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Subject: Processors | January 7, 2014 - 04:52 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: amd, CES, 2014, Kaveri, A10 7850K, A10 7700K, APU, firepro, hsa
This year’s AMD CES was actually more interesting than I was expecting. The details of the event were well known, as most Kaveri details have been revealed over the past few months. I was unsure what Lisa Su and the gang would go over, but it was actually more interesting than I was expecting.
This past year has been a big one for AMD. They seem to be doing a lot better than others expected them to, especially with all of the delayed product launches on the CPU side for quite a few years. This year saw the APU take a pretty prominent place in the industry with the launch of the latest generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft. AMD made inroads with mobile form factors with a variety of APUs. The HSA Foundation members have grown and HSA members ship two out of every three connected, smart devices. Apple also includes Firepro graphics cards with all of their new Mac Pros.
Kaveri is of course the big news here. AMD feels that this is the best APU yet. The combination of Steamroller CPU cores, GCN graphics compute cores, HSA, hUMA, HQ, TrueAudio, Mantle support, PCI-E 3.0 support, and a configurable TDP makes for a pretty compelling product. AMD has shuffled some nomenclature about by saying that Kaveri, at the top end, is comprised of 12 compute cores. These include 4 Steamroller cores and 8 GCN compute clusters. Each compute cluster matches the historical definition of a core, but of course it looks quite a bit different than a traditional x86 core.
We have gone over Kaveri pretty extensively in the past. The CPU is clocked at 3.7 GHz with a 4 GHz boost. The graphics portion clocks in at 720 MHz. It can support up to DDR-3 2400 MHz memory, which is really needed to extract as much performance out of this new APU. Benchmarks provided by AMD show this product to be a big jump from the previous Richland, and in these particular benchmarks are quite a bit faster than the competing i5 4670K.
Gaming performance is also improved. This APU can run most current applications at 1080P resolutions with low to medium quality settings. Older titles can be run at 1080P with Medium to High/Extreme settings. While this processor is rated at around 867 GFLOPS, which is around 110 GFLOPS greater than the previous top end Richland, it is more efficient at delivering that theoretical performance. It looks to be a significant improvement all around.
Software support is improving with applications from companies like Adobe, The Document Foundation, and Nuance. These cover HSA applications and in Nuance’s case, using the TrueAudio portion to clean up and accelerate voice recognition. TrueAudio is also being supported in five upcoming games. This is not a huge amount, but it is a decent start for this new technology.
Mantle is gaining a lot more momentum with support from 3 engines, 5 developers, and 20+ games in development. They showed off Battlefied 4 running Mantle on a Kaveri APU for the first time publicly. They mentioned that it ran 45% faster than Direct3D at the same quality levels on the same hardware. The display showed frame rates up in the low 50 fps area.
AMD is continuing to move forward on their low power offerings based on Beema and Mullins. Lisa claims that these parts are outperforming the Intel Baytrail offerings in both CPU performance and graphics. Unfortunately, she mentioned noting about the power consumption associated with these results. They showed off the Discovery tablet as well as a fully functional PC that was the size of a large cellphone.
They closed up the even by talking about the Surround House 2. This demo looks significantly better than the previous iteration we saw last year. This features something like a 34.2 speaker setup in a projected dome. It is much more complex than the House from last year, but the hardware running it all is rather common. A single high end Firepro card running on a single A10 7850K. The demo is also one of the first shows of a 360 degree gesture recognition setup.
AMD has come a long way since hitting rock bottom a few years back. They continue to claw their way back to relevance, and they hope that Kaveri will help them regain a foothold in the computing market. They are certainly doing well in the graphics market, but the introduction of Kaveri should help them gain more momentum in the CPU/APU market. We have yet to test Kaveri on our own, but initial results look promising. It is a better APU, but we just don’t know how much better so far.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Processors, Mobile | January 5, 2014 - 11:43 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tegra k1, tegra, SoC, nvidia, kepler, CES 2014, CES
Update: Check out our more in-depth analysis of the Tegra K1 processor from NVIDIA.
Today during its CES 2014 press conference, NVIDIA announced the Tegra K1 SoC as the successor to the Tegra 4 processor. This new ARM-based part includes 192 Kepler-based CUDA cores, sharing the same GPU architecture as the current GeForce GTX 700-series discrete graphics cards.
