Knights Landing Supercomputing Chipset Featured in Ninja Desktops

Whenever new hardware is released, they always come with cool names and Intel’s latest Xeon Phi chip’s don’t disappoint with the name Knights Landing (any Game of Thrones fan spot the possible reference?). While not designed for desktops the next step of Colfax’s Ninja desktops will make sure of these supercomputing chips.

The new Knights Landing chips from Intel feature 72-cores, remember when you were excited to get a dual core processor? Intel is open in saying that only a limited number of workstations with the chip will become available this year, having originally been designed to help boost servers and supercomputers around the world but now could be powering your full gaming experience.

Be warned the extra power will come at a cost, with costs from Colfax’s website starting at $4,983 (around £3,508) for the base configuration. Featuring a 240GB SSD, a 4TB hard drive and a staggering 96GB of DDR4 memory the computer could easily let you get on with your daily YouTube and emailing while loading up the computer with two 1.6TB SSDs and two 6TB hard drives will jump the price to $7,577. With everything liquid cooled and two-gigabit ethernet ports, you don’t need to worry about overheating or slow network traffic.

Workstations are typically used for graphically intense operations such as film editing, graphics manipulation or engineering applications but with process heavy software coming out with the likes of virtual and augmented reality, people are looking at getting greater computing power like those offered by workstations for everyday use.

Intel’s New Broadwell Xeon Chips Will have 22 Cores

In a growing trend for Intel’s server targeted chips, this Thursday they released the newest Xeon E5-2600 processors, which contain as many as 22 cores.

The move to developing chips with an ever-increasing number of cores allows them to cater to the needs of cloud and mobile service providers, whose servers make full use of multiple cores and processing threads to allow more video and applications to be streamed from a single server simultaneously. The chips also provide benefits in workstation usage. When combined with a powerful graphics processor, it will be able to assist in the development of cutting-edge, high-quality experiences such as virtual reality applications and 4K video editing.

The Xeon E5-2600 v4 lineup includes 27 different chips, all based on the new Broadwell microarchitecture. Broadwell offers a number of improvements which allows these new chips to offer as much as a 5% increase in speed over previous generation Haswell architecture chips. According to tests run by Dell using SAP benchmarks on a Linux OS, the new chips were observed to be as much as 28% faster than their predecessors. The main issue with chips packing so many cores is cooling as a result, the frequency of the top-line 22-core Xeon E5-2699 v4 has had to be set to 2.2 GHz, where it still draws 145 watts of power.

Of course, these chips aren’t for the average consumer, with the prices for these new chips peaking at $4,115 for the 22 core model. For their largest customers, Intel is even willing to deliver customized versions of these new Xeons, which we can be sure will hold an even heftier price tag.

Microsoft Will Now Support Windows 7 and 8.1 For New Processors

Technology changes, that is an inevitable fact. As we produce more and more powerful designs and techniques we create new pieces of hardware and sometimes this causes trouble for those who aren’t quite ready to move on. Microsoft announced previously that those wanting to use the latest in Intel’s processors, the Skylake series, they would need to use Windows 10. It would appear they’ve changed their tone and are now looking to offer support for Windows 7 and 8.1 for the new processors.

The technical reasons provided was that offering support for the older operating systems would be too much given that the new system would be optimised for windows 10. Some people considered this as a push though for businesses to stop using the older operating systems and instead use Windows 10 if they wanted to get new equipment.

Microsoft has now recanted on that and will offer support for the older operating systems, offering companies the chance to upgrade to windows 10 at their own pace if they use Skylake devices. To help this the security updates for the older operating systems will also be addressed to PC’s running Skylake systems till January 14th, 2020 for Windows 7 users and January 10th 2023 for Windows 8.1 users.

Are you happy to hear about this? Are you looking at Skylake processors but would prefer to keep an older OS for the time being? You can see Microsofts tech blog outlining all the changes here.

Philips V800 Flip Phone Is in the Pipeline

Remember when the flip mobile phone design was all the rage? For some of you, this may seem an impossibility owing to the now ubiquitous smartphone look. Well, it looks as if Dutch Electronics Company Philips is set to release a new product by the name of the V800 flip phone to consumers.

Below is a summary of the key features along with a selection of images to convey this product.

  • The Phone Weighs 206g
  • The casing size is 8x60x19.1mm
  • It utilizes a Quad-core 1.5GHz processor
  • The Phone has two identical screens and a IPS LCD touch screen with a resolution of 1280×720
  • It is equipped with 13 Mega Pixel rear camera and 5 Mega Pixel front camera
  • The Phone runs on Android 5.1 system.

Below are images of this phone, as you can see, it looks noteworthy, the colours are atmospheric dark gray for the outer casing while the keyboard has a gold colour design which gives the phone a more luxurious feel.

There is no word as yet as to the pricing or release date, but it could be on the horizon when you consider it has passed through the TENAA (China’s wireless regulator). The phone may also have a limited appeal when you consider the flip phone design is now predominately sold within the Far Eastern market.

Image courtesy of wikimedia

Overclockers Crank World-Record Speeds out of Skylake Core i7-6700K

Two renowned overclockers have pushed Intel’s Core i7-6700K CPU to its absolute limit, breaking the world record in the process. The German pair, Der8auer and Dancop, overclocked the retail Skylake processor to hit 7007.85MHz, using an ASUS ROG Maximus VIII Gene motherboard and 2x4GB G.Skill DDR4 RAM, TechFrag reports.

