Following what was expected, yet still surprising launch of AMD RYZEN, and lackluster performance from its broken “Tick-Tock-Tock-Tock…” cadence refresh called “Kaby Lake”, Intel started to pull multiple moves in the background to react to the threats to their core business. Just like the rise of GPU was met with a multi-billion acquisition of Altera, whose combined x86-FPGA processors are still nowhere near the market launch, upcoming End of Life / Termination notice for Xeon Phi and rushed multi-billion acquisition of Mobileye… the reactions are starting to look chaotic and unplanned. Reliable sources report that Intel brought forward the launch of their 2017/18 platforms: two month
AMD Ships One Million Ryzen Processors for the Launch
During the official launch event in San Francisco, AMD revealed / confirmed rumors about their upcoming Ryzen family of processors. Focus seems to be on what seems to be “Intel-beating” Ryzen 7, their new top of the line processors. Ryzen 7 line-up consists solely out of 8 cores, 16 threads processors. A trio of fastest Ryzen models will launch globally on March 2, and according to Digitimes, the company prepared no less than one million processors for the launch itself. That one million is essentially consisted out of three models, plus the upcoming Ryzen 3 and 5 Series. In all fairness, it is weird to
Intel Can’t Hide Strategical Mistakes, AMD to Pounce?
If you would align your wristwatch to the sound of Intel’s tick tock, you would miss your important meeting. The launch of a new generation of processors represents a symbolic beginning of a new cycle and for Intel, “Kaby Lake” launch was everything but normal. First launching the Ultra-low Voltage parts (the U series), then the Desktop line-up and finally the mainstream notebook designs, with troublesome rumors about its enterprise, Xeon-branded counterpart. Kaby Lake is perhaps too focused on the processor power task rather than processor performance. A lullaby. The same story for the last six years continues. Admittedly, for the past 18 months there were whispers
AMD RYZEN Launch: Finally a Competitor?
At their “New Horizon” event in Austin, Texas, AMD (finally) introduced the first production Zen processor. To make the matters interesting, the company did not show the high end version of the Zen architecture, but rather the entry level 8-core version. The demonstrations included several CPU-intensive workloads; Blender and Handbrake, 3D rendering tasks with the ZBrush and KeyShot. No enthusiast demonstration would be complete without gaming, thus AMD also included Doom, Star Wars: Battlefront (Rogue One DLC), Dota 2, and Battlefield 1 demonstrations. The event also featured a demonstration of base 8-core Zen (product line also to include sexa-core and quad-core processors) going against an 8-core Broadwell-E Core i7-6900K in
Does MSI Hold a Trump Card in Wireless VR Race?
Several weeks ago, MSI announced the MSI VR One backpack at the Tokyo Game Show. Unlike the competition, MSI also made an announcement about the future sales as well, launching into production during October. Originally intended for launch on October 30th, it took until middle of November to bring the availability of VR One into both North America and Europe. Truth to be told, the concept of a portable VR backpack is getting challenged by innovations such as the HTC/TPCast Wireless Gig (60GHz) concept product. The extent and efficiency of wireless data transfer between headset and PC’s has not yet been confirmed in practice. Nor how it
Cube i7 Book 2 Intel Tablet with Windows 10
After a recent review of Onda OBook 20, we were wondering what are further developments in the world of affordable tablets and convertibles. Onda’s dual boot feature was quite intriguing, but being based on Cherry Trail meant the performance was somewhat lagging even behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon processors (in case of Android OS). After some digging, we discovered the Cube i7 Book 2 tablet/laptop. Amazingly, it isn’t all that more expensive than the Cherry Trail-based Obook. Decision to name the product “I7” in order to bring attention to the processing side would pay dividends if the Cube I7 actually featured Intel’s Core i7 processor. Instead, this
