AMD

CERN Engineer Details AMD Zen Processor Confirming 32 Core Implementation, SMT (hothardware.com) 28

MojoKid writes: AMD is long overdue for a major architecture update, though one is coming later this year. Featuring the codename "Zen," AMD's already provided a few details, such as that it will be built using a 14nm FinFET process. In time, AMD will reveal all there is to know about Zen, but we now have a few additional details to share thanks to a computer engineer at CERN. CERN engineer Liviu Valsan recently gave a presentation on technology and market trends for the data center. At around 2 minutes into the discussion, he brought up AMD's Zen architecture with a slide that contained some previously undisclosed details. One of the more interesting revelations was that upcoming x86 processors based on Zen will feature up to 32 physical cores. To achieve a 32-core design, Valsan says AMD will use two 16-core CPUs on a single die with a next-generation interconnect. It has also been previously reported that Zen will offer up to a 40 percent improvement in IPC compared to its current processors as well as symmetric multithreading or SMT akin to Intel HyperThreading. In a 32-core implementation this would result in 64 logical threads of processing.
GNU is Not Unix

Talos Secure Workstation Is Free-Software Centric — and $3100 [Updated] 117

jones_supa writes: These days, the motivation to use open source software for many people is to avoid backdoors placed by intelligence organizations and to avoid software that has hidden privacy-intruding characteristics. For the operating system and userspace software, open choices are already available. The last remaining island has been the firmware included in various ROM chips in a computer. Libreboot has introduced an open BIOS, but it is not available for newer systems featuring the Intel ME or AMD PSP management features. Talos' Secure Workstation fills this need, providing a modern system with 8-core POWER8 CPU, 132 GB RAM, and open firmware. The product is currently in a pre-release phase where Raptor Engineering is trying to understand if it's possible to do a production run of the machine. If you are interested, it's worth visiting the official website. Adds an anonymous reader about the new system, which rings in at a steep $3100: "While the engineers found solace in the POWER8 architecture with being more open than AMD/Intel CPUs, they still are searching for a graphics card that is open enough to receive the FSF Respect Your Freedom certification." Update: 02/08 18:44 GMT by T : See also Linux hacker and IBM employee Stewart Smith's talk from the just-completed linux.conf.au on, in which he walks through "all of the firmware components and what they do, including the boot sequence from power being applied up to booting an operating system." Update: 02/08 23:30 GMT by T :FSF Licensing & Compliance Manager Joshua Gay wrote to correct the headline originally appeared with this story, which said that the Talos workstation described was "FSF Certified"; that claim was an error I introduced. "The FSF has not certified this hardware," says Gay, "nor is it currently reviewing the hardware for FSF certification." Sorry for the confusion.
AMD

Linux Kernel Patch Hints At At 32-Core Support For AMD Zen Chips 136

New submitter Iamthecheese points to an article which says that a patch published on the Linux Kernel Mailing List indicates that AMD's forthcoming Zen processors will have as many as 32 cores per socket, but notes that while the article's headline says "Confirms," "the article text doesn't bear that out." Still, he writes, There are hints of such from last year. A leaked patch for the 14 nanometer AMD Zeppelin (Family 17h, Model 00h) reveals support for up to 32 cores. Another blog says pretty much the same thing. We recently discussed an announced 4+8 core AMD chip, but nothing like this.
Stats

The Performance of Ubuntu Linux Over the Past 10 Years (phoronix.com) 110

An anonymous reader writes: Tests were carried out at Phoronix of all Ubuntu Long-Term Support releases from the 6.06 "Dapper Drake" release to 16.04 "Xenial Xerus," looking at the long-term performance of (Ubuntu) Linux using a dual-socket AMD Opteron server. Their benchmarks of Ubuntu's LTS releases over 10 years found that the Radeon graphics performance improved substantially, the disk performance was similar while taking into account the switch from EXT3 to EXT4, and that the CPU performance had overall improved for many workloads thanks to the continued evolution of the GCC compiler.
AMD