NVIDIA also announced the Epic has Unreal Engine 4 up and running on the Tegra K1, bringing an entirely new class of games to mobile Android devices. We got to see some demonstrations from NVIDIA running on the K1 and I must admit the visuals were stunning. Frame rates did get a bit choppy during the subway demo of UE4 but it's still early.
As an added surprise, NVIDIA is announcing a version of Tegra K1 that ships with the same quad-core A15 (4+1) design as the Tegra 4 BUT ALSO have a version that uses two NVIDIA Denver CPU cores!! Denver is NVIDIA's custom CPU design based on the ARMv8 architecture, adding 64-bit support to another ARM partner's portfolio.
Tegra K1 is offered in two pin-to-pin compatible versions - a 32-bit quad-core (4-Plus-1 ARM Cortex-A15 CPU) and a custom, NVIDIA-designed 64-bit dual Super Core CPU. This CPU (codenamed “Project Denver”) delivers very high single-thread and multi-thread performance. Both versions deliver stunning graphics and visual computing capabilities powered by the 192-core NVIDIA Kepler GPU.
NVIDIA has only had Denver back for a few days from the fab but there able to showcase it running Android. It's been a long time since the initial announcement of this project and its great to finally see a result.
Tegra K1 with quad-core A15 processor
We'll have an in-depth story on the Tegra K1 on Monday morning, 6am PST right here on PC Perspective so check back then!!
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 19, 2013 - 04:05 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, haswell
In another review from around the net, Carl Nelson over at Hardcoreware tested the dual-core (4 threads) Intel Core i3-4340 based on the Haswell architecture. This processor slides into the $157 retail price point with a maximum frequency of 3.6GHz and an Intel HD 4600 iGPU clocked at 1150MHz. Obviously this is not intended as top-end performance but, of course, not everyone wants that.
Image Credit: Hardcoreware
One page which I found particularly interesting was the one which benchmarked Battlefield 4 rendering on the iGPU. The AMD A10 6790K (~$130) had slightly lower 99th percentile frame time (characteristic of higher performance) but slightly lower average frames per second (characteristic of lower performance). The graph of frame times shows that AMD is much more consistent than Intel. Perhaps the big blue needs a little Fame Rating? I would be curious to see what is causing the pretty noticeable (in the graph, at least) stutter. AMD's frame pacing seems to be very consistent albeit this is obviously not a Crossfire scenario.
If you are in the low-to-mid $100 price point be sure to check out his review. Also, of course, Kaveri should be coming next month so that is something to look out for.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 16, 2013 - 09:17 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-EP, Broadwell-EP, Broadwell
Intel has made its way on to our news feed several times over the last few days. The ticking and the tocking seem to be back on schedule. Was Intel held back by the complexity of 14nm? Was it too difficult for them to focus on both high-performance and mobile development? Was it a mix of both?
VR-Zone, who knows how to get a hold of Intel slides, just leaked details about Broadwell-EP. This product line is predicted to replace Haswell-EP at some point in the summer of 2015 (they expect right around Intel Developer Forum). They claim it will be Intel's first 14nm Xeon processor which obviously suggests that it will not be preceded by Broadwell in the lower performance server categories.
Image Credit: VR-Zone
Broadwell-EP will have up to 18 cores per socket (Hyper-Threading allows up to 36 threads). Its top level cache, which we assume is L3, will be up to 45MB large. TDPs will be the same as Haswell-EP which range from 70W to 145W for server parts and from 70W to 160W for workstations. The current parts based on Ivy Bridge, as far as I can tell, peak at 150W and 25MB of cache. Intel will apparently allow Haswell and Broadwell to give off a little more heat than their predecessors. This could be a very good sign for performance.
VR-Zone expects that a dual-socket Broadwell-EP Xeon system could support up to 2TB of DDR4 memory. They expect close to 1 TFLOP per socket of double precision FP performance. This meets or exceeds the performance available by Kaveri including its GPU. Sure, the AMD solution will be available over a year earlier and cost a fraction of the multi-thousand-dollar server processor, but it is somewhat ridiculous to think that a CPU has the theoretical performance available to software render the equivalent of Battlefield 4's medium settings without a GPU (if the software was written with said rendering engine, which it is not... of course).
