AMD Prepares Zen-Based "Naples" Server SoC For Q2 Launch

Subject: Processors | March 7, 2017 - 09:02 AM |
Tagged: SoC, server, ryzen, opteron, Naples, HPC, amd

Over the summer, AMD introduced its Naples platform which is the server-focused implementation of the Zen microarchitecture in a SoC (System On a Chip) package. The company showed off a prototype dual socket Naples system and bits of information leaked onto the Internet, but for the most part news has been quiet on this front (whereas there were quite a few leaks of Ryzen which is AMD's desktop implementation of Zen).

The wait seems to be finally over, and AMD appears ready to talk more about Naples which will reportedly launch in the second quarter of this year (Q2'17) with full availability of processors and motherboards from OEMs and channel partners (e.g. system integrators) happening in the second half of 2017. Per AMD, "Naples" processors are SoCs with 32 cores and 64 threads that support 8 memory channels and a (theoretical) maximum of 2TB DDR4-2667. (Using the 16GB DIMMs available today, Naples support 256GB of DDR4 per socket.) Further, the Naples SoC features 64 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. Rumors also indicated that the SoC included support for sixteen 10GbE interfaces, but AMD has yet to confirm this or the number of SATA/SAS ports offered. AMD did say that Naples has an optimized cache structure for HPC compute and "dedicated security hardware" though it did not go into specifics. (The security hardware may be similar to the ARM TrustZone technology it has used in the past.) 

AMD Naples.jpg

Naples will be offered in single and dual socket designs with dual socket systems offering up 64 cores, 128 threads, 32 DDR4 DIMMs (512 GB using 16 GB modules) on 16 total memory channels with 21.3 GB/s per channel bandwidth (170.7 GB/s per SoC), 128 PCI-E 3.0 lanes, and an AMD Infinity Fabric interconnect between the two processor sockets.

AMD claims that its Naples platform offers up to 45% more cores, 122% more memory bandwidth, and 60% more I/O than its competition. For its internal comparison, AMD chose the Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 which is the processor with highest core count that is intended for dual socket systems (there are E7s with more cores but those are in 4P systems). The Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 system is a 14nm 22 core (44 thread) processor clocked at 2.4 GHz base to 3.6 GHz turbo with 55MB cache. It supports four channels of DDR4-2400 for a maximum bandwidth of 76.8 GB/s (19.2 GB/s per channel) as well as 40 PCI-E 3.0 lanes. A dual socket system with two of those Xeons features 44 cores, 88 threads, and a theoretical maximum of 1.54 TB of ECC RAM.

AMD's reference platform with two 32 core Naples SoCs and 512 GB DDR4 2400 MHz was purportedly 2.5x faster at the seismic analysis workload than the dual Xeon E5-2699A V4 OEM system with 1866 MHz DDR4. Curiously, when AMD compared a Naples reference platform with 44 cores enabled and running 1866 MHz memory to a similarly configured Intel system the Naples platform was twice as fast. It seems that the increased number of memory channels and memory bandwidth are really helping the Naples platform pull ahead in this workload.

AMD Naples and Radeon Instinct.png

The company also intends Naples to power machine learning and AI projects with servers that feature Naples processors and Radeon Instinct graphics processors.

AMD further claims that its Naples platform is more balanced and suited to cloud computing and scientific and HPC workloads than the competition. Specifically, Forrest Norrod the Senior Vice president and General Manager of AMD's Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Business Unit stated:

“’Naples’ represents a completely new approach to supporting the massive processing requirements of the modern datacenter. This groundbreaking system-on-chip delivers the unique high-performance features required to address highly virtualized environments, massive data sets and new, emerging workloads.”

There is no word on pricing yet, but it should be competitive with Intel's offerings (the E5-2699A V4 is $4,938). AMD will reportedly be talking data center strategy and its upcoming products during the Open Compute Summit later this week, so hopefully there will be more information released at those presentations.

(My opinions follow)

This is one area where AMD needs to come out strong with support from motherboard manufacturers, system integrators, OEM partners, and OS and software validation to succeed. Intel is not likely to take AMD encroaching on its lucrative server market share lightly, and AMD is going to have a long road ahead of it to regain the market share it once had in this area, but it does have a decent architecture on its hands to build off of with Zen and if it can secure partner support Intel is certainly going to have competition here that it has not had to face in a long time. Intel and AMD competing over the data center market is a good thing, and as both companies bring new technology to market it will trickle down into the consumer level hardware. Naples' success in the data center could mean a profitable AMD with R&D money to push Zen as far as it can – so hopefully they can pull it off.

What are your thoughts on the Naples SoC and AMD's push into the server market?

Also read:

Source: AMD

PSA: AMD XFR Enabled On All Ryzen CPUs, X SKUs Have Wider Range

Subject: Processors | March 4, 2017 - 06:00 AM |
Tagged: xfr, turbo, sensemi, ryzen, overclocking, amd

Following the leaks and official news and reviews of AMD's Ryzen processors there were a few readers asking for clarity on the eXtended Frequency Range (XFR) technology and whether or not it is enabled on all Ryzen CPUs or only the X models. After quite a bit of digging through forums and contradictory articles, I believe I have the facts in hand to answer those questions. In short, XFR is supported on all Ryzen processors (at least all the Ryzen 7 CPUs released so far) including the non-X Ryzen 7 1700; however the X SKUs get a bigger boost from XFR than the non-X model(s).

Specifically, the Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1800X when paired with a high end air or water cooler is able to boost up to an additional 100 MHz over the 4 GHz advertised boost clock while the Ryzen 7 1700 is limited to an XFR boost of up to 50 MHz so long as there is thermal headroom. Interestingly, the Extended Frequency Range boosts are done in 25 MHz increments (and likely achieved by adjusting the multiplier by 0.25x).

AMD XFR.jpg

How does this all work though? Well, with Ryzen AMD introduced a new suite of technologies it calls "SenseMI" which, despite the questionable name (heh), puts a lot of intelligence into the processor and builds on the paths AMD started down with Carrizo and Excavator designs. The five main technologies are Pure Power, Precision Boost, Extended Frequency Range (XFR), Neural Net Prediction, and Smart Prefetch. The first three are important when talking about XFR.

