Precisely what are AMD's XFR 2 and Overdrive?

Subject: Processors | May 11, 2018 - 02:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, ryzen, xfr2, precision boost 2, Precision Boost Overdrive

Whether you have had a chance to play around with a new Ryzen processor or not, you might benefit from more information on what XFR2 and Precision Boost 2 are and what they are not.  [H]ard|OCP spent some time to write an article that dispels the rumours which have been spread, especially the fact that these are both unreleased at the moment.  Together they will provide support for Precision Boost Overdrive, which could be supported by Ryzen Zen+ CPUs on an X470 motherboard, at least in theory.  When enabled it will utilize the ability of the new Ryzen Master software to monitor your motherboards VRM usage and if it sees it is below it capacity it will relax the vCore limiter on your CPU allowing more juice to flow in which can be used to increase the frequency of your Zen + chip.  It will be interesting to see how effective this is, but for now all we can do is read about it.

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"We wanted to put together a quick overview about what Precision Boost 2 and XFR2 are NOT about. It seems that slides leaked, and faked, earlier in the 2nd generation Ryzen's development have clouded some people's understanding on what features are included, but more important which features are not."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Microsoft releases 64-bit SDK for Windows on Arm platforms

Subject: Processors, Mobile | May 8, 2018 - 07:30 PM |
Tagged: windows on snapdragon, windows on arm, microsoft, 64-bit

During the Microsoft BUILD developer conference, the Windows initiative for Qualcomm and Arm processors got a much needed shot in the arm (heh) with announced support for a 64-bit SDK.

Visual Studio 15.8 Preview 1 contains the early version of these tools that will give developers the ability to build native 64-bit Arm apps. Microsoft claims that this “represents the next step in the evolution of the Always Connected PC running Windows 10 on ARM” and I couldn’t agree more.

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This gives software developers the ability to target Arm-based processors like the Snapdragon 835 from Qualcomm natively without forcing users to depend on emulation layers provided by Microsoft. While the emulation layer is critical for compatibility, it does slow performance quite a bit compared to native-running code.

While the Windows Store already supports ARM32 packages, ARM64 packages will be supported “soon” based on what Microsoft is telling us. Even more interesting, Microsoft is promoting the ability for developers to post the Win32 (non-Store) ARM64 version of software online, rather than waiting for the Store apps to be approved.

The Microsoft website has details on how developers can start this integration. Qualcomm has its own documentation as well.

From my own view, this a necessary step for Microsoft to take, even if it does seem later than many would have liked. The benefits of Windows 10 running on Snapdragon and Arm are real and substantial, but being hindered by performance due to emulation was always known to be a speedbump. Getting developers access to better, and easier to use, Arm compilation is the next step.

I would also like to see Microsoft take a more proactive role in pushing developers to offer both versions of software. MS simply cannot take a passive, backseat approach to the Always On, Always Connected PC initiative and have it be a success.

Source: Microsoft

Intel Kicks Kaby Lake-X CPUs to the Curb

Subject: Processors | May 1, 2018 - 10:25 AM |
Tagged: kaby lake-x, Intel, 7740x, 7640x

So, do you remember the Kaby Lake-X processors that launched along side the Skylake-X parts back on June 19, 2017. These are (were) 14nm+ processors built into the LGA2066 socket as a part of the X299 chipset launch. They shipped as the Core i7-7740X (4-core, 8-thread) and Core i5-7640X (4-core, 4-thread) and at the time I had this to say about them:

These are very…interesting CPUs. They do not offer new features compared to the Core i7-7700K or Core i5-7600K, but run at barely higher clocks (100 MHz on the base on the 7740X for example). They don’t see more PCIe integration, they don’t have larger caches. They are basically the same Kaby Lake design we have come to know previously but in a new package and prepped for a new set of motherboards. Is that an advantage? It’s hard to know yet, but in general, the X299 motherboard market is going to be more expensive than the Z270 motherboard market, meaning you are going to pay more in total to own this CPU. Does the added TDP give us more thermal headroom for overclocking? Maybe the new heat spreader? I’m not sure and Intel hasn’t said yet. But what they have stated is that they wanted to offer the option to consumers that wanted the “absolute fastest gaming processor” with the best clock speeds at a reasonable price.

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Even in June, the value and positioning of the Kaby Lake-X processor was a mystery. Well Intel has fixed all of that today by announced end-of-life for both of those processors.

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Intel's language in the release is kind of interesting: "Market demand for the products listed in the "Products Affected/Intel Ordering Codes" tables below have shifted to other Intel products." Yeah, I bet it has. 