This is obviously two generations off as we have just received the much anticipated Ivy Bridge-E. Still, it is good to see that Intel is keeping themselves moving ahead and developing new top-end performance parts for enthusiasts and high-end servers.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 15, 2013 - 04:27 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, google, arm
Amazon, Facebook, and Google are three members of a fairly exclusive club. These three companies order custom server processors from Intel (and other companies). Jason Waxman of Intel was quoted by Wired, "Sometimes OEMs and end customers ask us to put a feature into the silicon and it sort of depends upon how big a deal it is and whether it has to be invisible or proprietary to a customer. We're always happy to, if we can find a way to get it into the silicon".
Now, it would seem, that Google is interested in developing their own server processors based on architecture licensed from ARM. This could be a big deal for Intel as Bloomberg believes Google accounts for a whole 4.3% of the chip giant's revenue.
Of course this probably does not mean Google will spring up a fabrication lab somewhere. That would just be nutty. It is still unclear whether they will cut in ARM design houses, such as AMD or Qualcomm, or whether they will take ARM's design and run straight to TSMC, GlobalFoundries, or IBM with it.
I am sure there would be many takers for some sizable fraction of 4.3% of Intel's revenue.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Mobile | December 14, 2013 - 04:07 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Broadwell
This leak is from China DIY and, thus, machine-translated into English from Chinese. They claim that Broadwell is coming in the second half of 2014 and will be introduced in three four series:
- H will be the high performance offerings
- U and Y have very low power consumption
- M will fit mainstream performance
The high performance offerings will have up to four CPU cores, 6MB of L3 cache, support for up to 32GB of memory, and thermal rating of 47W. The leak claims that some will be configurable down to 37W which is pretty clearly its "SDP" rating. The problem, of course, is whether 47W is its actual TDP or, rather, another SDP rating. Who knows.
The H series is said to be available in either one or two chips. Both a separate PCH and CPU version will exist as well as a single-chip solution that integrates the PCH on-die.
There is basically nothing said about the M series beyond acknowledging its existence.
The U and Y series will be up to dual-core with 4MB L3 cache. The U series will have a thermal rating of 15W to 28W. The Y series will be substantially lower at 4.5W configurable down to 3.5W. No clue about which of these numbers are TDPs and which are SDPs. You can compare this earlier reports that Haswell will reach as low as 4.5W SDP.
Hopefully we will learn more about these soon and, perhaps, get a functional timeline of Intel releases. Seriously, I think I need to sit down and draw a flowchart some day.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 14, 2013 - 03:08 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: TSMC, process node, 16nm
Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) is one of the few chip fabrication companies in the world (especially when you omit the memory producers, etc.). Their customers include: AMD, NVIDIA, Qualcomm, Broadcom, and even a few Intel Atom processors have come out of their lines at one point. They will take money from just about anyone who wants a chip.
According to Bit-Tech, a few customers will even have access to 16nm before the end of the year.
The catch, which of course there is one, is that production runs will be very small. We would love to see a gigantic run of new AMD or NVIDIA GPUs based on 16nm but that will not be the case (and not just because Volcanic Islands and Maxwell are both 2Xnm products). The first customers, while otherwise anonymous, will be interested in mobile systems-on-a-chip (SoCs).
On the plus side, when future 1Xnm designs come out, TSMC's production could be reasonably caught up to make a smooth launch.
Intel, the current leader in the fabrication world, targeted a slightly smaller 14nm process and have already begun producing a few odds and ends at that level. Full production has not even really started yet.
Just so you can get an idea of the complexity we are dealing with: 16nm fabrication creates details that are just ~32 atoms in width.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 14, 2013 - 01:55 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: opteron, arm, amd
The ARMv8 architecture extends the hardware platform to 64-bit. This increase is mostly useful to address massive amounts of memory but can also have other benefits for performance. I think many of us remember the excitement prior to x86-64 and the subsequent let-down when we realized that, for most applications, typical vector extensions kept up in performance especially considering the compatibility issues of the day. It needed to happen but it was a hard sell until... it was just ubiquitous.
