Tag: amd

AMD launches HD 8970M

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD has launched its Radeon HD 8970, boasting it’s currently the fastest notebook graphics card in the world.

The GPU is powered by AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture and sports the company’s Enduro technology to keep battery life running smoothly, adjusting the requirements of the GPU in idle mode.

The 8970M is essentially a rebranded 7970M with a 500MHz GPU boost clock.

Nonetheless, AMD boasted about it coming with AMD Eyefinity for use on multiple monitors, and it has AMD App Acceleration which lets the GPU take workload pressure off the CPU, and the card supports DirectX 11.1 on Windows 8.

MSI’s VP for sales and marketing, Eric Kuo, said in a statement that the HD 8970M card was a perfect fit for the company’s new gaming laptop, the MSI GX70. “Its speed, features and intelligent power capabilities perfectly complement our product,” Kuo said.

Matt Skyner, corporate veep for Graphics Business Unit at AMD, promised that the card is fast, powerful and energy efficient, making it a great candidate for gamers who need top performance and long-lasting battery life.

 

Windows 8 gear set to get cheaper

pc-sales-slumpThe PC market is in the middle of its worst slump ever, but there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. PC makers believe prices of Windows 8 devices will fall dramatically in the not so distant future. 

On Wednesday Acer President Jim Wong said Microsoft is becoming increasingly considerate to its hardware partners and that it is finally starting to listen to their suggestions and ideas. Shifting the focus to cheaper products seems to have been the loudest suggestion. Wong also pointed out that touch enabled devices will open up a lot of possibilities for PCs, but he also warned that many simply don’t need touchscreens on their trusty PCs.

On the other hand, more touchscreens and mouth-watering price points could spell more competition in the cutthroat tablet market, dominated by Apple and Android gear. A number of manufacturers are already working on smaller Windows 8 tablets as well. The success of the iPad mini and even cheaper 7-inch ARMdroids did not go unnoticed, but it will take some effort to make Windows 8 truly competitive in this market, which is already becoming overcrowded.

First of all, Windows 8 is a bloated operating system by tablet standards. This means Windows 8 tablet designs need a lot more storage than their iOS or Android counterparts, which tends to drive the price a bit higher. Windows 8.1, or Windows Blue, could try to tackle this shortcoming. Secondly, they need very efficient x86 chips to be economically feasible, but upcoming x86 SoC designs from Intel and AMD should go a long way towards addressing this issue. Finally, Redmond has to cut Windows 8 prices, plain and simple.

However, Asus CEO Jerry Shen warns that there is no quick fix for Microsoft’s tablet woes. Windows 8 tablets are quite a bit pricier than their Android counterparts and they cost at least $150 more. Shen believes the price gap could narrow to about $50 this year, which should considerably improve Microsoft’s competitiveness.

Acer Chairman J.T. Wang said Microsoft’s willingness to adapt to change is a good sign for the PC industry, reports the Wall Street Journal.  He was rather blunt about it, too.

“In the past we consider they (Microsoft) live in heaven,” he said. “But now they go down to earth and they start to learn how people living on earth think.”

Although tablets are generating all the buzz lately, there are some changes on the PC front as well. An increasing number of all-in-ones and more powerful mini-PCs are hitting the market. Ultrabooks sales are still failing to impress, but there is some good news to report on the notebook front as well. Prices of Ivy Bridge notebooks are seeing double-digit cuts, as Intel partners gear up to introduce Haswell-based models over the next few months.

AMD to cut reliance on PC chips

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD might be on the verge of its biggest strategic shift in ages, as it starts to embrace ARM processors and more frugal chips. The company hopes to make as much as half of its money from console chips and ultra-low power processors by 2016. That is on top of ARM-based server chips which are already in the works.

At the moment, AMD generates the vast majority of its revenue from x86 processors and GPUs, but this year it is expected to ship millions of custom APUs for gaming consoles. On Tuesday the company launched a range of embedded x86 chips based on the new Jaguar core, but it also hinted at upcoming embedded chips based on ARM designs.

