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- Intel Core-i7 3960X, X79 Express and LGA 2011
- AMD FX-8150 and FX-6100, Bulldozer lands on AM3+
- Roundup: 10 high-end CPU coolers
- IDF: Objectif 2W pour 100 Gflops en 2018
- IDF: Ivy Bridge architecture, the details
- Interview with AMD's CTO Papermaster: SoC? x86?
- Common Platform Technology Forum 2012
- Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820 review
- AMD details its 2012-2013 roadmap
- AMD FX: Windows patches tested and available
- Asus Z9PE-D8 WS and Intel Xeon E5-2687W review
- Intel Core i3-3110M versus i3-2370M
- Intel launches its Ivy Bridge Core i3s and Pentium
- Mobile CPUs: AMD A8 and A10 vs Core i5 and i7
- Ivy Bridge 22nm Review: i7-3770K and i5-3570K

 Interview with AMD's CTO Papermaster: SoC? x86?
  Posted on 13/08/2012 at 00:00 by Damien
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During Computex, we had the opportunity of interviewing AMD's CTO. We asked Mark Papermaster about the company's move to a more modular and flexible design approach and did not forget other topics such as the exclusive use of x86.

> Interview with AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster: SoC? x86?

 Common Platform Technology Forum 2012
  Posted on 15/03/2012 at 00:41 by Guillaume
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IBM, GlobalFoundries and Samsung held their Technology Forum last week. The three companies have been working together on the development of fabrication processes. Without making any detailed announcements, the various sessions have given us a view on a few interesting points.

First of all, there will be no partially depleted SOI (PD-SOI) with the 28nm fabrication process developed by GlobalFoundries and its other partners. PD-SOI is difficult to implement effectively at lower engravings, which limits the interest of the technology. While PD-SOI has indeed been put on the discard pile (it has been confirmed that it will not reappear with 20nm), this doesn’t mean that we have seen the last of SOI. According to Dr Gary Patton from IBM, as of 20nm and onwards we’ll be seeing ETSOI. ETSOI (extremely thin SOI) is planar fully depleted SOI, designed to counter the effects of standard SOI. While IBM brought up ETSOI several times, its partners, who aren’t working on this area, didn’t mention it. The extended development time and increase in direct costs of wafers may well push the different Common Platform players to offer, for example, one process with ETSOI and one without to satisfy customer demands. IBM confirmed in passing that ETSOI has been developed for the 20nm process in collaboration with ST Micro.

There was an announcement with respect to the 20nm process and the necessity of double patterning. The technology consists in using two successive exposures with different masks to achieve a single metallic layer. Although not all layers require double-patterning, the addition of masks makes for considerable additional costs. The slide below gives a breakdown of the impact on costs moving from the 32/28 nm to the 22/20 nm processes:

The additional mask costs are particularly high as are those for design tools (EDA) and the design itself, which rockets due to the complexity of double patterning. Intel is also likely to call on such techniques for the 16nm process, though not for 22nm as far as we know.

Another definite, though pretty much expected, announcement was the arrival of FinFET transistors. Remember, Intel decided to modify the form of transistors as of 22nm (which will soon be arriving with the launch of Ivy Bridge), introducing 3-D instead of the previously planar construction (see this news on the subject for more details). The members of the Common Platform have confirmed that it should be introduced for the 16nm process, something that had previously been assumed.

Doubling the density of each node is accompanied by performance gains announced as being 1.6x

For the horizon beyond 10nm, which is considered to be a technological barrier for current methods, IBM talked about several possible solutions including using carbon nanotubes. IBM announced that it has developed new methods for sorting those nanotubes that are useable from those that aren’t more effectively. Gary Patton said that 30% of semiconductor nanotubes produced act as a a plain conductor and therefore should be deleted. With respect to EUV lithography, which we’ve been waiting for for several generations, we’ll have to wait a little longer. While IBM did leave the door open for 16nm, it's more probable that the technology won’t be ready by then.

During the conference we noted several other points. On several occasions there were allusions to the fact that the Common Platform 28nm fabs were running and hadn’t been halted. This was a reference to a relatively surprising article published by SemiAccurate last week, which claimed that TSMC had “halted 100% of 28nm production in mid-February” for an undisclosed reason. This information is difficult to verify and while we were at one point aware of rumours concerning delays in the delivery of certain GPUs produced by TSMC, the rumours have since stopped. Multiple references to this rumour by TSMC’s competitors was opportunistic to say the least.

Finally we learnt from Subramani Kengeri from GlobalFoundries that while CPU and GPU production have up until now been the driving forces behind the development of technology processes, today it’s SoCs and low energy consumption chips that are forcing design decisions. AMD will be happy.

 Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820 review
  Posted on 14/03/2012 at 00:01 by Damien
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With its $999 price tag, the Core i7-3960X is far too costly. Hopefully, access to the LGA 2011 platform can come cheaper with the i7-3930K, a six-core, and the i7-3820, a quad-core. How do these processors perform?

