Tag: am1

Doom over for PC industry says Intel

Chipzilla is telling the world+dog that the worst is over for the personal computer industry.

Intel forecast third-quarter revenue above Wall Street’s expectations.

Chief Financial Officer Stacy Smith told Reuters that PC sales had stabilised and he expects shrinking demand from consumers in China and other developing countries to rebound, just as it recently has in the United States.

Of course the tame Apple Press claims that it is all to do with how Apple created a mobile revolution with the launch of its keyboardless netbook in 2010. There was talk of a “mobile revolution” which tied with the downturn of the worst PC sales in years.

While many believed that the fall in PCs was because of the increase in mobiles, some of us thought that the two were a parallel development. PC sales fell because of company retrenchment during an economic downturn, while consumer sales went up as punters searched for the latest shiny thing. PC sales have risen as companies are forced to upgrade their dying machines. PCs are cheaper and attempts to bring in BYOD policies for mobile gadgets proved pretty useless.

Intel now expects the market’s recovery to help it grow its full-year revenue about 5 percent, slightly higher than prior expectations.

Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich told analysts on a conference call that improved demand from companies replacing old PCs would last at least through the end of 2014.

Intel increased its share buyback program by $20 billion. It wants to buy $4 billion of stock in the current quarter, thinking tht there will be more interest in “two in one” devices with detachable keyboards and screens.

Intel said in a statement it expects third-quarter revenue of $14.4 billion, plus or minus $500 million. Analysts had expected $14 billion on average.

Revenue from Intel’s PC group rose 6 percent in the quarter while its data centre group, a big contributor to gross margins, had revenue jump 19 percent.

Chipzilla’s profits have been made without much interesting in its mobile offerings. Intel said its mobile and communications group’s revenue fell 83 percent to $51 million and had an operating loss of $1.12 billion.

Intel’s second-quarter revenue was $13.8 billion, compared with $12.8 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Chipzilla posted second-quarter net income of $2.8 billion, compared with $2.0 billion at the same time last year. 

Intel’s eight core plans revealed

While Intel is about to release some of the first processors based on its Haswell-E specifications, it is starting to look like they will not be the eight core fiestas expected.

Of the three Haswell-E Core i7 CPUs expected, only one of them, the Core i7-5960X, will actually come with 8 cores, and that is the one which will cost an arm and a leg to buy.

The Core i7-5960X and the other two, the i7-5930K and i7-5820K, will contain only six cores.

Dubbed the Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition, the flagship CPU of the first Haswell-E lineup and will have two more cores and four more threads than the company’s current Ivy Bridge-E based Core i7-4960X Extreme Edition processor.

Built around the 22nm Haswell architecture, this new 8-core CPU will head to the deep-pocketed gaming community.

The Core i7-5960X will be clocked at a 3.0GHz base, with a 3.3GHz boost frequency. It will also include support for the latest DDR4 2133MHz memory, and 20MB of L3 cache as well. In addition, its power rating will be 140 watts TDP, or only 10 more watts than the 6-core i7-4960X.

The new DDR4 memory controller resides on the processor and the RAM is directly connected to the CPU. The DDR4 modules themselves use only 1.2 volts of power, compared to DDR3’s 1.65/1.5 volts.

The two other Haswell-E Core i-7 chips are 6-core, 12-thread processors. Aside from clock speeds, their specifications are primarily the same. The i7-5930K runs at 3.5GHz, about a 3.9-4.0GHz boost, but it is nearly half the price. The i7-5820K, will run at a 3.3GHz base, with a 3.6-3.8GHz clock boost. It will list for around $300. Both will support a 15MB L3 Cache.

So the question is what is it about eight cores that make shelling out that sort of money cost effective? At that price Intel has priced the 8-core i7-5690X out of mainstream machines.

All three processors will be compatible with Intel’s upcoming x99 chipset and motherboards. We expect them out during the fourth quarter.

It is possible however that next year will be the year of the less-expensive, 6-core CPU. 

Russians want AMD and Intel out

The Russian government has decided that it is much safer not to use Intel and AMD chips and it wants home grown chips used in government computers.

Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry announced that it will replace Intel and AMD chips with domestically-produced micro processor Baikal in a project worth dozens of millions of dollars,.

The Baikal micro processor will be designed by a unit of T-Platforms, a producer of supercomputers, next year, with support from state defence conglomerate Rostec and co-financing by state-run technological giant Rosnano.