Gigabyte: Lock and Load for Intel’s Kaby Lake
On April 19, 1965, in anniversary issue of Electronics magazine, director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon E. Moore had a short article named “Cramming more components onto integrated circuits”. There he has presented his views on the future of semiconductor components industry. In essence, an observation expressed in this article was later popularized as “Moore’s Law” (Number of transistors on a microprocessor chip will double approximately every two years). Moore’s Law has held the line for many years and only in 2015 Intel stated that the pace of advancement has slowed. Now a second, much less quoted Moore’s law, comes to the
Five Days Later: A Hard Look at New Apple Macs
Apple’s event took place on Thursday, October 27th, 2016. We were on the live stream to see the first new hardware presented and were left wondering is the spirit of Apple, company which sparked a lot of emotions from the second return of Steve Jobs to his untimely departure. The new MacBook Pro, available in Silver and Space Gray configurations, refreshed for the first time since May 2015. It’s available with either a 13- or 15-inch display featuring a touch bar, simply called Touch Bar, replacing the row of function keys. The Touch Bar was initially evidenced by a set of product photos leaked by Apple itself ahead
Microsoft Pulls an Apple with the New Surface Products
At the annual Surface event, this time dubbed as the Windows 10 event, Microsoft showed us its new, really good looking and innovative devices, as well as software tidbits that we are really happy to see. The company showcased Windows 10 Creators Update, a new update that is expected to become available in April 2017. Windows 10 Creator’s Edition features Paint 3D, better gaming (including 4K and in-game broadcasting) features, a new photo and video sharing feature, as well as Augmented Reality (HoloLens) and Virtual Reality (Windows VR) updates. This is the update that was formerly known as “Redstone 2”, with Insiders Preview to follow later this
AMD Radeon Pro SSG Could Support 4TB Memory
In a move that was perhaps the most important announcement of Siggraph, Radeon Technologies Group presented the Radeon Pro SSG card, perhaps the most innovative concept to have come out of the GPU world of in quite some time. SSG stands for “Solid State Graphics”, and in its prototype version consists out of a Polaris 10 graphics processor, commonly known as Radeon RX 480 with 8GB of memory, a PLX PCIe bridge and two M.2 NVMe slots with two 512GB SSD drives, which might come to market on their own, probably branded as Radeon R9 memory. The way how Radeon Pro SSG works is quite ingenious. When AMD
Future 2016 and 2017 Intel Processors Benchmarks Leaked
Over the course of 2016 and 2017, Intel will introduce two new architectures for the desktop platform – Broadwell-E and Kaby Lake. Broadwell-E will succeed the venerable Haswell-E as a drop-in replacement for the X99 platform. On the other side, Kaby Lake is Intel’s third (and last?) processor architecture that uses 14nm FinFET process. First to launch will be Broadwell-E processors in six-, eight- and ten-core versions (sexa-, octa-, deca-core). Branded as Core i7-6800 and i7-6900 Extreme Edition series, these processors represent the best Intel can offer to the market. The company adopted a two-fold approach; i7-6850K, a six-core processor for ultimate overclockers clocked at
Tick-Tock is Dead: Intel Confirms New Processor Cadence
Several months ago, we exclusively disclosed the new architectural cadence for Intel processors. After a decade of manufacturing processors in an bi-annual cycle (Tick – new architecture, old process; Tock – new process and ‘old’ architecture), Intel’s SEC 10-K filing (PDF download) officially killed the Tick-Tock cadence, moving to a three-fold product line-up for a single manufacturing process. Approximately four years ago, Tick-Tock encountered a first significant hiccup with Ivy Bridge being a 22nm version of Sandy Bridge. Ivy Bridge was the first processor from Intel that we could call APU, instead of a CPU – as 40% of the die was allocated for new graphics architecture. The
Did HP Equalize Desktop and Notebook Performance with AMD FirePro?
