AMD Radeon R9 490X And 490 Reportedly Set For June Release

AMD’s upcoming graphics architecture, codenamed ‘Polaris’ will be the company’s first product utilizing the 14nm FinFET manufacturing process. During CES 2016, AMD showcased the greatly improved performance per watt compared to the current 28nm NVIDIA GTX 950. As a result, the upcoming R9 490X and R9 490 will not be another rebranding exercise and should offer significant performance gains. It’s still unclear how AMD will position these products in comparison to the Fury X, Fury and Nano line-up. In theory, the 490X and 490 could be faster than the Fury X which becomes a product designed to compete with the 480. Personally, I’m really not sure, and it’s clear that AMD is really pushing the benefits of performance per watt with Polaris 10. To me that showcases their focus and suggests the main advantages will revolve around TDP.

According to Hardware Battle, and discovered by VideoCardz, the 490X and 490 will apparently launch in June. It looks increasingly likely that AMD will unveil their latest range at Computex. Shortly after that, the products should be with retailers in a swift manner. Hardware Battle is a reliable source and known to have good connections with AMD. While this doesn’t prove that the information is correct, it corresponds with earlier suggestions that AMD was planning the launch during Q2 2016.

On another note, the performance numbers Polaris is capable of should provide an indication of the improvements we can expect on NVIDIA’s GTX 1000 series. Whatever the case, this is an exciting time for the graphics card world, even though the huge strides forward will occur during the next architecture. It’s still unclear when NVIDIA will launch their consumer HBM2 graphics cards. Rumors suggest consumer Pascal might not happen until next year.

Personally, I’m just excited to see the industry move away from 28nm graphics cards to instigate a brand new era of hardware advancements.

AMD Polaris Project F GPU Revealed

With Polaris only months away, more details about what Polaris 10 and 11 will look like are coming out. According to an ex-AMD employee profile on LinkedIn, a dGPU codenamed Project F is set to be built on GlobalFounrdies and Samsung 14nm LPP process. What’s more, the Project F GPU will be 232mm2, making the chips similar in size to the 232mmof Pitcairn and Curacao from the 28nm generation of GCN.

At 232mm2, Project F is a relatively small chip for a new process. This should give AMD a low-risk option to evaluate the 2nd generation 14nm process from GlobalFounrdies and Samsung focused on performance. With the use of the new process, the number of transistors will grow massively due to the increased transistor density over 28nm. This should let Project F to pack in at least 4-5 million transistors, putting it at least into the R9 380 and 380X (359mm2) performance range before considering any architectural improvements.

Finally, by using 14nm, Project F is most likely the GPU that AMD showed off back at CES that severely trounced the GTX 950 in performance per watt. With the larger die size, it stands to reason that the demo unit was likely underclocked a bit or not allowed to turbo, letting it be much more efficient. Even at full power, AMD likely has a card that will be much more efficient than Maxwell while offering significantly improved performance over the last generation at a similar cost.

AMD Radeon Polaris GPUs Spotted in HWiNFO Changelog

More and more information is pointing to the state of readiness for AMD’s upcoming Polaris GPUs. According to information spotted in AIDA64 and HWiNFO Changelog, support for 3 new GPUs, Ellesmere, Baffin and Greenland has appeared. As these nomenclatures predate AMD’s Polaris announcement, we can assume that Greenland is Vega 10 while Baffin and Ellesmere are one of Polaris 10 and 11. With AMD going around and handing out the PCI-e ID for Polaris, this means engineering samples are just around the corner.

Switching away from the Islands based noncom lecture, the new architecture maintains it’s GCN roots but is otherwise heavily improved. Graphics guru Raja Koduri noted that the new GCN 4.0 is built purposefully for use with the new 14/16nm process and FinFETs. Combined other redesigned blocks and units on the GPU, the new cards will offer a revolutionary improvement over the past. The use of HBM2 and GDDR5X also means these cards will be both more power efficient and able to push higher resolutions easier.

With Polaris set to arrive in mid-2016, it’s only a matter of time before we get more information and leaks out of AMD. Once launched, the new architecture will usher in a new era for GPUs and hopefully for AMD as well.

AMD Polaris GPU Architecture Offically Unveiled

First leaked yesterday, we’re now able to bring you the full AMD presentation on their upcoming Polaris GPU architecture. Set to ship mid-2016, Polaris will be using a 14/16nm FinFET process and bring massive power consumption and efficiency improvements. According to RTG SVP Raja Koduri, AMD says the massive potential that would come out of moving to FinFETs and a lower process node at the same time and decided to design a new architecture just for that.