These were parts without a real audience, and their creation was a consistent mystery to the enthusiast market Intel targeted. For many, it was a honest sign that Intel has lost track of what the PC market was asking for. At least the short lifespan of the pair indicates that Intel got the message loud and clear.

If you are so inclined, you can still pick up the 7740X and 7640X for a while longer. Here is the table of Kaby Lake-X's remaining life.

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You can read the entire Intel document here if you'd like. 

Source: Intel

The number of good game streamers is Ryzen

Subject: Processors | April 30, 2018 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: Ryzen 7 2700X, Ryzen 5 2600X, ryzen 2, amd

The Tech Report tested the gaming prowess of the new Ryzen 2 chips in a variety of games at 1080p; as the 1080 Ti they used in all the test systems equalled the playing field so that the CPU performance could been seen.  If you game at higher resolutions, then the performance delta is moot as it is your GPU which is handling the load but at 1080p gaming, CPU and DDR frequency matters.  While the new chips did not manage to surpass Intel's they closed the gap noticeably compared to the initial generation of Ryzens and they were capable of doing something Intel's offerings simply can't.  Those who like to stream their games while they play would do well to consider the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 7 1800X as they offered a significantly better experience and were the only ones capable of a decent stream of the latest Deus Ex game. 

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"AMD's second-generation Ryzen CPUs have impressive productivity chops, but do they have game? We ran the Ryzen 7 2700X and Ryzen 5 2600X through our high-refresh-rate gaming and streaming gauntlet to find out."

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AMD Announces Q1 2018 Results

Subject: Processors | April 25, 2018 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged: Zen+, Vega, TSMC, ryzen, Results, Q1 2018, Polaris, GLOBALFOUNDRIES, financials, amd, 7nm, 12nm

Today AMD announced their latest financial results for Q1 2018. We expected it to be a good quarter with their guidance earlier this year, but I doubt many thought it would be as strong as it turned out to be. AMD posted revenue of $1.65 billion with a net income of $81 million. This is up from the expected $1.57 billion that analysts expected from what is typically a slow quarter. This is up 40% from Q1 2017 and its $1.18 billion and up 23% from Q4 2017.

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There are multiple reasons behind this revenue growth. The compute and graphics segment lead the way with $1.12B of revenue. The entire year of 2017 AMD had released parts seemingly nonstop since March and the introduction of Ryzen. Q1 continued this trend with the release of the first Ryzen APUs with Vega Graphics introducing the 2000 series. AMD also ramped up production of the newly released Zen+ Ryzen chips and started shipping those out to retailers and partners alike. Initial mobile Ryzen parts were also introduced and shipped with SKUs being also shipped to partners who have yet to announce and release products based on these chips. Finally the strength of the Radeon graphics chips in both gaming and blockchain applications allowed them a tremendous amount of sellthrough throughout 2017 and into 2018. AMD estimates that 10% of the quarter was due to blockchain demand.

Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a revenue of $532 million, which is lower than most analysts expected. Semi-Custom in particular has seen a decline over the past few quarters with the release and saturation of the market of the latest console platforms utilizing AMD designed chips. It appears as though much of the contract is front loaded in terms of revenue with royalties tapering off over time as sales decrease. AMD did have some significant wins, namely providing Intel with Vega based GPUs to be integrated with Intel’s Kaby Lake-G based units. These declines were offset by the shipment of EPYC based processors that are slowly ramping and being shipped to partners to be integrated into server platforms later this year. We have seen a handful of wins from companies like Dell EMC, but AMD is still slowly re-entering the market that they were forced to abandon with their previous, outdated Opteron products. AMD expects to reach mid-single digit marketshare during 2019, but for now they are just getting off the ground with this platform.

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The company is not standing still or resting on their laurels after the successful and heralded launch of the latest Ryzen 2000 series chips based on the Zen+ architecture. It is aggressively ramping their mobile chips featuring the Zen/Vega combination and have some 25 product wins being released throughout late spring and summer. Overall partners have some 60 products either shipping or will ship later this year featuring Ryzen based CPUs.

There is some fear that AMD will see its GPU sales throughput be impacted by the recent drop of cryptocurrency value. Several years back with the Bitcoin crash we saw a tremendous amount of secondhand product being sold and GPU revenues for the company tanked. AMD is a bit more optimistic about the upcoming quarter as they expect the current cryptocurrency/blockchain market is much more robust and people will be holding onto these cards to mine other products/workloads rather than drop them on eBay. My thought here is that we will see a rise in cards available on the secondary/used market, but quite a bit might be offset by latent gaming demand that has been held back due the outrageous prices of GPUs over the past year. People that have been waiting for prices to get back to MSRP or below will then buy. This could be further enhanced if memory prices start to drop, providing more affordable DDR4 and flash for SSDs.

