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like Dell EMC, but AMD is still slowly re-entering the market that they were forced to abandon with their previous, outdated Opteron products.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!"

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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

All in the wrist? Fingering your Threadripper's TIM

Subject: Cases and Cooling, Processors | March 9, 2018 - 02:45 PM |
Tagged: amd, Threadripper, tim, ryzen

If you are looking for advice on how to install and cool a Threadripper. [H]ard|OCP have quickly become the site to reference.  They've benchmarked the majority of waterblocks which are compatible with AMD's big chip as well as publishing videos on how to install it on your motherboard.  Today the chip is out again, this time it is getting a manually applied TIM facial.  Check out Kyle's tips on getting ready to coat your chip and the best way to spread the TIM to ensure even cooling.

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"AMD's Threadripper has shown to be a very different CPU in all sorts of ways and this includes how you install the Thermal Interface Material as well should you be pushing your Threadripper's clocks beyond factory defaults. We show you what techniques we have found to give us the best temperatures when overclocking. "

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD goes after $15B embedded space with two new embedded processors

Subject: Processors | February 21, 2018 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, EPYC, embedded, ryzen v1000, epyc 3000

Continuing its expansion of bringing modern processor and graphics designs to as many of its targeted market segments as possible, AMD announced today two new families that address the embedded processor space. The company has already seen double-digital YoY sequential growth in revenue from embedded markets, but the release of the Epyc Embedded 3000 and Ryzen Embedded V1000 family create significant additional opportunity for the company.

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Embedded markets are unique from traditional consumer and enterprise channels as they address areas from military and aerospace applications to networking hardware and storage devices to retail compute and even casino and arcade gaming. These markets tend to be consistent and stable without the frequent or dramatic swings in architectural preference or market share that we often witness in consumer PCs. As AMD continues to grow and look for stable sources of adjacent income, embedded processors are a critical avenue and one that I believe AMD has distinct advantages in.

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Research firm IDC estimates the market size that AMD can address with this pair of chip families exceeds $14-15B annually. The largest portion of that ($11-12B) includes storage and networking infrastructure systems that the Epyc 3000 line will target. The remaining amount includes IoT gateways, medical systems, and casino gaming hardware and is the purview of the Ryzen V1000.

Competitors in this space include Intel (with its Xeon D-series and Core family of chips) and many Arm-based designs that focus on low power integration. Intel has the most potential for immediate negative impact with AMD’s expansion in the embedded markets as the shared architecture and compatibility mean customers can more easily move between platforms. AMD is positioning both parts directly against Intel with proposed advantages in value and performance, hoping to move embedded customers to the combined AMD solution.

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The Ryzen V1000 family combines the company’s recent processor and graphics architectures on a single chip, similar in function to the consumer Ryzen design that was released for notebook and desktop PCs. For the embedded customers and devices being targeted, this marks a completely new class of product with two key benefits over competing solutions. First, it allows for smaller and cooler system designs (critical for the cramped working environments of the embedded space) while increasing maximum performance.

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Second, the V1000 allows integrators to downscale from using a combination of an Intel processor and a separate, discrete graphics chip to a single chip design. This both raises the ASP (average selling price) for AMD, increasing revenue and potential margin, while lowering the price that customers pay in total for system components.

While AMD struggles to find ways to promote the value of higher performance graphics on its new processors, where it has a significant advantage over Intel, for the consumer and business space, in the embedded markets that additional performance value is well understood. Casino gaming often utilizes multiple high-resolution displays for a single device with demand for high-quality rendered 3D graphics, of which the V1000 can now provide in a single chip design. The same is seen with medical imaging hardware, including ultrasound machines for women’s healthcare and cardiovascular diagnostics.

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The Epyc Embedded 3000 family does not include integrated graphics on-chip and instead offers higher core performance and performance per dollar compared to competing Intel solutions. AMD believes that the Epyc 3000 will double the total addressable market for the company when it comes to networking and storage infrastructure.

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AMD previously has disclosed its partnership with Cisco that included AMD-built processor options for some families of switches and other networking gear. As the demand for edge computing grows (systems that will exist near the consumer or enterprise side of a network to aid in computational needs of high speed networks), AMD is offering a compelling solution to counter the Intel Xeon family of processors.

Both the Epyc 3000 and Ryzen V1000 chips represent the first time AMD has targeted embedded customers with specific features and capabilities at the hardware level. During the design phase of its Zen CPU and Vega graphics architecture, business unit leaders included capabilities like multiple 10-gigabit network integration, support of four 4K display outputs, ECC memory (error correction capability for mission-critical applications), and unique embedded-based interfaces for external connectivity.