Not surprisingly, the biggest focus is on the efficiency side of things. AMD is claiming a historic leap in performance per watt that any Radeon GPU has ever seen. The key to this is the new compute units for Polaris, or GCN 4.0. While we can expect much remains similar to past GCN revisions, the new release will be adding more parts to make the chip more efficient. A more efficient hardware scheduler, primitive discard accelerator and improved memory compression are expected to help as well. While HBM(2) will help reduce power consumption, GDDR5X models will be launched first.

To show off their improved efficiency, AMD showed off working Polaris silicon with presumably GDDR5X. Facing off against a GTX 950 in an identical system, the Polaris part managed to pull 1.65x less power from the wall as a whole. Using only 86W total compared to the 140W on the Nvidia card. This was while both cards were running Star Wars Battlefront at 1080p 60fps. Even if some of the gains are coming from the FinFETs and die shrink, that is still pretty impressive as AMD has been lagging behind on this front. The demo GPU was made using Globalfoundries 14nm FinFET process fo what it’s worth but expect some 16nm parts from TSMC as well.

Just as AMD has done with previous GCN releases, Polaris will also see other parts of the modular system upgraded. These include the Command Processor, Geometry Processor, Multimedia Cores, Display Engine, L2 Cache and Memory Controller. For the Multimedia Cores, the biggest additions are support for 4K HEVC (h.265) encoding and decoding at 60 FPS which should be welcome as well as AMD continues to push HDR. On the connectivity side, DisplayPort 1.3, and, at long last, HDMI 2.0a are supported.

For AMD, 2016 will be a critical year as both their GPU and CPU get a major architectural overhaul at the same time they get a major process upgrade. If executed well, this may finally pull AMD out of it’s slow decline and bring the firmly back into the black. Whether that happens remains to be seen.

AMD Zen to use TSMC 16nm as GF 14nm Falters

TSMC has just scored a major CPU customer as AMD is allegedly moving their Zen CPUs over to the fab. Originally meant for GlobalFoundries 14nm process, delays at the once AMD owned fab have led to a change to use the 16nm process at TSMC, the same one used for AMD and Nvidia’s next-gen GPUs. Zen is AMD’s next CPU architecture, aimed at improving IPC by 40% over current Excavator products.

According to the source, GF has been facing issues with getting their 14nm production ramped up. The fab’s main owner, the government of Abu Dhabi, has  been cutting expenses due to low oil prices. Due to that and difficulties in retooling the 28nm equipment to 14nm, volumes and yields on the new process are below expectations. It was also the delays for the 32nm process at GF that caused Bulldozer to launch later than expected back in 2011.

With both TSMC and GF offering FinFET processes, AMD should see good efficiency gains on top of moving to a new process. While AMD had previously been mum about which FinFET process it would use, most had expected GF to win out due to the long relationship between the two firms. With TSMC now confirmed, the biggest question is whether or not the fab can handle all the CPUs, GPUs and SoCs planned for next year. Hopefully, TSMC 16nmFF+ process will be able to hit the clocks speeds required of desktop CPUs.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information

Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 vs 810 Compared in Leaked Benchmark

The Snapdragon 810 is Qualcomm’s flagship mobile chip and used in a variety of high-end handsets including the LG Flex 2, One Plus 2 and Sony Xperia Z5 Premium. However, many of these devices suffer from overheating and throttling issues on Android 5.0. Thankfully, this has been somewhat fixed in the Android 5.1 update. Nevertheless, the negative media coverage resulted in many manufacturers opting for the 808 or 805 chip instead. It’s no surprise that Qualcomm has been tirelessly working on a new elite-grade chip, the Snapdragon 820.

A leaked report provides an early insight into the performance gains between the Snapdragon 810 and 820. The green field shows the 810’s performance in AnTuTu and the red marker is the latest version of Qualcomm’s new CPU. Interestingly, the orange bar provides information about an earlier prototype and shows how the 820 is progressing. The results are very impressive and features a 1.38x single threaded integer and 1.77x single threaded floating point scores compared to the 810.

It will also be interesting to see how the new 14nm FinFET manufacturing process impacts on battery life and operating temperatures. Apparently, the orange and red columns are two versions of the Samsung Galaxy S7. If this is the case, expect an enormous amount of processing power from Samsung’s upcoming handset.

Snapdragon 820 Promises Astounding 50% Performance Increase

Qualcomm has unveiled the Snapdragon 820 CPU which supposedly offers up to twice the battery life and performance compared to the widely used, Snapdragon 810. The Snapdragon 810 is a modified version of the ARM Cortex A7 containing A53 CPU cores to support 64-bit ARMv8 technology across a range of premium handsets. While the 820 isn’t set for a retail release any time soon, it’s a remarkable improvement and could revolutionize battery life. Personally, this is imperative as users shouldn’t have to charge their exceedingly expensive handset on a daily basis.