The validated data, submitted to CPU-Z, shows that the Germans raised the multiplier to 69x, using a base clock frequency of 101.56MHz, while the overclocking was achieved using only one of the CPU’s four cores enabled and an uncore frequency of 2438MHz.

The overclocking yielded 4.8GHz using air cooling, but, when they implemented -190oC cooling, managed to raise speeds up to 7007.85MHz.

The overclocking is a new world record, breaking the previous score of 6998.88MHz achieved by Chi-Kui Lam.

Processor (CPU)

CPU Name: Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-6700K CPU @ 4.00GHz

Threading: 1 CPU – 1 Core – 1 Thread

Frequency: 7007.85 MHz (69 * 101.56 MHz) – Uncore: 2437.5 MHz

Multiplier: Current: 69 / Min: 8 / Max: 50

Architecture: Skylake / R0-Step (14 nm)

Cpuid / Ext.: 6.E.3 / 6.5E

IA Extensions: MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3, SSSE3, SSE4.1, SSE4.2, EM64T, VT-x, AES, AVX, AVX2, FMA3, TSX

Caches: L1D : 32 KB / L2 : 256 KB / L3 : 8192 KB

Caches Assoc.: L1D : 8-way / L2 : 4-way / L3 : 16-way

Microcode: Rev. 0x0000023

TDP / Vcore: 95 Watts / 2.064 Volts

Type: Retail (Original Frequency : 4000 MHz)

Bug Causes Intel Skylake PCs to Freeze During Hyperthreading

Intel has confirmed that its Skylake processors can freeze during complex workloads. The bug, that “can freeze any system that has a Skylake processor,” was discovered by the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS), which uses computers to identify new prime numbers. GIMPS was running its Prime95 software to find large prime numbers with the exponent size of 14,942,209, which, “after minutes or hours” crashed the system.

Intel forum user Henk_NL wrote, “the problem is related to hyperthreading and the use of CPUsupportsFMA3. Overclocking, underclocking or just running at stock speed does not influence the outcome of the program.”

Henk_NL also wrote a handy guide for masochists to use in order to replicate the freezing:

“Steps to freeze your Skylake system:

– Download and install Prime95 for Windows on a Skylake system from the website at http://www.mersenne.org/download/ (If you want to familiarize yourself with the software use the readme, a background in math will be helpful, but is not needed.)

– In the menu go to ‘Advanced | Test’ and fill in the number 14942209 in the box labeled ‘Exponent to test’

– Let the program run for some time and at some point, minutes or hours, the system will freeze.”

“It is my fear that like the infamous FDIV bug this issue will require a new stepping and a product recall, since this has security implications as well,” Henk_NL warned.

Intel’s official statement on it forum reads:

“Intel has identified an issue that potentially affects the 6th Gen Intel® Core family of products.  This issue only occurs under certain complex workload conditions, like those that may be encountered when running applications like Prime95.  In those cases, the processor may hang or cause unpredictable system behavior.  Intel has identified and released a fix and is working with external business partners to get the fix deployed through BIOS.”

There is no indication as to when the BIOS fix will be released.

Amazon Enters the Semiconductor Market With its First ARM Chip

Amazon’s Annapurna Labs has announced that it is entering the semiconductor market, selling its first ARM-based processors, a “foundation for next-generation digital services for the connected home,” according to a press release.

Annapurna Labs, established in 2011, was snapped up by Amazon last year for $350 million. Before the buyout, Annapurna was heavily rumoured to be working on its own line of ARM chips, VentureBeat reports. The Alpine PoC product line will be sold to OEMs to support “home gateways, Wi-Fi routers, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.”

“In the fast-growing home application marketplace, new use cases and consumer needs are rapidly invented and adopted,” the press release reads. “To stay competitive, OEMs and service providers therefore need to quickly add support for the new features that give consumers the ability to enjoy the latest applications without changing hardware or waiting for months to get updated software.”

“Our Alpine platform-on-chip and subsystems product line gives service providers and OEMs a high-performance platform on which they can design hardware that will support growing consumer demands for innovative services, fast connectivity, and many connected devices.”

While ARM processors are still a niche market compared to the Intel-dominated server market, the architecture has come a long way in the last thirty years, with ARM cores powering single board computers like the Raspberry Pi and Pine A64, as well as Apple iPhones, iPods, Microsoft’s early generation Surface and Surface 2 tablets, and Nintendo’s DS series of handheld consoles.

“There is significant growth in the home Wi-Fi segment with most of the demand occurring on high-performance routers. As a leading provider in this segment, we are committed to providing our customers with high performing solutions,” Tenlong Deng, Vice President of ASUS Networking & Wireless Devices Business Unit, said. “The increased demand for new applications and use models requires additional compute and more flexibility. We are collaborating with Annapurna on these technologies and believe that they have one of the most advanced and flexible silicon solutions in the marketplace.”

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

A Look At The Steam Survey Results For November 2015

I will only pick out the most noteworthy Steam Survey Hardware and Software results for November 2015; otherwise, I might be here until New Years day 2017.  So, what do we have? Below are the Steam monthly survey stats, starting with the most common type of OS (Operating System) that is being used amongst Steam gamers.

As you can see below, Windows is the most dominant Operating system with 95.26% usage, Windows 7 64 bit is the most popular with 35.63% usage, this is down slightly (-1.04%). Windows 10 64 bit has risen slightly by 2.39% with current usage at 28.81%.  These stats hide an interesting point, with many reports noting that back in August 2015, only 17% of users were running Windows 10, therefore, this is around a 59% increase in the last three months. Of course, there are many factors including the persistent attempts by Microsoft to push at all costs their latest OS onto consumers.

