hand, for those who are not completely boring, the Ryzen 5 2600, overclocked to 4.2GHz paired with DDR4-3400 is clearly better overall. 

Check out the performance of your favourite games in the full review and then scream about the unfairness of it all below.

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"For the past few weeks we've been busy benchmarking AMD's Ryzen 5 2600 and Intel's Core i5-8400. For testing we have 36 games on the menu, each tested at 720p, 1080p and 1440p using the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. That is, 324 individual tests, three times each... almost 1,000 benchmark runs, so grab a drink, some snacks and get comfortable."

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Source: TechSpot

Two scoops of Ryzen, eat on the go or at your desk

Subject: General Tech, Processors | May 15, 2018 - 01:49 PM |
Tagged: ryzen pro, amd, APU, ryzen 7 pro 2700u, Ryzen 5 Pro 2500U, Ryzen 3 Pro 2300U, Ryzen 5 Pro 2400G, Ryzen 5 Pro 2400GE, Ryzen 3 Pro 2200G

AMD have extended both their processor lineup as well as their names, by sticking Pro into the already verbose Ryzen 2 series, and added another letter to pay attention to as well.   The 2xxxU series are mobile APUs which you won't see running around in the wild, the 2xxxG desktop series you certainly will, however there is also an E you need to pay attention to. 

The Ryzen 5 Pro 2400G is a 65W part which will offer four multi-threaded cores topping out at 3.9GHz, with 11 Vega CUs and ships with the Wraith Stealth cooler. The Ryzen 5 Pro 2400GE is almost as similar as the name but tops out at 3.8GHz, also has 11 Vega CUs and sports an impressive TDP of 35W, which may be part of the reason why it doesn't ship with a cooler. 

The series looks to offer a great choice for someone building a machine without a GPU installed, whether they intend to add one at a later time or not.  The naming conventions being used by Intel and AMD are getting far too easy to confuse already, without adding possible confusion within single product lines.  Let's hope this does not continue for too long.  The Inquirer lists all the models, mobile and desktop, on this page.

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"Alongside the usual specs, the chips all have the built-in security and onboard encryption features of the Ryzen Pro CPUs, designed to make them appeal for commercial and enterprise use."

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Source: The Inquirer

Precisely what are AMD's XFR 2 and Overdrive?

Subject: Processors | May 11, 2018 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, xfr2, precision boost 2, Precision Boost Overdrive

Whether you have had a chance to play around with a new Ryzen processor or not, you might benefit from more information on what XFR2 and Precision Boost 2 are and what they are not.  [H]ard|OCP spent some time to write an article that dispels the rumours which have been spread, especially the fact that these are both unreleased at the moment.  Together they will provide support for Precision Boost Overdrive, which could be supported by Ryzen Zen+ CPUs on an X470 motherboard, at least in theory.  When enabled it will utilize the ability of the new Ryzen Master software to monitor your motherboards VRM usage and if it sees it is below it capacity it will relax the vCore limiter on your CPU allowing more juice to flow in which can be used to increase the frequency of your Zen + chip.  It will be interesting to see how effective this is, but for now all we can do is read about it.

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"We wanted to put together a quick overview about what Precision Boost 2 and XFR2 are NOT about. It seems that slides leaked, and faked, earlier in the 2nd generation Ryzen's development have clouded some people's understanding on what features are included, but more important which features are not."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Microsoft releases 64-bit SDK for Windows on Arm platforms

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 8, 2018 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, windows on arm, microsoft, 64-bit

During the Microsoft BUILD developer conference, the Windows initiative for Qualcomm and Arm processors got a much needed shot in the arm (heh) with announced support for a 64-bit SDK.

Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 1 contains the early version of these tools that will give developers the ability to build native 64-bit Arm apps. Microsoft claims that this “represents the next step in the evolution of the Always Connected PC running Windows 10 on ARM” and I couldn’t agree more.

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This gives software developers the ability to target Arm-based processors like the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm natively without forcing users to depend on emulation layers provided by Microsoft. While the emulation layer is critical for compatibility, it does slow performance quite a bit compared to native-running code.

While the Windows Store already supports ARM32 packages, ARM64 packages will be supported “soon” based on what Microsoft is telling us. Even more interesting, Microsoft is promoting the ability for developers to post the Win32 (non-Store) ARM64 version of software online, rather than waiting for the Store apps to be approved.

The Microsoft website has details on how developers can start this integration. Qualcomm has its own documentation as well.

From my own view, this a necessary step for Microsoft to take, even if it does seem later than many would have liked. The benefits of Windows 10 running on Snapdragon and Arm are real and substantial, but being hindered by performance due to emulation was always known to be a speedbump. Getting developers access to better, and easier to use, Arm compilation is the next step.

I would also like to see Microsoft take a more proactive role in pushing developers to offer both versions of software. MS simply cannot take a passive, backseat approach to the Always On, Always Connected PC initiative and have it be a success.

