More Rumors Are Unveiled Regarding The Nintendo NX

Nintendo’s upcoming console has been the subject of numerous reports, leaks and even an elaborate hoax which many believed was a genuine source. Reports have suggested the NX will be a hybrid handheld/home console device offering greater performance than the PlayStation 4. However, it’s incredibly difficult to know what the real truth is because patents don’t always come to fruition. They’re concepts, and a way of protecting prototyped ideas. Whatever the case, the rumor mill is bound to continue until Nintendo makes some kind of official unveiling. The latest rumour comes from Reddit user, untypedhero who claims:

“As promised, I’ve decided to share some more NX information with you. This is second-hand information from trusted sources (like last time) and I have little reason to doubt its validity.

Here you go:

  • x86 architecture.
  • Backup data to Nintendo server (most likely My Nintendo).
  • Support for additional screen.
  • Can handle ports of current-gen games.
  • Will be able to interact with smartdevice apps.
  • Using NX software will unlock My Nintendo reward points.”

As always, it’s important to adopt a sceptical attitude especially when the information comes from one source. However, according to a moderator, the user’s background and credibility has been verified:

“This user has been verified by the mod team. We have confirmed that he has connections to Wii U developer(s) and/or development hardware and very likely has knowledge about the NX via those same connections. This verification is sort of general/open-ended and I unfortunately cannot verify specific details on a point by point basis.”

The X86 architecture would make porting of current generation games fairly simple and help forge the NX’s third-party library. This is essential when you consider how much Nintendo struggled to attract third-party developers on the Wii U. Hopefully, Nintendo will divulge some official information soon to stop the constant flow of leaks from various sources.

AMD Zen 8 Core Engineering Sample Runs at 3Ghz

AMD’s upcoming Zen architecture is arguably the most anticipated hardware release this year. After years in the wilderness, AMD will finally come back with a new CPU design that will challenge Intel again on IPC, process node and power efficiency. According to the latest leak, it appears that Zen is progressing well enough that engineering samples have already been distributed to various partners for testing. This also means AM4 motherboards are already sampling as well.

These stepping A0 samples are that of the previously rumoured 95W, 8 core Zen CPU. That AMD has managed to get an 8 core CPU in a 95W thermal envelope is stunning and combined with the early engineering sample release, points to a strong 14nm LPP process. What’s more, the frequency isn’t a slouch, at 3Ghz base though boost isn’t enabled yet. This is pretty much the same as the base clocks for Intel’s own prosumer i7 5960X which sports 8 cores as well at 3Ghz base and 3.5Ghz boost. We can expect the Es to set the baseline so release Zen will almost certainly clock higher.

At 3GHz, the engineering sample is already faster than the first Bulldozer ones suggesting that 14nm LPP won’t be holding back frequency too much. After all, Intel’s own 14nm process has performed better than their 22nm. Samsung and Global Foundries have also had plenty of time to refine their 14nm process to ensure it will offer the best performance at launch. Hopefully, AMD will be able to be competitive in both IPC and overclocking.

AMD 8 Core Zen 95W CPU May Launch in October

With each passing week, it seems like more rumors are coming concerning AMD’s upcoming Zen processors. From previous reports, we had expected AMD to release Zen near the tail end of 2016 but revenue from the new CPUs was not expected till early 2017. According to the latest rumour though, AMD may have Zen out a bit earlier than expected, with an 8-core chip coming out as early as October, meaning there could be significant revenue from Black Friday and the holiday season.

An October launch pretty much falls smack dab in the middle of AMD’s late 2016/Q4 confirmed launch window. With an 8-core chip with potential SMT (Simultaneous Multi-Threading) for 16 threads, AMD is striking with a strong with a very competitive chip. Currently, Intel only has one consumer 8-core in the 5960X which is pretty pricey with a large TDP. An 8-core variant would also entice AMD users to consider an upgrade earlier as it doubles the thread count of current Piledriver CPUs on top of the 40%+ IPC increase.

Launching under the Summit Ridge series, the 8-core also boasts a positively regular TDP at 95W. This considers favorably with what Intel has to offer, especially considering AMD is offering double the core count. This is probably due to toned down clock speeds, improved efficiency and the new 14nmLPP process, providing AMD with a jump of 3 process nodes. Intel, for instance, cut power by about 30%+ when they moved from 32nm to 14nm, at the while increasing performance.

Key to Zen, of course, will be how well it will perform. Based on AMD’s figures and what we have been able to glean from multiple leaks,  Zen should hover around Haswell levels of IPC. The bigger question is how AMD prices Zen, though many will undoubtedly jump at the chance to buy a once again, IPC competitive AMD CPU. Hopefully, AMD’s expectations for Zen hold true. I for one, am finally hoping we will see 8C/16T CPUs enter the realm of mainstream hardware.