The first products will be Baikal M and M/S chips, designed on the basis of 64-bit nucleus Cortex A-57 made by UK company ARM, with frequency of 2GHz for personal computers and micro servers.

The Baikal chips will be installed on computers of government bodies and in state-run firms, which purchase some 700,000 personal computers annually worth $500 million and 300,000 servers worth $800 million. The total volume of the market amounts to about five million devices worth $3.5 billion.

Russia has been unhappy with Intel and AMD since the US government’s spying programme was revealed and routers from Cisco were found to have been intercepted and installed with bugs.

The US tech industry is terrified that the other governments will follow suit in response to American spying programmes. 

AMD is split in two

Designer of chips, AMD, has split itself into two groups and promoted two executives for the next phase of its cunning plan to make some cash.

The company has struggled financially in recent years, with a loss in the most recent quarter after two consecutive quarters of modest profits.

Under the restructuring, Lisa Su is being promoted to chief operating officer and is now seen as a number two to CEO Rory Read. She will head up the Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group. Su is currently senior vice president and general manager of global business units and will take on her new role July 1.

Meanwhile the other division will be ruled by Scotsman John Byrne who has been named senior vice president and general manager of the new Computing and Graphics Business Group, which includes PC and tablet chips and graphics products. Byrne is currently AMD’s chief sales officer.

Restructurings are fairly dull but this one reduces focus on what is left of AMD’s foundry operations. After selling its foundry operations to GlobalFoundries in 2009, AMD hired a team to fix the manufacturing problems. However AMD has claimed its manufacturing issued are a thing of the past and in April signed a new wafer-supply agreement with GlobalFoundries.

Like many restructurings it is impossible to tell at this point if it has just meant that two senior executives have been given more power to allow the CEO to become a more distant figure and give him or her more time for golf. There have been no mention of redundancies or much in the way of mooted change. 

AMD launches mobile Kaveri

AMD has launched its all-new mobile APU platform, codenamed Kaveri which could give Intel a good kicking in its mobile fourth-generation Core lineup.

It looks like AMD is so excited about what it is releasing it has slapped its enthusiast-oriented FX brand on the best of its new parts.

For those who came in late, Kaveri processors feature a heterogeneous architecture that allows the CPU and the GPU portions of the processor to access the computer’s entire memory space (up to 32GB).

Intel processors with integrated graphics must share system memory, with some exclusive to the CPU and the rest dedicated to the GPU. The Kaveri APU can address the computer’s entire memory space when and where it likes.

The most powerful mobile Kaveri—the FX-7600P with Radeon R7 Graphics—has 12 compute cores: 4 CPU and 8 GPU. It operates at a base frequency of 2.7GHz and is capable of jumping to 3.6GHz in AMD’s “Max Turbo” mode. The chip can address up to DDR3/2133 memory.

The A6 PRO-7050B with Radeon R4 Graphics, has five compute cores (2 CPU and 3 GPU). This chip operates at a base frequency of 2.2GHz and 3.0GHz in Max Turbo mode. It can address up to DDR3/1600 memory.

All up AMD announced nine mobile Kaveri processors across three performance categories with the PRO parts are aimed at commercial laptop builders.

The GPU supports Microsoft’s DirectX 11.2 gaming API and AMD’s own Mantle API. AMD claims that Mantle will deliver up to 219 percent of the performance of DirectX 11 with games running on its FX-7600P processor. Fully 47 percent of the mobile Kaveri’s die area is dedicated to GPU cores.

Nearly half of Kaveri’s die area is dedicated to graphics processors.

All this means that AMD can finally compete against some of Intel’s Core i7 processors. The company claims its FX-7500 chip (4 CPU cores and 6 GPU cores) delivers equivalent performance with productivity apps (as measured by PCMark 8 scores) and 50-percent better performance with graphics (based on 3DMark scores) when compared to Intel’s Core i7-4500U (dual CPU cores with an integrated Intel HD Graphics 4400 graphics processor).

The only problem for AMD is that its mobile Kaveri processors use a 28nm manufacturing process, where Intel’s Haswell-class processors are manufactured using a more advanced 22nm process. Intel is also planning to move to 14nm process with Broadwell. Fortunately for AMD, the chip has been delayed and bought it some time. 

Intel shows off Broadwell

Intel President Renée James provided the assorted throngs at Computex with a debut of a next-gen “Broadwell” chip under the bonnet of a Llama Mountain device.