Unsurprisingly, Steam users are not in favour of Mac or Linux’s operating systems considering only 3.64% and 0.98% of users respectively implement these operating systems when utilizing steam to play games.

When it comes to preferred CPUs for all formats, Intel is unsurprisingly the big winner, 76.31% Windows Steam users own an Intel CPU for November 2015, while Windows users of an AMD CPU is at 23.69%, this is down ever so slightly (- 0.28%) compared to October 2015.

Other noteworthy stats for the CPU section include 47.93% of Steam users owning a dual-core CPU, while 45.12% own a quad-core CPU.

Ram stats are quite interesting, and yes I am a geek, the most popular configuration of Ram is 8GB and is being used by 32.06%, this has risen slightly by 0.36%, although 12GB and higher is at a healthy 16.04%.

By all means check out the full in-depth list of stats, it’s certainly revealing and conveys Steam users preferences and also how well manufacturers are placing their products within the market.

Intel Buys Altera for $16.7 Billion

Altera, the US-based manufacturer of programmable logic devices, has been purchased by Intel in an all-cash deal worth $16.7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal (paywalled, via Engadget).

“Altera is now part of Intel, and together we will make the next generation of semiconductors not only better but able to do more,” Brian Krzanich, CEO of Intel, said in a press release. “We will apply Moore’s Law to grow today’s FPGA business, and we’ll invent new products that make amazing experiences of the future possible – experiences like autonomous driving and machine learning.”

The deal, which is the biggest in Intel’s history, will unify Intel’s Xeon processors with Altera’s field programmable gate arrays, which are already in use together by tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, unifying the conjunction under one commercial banner. Intel will begin selling the pair as a bundle to start with, but aims to unify the systems into a single chip in due course.

“As part of Intel, we will create market-leading programmable logic devices that deliver a wider range of capabilities than customers experience today,” Dan McNamara, Corporate Vice President and General Manager of the Programmable Solutions Group at Intel, and former Altera employee, added. “Combining Altera’s industry-leading FPGA technology and customer support with Intel’s world-class semiconductor manufacturing capabilities will enable customers to create the next generation of electronic systems with unmatched performance and power efficiency.”

Judge Rules NVIDIA Violated Three Samsung Patents – Sales Ban Threatened

NVIDIA must be regretting filing the lawsuit accusing of Samsung of building GPUs without permission – surreptitiously claiming that NVIDIA invented the GPU – that it subsequently lost back in October. Samsung filed a countersuit against NVIDIA, alleging that the latter was infringing on a number of its patents. Judge David Shaw of the United States International Trade Commission (ITC) has now ruled that NVIDIA is indeed in violation of three of Samsung’s patents.

While the decision is not yet final, the judge considers NVIDIA to be in violation of Samsung’s US6147385US6173349, and US7804734 patents, for an SRAM module, a shared strobe buffer, and data strobe buffer, respectively.

Samsung argued during the case that its patents allowed chip manufacturers to put “what used to fill an entire circuit board with dozens of discrete components all onto a single chip the size of your thumbnail.”

If the ruling enforced, it could result in a sales ban of any infringing  NVIDIA chip. However, patent US6173349 expires during 2016, so any ban against technology that violates that patent would only be in effect for a matter of months.

Following the decision, NVIDIA’s stock dropped by 27 cents to $32.66 during after-hours trading.

“We are disappointed,” said  NVIDIA spokesperson Hector Marinez, in a statement to Bloomberg. “We look forward to seeking review by the full ITC which will decide this case several months from now.”

Samsung has yet to comment on the matter.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

US Researchers Develop Light-Based CPU

A group of researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder, the University of California, Berkeley, and the Massachusetts Institute of technology have created a CPU that eschews electricity to transfer data in favour of light, which operates at astronomical speeds but uses a fraction of the energy required to run a standard processor. The remarkable photonic chip has been revealed in a new paper published in the academic journal Nature.

“Light based integrated circuits could lead to radical changes in computing and network chip architecture in applications ranging from smartphones to supercomputers to large data centers, something computer architects have already begun work on in anticipation of the arrival of this technology,” Miloš Popović, Assistant Professor at CU-Boulder’s Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering and a co-corresponding author of the study, told CU News Center.

Measuring in at 3mm by 6mm, the photonic CPU operates at a bandwidth density of 300 gigabits per second per square millimetre, a rate of up to 50 times higher than that of the conventional electrical-based microprocessors of the current market. The chip uses 850 optical input/output (I/O) components to transmit data at superfast speeds.

“One advantage of light based communication is that multiple parallel data streams encoded on different colors of light can be sent over one and the same medium – in this case, an optical wire waveguide on a chip, or an off-chip optical fiber of the same kind that as those that form the Internet backbone,” he Popović, adding, “Another advantage is that the infrared light that we use – and that also TV remotes use – has a physical wavelength shorter than 1 micron, about one-hundredth of the thickness of a human hair,” said Popović. “This enables very dense packing of light communication ports on a chip, enabling huge total bandwidth.”

