Tag: CPU

AMD’s Zen will be branded Ryzen

rizen-300x300AMD’s Zen will have a brand which sounds suspiciously like a drug for erectile dysfunction, a chemical weapon extracted from caster beans or a gospel group

The Ryzen brand will be applied to desktop and mobile variants. It had been formerly known as Summit Ridge. AMD has been telling the world that Ryzen is pronounced Rye-Zen (like horizon, without the “ho”). It has not said what the Rye means, but tired and emotional hacks suggested that it might be inspired by Jack Daniels – as indeed so are they.

Zen-based processors will target desktops, servers, and mobiles device, but the first wave of products will be targeted at the performance desktop market, where gamers and VR continue to spur growth. PC gaming hardware is predicted for 35 percent growth from 2015 to 2020, and VR-capable PCs are predicted to grow by a factor of 10 by 2020. Interest in eSports continues to skyrocket as well.

AMD has disclosed that one of the high-end options in the initial Ryzen line-up will feature eight cores (16 threads with SMT) and at minimum a 3.4 GHz base clock, with higher turbo frequencies. That processor will have 20MB of cache – 4MB of L2 and 16MB of L3. AMD is also hyping up what it is calling SenseMI technology. AMD’s SenseMI is a set of sensing and adapting technologies, including what AMD is calling “an artificial intelligence network” inside every Zen processor. There are five main features of SenseMI that include Pure Power, Precision Boost, and Extended Frequency Range (or XFR), along with the neural net prediction algos and smart prefetcher.

In fact, there is not that much exciting in SenseMI – it is just an updated branch predictor, prefetcher, and power and control logic in Zen. It might have some sexed up algorithms but it is not the ground breaking technology it is claimed.

AMD said that the AM4 platform for Ryzen will be have all the usual gubbins you expect to see on a modern PC enthusiast platform. AM4 motherboards will use DDR4 memory and feature PCIe Gen 3 connectivity, and support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, NVMe, and SATA Express.

Another thing that Ryzen will have is something called Pure Power which senses what’s going on with the processor’s current workload and provides a closed-loop control system to scale performance and power, over what AMD is calling its Infinity Fabric.

This monitors temperatures, frequencies, and voltage, and adaptively controls each element to optimize performance and power usage.

Another thing that Ryzen will have is something called Infinity Fabric which is interconnect technology used to link the individual bits of IP within a processor and the processor to other IO.

AMD wants this tech to scale its products, beyond moving to new process nodes, increase performance and efficiency, scale bandwidth, improve latency and the chip’s QoS.

Infinity Fabric consists of two key elements, a scalable control fabric and a scalable data fabric. The scalable control fabric has all the central control elements, with small remote elements that are dispersed in each different block of the SoC.

However the early indications suggest that Ryzen is rather good and should put the fear of Jehovah into Intel – particularly if AMD keeps the price down.

Google claims its TPU improves machine learning

victorian-education-2Google claims that its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told the Google’s I/O developer conference that TPUs deliver an order of magnitude higher performance per watt than all commercially available GPUs and FPGA.

Pichai said the chips powered the AlphaGo computer that beat Lee Sedol, the world champion in the incredibly complicated game called Go. Google still is not going into details of the Tensor Processing Unit but the company did disclose a little more information in its blog.

“We’ve been running TPUs inside our data centres for more than a year, and have found them to deliver an order of magnitude better-optimised performance per watt for machine learning. This is roughly equivalent to fast-forwarding technology about seven years into the future (three generations of Moore’s Law),” the blog said. “TPU is tailored to machine learning applications, allowing the chip to be more tolerant of reduced computational precision, which means it requires fewer transistors per operation. Because of this, we can squeeze more operations per second into the silicon, use more sophisticated and powerful machine learning models, and apply these models more quickly, so users get more intelligent results more rapidly.”

The tiny TPU can fit into a hard drive slot within the data centre rack and has already been powering RankBrain and Street View, the blog said.

What Google is not saying is what a TPU actually is and if it will be a replacement for a CPU or a GPU. Word on the street is that the TPU could be a form of chip that implements the machine learning algorithms that are crafted using more power hungry GPUs and CPUs.

AMD opens Nasdaq at Financial Day ‘15

AMD Analyst Day '15_2
NEW YORK, NY – AMD’s CEO, Dr. Lisa Su, outlined a multi-year strategy designed to return the company to profitability and growth at today’s AMD 2015 Financial Analyst Day at the Nasdaq MarketSite studio in New York City.

The embattled company is a little over seven months into Su’s leadership role and is attempting what can only be called a “breakout” from the constraints of being locked into the number two position in the deflating PC market segment.