Additionally, the 820 features a maximum frequency of 2.2GHz and manufactured on the 14nm FinFET process. This is a complete custom chip and the architecture improvements on 14nm FinFET should create a much more efficient mobile CPU. For example, Qualcomm is claiming the chip is capable of up to 50% improvements whilst utilizing half the power draw of the Snapdragon 810. Of course, this explains why there is a huge difference in battery life. Although, it’s important to reiterate the term, “from”, which means 50% could become a rarity. I’m hopeful we will see performance gains between 40-50% on a regular basis, but only time will tell.

The Snapdragon 820 is expected to release early in 2015 and should become the CPU choice for the latest flagship handsets. As new production lines are matured, mobile CPUs should become faster, more efficient and significantly enhance battery life across all price points.

Thank you Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

TSMC Ships 16nm FinFET Chips – 10nm and 7nm On Their Way

In a move that is sure to please AMD and Nvidia fans, TSMC has started volume production of 16nm FinFET chips. According to TSMC president and co-CEO Mark Liu, the ramp up for 16nm will be more aggressive than their 20nm process, leading to improved market share for TSMC. Both AMD and Nvidia rely heavily on TSMC to deliver their chips, with the mobile focus of 20nm leading to an extended cycle on the 28nm for PC GPUs.

With the reveal that AMD has taped out their first FinFET chip, its looks like the chip was for TSMC 16nm FinFET, not Global Foundries/Samsung 14nm FinFET. With shipments for 16nm already started, AMD and Nvidia may have new GPUs set for Q2/Q3 2016, offering improved power efficiency and lower power consumption.

TSMC also revealed that their 10nm process, based heavily on 16nm, will also begin production in 2016. The 10nm process will improve frequencies by 15% and power consumption by 35%, which is understandable given that FinFETs tend to reduce clock speeds when they are introduced. 7nm is also planned for early 2018, which is a pretty aggressive schedule for TSMC.

With TSMC back on track, the future for GPUs looks brighter. Given the differing standards for semiconductors, Intel 14/10nm and Samsung 14nm are not comparable with TCMC’s. So while TSMC may reach 10nm before Intel does, Intel will actually still have the smaller process.

AMD Tapes Out First FinFET Chips – Expect Arrival Q2/Q3 2016

While much of the focus from yesterday’s financial call was the poor state of finances, another small tidbit about future plans was mentioned. CEO Lisa Su revealed that AMD has taped out their first FinFET chips back in June this year. While the exact process node has not been revealed, we can assume it is either TSMC 16nm or Samsung/Global Foundries 14nm.

From when the chip first gets taped out to initial production, it takes about a year for the chip to get to market. It takes about 3 months for the chip to get produced, and about 1 month to implement all the fixes. Then the cycle happens once more, taking another 4 months, then finally, production is ramped up, taking a grand total of about 12 months. This means we can expect the FinFET chips to arrive about June/July in 2016, assuming AMD doesn’t hit any major obstacles.

FinFETs will help AMD claw back power efficiency from Intel, who already moved to FinFETs with their mainstream 22nm process back in 2013. Given the timeframe, the chip is likely either  a GCN Arctic Islands chip or a Summit Ridge Zen based processor. Both, but especially on the CPU side, can do with better efficiency as Nvidia and Intel are ahead on that front. FinFETs can also reduce overclocking headroom so AMD will have to focus on improving instruction efficiency to compensate. In all, 2016 looks to be a good year for AMD if they can make it there.

Samsung Rumoured to Start Making Chips for Nvidia

A week ago, Samsung reportedly won a contract to make chips for Apple’s upcoming iPhones using their latest 14nm FinFET technology. However, it seems that the South Korean manufacturer has been busy scooping up more contracts in the meantime.

The latest points to a “few million dollars” contract between Samsung and Nvidia, allowing both Samsung and GlobalFoundries to make 14nm chips in Korea as well as the US for Apple, Qualcomm and Nvidia as per the new contract. As previously reported, GlobalFoundries struck a deal with Samsung to replicate its 14nm FinFET technology.

“The latest agreement between Samsung and Nvidia is another positive factor lifting Samsung’s logic chip business unit. The timing looks good as increased foundry customers justify the Korean chip giant’s moves to find new revenue sources,” a source told Korean Times.