AMD Launches Enthusiast A10-7860K APU, New Mainstream CPUs and Wraith Cooler (hothardware.com) 81

MojoKid writes: AMD apparently wasn't done making announcements back at CES 2016. Today the company has shared news of new APUs, processors, fansink coolers, and motherboard updates. The company has been working with motherboard makers to enable a new wave of socket AM3+ and FM2+ motherboards with support for technologies like USB 3.1 (some with type-C and M.2 solid state drives (SSDs). Many of the updated motherboards are already available. AMD also has a trio of new APUs / processors coming down the pipe --the A10-7860K, the A6-7470K, and the Athlon X4 845. The Athlon X4 845 is a quad-core part, featuring four Excavator-class cores clocked at up to 3.8GHz. The processor has 2MB of L2 cache, 8 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and a TDP of 65W, but no built-in graphics. The A6-7470K is a dual Steamroller-core APU (clocked at up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (at up to 800MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. The A10-7860K is a little beefier with four Steamroller cores (clocked up to 4GHz), with 8 GPU cores (clocked up to 757MHz), 1MB of L2 cache, 16 PCIe lanes, and a 65W TDP. Both the 7860K and 7470K are unlocked for more flexible overclocking. Finally, the FX-8370 bundled with AMD's new Wraith cooler will be arriving today at the same price point as the previous edition. According to AMD, the Wraith cooler offers 24% more surface area than the previous PIB cooler and the fan pushes 34% more air.
AMD

AMD: It's Time To Open Up the GPU (gpuopen.com) 152

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has called for the opening up of GPU technology to developers. Nicolas Thibieroz, a senior engineering manager for the company, announced today the launch of GPUOpen, its initiative to provide code and documentation to PC developers, embracing open source and collaborative development with the community. He says, "Console games often tap into low-level GPU features that may not be exposed on PC at the same level of functionality, causing different — and usually less efficient — code paths to be implemented on PC instead. Worse, proprietary libraries or tools chains with "black box" APIs prevent developers from accessing the code for maintenance, porting or optimizations purposes. Game development on PC needs to scale to multiple quality levels, including vastly different screen resolutions." And here's how AMD wants to solve this: "Full and flexible access to the source of tools, libraries and effects is a key pillar of the GPUOpen philosophy. Only through open source access are developers able to modify, optimize, fix, port and learn from software. The goal? Encouraging innovation and the development of amazing graphics techniques and optimizations in PC games." They've begun by posting several technical articles to help developers understand and use various tools, and they say more content will arrive soon.
Open Source

Linux 4.5 Adds Raspberry Pi 2 Support, AMD GPU Re-Clocking, Intel Kaby Lake (phoronix.com) 147

The Linux 4.5 merge window has been open for the last two weeks; that means that the 4.5-rc1 kernel is expected to emerge, with the official kernel following in about eight weeks. An anonymous reader writes with this top-level list of changes to look for, from Phoronix: Linux 4.5 is set to bring many new features across the kernel's 20 million line code-base. Among the new/improved features are Raspberry Pi 2 support, open-source Raspberry Pi 3D support, NVIDIA Tegra X1 / Jetson TX1 support, an open-source Vivante graphics driver, AMDGPU PowerPlay/re-clocking support, Intel Kaby Lake enablement, a Logitech racing wheel driver, improvements for handling suspended USB devices, new F2FS file-system features, and better Xbox One controller handling.
Open Source

Open-Source GPU Used For Research (binghamton.edu) 28

Theovon writes: For quite some time now, "open hardware" enthusiasts have had access to a number of open source CPUs, including OpenRISC. However, it wasn't until recently that there has been any kind of open source GPU. In 2014, the Vertical Research Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison announced MIAOW. MIAOW is in many ways a clone of the AMD Southern Islands architecture and can even run some of the same binary code. Unfortunately, MIAOW is missing some key components such as video and memory systems, making it not currently possible to implement fully in hardware. For this, Nyuzi comes to the rescue. Nyuzi (formerly Nyami) has been in development since 2010 and is a fully functional open source GPU inspired by Larrabee. Although architecturally different from the SIMT architectures from AMD and Nvidia, researchers at Binghamton University and several other places have already used it to conduct research on GPUs. A paper (PDF) was published in March 2015 about this processor (one of the authors was the original founder of the Open Graphics Project), and Nyuzi (homepage) can be downloaded from GitHub.
Hardware

