Widening the Offerings
Today, we are talking about something that would have seen impossible just a few shorts years ago— a 32-core processor for consumers. While I realize that talking about the history of computer hardware can be considered superfluous in a processor review, I think it's important to understand the context here of why this is just a momentous shift for the industry.
May 2016 marked the launch of what was then the highest core count consumer processor ever seen, the Intel Core i7-6950X. At 10 cores and 20 threads, the 6950X was easily the highest performing consumer CPU in multi-threaded tasks but came at a staggering $1700 price tag. In what we will likely be able to look back on as the peak of Intel's sole dominance of the x86 CPU space, it was an impossible product to recommend to almost any consumer.
Just over a year later saw the launch of Skylake-X with the Intel Core i9-7900X. Retaining the same core count as the 6950X, the 7900X would have been relatively unremarkable on its own. However, a $700 price drop and the future of upcoming 12, 14, 16, and 18-core processors on this new X299 platform showed an aggressive new course for Intel's high-end desktop (HEDT) platform.
This aggressiveness was brought on by the success of AMD's Ryzen platform, and the then upcoming Threadripper platform. Promising up to 16 cores/32 threads, and 64 lanes of PCI Express connectivity, it was clear that Intel would for the first time have a competitor on their hands in the HEDT space that they created back with the Core i7-920.
Fast forward another year, and we have the release of the 2nd Generation Threadripper. Promising to bring the same advancements we saw with the Ryzen 7 2700X, AMD is pushing Threadripper to even more competitive states with higher performance and lower cost.
Will Threadripper finally topple Intel from their high-end desktop throne?
Subject: Processors | August 9, 2018 - 04:36 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Ryzen 7 2700, amd, Zen+
There is a ~$30 difference between the Ryzen 7 2700 and the 2700X, which begs the question as to whom would chose the former over the latter. The Tech Report points out another major difference between the two processors, the 2700 has a 65W TDP while the 2700X is 105W; pointing to one possible reason for choosing the less expensive part. The question remains as to what you will be missing out on and if there is any reason not to go with the even less expensive and highly overclockable Ryzen 7 1700? Find out the results of their tests and get the answer right here.
"AMD's Ryzen 7 2700 takes all the benefits of AMD's Zen+ architecture and wraps eight of those cores up in a 65-W TDP. We tested the Ryzen 7 2700's performance out in stock and overclocked tune to see what it offers over the hugely popular Ryzen 7 1700."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- One year with Threadripper @ TechSpot
- Battle of the Workstations: AMD Ryzen Threadripper vs Intel Core X-Series @ Techgage
- We Test a $1,000 CPU From 2010 vs. Ryzen 3 @ TechSpot
- Intel's Spectre 'Variant 4' Performance Tested: Speculative Store Bypass @ TechSpot
- Qualcomm's Snapdragon 670 packs high-end features into a mid-range chip @ The Inquirer
Subject: Processors | August 8, 2018 - 07:39 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: xeon, intel DL boost, Intel, ice lake, dcg, data centric, cooper lake, cascade lake
Today at Intel's Data Center Group's Data-Centric Innovation Summit, they provided a peek into the future of Xeon processors.
Coming later this year are the oft-rumored Cascade Lake Xeons. In addition to supporting Optane DC Persistent memory, Cascade Lake will offer hardware-based mitigations for Spectre/Meltdown vulnerabilities.
Intel Deep Learning Boost will also make its first appearance in the Cascade Lake products. In its first iteration, DL Boost will provide a vector neural network instruction set (VNNI) based on AVX-512 for faster inference acceleration. Intel is working to add VNNI to industry standard deep learning frameworks like TensorFlow and Caffe.
Next, in late 2019, we have the Cooper Lake architecture. Still based on 14nm technology, Cooper Lake will expand upon Intel DL Boost and add support for the BFloat16 data type, which provides the same level of precision as double precision (32-bit) floating points, but in a smaller (16-bit) data size.
In 2020, after Cooper Lake, comes Ice Lake – the first 10nm-based Xeon. While details are sparse about what improvements Ice Lake will bring architecturally, Intel has said that it will be compatible with Cooper Lake platforms, giving users an upgrade path.
Subject: Processors | August 6, 2018 - 09:00 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Zen+, XFR 2.0, Threadripper, StoreMI, ryzen, r7 2700x, Pinnacle Ridge, Intel, Core i9-780xe, amd, 2nd generation threadripper, 12nm
First teased at Computex earlier this summer, AMD has now released details and availability information for their 2nd Generation Threadripper CPUs.