With Ryzen AMD has embedded a number of sensors throughout the chip that accurately measure temperatures, clock speeds, and voltages within 1°C, 1mA, 1mW, 1mV and it has connected all the sensors together using its Infinity Fabric. Pure Power lets AMD make localized adaptive adjustments to optimize power usage without negatively affecting performance. Precision Boost is AMD's equivalent to Intel's Turbo Boost and it is built on top of Pure Power's sensor network. Precision Boost enables a Ryzen CPU to dynamically clock up beyond the base clock speed across all cores or clock even further across two cores. Lightly threaded workloads will benefit from the latter while workloads using any more than two threads will get the all core boost, so there is not a lot of granularity in number of cores vs allowed boost but there does not really need to be and the Precision Boost is more granular than Intel's Turbo Boost in clock speed bumps of 25MHz increments versus 100 MHz increments up to the maximum allowed Precision Boost clock. As an example, the Ryzen 7 1800X has a base clock of 3.6 GHz and so long as there is thermal headroom it can adjust the clock speed up by 25 MHz steps to 3.7 GHz across all eight cores or up to as much as 4.0 GHz on two cores.

From there XFR allows the processor to clock beyond the 2 core Precision Boost (XFR only works to increase the boost of the two core turbo not the all core turbo) and as temperatures decrease the allowed XFR increases. While initial reports and slides from AMD suggested XFR would scale with the cooler (air, water, LN2, LHe) with no upper limit aside from temperature and other sensor input, it appears AMD has taken a step back and limited X series Ryzen 7 chips to a maximum XFR boost of 100 MHz over the two core Precision Boost and non-X series Ryzen 7 processors to a maximum XFR boost of 50 MHz over the maximum boosted two core clock speed. The Ryzen 7 1700 will have two extra steps above its two core boost so while the chip has a base clock of 3.0 GHz, Precision Boost can take all eight cores to 3.1GHz or two cores to 3.7 GHz. Further, so long as temperatures are still in check XFR can take those two boosted cores to 3.75 GHz.

AMD Ryzen 1800X XFR Boost.jpg

XFR will be a setting that you are able to toggle on and off via a motherboard setting, and some motherboards may have the feature turned on by default. Unfortunately, if you choose to manually overclock you will lose XFR functionality (and boost). Further, Precision Boost and XFR are connected and you are not able to turn off one but not the other (you either get both or nothing). Note that if you overclock using AMD's "Ryzen Master" software utility, it will also disable Precision Boost and XFR, but the lower power C-states will stay enabled which may be desirable if you want the power bill and room to cool down when not gaming or creating content.

I would expect as yields and the binning processes improve for Ryzen AMD may lift or extend the XFR limits either with a product refresh (not sure if a micro-code update would be possible) or maybe only in the upcoming hexa-core and quad core Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 processors that have less cores and more headroom for overclocking. That is merely speculation however. Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 should support XFR on both X and non-X models, but it is too early to know or say what the XFR boost will be.

XFR is neat though not as big of a deal as I originally thought it to be without limits, and as many expected manual overclocking is still going to be the way to go. This is not all bad news though, because it means that the much cheaper Ryzen 7 1700 just got a lot more attractive. You give up a 50 MHz XFR boost that you can't use anyway because you are going to manually overclock and you gamble a bit on getting a decently binned chip that can hit R7 1800X clock speeds, but you save $170 that you can put towards a better motherboard or a better graphics card (or a second one for CrossFire - even on B350).

I am still waiting on our overclocking results as well as Kyle's overclocking results when it comes to the Ryzen 7 1700, but several other sites are reporting success at hitting at least 4.0 GHz (though not many results over 4.0 or 4.1 GHz which isn't unexpected since these are not the highest binned chips and yields are still young so bins are more real/based on silicon and not just for product segmentation but most can hit the higher speeds at x power, v voltage, and n temperature et al). For example, Legit Reviews reports that they were able to hit manually overclock a R7 1700 to 4.0 GHz on all cores at 1.3875 volts. They were able to keep the non-X Ryzen chip stable with those settings on both aftermarket air and AIO water coolers.

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AMD's Ryzen Master overclocking software lets you OC and setup CPU and memory profiles from your OS.

More on overclocking: Tom's Hardware has posted that, according to AMD, the safe voltage ceiling for overclocking is 1.35V if you want the CPU to last, but that up to 1.45V CPU voltage is "sustainable". Further, note that is is recommended not to set the SOC Voltage higher than 1.2 volts. Also, much like Intel's platform, it is possible to adjust the base clock (BCLCK) but you may run into stability problems with the rest of the system if you push this too far outside expected specifications (PC Gamer claims you can set this up to 140 MHz though so AM4/Ryzen may be more forgiving in this area than Intel. Edit: The highest figure I've seen so far is 106.4 MHz being stable before the rest of the system gets too far out of spec and becomes unstable. The main benefit to adjusting this is to support overclocked RAM above 3200 MHz so unless you need that your overclocking efforts are probably better spent adjusting the multiplier. /edit). Finally, when manually overclocking you will be able to turn off SMT and/or turn off cores in 2s (e.g. disable 2 cores or disable 4 cores, you can't disable in single numbers but groups of two).

Hopefully this helps to clear up the XFR confusion. If you do not need guaranteed clocks with a bonus XFR boost for a stable workstation build, saving money and going with the Ryzen 7 1700 and manually overclocking it to at least attempt to reach R7 1700X or 1800X speeds seems like the way to go for enthusiasts that are considering making the jump to AM4 especially if you enjoy tinkering with things like overclocking. There's nothing wrong with going with the higher priced and binned chips if you want to go that route, but don't do it for XFR in my opinion.

What are your thoughts? Are you planning to overclock your Ryzen CPU or do you think the Precision Boost and XFR is enough?

Source: Ars Technica

Ryzen shine! It is time for your AMD roundup

Subject: Processors | March 2, 2017 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: Ryzen 1700X, Zen, x370, video, ryzen, amd

Having started your journey with Ryan's quick overview of the performance of the 1800X and anxiously awaiting our further coverage now that we have both the parts and the time to test them you might want to take a peek at some other coverage. [H]ard|OCP tested the processor which many may be looking at due to the more affordable pricing, the Ryzen 1700X.  Their test system is based on a Gigabyte A370-Gaming 5 with 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR4-3600 which ran at 2933MHz during testing; Kyle reached out to vendors who assured him an update will make 3GHz reachable will arrive soon.  Part of their testing focused on VR performance, so make sure to check out the full article.

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"Saying that we have waited for a long time for a "real" CPU out of AMD would be a gross misunderstatement, but today AMD looks to remedy that. We are now offered up a new CPU that carries the branding name of Ryzen. Has AMD risen from the CPU graveyard? You be the judge after looking at the data."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD responds to 1080p gaming tests on Ryzen

Subject: Processors | March 2, 2017 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, gaming, 1080p

By far one of the most interesting and concerning points about today's launch of the AMD Ryzen processor is gaming results. Many other reviewers have seen similar results to what I published in my article this morning: gaming at 1080p, even at "ultra" image quality settings, in many top games shows a deficit in performance compared to Intel Kaby Lake and Broadwell-E processors. 

