Microcode Bug Affects Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake CPUs

Subject: Processors | June 26, 2017 - 08:53 AM |
Tagged: xeon, Skylake, processor, pentium, microcode, kaby lake, Intel, errata, cpu, Core, 7th generation, 6th generation

A microcode bug affecting Intel Skylake and Kaby Lake processors with Hyper-Threading has been discovered by Debian developers (who describe it as "broken hyper-threading"), a month after this issue was detailed by Intel in errata updates back in May. The bug can cause the system to behave 'unpredictably' in certain situations.

Intel CPUs.jpg

"Under complex micro-architectural conditions, short loops of less than 64 instructions that use AH, BH, CH or DH registers as well as their corresponding wider register (eg RAX, EAX or AX for AH) may cause unpredictable system behaviour. This can only happen when both logical processors on the same physical processor are active."

Until motherboard vendors begin to address the bug with BIOS updates the only way to prevent the possibility of this microcode error is to disable HyperThreading. From the report at The Register (source):

"The Debian advisory says affected users need to disable hyper-threading 'immediately' in their BIOS or UEFI settings, because the processors can 'dangerously misbehave when hyper-threading is enabled.' Symptoms can include 'application and system misbehaviour, data corruption, and data loss'."

The affected models are 6th and 7th-gen Intel processors with HyperThreading, which include Core CPUs as well as some Pentiums, and Xeon v5 and v6 processors.

Source: The Register

AIDA64 Version 5.92 Released

Subject: Processors | June 19, 2017 - 11:48 PM |
Tagged: LGA2066, Intel X299, Intel Skylake-X, Intel Kaby Lake-X, FinalWire, aida64

01-aida64.png

Courtesy of FinalWire

Today, FinalWire Ltd. announced the release of version 5.92 of their diagnostic and benchmarking tool, AIDA64. This new version updates their Extreme Edition, Engineer Edition, and Business Edition of the software, available here.

The latest version of AIDA64 has been optimized to work with Intel's newest processors, the Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X processors, as well as the Intel X299 "Union Point" chipset. The benchmarks and performance tests housed within AIDA64 have been updated for the Intel X299 chipset and processor line to utilize Advanced Vector Extensions 2 (AVX2), Fused Multiply-Add (FMA) instructions, and AES-NI hardware acceleration integrated into the new line of Intel processors.

New features include:

  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X CPUs
  • Improved support for AMD Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors
  • Support for Pertelian (RS232) external LCD device
  • Corsair K55 RGB LED keyboard support
  • Corsair Glaive RGB LED mouse support
  • 20 processor groups support
  • NVMe 1.3, WDDM 2.2 support
  • Advanced support for Areca RAID controllers
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon RX 500 Series
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GT 1030, GeForce MX150, Titan Xp

Software updates new to this release (since AIDA64 v5.00):

  • AVX and FMA accelerated FP32 and FP64 ray tracing benchmarks
  • Vulkan graphics accelerator diagnostics
  • RemoteSensor smartphone and tablet LCD integration
  • Logitech Arx Control smartphone and tablet LCD integration
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Creators Update support
  • Proper DPI scaling to better support high-resolution LCD and OLED displays
  • AVX and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD A-Series Bristol Ridge and Carrizo APUs
  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD Ryzen Summit Ridge processors
  • AVX2 and FMA accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Broadwell, Kaby Lake and Skylake CPUs
  • AVX and SSE accelerated 64-bit benchmarks for AMD Nolan APU
  • Optimized 64-bit benchmarks for Intel Apollo Lake, Braswell and Cherry Trail processors
  • Preliminary support for AMD Zen APUs and Zen server processors
  • Preliminary support for Intel Gemini Lake SoC and Knights Mill HPC CPU
  • Improved support for Intel Cannonlake, Coffee Lake, Denverton CPUs
  • Advanced SMART disk health monitoring
  • Hot Keys to switch LCD pages, start or stop logging, show or hide SensorPanel
  • Corsair K65, K70, K95, Corsair Strafe, Logitech G13, G19, G19s, G910, Razer Chroma RGB LED keyboard support
  • Corsair, Logitech, Razer RGB LED mouse support
  • Corsair and Razer RGB LED mousepad support
  • AlphaCool Heatmaster II, Aquaduct, Aquaero, AquaStream XT, AquaStream Ultimate, Farbwerk, MPS, NZXT GRID+ V2, NZXT Kraken X52, PowerAdjust 2, PowerAdjust 3 sensor devices support
  • Improved Corsair Link sensor support
  • NZXT Kraken water cooling sensor support
  • Corsair AXi, Corsair HXi, Corsair RMi, Enermax Digifanless, Thermaltake DPS-G power supply unit sensor support
  • Support for EastRising ER-OLEDM032 (SSD1322), Gravitech, LCD Smartie Hardware, Leo Bodnar, Modding-FAQ, Noteu, Odospace, Saitek Pro Flight Instrument Panel, Saitek X52 Pro, UCSD LCD devices
  • Portrait mode support for AlphaCool and Samsung SPF LCDs
  • System certificates information
  • Support for LGA-1151 and Socket AM4 motherboards
  • Advanced support for Adaptec and Marvell RAID controllers
  • Autodetect information and SMART drive health monitoring for Intel and Samsung NVMe SSDs

About FinalWire

AIDA64 is developed by FinalWire Ltd., headquartered in Budapest, Hungary. The company’s founding members are veteran software developers who have worked together on programming system utilities for more than two decades. Currently, they have ten products in their portfolio, all based on the award-winning AIDA technology: AIDA64 Extreme, AIDA64 Engineer, AIDA64 Network Audit, AIDA64 Business and AIDA64 for Android,, iOS, Sailfish OS, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch and Windows Phone. For more information, visit www.aida64.com.