AMD has not kept it secret that they are developing 64-bit ARM processors for data centers but, until this week, further details were scarce. Under the codename, "Seattle", these processors will be available in four and eight cores. The Opteron branding will expand beyond x86 to include these new processors. The pitch to enterprises is simple: want both ARM and x86? Why bother with two vendors!
Seattle will also support up to 128GB of ECC memory and 10 Gigabit Ethernet for dense, but power efficient, compute clusters. It will be manufactured on the 28nm process.
The majority of AMD's blog post proclaimed its commitment to software support and it is definitely true that they hold a very high status in both the Linux and Apache Foundations. ARMv8 is supported in Linux starting with kernel 3.7.
Seattle is expected to launch in the second half of 2014.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 13, 2013 - 08:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, haswell
Intel will begin to refresh their Haswell line of processors, according to VR-Zone, starting in Q2 and continue into Q3. This will be accompanied by their 9-series of motherboard chipsets. The Intel Core i7-4770 and Core i7-4771 will be replaced, not just surpassed, by the Core i7-4790. That said, the only difference is a 100MHz bump to both the base and turbo CPU frequencies.
The K-series processors will come in Q3 and are said to be based on Haswell-E with DDR4 memory. I find this quite confusing because of previous reports that Broadwell-K would appear at roughly the same time. I am unsure what this means for Broadwell-K and I am definitely unsure why some Haswell-E components would be considered part of the Haswell refresh instead of the Haswell-E launch.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 10, 2013 - 06:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Richland, amd
AMD has been heavily promoting their Kaveri platform leading up to its January launch. This new generation of parts should slowly replace Richland with faster and HSA-compliant silicon. AMD added a new member of the Richland family on October 29th, however, called the A10-6790K. With a base frequency of 4.1 GHz (turbo to 4.3 GHz) and 384 shader cores clocked at 844 MHz, it has a maximum theoretical compute power of 779 GFLOPs.
Image Credit: HCW
Carl Nelson of Hardcoreware (HCW) picked one of these APUs up and tested it against a number of metrics (including OpenCL performance) and four similarly priced competitors. Specifically, he found Battlefield 4 playable on low (~35 FPS) at 720p without a discrete graphics solution especially for a home theater PC (HTPC).
Even though better things are on the horizon, you may want to check out his review if only as comparison to what will arrive next month. Who knows, maybe this fits your $120-130 price point.
Subject: Processors | December 9, 2013 - 06:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xeon e3, Intel, haswell, 1230Lv3
Server chips with low power consumption are in style an the Xeon E3-1230Lv3 certainly qualifies at a tiny 25W TDP. It is a Haswell chip running at a peak speed of 1.8GHz which would be great for a small business or for a home server. eTeknix compared the performance of this chip to the i7-4770K with a TDP more than three times that of the Xeon which is perhaps a little unfair to the E3 but is a familiar chip to most enthusiasts. That said the Xeon doesn't fall too far behind in many tests and at $250 it is less expensive to slap into a Z87 motherboard and it will reduce your power bill somewhat.
"Intel’s Xeon E3-1230Lv3 CPU has been a hotly anticipated processor for a wide variety of target audiences – home users, office users, small business users and enterprise users. Today we’ve got an opportunity to put Intel’s enterprise Xeon E3-1230Lv3 CPU to the test in a professional home user or “prosumer” type of environment, by pairing it up with SuperMicro’s server-grade C7Z87-OCE motherboard. The Intel Xeon E3-1230Lv3 is an important CPU because it offers four cores, eight threads, a 1.8GHz base frequency, a 2.8GHz Turbo frequency and 8MB of cache all for a tiny TDP of just 25W."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- Intel Core i3 4330 / i5 4440 @ Hardware.info
- Core i5-4670K, Core i5-4670, Core i5-4570 and Core i5-4430 @ X-bit Labs
- How to Overclock an Intel 4770K Guide @ OCC
- All Core i3 Models @ Hardware Secrets
- Intel Core i7 4960X Ivy Bridge Extreme Edition On Linux @ Phoronix
- Intel Core i3 4130 @ Phoronix
- The Workstation & Server CPU Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- All AMD FX CPU Models @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 3, 2013 - 04:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Kaveri, APU, amd
The launch and subsequent availability of Kaveri is scheduled for the CES time frame. The APU unites Steamroller x86 cores with several Graphics Core Next (GCN) cores. The high-end offering, the A10-7850K, is capable of 856 GFLOPs of compute power (most of which is of course from the GPU).