Billing it the “world’s first 14 nanometer fanless mobile PC reference design,” James went onto the hard sell about Chipzilla’s Broadwell processor.

Broadwell is a 14-nanometer “shrink” of the existing 22 nm Haswell processor. The smaller circuits result in a design that can enable more compact devices.

The Llama Mountain device is powered by the Broadwell Y series and wqill be branded the “Core M” processor. Chipzilla claims that it will be the most energy efficient Core processor in the company’s history.

Llama Mountain sports a 12.5-inch screen and is 7.2mm thick (0.28 inches) with the keyboard detached and weighs in at 670 grams (1.47 pounds).

“The majority of designs based on this new chip are expected to be fanless and deliver both a lightning-fast tablet and a razor-thin laptop,” James said.

Other things mentioned in the keynote were Foxconn tablets. Foxconn executive Young Liu showed more than 10 Intel-based tablets available now or coming soon. Those include tablets based on the Bay Trail processor and “many” will include built-in 3G or LTE communications.

James mentioned the use of fast LTE silicon which is a Category 6-capable Intel XMM 7260 “LTE-Advanced” chip is now shipping to customers for interoperability testing. This new technology is expected to appear in devices in the months ahead James said.

There was also mention of a quad-core SoFIA LTE system-on-a-chip for low-cost phones and tablets is due in the first half of 2015.

Gamers will get 4GHz out of the fourth-generation Intel Core i7 and i5 processor “K” processor. “The first from Intel to deliver four cores at up to 4GHz base frequency. This desktop processor, built for enthusiasts, provide higher performance and enable new levels of overclocking capability. Production shipments begin in June of this year. 

AMD runs out of steam

The success of the SteamOS Linux distribution is revealing that AMD is going to get a kicking in the future and it just cannot see it.

For a decade it would have been fair enough for a consumer chipmaker to ignore Linux. All those who said <insert this year> will be the year of Linux on the desktop were usually greeted with much mockery.

While 2014 is not the year that Linux will take control of the desktop either, the writing is appearing on the wall and it is silly for AMD to ignore it.

SteamOS users are suffering from a lack of proper AMD driver support and it is taking ages for anyone to get games on the OS running.

Valve used Nvidia and Intel hardware, with the promise that AMD support will arrive later, however no one seems to be in a rush.

AMD support for Linux is pants and there is no reasonable OpenGL support. Moreover AMD is unwilling to expand the drivers.

Nvidia is doing well at working with game developers and Valve and is even bringing in new features like overclocking. AMD drivers just fix some problems with the software.

So why is AMD providing rubbish support for those who snub Windows? By refusing to see how things are going with Valve, they are ignoring the way that the industry is headed and in the long term it is going to suffer for its mistake.

Users who want to get the most out of their Steam box will buy an Nvidia and Intel combo, not because they want to, but because AMD will have such a bad reputation.

What is important to realise here is that gamers have been AMD’s bread and butter for a while. The fact they want to change their operating system should make no difference to the chipmaker, but the fact is that it does. 

AMD gets ambidextrous with one ARM

AMD is trying to make “ambidextrous” the new buzz-word for computing.

It announced its roadmap of near- and mid-term computing stuff which it says include the best characteristics of both the x86 and ARM “egosystems”.

Apparently ambidextrous has nothing to do with which hand you hold your biro in, but is the mix of AMD gear with ARM.

The cornerstone of this roadmap is the announcement of AMD’s 64-bit ARM architecture licence for the development of custom high-performance cores for high-growth markets.

Rory Read, AMD president and CEO claimed AMD was the only company in the world to deliver high performance and low-power x86 with “leadership graphics”. Now it was boldly going to provide high-performance 64-bit ARM and x86 CPU cores paired with world-class graphics, which no one had done before,

“Our innovative ambidextrous design capability, combined with our portfolio of IP and expertise with high-performance SoCs, means that AMD is set to deliver ambidextrous solutions that enable our customers to change the world in more efficient and powerful ways,” he said, in a statement that makes little sense at all.

AMD is predicting that the market for ARM- and x86-based processors is expected to grow to more than $85 billion by 2017.

He claimed that this was the first time a major processor provider has created the IP path to allow others to leverage innovation across both ARM and x86 egosystems.

On the roadmap is Project SkyBridge which is a design framework, available in 2015, and will feature a new family of 20 nanometer APUs and SoCs that are expected to be the world’s first pin-compatible ARM and x86 processors.