AMD Patch Reveals Zen Cache Changes

With AMD CPU market share down in the pits, everyone is looking towards Zen to give Intel some competition in the high-end segment. Even with DX12 reducing the need for a strong single threaded CPU, there is nothing like a good architecture that can compete with Intel, especially in non-gaming applications. In their latest patch dealing with Zen, AMD has revealed some more details about the inner workings of their upcoming CPUs, with the focus on the caches.

First off, Zen will introduce a new L0 cache, meaning that there will actually be 4 levels of cache. The L0 cache is a uOp cache, something Intel added back with Sandy Bridge. Paired with the uOp buffer, this will help reduce power consumption when running loops or if something needs to be re-executed quickly. Intel’s cache is 1.5KB so we can probably expect AMD to follow similarly as speed is more important than size.

Next up are changes to the L1 Instruction and Data caches. The L1 I$ will be 32KB, a drop compared to Steamroller/Excavator  and K10 but back to the same size as Piledriver. The L1 D$ is also expected to be 32KB, a doubling over Steamroller and the same that of Excavator though still lower than K10. The reduced L1 I$ may be offset by the new uOp cache. The L2 may remain the same since the days of K10, with 512KB. This may be a problem if the rumoured inclusive cache design is used as 2304of the rumoured 8MB of L3 will be used in duplicating data. Having everything duplicated in L3 may make for better core-sharing and multi-threaded performance but limits everything to near L3 speeds for cache writes.

Overall, the cache changes suggest a move to ensure faster, rather than large caches. The increases to the caches also point to the focus on keeping the cores fed as well as high-speed cores with a long pipeline. This all helps with the 40%+ IPC improvement AMD is hoping for with Zen. Overall, Zen is looking to be a very wide and balanced design, borrowing from Intel and K10 but without any of the baggage of the past.

AMD Releases VR-Ready CPU List

With the arrival of the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and other VR headsets later this year, the talk has turned to the hardware necessary to drive these displays. Unlike regular gaming, VR gaming will require much higher framerates, meaning higher performing hardware. While Oculus has released their own system hardware checker, it is missing many other potentially workable hardware, something AMD is remediating with their own CPU list.

As expected, the list contains the 2 top end 220W models, the FX 9590 and 9370, AMD’s top CPUs. Further down are the usual suspects for gaming systems, the FX 8370 and 8350 and the more budget FX 6350. Surprisingly, the 2M/4T Steamroller based A10 7890K and 7870K as well as the Athlon X4 880K and 870K. It looks like the list is mostly made up of faster-clocked CPUs either above 3.9Ghz with 3M/6T or based on the new Steamroller architecture. This is expected as VR requires a good amount of single-thread performance and higher frame rates than usual. It’s surprising that we don’t see the FX 4320 and 4350 given that those carry a hefty base clock as well.

Even with this list though, AMD has only tested the FX chips against VR, while the Steamroller chips are theoretically good enough. Intel still holds a strong lead in single-threaded performance so it really depends on how the VR titles if AMD will run well on them. AMD won’t have to worry soon though if Zen delivers later this year.

Intel Admits End to Scaling and Moore’s Law

Even though everyone has pretty much already seen the writing on the wall by now, Intel has remained staunch publicly. At long last, the chip giant is admitting that scaling will have to rely on improvements other than clock speeds. In fact, Intel is going as far to say that the future of semiconductors will rely on technologies that reduce power consumption rather than performance.

According to William Holt, the head of Intel’s Technology and Manufacturing Group, the semiconductor industry will see “major transitions” and the new technology will be “fundamentally different.” In order to continue moving forward, most of the new technologies mostly present a reduction in power consumption but at the cost of clock speeds due to lower switching speeds. This means all performance gains will have to come from improved IPC, new instruction sets and more cores.

With industry leader Intel already having delayed both 14nm and 10nm, it looks like silicon is nearing the end of the road. Even with the use of problematic EUV, the move to alternatives like lead telluride, carbon, Indium antimonide and indium gallium arsenide will likely happen within the decade. Even without major performance gains though, there is going to be a lot of excitement as laptops and mobile devices get better and better battery life.

Leaked Slides Confirm 32 Core AMD Zen Opteron CPUs

For those are hoping for “MOAR COARS”, it looks like AMD will be delivering later this year. First alluded to in a Linux patch last week, AMD’s upcoming Zen Opteron CPUs are set to have up to 32 psychical cores. A leaked slide from CERN reveals that patch was right on target. Combined with the introduction of Symmetrical Multi-threading, this will allow Zen to handle at least 64 threads at once, an unprecedented amount for AMD and quadruple current chips.