Image/Leak Credit: Prohardver.hu
We now know about two SKUs: the A10-7850K and the A10-7700K. Both parts are quite similar except that the higher model is given a 200 MHz CPU bump, 3.8 GHz to 4.0 Ghz, and 33% more GPU units, 6 to 8.
But how does this compare? The original source (prohardver.hu) claims that Kaveri will achieve an average 28 FPS in Crysis 3 on low at 1680x1050; this is a 12% increase over Richland. It also achieved an average 53 FPS with Sleeping Dogs on Medium which is 26% more than Richland.
These are healthy increases over the previous generation but do not even account for HSA advantages. I am really curious what will happen if integrated graphics become accessible enough that game developers decide to target it for general compute applications. The reduction in latency (semi-wasted time bouncing memory between compute devices) might open this architecture to where it can really shine.
We will do our best to keep you up to date on this part especially when it launches at CES.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | November 28, 2013 - 03:30 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Xeon Phi, gpgpu
Intel was testing the waters with their Xeon Phi co-processor. Based on the architecture designed for the original Pentium processors, it was released in six products ranging from 57 to 61 cores and 6 to 16GB of RAM. This lead to double precision performance of between 1 and 1.2 TFLOPs. It was fabricated using their 22nm tri-gate technology. All of this was under the Knights Corner initiative.
In 2015, Intel plans to have Knights Landing ready for consumption. A modified Silvermont architecture will replace the many simple (basically 15 year-old) cores of the previous generation; up to 72 Silvermont-based cores (each with 4 threads) in fact. It will introduce the AVX-512 instruction set. AVX-512 allows applications to vectorize 8 64-bit (double-precision float or long integer) or 16 32-bit (single-precision float or standard integer) values.
In other words, packing a bunch of related problems into a single instruction.
The most interesting part? Two versions will be offered: Add-In Boards (AIBs) and a standalone CPU. It will not require a host CPU, because of its x86 heritage, if your application is entirely suited for an MIC architecture; unlike a Tesla, it is bootable with existing and common OSes. It can also be paired with standard Xeon processors if you would like a few strong threads with the 288 (72 x 4) the Xeon Phi provides.
And, while I doubt Intel would want to cut anyone else in, VR-Zone notes that this opens the door for AIB partners to make non-reference cards and manage some level of customer support. I'll believe a non-Intel branded AIB only when I see it.
Subject: General Tech, Processors, Storage | November 19, 2013 - 01:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: i7-4770k, gold box, deals, amazon, 530 series
I don't often post about the Amazon Gold Box deals, but today the company has some great offerings specific to PC enthusiasts and DIY builders that you might want to take advantage of. Please keep in mind though that these deals are only good today, November 19th!!
The flagship offering is the Intel Core i7-4770K, the company's highest end LGA1150 Haswell processor, is on sale for $299; $60 off the normal MSRP. That is the best price I have seen on that flagship CPU with the exception of in-store offerings from MicroCenters.
For those of you on a tighter budget, Amazon has the Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge processor on sale for $199.
Another great price can be had on the Intel 530 Series 240GB SSD that is going for $149; well under the MSRP price.
Here are some other interesting deals, all found on the Gold Box deal page:
- Kingston HyperX 8GB kit DDR3-1600 for $64
- Corsair H90 cooler for $69
- Corsair AX760i power supply for $149
- Corsair Obsidian 900D Super Tower case for $289
- Creative Sound Blaster Z PCIE Sound Card for $59
- Corsair K50 Gaming Keyboard for $79
- Corsair M65 Gaming Mouse for $49
- Kingston HyperX Steel Series Siberia V2 Gaming Headset for $64
And just remember: these deals are only good today, November 19th!!