AMD already made it clear that it intends to use upcoming 64-bit ARM cores in its server parts, but the decision to design embedded APUs with ARM cores could have far reaching implications. In technical terms, these chips will have a lot more in common with consumer application processors than server chips. They are also expected to feature the latest generation Radeon graphics. In other words, AMD will develop ARM based SoCs, but it is still unclear whether it will target the consumer market.

Several years ago AMD sold its Imageon mobile graphics division to Qualcomm, and Qualcomm put it to good use, churning out millions of mobile SoCs with Adreno graphics, courtesy of AMD IP. However, AMD insists that it could catch up with relative ease.

Sasa Marinkovic, AMD’s Technology Marketing Lead, told Forbes that chip architecture at the time of the Imageon sale was full of bottlenecks and it has moved along since then.

“We sold some graphics IP, but we didn’t forget how to build it,” he said.

AMD already has some x86 designs capable of hitting sub-5W thermal envelopes required by tablet manufacturers, such as the 4.5W Temash SoC. However, ARM based chips could offer even better power efficiency and end up with sub-3W TDPs.

On the console front things are looking even better. AMD expects sales of custom APUs for the Playstation 4 and next-gen Xbox to account for 20 percent of its revenue by the end of the year. Similar chips based on the Jaguar core are coming to the consumer market as well.

AMD launches battle against Intel over APUs

roytaylorcropAn interview with AMD last week shed light on the latest battleground between Intel and AMD which underlies future changes in computing.  In a meeting with corporate  vice president for global channel sales, Roy Taylor, he said  both AMD and Intel are investing in microprocessor architectures which give equal prominence to both serial and parallel computing. And he claimed AMD is ahead of the game.

Using both the CPU as a serial processor and the GPU as a parallel or GPGPU (General Purpose GPU) processor these new devices form a category that AMD calls the APU.  The APU will be the bedrock of a new generation of x86 based HSA or Heterogeneous System Architecture devices. Current generation APUs such as Sandy Bridge, Ivy Bridge and the forthcoming Haswell parts from Intel, and AMD’s Trinity and Richland parts from AMD still use separate memory configurations, with each processor  having its own defined memory block.

But future devices in 2014, said Taylor, will use single memory configurations, allowing both the CPU and GPU to dynamically share a single memory array and be true HSA enabled processors.  Intel’s introduction of an L4 cache to speed up the performance between its CPU and GPU is also an indication of its intentions.

In defense of his argument for APU as a new microprocessor category, Taylor showed a diagram that illustrated the increasing commitment by Intel to a larger GPU configuration in its APU generations.  These indicated, he said, the need for successful HSA architectures to be balanced.
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APUs and Open CL
The growth and success of Open CL, which is able to take advantage of APU devices by using the GPU to accelerate parallel functions, is further ammunition to the establishment of the category, said Taylor.  Popular applications such as Handbrake for transcoding, and VLC Player for watching movies, take advantage of this open standard maintained by Khronos and supported by AMD, Apple, IBM, Intel and Nvidia. Open CL received a strong endorsement last week by the announcement by Adobe that it is using Open CL to hardware accelerate its Premier Pro product.

Since HTML5 also takes advantage of GPU acceleration it seems to make sense that in the future we will see APUs used wherever there is a need for a device which can replace the traditional but separate PC configuration of having a separate CPU and GPU.  “That configuration makes sense for higher end systems’”, said Taylor. But in the meantime currently available APU performance is surprisingly strong, he said.  To this end he went on to show the performance of AMD current APUs compared to Intel’s or configurations using both Intel and a separate Nvidia GPU together.
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When asked what this meant for the channel, Taylor said that at a time of austerity, being able to build relatively high performance desktop and notebook computers at a fraction of their traditional prices could have a huge impact. He may be right but only if system builders and e-tailers recognise the value of the new category and get behind it.

A quick read of the HSA Foundation website seems to show a significant ground swell behind the use of balanced compute architectures.  With companies like Qualcomm, ARM, Imagination Technologies and Samsung also investing in HSA it does seem that we can expect to see strong developments in this area.  It will be interesting to see what Microsoft thinks of the use of APUs to power Windows and whether the software community in general gets behind the category too.

