Dating Intel and AMD in 2017, we're going out for chips

Subject: General Tech | May 17, 2017 - 12:30 PM |
Tagged: Intel, amd, rumour, release dates, ryzen, skylake-x, kaby lake x, Threadripper, X399, coffee lake

DigiTimes has posted an article covering the probable launch dates of AMD's new CPUs and GPUs as well as Intel's reaction to the release.  Not all of these dates are confirmed but it is worth noting as these rumours are often close to those eventually announced.  Naples will be the first, with the server chips launching at the end of June but that is just the start. July is the big month for AMD, with the lower end Ryzen 3 chips hitting the market as well as the newly announced 16 core Threadrippers and the X399 chipset.  That will also be the month we see Vega's Founders Frontier Edition graphics cards arrive.

Intel's Basin Falls platform; Skylake-X and Kaby Lake-X along with the associated X299 chipset are still scheduled for Computex reveal and a late June or early August release.  Coffee Lake is getting pushed ahead however, it's launch has been moved up to late August instead of the beginning of next year. 

Even with Intel's counters, AMD's balance sheet is likely to be looking better and better as the year goes on which is great news for everyone ... except perhaps Intel and NVIDIA.

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"Demand for AMD's Ryzen 7- and Ryzen 5-series CPU products has continued rising, which may allow the chipmaker to narrow its losses to below US$50 million for the second quarter of 2017. With Intel also rumored to pay licensing fees to AMD for its GPUs, some market watchers believe AMD may turn profitable in the second quarter or in the third."

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Source: DigiTimes
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: The Khronos Group

It Started with an OpenCL 2.2 Press Release

Update (May 18 @ 4pm EDT): A few comments across the internet believes that the statements from The Khronos Group were inaccurately worded, so I emailed them yet again. The OpenCL working group has released yet another statement:

OpenCL is announcing that their strategic direction is to support CL style computing on an extended version of the Vulkan API. The Vulkan group is agreeing to advise on the extensions.

In other words, this article was and is accurate. The Khronos Group are converging OpenCL and Vulkan into a single API: Vulkan. There was no misinterpretation.

Original post below

Earlier today, we published a news post about the finalized specifications for OpenCL 2.2 and SPIR-V 1.2. This was announced through a press release that also contained an odd little statement at the end of the third paragraph.

We are also working to converge with, and leverage, the Khronos Vulkan API — merging advanced graphics and compute into a single API.

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This statement seems to suggest that OpenCL and Vulkan are expecting to merge into a single API for compute and graphics at some point in the future. This seemed like a huge announcement to bury that deep into the press blast, so I emailed The Khronos Group for confirmation (and any further statements). As it turns out, this interpretation is correct, and they provided a more explicit statement:

The OpenCL working group has taken the decision to converge its roadmap with Vulkan, and use Vulkan as the basis for the next generation of explicit compute APIs – this also provides the opportunity for the OpenCL roadmap to merge graphics and compute.

This statement adds a new claim: The Khronos Group plans to merge OpenCL into Vulkan, specifically, at some point in the future. Making the move in this direction, from OpenCL to Vulkan, makes sense for a handful of reasons, which I will highlight in my analysis, below.

Going Vulkan to Live Long and Prosper?

The first reason for merging OpenCL into Vulkan, from my perspective, is that Apple, who originally created OpenCL, still owns the trademarks (and some other rights) to it. The Khronos Group licenses these bits of IP from Apple. Vulkan, based on AMD’s donation of the Mantle API, should be easier to manage from the legal side of things.

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The second reason for going in that direction is the actual structure of the APIs. When Mantle was announced, it looked a lot like an API that wrapped OpenCL with a graphics-specific layer. Also, Vulkan isn’t specifically limited to GPUs in its implementation.

Aside: When you create a device queue, you can query the driver to see what type of device it identifies as by reading its VkPhysicalDeviceType. Currently, as of Vulkan 1.0.49, the options are Other, Integrated GPU, Discrete GPU, Virtual GPU, and CPU. While this is just a clue, to make it easier to select a device for a given task, and isn’t useful to determine what the device is capable of, it should illustrate that other devices, like FPGAs, could support some subset of the API. It’s just up to the developer to check for features before they’re used, and target it at the devices they expect.

If you were to go in the other direction, you would need to wedge graphics tasks into OpenCL. You would be creating Vulkan all over again. From my perspective, pushing OpenCL into Vulkan seems like the path of least resistance.