Source: Microsoft

Intel Kicks Kaby Lake-X CPUs to the Curb

Subject: Processors | May 1, 2018 - 10:25 AM |
Tagged: kaby lake-x, Intel, 7740x, 7640x

So, do you remember the Kaby Lake-X processors that launched along side the Skylake-X parts back on June 19, 2017. These are (were) 14nm+ processors built into the LGA2066 socket as a part of the X299 chipset launch. They shipped as the Core i7-7740X (4-core, 8-thread) and Core i5-7640X (4-core, 4-thread) and at the time I had this to say about them:

These are very…interesting CPUs. They do not offer new features compared to the Core i7-7700K or Core i5-7600K, but run at barely higher clocks (100 MHz on the base on the 7740X for example). They don’t see more PCIe integration, they don’t have larger caches. They are basically the same Kaby Lake design we have come to know previously but in a new package and prepped for a new set of motherboards. Is that an advantage? It’s hard to know yet, but in general, the X299 motherboard market is going to be more expensive than the Z270 motherboard market, meaning you are going to pay more in total to own this CPU. Does the added TDP give us more thermal headroom for overclocking? Maybe the new heat spreader? I’m not sure and Intel hasn’t said yet. But what they have stated is that they wanted to offer the option to consumers that wanted the “absolute fastest gaming processor” with the best clock speeds at a reasonable price.

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Even in June, the value and positioning of the Kaby Lake-X processor was a mystery. Well Intel has fixed all of that today by announced end-of-life for both of those processors.

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Intel's language in the release is kind of interesting: "Market demand for the products listed in the "Products Affected/Intel Ordering Codes" tables below have shifted to other Intel products." Yeah, I bet it has. 

These were parts without a real audience, and their creation was a consistent mystery to the enthusiast market Intel targeted. For many, it was a honest sign that Intel has lost track of what the PC market was asking for. At least the short lifespan of the pair indicates that Intel got the message loud and clear.

If you are so inclined, you can still pick up the 7740X and 7640X for a while longer. Here is the table of Kaby Lake-X's remaining life.

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You can read the entire Intel document here if you'd like. 

Source: Intel

The number of good game streamers is Ryzen

Subject: Processors | April 30, 2018 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X, ryzen 2, amd

The Tech Report tested the gaming prowess of the new Ryzen 2 chips in a variety of games at 1080p; as the 1080 Ti they used in all the test systems equalled the playing field so that the CPU performance could been seen.  If you game at higher resolutions, then the performance delta is moot as it is your GPU which is handling the load but at 1080p gaming, CPU and DDR frequency matters.  While the new chips did not manage to surpass Intel's they closed the gap noticeably compared to the initial generation of Ryzens and they were capable of doing something Intel's offerings simply can't.  Those who like to stream their games while they play would do well to consider the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 7 1800X as they offered a significantly better experience and were the only ones capable of a decent stream of the latest Deus Ex game. 

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"AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs have impressive productivity chops, but do they have game? We ran the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X through our high-refresh-rate gaming and streaming gauntlet to find out."

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AMD Announces Q1 2018 Results

Subject: Processors | April 25, 2018 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: Zen+, Vega, TSMC, ryzen, Results, Q1 2018, Polaris, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, financials, amd, 7nm, 12nm

Today AMD announced their latest financial results for Q1 2018. We expected it to be a good quarter with their guidance earlier this year, but I doubt many thought it would be as strong as it turned out to be. AMD posted revenue of $1.65 billion with a net income of $81 million. This is up from the expected $1.57 billion that analysts expected from what is typically a slow quarter. This is up 40% from Q1 2017 and its $1.18 billion and up 23% from Q4 2017.

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There are multiple reasons behind this revenue growth. The compute and graphics segment lead the way with $1.12B of revenue. The entire year of 2017 AMD had released parts seemingly nonstop since March and the introduction of Ryzen. Q1 continued this trend with the release of the first Ryzen APUs with Vega Graphics introducing the 2000 series. AMD also ramped up production of the newly released Zen+ Ryzen chips and started shipping those out to retailers and partners alike. Initial mobile Ryzen parts were also introduced and shipped with SKUs being also shipped to partners who have yet to announce and release products based on these chips. Finally the strength of the Radeon graphics chips in both gaming and blockchain applications allowed them a tremendous amount of sellthrough throughout 2017 and into 2018. AMD estimates that 10% of the quarter was due to blockchain demand.

Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a revenue of $532 million, which is lower than most analysts expected. Semi-Custom in particular has seen a decline over the past few quarters with the release and saturation of the market of the latest console platforms utilizing AMD designed chips. It appears as though much of the contract is front loaded in terms of revenue with royalties tapering off over time as sales decrease. AMD did have some significant wins, namely providing Intel with Vega based GPUs to be integrated with Intel’s Kaby Lake-G based units. These declines were offset by the shipment of EPYC based processors that are slowly ramping and being shipped to partners to be integrated into server platforms later this year. We have seen a handful of wins from companies like Dell EMC, but AMD is still slowly re-entering the market that they were forced to abandon with their previous, outdated Opteron products. AMD expects to reach mid-single digit marketshare during 2019, but for now they are just getting off the ground with this platform.