The 64-bit ARM variant of “Project SkyBridge” will be based on the ARM Cortex-A57 core and is AMD’s first Heterogeneous System Architecture (“HSA”) platform for Android; the x86 variant will feature next-generation “Puma+” CPU cores. The “Project SkyBridge” family will feature full SoC integration, AMD Graphics Core Next technology, HSA, and AMD Secure Technology via a dedicated Platform Security Processor (PSP), Read said.

Another landmark on AMDs roadmap is K12 which is a new high-performance, low-power ARM-based core that takes deep advantage of AMD’s ARM architectural licence, extensive 64-bit design expertise, and a core development team led by Chief CPU Architect Jim Keller. The first products based on “K12” are planned for introduction in 2016.

AMD  also demonstrated its 64-bit ARM-based AMD Opteron™ A-Series processor, codenamed “Seattle,” running a Linux environment derived from the Fedora Project.  I’ll go to the foot of my stairs.

AMD will develop a 20nm process

AMD has confirmed that it is developing chips that would be made using 20nm manufacturing technology and will press ahead with fabrication processes that include those with FinFET transistors.

There had been talk of AMD slowing down moving to different processes, as no one seems to be buying PC chips right now.

But Lisa Su, senior vice president and general manager of global business units at AMD  said that this year all of AMD products are made using 28nm across graphics, client and semi-custom business.  But it was in the design phase of creating a new 20nm product line and that will come to production. Then, the company would adopt FinFET.

Su did not exactly say which AMD chips would be the first to adopt the 20nm fabrication process, but that the new breed of low-power accelerated processing units, code-named Beema and Mullins, are about to enter the market. Beema and Mullins are low-power APUs which use 28nm process technology so it is likely that the Kaveri  APU models will be the first to move to 20nm.

She also did not officially confirm that we would see the first 20nm AMD Radeon GPUs later this year but the fact she used the words coming “to production” may hint on the plan that we should see them in the shops soon.

Su has confirmed that the company plans to move its product line to process technologies that take advantage of FinFET transistors, but Su did not reveal whether the company plans to move to 14nm XM hybrid FinFET process technology ot 16nm FinFET.   This would give some clues as to who will be making the chip.  The 14nm FinFET is used by GlobalFoundries and Samsung while the 16nm FinFET/16nm FinFET+ fabrication process is developed by TSMC.

The indication is that it will be GloFlo and Samsung, as Su was waxing lyrical about Global Foundries pact with Samsung. She said that it was good for the industry and it is good for AMD relative in getting FinFETs to market sooner.

This is a turn around on AMD’s position a couple of years ago when it was telling the world+dog that it did not need the latest process technologies to succeed on the market. It seems that it has woken up and realised that it is going to get a good kicking from Intel, Qualcomm and other makers of system-on-chips for media tablets if it does not pull its famous finger out.

AMD yaps at Intel’s tablet rebates

AMD is incandescent with rage at Intel’s cunning plan to offering rebates to device makers that use its chips for tablets.

Intel needs to win over lots of tablet makers in 2014 to hit its target of 40 million and is offering OEMs rebates for using its chips.

AMD Chief Executive Rory Read said during a first-quarter conference call on Thursday about contra revenue or rebates that Intel gives device makers to incentivise them to use its chips. In this case, chips that go into tablets

He said that AMD had a competitor that’s really taking a “different approach” in terms of revenue management by using rebates.

“They have a different philosophy on profitability sometimes, but this idea of contra revenue is a foreign idea to us,” he said.

As far as PR is concerned that is fighting talk and is the equivalent of making comments about a rival’s mother. While he did not mention the words antitrust it must be in his mind.

AMD has good reasons to be suspicious about Intel’s contra revenue plans as it sails dangerously close to antitrust actions. The logic is that Intel can use its market share and piles of cash to shut rivals out of the market by bribing suppliers to use its chips.

However Intel is saved in this case by the fact that it is not a market leader in mobile chips and it would be difficult for any antitrust inquiry to find against it.

But Intel is aware of the problem and spent a lot of time during its own earnings conference call on Tuesday discussing contra revenue with analysts.

Intel wants to use contra revenue to make sure it hits a stated goal of 40 million tablets shipped this year with its chips inside. In the first quarter, Intel said five million tablets shipped with its processors so it is a long way from meeting its goal.