IP and Core Technology Updates
AMD showcased a number of new items at the event, including details on its next-generation 64-bit x86 and ARM processor cores, future graphics cores expected to deliver a 2x performance-per-watt improvement compared to current generation offerings, and modular design methodology that reduces system-on-chip (SoC) development costs and accelerates time to market.

Technology-related announcements include:
• Development of a brand new x86 processor core codenamed “Zen,” expected to drive AMD’s re-entry into high-performance desktop and server markets through improved instructions per clock of up to 40 percent, compared to AMD’s current x86 processor core. “Zen” will also feature simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) for higher throughput and a new cache subsystem.
• Updates on the company’s first custom 64-bit ARM core the “K12”. These enterprise-class 64-bit ARM cores are designed for efficiency and are ideally suited for server and embedded workloads.
• AMD’s plans to extend its graphics technology to the first high-performance graphics processing unit (GPU) featuring die stacked High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) using a 2.5D silicon interposer design. AMD plans to introduce this packaging in the second half of the year with its latest GPU.

Computing and Graphics Segment Updates
Additionally, AMD announced updates to its Computing and Graphics (CG) product roadmaps for accelerated processing unit (APU), central processing unit (CPU), and GPU products planned for introduction in 2016 and beyond. The upcoming products address key customer priorities, including increased performance, longer battery life, and improved energy efficiency. AMD also provided further details and publicly demonstrated its 6th Generation A-Series APU, formerly codenamed “Carrizo,” as well as its next-generation GPU offerings launching in the coming months.

AMD’s updated CG product roadmap includes:
• New AMD FX CPUs based on the “Zen” core and built using FinFET process technology. Featuring high core counts with SMT for high throughput and DDR4 compatibility, these CPUs will share the AM4 socket infrastructure with AMD’s 2016 Desktop APUs.
• 7th Generation AMD APUs will enable a discrete-level GPU gaming experience and full HSA performance in the FP4 Ultrathin Mobile Infrastructure.
• Future generations of high-performance GPUs will be based on FinFET process technology, which will contribute to a doubling of performance-per-watt. These cutting-edge discrete graphics will include second generation HBM technology.

Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Segment Updates
AMD laid out a long-term strategy for its Enterprise, Embedded and Semi-Custom Business Group (EESC) to grow across a number of high-priority markets based on leveraging high-performance CPU and GPU cores that allow customers to build differentiated solutions. The near-term will bring continued focus on enabling scalable, semi-custom solutions and growth in the embedded pipeline. Looking ahead, next-generation “Zen” and “K12” cores will bring high performance to the datacenter, a space where AMD plans to regain share with a portfolio that includes x86 and ARM processors, increased power efficiency, and a renewed presence in the high-performance x86 server market.

“AMD’s high-performance IP, efficient modular design methodology, and evolved semi-custom business model will fuel strong growth opportunities across multiple markets,” said Forrest Norrod (a recent AMD hire formerly general manager of Dell’s Data Center Solutions), senior vice president and general manager, EESC. “In addition to driving sustained growth in our semi-custom and embedded businesses, we’re reaffirming our commitment to high-performance server computing based on our strong set of new product offerings.”

AMD’s EESC roadmap details include:
• Next-generation AMD Opteron™ processors, based on the “Zen” core targeting mainstream servers that will enable a broad spectrum of workloads with significant increases in I/O and memory capacity.
• Building off of the expected availability of “Seattle”-based systems later this year, AMD detailed plans for its next-generation ARM processors featuring the upcoming “K12” core.
• AMD also provided a glimpse into its new high-performance APU targeting HPC and workstation markets that is intended to deliver massive improvements to vector applications with scale-up graphics performance, HSA enablement, and optimized memory architecture.

Techeye Takeaway
AMD under Lisa Su is just now beginning to find its footing. The company is in dire need of an all-around “morale lift” to gain traction – this includes customers, employees and investors alike. In many respects the company committed the same mistake as did Intel in refusing to acknowledge the full impact their absence from mobile market would have on their future earnings. They are still in recovery mode from that mistake.

Another troubling factor is their misjudgment of the amount of time required to successfully penetrate the x86 dominated server segment with their 64-bit ARM based “Seattle” processors and ambidextrous plan. In fact, a fair number of those in the analyst community completely misjudged this call. Time has now nearly corrected this error – with the introduction of the “Zen” series AMD is once again preparing to reenter the x 86 server market as a player.

The company announced the use of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) with their GPUs and plans product shipments in the second half of this year placing AMD 6 months ahead of Nvidia.