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The company is not standing still or resting on their laurels after the successful and heralded launch of the latest Ryzen 2000 series chips based on the Zen+ architecture. It is aggressively ramping their mobile chips featuring the Zen/Vega combination and have some 25 product wins being released throughout late spring and summer. Overall partners have some 60 products either shipping or will ship later this year featuring Ryzen based CPUs.

There is some fear that AMD will see its GPU sales throughput be impacted by the recent drop of cryptocurrency value. Several years back with the Bitcoin crash we saw a tremendous amount of secondhand product being sold and GPU revenues for the company tanked. AMD is a bit more optimistic about the upcoming quarter as they expect the current cryptocurrency/blockchain market is much more robust and people will be holding onto these cards to mine other products/workloads rather than drop them on eBay. My thought here is that we will see a rise in cards available on the secondary/used market, but quite a bit might be offset by latent gaming demand that has been held back due the outrageous prices of GPUs over the past year. People that have been waiting for prices to get back to MSRP or below will then buy. This could be further enhanced if memory prices start to drop, providing more affordable DDR4 and flash for SSDs.

The company is also forging ahead with advanced process technology. They have recently received silicon back from TSMC’s 7nm process and it looks to be a Vega based product. The rumor surrounding this is that it will be more of a compute platform initially rather than gaming oriented. Later this year AMD expects to receive new EPYC silicon, but it looks as though this will be from GLOBALFOUNDRIES 7nm process. AMD wants to be flexible in terms of manufacturing, but they have a long history with GLOBALFOUNDRIES when it comes to CPU production. The two companies work closely together to make sure the process and CPU design match up as cleanly as possible to allow products such as Zen to reach market successfully. The GPU arm is obviously more flexible here as they have a history with multiple foundry partners throughout the past two decades.

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AMD has set an aggressive, but achievable, timetable of product releases that is initially focusing on the CPU side but would logically be transitioning to the GPU side. Zen+ is out on time and has met with acclaim from consumers and reviewers alike. The latest GPU products are comparable in performance to what NVIDIA has to offer, though they are less power efficient for that level of performance. The “pipecleaner” Vega on 7nm will pave the way towards Navi based products that look to be introduced next year. AMD could possibly refresh Vega on 12nm, but so far there has been no concrete information that such a product exists. They may very well continue to rely on current Polaris and Vega products throughout the rest of this year while focusing on Navi efforts to have a more competitive part come 2019.

Q2 2018 looks to be another successful quarter for AMD. The company’s outlook calls for revenue in the $1.725 billion range, plus or minus $50 million. AMD expects continued growth in all Ryzen product lines and greater throughput of EPYC based products as companies test and release products based on that platform. The GPU market could remain flat, but will most likely decline. That decline will be more than covered by the sell-through of the Ryzen line from top to bottom.

AMD improved their margin by an impressive 4%. Going from 32% to 36% showed the strength and higher ASPs of both CPU and GPU products. AMD expects another 1% increase over the next quarter. While these are good numbers for AMD, they do not match the 58%+ for NVIDIA and Intel when it comes to their margins. AMD certainly has a lot of room for improvement, and a richer product stack will allow them to achieve greater ASPs and see a rise in their overall margins. If EPYC becomes more successful, then we could see another significant improvement in margins for the company.

AMD is getting back to where they belong in terms of product placement, competitiveness, and financial performance. The company has seen a huge improvement year on year and hopes to continue that with a rich product stack that addresses multiple areas of computing. AI and machine learning is ramping up in the company in terms of software support as they feel their CPUs and GPUs are already good enough to handle the workloads. As more money comes in, they can afford to diversify and create a wider product base to compete in more markets. So far Lisa Su has been very, very successful in helping pull AMD from the ashes to the competitive situation that they currently find themselves in.

 

Source: AMD

AMD Clarifies Warranty Terms for Ryzen CPU use with Third-Party Coolers

Subject: Processors | April 25, 2018 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 7, ryzen 5, ryzen, Pinnacle Ridge, amd

For those of you that missed it, there was a bit of controversy this week, when a Reddit user found a support page on AMD's website which stated that use of any other "heatsink/fan" than the included one with AMD "Processor-in-Box" products would invalidate their warranty.

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As you might imagine, this caused some confusion and concern from owners and potential purchasers of Ryzen CPUs. How would AMD be able to tell if you were using a third-party cooler? What about the Ryzen 1000 series SKUs that didn't come with coolers?

As it turns out, this was an older support page that does not accurately reflect the warranty of modern AMD processors. AMD has since updated the warranty page to provide clarification.

Now, the page reads that the warranty shall be null and void if the processor "is used with any heatsink/fan (HSF) that does not support operation of the AMD processor in conformance with AMD’s publicly available specifications."

Kudos to the community who put the spotlight on this potentially misleading support page, and AMD for providing quick and decisive clarification on their actual warranty policies. 

Source: AMD

Rumor: Intel 40th Anniversary CPU. Core i7-8086K

Subject: Processors | April 24, 2018 - 08:56 PM |
Tagged: Intel, coffee lake s, coffee lake, 8086

I kind-of hope that this is true… for the pun alone.