So why the rush to roll out small factor GPU chips? Easy. A GPU takes a lot of workload off the CPU and as we all know, smartphones are requiring new tech to handle better graphics while cutting down on power consumption. However, in order to achieve the perfect balance, a smaller form factor SoC is needed.

Looking at the partnership from another perspective reveals that Samsung and Nvidia are still not on the best of terms. Both companies are reportedly engaged in legal actions, but another source stated that the companies are more focused on business rather than their little disagreements.

“The Samsung-Nvidia deal means that there is no enemy and friend in businesses,”

Neither Samsung nor South Korean-based representatives for Nvidia wanted to shed more light on the new partnership, but stay tuned as we will keep you updated with more information as it unravels.

Thank you Korea Times for providing us with this information

AMD’s Official Roadmaps Reveals the Company’s Plans for the next 5 Years

AMD has revealed what the company plans to do with its GPUs and CPUs in the next 5 years at the PC Cluster Consortium event in Osaka Japan, where AMD’s Junji Hayashi revealed the company’s roadmap.

During the event, AMD has focused on its graphics IP and the products that involved it, including discrete Radeon graphics cards and Radeon powered Accelerated Processing Units. There have been talks about AMD’s upcoming K12 ARM as well as the x86 Zen CPU core, including a strategy of how the company plans to introduce both x86 and ARM powered SOCs to the market in a pin for pin compatible platform code-named SkyBridge.

It is said that both CPUs are 64-bit capable parts coming in a 14nm FinFET ‘shell’, but one is based on the ARMv8 architecture while the other is based on the more traditional x86 AMD64 architecture, having them target the server, embedded, semi-custom and client markets.

AMD has also talked about “many threads” revealing that the K12 will come with Simultaneous Multi-Threading (SMT) technology in contrast to the company’s Clustered Multi-Thread (CMT) technology we are able to see in the Bulldozer family. SMT essentially takes advantage of the various resources in the core which are underutilized and dedicate to an additional, slower, execution thread for added throughput. In contrast, CMT is looking for opportunities to share resources between two different CPU cores, instead of doing it inside a single CPU core.

Hayashi also revealed AMD’s GPU roadmap, which reveals that the company is employing a two-year cadence to updating its GPU architecture inside APUs. It looks like the company will add Accelerated Processing Units with updated GPU architectures once every two years. The roadmap also reveals that AMD plans to introduce what it described as a High Performance Computing APU which carries a 200 – 300 watts TDP, having the company stating that the APU in question will excel in HPC applications.

AMD apparently did not attempt to go with newer APUs in the future because it was not viable in terms of memory bandwidth. Instead, the company’s stacked High Bandwidth Memory will be used as an alternative, making the design extremely effective. The second generation of HBM is said to be 9 times faster than GDDR5 memory and 128 times faster than DDR3 memory.

The company has not revealed any code names for the GPU architectures, but a previous leak pointed out that the architecture will debut on 16nm FinFET and will be code-named Arctic Islands. More specific details about AMD’s products will be revealed in May at the Financial Analyst Day event.

Thank you WCCF for providing us with this information

Samsung First with 14nm FinFET Mass Production

It looks like Samsung beat TSMC to the punch by being the first to announce the mass production of their 14nm FinFET process technology.

The first chip to use this will be the Exynos 7 Octa, but the process will be expanded to other products throughout the year. The Exynos 7 Octa will most likely be used in the Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship and the SoC is composed of an ARM Cortex-A57 with the A53 and Mali-T760 GPU.

Samsung’s press release promises some great figures with 20% increased clock speed and a 35% decrease in power consumption.

Thanks to Samsung for providing us with this information

Next-Gen AMD CPU Could Offer Serious Competition for Intel

AMD hasn’t let much slip about their future CPU plans, except that they won’t make the transition before it makes financial sense. Rumours still point towards a 2016 Q2 to Q3 timeline with the latest coming from SweOverclockers.

The new AMD Zen could be built on a 14nm process which is quite the jump from the current 32nm SOI used for the FX chips and 28nm bulk silicon used for the current APUs. The chips are expected to be built by GlobalFoundries who have a long history with AMD and will be based on FinFET technology.

The new platform is said to either support a duality of DDR3 and DDR4 (Like they did with DDR2 and DDR3 for a while) or just solely the new DDR4 standard. A choice that most likely will be made at a later time and depending on the market situation at that time.

A TDW rating up to 95W suggest that AMD still wants to compete in the performance sector, but it is unknown if they’ll include an iGPU. The last part of the rumour suggests that AMD might move towards a Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT) like Intel is using, as opposed to Cluster Multithreading (CMT) that currently is deployed in the FX line of CPUs.

Thanks to SweOverclockers for providing us with this information