Intel Skylake-X and Skylake-SP Utilize Mesh Architecture for Intra-Chip Communication

Subject: Processors | June 15, 2017 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: xeon scalable, xeon, skylake-x, skylake-sp, skylake-ep, ring, mesh, Intel

Though we are just days away from the release of Intel’s Core i9 family based on Skylake-X, and a bit further away from the Xeon Scalable Processor launch using the same fundamental architecture, Intel is sharing a bit of information on how the insides of this processor tick. Literally. One of the most significant changes to the new processor design comes in the form of a new mesh interconnect architecture that handles the communications between the on-chip logical areas.

Since the days of Nehalem-EX, Intel has utilized a ring-bus architecture for processor design. The ring bus operated in a bi-directional, sequential method that cycled through various stops. At each stop, the control logic would determine if data was to be the collected to deposited with that module. These ring bus stops are located at memory controllers, CPU cores / caches, the PCI Express interface, memory controllers, LLCs, etc. This ring bus was fairly simple and easily expandable by simply adding more stops on the ring bus itself.

xeon-processor-5.jpg

However, over several generations, the ring bus has become quite large and unwieldly. Compare the ring bus from Nehalem above, to the one for last year’s Xeon E5 v5 platform.

intel-xeon-e5-v4-block-diagram-hcc.jpg

The spike in core counts and other modules caused a ballooning of the ring that eventually turned into multiple rings, complicating the design. As you increase the stops on the ring bus you also increase the physical latency of the messaging and data transfer, for which Intel compensated by increasing bandwidth and clock speed of this interface. The expense of that is power and efficiency.

For an on-die interconnect to remain relevant, it needs to be flexible in bandwidth scaling, reduce latency, and remain energy efficient. With 28-core Xeon processors imminent, and new IO capabilities coming along with it, the time for the ring bus in this space is over.

Starting with the HEDT and Xeon products released this year, Intel will be using a new on-chip design called a mesh that Intel promises will offer higher bandwidth, lower latency, and improved power efficiency. As the name implies, the mesh architecture is one in which each node relays messages through the network between source and destination. Though I cannot share many of the details on performance characteristics just yet, Intel did share the following diagram.

intelmesh.png

As Intel indicates in its blog on the mesh announcements, this generic diagram “shows a representation of the mesh architecture where cores, on-chip cache banks, memory controllers, and I/O controllers are organized in rows and columns, with wires and switches connecting them at each intersection to allow for turns. By providing a more direct path than the prior ring architectures and many more pathways to eliminate bottlenecks, the mesh can operate at a lower frequency and voltage and can still deliver very high bandwidth and low latency. This results in improved performance and greater energy efficiency similar to a well-designed highway system that lets traffic flow at the optimal speed without congestion.”

The bi-directional mesh design allows a many-core design to offer lower node to node latency than the ring architecture could provide, and by adjusting the width of the interface, Intel can control bandwidth (and by relation frequency). Intel tells us that this can offer lower average latency without increasing power. Though it wasn’t specifically mentioned in this blog, the assumption is that because nothing is free, this has a slight die size cost to implement the more granular mesh network.

Using a mesh architecture offers a couple of capabilities and also requires a few changes to the cache design. By dividing up the IO interfaces (think multiple PCI Express banks, or memory channels), Intel can provide better average access times to each core by intelligently spacing the location of those modules. Intel will also be breaking up the LLC into different segments which will share a “stop” on the network with a processor core. Rather than the previous design of the ring bus where the entirety of the LLC was accessed through a single stop, the LLC will perform as a divided system. However, Intel assures us that performance variability is not a concern:

Negligible latency differences in accessing different cache banks allows software to treat the distributed cache banks as one large unified last level cache. As a result, application developers do not have to worry about variable latency in accessing different cache banks, nor do they need to optimize or recompile code to get a significant performance boosts out of their applications.

There is a lot to dissect when it comes to this new mesh architecture for Xeon Scalable and Core i9 processors, including its overall effect on the LLC cache performance and how it might affect system memory or PCI Express performance. In theory, the integration of a mesh network-style interface could drastically improve the average latency in all cases and increase maximum memory bandwidth by giving more cores access to the memory bus sooner. But, it is also possible this increases maximum latency in some fringe cases.

Further testing awaits for us to find out!