I shared my testing result with AMD over a week ago, trying to get answers and hoping to find some instant fix (a BIOS setting, a bug in my firmware). As it turns out, that wasn't the case. To be clear, our testing was done on the ASUS Crosshair VI Hero motherboard with the 5704 BIOS and any reports you see claiming that the deficits only existed on ASUS products are incorrect.

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AMD responded to the issues late last night with the following statement from John Taylor, CVP of Marketing:

“As we presented at Ryzen Tech Day, we are supporting 300+ developer kits with game development studios to optimize current and future game releases for the all-new Ryzen CPU. We are on track for 1000+ developer systems in 2017. For example, Bethesda at GDC yesterday announced its strategic relationship with AMD to optimize for Ryzen CPUs, primarily through Vulkan low-level API optimizations, for a new generation of games, DLC and VR experiences.

Oxide Games also provided a public statement today on the significant performance uplift observed when optimizing for the 8-core, 16-thread Ryzen 7 CPU design – optimizations not yet reflected in Ashes of the Singularity benchmarking. Creative Assembly, developers of the Total War series, made a similar statement today related to upcoming Ryzen optimizations.

CPU benchmarking deficits to the competition in certain games at 1080p resolution can be attributed to the development and optimization of the game uniquely to Intel platforms – until now. Even without optimizations in place, Ryzen delivers high, smooth frame rates on all “CPU-bound” games, as well as overall smooth frame rates and great experiences in GPU-bound gaming and VR. With developers taking advantage of Ryzen architecture and the extra cores and threads, we expect benchmarks to only get better, and enable Ryzen excel at next generation gaming experiences as well.

Game performance will be optimized for Ryzen and continue to improve from at-launch frame rate scores.” John Taylor, AMD

The statement begins with Taylor reiterating the momentum of AMD to support developers both from a GPU and a CPU technology angle. Getting hardware in the hands of programmers is the first and most important step to find and fixing any problem areas that Ryzen might have, so this is a great move to see taking place. Both Oxide Games and Creative Assembly, developers of Ashes of the Singularity and Total War respectively, have publicly stated their intent to demonstrate improved threading and performance on Ryzen platforms very soon.

Taylor then recognizes the performance concerns at 1080p with attribution to those deficits going to years of optimizations for Intel processors. It's difficult, if not impossible, to know for sure how much weight this argument has, but it would make some logical sense. Intel CPUs have been the automatic, defacto standard for gaming PCs for many years, and any kind of performance optimizations and development would have been made on those same Intel processors. So it seems plausible that simply by seeding Ryzen to developers and having them look at performance as development goes forward would result in a positive change for AMD's situation.

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For buyers today that are gaming at 1080p, the situation is likely to remain as we have presented it going forward. Until games get patched or new games are released from developers that have had access and hands-on time with Ryzen, performance is unlikely to change from some single setting/feature that AMD or its motherboard partners can enable. 

The question I would love answered is why is this even happening? What architectural difference between Core and Zen is attributing to this delta? Is it fundamental to the pipeline built or to the caching structure or to how SMT is enabled? Does Windows 10 and its handling of kernel processes have something to do with it? There is a lot to try to figure out as testing moves forward.

If you want to see the statements from both Oxide and Creative Assembly, they are provided below.

“Oxide games is incredibly excited with what we are seeing from the Ryzen CPU. Using our Nitrous game engine, we are working to scale our existing and future game title performance to take full advantage of Ryzen and its 8-core, 16-thread architecture, and the results thus far are impressive. These optimizations are not yet available for Ryzen benchmarking. However, expect updates soon to enhance the performance of games like Ashes of the Singularity on Ryzen CPUs, as well as our future game releases.” - Brad Wardell, CEO Stardock and Oxide
 
"Creative Assembly is committed to reviewing and optimizing its games on the all-new Ryzen CPU. While current third-party testing doesn’t reflect this yet, our joint optimization program with AMD means that we are looking at options to deliver performance optimization updates in the future to provide better performance on Ryzen CPUs moving forward. " – Creative Assembly, Developers of the Multi-award Winning Total War Series

Source: AMD

Delidded Ryzen 7 1700 Confirms AMD Is Using Solder With IHS On Ryzen Processors

Subject: Processors | March 1, 2017 - 09:17 PM |
Tagged: solder, Ryzen 1700, ryzen, overclocking, IHS, delid, amd

Professional extreme overclocker Roman "der8auer" Hartung from Germany recently managed to successfully de-lid his AMD Ryzen 7 1700 processor and confirmed that AMD is, in fact, using solder as its thermal interface material of choice between the Ryzen die and IHS (integrated heat spreader). The confirmation that AMD is using solder is promising news for enthusiasts eager to overclock the new processors and see just how far they are able to push them on air and water cooling.

Delidded Ryzen 7 1700 Die.JPG

Image credit: Roman Hartung. Additional high resolution photos are available here.

In a video on his YouTube channel, der8auer ("The Farmer") shows the steps involved in delidding the Ryzen 7 1700 which involve using razor blades, a heating element to get the IHS heated to a temperature high enough to melt the indium (~170°C on the block with the indium melting around 157°C), and a whole lot of courage. After using the razor blades to cut the glue around the edges, he heated up the IHS enough to start melting the solder and after a cringe-worthy cracking sound he was able to lift the package away from the IHS with the die and on-package components intact!

He does note that the Ryzen using PGA rather than the LGA method Intel has moved to makes the CPU a bit harder to handle as the pins are on the CPU rather than the socket and are easily bent. Compared to the delidding process and possibility of cracking the die or ripping off some components and killing the $329 CPU though, bent pins are nothing and can usually be bent back heh. He reportedly went through two previous Ryzen CPUs before getting a successful de-lid on the third attempt after all.

It seems that AMD is using two small pads of Indium solder along with some gold plating on the inside of the IHS to facilitate heat transfer and allow the solder to mate with the IHS. Because AMD is using what seems to be high quality solder TIM, delidding and replacing the TIM does not seem to be necessary at all; however, Roman "der8auer" Hartung speculates that direct die cooling could work out very well for those enthusiasts brave enough to try it since the cooler does not need to put high amounts of pressure onto the CPU to hold it into place unlike an LGA socket. 

If you are interested in seeing the overclocking benefits of de-lidding and direct die cooling a Ryzen CPU, keep an eye on his YouTube channel for a video over the weekend detailing his testing using a Ryzen 7 1800X.