What do you get when the following three things happen: the 40th anniversary of your introductory part, a product line that can contain your original products model number, and, of course, strong competition from your primary competitor? Maybe the Intel Core i7-8086K. Maybe an elaborate internet hoax.

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Image Credit: DDAA117 via WCCFTech

The rumor claims that it will be a slightly up-clocked Core i7-8700K. It will retain the 6 cores, 12 threads, 12MB of L3 cache, and 95W TDP, but the core will be clocked at 4.0 GHz (up from 3.7) and it can boost on a single core up to maybe 5.1 GHz. Basically, if true, it sounds like Intel cherry-picked a few high-performing dies out of Coffee Lake-S and set them aside for a promotion around the Computex or E3 time frame.

From a consumer standpoint? The last anniversary processor was a great deal, so pricing will become the deciding factor. If you were interested in the Core i7-8700K, then you might want to wait and see whether this slight notch above is true.

Source: WCCFTech

Intel Technical Documentation outs 8-Core Coffee Lake-S Processor

Subject: Processors | April 16, 2018 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: coffee lake, coffee lake s, 8700k, Z370, Z390, 6+2, 8+2

The eventual release of an Intel "Z390" chipset and 8-core Coffee Lake-S processor seem to be almost an inevitability after all of the leaks we've had about these potential parts.

One more piece of evidence was brought to our attention recently, as spotted by an eagle-eyed user on Reddit. Intel's Technical Documentation website now seems to contain documents referencing an unreleased "Coffee Lake S 8+2" product.

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In Intel nomenclature, 8+2 would refer to 8 CPU cores, plus 2 integrated GPU cores. For example, the current 6-core i7-8700K processor is referred to as a 6+2 processor configuration. Hence, the 8+2 processor being referenced here would be a sibling to the 8700K, with two more CPU cores. 

Unfortunately, the actual documents are hidden behind an Intel login page, so we are unable to view them in full, but rather only have titles and short descriptions of their contents.

Given their recent appetite for the "i9" brand as the highest-end configurations, as we saw on the recent Coffee Lake-H notebook processor launch, I would expect this to be the first mainstream Intel desktop processor to carry the "i9" branding.

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Additionally, we see documents referring to design aspects of both the existing Coffee Lake-S 6+2 part (8700K) and this new 8+2 part. This brings us hope that Z370 motherboards will remain compatible with this new processor, and not require yet another chipset.

While it seems likely that these new processors will launch alongside a Z390 chipset, we would expect the same level of compatibility while adding connectivity features built into the chipset such as USB 3.1 Gen 2 and 802.11ac wireless, as we saw on the recent H370 and B360 chipsets.

With the launch of AMD's Ryzen 2000-series of processors looming later this week, it seems like Intel is playing the waiting game before launching this 8-core processor. Speculation is that we could see this part before Computex in June.

Source: Reddit

Ryzen a little late to get 2 rumours

Subject: Processors | April 13, 2018 - 07:13 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 2, preview, amd, Pinnacle Ridge, x470, Ryzen 5 2600X, Ryzen 7 2700X

Better late than never to get previews of the second coming of Ryzen up, from two additional sources above and beyond the post below.  Pinnacle Ridge is poised to release next Thursday but there are a few details which have surfaced for our enjoyment about the chips themselves as well as the new Wraith coolers.  The Tech Report offers the few tidbits they are currently able to disclose, such as the infection of RGBs in the Wraith Prism cooler, while TechARP have posted a few leaked benchmarks which may or may not reflect reality as well as a look at the reviewers kit.  We know the Ryzen 5 2600X has six cores and the Ryzen 7 2700X sports eight but so far the only other thing we know for sure is what they both look like physically

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"AMD is taking the wraps off its first second-generation Ryzen CPUs this morning. Join us as we take a first look at the specs and pricing of the first Zen+ products ahead of their official launch."

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AMD puts Ryzen 2000 family up for pre-order...NOW

Subject: Processors | April 13, 2018 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen+, ryzen, pre-order, amd

In a move that should shock nobody, ahead of its April 19th release, AMD is offering pre-orders for the Ryzen 2000 family of processors starting today at Amazon.com and other key retailers.

The previously leaked specifications all turned out to be true: you'll find the Ryzen 7 2700X as the top end part with a base clock speed 3.7 GHz and a max Turbo of 4.3 GHz. The TDP jumps from 95 watt of the previous generation to 105 watts. Cost? $329.

Here's the details on the other three parts going up today: the Ryzen 7 2700, Ryzen 5 2600X, and Ryzen 5 2600.

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One interesting note - all four of these CPUs will now ship with a cooler in the box, so you won't need to struggle to find a heatsink or water cooler that has AM4 support out of the box.

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AMD outlines the already released details about the Ryzen 2000-series, including its production on GlobalFoundries 12nm process tech and the updated "Zen+" architecture. It makes claims that 2nd Gen AMD Ryzen will be the "ultimate desktop processor for gamers, creators, and enthusiasts" which is quite the claim to live up to.

There isn't much else to talk about, though AMD does allow us to mention briefly the accompanying X470 chipset and its improved power delivery system, providing a bit more headroom and capability for these Ryzen 2000-series parts.