Source: Intel

Putting the Ryzen 5 to work

Subject: Processors | June 9, 2017 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen 5, productivity, ryzen 7 1800x, Ryzen 5 1500X, AMD Ryzen 5 1600, Ryzen 5 1600X, ryzen 5 1400

The Tech Report previously tested the gaming prowess of AMD's new processor family and are now delving into the performance of productivity software on Ryzen.  Many users who are shopping for a Ryzen will be using it for a variety of non-gaming tasks such as content creation, coding or even particle flow analysis.  The story is somewhat different when looking through these tests, with AMD taking the top spot in many benchmarks and in others being surpassed only by the Core i7 6700k, in some tests that chip leaves all competition in the dust by a huge margin.  For budget minded shoppers, the Ryzen 5 1600 barely trails both the i7-7700K and the 1600X in our productivity tests making it very good bargain for someone looking for a new system.  Check out the full suite of tests right here.

ryzen5-nonX.jpg

"Part one of our AMD Ryzen 5 review proved these CPUs have game, but what happens when we have to put the toys away and get back to work? We ran all four Ryzen 5 CPUs through a wide range of productivity testing to find out."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Details on Intel's Gemini Lake SoC Leak: A Refined Apollo Lake Coming Soon

Subject: Processors | May 31, 2017 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: Intel, goldmont+, gemini lake, apollo lake, 14nm

Information recently leaked on the successor to Intel’s low power Apollo Lake SoCs dubbed Gemini Lake. Several sites via FanlessTech claim that Gemini Lake will launch by the end of the year and will be the dual and quad core processors used to power low cost notebooks, tablets, 2-in-1 convertibles, and SFF desktop and portable PCS.

Intel-2016-2017-Processor-Roadmap-Kaby-Lake-Coffee-Lake-Cannonlake.jpg

A leaked Intel roadmap.

Gemini Lake appears to be more tick than tock in that it uses a similar microarchitecture as Apollo Lake and relies mainly on process node improvements with the refined 14nm+ process to increase power efficiency and performance per watt. On the CPU side of things, Gemini Lake utilizes the Goldmont+ microarchitecture and features two or four cores paired with 4MB of L2 cache. Intel has managed to wring higher clockspeeds while lowering power draw out of the 14nm process. A doubling of the L2 cache versus Apollo Lake will certainly give the chip a performance boost. The SoC will use Intel Gem9 graphics with up to 18 Execution Units (similar to Apollo Lake) but the GPU will presumably run at higher clocks. Additionally, the Gemini Lake SoC will integrate a new single channel DDR4 memory controller that will support higher memory speeds, s WLAN controller (a separate radio PHY is still required on the motherboard) supporting 802.11 b/g/n and Bluetooth 4.0.

Should the leaked information turn out to be true, he new Gemini Lake chips are shaping up to be a good bit faster than their predecessor while sipping power with TDPs of up to 6W for mobile devices and 10W for SFF desktop.

The lower power should help improve battery life a bit which is always a good thing. And if they can pull off higher performance as well all the better!

Unfortunately, it is sounding like Gemini Lake will not be ready in te for the back to school or holiday shopping seasons this year. I expect to see a ton of announcements on devices using the new SoCs at CES though!

Also read:

 

Source:

Computex 2017: ASUS, HP, Lenovo to Build Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Windows 10 Machines

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 31, 2017 - 03:30 AM |
Tagged: snapdragon 835, snapdragon, qualcomm, Lenovo, hp, Gigabit LTE, asus

Back in December of 2016, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced a partnership to bring Windows to platforms based on the Snapdragon platform. Not Windows RT redux, not Windows mobile, not Windows Mini, full blown Windows with 100% application support and compatibility. It was a surprising and gutsy move after the tepid response (at best) to the ARM-based Windows RT launch several years ago. Qualcomm and Microsoft assure us that this time things are different, thanks to a lot of learning and additional features that make the transition seamless for consumers.

The big reveal for this week is the initial list of partners that Qualcomm has brought on board to build Windows 10 system around the Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. ASUS, HP, and Lenovo will offer machines based around that SoC, though details on form factors, time frames, pricing and anything else you WANT to know about it, is under wraps. These are big time names though, leaders in the PC notebook space, and I think their input to the platform is going to be just as valuable as them selling and marketing it. HP is known for enterprise solutions, Lenovo for mass market share, and ASUS for innovative design and integration.

win10onSD-15.jpg

(If you want to see an Android-based representation of performance on a mobile-based Snapdragon 835 processor, check out our launch preview from March.)

Also on the show floor, Qualcomm begins its marketing campaign aimed to show the value that Snapdragon offers to the Windows ecosystem. Today that is exemplified in a form factor difference comparing the circuit board layout of a Snapdragon 835-based notebook and a “typical” competitor machine.

board1.jpg

board2.jpg

Up top, Qualcomm is showing us the prototype for the Windows 10 Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform. It has a total area of 50.4 cm2 and just by eyeballing the two images, there is a clear difference in scope. The second image shows only what Qualcomm will call a “competing commercial circuit board” with an area of 98.1 cm2. That is a decrease in PCB space of 48% (advantage Qualcomm) and gives OEMs a lot of flexibility in design that they might not have had otherwise. They can use that space to make machines thinner, lighter, include a larger battery, or simply to innovate outside the scope of what we can imagine today.

Continue reading about the Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 Mobile Platform with Windows 10 announcement!