Subject: Processors | November 13, 2013 - 05:35 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Puma, Mullins, mobile, Jaguar, GCN, beema, apu13, APU, amd, 2014
AMD’s APU13 is all about APUs and their programming, but the hardware we have seen so far has been dominated by the upcoming Kaveri products for FM2+. It seems that AMD has more up their sleeves for release this next year, and it has somewhat caught me off guard. The Beema and Mullins based products are being announced today, but we do not have exact details on these products. The codenames have been around for some time now, but interest has been minimal since they are evolutionary products based on Kabini and Temash APUs that have been available this year. Little did I know that things would be far more interesting than that.
The basis for Beema and Mullins is the Puma core. This is a highly optimized revision of Jaguar, and in some ways can be considered a new design. All of the basics in terms of execution units, caches, and memory controllers are the same. What AMD has done is go through the design with a fine toothed comb and make it far more efficient per clock than what we have seen previously. This is still a 28 nm part, but the extra attention and love lavished upon it by AMD has resulted in a much more efficient system architecture for the CPU and GPU portions.
The parts will be offered in two and four core configurations. Beema will span from 10W to 25W configurations. Mullins will go all the way down to “2W SDP”. SDP essentially means that while the chip can be theoretically rated higher, it will rarely go above that 2W envelope in the vast majority of situations. These chips are expected to be around 2X more efficient per clock than the previous Jaguar based products. This means that at similar clock speeds, Beema and Mullins will pull far less power than that previous gen. It should also allow some higher clockspeeds at the top end 25W area.
These will be some of the first fanless quad cores that AMD will introduce for the tablet market. Previously we have seen tablets utilize the cut down versions of Temash to hit power targets, but with this redesign it is entirely possible to utilize the fully enabled quad core Mullins. AMD has not given us specific speeds for these products, but we can guess that they will be around what we see currently, but the chip will just have a lower TDP rating.
AMD is introducing their new security platform based on the ARM Trustzone. Essentially a small ARM Cortex A5 is integrated in the design and handles the security aspects of this feature. We were not briefed on how this achieves security, but the slide below gives some of the bullet points of the technology.
Since the pure-play foundries will not have a workable 20 nm process for AMD to jump to in a timely manner, AMD had no other choice but to really optimize the Jaguar core to make it more competitive with products from Intel and the ARM partners. At 28 nm the ARM ecosystem has a power advantage over AMD, while at 22 nm Intel offers similar performance to AMD but with greater power efficiency.
This is a necessary update for AMD as the competition has certainly not slowed down. AMD is more constrained obviously by the lack of a next-generation process node available for 1H 2014, so a redesign of this magnitude was needed. The performance per watt metric is very important here, as it promises longer battery life without giving up the performance people received from the previous Kabini/Temash family of APUs. This design work could be carried over to the next generation of APUs using 20 nm and below, which hopefully will keep AMD competitive with the rest of the market. Beema and Mullins are interesting looking products that will be shown off at CES 2014.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | November 12, 2013 - 06:50 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Kaveri, apu13, amd
AMD will deliver its latest round of APUs (Kaveri) on January 14th. These processors, built on a 28nm process, will combine the Steamroller architecture on the CPU with HSA-compliant Graphics Core Next (GCN) cores on the GPU. Together they are expected to bring 856 GFLOPs of computational performance.
Thomas Ryan at SemiAccurate, however, remembers that AMD expected over a TeraFLOP.
Of course Kaveri has been a troubled chip for AMD. At this point Kaveri is over a year late and most of that delay is due to a series of internal issues at AMD rather than technical problems. But now with the knowledge that Kaveri missed AMD’s internal performance targets by about 20 percent it’s hard to be very positive about AMD’s next big-core APU.
The problem comes from a reduction in the clock rate AMD expected back in February 2012. Steamroller was expected to reach 4 GHz but that has been slightly reduced to 3.7 GHz; this is obviously a small impact from a compute standpoint (weakened by just under10 GFLOPs). The GPU, on the other hand, was cut from 900MHz down to 720 MHz; its performance was reduced by a whole
25% (Update: 20%. Accidentally divided by 720 instead of 900). Using AMD's formula for calculating FLOP performance, Kaveri's 856 GFLOP rating corresponds to an 18% reduction from the original 1050 GFLOP target.
But, personally, I am still positive about Kaveri.