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You will also find mention of AMD StoreMI, a maturation of the company's partnership with Enmotus, bringing a tiered caching system to the platform. Again, details are minimal until the April 19th launch date, at which point we'll have much more to share with you.

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Now that this is all confirmed, I'm very curious to see the community reaction to the 2700X coming in at $329, undercutting the Core i7-8700K by a few bucks. There is going to be another big battle for the DIY space coming this spring, and we can't wait to share the first punches with you next week.

Source: Amazon.com

A difference of 10; testing a B350 against a B360

Subject: Processors | April 11, 2018 - 06:06 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, Intel, i5-8400, coffee lake, B360, b350, AMD Ryzen 5 1600, amd

With the launch of Intel's B360 chipset, the price difference between a Coffee Lake and Ryzen system have been much reduced; in part because RAM and GPU will account for the vast majority of your expenses.  TechSpot tested the Ryzen 5 1600 against an i5-8400 on a B360 motherboard, as well as a Z370 to show the difference between those two chipsets.  Overall, the results came out in a tie, with AMD's chip better at tasks which benefit from multithreading while Intel's topped out when gaming. 

Of course, we are quickly approaching the arrival of Ryzen 2, which may change things drastically.

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"Before the incoming 2nd-gen Ryzen parts arrive this shootout will let us establish how AMD and Intel currently stack up with all the latest Windows updates, BIOS updates, driver updates and new motherboards we have on hand, giving us an up to date reference point for the new CPUs."

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Source: TechSpot

Is the GPU in Intel Kaby Lake-G More Polaris than Vega?

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | April 9, 2018 - 04:25 PM |
Tagged: Vega, Polaris, kaby lake-g, Intel, amd

Over the weekend, some interesting information has surfaced surrounding the new Kaby Lake-G hardware from Intel. A product that is officially called the “8th Generation Intel Core Processors with Radeon RX Vega M Graphics” is now looking like it might be more of a Polaris-based GPU than a Vega-based one. This creates an interesting marketing and technology capability discussion for the community, and both Intel and AMD, that is worth diving into.

PCWorld first posted the question this weekend, using some interesting data points as backup that Kaby Lake-G may in fact be based on Polaris. In Gordon’s story he notes that in AIDA64 the GPU is identified as “Polaris 22” while the Raven Ridge-based APUs from AMD show up as “Raven Ridge.” Obviously the device identification of a third party piece of software is a suspect credential in any situation, but the second point provided is more salient: based on the DXDiag information, the GPU on the Hades Canyon NUC powered by Kaby Lake-G does not support DirectX 12.1.

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Image source: PCWorld

AMD clearly stated in its launch of the Vega architecture last year that the new GPUs supported DX 12.1, among other features. The fact that the KBL-G part does NOT include support for it is compelling evidence that the GPU might be more similar to Polaris than Vega.

Tom’s Hardware did some more digging that was posted this morning, using a SiSoft Sandra test that can measure performance of FP16 math and FP32. For both the Radeon RX Vega 64 and 56 discrete graphics cards, running the test with FP16 math results in a score that is 65% faster than the FP32 results. With a Polaris-based graphics card, an RX 470, the scores between FP32 and FP16 were identical as the architecture can support FP16 math functions but doesn’t accelerate it with AMD’s “rapid packed math” feature (that was a part of the Vega launch).

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Image source: Tom's Hardware

And you guessed it, the Kaby Lake-G part only runs essentially even in the FP16 mode. (Also note that AMD’s Raven Ridge APU that integrated Vega graphics does get accelerated by 61% using FP16.)

What Kaby Lake-G does have that leans toward Vega is support for HBM2 memory (which none of the Polaris cards have) and “high bandwidth memory cache controller and enhanced compute units with additional ROPs” according to the statement from Intel given to Tom’s Hardware.

It should be noted that just because the benchmarks and games that can support rapid packed math don’t take advantage of that capability today, does not mean they won’t have the capability to do so after a driver or firmware update. That being said, if that’s the plan, and even if it’s not, Intel should come out and tell the consumers and media.

The debate and accusations of conspiracy are running rampant again today with this news. Is Intel trying to pull one over on us by telling the community that this is a Vega-based product when it is in fact based on Polaris? Why would AMD allow and promote the Vega branding with a part that it knows didn’t meet the standards it created to be called a Vega architecture solution?

Another interesting thought comes when analyzing this debate with the Ryzen 7 2400G and Ryzen 5 2200G products, both of which claim to use Vega GPUs as a portion of the APU. However, without support for HBM2 or the high-bandwidth cache controller, does that somehow shortchange the branding for it? Or are the memory features of the GPU considered secondary to its design?

This is the very reason why companies hate labels, hate specifications, and hate having all of this tracked by a competent and technical media. Basically every company in the tech industry is guilty of this practice: Intel has 2-3 architectures running as “8th Generation” in the market, AMD is selling RX 500 cards that were once RX 400 cards, and NVIDIA has changed performance capabilities of the MX 150 at least once or twice.