Source: Qualcomm

Computex 2017: AMD Threadripper will include 64 lanes of PCI Express 3.0, Demos with Quad Vega FE

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: Threadripper, ryzen, PCI Express, amd

During AMD’s Computex keynote, the company confirmed that the every one of the upcoming Threadripper HEDT platform first announced earlier in May, will include 64 lanes of PCI Express 3.0. There will not be a differentiation in the product line with PCIe lanes or in memory channels (all quad-channel DDR4). This potentially gives AMD the advantage for system connectivity, as the Intel Skylake-X processor just announced yesterday will only sport of 44 lanes of PCIe 3.0 on chip.

tr1.jpg

Having 64 lanes of PCI Express on Threadripper could be an important differentiation point for the platform, offering the ability to run quad GPUs at full x16 speeds, without the need of any PLX-style bridge chips. You could also combine a pair of x16 graphics cards, and still have 32 lanes left for NVMe storage, 10 GigE networking devices, multi-channel SAS controllers, etc. And that doesn’t include any additional lanes that the X399 chipset may end up providing. We still can’t wait to see what motherboard vendors like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte create with all that flexibility.

tr2.jpg

Holy hell.

On-stage, we saw a couple of demonstrations of what this connectivity capability can provide. First, a Threadripper system was shown powering Radeon RX Vega graphics cards running the new Prey PC title at 4K.

On-stage, we saw a couple of demonstrations of what this connectivity capability can provide. First, a Threadripper system was shown running the same Blender rendering demo used in the build up to the initial Ryzen CPU launch.

tr3.jpg

Next, CEO Lisa Su came back on stage to demo AMD Threadripper running with a set of four Radeon Vega Frontier Edition cards running together for ray tracing.

tr4.jpg

And finally, a gaming demo! AMD Ryzen Threadripper was demoed with dual Radeon RX Vega (the gaming versions) graphics cards running at 4K/Ultra settings on the new Prey PC title. No frame rates were mentioned, no FRAPS in the corner, etc.

(Side note: Radeon Vega FE was confirmed for June 27th launch. Radeon RX Vega will launch at SIGGRAPH at the end of July!)

We still have a ways to go before we can make any definitive comments on Threadripper, and with Intel announcing processors with core counts as high as 18 just yesterday, it’s fair to say that some of the excitement has been dwindling. However, with aggressive pricing and the right messaging from AMD, they still have an amazing opportunity to break away a large segment of the growing, and profitable, HEDT market from Intel.

Source: AMD

Computex 2017: AMD Demos Ryzen Mobile SoC with Vega Graphics

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 30, 2017 - 10:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, mobile, Vega

As part of the company’s press conference from Computex 2017, AMD displayed for the first time to the public a working notebook utilizing the upcoming Ryzen SoC with on-die Vega graphics. The CPU is a 4-core / 8-thread design and the system was shown playing back some basic video.

Untitled-1.jpg

We don’t really have any more detail than that on the platform, other availability in second half of this year. The system being shown was impressively built, with a sub-15mm ultra-portable form factor, putting to rest concerns over AMD’s ability to scale Zen and Vega to the lower required power numbers. AMD claims that Ryzen mobile will offer 50% better CPU performance and 40% better GPU performance than the 7th Generation AMD APU. I can't wait to test this myself, but with a jump like that AMD should be competitive in the processor space again and continue its dominance in integrated graphics.

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The Vega on-die integration was first mentioned at the company’s financial analyst day, though if you were like me, it went unnoticed in the wave of Threadripper and EPYC news. This iteration is obviously not using a non-HBM2 memory implementation, but I don’t yet know if there is any kind of non-system-memory cache on the processor to help improve integrated graphics performance.

chip1.jpg

For a product not slated to be released until the end of this year, seeing a low profile, high performance demo of the platform is a good sign for AMD and a welcome indicator that the company could finally fight back in the mobile notebook space.

Source: AMD

Computex 2017: Intel 8th Gen Core Processors 30% Faster than 7th Gen

Subject: Processors | May 30, 2017 - 03:00 AM |
Tagged: Intel, computex 2017, computex, coffee lake, 8th generation core

During it's keynote at Computex today, Intel announced the high performane Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X platforms with CPU core counts as high as 18 (!!) but also gave a brief mention of its upcoming Coffee Lake product, the 8th Generation Core product family.

To quote directly from the Intel press information:

"As we move toward the next generation of computing, Intel also shared its commitment to deliver 8th generational Intel® Core™ processor-based devices by the holiday season, boasting more than 30 percent improvement in performance versus the 7th Gen Intel® Core™ processor."

That is quite the claim, but let's dive into the details.

Based on SYSmark* 2014 v1.5 (Windows Desktop Application Performance). Comparing 7th Gen i7-7500U, PL1=15W TDP, 2C4T, Turbo up to 3.5GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2133, vs. Estimates for 8th Gen Core i7: PL1=15W TDP, 4C8T, Turbo up to 4 GHz, Memory: 2x4GB DDR4-2400, Storage: Intel® SSD, Windows* 10 RS2. Power policy assumptions: AC mode. Note: Kaby Lake U42 performance estimates are Pre-Silicon and are subject to change. Pre-Si projections have +/- 7% margin of error.