The company is also forging ahead with advanced process technology. They have recently received silicon back from TSMC’s 7nm process and it looks to be a Vega based product. The rumor surrounding this is that it will be more of a compute platform initially rather than gaming oriented. Later this year AMD expects to receive new EPYC silicon, but it looks as though this will be from GLOBALFOUNDRIES 7nm process. AMD wants to be flexible in terms of manufacturing, but they have a long history with GLOBALFOUNDRIES when it comes to CPU production. The two companies work closely together to make sure the process and CPU design match up as cleanly as possible to allow products such as Zen to reach market successfully. The GPU arm is obviously more flexible here as they have a history with multiple foundry partners throughout the past two decades.

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AMD has set an aggressive, but achievable, timetable of product releases that is initially focusing on the CPU side but would logically be transitioning to the GPU side. Zen+ is out on time and has met with acclaim from consumers and reviewers alike. The latest GPU products are comparable in performance to what NVIDIA has to offer, though they are less power efficient for that level of performance. The “pipecleaner” Vega on 7nm will pave the way towards Navi based products that look to be introduced next year. AMD could possibly refresh Vega on 12nm, but so far there has been no concrete information that such a product exists. They may very well continue to rely on current Polaris and Vega products throughout the rest of this year while focusing on Navi efforts to have a more competitive part come 2019.

Q2 2018 looks to be another successful quarter for AMD. The company’s outlook calls for revenue in the $1.725 billion range, plus or minus $50 million. AMD expects continued growth in all Ryzen product lines and greater throughput of EPYC based products as companies test and release products based on that platform. The GPU market could remain flat, but will most likely decline. That decline will be more than covered by the sell-through of the Ryzen line from top to bottom.

AMD improved their margin by an impressive 4%. Going from 32% to 36% showed the strength and higher ASPs of both CPU and GPU products. AMD expects another 1% increase over the next quarter. While these are good numbers for AMD, they do not match the 58%+ for NVIDIA and Intel when it comes to their margins. AMD certainly has a lot of room for improvement, and a richer product stack will allow them to achieve greater ASPs and see a rise in their overall margins. If EPYC becomes more successful, then we could see another significant improvement in margins for the company.

AMD is getting back to where they belong in terms of product placement, competitiveness, and financial performance. The company has seen a huge improvement year on year and hopes to continue that with a rich product stack that addresses multiple areas of computing. AI and machine learning is ramping up in the company in terms of software support as they feel their CPUs and GPUs are already good enough to handle the workloads. As more money comes in, they can afford to diversify and create a wider product base to compete in more markets. So far Lisa Su has been very, very successful in helping pull AMD from the ashes to the competitive situation that they currently find themselves in.

 

Source: AMD

AMD Clarifies Warranty Terms for Ryzen CPU use with Third-Party Coolers

Subject: Processors | April 25, 2018 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 7, ryzen 5, ryzen, Pinnacle Ridge, amd

For those of you that missed it, there was a bit of controversy this week, when a Reddit user found a support page on AMD's website which stated that use of any other "heatsink/fan" than the included one with AMD "Processor-in-Box" products would invalidate their warranty.

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As you might imagine, this caused some confusion and concern from owners and potential purchasers of Ryzen CPUs. How would AMD be able to tell if you were using a third-party cooler? What about the Ryzen 1000 series SKUs that didn't come with coolers?

As it turns out, this was an older support page that does not accurately reflect the warranty of modern AMD processors. AMD has since updated the warranty page to provide clarification.

Now, the page reads that the warranty shall be null and void if the processor "is used with any heatsink/fan (HSF) that does not support operation of the AMD processor in conformance with AMD’s publicly available specifications."

Kudos to the community who put the spotlight on this potentially misleading support page, and AMD for providing quick and decisive clarification on their actual warranty policies. 

Source: AMD

Rumor: Intel 40th Anniversary CPU. Core i7-8086K

Subject: Processors | April 24, 2018 - 08:56 PM |
Tagged: Intel, coffee lake s, coffee lake, 8086

I kind-of hope that this is true… for the pun alone.

What do you get when the following three things happen: the 40th anniversary of your introductory part, a product line that can contain your original products model number, and, of course, strong competition from your primary competitor? Maybe the Intel Core i7-8086K. Maybe an elaborate internet hoax.

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Image Credit: DDAA117 via WCCFTech

The rumor claims that it will be a slightly up-clocked Core i7-8700K. It will retain the 6 cores, 12 threads, 12MB of L3 cache, and 95W TDP, but the core will be clocked at 4.0 GHz (up from 3.7) and it can boost on a single core up to maybe 5.1 GHz. Basically, if true, it sounds like Intel cherry-picked a few high-performing dies out of Coffee Lake-S and set them aside for a promotion around the Computex or E3 time frame.