While these were not needed for the consumer segments of the market, and weren’t exposed in those hardware launches, they provide crucial benefits for AMD customers when selecting a chip for embedded markets.

Source: AMD

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

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

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

Rome is probably not coming until 2019.

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

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

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

Source: WCCFTech

Raven Ridge Delidded: der8auer Posts AMD Ryzen 5 2400G Before and After Video

Subject: Processors | February 16, 2018 - 08:52 AM |
Tagged: tim, thermal paste, Ryzen 5 2400G, ryzen, overclocking, der8aur, delidding, APU, amd

Overclocker der8auer has posted a video demonstrating the delidding process of the AMD Ryzen 5 2400G, and his findings on its effect on temperatures and overclocking headroom.

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The delidded Ryzen 5 2400G (image credit der8auer via YouTube)

The full video is embedded below:

The results are interesting, but disappointing from an overclocking standpoint, as he was only able to increase his highest frequency by 25 MHz. Thermals were far more impressive, as the liquid metal used in place of the factory TIM did lower temps considerably.

Here are his temperature results for both the stock and overclocked R5 2400G:

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The process was actually quite straightforward, and used an existing Intel delidding tool (the Delid Die Mate 2) along with a small piece of acrylic to spread the force against the PCB.

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Delidding the Ryzen 5 2400G (image credit der8auer via YouTube)

The Ryzen 5 2400G is using thermal paste and is not soldered, which enables this process to be reasonably safe - or as safe as delidding a CPU and voiding your warranty ever is. Is it worth it for lower temps and slight overclocking gains? That's up to the user, but integration of an APU like this invites small form-factors that could benefit from the lower temps, especially with low-profile air coolers.

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

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

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

 

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

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Intel Pushes Xeon to the Edge With Refreshed Skylake-Based Xeon D SoCs

Subject: Processors | February 7, 2018 - 09:01 AM |
Tagged: Xeon D, xeon, servers, networking, micro server, Intel, edge computing, augmented reality, ai

Intel announced a major refresh of its Xeon D System on a Chip processors aimed at high density servers that bring the power of the datacenter as close to end user devices and sensors as possible to reduce TCO and application latency. The new Xeon D 2100-series SoCs are built on Intel’s 14nm process technology and feature the company’s new mesh architecture (gone are the days of the ring bus). According to Intel the new chips are squarely aimed at “edge computing” and offer up 2.9-times the network performance, 2.8-times the storage performance, and 1.6-times the compute performance of the previous generation Xeon D-1500 series.

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Intel has managed to pack up to 18 Skylake-based processing cores, Quick Assist Technology co-processing (for things like hardware accelerated encryption/decryption), four DDR4 memory channels addressing up to 512 GB of DDR4 2666 MHz ECC RDIMMs, four Intel 10 Gigabit Ethernet controllers, 32 lanes of PCI-E 3.0, and 20 lanes of flexible high speed I/O that includes up to 14 lanes of SATA 3.0, four USB 3.0 ports, or 20 lanes of PCI-E. Of course, the SoCs support Intel’s Management Engine, hardware virtualization, HyperThreading, Turbo Boost 2.0, and AVX-512 instructions with 1 FMA (fuse-multiply-add) as well..

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Suffice it to say, there is a lot going on here with these new chips which represent a big step up in capabilities (and TDPs) further bridging the gap between the Xeon E3 v5 family and Xeon E5 family and the new Xeon Scalable Processors. Xeon D is aimed at datacenters where power and space are limited and while the soldered SoCs are single socket (1P) setups, high density is achieved by filling racks with as many single processor Mini ITX boards as possible. Xeon D does not quite match the per-core clockspeeds of the “proper” Xeons but has significantly more cores than Xeon E3 and much lower TDPs and cost than Xeon E5. It’s many lower clocked and lower power cores excel at burstable tasks such as serving up websites where many threads may be generated and maintained for long periods of time but not need a lot of processing power and when new page requests do come in the cores are able to turbo boost to meet demand. For example, Facebook is using Xeon D processors to serve up its front end websites in its Yosemite OpenRack servers where each server rack holds 192 Xeon D 1540 SoCs (four Xeon D boards per 1U sleds) for 1,536 Broadwell cores. Other applications include edge routers, network security appliances, self-driving vehicles, and augmented reality processing clusters. The autonomous vehicles use case is perhaps the best example of just what the heck edge computing is. Rather than fighting the laws of physics to transfer sensor data back to a datacenter for processing to be sent back to the car to in time for it to safely act on the processed information, the idea of edge computing is to bring most of the processing, networking, and storage power as close as possible to both the input sensors and the device (and human) that relies on accurate and timely data to make decisions.