In a more readable format:

  8th Gen
Core i7
7th Gen
Core i7-7500U
Code name Coffee Lake Kaby Lake
Process Tech 14nm Double Plus Good 14nm+
Cores/Threads 4/8 2/4
Base Clock ? 2.7 GHz
Turbo Clock 4.0 GHz 3.5 GHz
TDP 15 watt 15 watt
Memory 8GB 8GB
Memory Clock 2400 MHz 2133 MHz

The 30% performance claim comes from both a doubling of core and thread count (2- to 4-cores) but also a 500 MHz higher peak Turbo Clock, going from Kaby Lake to Coffee Lake. The testing was done using SYSmark 2014 v1.5, a benchmark that is very burst-centric and is comparable to common productivity tasks. Even with a 15% increase in peak clock speed and a 2x core/thread count, Intel is still able to maintain a 15 watt TDP with this CPU.

intelcoffeelake.jpg

While we might at first expect much larger performance gains with those clock and core count differences, keep in mind that SYSmark as a test has never scaled in such a way. We don't yet know what other considerations might be in place for the 8th Generation Core processor platforms, and how they might affect performance for single of multi-threaded applications.

Intel has given us very little information today on the Coffee Lake designs, but it seems we'll know all about this platform before the end of the year.

Source: Intel

AMD Announces #Ryzen7Seconds Sweepstakes

Subject: Processors | May 26, 2017 - 11:57 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, giveaway, amd

Between now and July 7th, 2017, which could also be written as 7/7/17, AMD is hosting a sweepstakes (not a contest) to promote Ryzen 7. The premise is that fans will create a video of themselves doing seven different activities in seven seconds. Prizes will be awarded for randomly selected, eligible entries. Alternatively, you can enter by doing some things on Twitter… the details are available on AMD’s website.

This is the reason why I said “not a contest”. According to the rules, these videos will not actually be judged; it's pure luck. The drawing will occur on (roughly) June 2nd, June 9th, June 16th, June 23rd, June 30th, and two drawings on July 7th. Each drawing is for an AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, with one winner per drawing.

Source: AMD

Ryzen and the art of benchmark maintenance

Subject: Processors | May 19, 2017 - 04:15 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, ryzen 5 1400, ryzen 5 1600

Neoseeker tested out the 4 core Ryzen 5 1400 and 6 core 1600 model to see how they stack up against other lower cost processors.  They ran the tests at the highest stable overclock they could reach, interestingly both were able to hit a 3.8 GHz base clock, paired with DDR4-2400.  The processors were cooled with AMD's Wraith Max cooler so it is possible to push these CPUs further if you are willing to overvolt.  Drop by to see how these two processor match up to the competition.

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"The two AMD processors for review today are the newest budget offerings of the Ryzen 5 series with the Ryzen 1400 and 1600 models. The Ryzen 1400 is a four core/eight thread and the Ryzen 1600 is a six core/twelve thread processor, with both having a base operating speed of 3.2 GHz. The boost clock for the Ryzen 1400 is 3.4 GHz while the Ryzen 1600 is able to boost to 3.6 GHz."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

 

Source: Neoseeker

AMD Teases Ryzen Mobile APUs with Zen CPU Cores and On-Die Vega Graphics

Subject: Processors | May 18, 2017 - 01:01 AM |
Tagged: Zen, Vega, ryzen mobile, ryzen, raven ridge, APU, amd

AMD teased its upcoming Zen-based APUs aimed at mobile devices during its Financial Analyst Day where the company revealed the "Raven Ridge" parts will be aptly known as Ryzen Mobile. The Tech Report managed to acquire a couple slides which confirm some of the broader specifications and reveal how they stack up to AMD's latest Bristol Ridge A-Series APUs – at least as far as AMD's internal testing is concerned (which is to say not independently verified yet so take with a grain of salt).

AMD Ryzen Mobile APUs.jpg

Ryzen Mobile appears to be the new consumer-facing brand name for what has so far been code named "Raven Ridge". These parts will use a Zen-based CPU, Vega GPU, and integrated chipset. Thanks to the slides, it is now confirmed that the Vega-based graphics processor will be on-die. What has not been confirmed is whether the chipset will be on die or on package and exact specifications on CPU cores counts, GPU Compute Units, cache, memory support, and I/O like PCI-E lanes (you know, all the good stuff! heh). Note that rumors so far point towards Raven Ridge / Ryzen Mobile utilizing a single 4-core (8-thread) CCX, per core L2, 8MB shared L3 cache, and a Vega-based GPU with 1024 cores. HBM2 has also been rumored for awhile but we will have to wait for more leaks and/or an official announcement to know for sure if these Ryzen Mobile parts aimed for the second half of 2017 will have that (hopefully!).

With that said, according to AMD, Ryzen Mobile will offer up to 50% better CPU performance, 40% better GPU performance, and will use up to 50% less power than the previous 7th generation (Excavator-based) A-Series APUs (e.g. FX 9830P and A12-9730P). Those are some pretty bold claims, but still within the realm of possibility. Zen and Vega are both much more efficient architectures and AMD is also benefiting from a smaller process node (TSMC 28nm vs Samsung / GlobalFoundries 14nm FinFET). I do wonder how high the APUs will be able to clock on the CPU side of things with 4 GHz seeming to be the wall for most Zen-based Summit Ridge chips, so most of the CPU performance improvement claims will have to come from architecture changes rather than increases in clockspeeds (the highest clocked A-Series Bristol Ridge ran at up to 3.7 GHz and I would expect Raven Ridge to be around that, maybe the flagship part turbo-ing a bit more). Raven Ridge will benefit from the shared L3 cache and, more importantly, twice as many threads (4 vs 8) and this may be where AMD is primarily getting that 50% more CPU performance number from. On the graphics side of things, it looks like Bristol Ridge with its R7 graphics (GCN 3 (Tonga/Fiji on the Desktop)) had up to 512 cores. Again, taking the rumors into account which say that Raven Ridge will have a 1024 core Vega GPU, this may be where AMD is getting the large performance increase from (the core increase as well as newer architecture). On the other hand, the 40% number could suggest Ryzen Mobile will not have twice the GPU cores. I would guess that 1024 might be possible, but running at lower clocks and that is where the discrepancy is. I will admit I am a bit skeptical about the 1024 (16 CU) number though because that is a huge jump... I guess we will see though!