AMD’s New AM4 Chips Could be Set for Spring 2016 Launch

AMD’s new line of CPUs and APUs are hotly awaited amongst hardware enthusiasts and long-time fans of the company. These new chips, set to make use of AMD’s upcoming AM4 socket have been the subject of a number of leaks, the latest of which saw a number of AM4 products being spotted on a leak from Zauba’s shipping database. The leak included mention of multiple components, with both an AM4 quad-core CPU, quad-core GPU and also an AM4 motherboard.

The leak shows that the components had been shipped to AMD’s testing facility in India, and WCCFtech believe that they belong to the Bristol Ridge family of APUs. As can be seen, 3 different batches of deliveries were made in late October and early November. Included in these were a batch of AM4 APU prototypes and a further batch of AM4 CPU prototypes, both with a TDP of 65W. The later of the shippings included an AM4 motherboard with the FOC acronym, MYRTLE codename and mentioned DDR4 support. FOC stands for Full Operational Capacity, meaning it is likely that the AM4 motherboard specifications are complete.

When you start to aggregate the data on AMD’s leaks, it starts to paint a picture of just when the chips could be released. A leaked BIOS microcode update three months ago showed the addition of functionality for AMD’s new AM4 chips. And WCCFTech notes that the last leak on a chip sent for testing, the mobile chip Carrizo, saw the chips being released just 4 months later.

This all could mean that AMD’s new shot at the gaming CPU crown could be on the way soon, both with its high-end Summit Ridge chips, and more budget all-in-one Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge APU chips. The question of whether AMD will be able to oust Intel from their position at the top, which has seemed secure for many years now, and return to the days of the Athlon remains to be seen.

AMD Begins Transition to Socket AM4 Zen Architecture

Documents have surfaced, via Benchlife.info, that suggest AMD is starting its transition from Excavator architecture to Zen architecture, with the company’s new Socket AM4 arriving on new motherboards by March 2016.

AMD has been using its Socket AM3 for over six years, so is well overdue an upgrade. The AM4 socket will support both Zen CPUs and Bristol Ridge APUs, plus DDR4 RAM and future FX CPU and APU support. DDR3 will not be supported, however. The 14nm Zen processors will support Simultaneous Multi-Threading Support Technology (SMT), allowing a performance increase of up to 40% Instruction Per Clock (IPC).

Recent unverified reports suggest that the Zen architecture has been fully tested by AMD and has “met all expectation[s]” with no “significant bottlenecks”, with hopes high that the new processor line could rejuvenate the ailing chipmaker and be more “competitive against Intel” following the relative failure of its Fury GPU series this year.

AMD’s Zen architecture, built on the company’s new 14nm process, will prioritise increasing per-core performance over core count and multi-threading, and will sport 95W TDP.

The Zen’s March release date, which constituted an independent rumour last week, is sooner than expected, which was projected for a Q4 2016 release. This separate leak seems to corroborate the early release.

Intel’s Broadwell-E i7-6950X Rumoured to Have 10 Cores and 20 Threads with 25MB Cache

Intel’s new Broadwell-E processors are due for launch during the first quarter of 2016, and a potential leak has revealed that its top-end model, the i7-6950X, will feature 10 cores, up to 20 threads, and a 25MB cache.

According to Chinese tech website Xfastest, the i7-6950X will surpass expectations, boasting more than the 8 cores and 16 threads previously expected, and offering significantly greater specs than the previous Broadwell architecture.

Xfastest’s report reads (translation courtesy of iLeakStuff):

“Some people may think that Intel’s new processor will go as high as 8 cores and 16 threads, but in fact is not the case, this time Intel will launch four new processors: New models are i7-6950X, i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7- 6800K, where i7-6950X is the Extreme versions of the same frequency and i7-5960X, the clock is 3.0GHz and support Intel Turbo boost, but the number of cores increase into 10 cores, plus HT technical support, up to 20 threads, and the cache capacity are further enhanced from Broadwell, from the original 20MB cache now becomes 25MB”

“Intel Broadwell-E processors use X99 PCH, currently marketed X99 motherboard can receive BIOS update to support the new CPUs i7-6950X, i7-6900K, i7-6850K and i7-6800K, so you do not have to re- buy motherboards”

Intel Unveils Three Free Game Promotion on Select Core i7 CPUs

Intel’s flagship mainstream and enthusiast processors incur a hefty price increase compared to their i5 counterparts. Despite this, the lack of competition in the elite CPU tier, means Intel can charge extremely high prices and still manage to shift a large number of units. This is illustrated rather well by the current Skylake pricing scheme. For example, in the UK, an i7-6700K varies dramatically in price between £270-£360. Arguably, this is due to supply issues, but I haven’t seen any substantial reductions as of yet.

As you might expect, Skylake is designed to replace many of the older CPU architectures and Intel has launched an intriguing promotion on select models. When you purchase any qualifying product, Intel will provide a ‘Master Key’ which grants access to the Intel Enthusiast Game Voucher. The voucher contains the following three free games which apparently equates to $124.98:

  • Counter Strike: GO ($14.99 Value)
  • Just Cause 3 ($59.99 Value)
  • World of Warships ($50 Value)

According to early listings from Newegg, it appears the promotion only applies to the following CPUs:

This is subject to change, but the key omissions are the i7-4770K and i7-4790K. This is bizarre considering these two chips have been the primary choice for the enthusiast market. However, perhaps Intel feels there’s no need to incentive sales on the i7-4770K and i7-4790K. This exercise appears to be designed to shift old stock, and transfer people to Intel’s latest products.

The promotion is valid until the 15th February 2016 from participating retailers.