Samsung Begins Mass Production of World's Fastest DRAM (hothardware.com) 65

MojoKid writes: Late last year marked the introduction of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) DRAM courtesy of AMD's Fury family of graphics cards, each of which sports 4GB of HBM. HBM allows these new AMD GPUs to tout an impressive 512GB/sec of memory bandwidth, but it's also just the first iteration of the new memory technology. Samsung has just announced that it has begun mass production of HBM2. Samsung's 4GB HBM2 package is built on a 20 nanometer process. Each package contains four 8-gigabit core dies built on top of a buffer die. Each 4GB HMB2 package is capable of delivering 256GB/sec of bandwidth, which is twice that of first generation HBM DRAM. In the example of NVIDIA's next gen GPU technology, code named Pascal, the new GPU will utilize HBM2 for its frame buffer memory. High-end consumer-grade Pascal boards will ship with 16GB of HBM2 memory (in four, 4GB packages), offering effective memory bandwidth of 1TB/sec (256GB/sec from each HMB2 package). Samsung is also reportedly readying 8GB HBM2 memory packages this year.
Graphics

How OpenGL Graphics Card Performance Has Evolved Over 10 Years (phoronix.com) 115

An anonymous reader writes: A new report at Phoronix looks at the OpenGL performance of 27 graphics cards from the GeForce 8 through GeForce 900 series. Various Ubuntu OpenGL games were tested on these graphics cards dating back to 2006, focusing on raw performance and power efficiency. From oldest to newest, there was a 72x increase in performance-per-Watt, and a 100x increase in raw performance. The NVIDIA Linux results arrive after doing a similar AMD comparison from R600 graphics cards through the R9 Fury. However, that analysis found that for many of the older graphics cards, their open-source driver support regressed into an unworkable state. For the cards that did work, the performance gains were not nearly as significant over time.
AMD

AMD Rips 'Biased and Unreliable' Intel-Optimized SYSmark Benchmark (hothardware.com) 174

MojoKid writes: AMD is making a stink about SYSMark, a popular benchmarking program that's been around for many years, and one the chip designer says is not reliable. Rather than provide meaningful results and information, AMD claims SYSMark unfairly favors Intel products and puts too much emphasis on strict CPU performance above all else. John Hampton, director of AMD's client computing products, explained in a video why SYSMark itself is an unreliable metric of performance. He even brought up the "recent debacle" involving Volkswagen as proof that "information provided by even the most established organizations can be misleading." Salinas says SYSMark's focus on the CPU is so "excessive" that it's really only evaluating the processor, not the system as a whole. In comparison, PCMark 8 probes not only the CPU, but graphics and subsystems as well. In an attempt to drive the point home, AMD ran a set of custom scripts it developed based on Microsoft Office and timed how long it took each system to complete them. The Intel system took 61 seconds to finish the benchmark versus 64 seconds for the AMD platform, a difference of about 6-7 percent and in line with what PCMark 8 indicated, though Sysmark shows a stark delta of 50 percent in favor of Intel with comparable CPUs.
Open Source

Open Source Could Help Bring Vulkan To More AMD GPUs (phoronix.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has confirmed that their Vulkan Linux driver will only work with the new AMDGPU kernel driver, meaning that for right now on the desktop, Vulkan will just work on the Radeon R9 285, R9 380, R9 380X and R9 Fury series — not even the other Rx 200/300 series graphics cards. This limitation exists because the AMDGPU driver only works with GCN 1.2 and newer. In time, AMD may allow the driver to work on older GCN GPUs going back to the HD 7000 series. But wait: AMDGPU is open-source. AMD is welcoming community support to help bring AMDGPU (and thereby Vulkan) to these older GPUs. The work involved would be porting GCN 1.0/1.1 support from the existing open-source Radeon DRM driver over to the new AMDGPU DRM driver. The Vulkan code itself is said to already be compatible with all GCN GPUs going back to the HD 7xxx series.
Windows