In addition to the large core, Zen is expected to bring PCIe 3.0 and DDR4 to AMD’s server offerings. The memory subsystem also gets a major boost with up to 8 channels, double from the current 4 on Socket G34. Compared to Intel’s Haswell-EP, Zen will offer 14 more cores and 28 more threads and double the memory channels. While Broadwell-EP may change things up later this year, AMD may still hold a lead in terms of core and thread count.

Combined with the expected 40% IPC boost, Zen may finally bring AMD back into relevance in the lucrative server and data centre market. AMD has had no real update to their server lineup since 2011, leading to their market share dropping to near zero. With such a major update, AMD will once again be competing in the server market with Opterons that can go toe to toe with Intel. While 32 cores is unlikely for the consumer lineup, a 16 core chip seems pretty likely.

Intel Shuts Down Non-K Skylake Overclocking

When Intel first launched Skylake, one of the first changes we noticed was the uncoupling of the BCLK from other system clocks. Not surprisingly, this led to speculation that overclocking non-K chips using the BCLK would become possible. This eventually happened and many motherboard vendors started advertising the ability to OC non-K CPUs on their Z170 motherboards, allow chips like the i3 to be overclocked. Unfortunately, it looks like Intel is unhappy with this and is forcing motherboard vendors to issue a new BIOS update to remove the ability to overclock non-K chips.

Ever since Sandy Bridge, Intel has tied the BLCK with other clocks like the PCIe and DMI, limiting the ability to overclock as the other buses wouldn’t be able to hit higher speeds. This meant overclocks generally hovered about 3-5Mhz, minuscule compared to the 50% overclocks achieved using the FSB or even with Westmere. In order to access the ability to overclock, Intel made users purchase more expensive K-series CPUs which often had certain features disabled and enforced the use of pricier Z/Q series motherboards.

When Skylake came out with overclocking and heavy advertising support from motherboard vendors, many had hoped that Intel was changing its policies. It appears that motherboard vendors acted on their own though as they have quietly taken down any mention of Skylake overclocking on non-K chips. This is unfortunate for those who bought the Z170 motherboard with the promise of overclocking as they will not be unable to and their resell value has gone down.

For those who want to circumvent the new BIOS, older BIOS version with OC-enabled still exist for now. However, upgrading to the new BIOS may be irreversible so motherboards shipping from the factory now are probably locked down. New BIOS revisions may also feature bug fixes so there is also that to consider. Furthermore, if Intel wanted to, it could ask Microsoft to issue a Windows update to change the microcode of the CPU to disable overclocking. Given that the automatic nature of Windows 10 updates, that may be reason enough to hold off upgrading.

Further AMD Zeppelin and Zen Details Leaked – Up to 32 Cores!

With Zen set to arrive within the year, AMD is starting to get software ready for their revolutionary CPU architecture. According to a new Linux patch, AMD not only has Zen planned for this year but also a previously rumoured but never confirmed Zepplin CPU. Most interestingly is the connection between Zepplin and Zen which takes 3 letters from Zepplin, suggesting that they may be released, just as Piledriver and Vishera were also related for AMD.

According to the patch, Zepplin is part of the AMD’s Family 17h series of chips. This follows the previous 15h Bulldozer and its derivatives and the stellar K8(8h) and K10(10h). The 17h family is also expected to be the one Zen belongs too, with the K12 being the ARM-based lineup coming soon as well.

On Zen, the patch reveals some new information about how the LLC or Last Level Cache, usually the L3. Each Core Complex or Core Cluster of 8 threads shares 1 LLC unit. Given the use of SMT, we can expect Zen to be based on clusters of 4 cores. This is quite expected as larger CPUs use interconnects to link various different clusters of cores and their LLC together in order to function as a larger core. While Intel’s implementation carries a low penalty for accessing the LLC of another cluster in the chip, AMD’s L3 has been less robust so Zen will hopefully remedy this. You can see Intel’s Xeon E7 v3 design below with clusters formed by 2 cores and linked through buffered switches and interconnects.

Finally, Zen is also expected to feature up to 32 physical cores possible with 64 threads in total. This suggests that the massive Zen CPUs rumoured may actually come to fruition. This should allow AMD to take back some of that lucrative data centre and supercomputing market. All that remains is for Zen to finally deliver and bring AMD back into the black.

ASUSTOR NAS Adds Comprehensive Search App QuikFynd

ASUSTOR’s latest NAS feature could be one of the most useful features yet to be added, but it does come with a few things that you should pay attention to before you get too excited. The new feature is called QuikFynd and while it sounds like a frying pan from IKEA, it is an awesome search feature for your NAS.

The first thing that might come between you and the usage of QuikFynd is that it is limited to the x86 based models. This is however a logic limitation as it is a feature that requires some proper performance in order to deliver a workable experience. Also, most ASUSTOR NAS are X86 based, so users of ASUSTOR 2, 3, 6, 31, 50, 51,61, 62, 70 series devices combined with the latest ADM 2.5.2 version and onwards can now find the comprehensive search app QuikFynd in their App Central.