Qualcomm Officially Unveils the Snapdragon 820 Processor

Qualcomm has officially unveiled its new Snapdragon 820 Processor at an event in New York City. A number of leaks have already revealed the Snapdragon 820’s benchmark, as well as rumours that the chip is prone to overheating.

“As one of the most cutting-edge mobile processors ever created,” Qualcomm’s site reads, “the Qualcomm® Snapdragon 820 processor with X12 LTE supports the ultimate in connectivity, graphics, photography, power and battery efficiency.”

The Snapdragon 820 is X12 LTE-enabled through its new set of modems, capable of achieving Cat 12 downlink speeds of up to 600Mbps vai 3x20MHz Carrier Aggregation support, 33% faster than the X10 LTE equivalent, plus Cat 13 uplink speeds of up to 150Mbps though 64-QAM (Quadrature Amplitude Modulation) support.

Qualcomm’s chip features a Quad-core, custom 64-bit Kyro CPU (of up to 2.2GHz) and a Hexagon 680 DPS, bringing with them improvements to performance (double the previous iteration) and battery life, plus an Adreno 530 GPU, increasing graphics performance by 40% while drawing less power than the Adreno 430. The chip supports camera sensors of up to 28-megapixels, 4K video capture, playback, and display output, and LPDDR4 1866MHz dual-channel RAM. It also supports Quick Charge 3.0, USB 3.0, and Bluetooth 3.0.

Full specifications for the Qualcomm Snapdragon 820:

CPU

Up to 2.2 GHz quad-core (Quad-core custom 64-bit Qualcomm® Kryo)

GPU

Qualcomm® Adreno 530 GPU

Up to OpenGL ES 3.1+

DSP

Qualcomm® Hexagon 680 DSP

Camera

Up to 28 MP

Qualcomm® Spectra Image Sensor Processor (14-bit dual-ISP)

Video

Up to 4K Ultra HD capture and playback

H.264 (AVC)

H.265 (HEVC)

Display

4K Ultra HD on-device

4K Ultra HD output

1080p and 4K external display support

Charging

Qualcomm® Quick Charge 3.0   LTE Connectivity

LTE Connectivity

Snapdragon X12 LTE with Global Mode

LTE Cat 12/13 (up to 600 Mbps DL 150 Mbps UL)

Up to 600 Mbps, 256-QAM DL

Up to 150 Mbps UL, 64-QAM UL

Carrier Aggregation

3x20MHz DL, 2X20MHz UL

Global Mode

  • LTE FDD and TDD
  • WCDMA (DB-DC-HSDPA, DC-HSUPA)
  • TD-SCDMA
  • EV-DO and CDMA 1x
  • GSM/EDGE

Additional features include:

  • LTE/Wi-FI link aggregation
  • LTE-U
  • LTE Broadcast
  • LTE Dual SIM, Dual Active (DSDA)
  • HD Voice over 3G and VoLTE
  • Wi-Fi calling with LTE call continuity

Wi-Fi

Qualcomm® VIVE 802.11ac

2×2 MU-MIMO

Tri-band Wi-Fi

RF

Qualcomm® RF360 front end solution

Location

Qualcomm® IZat Gen8C Security

Security

Qualcomm® Haven Security Suite:

  • Qualcomm® SecureMSM hardware and software
  • Snapdragon StudioAccess Content Protection
  • Qualcomm® SafeSwitch theft prevention solution
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon Sense ID 3D fingerprint technology
  • Qualcomm® Snapdragon Smart Protect

Storage

UFS 2.0

eMMC 5.1

SD 3.0 (UHS-I)

Memory

LPDDR4 1866MHz dual-channel

Process Technology

14 nm

USB

USB 3.0/2.0

Bluetooth

Bluetooth 4.1

NFC

Supported

Part Number

8996

AMD Investing Heavily to “Win the Graphics Battle”

AMD has been having a rough time as of late, reporting a net loss of $197 million during the third-quarter of 2015, forcing the company into initiating a restructure that will cut 5% of its workforce globally. AMD’s EMEA Component Sales Manager Neil Spicer, however, has told CRN that he is “confident” that the company’s fortunes will turn, and if it “invest[s] heavily” it can “[win] the graphics war”.

“From a personal stance, I am confident [we can be profitable],” Spicer said. “I believe we are working with exactly the right customers, and over the last few years we have become much simpler to execute and do business with.”

“Moving forwards to 2016, we have to have profitable share growth,” he said, adding that AMD must carefully invest in the right areas. “So it’s choosing the right business to go after, both with the company itself and the ecosystem of partners. There is no point in us as a vendor chasing unprofitable partners.”

AMD is still hoping to ride the wave of Windows 10, released this Summer, and the upgrade cycle it has already initiated. “We want to focus [in the areas] we are good at – that’s where we are going to invest heavily. That’s things like winning the graphics battle with gaming and so forth, and we want to be part of this Windows 10 upgrade cycle,” Spicer said.

“Our hope is through our education and market knowledge, that the reseller building that PC for the local dentist or butchers will be building it through an AMD platform,” he added. “Because for £300, or whatever price is decided between the reseller and the business, we should be able to bring better or more performance for the same price point, than our competitors.”

In addition to more focused investment, Spicer say the company intends to form closer relations with its resellers, making the business of selling AMD products more profitable for every party involved. “With the channel you have to measure what’s important to channel customers, so with things like profitability in the channel,” he said. “We want people happily making money on selling AMD products. We don’t have the luxury of being a loss leader; people want profitability selling our products.”