Further, I am curious if Ryzen Mobile will use HBC (high bandwidth cache) and if HBM2 does turn out to be utilized how that will play into the HBC and whether or not we will finally see the fruits of AMD's HSA labors! I think we will see most systems use DDR4, but certainly some SKUs could use HBM2 and that would definitely open up a lot of performance possibilities on mobile!

There is still a lot that we do not know, but Ryzen Mobile is coming and AMD is making big promises that I hope it delivers on. The company is aiming the new chips at a wide swath of the mobile market from budget laptops and tablets to convertibles and even has their sights set on premium thin and lights. The mobile space is one where AMD has struggled with in getting design wins even when they had good parts for that type of system. They will really need to push and hit Ryzen Mobile out of the park to make inroads into the laptop, tablet, and ultrabook markets!

AMD plans to launch the consumer version of Ryzen Mobile in the second half of this year (presumably with systems featuring the new APUs out in time for the holidays if not for the back to school end of summer rush). The commercial SKUs (which I think refers to the Ryzen equivalent of AMD Pro series APUs.Update: Mobile Ryzen Pro) will follow in the first half of 2018.

What are your thoughts on Ryzen Mobile and the alleged performance and power characteristics? Do you think the rumors are looking more or less correct?

Also read:

Source: Tech Report

AMD Compares 1x 32-Core EPYC to 2x 12-Core Xeon E5s

Subject: Processors | May 17, 2017 - 04:05 AM |
Tagged: amd, EPYC, 32 core, 64 thread, Intel, Broadwell-E, xeon

AMD has formally announced their EPYC CPUs. While Sebastian covered the product specifications, AMD has also released performance claims against a pair of Intel’s Broadwell-E Xeons. While Intel’s E5-2650 v4 processors have an MSRP of around $1170 USD, each, we don’t know how that price will compare to AMD’s offering. At first glance, pitting thirty two cores against two twelve-core chips seems a bit unfair, although it could end up being a very fair comparison if the prices align.

amd-2017-epyc-ubuntucompile.jpg

Image Credit: Patrick Moorhead

Patrick Moorhead, who was at the event, tweeted out photos of a benchmark where Ubuntu was compiled over GCC. It looks like EPYC completed in just 33.7s while the Broadwell-E chip took 37.2s (making AMD’s part ~9.5% faster). While this, again, stems from having a third more cores, this depends on how much AMD is going to charge you for them, versus Intel’s current pricing structure.

amd-2017-epyc-threads.jpg

Image Credit: Patrick Moorhead

This one chip also has 128 PCIe lanes, rather than Intel’s 80 total lanes spread across two chips.

AMD's 16-Core Ryzen Threadripper CPUs Coming This Summer

Subject: Processors | May 16, 2017 - 07:22 PM |
Tagged: Zen, Threadripper, ryzen, processor, HEDT, cpu, amd

AMD revealed their entry into high-end desktop (HEDT) with the upcoming Ryzen "Threadripper" CPUs, which will feature up to 16 cores and 32 threads.

Threadripper 2.png

Little information was revealed along with the announcement, other than to announce availablility as "summer 2017", though rumors and leaks surrounding Threadripper have been seen on the internet (naturally) leading up to today's announcement, including this one from Wccftech. Not only will Threadripper (allegedly) offer quad-channel memory support and 44 PCI Express lanes, but they are also rumored to be released in a massive 4094-pin package (same as "Naples" aka EPYC) that most assuredly will not fit into the AM4 socket.

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Image credit: Wccftech

These Threadripper CPUs follow the lead of Intel's HEDT parts on X99, which are essentially re-appropriated Xeons with higher clock speeds and some feature differences such as a lack of ECC memory support. It remains to be seen what exactly will separate the enthusiast AMD platform from the EPYC datacenter platform, though the rumored base clock speeds are much higher with Threadripper.

Source: AMD

AMD Announces EPYC: A Massive 32-Core Datacenter SoC

Subject: Processors | May 16, 2017 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: Zen, server, ryzen, processor, EPYC, datacenter, cpu, amd, 64 thread, 32 core

AMD has announced their new datacenter CPU built on the Zen architecture, which the company is calling EPYC. And epic they are, as these server processors will be offered with up to 32 cores and 64 threads, 8 memory channels, and 128 PCI Express lanes per CPU.