I am really looking forward to seeing how far enthusiasts are able to push Ryzen (especially on water), and maybe we can convince Morry to de-lid a Ryzen CPU!

Happy Overclocking!

Also read:

Source: der8auer

Overclockers Push Ryzen 7 1800X to 5.2 GHz On LN2, Break Cinebench Record

Subject: Processors | February 28, 2017 - 09:06 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Ryzen 1800X, ryzen, overclocking, LN2, Cinebench, amd

During AMD’s Ryzen launch event a team of professional overclockers took the stage to see just how far they could push the top Zen-based processor. Using a bit of LN2 (liquid nitrogen) and a lot of voltage, the overclocking team was able to hit an impressive 5.20 GHz with all eight cores (16 threads) enabled!

Ryzen Cinebench Benchmark Record.png

In addition to the exotic LN2 cooling, the Ryzen 7 1800X needed 1.875 volts to hit 5.20 GHz. That 5.20 GHz was achieved by setting the base clock at 137.78 MHz and the multiplier at 37.75. Using these settings, the chip was even stable enough to benchmark with a score of 2,363 on Cinebench R15’s multi-threaded test.

According to information from AMD, a stock Ryzen 7 1800X comes clocked at 3.6 GHz base and up to 4 GHz boost (XFR can go higher depending on HSF) and is able to score 1,619 in Cinebench. The 30% overclock to 5.20 GHz got the overclockers an approximately 45% higher CInebench score.

Further, later in the overclocking event, they managed to break a Cinebench world record of 2,445 points by achieving a score of 2,449 (it is not clear what clockspeed this was at). Not bad for a brand-new processor!

AMD Ryzen 1800X Overclocked On LN2 to 5GHz.jpg

The overclocking results are certainly impressive, and suggest that Ryzen may be a decent overclocker so long as you have the cooling setup to get it there (the amount of voltage needed is a bit worrying though heh). Interestingly, HWBot shows a Core i7 6900K (also 8C/16T) hitting 5.22 GHz and scoring 2,146 in CInebench R15. That Ryzen can hit similar numbers with all cores and threads turned on is promising.

I am looking forward to seeing what people are able to hit on air and water cooling and if XFR will work as intended and get most of the way to a manual overclock without the effort of manually overclocking. I am also curious how the power phases and overclocking performance will stack up on motherboards using the B350 versus X370 chipsets. With the eight core chips able to hit 5.2, I expect the upcoming six core Ryzen 5 and four core Ryzen 3 processors to clock even higher which would certainly help gaming performance for budget builds!

Austin Evans was able to get video of the overclocking event which you can watch here (Vimeo).

Also read:

Source: Hexus

AMD Launching Ryzen 5 Six Core Processors Soon (Q2 2017)

Subject: Processors | February 24, 2017 - 02:17 AM |
Tagged: Zen, six core, ryzen 5, ryzen, hexacore, gaming, amd

While AMD's Ryzen lineup and pricing has leaked out, only the top three Ryzen 7 processors are available for pre-order (with availability on March 2nd). Starting at $329 for the eight core sixteen thread Ryzen 7 1700, these processors are aimed squarely at enthusiasts craving top-end performance. It seems that enthusiasts looking for cheaper and better price/performance options for budget gaming and work machines will have to wait a bit for Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 which will reportedly launch in the second quarter and second half of 2017 respectively. Two six core Ryzen 5 processors will launch somewhere between April and June with the Ryzen 3 quad cores (along with mobile and "Raven Ridge" APU parts) following in the summer to end-of-year timeframe hopefully hitting that back-to-school and holiday shopping launch windows respectively.

AMD Ryzen Die Shot_six core.jpg

Image via reddit (user noiserr). Guru3d has another die shot. Six cores will be created by disabling one core from each CCX.

Thanks to leaks, the two six core Ryzen 5 CPUs are the Ryzen 5 1600X at $259 and Ryzen 5 1500 at $229. The Ryzen 5 1600X is a 95W TDP CPU with six cores and twelve threads at 3.6 GHz base to 4.0 GHz boost with 16MB of L3 cache. AMD is pitting this chip against the Intel Core i5 7600K which is a $240 quad core Kaby Lake part sans Hyper-Threading. Meanwhile, the Ryzen 5 1500 is a 65W processor clocked at 3.2 GHz base and 3.5 GHz boost with 16 MB of L3 cache.

Note that the Ryzen 5 1600X features AMD's XFR (extreme frequency) technology which the Ryzen 5 1500 lacks. Both processors are unlocked and can be overclocked, however. 

Interestingly, Antony Leather over at Forbes managed to acquire some information on how AMD is making these six core parts. According to his source, AMD is disabling one core (and its accompanying L2 cache) from each four core Core Complex (CCX). Doing this this way (rather than taking two cores from one CCX) should keep things balanced. It also allows AMD to keep all of the processors 16MB of L3 cache enabled and each of the remaining three cores of each complex will be able to access the L3 cache as normal. Previous rumors had suggested that the CCXes were "indivisible" and six cores were not possible, but it appears that AMD is able to safely disable at least one core of a complex without compromising the whole thing. I doubt we will be seeing any odd number core count CPUs from AMD though (like their old try at selling tri-core parts that later were potentially able to be unlocked). I am glad that AMD was able to create six core parts while leaving the entire L3 cache intact.

What is still not clear is whether these six core Ryzen 5 parts are made by physically disabling the core from the complex or if the cores are simply disabled/locked out in the micro code or BIOS/UEFI. It would be awesome if, in the future when yields are to the point where binning is more for product segmentation than because of actual defects, those six core processors could be unlocked! 

The top end Ryzen 7 processors are looking to be great performers and a huge leap over Excavator while at least competing with Intel's latest at multi-threaded performance (I will wait for independent benchmarks for single threaded where even from AMD the benchmark scores are close although these benchmark runs look promising). These parts are relatively expensive though, and the cheaper Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 3 (and Raven Ridge APUs) are where AMD will see the most potential sales due to a much bigger market. I am looking forward to seeing more information on the lower end chips and how they will stack up against Intel and its attempts to shift into high gear with moves like enabling Hyper-Threading on lower end Kaby Lake Pentiums and possibly on new Core i5s (that's still merely a rumor though). Intel certainly seems to be taking notice of Ryzen and the reignited competition in the desktop processor space is very promising for consumers!

Are you holding out for a six core or quad core Ryzen CPU or are you considering a jump to the high-end Ryzen 7s?

Source: TechPowerUp

Flipped your lid and want to reattach it?