Based upon the same 12nm Zen+ architecture we saw with the Pinnacle Ridge CPUs like the R7 2700X, Threadripper will now be split into two product families, the X, and the WX series.
The X-series is mostly a refresh of the Threaripper SKUs that we saw last year, with 12 and 16-core variants. The Threadripper 2920X and 2950X will retain the same two die, 4 CCX arrangement that we saw with the previous generation, with the ability to run in either unified or non-unified memory modes.
Notably, the 8-core variant found in the original Threadripper lineup seems to be absent in the 2nd generation.
This new generation of Threadripper comes in less expensive than the last, with a $50 price drop on the 12-core CPU, and a $100 price drop on the 16-core variant.
The newest aspect of the 2nd Generation Threadripper Lineup is the addition of the "WX" series processors. These higher core count processors are being marketed by AMD more towards "Creators and Innovators" rather than gamers.
Available in both 24 and 32-core variants, the Threadripper WX series represents the highest core count consumer CPUs ever launched. Since we know that Zen+ dies contain a maximum of 8 cores, we can assume that these processors are using a 4 die configuration, similar to the EPYC server parts, but likely with the same 64 lanes of PCIe and 4 channel memory controllers
This pricing is extremely aggressive compared to the highest core count competitor from Intel, the $2000 18-core i9-7980XE.
All 2nd Generation Threadripper CPUs will include the 2nd Generation Zen features that we saw in the R7 2600 and 2700 series, including XFR 2.0, StoreMI, and improved memory support and latency.
Additionally, these new Threadripper CPUs will use the existing X399 chipset, with UEFI updates being made available for existing X399 boards, as well as some new variants such as the MSI MEG X399 Creation launching alongside the new CPUs.
Availability of these processors is staggered, with the 32-core WX CPU shipping first on August 13th (and available now for preorder on Newegg and Amazon), followed shortly by the 16-core 2950X. However, we won't see the 12 and 24 variants until October.
Stay tuned for our review of these parts as they reach retail availability!
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | August 3, 2018 - 04:41 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Zen, Vega, SoC, ryzen, China, APU, amd
Continuing down the path with its semi-custom design division, AMD today announced a partnership with Chinese company Zhongshan Subor to design and build a new chip to be utilized for both a Chinese gaming PC and Chinese gaming console.
The chip itself will include a quad-core integration of the Zen processor supporting 8 threads at a clock speed of 3.0 GHz, no Turbo or XFR is included. The graphics portion is built around a Vega GPU with 24 Compute Units running at 1.3 GHz. Each CU has 64 stream processors giving the “Fenghuang” chip a total of 1536 SPs. That is the same size GPU used in the Kaby Lake-G Vega M GH part, but with a higher clock speed.
The memory system is also interesting as Zhongshan Subor has integrated 8GB of GDDR5 on a single package. (Update: AMD has clarified that this is a GDDR5 memory controller on package, and the memory itself is on the mainboard. Much more sensible.) This is different than how Intel integrated basically the same product from AMD as it utilized HBM2 memory. As far as I can see, this is the first time that an AMD-built SoC has utilized GDDR memory for both the GPU and CPU outside of the designs used for Microsoft and Sony.
This custom built product will still support AMD and Radeon-specific features like FreeSync, the Radeon Software suite, and next-gen architecture features like Rapid Packed Math. It is being built at GlobalFoundries.
Though there are differences in the apparent specs from the leaks that showed up online earlier in the year, they are pretty close. This story thought the custom SoC would include a 28 CU GPU and HBM2. Perhaps there is another chip design for a different customer pending or more likely there were competing integrations and the announced version won out due to cost efficiency.
Zhongshan Subor is a Chinese holding company that owns everything from retail stores to an education technology business. You might have heard its name in association with a gluttony of Super Famicom clones years back. I don’t expect this new console to have near the reach of an Xbox or PlayStation but with the size of the Chinese market, anything is possible if the content portfolio is there.
It is interesting that despite the aggressiveness of both Microsoft and Sony in the console space in regards to hardware upgrades this generation, this Chinese design will be the first to ship with a Zen-based APU, though it will lag behind the graphics performance of the Xbox One X (and probably PS4 Pro). Don’t be surprised if both major console players integrate a similar style of APU design with their next-generation products, pairing Zen with Vega.