“With data become digitized in exponential amounts, businesses and individual users alike, all face the problematic task of accurately searching for items from amongst thousands of files and terabytes of data. QuikFynd provides a convenient search solution, allowing users to quickly search for target files stored on their NAS according to content, file name or tags.”

After installation, users can open the dedicated interface from the ADM desktop and begin searching or use one of the mobile apps that also should be available now. You have the full privacy of your files as everything is stored on your own server at home.

There is one more thing with ASUSTOR’s QuikFynd that you should pay attention to. There are two different versions of this feature, a Lite version that is free or a Pro version that you’ll need to pay for. Both versions offer search by names and meta-data tags, streaming over local networks, search history, recent items, access from a browser, and access from mobile apps. The Pro version also allows for full-text search, location details from GPS tags, search text within images, stream to remote devices, and result-highlighting.

ASUSTOR is letting you try the Pro version for 3-months without costs, but after that, you’ll have to pay either $20 for a year’s subscription or $60 for a lifetime subscription to the QuikFynd Pro features. As previously mentioned, the apps can be found through your App Central within the ADM and you can find all the details and subscribe on the official website.

Intel Broadwell-E Release Coming Soon – Includes 10 Core 6950X

For those of you waiting for Intel Broadwell-E, they may still be a bit ways away but it looks like they will be right on time. According to early leaks, Intel’s roadmaps pointed to an early Q2 launch the Haswell-E successor. It looks like those leaked roadmaps are right on target as Gigabyte has released a new BIOS update for their X99 series of motherboards. According to the release notes the update is meant to “Support 2016 Q2 coming new CPU” which is likely Broadwell-E.

As the replacement for Haswell-E, the new lineup will continue to use the same X99 and LGA2011-3 platform, meaning an in place upgrade for current users. The new chips will be based on the Broadwell architecture, coming in 4 variants, the 6800K, 6850K, 6900K and 6950X. These will range from the usual 6 cores up to the new monster 10 core 6950X. Don’t expect pricing to change from Haswell-E though as the 6950X is expected to cost 50% more than the 5960X.

With a Q2 launch, Intel has a good chance to lap in some sales before Zen arrives with its rumoured 16-cores. On the flip side, some users may also choose to wait and see what AMD will be offering before sinking their hard-earned cash into some shiny new hardware. On a final note, the new BIOS also notes that “This BIOS prohibits updating to earlier version BIOS” so there will be no turning back.

AMD Zen Ready for OEM High-End PCs by End of Year

After releasing their poor 2015 financial results, AMD does have some more good news coming out for 2016. As most of you will already know, AMD’s upcoming Zen CPUs will launch and become available sometime in late 2016, likely towards the tail end. As part of the financial release, CEO Lisa Su revealed some key details about the Zen timeline. Chief among them is that Zen will be available for OEM partners to ship high-end PCs before the end of the year.

For the past few launches, AMD has suffered from issues of short initial supply, driving up costs for fans and other early adopters. This meant even if AMD has a great product, customers simply could get it and others may be turned away by the inflated prices. OEM partners tend to require and ship a whole lot more CPUs and systems than DIY builders. If AMD is able to supply the OEMs with adequate numbers of Zen chips, it should mean that DIY builders will also be able to purchase them without issue, making for a smooth launch with plenty of product.

OEMs being able to ship Zen systems by years end also points to the fact that Zen will likely be well on time and any issues with the new 14nm LPP process have been resolved. With over 40%+ IPC increase, Zen may finally be what’s needed for AMD to make a comeback in the CPU market.

AMD Expects 40%+ IPC Increase for Zen

After many years of lagging CPU performance, AMD has suffered diminishing market and financial performance. This may change later this year as AMD comes back with their new Zen architecture that AMD originally expected to bring up to 40% IPC increase over their current lineup. According to AMD’s latest report, though, Zen may be performing better than their early estimates, with greater than 40% IPC increase over the current generation.

AMD has long been confident that Zen would deliver on its performance gains. After all, the new architecture is reported to bring instruction set parity with Intel and a reworked and more balanced design. In fact, rumours about a Zen Apple chip have surfaced, which if true, is a strong endorsement for AMD. Zen will also revamp the ageing 9xx series chipset and bring DDR4 and other new technologies with AM4.

While there is much to be optimistic, the biggest disappointment is that the rumour about an early 2016 release is wrong, with the originally suggested late 2016 launch being confirmed. This is despite the tape out having already been completed. The wording for the 40%+ IPC increase also suggests that the increase won’t be much greater than expected, otherwise, numbers like 45% or 50% would have been used. Hopefully, Zen will have what it takes to bring AMD back to the forefront and allow the company to continue with future releases and even stunning designs like this one.