Subject: Processors | February 23, 2017 - 11:07 AM |
Tagged: Intel, Skylake, kaby lake, delidding, relidding

[H]ard|OCP have been spending a lot of time removing the integrated heatspreader on recent Intel chips to see what effect it has on temperatures under load.  Along the way we picked up tips on 3D printing a delidder and thankfully there was not much death along the way.  One of their findings from this testing was that it can be beneficial to reattach the lid after changing out the thermal interface material and they have published a guide on how to do so.   You will need a variety of tools, from Permatex Red RTV to razor blades, by way of isopropyl alcohol and syringes; as well as a steady hand.  You may have many of the items on hand already and none are exceptionally expensive.

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"So we have covered a lot about taking your shiny new Intel CPUs apart lately, affectionately known as "delidding." What we have found in our journey is that "relidding" the processor might be an important part of the process as well. But what if you do not have a fancy tool that will help you put Humpty back together again?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Ryzen powered PC pre-orders

Subject: Processors | February 22, 2017 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: Cyberpower, maingear, origin, ncix

I am not one to recommend preordering anything but there are plenty of consumers out there that are, as you can tell by how quickly the new Ryzen processors are selling.  Here is a quick look at three of the system builders offerings you can order as of today.

CyberPower

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They offer four different systems, with all but their new Hyper Liquid model using a Corsair H60 CLC for cooling and 8GB of dual channel DDR4.  All systems come with a 3-year limited warranty and lifetime tech support
 

Maingear

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Maingear is more cooling focused, with custom watercooling available in traditional soft tubing and hardline options.  They also offer MAINGEAR Redline Overclocking, so your Ryzen powered system will arrive already running at higher that reference frequencies.  You will pay a little more but they do put effort into the paint and aesthetics.

Origin

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Origin's systems start shipping on March 12th, with NEURON, MILLENNIUM and GENESIS desktops which come with free lifetime US-based 24/7 support.  They offer  Variable Mounting which allows you a choice between four motherboard mounting orientations, choose the appropriate one based on your preferred cooling solution.  You can also add remote controlled LEDs and in some models, up to 34 drives can be installed.

NCIX

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Last but not least is NCIX who not only offer several choices of custom systems but also list a wide variety of AM4 motherboards and compatible coolers for you to order individually.  The lower end B350 boards look to retail around $150 while some of the high end X370 boards are over $400.  The X370 above features two M.2 NVMe PCIe x4 slots with heatshields while the B350 has only one, exposed to the world. 

 

AMD Ryzen Pre-order Starts Today, Specs and Performance Revealed

Subject: Processors | February 22, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Zen, ryzen, preorder, pre-order, handbrake, Cinebench, amd

I know that many of you have been waiting months and years to put your money down for the Zen architecture and Ryzen processors from AMD. Well that day is finally here: AMD is opening pre-orders for Ryzen 7 1800X, Ryzen 7 1700X and Ryzen 7 1700 processors.

That’s the good news. The bad news? You’ll be doing it without the guidance of independent reviews.

For some of you, that won’t matter. And I can respect that! Getting your hands on Ryzen and supporting the disruption that it offers is something not only AMD fans have been preparing for, but tens of thousands of un-upgraded enthusiasts as well.

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Sorry...AMD doesn't trust with slides it seems.

Proudly announced at our meeting with AMD this week, Zen not only met the 40% IPC goals it announced more than a year ago, but exceeded it! AMD claims more than a 52% increase in instructions per clock over Excavator and that is a conservative metric based on side conversations. This does a couple of things for the CPU market immediately: first it resets performance expectations for what Ryzen will offer when reviews do go live and second, it may actually put some worry into Intel.

AMD is allowing us to share baseline specifications of the processors, including clock speeds and core counts, as well as some selected benchmarks that show the Ryzen CPUs in an (obviously) favorable light.

  Ryzen R7 1800X Ryzen R7 1700X Ryzen R7 1700 Core i7-6900K Core i7-6800K Core i7-7700K
Architecture Zen Zen Zen Broadwell-E Broadwell-E Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm 14nm+
Cores/Threads 8/16 8/16 8/16 8/16 6/12 4/8
Base Clock 3.6 GHz 3.4 GHz 3.0 GHz 3.2 GHz 3.4 GHz 4.2 GHz
Turbo/Boost Clock 4.0 GHz 3.8  GHz 3.7 GHz 3.7 GHz 3.6 GHz 4.5 GHz
Cache 20MB 20MB 20MB 20MB 15MB 8MB
TDP 95 watts 95 watts 65 watts 140 watts 140 watts 91 watts
Price $499 $399 $329 $1050 $450 $350

AMD is being extremely aggressive with these prices and with the direct comparisons. The flagship Ryzen 7 1800X will run you just $499, the 1700X at $399 and the 1700 at $329. For AMD’s own comparisons, they pitted the Ryzen 7 1800X against the Core i7-6900K from Intel, selling for more than 2x the cost. Both CPUs have 8 cores and 16 threads, the AMD Ryzen part has higher clock speeds as well. If IPC is equivalent (or close), then it makes sense that the 1800X would be a noticeably faster part. If you care about performance per dollar even more…you should be impressed.

For the other comparisons, AMD is pitting the Ryzen 7 1700X with 8 cores and 16 threads against the Core i7-6800K, with 6 cores and 12 threads. Finally, the Ryzen 7 1700, still with an 8C/16T setup, goes against the Core i7-7700K with just 4 cores and 8 threads.

Here is a summary of the performance comparisons AMD is allowing to be showed.

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Though it's only a couple of benchmarks, and the results are highly siloed to show Ryzen in the best light, the results are incredibly impressive. In Cinebench R15, the Ryzen 1800X is 9% faster than the Core i7-6900K but at half the price; even the Ryzen R7 1700X is beating it. The 1700X is 34% faster than the Core i7-6800K, and the 1700 is 31% faster than the quad-core Core i7-7700K. The only single threaded result AMD gave us shows matching performance from the Core i7-6900K based on the Intel Broadwell architecture and the new Ryzen R7 1800X. This might suppress some questions about single threaded performance of Ryzen before reviews, but Broadwell is a couple generations old in Intel’s lineup, so we should expect Kaby Lake to surpass it.

The Handbrake benchmark results only included Core i7-7700K and the Ryzen R7 1700, with the huge advantage going to AMD. Not unexpected considering the 2x delta in core and thread count.

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Finally, the performance per dollar conversion on the Cinebench scores is a substantially impactful visual. With a more than 2x improvement from the Ryzen 7 1800X to the Core i7-6900K, power-hungry users on a budget will have a lot to think about.

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Sorry...AMD doesn't trust with slides it seems.