Revenue for AMD from this arrangement is hard to predict but it does get an upfront fee from any semi-custom chip customer for the design and validation of the product. There is no commitment for a minimum chip purchase so AMD will see extended income only if the console and PC built around the APU succeeds.
Enthusiasts and PC builders have already started questioning whether this is the type of product that might make its way to the consumer. The truth is that the market for a high-performance, fully-integrated SoC like this is quite small, with DIY and SI (system integrator) markets preferring discrete components most of the time. If we remove the GDDR5 integration, which is one of the key specs that makes the “Fenghuang” chip so interesting and expensive, I’d bet the 24 CU GPU would be choked by standard DDR4/5 DRAM. For now, don’t hold out hope that AMD takes the engineering work of this Chinese gaming product and applies it to the general consumer market.
Subject: Processors | August 1, 2018 - 01:24 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: msi, Z370, Intel, 9900k, 9700, 8700k
Hot on the heels on an Intel Roadmap leak yesterday that points to Intel's upcoming Coffee Lake refresh desktop processors launching as soon a Q3 2018, MSI today confirmed through a news post on their website that these new processors will retain compatibility with at least Z370 motherboards.
The table posted by MSI contains the specific BIOS versions that add compatibility for these new processors for each Z370 motherboard in their lineup. There's no information about other existing Coffee Lake chipsets such as H370 and B360, but previous leaks have pointed towards these motherboards having some level of compatibility with new Intel processors.
The 9000-series is rumored to contain Intel's first 8-core consumer-oriented CPUs, in both non-hyperthreaded (i7-9700K), and hyperthreaded (i9-9900K) forms.
Subject: Processors | July 6, 2018 - 03:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: IBM, power9, talos 2, EPYC, xeon
Phoronix were recently given access to three servers running three different POWER9 Talos II configurations and compared them to EPYC and Xeon. On paper these systems look amazing, thanks to the architecture supporting four threads per core; they tested a dual 4-core Talos II system, a Talos II Lite with a single 22-core CPU and a Talos II with dual 18-core processors with thread counts of 32, 88, and 144 respectively.
There were certainly usage scenarios where the dual 18 core system could outpace even the EPYC 7601 but could not surpass the dual Xeon Gold 6138 system. The review covers a fair amount of benchmarks and configurations but doesn't begin to scratch the surface of wide variety of server configurations you need to consider before abandoning POWER9 altogether but the key metric, performance per dollar, shows these architecture solidly in the middle of the pack.
"Back in April we were able to run some IBM POWER9 benchmarks with remote access to the open-source friendly Talos II systems by Raptor Computer Systems. We were recently allowed remote access again to a few different configurations of this libre hardware with three different POWER9 processor combinations. Here are those latest benchmarks compared to Intel Xeon and AMD EPYC server processors."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700 and Ryzen 5 2600 @ Modders-Inc
- Intel Pentium Gold G5600 3.9 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- Intel Core i7-8086K @ TechARP
- Intel Core i7 8086K Linux Performance @ Phoronix
- Intel Kaby Lake G Core i7-8705G @ TechSpot
Subject: Processors | June 11, 2018 - 03:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Intel, i7-8086k, coffee lake-s, 8086
Now, before you decided to comment on Ken's i7-8086K article, consider he is not the only one who has encountered issues with Intel's Anniversary silicon. The Tech Report offers succinct advice in their review as well "the i7-8086K isn't worth the $75 upcharge over the i7-8700K at stock speeds." They manually overclocked the chip and found the same 5.1GHz limit, as the processors are thermally identical regardless of the handpicked artisan silicon inside the i7-8086K. The 5GHz stock speed advertised does not seem to be available right out of the box but instead requires a bit of work.
On the other hand, if you like the idea of an Anniversary model CPU and would enjoy manually overclocking, the extra $75 might mean very little to you.
"Intel's Core i7-8086K is the company's first CPU with a 5-GHz Turbo speed out of the box. We dig deep to see whether this chip has the cachet to live up to its limited-edition billing."
Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:
- A Look At How The AMD EPYC Linux Performance Has Evolved Over The Past Year @ Phoronix
- AMD Ryzen 7 2700 Overclocking @ [H]ard|OCP
- AMD's Ryzen Master Overclocking Software @ [H]ard|OCP
- Intel Core i3-8300 3.7 GHz @ TechPowerUp
- AMD Ryzen 5 2600 / Ryzen 7 2700 Benchmarks On Linux, 9-Way Ubuntu CPU Comparison @ Phoronix
A Weekend of Misadventure
Last Friday marked the release of the Intel Core i7-8086K to consumers through retail channels like Amazon, Newegg, and Microcenter. Announced just earlier that week at Computex, the i7-8086K is essentially an i7-8770K, running slightly higher clock speeds, and is meant as a limited edition item to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Intel’s 8086 processor, which marked the beginning of the x86 microarchitecture.