Microsoft: Only the Latest Version of Windows Will Support New CPU Generations (windows.com) 458

Joe_Dragon sends news from Microsoft about how the company will support Windows now and in the future. The company says PCs built with Intel's Skylake chip, and other new architectures in the future, will require the latest version of Windows for support. This doesn't take effect right away; Windows 7 and 8.1 will be supported on older chips until their planned end-of-life dates, in 2020 and 2023 respectively. They'll also be supported on a list of current Skylake devices for the next 18 months. After that, only the latest version of Windows will support integration between the operating system and new CPU features. "For example, Windows 10 will be the only supported Windows platform on Intel's upcoming 'Kaby Lake' silicon, Qualcomm's upcoming '8996' silicon, and AMD's upcoming 'Bristol Ridge' silicon." Microsoft also mentioned that for new supported systems, the company will "ensure all drivers will be on Windows Update with published BIOS/UEFI upgrading tools." The submitter adds, "Putting BIOS/UEFI updates in to the Windows 10 auto- / forced-update system may open Microsoft to paying $600-$1,000+ to replace broken laptops. If Windows tries to update BIOS/UEFI at a bad/risky time (like during power instability in a big storm), it could lead to an update loop or worse."
AMD

AMD Unveils 64-Bit ARM-Based Opteron A1100 System On Chip With Integrated 10GbE (hothardware.com) 98

MojoKid writes: AMD is adding a new family of Opterons to its enterprise processor line-up today called the Opteron A1100 series. Unlike AMD's previous enterprise offerings, however, these new additions are packing ARM-based processor cores, not the X86 cores AMD has been producing for years. The Opteron A1100 series is designed for a variety of use cases and applications, including networking, storage, dense and power-efficient web serving, and 64-bit ARM software development. The new family was formerly codenamed "Seattle" and it represents the first 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57-based platform from AMD. AMD Opteron A1100 Series chips will pack up to eight 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57 cores with up to 4MB of shared Level 2 and 8MB of shared Level 3 cache. They offer two 64-bit DDR3/DDR4 memory channels supporting speeds up to 1866 MHz with ECC and capacities up to 128GB, dual integrated 10Gb Ethernet network connections, 8-lanes of PCI-Express Gen 3 connectivity, and 14 SATA III ports. AMD is shipping to a number of software and hardware partners now with development systems already available.
Graphics

Mesa's Highlights Reel: An Impressive Year For Open Source 3-D Drivers 27

Michael Larabel at Phoronix has been assiduously reporting on some of the small advancements in open source 3-D graphics; in aggregate, those small advancements make for big improvements in hardware (and platform) support, as well as higher performance. Phoronix published today a year-end wrap-up highlighting some of the ways that Mesa has developed; it's quite a list. An excerpt: This time last year core Mesa and the drivers were still limited to OpenGL 3.3 compliance while in 2015 we've seen core Mesa reach up to OpenGL 4.2 support. The AMD RadeonSI and R600g drivers have raised up through OpenGL 4.1 (though R600g is limited in what supports GL4) and the Nouveau NVC0 driver is at OpenGL 4.1 as well. The Intel Mesa driver is still at OpenGL 3.3, but they are extremely close to OpenGL 4.2 and should hit that milestone in early 2016 after having been recently focusing up on OpenGL ES 3.1 support, which they did achieve this year. Besides tackling more GL4 support, Mesa this year has seen the new VirtIO GPU driver for 3D support in guest VMs, continued work on the new Raspberry Pi 3D driver (VC4), video encode/decode improvements, and other Gallium3D state tracker highlights.
Open Source

AMD Goes Open Source, Announces GPUOpen Initiative, Linux Compiler, Drivers (hothardware.com) 89