Clearly, AMD is very proud of the Ryzen processor and the Zen architecture, and they should be. This is a giant leap forward for the company compared to previous desktop parts. If you want to buy in today and pre-order, we have links below. If you’d rather wait for a full review from PC Perspective (or other outlets), you only have to wait until March 2nd.

Update Feb 22 @ 4:27am: An official Intel spokesman did respond to today's AMD news with the following: 

“We take any competition seriously but as we’ve learned, consumers usually take a ‘wait and see’ approach on performance claims for untested products. 7th Gen Intel® Core™ delivers the best experiences, and with 8th Gen Intel Core and new technologies like Intel® Optane™ memory coming soon, Intel will not stop raising the bar.” ­

While nothing drastic, the Intel comment is interesting in a couple of ways. First, the fact that Intel is responding at all means that they are rattled to some degree. Second, mention of the 8th Gen Core processor series indicates that they want potential buyers to know that something beyond Kaby Lake is coming down the pipe, a break from Intel's normally stoic demeanor.

Source: AMD

Report: Leaked AMD Ryzen 7 1700X Benchmarks Show Strong Performance

Subject: Processors | February 21, 2017 - 10:54 AM |
Tagged: ryzen, rumor, report, R7, processor, leak, IPC, cpu, Cinebench, benchmark, amd, 1700X

VideoCardz.com, continuing their CPU coverage of the upcoming Ryzen launch, has posted images from XFASTEST depicting the R7 1700X processor and some very promising benchmark screenshots.

AMD-Ryzen-7-1700X.jpg

(Ryzen 7 1700X on the right) Image credit XFASTEST via VideoCardz

The Ryzen 7 1700X is reportedly an 8-core/16-thread processor with a base clock speed of 3.40 GHz, and while overall performance from the leaked benchmarks looks very impressive, it is the single-threaded score from the Cinebench R15 run pictured which really makes this CPU look like major competition for Intel with IPC.

AMD-Ryzen-7-1700X-Cinebench.jpg

Image credit XFASTEST via VideoCardz

An overall score of 1537 is outstanding, placing the CPU almost even with the i7-6900K at 1547 based on results from AnandTech:

AnandTech_Benchmarks.png

Image credit AnandTech

And the single-threaded performance score of the reported Ryzen 7 1700X is 154, which places it above the i7-6900K's score of 153. (It is worth noting that Cinebench R15 shows a clock speed of 3.40 GHz for this CPU, which is the base, while CPU-Z is displaying 3.50 GHz - likely indicating a boost clock, which can reportedly surpass 3.80 GHz with this CPU.)

Other results from the reported leak include 3DMark Fire Strike, with a physics score of 17,916 with Ryzen 7 1700X clocking in at ~3.90 GHz:

AMD-Ryzen-7-1700X-Fire-Strike-Physics.png

Image credit XFASTEST via VideoCardz

We will know soon enough where this and other Ryzen processors stand relative to Intel's current offerings, and if Intel will respond to the (rumored) price/performance double whammy of Ryzen. An i7-6900K retails for $1099 and currently sells for $1049 on Newegg.com, and the rumored pricing (taken from Wccftech), if correct, gives AMD a big win here. Competition is very, very good!

wccftech_chart.PNG

Chart credit Wccftech.com

Source: VideoCardz

AMD Details Zen at ISSCC

Subject: Processors | February 8, 2017 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Skylake, Samsung, ryzen, kaby lake, ISSCC, Intel, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, amd, AM4, 14 nm FinFET

Yesterday EE Times posted some interesting information that they had gleaned at ISSCC.  AMD released a paper describing the design process and advances they were able to achieve with the Zen architecture manufactured on Samsung’s/GF’s 14nm FinFETT process.  AMD went over some of the basic measurements at the transistor scale and how it compares to what Intel currently has on their latest 14nm process.

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The first thing that jumps out is that AMD claimes that their 4 core/8 thread x86 core is about 10% smaller than what Intel has with one of their latest CPUs.  We assume it is either Kaby Lake or Skylake.  AMD did not exactly go over exactly what they were counting when looking at the cores because there are some significant differences between the two architectures.  We are not sure if that 44mm sq. figure includes the L3 cache or the L2 caches.  My guess is that it probably includes L2 cache but not L3.  I could be easily wrong here.

Going down the table we see that AMD and Samsung/GF are able to get their SRAM sizes down smaller than what Intel is able to do.  AMD has double the amount of L2 cache per core, but it is only about 60% larger than Intel’s 256 KB L2.  AMD also has a much smaller L3 cache as well than Intel.  Both are 8 MB units but AMD comes in at 16 mm sq. while Intel is at 19.1 mm sq.  There will be differences in how AMD and Intel set up these caches, and until we see L3 performance comparisons we cannot assume too much.

Zen-comparison.png

(Image courtesy of ISSCC)

In some of the basic measurements of the different processes we see that Intel has advantages throughout.  This is not surprising as Intel has been well known to push process technology beyond what others are able to do.  In theory their products will have denser logic throughout, including the SRAM cells.  When looking at this information we wonder how AMD has been able to make their cores and caches smaller.  Part of that is due to the likely setup of cache control and access.

One of the most likely culprits of this smaller size is that the less advanced FPU/SSE/AVX units that AMD has in Zen.  They support AVX-256, but it has to be done in double the cycles.  They can do single cycle AVX-128, but Intel’s throughput is much higher than what AMD can achieve.  AVX is not the end-all, be-all but it is gaining in importance in high performance computing and editing applications.  David Kanter in his article covering the architecture explicitly said that AMD made this decision to lower the die size and power constraints for this product.

Ryzen will undoubtedly be a pretty large chip overall once both modules and 16 MB of L3 cache are put together.  My guess would be in the 220 mm sq. range, but again that is only a guess once all is said and done (northbridge, southbridge, PCI-E controllers, etc.).  What is perhaps most interesting of it all is that AMD has a part that on the surface is very close to the Broadwell-E based Intel i7 chips.  The i7-6900K runs at 3.2 to 3.7 GHz, features 8 cores and 16 threads, and around 20 MB of L2/L3 cache.  AMD’s top end looks to run at 3.6 GHz, features the same number of cores and threads, and has 20 MB of L2/L3 cache.  The Intel part is rated at 140 watts TDP while the AMD part will have a max of 95 watts TDP.

If Ryzen is truly competitive in this top end space (with a price to undercut Intel, yet not destroy their own margins) then AMD is going to be in a good position for the rest of this year.  We will find out exactly what is coming our way next month, but all indications point to Ryzen being competitive in overall performance while being able to undercut Intel in TDPs for comparable cores/threads.  We are counting down the days...