We contacted Intel in Santa Clara for comment but at the time of press had not received a response.

AMD extends Never Settle bundle to select APUs

AMD, SunnyvaleAMD’s Never Settle game bundles seem to have been quite successful in the past, so it’s hardly surprising that AMD has decided to extend the programme to select APUs. So far the Never Settle promotion was limited to discrete graphics cards.

According to a set of slides unearthed by German tech site hardwareluxx.de, AMD will start bundling Sim City with several APU SKUs later this month. Sim City is a rather interesting title for casual gamers and it doesn’t need discrete graphics to run properly, so it looks like a good choice. Sadly though, the Sim City launch has already been marred by a number of technical and DRM issues. However, everything will probably be sorted out before AMD’s new promotion takes off.

It appears that the programme will be limited to select A8 and A10 APUs. As AMD is expected to introduce a new series of desktop APUs based on the Richland core, it is safe to assume that the promotion will cover them, along with some Trinity chips.

In any case the buyers of eligible chips will get a free download code for Sim City, valued at $59.99. This sounds like more than a fair deal, as even the fastest AMD APUs tend to be quite cheap. A $59.99 gift as icing on the cake seems like a very clever way of adding even more value to these mid-range chips. Provided consumers like Sim City, of course.

Intel forced to take axe to Ultrabook prices

titanicThe writing was on the wall for Intel-based Ultrabooks well over a year ago.

Overpriced, underwhelming, and facing massive competition from tablets and smartphones and trends such as bring your own device (BYOD), few families would take the risk of spending over $1,000 to have a bright shiny Ultrabook and keeping an eye on jobs and the general economic situation, large corporations weren’t going to splash the cash either.

So the news that Ultrabooks are set to cost far less for the holiday season this year is probably a case of too little too late. It also begs a number of questions about Intel’s business model which remain to be resolved.

Intel’s phenomenal growth was due, in a large part, to the monopolistic hold it had on the PC industry.  True, AMD was around to mitigate that, but it was only in the days of the AMD Opteron that Intel was forced to react.  Because it holds such a large X86 market share, that meant that the revenues from sales of its microprocessors allowed it to finance developing the next generation of its CPUs.  Building fabs is not a trivial matter and involves billions of dollars of investment.  Intel could afford to do this because during its so-called “tick tock” cycle, it was able to maximise profits on its current generation of semiconductors, while developing its next generation.

However, this continual growth could never be guaranteed, and disruptive technology, in the shape of tablets and smartphones, meant that given a choice, lots of people preferred to pay far less for tablets and smartphones rather than go for Ultrabooks at $1,000 plus.

And with this we come to applications and the realm of the other great X86 monopolist, Microsoft.  It’s certainly true that typing on a smartphone or a tablet is not nearly as convenient as using a conventional keyboard.  And if you are into solid beancounting, you’ll certainly need a sophisticated spreadsheet to manipulate the numbers.  Despite the now decades long promise of the paperless office, people still print stuff.  Microsoft, with Windows 8 and its tablet ready interface is too expensive.  It, like Intel, has lost its grip on the electronics market.

There’s another factor to consider, too.  Right now, Intel is in an interregnum period.  Paul Otellini, the current CEO, is due to leave at the end of May.  Intel is actively recruiting for another CEO, but that means, in the short term, that no-one is going to make huge company wide decisions.

In truth, it’s hard for me, as a seasoned Intel watcher, to see quite what rabbit the new Intel CEO, whoever she or he might be, might pull out of the corporate top hat.  Intel has been in fixes before, and because of its size and its sway can never be underestimated.  But it’s hard to see it making very much more than a ripple in the smartphone and tablet market, leaving it between a ROC and a hard place. It’s also hard to see where the complex supply chain it generates is going to end up, too.

AMD makes pre-emptive strike against Nvidia

AMD, SunnyvaleDistributor sources close to AMD Germany say that the company will launch a new graphics product next month.