The introduction of HSA features into mainstream x86 processors has begun. The ability to share memory between the CPU and the GPU could be a big deal, especially for tasks such as AI and physics. AI especially interests me (although I am by no means an expert) because it is a mixture of branching and parallel instructions. The HSA model could, potentially, operate on the data with whichever architecture makes sense. Currently, synchronizing CPU and GPU memory is very costly; you could easily spend most of your processing time budget waiting for memory transfers.
856 GFLOPs is a definite reduction from 1050 GFLOPs. Still, if Kaveri (and APUs going forward) can effectively nullify the latencies involved with GPGPU work, an Intel Ivy Bridge-E Core i7 4960X has an instruction throughput of ~160 GFLOPs.
And before you say it: Yes, I know, Ivy Bridge-E can be paired with fast discrete graphics. This combination is ideal for easily separated tasks such as when the CPU prepares a frame and then a GPU draws it; you get the best of both worlds if both can keep working.
But what if your workload is a horrific mish-mash of back-and-forth serial and parallel? That is where AMD might have an edge.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | November 12, 2013 - 06:10 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, Kaveri, APU, video, hsa
Yesterday at the AMD APU13 developer conference, the company showed off the upcoming Kaveri APU running Battlefield 4 completely on the integrated graphics. I was able to push the AMD guys along and get a little more personal demo to share with our readers. The Kaveri APU had some of its details revealed this week:
- Quad-core Steamroller x86
- 512 Stream Processor GPU
- 856 GFLOPS of theoretical performance
- 3.7 GHz CPU clock speed, 720 MHz GPU clock speed
AMD wanted to be sure we pointed out in this video that the estimate clock speeds for FLOP performance may not be what the demo system was run at (likely a bit lower). Also, the version of Battlefield 4 here is the standard retail version and with further improvements from the driver team as the upcoming Mantle API implementation will likely introduce even more performance for the APU.
The game was running at 1920x1080 with MOSTLY medium quality settings (lighting set to low) but the results still looked damn impressive and the frame rates were silky and smooth. Considering this is running on a desktop with integrated processor graphics, the game play experience is simply unmatched.
Memory in the system was running at 2133 MHz.
The second demo looks at the image decoding acceleration that AMD is going to enable with Kaveri APUs upon release with a driver. Essentially, as the demonstration shows in the video, AMD is overwriting the integrated Windows JPG decompression algorithm with a new one that utilizes HSA to accelerate on both the x86 and SIMD (GPU) portions of the silicon. For the most strenuous demo that used 22 MP images saw a 100% increase in performance compared to the Kaveri CPU cores alone.
Subject: Processors, Mobile | October 29, 2013 - 12:24 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: techcon, Intel, arm techcon, arm, Altera, 14nm
In February of this year Intel and Altera announced that they would be partnering to build Altera FPGAs using the upcoming Intel 14nm tri-gate process technology. The deal was important for the industry as it marked one of the first times Intel has shared its process technology with another processor company. Seen as the company's most valuable asset, the decision to outsource work in the Intel fabrication facilities could have drastic ramifications for Intel's computing divisions and the industry as a whole. This seems to back up the speculation that Intel is having a hard time keeping their Fabs at anywhere near 100% utilization with only in-house designs.
Today though, news is coming out that Altera is going to be included ARM-based processing cores, specifically those based on the ARMv8 64-bit architecture. Starting in 2014 Altera's high-end Stratix 10 FPGA that uses four ARM Cortex-A53 cores will be produced by Intel fabs.
The deal may give Intel pause about its outsourcing strategy. To date the chip giant has experimented with offering its leading-edge fab processes as foundry services to a handful of chip designers, Altera being one of its largest planned customers to date.
Altera believes that by combing the ARMv8 A53 cores and Intel's 14nm tri-gate transistors they will be able to provide FPGA performance that is "two times the core performance" of current high-end 28nm options.
While this news might upset some people internally at Intel's architecture divisions, the news couldn't be better for ARM. Intel is universally recognized as being the process technology leader, generally a full process node ahead of the competition from TSMC and GlobalFoundries. I already learned yesterday that many of ARM's partners are skipping the 20nm technology from non-Intel foundries and instead are looking towards the 14/16nm FinFET transitions coming in late 2014.