From a consumer standpoint? The last anniversary processor was a great deal, so pricing will become the deciding factor. If you were interested in the Core i7-8700K, then you might want to wait and see whether this slight notch above is true.

Source: WCCFTech
Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

A Year Later

Despite what might be considered an overall slump in enthusiast PC building due to record low GPU availability and sky-high memory prices, 2017 was one of the most exciting and competitive years in recent history when it comes to CPU innovation. On the desktop side alone, we saw the launch of AMD's new Zen CPU architecture with the Ryzen 1000 series of parts starting last March; we also saw new HEDT platforms from both Intel and AMD, and Intel's first 6-core mainstream CPUs.

Although the timeline doesn't quite work out for Ryzen to have affected the engineering-side of Intel's decision to release a 6-core desktop processor, it's evident AMD's pressure changed Intel's pricing and release schedule.

With little desktop competition, it's likely that the i7-8700K would have been a more expensive part, and released later. It's likely that Coffee Lake would have seen a full stack product launch in early 2018, as opposed to the staggered launch we experienced where only one compatible chipset and a subset of CPUs were available for months.

AMD and Ryzen have put significant pressure on Intel to remain competitive, which is good for the industry as a whole.

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We're now at just over a year since AMD's first Ryzen processor releases, and looking at the first appearance of the codename Pinnacle Ridge CPUs. Launching today are the Ryzen 7 2700X and 2700, and the Ryzen 5 2600x and 2600 processors. Can AMD keep moving the needle forward in the CPU space? Let's take a look.

Continuing reading our review of the AMD Ryzen 2700X and 2600X processors!

Intel Technical Documentation outs 8-Core Coffee Lake-S Processor

Subject: Processors | April 16, 2018 - 10:02 AM |
Tagged: coffee lake, coffee lake s, 8700k, Z370, Z390, 6+2, 8+2

The eventual release of an Intel "Z390" chipset and 8-core Coffee Lake-S processor seem to be almost an inevitability after all of the leaks we've had about these potential parts.

One more piece of evidence was brought to our attention recently, as spotted by an eagle-eyed user on Reddit. Intel's Technical Documentation website now seems to contain documents referencing an unreleased "Coffee Lake S 8+2" product.

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In Intel nomenclature, 8+2 would refer to 8 CPU cores, plus 2 integrated GPU cores. For example, the current 6-core i7-8700K processor is referred to as a 6+2 processor configuration. Hence, the 8+2 processor being referenced here would be a sibling to the 8700K, with two more CPU cores. 

Unfortunately, the actual documents are hidden behind an Intel login page, so we are unable to view them in full, but rather only have titles and short descriptions of their contents.

Given their recent appetite for the "i9" brand as the highest-end configurations, as we saw on the recent Coffee Lake-H notebook processor launch, I would expect this to be the first mainstream Intel desktop processor to carry the "i9" branding.

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Additionally, we see documents referring to design aspects of both the existing Coffee Lake-S 6+2 part (8700K) and this new 8+2 part. This brings us hope that Z370 motherboards will remain compatible with this new processor, and not require yet another chipset.

While it seems likely that these new processors will launch alongside a Z390 chipset, we would expect the same level of compatibility while adding connectivity features built into the chipset such as USB 3.1 Gen 2 and 802.11ac wireless, as we saw on the recent H370 and B360 chipsets.

With the launch of AMD's Ryzen 2000-series of processors looming later this week, it seems like Intel is playing the waiting game before launching this 8-core processor. Speculation is that we could see this part before Computex in June.

Source: Reddit

Ryzen a little late to get 2 rumours

Subject: Processors | April 13, 2018 - 07:13 PM |
Tagged: ryzen 2, preview, amd, Pinnacle Ridge, x470, Ryzen 5 2600X, Ryzen 7 2700X

Better late than never to get previews of the second coming of Ryzen up, from two additional sources above and beyond the post below.  Pinnacle Ridge is poised to release next Thursday but there are a few details which have surfaced for our enjoyment about the chips themselves as well as the new Wraith coolers.  The Tech Report offers the few tidbits they are currently able to disclose, such as the infection of RGBs in the Wraith Prism cooler, while TechARP have posted a few leaked benchmarks which may or may not reflect reality as well as a look at the reviewers kit.  We know the Ryzen 5 2600X has six cores and the Ryzen 7 2700X sports eight but so far the only other thing we know for sure is what they both look like physically

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"AMD is taking the wraps off its first second-generation Ryzen CPUs this morning. Join us as we take a first look at the specs and pricing of the first Zen+ products ahead of their official launch."

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