Source: AMD

Jump into Kaby Lake naked

Subject: Processors | February 8, 2017 - 01:16 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, i5-7600K, Intel

[H]ard|OCP followed up their series on replacing the TIM underneath the heatspreader on Kaby Lake processors with another series depicting the i5-7600K in the buff.  They removed the heatspreader completely and tried watercooling the die directly.  As you can see in the video this requires more work than you might immediately assume, it was not simply shimming which was involved, some of the socket on the motherboard needed to be trimmed with a knife in order to get the waterblock to sit directly on the core.  In the end the results were somewhat depressing, the risks involved are high and the benefits almost non-existent.  If you are willing to risk it, replacing the TIM and reattaching the heatspreader is a far better choice.

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"After our recent experiments with delidding and relidding our 7700K and 7600K to see if we could get better operating temperatures, we decided it was time to go topless! Popping the top on your CPU is one thing, and getting it to work in the current processor socket is another. Get out your pocket knife, we are going to have to make some cuts."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Report: AMD Ryzen Performance in Ashes of the Singularity Benchmark

Subject: Processors | February 3, 2017 - 08:22 PM |
Tagged: titan x, ryzen, report, processor, nvidia, leak, cpu, benchmark, ashes of the singularity, amd

AMD's upcoming 8-core Ryzen CPU has appeared online in an apparent leak showing performance from an Ashes of the Singularity benchmark run. The benchmark results, available here on imgur and reported by TechPowerUp (among others today) shows the result of a run featuring the unreleased CPU paired with an NVIDIA Titan X graphics card.

Ryzen_Ashes_Screenshot.jpg

It is interesting to consider that this rather unusual system configuration was also used by AMD during their New Horizon fan event in December, with an NVIDIA Titan X and Ryzen 8-core processor powering the 4K game demos of Battlefield 1 that were pitted against an Intel Core i7-6900K/Titan X combo.

It is also interesting to note that the processor listed in the screenshot above is (apparently) not an engineering sample, as TechPowerUp points out in their post:

"Unlike some previous benchmark leaks of Ryzen processors, which carried the prefix ES (Engineering Sample), this one carried the ZD Prefix, and the last characters on its string name are the most interesting to us: F4 stands for the silicon revision, while the 40_36 stands for the processor's Turbo and stock speeds respectively (4.0 GHz and 3.6 GHz)."

March is fast approaching, and we won't have to wait long to see just how powerful this new processor will be for 4K gaming (and other, less important stuff). For now, I want to find results from an AotS benchmark with a Titan X and i7-6900K to see how these numbers compare!

Source: TechPowerUp

Living dangerously; delidding your i7-7700k

Subject: Processors | January 30, 2017 - 02:29 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, core i7 7700k, overclocking, delidding, risky business

Recently [H]ard|OCP popped the lid off of an i7-7700k to see if the rumours that once again Intel did not use high quality thermal interface material underneath the heatspreader.  The experiment was a success in one way, the temperatures dropped 25.28%, from 91C to 68C. However the performance did not change much, they still could not reach a stable 5GHz overclock.  They did not let that initial failure discourage them and spent some more time with their enhanced Kaby Lake processor to find scenarios in which they could reach or pass the 5GHz mark. They met with success when they reduced the RAM frequency to 2666MHz, by disabling Hyperthreading they could reach 5GHz with 3600MHz RAM but only when they increased the VCore did they manage to break 5GHz. 

Of course you must exercise caution when tweaking to this level, a higher VCore will certainly reduce the lifespan of your chip and delidding can have a disastrous outcome even if done carefully.  If you are interested in trying this, The Tech Report has a link to a 3D printed tool to help you in your endeavours.

kaby2.jpg

"Last week we shared our overclocking results with our retail purchased Core i7-7700K Kaby Lake processor. We then took the Integrated Heat Spreader off, replaced the Thermal Interface Material and tried again for 5GHz with 3600MHz memory and failed. This time, less RAM MHz and more core voltage!"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Shall we keep hanging out under the Sandy Bridge or head on down to Kaby Lake?

Subject: Processors | January 16, 2017 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: kaby lake, sandy bridge

Not too long ago the release of a new processor family meant a noticeable improvement from the previous generation and the only question was how to upgrade, not if you should upgrade.  Like many other things, that has passed on into the proverbial good old days and now we need reviews like this one published by [H]ard|OCP.  Is there any noticeable performance difference between the two chips outside of synthetic benchmarks? 

The test systems are slightly different as the memory has changed, the 7700K has 2666MHz DDR4 while the 2600K has 2133MHz DDR3; both CPUs are clocked at 4.5GHz however.  Their results show actual performance deltas in productivity software such as HandBrake and Blender, justifying the upgrade for those who focus on content creation.  As for gaming, if you have no GPU then you will indeed see performance increases; but nothing compared to buying a GPU.

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"There are many HardOCP readers that are still running Sandy Bridge CPUs and have been waiting with anticipation of one day upgrading to a new system. One of the biggest things asked in the last month is just how the 2600K stacks up against the new 7700K processor. So we got hold of one of our readers 2600K systems and put it to the test."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Three Kaby Lakes for three Z270s; it's an overclocking menage a trois

Subject: Processors | January 3, 2017 - 03:54 PM |
Tagged: z270, overclocking, kaby lake, Intel, i7-7700k, core i7-7700k, 7th generation core, 7700k, 14nm

Having already familiarized yourself with Intel's new Kaby Lake architecture and the i7-7700k processor in Ryan's review you may now be wondering how well the new CPU overclocks for others.  [H]ard|OCP received three i7-7700k's and three different Z270 motherboards for testing and they set about overclocking these in combination to see what frequency they could reach.  Only one of the chips was ever stable at 5GHz, and it is reassuring that it managed that on all three motherboards, the remaining two would only hit 4.8GHz which is still not a bad result.  Drop by to see their settings in full detail.

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"After having a few weeks to play around with Intel's new Kaby Lake architecture Core i7-7700K processors, we finally have some results that we want to discuss when it comes to overclocking and the magic 5GHz many of us are looking for, and what we think your chances are of getting there yourself."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Intel Allegedly Working to Replace Sandy Bridge

Subject: Processors | January 2, 2017 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: sandy bridge, Intel

OC3D is claiming that Intel is working on a significantly new architecture, targeting somewhere around the 2019 or 2020 time frame. Like AMD’s Bulldozer, while there were several architectures after the initial release, they were all based around a set of the same basic assumptions with tweaks for better IPC, reducing bottlenecks, and so forth. Intel has also been using the same fundamentals since Sandy Bridge, albeit theirs aligned much better with how x86 applications were being developed.