“We are really focused on profitability in the channel, and part of that is also to clear inventory. We don’t want customers sat on weeks and weeks of inventory, because they are putting cash on something that is not selling. So we focus heavily on sell out. That’s with a number of things, such as marketing resources, education training. So we are focused heavily on that from a channel perspective.”

AMD will also no doubt also be hoping that GlobalFoundaries’ newly-developed 14nm FinFET process will give the company a boost.

GlobalFoundaries Builds First AMD Chips on 14nm FinFET process

GlobalFoundaries has proudly revealed that it has built its first AMD chips on its advanced 14nm FinFET process, involving LPP silicon, with AMD planning to integrate the results into its products, including CPUs, GPUs, and APUs, soon. The process allows chips to deliver greater processing power over a smaller area while drawing less power to do so.

“FinFET technology is expected to play a critical foundational role across multiple AMD product lines, starting in 2016,” Mark Papermaster, AMD‘s Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, said. “GlobalFoundaries has worked tirelessly to reach this key milestone on its 14LPP process. We look forward to GlobalFoundaries’ continued progress towards full production readiness and expect to leverage the advanced 14LPP process technology across a broad set of our CPU, APU, and GPU products.”

“Our 14nm FinFET technology is among the most advanced in the industry, offering an ideal solution for demanding high-volume, high-performance, and power-efficient designs with the best die size,” Mike Cadigan, Senior Vice President of Product Management for GlobalFoundaries, added. “Through our close design-technology partnership with AMD, we can help them deliver products with a performance boost over 28nm technology, while maintaining a superior power footprint and providing a true cost advantage due to significant area scaling.”

After qualifying its 14nm process during the third-quarter of this year, GlobalFoundaries will be ” ramping with production-ready yields” and “excellent model-to-hardware correlation” at its Fab 8 facility in New York, with full-scale production intended during 2016.

Class Action Lawsuit Launched Against AMD Over Bulldozer Core Count

AMD is set to face legal action over claims that it falsely advertised one of its previous generation CPU architectures. The Bulldozer CPU had a mixed response when released, due in part to its unique design which hampered the chip’s competition against Intel’s equivalent processor. Now, according to Legal Wire, AMD is set for a belated kicking over the Bulldozer architecture after a class-action lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The lawsuit alleges that AMD falsely advertised its Bulldozer CPUs as having eight cores, despite the chip being unable to handle eight instructions simultaneously, and thus is guilty of false advertising, fraud, breach of express warrant, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment under the Consumer Legal Remedies Act of California’s Unfair Competition Law.

The trouble stems from the Bulldozer’s “Clustered Integer Core” micro-architecture, which combines two integer cores with a one floating-point core and a shared L2 cache, with multiple modules combined to form the CPU. But, according to Tony Dickey who filed the suit, the two integer cores cannot operate independently, which leaves the chips only able to operate four simultaneous commands, not eight.

Dickey claims that “tens of thousands of consumers” that do not understand the complexity of CPUs have been fooled into buying chips that cannot operate in the same manner as a “true eight-core” processor would, causing “material performance degradation”.

Image courtesy of Softpedia.

AMD Zen Rumoured to Have Passed Testing With Flying Colours

AMD’s next-gen x86 CPU core architecture, codenamed Zen, has, according to rumour, been fully tested and has “met all expectation [sic]” with no “significant bottlenecks”. A source told WCCFTech that AMD and its partners are “very excited” over Zen, and that the chip could help the company be more “competitive against Intel” following the poor reception to its Fury GPU series this year.

The full text, shared by a commenter calling themselves ‘Lurker’, reads:

“Regarding Zen performance, a guy who worked for AMD (at least his linkedin profile says that) and who, as he claims, worked on designing L2 cache for Zen and K12 said that their focus was to be competitive against Intel. He no longer works there but apparently his old colleague who still works there said Zen chips have already been tested and so far “it has met all expectation” [sic] and they “haven’t found any significant bottlenecks”. Apparently they haven’t finalized the specifications for the clocks and TDP, but their partners in server market are “very excited”.

It’s not much detail, but I think if there was a problem from having only 2 AGUs, it would count as a significant bottleneck. Also this is my first post ever, I just usually lurk here and this is the first time I have something useful to add to the discussion. Please no bully.”

AMD’s 14nm Zen processors will support DDR4 memory and Simultaneous Multi-Threading Support Technology (SMT), allowing a performance increase of up to 40% Instruction Per Clock (IPC). The K12 will be Zen’s ARM equivalent.

The report from WCCFTech’s source regarding the AMD Zen and K12 CPUs has not yet been verified, so should not be taken as fact.

Image courtesy of Technologia.

Google Could be Building Its Own Processors

Reports suggest that Google will soon start building its own processors. While the Cupertino company has long relied on other vendors for its chips, with the new Google Pixel C tablet, set for release later this year, running on an NVIDIA Tegra X1, a new job posting for the Mountain View, California Pixel C team shows Google are searching for a Multimedia Chip Architect. The Pixel C is described by Google CEO Sundar Pichai as the “first Android tablet built end-to-end by Google.”

According to the job posting, the responsibilities for the Multimedia Chip Architect will be:

  • Propose chip architecture based on product requirements
  • Prototype design in FPGA or simulator
  • Evaluate performance of various performance algorithms
  • Lead a chip development effort
  • Work with other engineers to take chip to product shipment

“Normally, I wouldn’t read too much into a job posting because often system designers need people with chip-level expertise,” chip analyst Jim McGregor told Business Insider. “However, with the trend towards vertical integration, especially at Microsoft and Apple, it wouldn’t surprise me if Google developed their own chips, especially for Android productivity tablets to compete with the Surface Pro and iPad Pro.”