MojoKid writes: AMD announced today that the company is releasing a slew of open-source software and tools to give game developers, heterogeneous applications, and HPC applications deeper access to the GPU and GPU resources. AMD and their Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) are looking for ways to ease game development, so developers can more easily re-use code and port their games from consoles over to the PC. With GPUOpen, game developers will have direct access to GPU hardware, as well as access to a large collection of open source effects, tools, libraries and SDKs, which are being made available on GitHub under an MIT open-source license. As part of the effort, the company is also releasing a new HCC C++ compiler which will be a tool in enabling developers to more easily leverage the resources of discrete GPU hardware in heterogeneous systems. The HCC complier also allows developers to convert CUDA code to portable C++. According to AMD, internal testing shows that in many cases 90 percent or more of CUDA code can be automatically converted into C++ with the final 10 percent converted manually in the widely popular C++ language. An early access program for the "Boltzmann Initiative" tools is planned for Q1 2016.
AMD

The Ups and Downs of AMD (hackaday.com) 225

szczys writes: In 2003 AMD was on top of the world. Now they're not, but they're also still in business. AMD continues to produce inexpensive, well-engineered semiconductors. The fall over the last 10 years is due to Intel, who used illegal practices and ethically questionable engineering decisions to knock AMD off their roost while still keeping them in business. The latter prevents the finger of antitrust from being pointed at Intel the way it was for Ma Bell.
Displays

Radeon Graphics Cards To Support HDR Displays and FreeSync Over HDMI In 2016 (hothardware.com) 37

MojoKid writes: AMD's Radeon Technologies Group has announced a couple of new features for Radeon graphics support in 2016. FreeSync over HDMI support will be coming to all Radeons that currently support FreeSync. FreeSync over HDMI, however, will require new displays. The HDMI specification doesn't currently have support for variable refresh rates, but it does allow for vendor specific extensions. Radeon Technologies Group is using these vendor specific extensions to enable the technology. A number of FreeSync over HDMI compatible displays are slated to arrive early next year from brands including LG, Acer, and Samsung. The first notebook with FreeSync has also launched. Lenovo's Y700 gaming notebook is the first with a validated, FreeSync-compatible panel. The Radeon Technologies Group also announced that support for DisplayPort 1.3, HDMI 2.0a and HDR displays was coming in the 2016 pipeline as well. With current 8-bit panels, the range of colors, contrast, and brightness presented to users is only a fraction of what the human eye can see. When source material is properly mapped to an HDR panel, colors are more accurately displayed representing more closely what the human eye would see in the real world.
Open Source

Microsoft To Open Source Chakra, the JavaScript Engine In Its Edge Browser (windows.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft announced today that it will soon open source the "Chakra" JavaScript engine used inside its Edge browser and Internet Explorer. The company plans to publish the code on its GitHub page in January. "Microsoft is calling the version it's open sourcing ChakraCore. This is the complete JavaScript engine—the parser, the interpreter, the just-in-time compiler, and the garbage collector along with the API used to embed the engine into applications (as used in Edge). This will have the same performance and capabilities, including asm.js and SIMD support, as well as cutting-edge support for new ECMAScript 2015 language features like the version found in Microsoft's Windows 10 browser." While it'll be Windows-only code to start, they plan on taking it cross-platform just as they did with .NET. "Microsoft intends to run ChakraCore's development as a proper community project. The company says that Intel and AMD have already expressed interest in contributing, and others are sure to join them."
AMD

AMD's Crimson Radeon Driver For Linux Barely Changes Anything (phoronix.com) 95

An anonymous reader writes: AMD Windows customers were greeted this week to the new "Crimson" Radeon Software that brought many bug fixes, performance improvements, and brand new control panel. While AMD also released this Crimson driver for Linux, it really doesn't change much. The control panel is unchanged except for replacing "Catalyst" strings with "Radeon" and there's been no performance changes but just some isolated slowdowns. The Crimson Linux release notes only mention two changes: a fix for glxgears stuttering and mouse cursor corruption.

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