Eager to test this new CPU, I picked one up from our local Microcenter on Friday evening, and plugged it into our Coffee Lake CPU testbed, powered by a Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard (updated to the latest BIOS), let my first pass of automated CPU benchmarks run, and went off with the rest of my evening.
Saturday, when I came back to look at the results, they seemed mediocre at best, with the i7-8086K trading blows with the i7-8700K. While the extra 300MHz of clock speed seemed like it would provide more of a benefit than I was seeing, it wasn’t entirely unexpected that performance might not be spectacularly higher than the i7-8700K so I continued to run through the rest of our standard CPU benchmarking suite, as well as our CPU gaming benchmarks.
Finally looking at all of the data together, it appeared there was no change from the i7-8700K to the i7-8086K leading me to do some more digging.
Equipped with Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility, I began to measure the clock speeds during several benchmarks.
Much to my surprise, even on purely single-threaded workload, such as Cinebench R15 in Single mode, the processor wasn’t getting close to its 5.0GHz Single Core Turbo Boost frequency, in fact, I never saw it get above 4.5GHz. We corroborated these issues with another piece of CPU monitoring software, HWInfo64.
As you can see in the screenshot from XTU, the processor was sitting at a cool 48C while this was going on, and no other alerts such as the motherboard power delivery or current limit throttling were an issue during our testing.
Moving to another motherboard, the ASUS Strix Z370-H Gaming, again on the latest UEFI release, we saw the same behavior.
So far, we have been unable to get this processor to operate at the advertised 5.0GHz Turbo Boost frequency, on a multitude of different hardware and software setups.
However, if we manually overclock the processor, we can get an all-core frequency of 5.1GHz, although with a temperature around 85C.
At this point, we are left puzzled and disappointed by the launch of the i7-8086K. This is the same hardware and software setup we used for all of our CPU benchmarking for the recent Ryzen 7 2700X review, with no issues. We even tried a fresh, fully updated Windows install on a separate SSD, to help eliminate any potential for weird software issues.
Jeff at The Tech Report used the same Gigabyte Z370 Aorus Gaming 7 motherboard as us, and while he didn’t see great performance overall, you can see explicit scaling in pure single-threaded workloads like Cinebench in his review.
As far as the ASUS motherboard we also tried is concerned, the i7-8086K is listed on ASUS’ CPU compatibility list for UEFI 1301 (which we are running), so it seems there should be no issue.
This morning, the i7-8086K we ordered on Amazon showed up, and did the exact same thing, in both test setups.
To be fair, based on the reviews that we have seen pop up thus far, including The Tech Report, the resulting performance if things were configured correctly doesn’t appear to be worth the extra cost.
What was meant to be a celebration of Intel’s 40 years of the X86 architecture seems more like a rushed release than a fully baked product. Remember, we bought this processor directly from a retail outlet with no intervention from Intel. Without the proper BIOS-level support, and potentially a more widespread issue affecting normal consumers building machines with i7-8086K.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 8, 2018 - 01:39 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: overclocking, Intel, i7-8086k, der8auer
Der8auer is at it again, this time pushing Intel's Anniversary Edition i7-8086K quickly passing 7GHz in initial overclocking, showing just how well picked these Core i7-8700K's are. He pushed the core voltage up past 1.85V and used an impressive amount of LN to accomplish this feat but he feels there is more to this processor. Having had more time to work on overclocking 8700K's he has successfully pushed them to 7.3GHz, so in theory the 8086K should be able to beat that. Take a look at the video posted on the Inquirer to see this happen.
"The processor, announced this week at Computex, commemorates 40 years of x86 computing and out of the box can hit 5GHz on a single core without overclocking via the chip's boost frequency."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Blockchain's Once-Feared 51% Attack Is Now Becoming Regular @ Slashdot
- Stop us if you've heard this one: Adobe Flash gets emergency patch for zero-day exploit @ The Register
- GitHub's Nat Friedman confirms no ads, no Microsoft logins, no worries @ The Inquirer
- Talkin’ Treble: How Android engineers are winning the war on fragmentation @ Ars Technica
- WannaCry reverse-engineer Marcus Hutchins hit with fresh charges @ The Register