> Core i7-3930K and Core i7-3820: Cheaper LGA 2011

 AMD details its 2012-2013 roadmap
  Posted on 03/02/2012 at 09:03 by Marc
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Last week AMD gave its annual conference for financial analysts and, as always, took the opportunity to give details on its products to come.

2012 will see several innovations, with, for desktops, the second generation of AMD FX processor, code name Vishera, which will have between 4 and 8 Piledriver type cores. A development of the current Bulldozer architecture, Vishera should be compatible with current AM3+ cards. AMD didn’t however give any additional details on these processors. The focus, both mobile and desktop, was on Trinity, the APU that is set to be released in the second quarter and will include 2 to 4 Pildedriver cores and a new GPU that's faster than Llano.

The entry level Brazos APUs will be updated with a 2.0 version including Turbo mode and a USB 3 platform. Note the arrival of Hondo, still based on Bobcat architecture and offering a TDP of 4.5 W for tablets. Part of the Brazos-T platform, it will come with a chipset with a TDP of 1W.

2013 will see two developments with respect to CPU architectures. Firstly Piledriver will be replaced by Steamroller on a new APU, Kaveri. As well as having a GCN GPU (like the Radeon H970), Kaveri will be engraved at 28nm, apparently using the Global Foundries bulk process instead of the current 32nm SOI, which should simplify chip design. The other development is Jaguar architecture, which will replace Bobcat on entry level APUs. Kabini will combine 2 to 4 Jaguar cores with a GCN type GPU, with a low energy consumption version, Tamesh, also in the pipeline. It looks as if we’ll have to wait for 2014 to see Steamroller appearing on a stand alone CPU.

On the graphics side, AMD has simply announced a new architecture for 2013, Sea Island, which will come with HSA (Heterogeneous Systems Architecture, the new name for Fusion) functionality. On this point, after having integrated the CPU and GPU onto the same die on its APUs, AMD is aiming to push the concept further in years to come with the inclusion in 2013 of a unified CPU and GPU memory space.

On the server side finally, in 2012/2013 AMD will be developing Interlagos and Valencia, designed for Socket G34 and C32, into Abu Dhabi and Seoul, which will be based on the new Pildriver architecture. Terramar and Sepang, which were supposed to extend to 20 and 10 cores, have therefore been abandoned and there will not be any developments in terms of numbers of cores, which was the logical step following the cancellation of the 10-core Komodo 10 for desktop. The current platforms will be compatible with these new processors and the same goes for Delhi, which will be introduced on AM3+.

 AMD FX: Windows patches tested and available
  Posted on 12/01/2012 at 15:21 by Marc
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Microsoft has just put online two patches designed to improve the implementation of the AMD FXs in Windows 7 and Windows 2008 R2.

In mid December Microsoft introduced a patch designed to improve the performance of the AMD FXs in Windows 7 and then took it offline again. The patch adjusted the scheduler designed to take account of the specificities of the cores of these processors. The patch is available once again and is now accompanied by what was initially missing. You first have to install KB2645594 which updates the Windows 7 scheduler, then KB2646060 which stops the chip from prematurely switching the cores to energy economy mode C6 (this can lead to slightly increased energy consumption). You can download the archives containing the two patches from our server:

- 64-bit patch for Windows 7 SP1 / Windows 2008 R2 SP1
- 32-bit patch for Windows 7 SP1 / Windows 2008 R2 SP1

What about performance? With the first patch on its own, in the applied tests, there is still an increase in performance measured in MinGW while the combination of the two patches means there’s no longer a drop in performance in WinRAR. You do however lose some of the gain in x264, with the first pass now taking 190 seconds compared to 182 seconds with the first patch alone and 195 seconds without any patch.

The overall applications index goes from 149.6 without any patch to 150.7 with both patches (150.3 with the first alone).

In gaming the gains are quite variable. Crysis 2 went from 36.7 to 40.2 fps with the first patch. With both patches combined the fps count dropped back to 38.5. In Rise of Flight it’s the same story, dropping back to 20.6 fps compared to 20.8 fps with the first patch alone (20.5 fps without any patch). Performances in Starcraft 2 and Shogun 2 are unchanged while Arma II and Anno 1404, which already benefitted from the first patch, are now up to 27.7 fps (27.4 fps with one patch, 26.8 without) and 32.3 fps (31.5 fps with one patch, 29.9 without). Finally F1 2011, which didn’t benefit from the first patch, is now at 56.7 and 59.7 fps.

The overall 3D gaming index is up from 104.1 without a patch to 107.9 with both (107.3 with just the first).

[ Applications average] [3D gaming average]

As you can see, this Windows patch doesn't transform the AMD FX's all that radically, though the performance improvement remains appreciable in certain cases.

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