ARM has been working with essentially every major foundry in the business EXCEPT Intel and many viewed Intel's chances of taking over the mobile/tablet/phone space as dependent on its process technology advantage. But if Intel continues to open up its facilities to the highest bidders, even if those customers are building ARM-based designs, then it could drastically improve the outlook for ARM's many partners.
UPDATE (7:57pm): After further talks with various parties there are a few clarifications that I wanted to make sure were added to our story. First, Altera's FPGAs are primarly focused on the markets of communication, industrial, military, etc. They are not really used as application processors and thus are not going to directly compete with Intel's processors in the phone/tablet space. It remains to be seen if Intel will open its foundries to a directly competing product but for now this announcement regarding the upcoming Stratix 10 FPGA on Intel's 14nm tri-gate is an interesting progression.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | October 28, 2013 - 07:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Intel, Haswell-E, Broadwell-K, Broadwell
Ivy Bridge-E was confirmed for this holiday season and Haswell-E was proclaimed to follow in Holiday 2014 bringing good tidings of comfort and joy (and DDR4). Broadwell, the Haswell architecture transitioned to a 14nm process technology, was expected to be delayed until at least 2015 because it was not on any roadmap before that.
Image credit: VR-Zone China
Until recently when something called "Broadwell-K" popped up slated for late Holiday 2014.
VR-Zone China, the site which broke this story (machine translated), cautiously assumes Broadwell-K signifies the platform will first arrive for the mainstream enthusiast. This would align with Intel's current "K" branding of unlocked processors and make sense to be introduced for the Consumer product segment without a Business offering.
If true, which seems likely, the question then becomes why. So let us speculate!
One possible (but almost definitely incorrect) reason is that Intel was able to get the overclocking challenges at 22nm solved and, thus, they want to build hype over what the enthusiasts can accomplish. Josh Walrath, our monitor of the fabrication industry's pulse at PC Perspective, did not bother entertaining the idea. His experiences suggest 14nm and 22nm are "not so different".
But, in the same discussion, Ryan wondered if Intel just could not get power low enough to release anything besides the upper mainstream parts. Rather than delay further, release the parts as they can fit in whatever TDP their market demands. Josh believes that is "as good [of a theory] as any". This also seems like a very reasonable possibility to me, too.
Two other theories: yields are sufficient for the "K" market (but nowhere else) or that Intel could be throwing a bone to the mid-range (lower than Haswell-E) enthusiast by letting them lead. It could also be almost any combination of the above or more.
Or, of course, Broadwell-K could refer to something completely arbitrary. At this point, no-one knows but anyone can guess.
So then, your turn? Comments await.
Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | October 26, 2013 - 11:13 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: techcon, iot, internet of things, arm
This year at the Santa Clara Convention Center ARM will host TechCon, a gathering of partners, customers, and engineers with the goal of collaboration and connection. While I will attending as an outside observer to see what this collection of innovators is creating, there will be sessions and tracks for chip designers, system implementation engineers and software developers.
Areas of interest will include consumer products, enterprise products and of course, the Internet of Things, the latest terminology for a completely connected infrastructure of devices. ARM has designed tracks for interested parties in chip design, data security, mobile, networking, server, software and quite a few more.
Of direct interest to PC Perspective and our readers will be the continued release of information about the Cortex-A12, the upcoming mainstream processor core from ARM that will address the smartphone and tablet markets. We will also get some time with ARM engineers to talk about the coming migration of the market to 64-bit. Because of the release of the Apple A7 SoC that integrated 64-bit and ARMv8 architecture earlier this year, it is definitely going to be the most extensively discussed topic. If you have specific questions you'd like us to bring to the folks at ARM, as well as its partners, please leave me a note in the comments below and I'll be sure it is addressed!
I am also hearing some rumblings of a new ARM developed Mali graphics product that will increase efficiency and support newer graphics APIs as well.
Even if you cannot attend the event in Santa Clara, you should definitely pay attention for the news and products that are announced and shown at ARM TechCon as they are going to be a critical part of the mobile ecosystem in the near, and distant, future. As a first time attendee myself, I am incredibly excited about what we'll find and learn next week!