The nature of semi-custom chips designs is that they are custom. Are the GPUs used in the PS4 and Xbox One or Xbox One X called Polaris, Vega, or something else? It would be safer for AMD and its partners to give each new product its own name, its own brand—but then the enthusiasts would want to know what it was most like, and how did it compare to Polaris, or Vega, etc.? It’s also possible that AMD was only willing to sell this product to Intel if it included some of these feature restrictions. In complicated negotiations like this one surely was, anything is feasible.

These are tough choices for companies to make. AMD loves having the Vega branding in more products as it gives weight to the development cost and time it spent on the design. Having Vega associated with more high-end consumer products, including those sold by Intel, give them leverage for other products down the road. From Intel’s vantage point using the Vega brand makes it looks like it has the very latest technology in its new processor and it can benefit from any cross-promotion that occurs around the Vega brand from AMD or its partners.

Unfortunately, it means that the devil is in the details, and the details are something that no one appears to be willing to share. Does it change the performance we saw in our recent Hades Canyon NUC review or our perspective on it as a product? It does not. But as features like Rapid Packed Math or the new geometry shader accelerate in adoption, the capability for Kaby Lake-G to utilize them is going to be scrutinized more heavily.

Source: Various

Intel Unveils More 8th Generation Mobile Processors, 6-Core Mobile CPUs

Subject: Processors, Chipsets, Mobile | April 3, 2018 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Core i9-8950HK, coffee lake h, 8th generation

Intel's rollout of their "8th Generation" processors has been glacial compared to other generations, and overall a bit confusing when it comes to trying to decode what processor belongs to what architecture. 

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Past the 8th generation Kaby Lake-R 15W quad-core mobile processors in August of last year, the Coffee Lake-S desktop CPU launch in October, and the recent Kaby Lake-G launch combining Intel processors with AMD graphics, there has still been one big missing market—high performance mobile processors.

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Today, Intel is finally rounding out it's 8th Generation Mobile processor line-up with the addition of Coffee Lake-H processors. 

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The biggest change with Intel's new mobile lineup is the delightful addition of more cores. All i7 and Xeon-based SKUs will now have 6 cores with Hyper-threading enabled for a total of 12 threads. In addition, the entire i5 lineup is gaining Hyper-threading support, bringing them to 4 cores and 8 threads. 

Coffee Lake-H also marks the introduction of Intel's first "i9" branded processor, the i9-8950HK. Taking the top spot of the mobile lineup previously held by the i7-7920HQ, the i9-8950HK is fully unlocked, with a turbo frequency of up to 4.8GHz. 

In addition, all of these new 8th generation mobile processors will bring support for Optane Memory caching to mobile for the first time.

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Intel is achieving the 4.8GHz single core turbo boost on the i9-8950HK through what they are calling "Intel Velocity Boost." While there aren't a lot of details about exactly how this technology will work yet, Intel has told us that essentially it's a way of providing extra frequency if there is thermal headroom on a given notebook design.

Below the 50 degrees C target temperature, we were told to expect about a 200MHz single-core boost and a 100MHz multi-core boost. With factory overclocking, Intel says they expect to see OEMs hit 5GHz and beyond, thanks in part to Velocity Boost.

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In addition to new processors, Intel is also unveiling their new 300-series mobile chipsets today. The major additions include the adoption of USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports directly from the chipset, as well as the integration of an 802.11ac radio.

The all-new wireless radio is said to be capable of Gigabit speeds using 2x2 MIMO at 160MHz, which is part of the Wave 2 specification. While routers that support the 160MHz band are few and far between today, hopefully, Intel's adoption of this technology into its chipset will help spur faster adoption.

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In addition to the H-series processors, Intel also unveiled several new U-series parts today with Iris Plus graphics.

While the 28W notebook processors combining Intel U-series parts with Iris graphics containing 128MB of eDRAM have been available for generations, the only major customer for these parts historically is Apple. I fully expect these processors to make it into a revised 13" MacBook Pro later this year.

These new U-series parts will also be able to take advantage of the new 300-series chipsets with the integrated 802.11ac and USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectivity. It will be interesting to see if Intel finally integrating Wi-Fi capability directly into the chipset will cause Apple to ditch Broadcom on their MacBook lineup.

Stay tuned for more announcements from Intel today, as well of announcements from notebook vendors utilizing these new processors!

Source: Intel

Intel Adds New Processors and Chipsets to 8th Generation Desktop Lineup

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Chipsets | April 3, 2018 - 03:01 AM |
Tagged: Intel, H370, H310, coffee lake, B360, 8700k

Since the Coffee Lake-S desktop processor launch with the i7-8700K in October of last year, the processor lineup has remained a bit bare compared to previous generations.

While we are used to an Intel processor platform launch having several SKUs covering the entire spectrum of consumers, from Pentium all the way to up Core i7, Coffee Lake currently sits at just 6 different processor options.

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Today, Intel is rounding out the rest of the Coffee Lake desktop lineup with the addition of more traditional desktop SKUs, as well as low-power "T-series" CPUs.

Filling out the i5-lineup, we have two more 6 core options without hyper-threaded in the i5-8600 and i5-8400. The Core i3-8300 provides a 100MHz boost to the existing quad-core i3-8100, while staying in the same 65W TDP.