Intel Superclocked Broadwell Xeon Leaked

 

Even as the process nodes continue to decrease year after year, it seems like clock speeds only keep going up. When Intel launched Devil’s Canyon and Skylake, those chips basically had the highest stock frequencies ever shipped by them. An upcoming CPU though may soon top all previous record holders with the highest stock frequency ever. At 5.1Ghz, the reported Xeon E5-2602 V4 will surpass all Intel chips and even AMD’s 9590 which is limited to 5Ghz.

Based off 14nm Broadwell-EP, the 2602 V4 is a surprise given Broadwell hasn’t clocked that well. On the other hand, the 14nm process has been pretty good to overclockers. Being a Xeon, you can sure that the 5.1Ghz speed will be guaranteed and be able to run 24/7. Given the high clock speed, it’s no surprise that the TDP is a whopping 165W. The 2602 V4 is also a quad-core chip with Hyper-Threading, understandable since finding enough cores that can all clock that high. This is backed by 10MB of L3 cache with quad channel DDR4 on LGA 2011-3.

Unfortunately for consumers, the chip is expected to a limited run and only for release to specific enterprise customers. It will likely be used for highly single-threaded workloads that require the high core clocks. Hopefully, there may be some way for consumers to get the chips but given the strict binning, cost is likely astronomical and supply severely limited.

Intel’s 10 Core i7-6950X Cost may be Astronomical

Following right on the heels of the first consumer octa-core i7-5960X CPU, 2016 is the year that we may finally see a deca-core CPU from Intel. Called the i7-6950X, the new chip will be the flagship for Intel’s HEDT Broadwell-E platform. According to a new report though, the price is going way up this time, set for an exorbitant $1500 USD. Compared to previous HEDT flagships, this will be quite a jump.

Broadwell-E will be replacing Intel’s current HEDT platform, Haswell-E, which debuted the i7-5960X octa-core. Broadwell-E also marks the move from Intel’s current 22nm process to the new 14nm process Skylake started using. Broadwell-E will continue to use the same X99 Wellsburg platform as well but introduce BCLK overclocking in addition to the current multiplier based overclocking.

At 10 cores and 20 threads, the 6950X marks a jump of $500 or 50% over the previous asking price of the top chip from Intel. The octa-core 6900K will maintain the $1000 USD pricing set by its predecessor. Even when Intel made the jump from 6 core to 8 cores, they kept the price at $1000. This time, the extra cores and 14nm must either be costing Intel a lot more, or they’ve caught on that enthusiasts are willing to pay any price for top of the line chips.

AMD Unveils New Wraith Stock CPU Cooler @ CES 2016

Over the years, many designs for stock coolers have come and gone, with some good and others bad. Since the launch of AMD’s Bulldozer chips back in 2011, AMD has stuck to pretty much the same stock cooler design. While it’s not terrible, it hasn’t been that great, with high temperatures and noisy operation. To remedy this, AMD is launching an all new cooler, dubbed the Wraith.

With the Wraith, AMD is keeping the basic design, probably for compatibility reasons. Basic operation pretty much is unchanged, with what appears to be copper heat pipes leading away from a copper baseplate. The heat pipes curl around to an aluminium fin array that is cooled by a fan. Much has also changed as well, with the Wraith noticeably taller and beefier than it’s predecessor with a larger fin array. The fan is also improved with better sound characteristics and a black shroud with a lighted AMD logo.

AMD brings themselves one step closer towards parity with Intel who has been steadily improving their own coolers as well. The release of the new stock cooler comes perfectly in time for AMD’s new Zen architecture on 14nm FinFET. Ironically, Zen and the new 14nm FinFET process will likely reduce the heat load put out.

AMD Unifies Desktop Zen CPU and APU Sockets

In the days before AMD launched their APUs, all of their consumer CPUs largely used the socket across their lineup. When AMD launched their Llano series of APUs in 2011, they used the an incompatible FM1 socket instead of the AM3/3+ due to the need to integrate the iGPU. With the subsequent Trinity and Richland APUs, AMD kept a different socket in FM2. This year AMD is finally moving to a unified socket.

Officially confirmed as AM4, this new socket will combine the CPU and APU lineups for AMD. This means users will no longer have to decide which platform as well as chip they want, simplifying the decision to between a CPU or APU. This means users can purchase an APU on a budget and upgrade to a dedicated CPU and GPU later on without having to buy a new motherboard. This should help drive sales of AMD chips since it simplifies choice and offers more flexibility.

In bringing the two platforms together, we can finally expect to see Zen CPUs become a SoC. This is because the APU lineup already has the PCIe lanes tied to the CPU directly which bring along power savings and better performance, something the CPU lineup will finally pick up. Zen is expected to bring DDR4 support along as well. The biggest questions will be AMD have another socket meant for higher end chips like Intel does, whether or not the Zen CPUs will have some form of on-die graphics like Intel does and if AM4 will still be PGA.