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Some of the details about the upcoming "Naples" server processors (now EPYC) were revealed by AMD back in March, when the upcoming server chips were previewed:

"Naples" features:

  • A highly scalable, 32-core System on Chip (SoC) design, with support for two high-performance threads per core
  • Industry-leading memory bandwidth, with 8-channels of memory per "Naples" device. In a 2-socket server, support for up to 32 DIMMS of DDR4 on 16 memory channels, delivering up to 4 terabytes of total memory capacity.
  • The processor is a complete SoC with fully integrated, high-speed I/O supporting 128 lanes of PCIe, negating the need for a separate chip-set
  • A highly-optimized cache structure for high-performance, energy efficient compute
  • AMD Infinity Fabric coherent interconnect for two "Naples" CPUs in a 2-socket system
  • Dedicated security hardware 

EPYC Screen.png

Compared to Ryzen (or should it be RYZEN?), EPYC offers a huge jump in core count and available performance - though AMD's other CPU announcement (Threadripper) bridges the gap between the desktop and datacenter offerings with an HEDT product. This also serves to bring AMD's CPU offerings to parity with the Intel product stack with desktop/high performance desktop/server CPUs.

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EPYC is a large processor. (Image credit: The Tech Report)

While specifications were not offered, there have been leaks (of course) to help fill in the blanks. Wccftech offers these specs for EPYC (on the left):

Wccftech Chart.png

(Image credit: Wccftech)

We await further information from AMD about the EPYC launch.

Source: AMD

5 by 5, AMD versus Intel in the $200 price range

Subject: Processors | May 9, 2017 - 03:26 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, amd, 1500X, 1600X, ryzen 5

The pricing of AMD's Ryzen 5 line spans from $170 to $250, similar to Intel's Core i5 line and may wwll tempt those a generation or two out of date to consider an upgrade.  In order to demonstrate differences in CPU performance Ars Technica tested both Intel and AMD processors paired with a GTX 1080 Ti.  By doing so at lower resolutions which the card can more than handle they expose differences in the performance of the two architectures, which seem to follow AMD's offerings into higher resolutions albeit with a smaller performance delta.  Check out the wide gamut of tests that were performed to see which architecture makes more sense for your usage, especially if you do more than just gaming and surfing.

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"The Ryzen 5 range is made up of four chips. At the top is the £240/$250 Ryzen 5 1600X, a 95W six-core chip that boasts simultaneous multithreading (SMT, the equivalent of hyper-threading), 16MB of L3 cache, and a 3.6GHz base clock."

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Source: Ars Technica

AMD Ryzen 7 1700X Selling for $333

Subject: Processors | May 9, 2017 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: ryzen, amd, 1700X

A little birdie sent me a note this afternoon that the AMD Ryzen 7 1700X processor was selling on Amazon.com for just $333! Considering the launch price of that CPU was $399 just two months ago, a $60-70 discount makes this platform all the more compelling for consumers looking to build a new PC. Coupling that with the overclocking performance we saw from our Ryzen 1700 sample, you should be able to meet or exceed expectations with the 1700X model.

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This link led me down a bit of a rabbit hole as I wanted to see where a solid build would stand using that processor and a focus on budget. Now, keep in mind that this was put together rather hastily this afternoon, but here's what I came up with.

  Ryzen 7 1700X Build
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 1700X - $333
Cooler Thermaltake Contac Silent - $24
Motherboard ASUS Prime B350-Plus - $99
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws 16GB DDR4-3000 - $118
Graphics Card EVGA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB - $149
Storage Samsung 850 EVO 250GB - $107
Case Corsair 200R ATX Mid Tower Case - $56
Power Supply Corsair CX 500 watt - $59
Total Price $945 - Amazon.com Full Cart

For the base of the system, you can pick up the Ryzen 7 1700X processor for $333, a great B350-based motherboard from ASUS for $99 and 16GB of DDR4 memory running at 3000 MHz for just $118. Getting that memory at higher clock speeds is important for optimal Ryzen performance - hunt around to find the best deal! That's just $550 for the heart of a system that could power anything from the GTX 1050 Ti I included above to the GTX 1080 Ti if you are pushing the limits of graphics performance. 

If you try to stay within a reasonable budget, as I did above, you can build a from-scratch machine for under $1000 with some impressive specifications and capabilities. The GTX 1050 Ti will get you peak 1080p gaming capability while the 8-cores and 16-threads of the Ryzen 7 1700X will improve any workstation-class or multimedia workloads. 

Separately, but interestingly, the gang at 3DCenter.org posted the results of a survey taken about the Ryzen 5 processor launch, measuring the readers reactions to the release. In it, 83.9% of the audience looked upon the Ryzen 5 favorably, 9.4% as average and 6.7% negatively. If you compare that to the Ryzen 7 launch (74.6% favorable, 17.5% average, 7.9% negative) it seems that Ryzen 5 was better received than its big brother. But if you look back to October 2011 when the same survey was run about AMD Bulldozer, only 6.8% saw the CPU launch as favorable (!!). The last CPU launch that received nearly as positive a reaction as Ryzen 5/7 was the Sandy Bridge CPU back in January of 2011.

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Obviously this survey isn't a predictor of success or failure exactly, but it does point to an audience that is incredibly receptive to the new AMD processors. My own experience tells me that these numbers are fairly accurate to the mood about Ryzen, even after the 1080p gaming fiasco that circulates to this day. Interest and reaction are great for a company that needs to make in-roads in the market, but converting that consumer interest into purchases is the key for AMD going forward.