The little-known T-Series are Intel's lower frequency desktop chips that are configured to run at just 35W while remaining desktop-level performance. Traditionally, these CPUs are used in OEM configurations, but enthusiasts looking for ultra-small form factor and quiet PCs have been known to use these CPUs in the past.

Overall, these CPU announcements are difficult to get too excited about, but help round out the 8th Generation lineup into more available price points, which is always good for consumers looking to build a PC.

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Even better news for anyone looking to build an 8th Generation-based PC is the addition of new, lower cost chipsets. Previously, only expensive Z370-based boards were compatible with Coffee Lake processors.

Now, joining the Z370 chipset for consumers, we have the H370, and B360 chipsets. While sacrificing I/O options and overclocking availability, motherboards based on these chipsets should provide a much greater value for consumers looking to build a lower-end Coffee Lake system. The H370, Q370, and B360 chipsets also provide USB 3.1 Gen 2 connectivity directly from the chipset.

In addition, Intel has also added built-in 802.11ac support into all of these new chipsets, providing a solid wireless solution without any additonal peripherals. 

No exact word on availability of these new processors or chipsets, but we expect them to start hitting the market very soon!

Source: Intel

The Ryzen rumours are 2 hard to ignore

Subject: General Tech, Processors | March 26, 2018 - 03:20 PM |
Tagged: Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600, ryzen 2, rumour, amd

TechARP published some leaked benchmarks which seem to show the performance of two as of yet unreleased AMD processors the 8-core Ryzen 7 2700X and 6-core Ryzen 5 2600.  The benchmarks contrast their performance against the current Ryzen 7 1700X as well as Intel's i7 6700K and the results look good.  The new chips outperform their predecessors by a noticeable margin and are able to top the Intel part as well.  These leaked benchmarks are all productivity software, so we don't have gaming results nor have we seen these two chips paired with extremely highly clocked DDR4 yet but it does give us a glimpse at performance; assuming these are accurate of course.

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"Can't wait to find out how fast the 2nd Generation AMD Ryzen processors are? We present to you - the leaked benchmark results and findings of the AMD Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600 processors!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: TechARP

AMD finalizing fixes for Ryzen, EPYC security vulnerabilities

Subject: Processors | March 20, 2018 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: ryzenfall, masterkey, fallout, cts labs, chimera, amd

AMD’s CTO Mark Papermaster released a blog today that both acknowledges the security vulnerabilities first shown by a CTS Labs report last week, while also laying the foundation for the mitigations to be released. Though the company had already acknowledged the report, and at least one other independent security company validated the claims, we had yet to hear from AMD officially on the potential impact and what fixes might be possible for these concerns.

In the write up, Papermaster is clear to call out the short period of time AMD was given with this information, quoting “less than 24 hours” from the time it was notified to the time the story was public on news outlets and blogs across the world. It is important to detail for some that may not follow the security landscape clearly that this has no relation to the Spectre and Meltdown issues that are affecting the industry and what CTS did find has nothing to do with the Zen architecture itself. Instead, the problem revolves around the embedded security protocol processor; while an important distinction moving forward, from a practical view to customers this is one and the same.

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AMD states that it has “rapidly completed its assessment and is in the process of developing and staging the deployment of mitigations.” Rapidly is an understatement – going from blindsided to an organized response is a delicate process and AMD has proven its level of sincerity with the priority it placed on this.

Papermaster goes on to mention that all these exploits require administrative access to the computer being infected, a key differentiator from the Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities. The post points out that “any attacker gaining unauthorized administrative access would have a wide range of attacks at their disposal well beyond the exploits identified in this research.” I think AMD does an excellent job threading the needle in this post balancing the seriousness of these vulnerabilities with the overzealous hype that was created upon their initial release and the accompanying financial bullshit that followed.

AMD provides an easy to understand table with a breakdown of the vulnerabilities, the potential impact of the security risk, and what the company sees as its mitigation capability. Both sets that affect the secure processor in the Ryzen and EPYC designs are addressable with a firmware update for the secure unit itself, distributed through a standard BIOS update. For the Promontory chipset issue, AMD is utilizing a combination of a BIOS update and further work with ASMedia to further enhance the security updates.

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That is the end of the update from AMD at this point. In my view, the company is doing a satisfactory job addressing the problems in what must be an insanely accelerated time table. I do wish AMD was willing to offer more specific time tables for the distribution of those security patches, and how long we should expect to wait to see them in the form of BIOS updates for consumer and enterprise customers. For now, we’ll monitor the situation and look for other input from AMD, CTS, or secondary security firms to see if the risks laid out ever materialize.

For what could have been a disastrous week for AMD, it has pivoted to provide a controlled, well-executed plan. Despite the hype and hysteria that might have started with stock-shorting and buzzwords, the plight of the AMD processor family looks stable.