AMD Has Multiple Zen Successors Planned

With Zen launching sometime next year, AMD is casting their eyes towards its successors, Zen+ and beyond. While details on either have been scarce, AMD is hoping it that the new architecture will be springboard back into the much more lucrative data centre market. AMD peaked in that segment at 25% marketshare, but that has eroded away to less than 1% now.

According to CEO Lisa Su, Zen is going to start a 3 to 5-year push into data centers. Using the new hardware, AMD is building up a family of cores to ensure the platform as longevity. For the consumer side of things, this probably means that the new AM4 platform will be here to stay for a while. AMD has been known for keeping sockets around for longer periods of time than intel and with the new AM4 platform will likely be very forward-looking.

If AMD is already working on successors, it hopefully means that Zen will be launching very soon. It also hopefully means that AMD is confident that it will deliver enough and be able to evolve in the long-term. One of the biggest issues with Bulldozer and K10 were that those designs couldn’t evolve. Hopefully, the new chips will form a good foundation for AMD to evolve off of, just like how Pentium 3 worked for Intel.

AMD Releases FX-6330 Black Edition CPU

While Zen may still be a long way off, AMD isn’t just sitting around without new CPUs to launch. Stealthily launched, AMD is releasing a new FX-6330 chip to slot into their lineup but unfortunately only for the APAC (Asian Pacific) region for now. Set to replace the aging FX-6300 at a similar price point, the new chip is more of the same, with the same Piledriver architecture and 32nm process. The biggest change is the clock speed which gets a bump up to 3.6/4.2 Ghz, up from 3.5/4.1 Ghz.  Cache sizes remain the same at 6MB of L2 and 8MB of L3.

With speeds like that, the 6330 pretty much slots right under the FX-6350 which features a higher base clock at 3.9/4.1 Ghz. While the new chip is likely only targetted to those already disposed to get the 6300 or 6350, it should offer a better for these customers. Competing against Intel’s i3, the 6330 is a decent offering as it should age better as DX12 lowers driver overhead and allows for better multithreading in games.

The biggest competition though will be existing stock of 6300 chips which should perform really similar to the 6330. The biggest impact will be felt by the new S3.0 stock cooler which should offer much better cooling performance with less noise than previous models. Overall, the 6330 is a decent chip at $109.99 USD but with Zen just around the corner, holding off may be the better option.

Images Courtesy of WCCFTech

Apple Considering Custom AMD Zen SoCs for iMac

Having moved from PowerPC to Intel’s x86 a little under a decade ago, it looks like Apple may be considering a CPU switch again. This time around, the rumours point o a much less dramatic change, with Intel being dropped in favour of AMD. This is due to AMD’s new Zen architecture which is expected to launch next year, with the new chips expected to improve their IPC by 40% and bring them much closer to Intel’s offerings. A move by Apple to use Zen would serve as a high-profile endorsement and an indicator of Zen’s performance.

One of the biggest reasons Apple may consider a change to AMD is due to the latter’s semi-custom designs. AMD allows their customers to make and choose their own style of APU SoC, allowing creative blends like the chips found in the PS4 and XBox One. While Intel’s move towards better iGPUs can be traced partially to pressure from Apple, AMD would allow more flexibility than Intel currently allows. It would allow Apple, for instance, to order a custom APU paired with HBM in a unique configuration available only to Apple.

Another reason is that Apple stands to save a good chunk of cash as AMD chips ar generally cheaper and the 2nd place chip manufacturer is in a worse bargaining position. While Apple could design their own chips, the need for x86 support still requires either Intel or AMD. Supporting AMD also allows Apple to gain a better bargain from Intel if Apple continues to source chips from the latter.

Apple has started a shift to include more AMD chips recently. Despite using Nvidia for a long period, Apple has moved to include AMD’s Radeon 7970, R9 285 and M370X in their systems. A move to using AMD CPUs and APUs makes sense as long as the performance and efficiency are there. As long as Apple can maintain their computing experience for users with ADM chips, it is unlikely many of Apple’s customers will care.

Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information 

Intel Cannonlake Delayed Till Mid 2017 Could Help AMD in a Big Way

Despite all the bad news from AMD thus far, it looks like they’ll be getting a break for next year. According to a rumour, Intel is delaying their Cannonlake CPUs from late 2017/early 2017 to at least the second half of 2017. Given AMD’s launch of their new Zen CPUs will take place around the original Cannonlake launch date, AMD has a chance to make their 14nm offerings before Intel launches the 10nm Cannonlake.