Google has declined to comment on the job posting or any potential plans to build its own processors.

Image courtesy of TechRadar.

Leak Reveals Intel’s 14nm Xeon-D and Pentium-D Line-up

Intel first unveiled its Xeon-D processors, built on the 14nm Broadwell architecture and high-powered SoCs, way back in September 2014, but now, thanks to CPU World, we now have an updated line-up for both the Xeon-D and Pentium-D ranges, which now includes 12 and 16 core SKUs and caches of 18 to 24MB caches.

When we first glimpsed the Intel Xeon-D platform – formerly known as Broadwell DE – it consisted of the D-1518, D-1528, D-1537, D-1548, plus the Pentium D 1503, D 1507, D 1517. The updated line-up now includes the high-end Xeon D-1577, Xeon D-1567 and Xeon D-1557. The premier Xeon D-1577 boasts 16/32 cores/threads plus a 24MB cache. While the price is unknown, it is expected to launch during the 4th quarter of 2015.

The full updated line-up courtesy of WCCF Tech can be seen below:

SKU Cores/Threads Cache TDP Launch Date
Xeon D – 1577 16/32 24 MB (TBC) Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1567 12 or 16 Cores (TBC) 18 or 24 MB (TBC) (TBC) Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1557 12/24 18 MB (TBC) Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1548 8/16 12 MB 45W Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1537 8/16 12 MB 35W Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1528 6/12 9 MB 35W Q4 2015
Pentium D – 1519 4 or 6 Cores (TBC) 6 or 9 MB (TBC) (TBC) Q4 2015
Xeon D – 1518 4/8 6 MB 35W Q4 2015
Pentium D – 1517 4/4 6 MB 25W Q4 2015
Pentium D – 1507 2/2 3 MB 25W Q4 2015
Pentium D – 1503 2/2 3 MB 17W Q4 2015

Upcoming AMD 8-Core CPU Performance Leaked

Benchmarks of AMD’s upcoming “Heirofalcon” SOC have been leaked which indicate the chip’s capabilities and astonishing power to performance ratio. The SOC features 8 ARM 64-bit A57 cores operating at a frequency of 2.0GHz while only utilizing a maximum TDP of 30w. In terms of its specification, the Heirofalcon SOC is based on the 28nm manufacturing process and contains 4MB of L2 cache. Additionally, the CPU has a dual-channel DDR3/DDR4 memory controller with ECC support up to speeds of 1866MHz. As a result, the chip is incredibly versatile.

AMD plans to release a number of different versions with varying wattage demands which should relate to frequency alterations. Rather surprisingly, the leaked benchmarks provide a great amount of detail and include comparisons to older AMD chips. Please note, the benchmark was conducted using an early engineering sample which might not reflect the final version.

As we can see from the data, AMD’s Hierofalcon performs exceedingly well for an ARM-based CPU given the low TDP and 2.0GHz frequency. 

In multi-core workloads, the chip once again manages to achieve great results, but falls well behind in tasks like kPipe. However, this is expected given its core architecture.

Finally, we can see the power efficiency rating across various benchmarks which shows how amazingly efficient the Hierofalcon CPU is. Throughout testing, the results were extremely consistent and signified a return to form. As always, it’s important to take any leaked benchmarks with a grain of salt, but the Hierofalcon looks very promising!

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information. 

DARPA Developing On-Chip Liquid Cooling

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is helping to develop on-chip liquid cooling for field-programmable gate array (FPGA) systems that could easily be adapted for use with CPUs and GPUs. On-chip cooling of this manner would allow manufacturers to shrink the size of processors without having to consider the addition of heatsinks and fans, while increasing the lifespan of chips.

Thomas E. Sarvey, Graduate Research Assistant at the Georgia Institute of Technology, presented the paper Embedded Cooling Technologies for Densely Integrated Electronic Systems, revealing its on-chip liquid cooling research to date, during the IEEE Custom Integrated Circuits Conference 2015.

“We have eliminated the heat sink atop the silicon die by moving liquid cooling just a few hundred microns away from the transistors,” Muhannad Bakir, Associate Professor and ON Semiconductor Junior Professor in the Georgia Tech School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, said. “We believe that reliably integrating microfluidic cooling directly on the silicon will be a disruptive technology for a new generation of electronics.”

The research team cut microfluidic channels into the surface of the FPGA devices and attached a bespoke Altera-supplied water cooling system. It demonstrated the set-up, using another air-cooled FPGA for comparison, to DARPA. The liquid cooled chip clocked in at 24oC, compared to 60oC with the air-cooled control test.

Thank you The Stack for providing us with this information.

Reports of iPhone 6S & Plus Randomly Powering Down

Smartphones have moved on leaps and bounds over the last decade, the processing power which is confined within a portable device is quite mind-blowing. But, these devices do have their problems which include generally poor battery life and a tendency to break if dropped, unlike that Nokia 1100 model which would puncture the floor while leaving the phone unharmed.

Talking of glitches, there seems to be a new problem which has been reported by many consumers who have upgraded to iOS 9 while using the iPhone 6S and iPhone Plus. According to reports via various tech forums, the devices in question “randomly and unexpectedly power off” which is certainly inconvenient. Users also report that their phones power down even if the battery is fully charged while others have noticed the home button felt warm or even hot. These reports have been mainly attributed to the above models, although one consumer noted similar problems on the iPhone 5S.