Qualcomm Launches Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 9, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: spectra, snapdragon mobile platform, snapdragon, qualcomm, Kryo, isp, hexagon, dsp, adreno, 660, 630

Today Qualcomm took the covers off of an update to the Snapdragon 600 family of processors, now known as mobile platforms. The Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platforms are important products in the company’s portfolio as they address a larger segment of the consumer market than the premium-tier Snapdragon 800 while still offering performance and feature sets above the budget segments of the 400s. The Snapdragon 820 and 835 traditionally get all of the attention from media, the 600-series is at the heart of popular devices like the Sony Xperia X, Asus Zenfone 3 Ultra, HTC 10 Lifestyle and over 1000 more designs.

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The biggest changes to both new platforms come in the form of LTE connectivity and GPU performance. In a bid to bring previously unseen capabilities to the 600-series of solutions, Qualcomm has taken the Snapdragon X12 LTE modem that shipped with the Snapdragon 820/821 SoC and integrated it on both the 660 and 630. This creates mainstream mobile platforms that can run Cat 12/13 modems and speeds as high as 600 Mbps downstream (3x carrier aggregation) and 150 Mbps upstream (2x carrier aggregation).

qcsd600-5.jpg

That is a significant move and should result in a massive amount of high speed devices saturating the market (and carriers’ networks) starting later this year. Along with that higher performance comes the same X12 feature set that we saw with Snapdragon 820/821 including adaptive antenna tuning capability (TruSignal) and dynamic signal quality adjustments for power efficiency optimizations.

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The GPU performance of both the Snapdragon 660 and 630 get a boost over the previous competitors (653 and 626 respectively) though they do so with different Adreno implementations. The SD 660 uses the Adreno 512 GPU that offers up to 30% better performance compared to the Adreno 510 used on the SD 650 series. While we don’t have details yet on where that advantage comes from (clocks or core improvements), I have a feeling that much of it comes from improved frequencies. The Snapdragon 630 uses the Adreno 508 GPU, compared to the 506 from the SD 626 processor, and also claims to have a 30% performance advantage over the previous generation.

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Continue reading about the new Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 and 630 Mobile Platform!

Source: Qualcomm

Aqua Computer and Rockit don't want you to keep your hat on

Subject: Processors | April 27, 2017 - 06:24 PM |
Tagged: rockit, risky business, overclocking, kaby lake, delidding, core i7 7700k, aqua computer

Delidding a Kaby Lake processor such as the i7-7700k does not offer the same overclocking advantages as with previous generations when replacing the TIM gave you more headroom.  Instead of being able to push your CPU past 5GHz, popping the lid off of a Kaby Lake reduces operating temperatures and likely extends the life of the processor ... or immediately ends it.  If you don't have a 3D printer handy to make your own delidder, then take a peek at this review from TechPowerUp.  They try out two delidding tools, one from Aqua Computer and one from Rockit which Morry has used; do be aware that any CPUs killed as a result of reading their review is the responsibility of the one who delidded.

delid-1.jpg

"Intel mainstream CPUs have had a bottleneck in cooling due to poor heat transfer from the CPU die to the integrated heat spreader. Thanks to new de-lidding friendly tools released recently, it is now easier than ever before to handle this yourself and get a cooler running CPU. We examine two such solutions from Rockit Cool and Aqua Computer today, both of which promise fool-proof de-lidding and re-lidding"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

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Source: TechPowerUp

Rumor: Intel Expects Coffee Lake and Basin Falls Early

Subject: Processors | April 19, 2017 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: skylake-x, ryzen, kaby lake x, Intel, Core, coffee lake, amd

According to DigiTimes, Intel is expecting to release several new processors earlier than they had originally planned. That said, there are two issues with this report. The first point, which should be expected, is that it compares internal dates that were never meant to be public. It is not like Intel has changed their advertised roadmap.

The second problem is that it’s somewhat contradicted by Intel’s earlier, public statements.

Intel-logo.png

Their rumor claims that Intel will push up the launch of Basin Falls, which is Skylake-X, Kaby Lake-X, and X299, by about two months (around June). It also claims that Coffee Lake, which was originally scheduled for January 2018, will be released in August 2017. Both of these moves are being attributed to AMD’s new products.

The potential, somewhat, sort-of contradiction comes from a tweet that Intel made back in February. In it, they said that the 8th generation of Core processors are expected for 2H’17. This time frame doesn’t include January, although it only barely includes August, too. If Intel was always planning on launching Coffee Lake for the “back to school” season, then at least that half of DigiTimes’ story would be completely incorrect. On the other hand, if Intel’s tweet was talking about a sampling / paper launch in December, with volume shipment soon to follow, then DigiTimes would be fairly accurate.

We don’t know unless someone at Intel confirms either-or.

As for Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X, it would be interesting to see them launch at Computex / E3. Previous rumors (also from DigiTimes) that place it in the Gamescom, which is a huge gaming conference in Cologne. Interestingly, this rumor claims that only the four-, six-, eight-, and ten-core models will arrive at the time, with a twelve-core model waiting until the whole line was supposed to launch.

This omission makes me wonder if, in fact, Intel are rushing the launch, but they realize that they cannot get enough good chips to fill out the top-end SKU. In that case, it would make sense to push the smaller and partially-disabled chips out the door, while banking the big chips that can run all twelve cores at a reasonable voltage for some clock rate.

If so, that would, in fact, speak volumes about AMD’s roadmap (and Intel’s opinion of it).

Source: DigiTimes