The third reason (that I can think of) is probably marketing. DirectX 12 isn’t attempting to seduce FPGA developers. Telling a game studio to program their engine on a new, souped-up OpenCL might make them break out in a cold sweat, even if both parties know that it’s an evolution of Vulkan with cross-pollination from OpenCL. OpenCL developers, on the other hand, are probably using the API because they need it, and are less likely to be shaken off.

What OpenCL Could Give Vulkan (and Vice Versa)

From the very onset, OpenCL and Vulkan were occupying similar spaces, but there are some things that OpenCL does “better”. The most obvious, and previously mentioned, element is that OpenCL supports a wide range of compute devices, such as FPGAs. That’s not the limit of what Vulkan can borrow, though, although it could make for an interesting landscape if FPGAs become commonplace in the coming years and decades.

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Personally, I wonder how SYCL could affect game engine development. This standard attempts to guide GPU- (and other device-) accelerated code into a single-source, C++ model. For over a decade, Tim Sweeney of Epic Games has talked about writing engines like he did back in the software-rendering era, but without giving up the ridiculous performance (and efficiency) provided by GPUs.

Long-time readers of PC Perspective might remember that I was investigating GPU-accelerated software rendering in WebCL (via Nokia’s implementation). The thought was that I could concede the raster performance of modern GPUs and make up for it with added control, the ability to explicitly target secondary compute devices, and the ability to run in a web browser. This took place in 2013, before AMD announced Mantle and browser vendors expressed a clear disinterest in exposing OpenCL through JavaScript. Seeing the idea was about to be crushed, I pulled out the GPU-accelerated audio ideas into a more-focused project, but that part of my history is irrelevant to this post.

The reason for bringing up this anecdote is because, if OpenCL is moving into Vulkan, and SYCL is still being developed, then it seems likely that SYCL will eventually port into Vulkan. If this is the case, then future game engines can gain benefits that I was striving toward without giving up access to fixed-function features, like hardware rasterization. If Vulkan comes to web browsers some day, it would literally prune off every advantage I was hoping to capture, and it would do so with a better implementation.

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More importantly, SYCL is something that Microsoft cannot provide with today’s DirectX.

Admittedly, it’s hard to think of something that OpenCL can acquire from Vulkan, besides just a lot more interest from potential developers. Vulkan was already somewhat of a subset of OpenCL that had graphics tasks (cleanly) integrated over top of it. On the other hand, OpenCL has been struggling to acquire mainstream support, so that could, in fact, be Vulkan’s greatest gift.

The Khronos Group has not provided a timeline for this change. It’s just a roadmap declaration.

CORSAIR Launches T1 RACE Gaming Chair

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: gaming chair, corsair, T1 RACE

Corsair have jumped into the gaming chair market, a product we did not see much of which has recently taken off in a big way.  The T1 RACE is made of PU leather, also known as bicast leather, so the shiny finish should last quite a while though the feel will not quite the same as a true leather chair, nor will the price be as astronomical.  Depending on the type of polyurethane leather they used, this product might be vegan.  You can choose between yellow, white, blue or  red trim to highlight your chair, or if you prefer you can choose to forego the colours for a purely black chair.  It can recline 90° to 180° if you need a moment to lie back, the arm rests can be adjusted for height, width, position and angle and neck and lumbar PU leather pillows are included. 

Check out Corsair's page here or the PR just below.

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FREMONT, CA – May 16th, 2017 - CORSAIR®, a world leader in enthusiast memory, PC components and high-performance gaming hardware today announced the launch of its first gaming chair, the T1 RACE. Inspired by racing, crafted for comfort and built to last, the T1 Race joins CORSAIR’s award-winning range of mice, keyboards, headsets and mousepads to complete the ultimate gaming experience. Built using a solid steel skeleton and dense foam cushions, the T1 RACE has the strength to ensure a lifetime of sturdiness, while it’s 4D-movement armrests raise, lower, shift and swivel to put gamers in the most comfortable position every time. Styled to turn heads and finished with immaculate attention to detail, the T1 RACE is the gaming chair your desk deserves.

Upholstered in luxurious PU leather on seating surfaces and available in five different colors, T1 RACE lets you choose your seat to match your style, in either Yellow, White, Blue, Red or Black trim, finished with automotive color-matched stitching and base accents. Nylon caster wheels, often an optional upgrade on office and gaming chairs, are included with T1 RACE as standard, ensuring stability and smooth movement on any surface.