Codenamed Bonaire and with a part number of 7790 it is expected to cost around $155.  Performance is likely to be about 3,000 3D Mark Fire Strike.

Nvidia is preparing a a part to ompete with it, codenamed 650Ti Boost.  The unit is a 192 bit version of the 650Ti, but distributors are unhappy because it will interfere with 650Ti inventories.  It is likely to cost $180 or so and also scores about 3,000 3D Mark Fire Strike.

Pre-orders for channel partners for the Bonaire part are expected to be available towards the end of March.

Radeon bundle gambit pays off for AMD

amdhq1Earlier this month AMD went into damage control mode, after comments made by an exec in China were misinterpreted by tech hacks, or Google translate. The comments seemed to indicate that AMD’s next generation Radeons will not appear this year, while in fact AMD’s strategy this year will be to focus on HD 7000 sales, with HD 8000 products coming on line in late 2013. 

AMD rallies hacks in Radeon update

amdhq1AMD felt it necessary to get European and American journalists on the blower for a conference call today to clear up what it said were misconceptions about upcoming graphics cards, on the back of delay rumours.

Darren McPhee, director of graphics product marketing for AMD worldwide, told a conference call that there had been a lot of “misconception” and “confusion” about Sea Islands, which he said is a codename for notebook and desktop products this year, with the priority resting with the OEM notebook business side.

He asserted that there will be more Sea Islands products this year including in the Radeon 8000 series. Rumours had been flying around that AMD would be putting off more in that range until perhaps as late as next year.

In terms of performance, AMD said its cards are the fastest on the planet.

McPhee boasted that the 7000 series is still strong and that in the first half of this year, there will be additions to that product family as well.

 

Microserver market set to be a money spinner

HP-MicroServerCompanies interested in jumping on the next industry craze might want to have a look at what is being cooked up in the microserver market.

Analysts like iSuppli thinks that shipments of microservers will go up by three times this year. While that sounds like a lot, we are talking about a miniscule market now so a threefold increase is only 291,000 microservers.

But, if the pundits are right, this year will just be the start of something fairly bright and glorious which will start netting huge numbers of sales next year.

The forecast shows shipments increasing substantially each year until 2016. By then, it will represent one-tenth of overall server shipments.

For those who came in late, a microserver uses a bunch of densely-packed, low-power chips. The chips themselves are slower than an asthmatic turtle with a heavy load of shopping, but they can manage to do simple tasks without wasting power.

This makes them ideal for providing contact information on one website user. The bigger web-companies, including Facebook and Yahoo, and the banks are looking at them.

IHS says that Microserver shipments are going up faster than general servers and blade servers.
It will take a while for them to dent normal server shipments. To match that IDC estimates that microservers will have to come up with 8.4 million sales. It is worthwhile remember those are  last year’s figures and that companies were not buying due to the recession.

Already the big names in the chip industry are starting to come up with their plans for this big boom. Both Intel and ARM have announced that they are ready to come up with chips ready. The key was having 64-bit versions, which Intel was tooled up for while ARM wasn’t.

Now it looks like ARM is ready to come to the party and its partner AppliedMicro announced it will have something ready by the middle of the year.

Chief Financial Officer Robert Gargus told Reuters this morning he has been increasingly impressed this month with performance test results on new chips that include 64-bit features widely used in servers.

The company’s shareholders also like such talk. AppliedMicro stock has surged almost 80 percent since September. Gargus however seems to think that the serious revenue from microserver chips will not be around until next year. When they come through, those chips could account for as much as half the company’s business.

Intel is vying for a sizable cut with its Atom-based processor that uses just six watts. AMD snapped up SeaMicro, and Rackspace has already certified the new SM15000 for use in OpenStack.
Qualcomm and Samsung Electronics, which both use ARM’s technology to make chips for mobile gadgets, could also move into the microserver market and create a formidable challenge for AppliedMicro, analysts say.

Then there are the hardware makers who will be wading in for a slice of the pie. All up, there will be a lot of people who will want to make a pile out of technology before the technology becomes old hat.