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According to the report, Intel’s new architecture is expected to remove some old instructions, which will make it less compatible with applications that use these commands. This is actually very similar to what AMD was attempting to do with Bulldozer... to a point. AMD projected that applications would scale well to multiple cores, and use GPUs for floating-point operations; as such, they designed cores in pairs, and decided to eliminate redundant parts, such as half of the floating-point units. Hindsight being 20/20, we now know that developers didn’t change their habits (and earlier Bulldozer parts were allegedly overzealous with cutting out elements in a few areas, too).

In Intel’s case, from what we hear about at the moment, their cuts should be less broad than AMD’s. Rather than projecting a radical shift in programming, they’re just going to cut the fat of their existing instruction set, unless there’s bigger changes planned for the next couple years of development. As for the unlucky applications that use these instructions, OC3D speculates that either Intel or the host operating systems will provide some emulation method, likely in software.

If the things they cut haven’t been used in several years, then you can probably get acceptable performance in the applications that require them via emulation. On the other hand, a bad decision could choke the processor in the same way that Bulldozer, especially the early variants, did for AMD. On the other-other hand, Intel has something that AMD didn’t: the market-share to push (desktop) developers in a given direction. On the fourth hand, which I’ll return to its rightful owner, I promise, we don’t know how much the “(desktop)” clause will translate to overall software in two years.

Right now, it seems like x86 is successfully holding off ARM in performance-critical, consumer applications. If that continues, then Intel might be able to push x86 software development, even if they get a little aggressive like AMD did five-plus-development-time years ago.

Source: OC3D

Drabby Lake has sprung a leak, so to the Intel 200 series chipset

Subject: General Tech, Processors | December 15, 2016 - 12:29 PM |
Tagged: leak, kaby lake, intel 200

Tech ARP have an interesting story posted today, it would seem they pried the specs of the upcoming Kaby Lake processors and accompanying Intel 200 chipset.  The top chip, the $349 Core i7-7700K will have 4 cores and 8 threads running at 4.2 GHz, with an 8 MB L3 cache and a TDP of 95W while the non-K version will have it core clock dropped to 3.6GHz, TDP dropped to 65W and price lowered to $309.  The chipsets will encompass series similar to the previous generations from Intel, including the LGA 1151 Z270, H270, Q270, B250 and Q250 series.  There is no information on the socket the server level C422 and high end X299 boards will use in this leak, but we are sure you can extrapolate from existing rumours and innuendo.  Follow that link for the entire lineup.

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"As AMD gears up to launch the AMD Ryzen desktop processor in early Q1 2017, Intel has finalised the launch plans for their desktop Kaby Lake processors, and the accompanying 200 Series chipsets.

Although Intel has been extremely secretive, we managed to obtain the specifications and launch details of the desktop Kaby Lake processors, and the 200 Series chipsets. Check it out!"

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: TechARP

ARM Partners with Xilinx to Accelerate Path to 7nm

Subject: Processors | December 8, 2016 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: Xilinx, TSMC, standard cells, layout, FinFET, EDA, custom cell, arm, 7nm

Today ARM is announcing their partnership with Xilinx to deliver design solutions for their products on TSMC’s upcoming 7nm process node.  ARM has previously partnered with Xilinx on other nodes including 28, 20, and 16nm.  Their partnership extends into design considerations to improve the time to market of complex parts and to rapidly synthesize new designs for cutting edge process nodes.

Xilinx is licensing out the latest ARM Artisan Physical IP platform for TSMC’s 7nm.  Artisan Physical IP is a set of tools to help rapidly roll out complex designs as compared to what previous generations of products faced.  ARM has specialized libraries and tools to help implement these designs on a variety of processes and receive good results even on the shortest possible design times.

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Design relies on two basic methodologies.  There is custom cell and then standard cell designs.  Custom cell design allows for a tremendous amount of flexibility in layout and electrical characteristics, but it requires a lot of man-hours to complete even the simplest logic.  Custom cell designs typically draw less power and provide higher clockspeeds than standard cell design.  Standard cells are like Legos in that the cells can be quickly laid out to create complex logic.  Software called EDA (Electronic Design Automation) can quickly place and route these cells.  GPUs lean heavily on standard cells and EDA software to get highly complex products out to market quickly.

These two basic methods have netted good results over the years, but during that time we have seen implementations of standard cells become more custom in how they behave.  While not achieving full custom performance, we have seen semi-custom type endeavors achieve appreciable gains without requiring the man hours to achieve fully custom.

In this particular case ARM is achieving a solid performance in power and speed through automated design that improves upon standard cells, but without the downsides of a fully custom part.  This provides positive power and speed benefits without the extra power draw of a traditional standard cell.  ARM further improves upon this with the ARM Artisan Power Grid Architect (PGA) which simplifies the development of a complex power grid that services a large and complex chip.

We have seen these types of advancements in the GPU world that NVIDIA and AMD enjoy talking about.  A better power grid allows the ASIC to perform at lower power envelopes due to less impedence.  The GPU guys have also utilized High Density Libraries to pack in the transistors as tight as possible to utilize less space and increase spatial efficiency.  A smaller chip, which requires less power is always a positive development over a larger chip of the same capabilities that requires more power.  ARM looks to be doing their own version of these technologies and are applying them to TSMC’s upcoming 7nm FinFET process.

TSMC is not releasing this process to mass production until at least 2018.  In 1H 2017 we will see some initial test and early production runs for a handful of partners.  Full blown production of 7nm will be in 2018.  Early runs and production are increasingly being used for companies working with low power devices.  We can look back at 20/16/14 nm processes and see that they were initially used by designs that do not require a lot of power and will run at moderate clockspeeds.  We have seen a shift in who uses these new processes with the introduction of sub-28nm process nodes.  The complexity of the design, process steps, materials, and libraries have pushed the higher performance and power hungry parts to a secondary position as the foundries attempt to get these next generation nodes up to speed.  It isn’t until after some many months of these low power parts are pushed through that we see adjustments and improvements in these next generation nodes to handle the higher power and clockspeed needs of products like desktop CPUs and GPUs.

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ARM is certainly being much more aggressive in addressing next generation nodes and pushing their cutting edge products on them to allow for far more powerful mobile products that also exhibit improved battery life.  This step with 7nm and Xilinx will provide a lot of data to ARM and its partners downstream when the time comes to implement new designs.  Artisan will continue to evolve to allow partners to quickly and efficiently introduce new products on new nodes to the market at an accelerated rate as compared to years past.

Click to read the entire ARM post!

Source: ARM