T1 RACE’s sculpted race-seat design and included neck and lumbar PU leather pillows provide adjustable support for day-long gaming sessions, while its 4D-moment armrests effortlessly adjust in height, width, position and angle to put your arms precisely where they need to be. A steel construction Class 4 gas lift provides reliable height adjustment, while the seat itself tilts up to 10° and can recline anywhere between 90° to 180°, lying completely flat for when you need to take a break from the action. Finishing the T1 RACE’s attention to detail, the CORSAIR logo is tastefully embroidered into the rear of the chair, and lightly embossed into the headrest for maximum comfort.

Source: Corsair

Pot, meet kettle. Is it worse to hoard exploits or patches?

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 01:27 PM |
Tagged: security, microsoft

Microsoft and the NSA have each been blaming the other for the ability of WannaCrypt to utilize a vulnerability in SMBv1 to spread.  Microsoft considers the NSA's decision not to share the vulnerabilities which their Eternalblue tool utilizes with Microsoft and various other security companies to be the cause of this particular outbreak.  Conversely, the fact is that while Microsoft developed patches to address this vulnerability for versions of Windows including WinXP, Server 2003, and Windows 8 RT back in March, they did not release the patches for legacy OSes until the outbreak was well underway. 

Perhaps the most compelling proof of blame is the number of systems which should not have been vulnerable but were hit due to the fact that the available patches were never installed. 

These three problems, the NSA wanting to hoard vulnerabilities so they can exploit them for espionage, Microsoft ending support of older products because they are a business and do not find it profitable to support products a decade or more after release and users not taking advantage of available updates have left us in the pickle we find ourselves in this week.  On the plus side this outbreak does have people patching, so we have that going for us.

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"Speaking of hoarding, though, it's emerged Microsoft was itself stockpiling software – critical security patches for months."

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Source: The Register

Khronos Group Published Finalized OpenCL 2.2 & SPIR-V 1.2

Subject: General Tech | May 16, 2017 - 09:00 AM |
Tagged: spir-v, opencl, Khronos

Aligning with the start of the International Workshop on OpenCL (IWOCL) 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, The Khronos Group has published the finalized specification for OpenCL 2.2 and SPIR-V 1.2. The headlining feature for this release is the OpenCL C++ kernel language, which SPIR-V 1.2 fully supports. Kernels are the portion of code that execute on the compute devices, such as GPUs, FPGAs, super computers, multi-core CPUs, and so forth.

OpenCL_Logo.png

The OpenCL C++ kernel language is a subset of the C++14 standard, bringing many of its benefits to these less-general devices. Classes help data and code to be more tightly integrated. Templates help define logic in a general way for whatever data type implements whatever it requires, which is useful for things like custom containers. Lambda expressions make it easy to write one-off methods, rather than forcing the developer to name something that will only be used once, like comparing two data types for a special sort in one specific spot of code.

Exposing these features to the OpenCL device also enables The Khronos Group to further the SYCL standard, which aims for “single-source” OpenCL development. Having the code that executes on OpenCL-compatible devices contain roughly the same features as the host code is kind-of necessary to let them be written together, rather than exist as two pools.

The final OpenCL 2.2 and SPIR-V 1.2 specs are available now, and on GitHub for the first time.

Author:
Subject: General Tech
Manufacturer: YouTube TV

YouTube Tries Everything

Back in March, Google-owned YouTube announced a new live TV streaming service called YouTube TV to compete with the likes of Sling, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, and upcoming offerings from Hulu, Amazon, and others. All these services aim to deliver curated bundles of channels aimed at cord cutters that run over the top of customer’s internet only connections as replacements for or in addition to cable television subscriptions.  YouTube TV is the latest entrant to this market with the service only available in seven test markets currently, but it is off to a good start with a decent selection of content and features including both broadcast and cable channels, on demand media, and live and DVR viewing options. A responsive user interface and generous number of family sharing options (six account logins and three simultaneous streams) will need to be balanced by the requirement to watch ads (even on some DVR’ed shows) and the $35 per month cost.

Get YouTube TV 1.jpg

YouTube TV was launched in 5 cities with more on the way. Fortunately, I am lucky enough to live close enough to Chicago to be in-market and could test out Google’s streaming TV service. While not a full review, the following are my first impressions of YouTube TV.