Source: AMD

Intel promises 2018 processors with hardware mitigation for Spectre and Meltdown

Subject: Processors | March 15, 2018 - 10:29 AM |
Tagged: spectre, meltdown, Intel, cascade lake, cannon lake

In continuing follow up from the spectacle that surrounded the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities released in January, Intel announced that it has provided patches and updates that address 100% of the products it has launched in the last 5 years. The company also revealed its plan for updated chip designs that will address both the security and performance concerns surrounding the vulnerabilities.

Intel hopes that by releasing new chips to address the security and performance questions quickly it will cement its position as the leader in the enterprise compute space. Customers like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google that run the world’s largest data centers are looking for improved products to make up for the performance loss and assurances moving forward that a similar situation won’t impact their bottom line.

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For current products, patches provide mitigations for the security flaws in the form operating system updates (for Windows, Linux) and what are called microcode updates, a small-scale firmware that helps provide instruction processing updates for a processor. Distributed by Intel OEMs (system vendors and component providers) as well as Microsoft, the patches have seemingly negated the risks for consumers and enterprise customer data, but with a questionable impact on performance.

The mitigations cause the processors to operate differently than originally designed and will cause performance slowdowns on some workloads. These performance degradations are the source of the handful of class-action lawsuits hanging over Intel’s head and are a potential sore spot for its relationship with partners. Details on the performance gaps from the security mitigations have been sparse from Intel, with only small updates posted on corporate blogs. And because the problem has been so widespread, covering the entire Intel product line of the last 10 years, researchers are struggling to keep up.

The new chips that Intel is promising will address both security and performance considerations in silicon rather than software, and will be available in 2018. For the data center this is the Cascade Lake server processor, and for the consumer and business markets this is known as Cannon Lake. Both will include what Intel is calling “virtual fences” between user and operating system privilege levels and will create a significant additional obstacle for potential vulnerabilities.

The chips will also lay the ground work and foundation for future security improvement, providing a method to more easily update the security of the processors through patching.

By moving the security mitigations from software (both operating system and firmware) into silicon, Intel is reducing the performance impact that Spectre and Meltdown cause on select computing tasks. Assurances that future generations of parts won’t suffer from a performance hit is good news for Intel and its customer base, but I don’t think currently afflicted customers will be satisfied at the assertion they need to buy updated Intel chips to avoid the performance penalty. It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the legal disputes are affected.

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The speed at which Intel is releasing updated chips to the market is an impressive engineering feat, and indicates at top-level directive to get this fixed as quickly as possible. In the span of just 12 months (from Intel’s apparent notification of the security vulnerability to the expected release of this new hardware) the company will have integrated fairly significant architectural changes. While this may have been a costly more for the company, it is a drop in the bucket compared to the potential risks of lowered consumer trust or partner migration to competitive AMD processors.

For its part, AMD has had its own security issues pop up this week from a research firm called CTS Labs. While there are extenuating circumstances that cloud the release of the information, AMD does now have a template for how to quickly and effectively address a hardware-level security problem, if it exists.

The full content of Intel's posted story on the subject is included below:

Hardware-based Protection Coming to Data Center and PC Products Later this Year

By Brian Krzanich

In addressing the vulnerabilities reported by Google Project Zero earlier this year, Intel and the technology industry have faced a significant challenge. Thousands of people across the industry have worked tirelessly to make sure we delivered on our collective priority: protecting customers and their data. I am humbled and thankful for the commitment and effort shown by so many people around the globe. And, I am reassured that when the need is great, companies – and even competitors – will work together to address that need.

But there is still work to do. The security landscape is constantly evolving and we know that there will always be new threats. This was the impetus for the Security-First Pledge I penned in January. Intel has a long history of focusing on security, and now, more than ever, we are committed to the principles I outlined in that pledge: customer-first urgency, transparent and timely communications, and ongoing security assurance.

Today, I want to provide several updates that show continued progress to fulfill that pledge. First, we have now released microcode updates for 100 percent of Intel products launched in the past five years that require protection against the side-channel method vulnerabilities discovered by Google. As part of this, I want to recognize and express my appreciation to all of the industry partners who worked closely with us to develop and test these updates, and make sure they were ready for production.

With these updates now available, I encourage everyone to make sure they are always keeping their systems up-to-date. It’s one of the easiest ways to stay protected. I also want to take the opportunity to share more details of what we are doing at the hardware level to protect against these vulnerabilities in the future. This was something I committed to during our most recent earnings call.

While Variant 1 will continue to be addressed via software mitigations, we are making changes to our hardware design to further address the other two. We have redesigned parts of the processor to introduce new levels of protection through partitioning that will protect against both Variants 2 and 3. Think of this partitioning as additional “protective walls” between applications and user privilege levels to create an obstacle for bad actors.

These changes will begin with our next-generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors (code-named Cascade Lake) as well as 8th Generation Intel® Core™ processors expected to ship in the second half of 2018. As we bring these new products to market, ensuring that they deliver the performance improvements people expect from us is critical. Our goal is to offer not only the best performance, but also the best secure performance.

But again, our work is not done. This is not a singular event; it is a long-term commitment. One that we take very seriously. Customer-first urgency, transparent and timely communications, and ongoing security assurance. This is our pledge and it’s what you can count on from me, and from all of Intel.

Source: Intel