After Sky Lake which launched a few months ago, Intel is expected to follow up with a 14nm refresh named Kaby Lake refresh in early/mid-2016. That was expected to be followed up by the 10nm refresh Cannonlake in late 2016/early 2017. With Cannonlake now pushed back, it pretty much confirms that Intel’s Tick-Tock will have to move to at least 1.5 years and likely closer to 2. Kaby Lake is set to target sales up to week 9/18 of 2017 meaning Cannonlake will come sometime afterwards.

With 10nm pushed back, AMD has the opportunity to launch their own 14nm Zen CPUs in late 2016 against Intel’s 14nm Kaby Lake. While the process nodes are different, on marketing, this is a win and likely a better showing in terms of power and die efficiency. It also means that AMD can target the holiday season relatively unaffected by a new Intel lineup. The delay for Cannonlake also means the Sky Lake architecture successor will be pushed back as well, giving AMD more time to catch up with Zen as Kaby Lake and Cannonlake are not expected to improve IPC too much.

A delay to Cannonlake also means that the rumoured core count increase for the mainstream platform won’t be out yet, giving AMD an opportunity to compete on core counts as well if their IPC falls short of Kaby Lake. Overall though, it drives home that fact that even with their massive resources, Intel is still hitting a wall with newer silicon processes and it’s time to start looking for a successor.

Thank you Benchlife for providing us with this information

AMD Zen and K12 Finalized and Taped Out

Despite pretty dismal Q3 2015 results, AMD looks set for a good late 2016 and 2017. AMD has reportedly completed their next generation Zen and K12 designs and have taped them out. This comes after AMD reported that they have taped out a number of FinFET designs during Q3 2015. With both TSMC’s 16nm FF+ and Global Foundries 14nm LPP both using FinFETs, AMD is set to gain good power savings for their next generation.

When Jim Keller left earlier in the year, there were those that had thought that meant Zen was a failure and unfinished due to Keller’s departure. With this information, we can be pretty confident that Zen is largely Keller’s work and was pretty much done by the time he left. K12 on the other hand is based off of the ARMv8 instruction set and will probably do battle against ARM’s own architectures and the likes of Qualcomm’s Kyro.

With Zen already taped out, a Q4 2016 launch for Zen will probably make it in time. This means in about a year from now, we will finally get AMD’s new architecture in our hands. Zen is expected to bring a 40% IPC improvement over AMD’s latest Excavator design, bringing performance competitive to Intel’s designs.

Qualcomm Unveils 24 Core ARM Server Processor

Ever since ARM took over the mobile world, we’ve been hearing about how the RISC architecture was trying to expand into other higher performance areas. While ARM first entered the server world via relatively weaker micro-servers, it looks like performance options are coming along soon. Qualcomm, one of the major ARM partners and licensees, has unveiled their first 24-core server processor.

Running off the latest ARMv8-A instruction set, the chip will be part of Qualcomm’s Server Development Platform and part of a stack of server tools. While details on the chip itself have been slim, we do know that it is based off a FinFET process, meaning either TSMC 16nm or Samsung 14nm. The core is also fully custom meaning it is not like the A57/A53 found int he Snapdragon 808/810 and given the server environment, probably isn’t Qualcomm’s in-house 64bit Kyro architecture found in the Snapdragon 820.

Along with the Soc, the SDP  also includes server-class PCIe and storage interconnects. Other hardware requirements like ethernet and FPGA are to be proved by Mellanox and Xilinix respectively. On the software side, SDP comes with a software stack capable of running a KVM Linux hypervisor, OpenStack DevStack, and guest Linux distributions running Apache and WordPress as shown in the demo.

With a complete package available, Qualcomm stands a good chance at breaking into the server market. The biggest question is if ARM will be able to bring the same performance to the table as x86 does while still remaining more power efficient and cheap. This is especially true of single threaded IPC where Intel has historically dominated.

AMD Patch Reveals Highly Competitive Zen Architecture Details

All hopes at AMD are pinned on their new Zen CPU architecture performing well against Intel’s currently superior lineup. While we have seen some leaked block diagrams and claims of 40% IPC improvement come out, other details have been scant. We now have a patch that details pretty much what Zen will look like, at least at the block level. Zen is also expected to bring instruction set parity between the two x86 CPU players.

Overall, Zen may have a total of 10 executions ports. These are meant to feed the integer side 4 ALUs and 2 AGUs, and the FPU consisting of 2 128it FMAC, each with 2 128BIT add and 2 128bit mul. There is a chance that AMD will have fewer execution ports as the ALUs may share ports with the FPU. In order to get the most out of the architecture though, having more execution ports is crucial. With such a wide core, AMD will really let their SMT (Hyper-Threading) stretch its legs with mixed workloads.