AMD was a lead proponent of the HBM JEDEC standard. Sources indicate AMD will be using HBM memories in a wide range of future CPU, APU and GPU product designs – dramatically increasing performance while keeping a lid on power.

AMD appears to be betting on the PC market from an advanced performance viewpoint, addressing the ever increasing demands of virtual reality, 4K screens and real-time gaming – something the power user community can appreciate. The company’s segue back into the low-end and mid-range server market with the aptly named “Zen” cores – something that has been obvious to their Asian customer base for an eternity.

Will AMD execute this time around?…,

Intel expands Quark

Intel has expanded its Quark family of embedded ultra-low power microprocessors with a new X1020 SKU.

Quark processors use a single Pentium core with 512KB of on-chip SRAM for faster memory access, an SIMD unit, a single-channel DDR3 memory controller, and several standard interfaces, such as PCI-e 2.0, Ethernet and USB 2.0. All Quark chips run at 400MHz, and have 16KB of unified L1 cache. With just 2 Watt – 2.2 Watt TDP, the processors are a good fit for low power applications, such as embedded devices.

The only difference between members of the Quark family are the optional features which Intel provides. CPU World  said that the Quark X1020 supports ECC memory and Secure Boot technology.

This will mean that only authorised software is executed on the platform which will make this Quark more useful for products which need more security and the product marker does not want them changed.

The processor also supports another feature, which is encoded as “S1” in its part number which no one is sure what it does yet.

Previous Quarks used an extended operating temperature range. New X1001, X1011 and X1021D are qualified to operate from -40°C to +85°C, while offering the same performance and feature-set as Quark X1000, X1010 and X1020D models. This new one operates in the boring standard 0-70 degree range. The X1020 is priced at $11.45. 

Samsung still Apple’s chip chum

Despite all the rumours that Apple was spurning Samsung’s chip making facilities as if it were a rabid dog, it looks like Jobs’ Mob will be using its rival to make the A8 chip.

Apple Insider reports that Samsung has won the contract to produce Apple’s next-generation A-series processor. Apparently, it will be made at the same Texas facility that churns out the 64-bit A7 at the heart of the iPhone 5s and iPad Air.

Samsung said that a manufacturing agreement has already been signed and that engineers from both companies are working together to ramp up production. Shipments of the A8 will will begin in autumn when the fruity cargo cult is expected to unveil new models of its shiny expensive toys.

It was no easy deal. TSMC, which makes other, lower profile chips for Apple has been named and shamed as Samsung’s successor for A-series chip production. Even last week the smart rumours were saying that TSMC had taken over “most” of the orders for the A8, leaving Samsung as a secondary supplier.

Curiously, this is exactly what happened for both the A6X and A7 processors, and each of those chips rolled off Samsung’s Austin production line. One wonders if someone is seeding the TSMC rumours to throw hacks off the scent.

Apple will no doubt be looking for other chip makers as working with the company you are trying to sue into a coma is bad for business. It might be that it is waiting for Intel to get up to snuff on its foundry business. 

Samsung releases Smartwatch and fitness band

Samsung Electronics showed off a new smartwatch and fitness band along with the latest version of its Galaxy smartphone once again putting its rival Apple’s efforts into the shade.

Jobs’ Mob traditionally invents something that someone else has in a sexy new shape and claims that it was its idea all along. However this particular technique is set to backfire with the smartwatch, which is said to be Apple’s next effort. Apple took so long to get its innovation to market, that it is now a long way behind.

Samsung set a trend less than six months ago for wearable devices that link to mobile handsets with its Galaxy Gear watch, which has seen rivals like Sony and Huawei follow in its wake.

At a relatively low-key launch event in Barcelona, Samsung also unveiled the Gear 2 smartwatch, which runs on the Tizen operating system rather than Google’s Android software, and a stripped-down version called Gear 2 Neo, which doesn’t have a camera.

The devices can monitor the wearer’s heart rate, a function used in increasingly popular health and fitness apps, or individual programs.

The Samsung Gear Fit, also targeting the fitness sector, has a heart rate monitor, too, as does the Samsung Galaxy S5 itself, a first for a smartphone, Samsung said.

The Gear Fit has a curved touch-sensitive screen and its features include a pedometer, Samsung said. 

AMD’s Carrizo will be 28nm

AMD has disappointed industry watchers by suggesting that its next-generation Carrizo APU might be 28nm instead of the hoped for 20nm.

AMD was thought to have the time and tech to go for 20nm with its foundry partners, but LinkedIn data suggesting that Carrizo, AMD’s first APU with an Excavator-class CPU, is built on the much less interesting 28nm.