Setup / Sign Up

YouTube TV is available with a one month free trail, after which you will be charged $35 a month. Sign up is a simple affair and can be started by going to tv.youtube.com or clicking the YouTube TV link from “hamburger” menu on YouTube. If you are on a mobile device, YouTube TV uses a separate app than the default YouTube app and weighs in at 9.11 MB for the Android version. The sign up process is very simple. After verifying your location, the following screens show you the channels available in your market and gives you the option of adding Showtime ($11) and/or Fox Soccer ($15) for additional monthly fees. After that, you are prompted for a payment method that can be the one already linked to your Google account and used for app purchases and other subscriptions. As far as the free trial, I was not charged anything and there was no hold on my account for the $35. I like that Google makes it easy to see exactly how many days you have left on your trial and when you will be charged if you do not cancel. Further, the cancel link is not buried away and is intuitively found by clicking your account photo in the upper right > Personal > Membership. Google is doing things right here. After signup, a tour is offered to show you the various features, but you can skip this if you want to get right to it.

In my specific market, I have the following channels. When I first started testing some of the channels were not available, and were just added today. I hope to see more networks added, and if Google can manage that YouTube TV and it’s $35/month price are going to shape up to be a great deal.

  • ABC 7, CBS 2, Fox 32, NBC 5, ESPN, CSN, CSN Plus, FS1, CW, USA, FX, Free Form, NBC SN, ESPN 2, FS2, Disney, E!, Bravo, Oxygen, BTN, SEC ESPN Network, ESPN News, CBS Sports, FXX, Syfy, Disney Junior, Disney XD, MSNBC, Fox News, CNBC, Fox Business, National Geographic, FXM, Sprout, Universal, Nat Geo Wild, Chiller, NBC Golf, YouTube Red Originals
  • Plus: AMC, BBC America, IFC, Sundance TV, We TV, Telemundo, and NBC Universal (just added).
  • Optional Add-Ons: Showtime and Fox Soccer.

I tested YouTube TV out on my Windows PCs and an Android phone. You can also watch YouTube TV on iOS devices, and on your TV using an Android TVs and Chromecasts (At time of writing, Google will send you a free Chromecast after your first month). (See here for a full list of supported devices.) There are currently no Roku or Apple TV apps.

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Each YouTube TV account can share out the subscription to 6 total logins where each household member gets their own login and DVR library. Up to three people can be streaming TV at the same time. While out and about, I noticed that YouTube TV required me to turn on location services in order to use the app. Looking further into it, the YouTube TV FAQ states that you will need to verify your location in order to stream live TV and will only be able to stream live TV if you are physically in the markets where YouTube TV has launched. You can watch your DVR shows anywhere in the US. However, if you are traveling internationally you will not be able to use YouTube TV at all (I’m not sure if VPNs will get around this or if YouTube TV blocks this like Netflix does). Users will need to login from their home market at least once every 3 months to keep their account active and able to stream content (every month for MLB content).

YouTube TV verifying location in Chrome (left) and on the android app (right).

On one hand, I can understand this was probably necessary in order for YouTube TV to negotiate a licensing deal, and their terms do seem pretty fair. I will have to do more testing on this as I wasn’t able to stream from the DVR without turning on location services on my Android – I can chalk this up to growing pains though and it may already be fixed.

Features & First Impressions

YouTube TV has an interface that is perhaps best described as a slimmed down YouTube that takes cues from Netflix (things like the horizontal scrolling of shows in categories). The main interface is broken down into three sections: Library, Home, and Live with the first screen you see when logging in being Home. You navigate by scrolling and clicking, and by pulling the menus up from the bottom while streaming TV like YouTube.

YouTube TV Home.jpg

Continue reading for my first impressions of YouTube TV!

IBM Model M? Pah, get an Underwood based keyboard if you want to impress!

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2017 - 01:55 PM |
Tagged: input, AiZO, MK Retro

Who needs a mechanical keyboard that is inspired by something a mere three decades ago when you can purchase one that looks like a manual typewriter you would see in a museum exhibit?  The AZiO MK Retro sports those raised circular keys use AZiO's own OARMY Olive switches, which NikKTech postulates were source from Kailh.  If you are desperate for a unique looking keyboard without any sign of RGB-itis, then feast your eyes below and follow that link to the review.