Below are responses from consumers concerning this issue

“I overslept this morning, because my phone quit working overnight! (no alarm) I tried the power button, but it was unresponsive. When I went to try a hard reset, I BURNED my finger on the home button”

The screen was off, and the phone rang. The screen remained dark, but the ringing kept going, but couldn’t be answered. The home button was EXTREMELY hot, and the only way to get the screen back on was to hard boot it (home and power buttons)”

“Happened twice, bought 6s+ (9.1 beta 2) on Friday was dead on Saturday night while charging. Happened again Monday afternoon. Reset all settings and nothing since. Am currently running beta 3.”

Consumers have since upgraded their phones to iOS 9.0.2 and are waiting to see if the problem reappears. There is speculation although no firm conclusion as of yet that the glitches might be down to the A9 processor within the iPhone 6S, which had two manufacturers; TSMC and Samsung.

Unfortunately, the nature and power of these phones will always lead to glitches and errors, Apple will need to ensure such instances are dealt with in a speedy manner with the aim of avoiding potential negative consumer views of the brand. Consumers will also be hoping that any bug fix updates do not introduce new problems to their devices, as in the case of the botched bug fix for iOS 8.

Thank you cnet and macrumors for providing us with this information.

AMD Introduces PRO A-Series Processors

AMD introduced its most powerful line of AMD PRO A-Series mobile and desktop processors to date, formerly codenamed Carrizo PRO and Godavari PRO. Along with the new APUs, AMD also introduced the AMD PRO Control Center that features easy-to-use tools such as AMD Energy Saver, PC Health Center, USB Blocker, and Wireless Display.

Mobile users can now utilize even more AMD power than ever before as AMD is introducing the first AMD PRO A12 processor, the fastest to date. It comes with 4 CPU cores with a clock up to 3.4GHz and 8 GPU Radeon R7 cores with up to 800MHz and 512 graphics compute cores. The new APUs also feature a hardware level ARM TrustZone where sensible tasks can be run in a secure environment and it is the first commercial processor in the industry designed to be compliant with the Heterogenous Systems Architecture 1.0 (HSA).

Key features of the new AMD PRO mobile processor include:

  • First commercial processor in the industry designed to be compliant with the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) 1.0 specification to make programming accelerators such as the GPU far simpler, leading to greater application performance at low power consumption.
  • First ARM TrustZone capable commercial performance APU with a dedicated AMD Secure Processor. ARM TrustZone runs on top of the hardware enabling sensitive tasks to run on the AMD Secure Processor – in the “secure world” – while other tasks are run in “standard operation.”
  • First commercial performance APU with a true System-on-Chip (SoC) design to provide substantial gains in CPU, graphics and multimedia performance.
  • First commercial processor with High-Efficiency Video Compression (HEVC) decoder capability for mainstream notebooks to stream HD and Ultra HD content.

The AMD PRO desktop chips retain the same socket as the previous APUs but come with enhanced performance. AMD didn’t reveal what the exact model names are or what they are called, but they should be available in HP products starting yesterday and recognizable through the AMD PRO label.

Microsoft’s AMD Buyout Unlikely as Stock Drops 7%

Shares in chip maker AMD have dropped by 15 cents (7%) to $1.86, marking a huge decline following its 9% gain in the wake of rumours of a buyout by Microsoft. The sudden fall in stock prices in conjunction with the buyout rumours makes any potential purchase by Microsoft unlikely, with Citigroup analyst Chris Danely saying, “we seriously doubt it.”

On Friday, Fuad Abazovic of Fudzilla cited anonymous “industry sources” attesting that “Microsoft is seriously talking to AMD about buying the chipmaker,” apparently motivated by a desire to gain full control over the microprocessor that powers its Xbox One console.

Danely, however, points to a number of hurdles that make a Microsoft purchase of AMD unfeasible. “Microsoft collaborates heavily with Intel in OS development and PC platform standards (bios, firmware, drivers, etc.),” Danely said. “Also, AMD’s core microprocessor business (roughly 30% of sales) continues to lose share and money. We note any company that acquires AMD will need to renegotiate the x86 cross-licensing agreement with Intel – a cumbersome process, in our view.”

He caveats that, though, by saying that Microsoft could conceivably gain control over parts of AMD, such as the semi-custom business that builds the Xbox chips.  “We could envision a scenario in which Microsoft acquires AMD’s semi-custom processor businesses (roughly 37% of 2Q15 sales) although we believe it is unlikely AMD would sell its semi-custom business given it’s the only major business that is profitable for them.”

“Microsoft already utilizes AMD’s semi-custom processor in its XBOX One console, and the semi-custom business is AMD’s most profitable product line with mid-teens operating margins,” Donely added. “The biggest complication here would be a potential conflict of interest as AMD also provides semi-custom silicon into the competing Sony Playstation 4 console”

“Microsoft could also be interested in acquiring AMD’s graphics business (roughly 12% of 2Q15 sales). Although AMD’s GPU unit share has declined almost 50% over the last 5 years from 51.1% 2Q10 in to just 26.9% in 2Q15, we believe the former ATI graphics division still has valuable IP as it relates to Microsoft’s efforts in PC gaming and virtual reality. Microsoft recently announced its own virtual reality headset, HoloLens.”

Thank you Barron’s for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechWeek Europe.