This suggests that AMD is waiting to move to 20nm until that node is more mature, at least for big-core CPUs. Instead it is using GF28A, s GlobalFoundries (GloFo) standard bulk silicon node. Profiles from current and former AMD employees point to Kaveri as being built on 28nm SHP (Super High Performance) which is another big yawn.

According to ExtremeTech it is not clear if Kaveri and Carrizo are built on two fundamentally different types of 28nm silicon, or if the different codenames reflect subtle changes. AMD has been boasting of a 65W target for Carrizo and if that is the case then it is possible that AMD is moving to a different node that emphasizes lower power and higher efficiency.

AMD leaked another variant around Christmas which showed that the new Toronto APUs based on Excavator cores and DDR3/DDR4 controllers on the map for 2015, with and without a functional on-board APU. This was bad news for those hoping that AMD would return to shipping 8-core parts, and means that AMD is finished with larger CPU configurations. 

Samsung to release smartphone

Although you are unlikely to hear much about it from the Tame Apple Press, Samsung is about to issue a new flagship Galaxy S smartphone this month.

Those who have mentioned it claim that features such as a bigger screen will lead to a sharp jump in sales, while claiming that Apple’s iPhone will do well because of its er… bigger screen.

“A bigger screen for the S5 may not become much of a selling point as Apple is widely expected to introduce large-screen smartphones – Samsung’s mainstay products – later this year,” Reuters sniffed.

Samsung sent out invitations today for the “Samsung unPacked 5” event on February 24 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The launch has been brought forward by around three weeks.

That being so, Samsung is preparing for its weakest mobile annual profit growth in seven years as the outfit has to deal with strong currency and the fact that the US market is largely saturated.

The S5 is widely expected to feature a bigger screen, an improved rear camera and biometric functions such as iris recognition or a fingerprint scanner. It may also come with an improved Galaxy Gear smartwatch.

If Apple were doing a launch like this, the press would be full of frenzied speculation about what it would contain. In fact looking through the wires, it seems that the loyal press is not even speculating that the event will see the launch of the new Samsung phone.

Instead they are trotting out the same rubbish about Samsung losing sales to the glorious Apple steamroller in China, even though that is clearly not happening at all. 

Samsung releases 110-inch TV

Samsung has been showing off a 110-inch TV that has four times the resolution of standard high-definition TVs.

It might be something for the person who has more money than sense and just won the lottery as it is likely to set you back $150,000.

The giant telly is part of a move toward ultra HD TVs, as manufacturing bigger TVs using OLED is too expensive.

Samsung and LG Electronics, the world’s top two TV makers, thought that OLED would be the cure for the industry blues. OLED screens are ultrathin and can display images with enhanced clarity and deeper colour saturation.

However the technology could not be main streamed and the pair are still struggling to mass produce larger and affordable TVs with OLED.

Sony and Panasonic appear to have given up completely.

UHD TV demand is expected to rise despite dearth of content and it is believed that its price will come down faster than that of the OLED TVs. The reason is that he growth will come from cost conscious China. Chinese telly companies are also trying to push the standard. However these sets have a lower price and a more standard size.

Samsung’s 110-inch UHD TV measures 2.6 meters by 1.8 meters. It will be available in China, the Middle East and Europe. So far Samsung said it has sold ten of them.

NPD DisplaySearch thinks global sales of ultra HD TV sets will surge from 1.3 million this year to 23 million in 2017. More than half of the shipments will be taken by Chinese companies between 2013 and 2017, according to NPD. 

Samsung tries to censor exploding S4 video

Samsung hoped to supress the news that one of its S4 phones caught fire and has created for itself a PR nightmare.

Video footage of a Galaxy S4 that caught fire while charging appeared on YouTube.

YouTube user GhostlyRich posted a video on YouTube in early December. While the battery did not explode, the charging port was burnt.

This bricked the phone and seeing that the phone is still under warranty, you would think Samsung would simply exchange the device.

Samsung however made the mistake of sending the user a stiff missive saying that it will exchange his defective device only after he pulled his initial video from YouTube.

Besides the fact that it is very difficult to stop a viral video even after it has been pulled, it seems that Samsung missed the whole “if you cock up don’t threaten your customers thing”.

It also forgot that there are shedloads of Apple fanboys, and a Tame Apple Press which would be keen to run a story like this to prove the technical superiority of their favourite gadget.

The advice to Samsung is that if something like this happens in the future you could get good PR from it just by being nice. Most people accept that gear goes wrong, but if a company handles you well, all can be forgiven. In fact you might even get good press out of it.

However if your toy breaks and you behave like a bastard you tend to get this sort of story written

The original YouTube video, at the time of this posting, had 45,000 views and the video showing the Samsung demand letter,  has more than 277,000 views.