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"With the MK Retro typewriter mechanical keyboard AZiO takes us for a trip down memory lane and although it leaves us asking for me we do feel they're on the right track."

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Source: NikKTech

The internet is whipping out some Core-i9 tales

Subject: General Tech | May 15, 2017 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: rumour, Intel, Core i9

A two part rumour circulating the internet this morning, involving new processors and a new naming convention.  The leak that The Inquirer posted about this morning reveals six new Intel processors, two Kaby Lake-X processors with four cores running at a base clock of 4GHz or 4.3GHz depending on the model and TDPs of 112W.  More interesting are the new Kaby Lake-X processors which are referred to as Core i9 models, running from an i9-7800X @ 3.6GHz base to the i9-7920X which runs at an unspecified speed.  All will have four times the L2 cache of the current i7-7700K and Turbo 2.0 Boost Max to increase the frequency of several cores at once as well as Turbo Boost 3.0 for single-threaded workloads. 

It will be interesting to see if the Core i7 family continues as an upper middle class of processors with the i9 family replacing it's current standing or if the new processors will be priced like high end Xeons.

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"The slide, which an Anandtech forum member claims is an internal Intel document, provides details of four new Skylake-X processors and two Kaby Lake-X CPUs. The Skylake-X processors are described as Core i9, and if the leak is genuinely - and that's a fairly big if - the new Core i9s will replace Core i7s as Intel's top-of the-pile PC chipset range."

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Source: The Inquirer

Patch that HP laptop ASAP

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2017 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: hp, keylogger, security

The poorly thought out feature HP added to their audio driver in some past models of laptops can now be removed. The previous driver listened for a certain key to be depressed actually recorded all keystrokes made by the user and stored the information in plain text under the Public profile.  The file was deleted each time the computer restarted but could still exist in backups, you should check for MicTray.log in those backups.  Slashdot reported this morning that HP has released a fixed driver which you should grab from Windows Update or HP.com immediately.

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"HP says it has a fix for a flaw that caused a number of its PC models to keep a log of each keystroke a customer was entering. The issue, caused by problematic code in an audio driver, affected PC models from 2015 and 2016."

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Source: Slashdot

Today's bonus AMD rumour: Starship, Naples, Zeppelin and a flock of Owls

Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2017 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: amd, Starship, Naples, Zeppelin, Great Horned Owl, Banded Kestrel, Grey Hawk, River Hawk, Snowy Owl, rumour

We have another leak today from wccftech, via VideoCardz, of AMD's upcoming enterprise level processors.  Starship will use the successor to the current Zen architecture; Zen 2 is in some ways measurable as being fabricated with a 7nm FinFet process.  The chips are a testament to AMD's dedication to multi-core designs, Starship will feature up to 48 cores with 96 threads.  That does create a bit of heat, but not more than the chip it is replacing, the TDPs range from 35W up to 180W.  These chips will be sold under the Opteron name and will likely not have a model with the number 1701.

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Starship will replace Naples, which we already know quite a lot about, they will use the upcoming Zeppelin architecture.  The thermals match Starship but the core count is lower and tops out at 32 cores, 64 threads.  That count tells us there will be four interconnected Zeppelin dies, each having 8 cores in two CCX units. 

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Next up is the Snowy Owl family of BGA chips which also uses Zeppelin cores.  They will have models with core counts of 8, 12 and 16.  Snowy Owl will support DDR4 in quad channel, 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and up to 16 SATA or NVMe storage devices and should take flight before the end of the year,.

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Lastly we have their new embedded R-Series APUs, Great Horned Owl, Banded Kestrel, Grey Hawk and River Hawk.  These low power chips will be based off of the current Zen architecture with support for single and dual DIMM DDR4 channels.  The CPU portion will have 2 or 4 cores and TDPs between 15-65W, Owl models will be paired with an graphics core possessing 11 CUs, Kestral with 3 CUs.  According to the slides posted at wccftech the APUs will support 4K60 and up to four 4K monitors which is impressive for such a small chip.  There will also rumoured to be models without an APU, for usage in device which do not need graphical capabilities. 

The slides also hint at a mysterious a new MCM package product which will arrive this year.  It is reputed to have 4 GB VRAM, 10 CUs and five dual-mode Display Port support arriving in 2017.  There are a lot more slides you can see by clicking here.

Source: wccftech