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As far as specifications, Intel’s new Xeon D lineup includes 14 processor models broken up into three main categories. The Edge Server and Cloud SKUs include eight, twelve, and eighteen core options with TDPs ranging from 65W to 90W. Interestingly, the 18 core Xeon D does not feature the integrated 10 GbE networking the lower end models have though it supports higher DDR4 memory frequencies. The two remaining classes of Xeon D SoCs are “Network Edge and Storage” and “Integrated Intel Quick Assist Technology” SKUs. These are roughly similar with two eight core, one 12 core, and one 16 core processor (the former also has a quad core that isn’t present in the latter category) though there is a big differentiator in clockspeeds. It seems customers will have to choose between core clockspeeds or Quick Assist acceleration (up to 100 Gbps) as the chips that do have QAT are clocked much lower than the chips without the co-processor hardware which makes sense because they have similar TDPs so clocks needed to be sacrificed to maintain the same core count. Thanks to the updated architecture, Intel is encroaching a bit on the per-core clockspeeds of the Xeon E3 and Xeon E5s though when turbo boost comes into play the Xeon Ds can’t compete.

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The flagship Xeon D 2191 offers up two more cores (four additional threads) versus the previous Broadwell-based flagship Xeon D 1577 as well as higher clockspeeds at 1.6 GHz base versus 1.3 GHz and 2.2 GHz turbo versus 2.1 GHz turbo. The Xeon D 2191 does lack the integrated networking though. Looking at the two 16 core refreshed Xeon Ds compared to the 16 core Xeon D 1577, Intel has managed to increase clocks significantly (up to 2.2 GHz base and 3.0 GHz boost versus 1.3 GHz base and 2.10 GHz boost), double the number of memory channels and network controllers, and increase the maximum amount of memory from 128 GB to 512 GB. All those increases did come at the cost of TDP though which went from 45W to 100W.

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Xeon D has always been an interesting platform both for enthusiasts running VM labs and home servers and big data enterprise clients building and serving up the 'next big thing' built on the astonishing amounts of data people create and consume on a daily basis. (Intel estimates a single self driving car would generate as much as 4TB of data per day while the average person in 2020 will generate 1.5 GB of data per day and VR recordings such as NFL True View will generate up to 3TB a minute!) With Intel ramping up both the core count, per-core performance, and I/O the platform is starting to not only bridge the gap between single socket Xeon E3 and dual socket Xeon E5 but to claim a place of its own in the fast-growing server market.

I am looking forward to seeing how Intel's partners and the enthusiast community take advantage of the new chips and what new projects they will enable. It is also going to be interesting to see the responses from AMD (e.g. Snowy Owl and to a lesser extent Great Horned Owl at the low and niche ends as it has fewer CPU cores but a built in GPU) and the various ARM partners (Qualcomm Centriq, X-Gene, Ampere, ect.*) as they vie for this growth market space with higher powered SoC options in 2018 and beyond.

Also read:

*Note that X-Gene and Ampere are both backed by the Carlyle Group now with MACOM having sold X-Gene to Project Denver Holdings and the ex-Intel employee led Ampere being backed by the Carlyle Group.

Source: Intel

It takes a hefty CPU to power a Chocobo

Subject: Processors | February 5, 2018 - 04:28 PM |
Tagged: final fantasy xv, round up

The new iteration of Final Fantasy sports some hefty recommendations, including the need for a Core i7-3770 or FX-8350 powering your system.  TechSpot decided to test out a variety of CPUs to see how they performed in tandem with a GTX 1080 Ti.  With 14 CPUs represented, including several generations of Intel chips and a representative from each of the three Ryzen lines they proceeded to run through a battery of benchmarks.  The tests quickly showed that if you are running a quad core CPU clocked lower than 4GHz, from either vendor, you are not going to have a good time.  Check out the full results to see if your system can handle it or if you should be shopping for a Ryzen 5 or 7, or perhaps a higher end Coffee Lake if Intel is your cup of tea.

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"Today we're checking out Final Fantasy XV CPU performance using the new standalone benchmark released ahead of next month's PC launch. The reason we want to look at CPU performance first is because the game is extremely CPU intensive, far more so than we were expecting."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

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Source: Techspot