For as long as I can remember, the quest of equalizing desktop and mobile performance haunts every manufacturer. However, notebooks are thermally challenged environments and you simply can’t put desktop components inside, unless you’re talking about heavy duty desktop replacements from manufacturers such as Eurocom. Still, a lot of progress is being made with the form factor even from the biggest companies on the market. Last September, HP introduced value oriented Z workstations. HP Focuses the Z series on “3D CAD, Design Visualization, CAM and Simulation”, and starting at $879 all the way into the low five digit range. HP openly states that moving to an M.2, NVMe
Zotac Uses GeForce GPU for VR-Ready Mini-PC
Looking for a PC ready for virtual reality? If you’re not looking to build a Virtual Reality Computer, Zotac may have what you’re looking for with the upcoming launch of its MAGNUS EN980. It’s actually a ZBOX mini-PC that not only packs a VR punch, but presumably saves space on your desktop or living room tabletop. It also sports a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 GPU (mobile version?) and a sixth-generation Intel Skylake processor, making this unit a possible candidate for the upcoming Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headset. The company says the MAGNUS EN980 is its most powerful ZBOX unit to date that “goes beyond
Intel Kills Overclocking on Non-K Skylake Processors
For the last couple of months, enthusiasts ‘on a budget’ were buying Intel processors based on latest ‘Skylake’ architecture and overclocked them to obtain extra performance. What made overclocking especially attractive was the possibility to overclock cheaper, ‘non-K’ processors using the old method of raising the base-clock (BCLK). Given that the company faced ‘Skylake crashes in Prime95’ affair, Intel decided to push microcode updates which would not just prevent Skylake-based CPUs from crashing but to prevent all non-K CPUs from overclocking as well. This update should not surprise anyone, as lack of any meaningful competition in the performance space meant the company was free to limit the overclocking capabilities. In order to overclock an Intel processor, you
Did Intel Got Lucky with the Skylake Freezing Bug?
UPDATE January 18, 2016 – MSI released a beta version of the BIOS which contains micro-code update that should remove the Skylake crashing bug. You can download the beta version of the BIOS for select products on their OneDrive account. Intel recently reported its quarterly and full year results, and they’re quite impressive. The company reported fourth quarter revenue of $14.9 billion, or 1% down from Q4 2014. Net income (profit) also declined to $3.61 billion. Once we look at full year results, they’re more than interesting – 2015 saw Intel recording a revenue of $55.4 billion with $11.4 billion net income. The results are quite
MSI Teams with HTC, Launches ‘Mac Pro’ Box for VR Gaming
What started as a ‘MyStar International’, manufacturing motherboards in Taiwan and trying to penetrate the western markets – turned into a global leader in technology development and sales. Sales-wise, MSI is now more a force known for its gaming notebooks rather than motherboards, but the core business of motherboards and graphics cards is not showing any restrain. Titanium motherboards and Lightning graphics cards come with a lot of great features, and innovation is spreading throughout the company. One such example is recently announced collaboration between MSI, HTC and Valve, which went largely unnoticed (here’s a free hint – don’t put strategy announcements together with product announcements). Starting
From HPC to HTPC: Can HTPC Become Your Main PC?
In the world of computing, the big iron – workstations, servers and HPC, were my main focus for the most of the past three decades. However, something on the opposite end of the spectrum from HPC, the kind of uber-mini desktop device, even smaller than HTPC – attracted my attention. This miniature box platform, using laptop CPU and chipset platforms & integration, but desktop peripherals and connectivity, is called many names: from NUC (Next Unit of Computing) by Intel, whose ex-desktop mainboard division is in charge is this product line; to Gigabyte’s BRIX line, likely named in the honor of their ex director and our
End of the Tick-Tock Strategy for Intel?
Given the slow disintegration or refocusing of its competitors, we were not all too surprised when Intel started to slow down its famous “Tick-Tock” manufacturing cadence. Originally introduced in 2006 with the “Conroe”, Core 2 Duo processors, Tick-Tock was mixed between a new microarchitecture and current manufacturing process (Tock), and a new process, die-shrink processor with some architectural optimizations (Tick). Further separation in Tick-Tock was a cadence between mainstream parts (desktop, mobile) and high-end parts (gaming, workstations) – Tick or Tock would always debut as mainstream parts, followed by high-end 6-12 months after. High end would typically mean Intel Xeon and Core i7 ‘X’ line-up.
Intel’s 2015 Roadmap Conundrum: Tick-Tock is Not a Swiss Clock
In my 30-year career as an IT hardware expert, I’ve seen thousands of roadmaps, leaked, manage-leaked and official alike. Many were on target, yet still quite a few headed for the “failed” dustbin. Among all of them, Intel’s “tick-tock” plan was probably the most ambitious one in terms of attempted consistency and predictability. Knowing the multiple interlinked uncertainties of semiconductor process, CPU architecture, ecosystem changes and others, it was a wonder in itself that it lasted for several years, until the major slippages occurred in the Sandy Bridge generation. From then on, not only there were major delays introduced to the high end lines as the