Compared to Bulldozer, the ALU count remains the same but being in the same core should give a massive boost to single-threaded performance. Zen does lose out 2 AGUs in the process, but that shouldn’t hurt it too much given our experience with K10. The fact they should be AVX2 compatible should also mean improvements on throughput, at least if the software uses the latest extensions. For the FPU, Zen basically doubles the throughput, which goes a long way towards boosting IPC in floating point heavy workloads. It’s interesting that Zen goes with 128bit units but we’re expecting them to combine to do AVX instructions which should provide parity with Haswell/Skylake. Furthermore, by allowing the FPU to split into 2 128bit units, older instructions may actually run better than on Intel which still can only process 1 128bit instruction despite the execution units 256bit width.

On the instruction decode side of things, Zen cuts things down from Steamroller/Excavator, with only 4 instructions per clock compared to 8. Zen ‘s decoders won’t need to feed 2 cores however as in the Bulldozer design, meaning the real decode rate is the same provided you are running more than 1 core at a time. 4 instructions per clock is also where Intel is currently sitting. For the cache, it looks like we will be seeing a return to the Cat (Jaguar) and K10 design, with 512Kb of L2 per core and 32KB of L1 data, with 32kb of L1 instruction likely as well. While it is a drop, Zen won’t have to feed as many cores and with less cache thrashing it should actually perform better.

With Zen, it really looks like AMD has taken a lot of lessons from K10, Jaguar, Bulldozer and even Intel to create what appears to be a really strong CPU architecture on paper. By combining all of the strong traits from previous and current CPUs, AMD may finally give Intel a run for their money. It’s just too bad we’ll have a year to wait before Zen will arrive. Given Intel’s pace though, Zen should still be plenty competitive in a years time.

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Intel May Increase Mainstream Core Count for Cannonlake

Intel has long limited the mainstream platform to 4 physical cores, with 8 threads due only to Hyper-Threading. This has held true for the longest time, with power users who wanted more cores making the jump to LGA 1366 and 2011. According to an Intel CPU engineer profile, Intel will start offering more cores starting with Cannonlake in 2017. Instead of a jump to 6 cores, the alleged Cannonlake SoC will feature up to 8 cores.

While some may say that this is a server processor, that is unlikely due to the SoC designation. That usually points to a mobile environment, with an attached GPU and other dedicated hardware on the same chip. The biggest question is whether or not this core-count increase is going towards mobile devices or the higher performance desktop platform. As we all know, the mobile world ahs become obsessed with core counts so a low power extreme multi-core CPU may be there for marketing. That segment would be better served though by a 10nm shrink of Goldmont from the Atom lineup which should still exist in 2017.

One of the reasons Intel may be moving to more cores on the mainstream platform in 2017, is that software is slowly starting to feed 4 cores quite well. Even with Hyper-Threading, 4 cores may simply not cut it. By pushing more cores to mainstream users, Intel is also pushing software developers who have generally been loath to make their software more-multithreaded. Another reason is that by 10nm, Intel will have enough space and cost savings to allow for 6 and even 8 cores to be cheap enough to produce. 10nm will be 4 times smaller than the 32nm process, allowing for many more chips per wafer.

Finally, 2017 is also the year that AMD will launch their Zen architecture. Set  to provide a 40% IPC over current Excavator chips, the new lineup is set to arrive on a 1x nm process and feature up to 8/16 cores +  SMT (AMD’s Hyper-Threading) on the mainstream platform.It may be that Intel perceives Zen may be a threat to their mainstream platform and is taking proper precautions. Whatever the reason, 2017 looks to be a really interesting year for CPUs, with major product introductions from both camps.

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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.

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Intel Withheld Haswell Shipments in order to Push Skylake Sales

While PC sales have been slower over the past few years, it looks like Intel had been planning for such an occurrence. According to market data, Intel withheld processor shipments for the first half of the year in order to prepare the channel for the Skylake chips that launched in the 2nd half. By draining the inventory of Haswell/Haswell-Refresh CPUs, Intel is hoping to push buyers onto Skylake quicker.

Usually, Intel oversupplies the market in the first half of the year. This allows builders ranging from small shops and larger OEMs to build up systems and stock, allowing for faster sales once the back to school and holiday season come along. However, this got switched up this year as Intel timed their Skylake launch to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 10. By draining older stock earlier, Intel hoped that Skylake would have an easier time in the market and ride the Windows/holiday wave.

By reducing the number of Haswell systems still available, Intel is hoping consumers will turn to Skylake instead. Usually, Intel would over-ship the market demand by about 8 million units, but this year, they under-shipped by about 3 million, an 11 million difference overall. As builders are low on Haswell stock, they will have no choice but to turn to Skylake for the holiday demand. By moving users more quickly onto Skylake revenue for the chipmaker increases and customers are able to benefit from the newer architecture faster. Those looking for cheaper Haswell processors are going to be out of luck though.

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