Category Archives: Amd

Ryzen gains on Intel with second generation

(credit: AMD)

The second-generation Ryzen chips announced last week are now out, and reviews have hit the ‘Net. Unlike the situation last week, we’re now free to talk about what has changed in the second-generation chips and where their improvements lie.

Model Cores/Threads Clock base/boost/GHz TDP/W Cooler Price
Ryzen 7 2700X 8/16 3.7/4.3 105 Wraith Prism (LED) $329
Ryzen 7 2700 8/16 3.2/4.1 65 Wraith Spire (LED) $299
Ryzen 5 2600X 6/12 3.6/4.2 95 Wraith Spire $229
Ryzen 5 2600 6/12 3.4/3.9 65 Wraith Stealth $199

AMD is calling the new parts “Zen+.” This isn’t a new architecture; rather, it’s a tweaked version of the first-generation Zen architecture. The basic layout of the chips remains the same: each contains two core complexes (CCXes), which are blocks of four cores, eight threads, and 8MB level 3 cache, joined with AMD’s Infinity Fabric.

Architecturally, the biggest improvements seem to have been made to memory and cache latencies. AMD says that the cache latency for level 1, level 2, and level 3 caches and main memory have all improved, reduced by up to 13 percent, 34 percent, 16 percent, and 11 percent, respectively. Tech Report’s benchmarks show improved main-memory latency, and PC Perspective found improved communications latency between CCXes.

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Our First Look at AMD’s Second-Generation Ryzen CPU Is Proof It’s No One Hit Wonder

Last year AMD finally gave us something we desperately needed with the release of Ryzen: A viable rival to Intel in the CPU space. The rivalry has meant faster CPUs for desktops and laptops as each company races to surpass the other, but there’s a potential problem for AMD. It doesn’t have the same track record for…

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AMD calls out NVIDIA’s partner program, G-Sync ‘gamer taxes’

A promotional push by NVIDIA has apparently tied up PC builders, and raised the ire of its competitor AMD. The current leader in the graphics card market, NVIDIA has apparently developed a GeForce Partner Program (GPP) that it claims exists to "ensur…

Are external GPUs for Macs viable in macOS 10.13.4? We tested to find out

Enlarge / A MacBook Pro with an eGPU enclosure and an external monitor. (credit: Samuel Axon)

When Apple released macOS High Sierra 10.13.4 on March 29, fully supported external graphics-card functionality was one of the flagship features.

Most Macs ship with discrete or integrated GPUs—power-saving cousins to the graphics cards found in desktop PCs—that emphasize efficient power and heat management as much as they do performance. External graphics cards (eGPUs) allow users to connect those powerful desktop graphics cards to their computers via the Thunderbolt 3 ports on modern Macs.

That could solve many of the frustrations some users have with the Mac platform, like the lack of an upgrade path for professional-use machines that depend on graphics power and lackluster gaming performance in the latest games.

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Second-gen Ryzens out for preorder now, shipping next week

Enlarge / Ryzen die shot. (credit: AMD)

The second-generation AMD Ryzen desktop processors are open for preorders today. Shipping on April 19th, the new chips start at $199 for a six-core, 12-thread part running at a base of 3.4GHz and a turbo of 3.9GHz; the prices goes up to $329 for an eight-core, 16-thread processor at 3.7/4.3GHz.

Details on the new chips are a little light, with the full reveal, including performance numbers, coming on release day. We know that the second-generation processors are an incremental improvement over the first-generation Zen architecture. They keep the same basic layout—groups of four cores/eight threads are arranged into “core complexes” (CCXes), and a Ryzen chip has two CCXes joined together. Each core has 512KB of level 2 and 2MB of level 3 cache.

The second generation increases clock speeds (the previous high-end part had clocks of 3.6/4.0GHz) and makes the processor’s turbo boosting smarter. On first-generation parts, the clock boosting could happen to a pair of cores, or all cores together. This meant that if you needed, say, four fast cores, they were constrained to the “all core” turbo speed. On the second-generation chips, that turbo boosting is now available with any number of cores, just as long as there’s power and thermal headroom. Workloads with more than two cores, but fewer than all of them, should be able to use more of the available power budget and hence run faster.

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AMD systems gain Spectre protection with latest Windows fixes

Enlarge / An AMD Ryzen. (credit: Fritzchens Fritz)

The latest Windows 10 fixes, released as part of yesterday’s Patch Tuesday, enable protection against the Spectre variant 2 attacks on systems with AMD processors.

Earlier this year, attacks that exploit the processor’s speculative execution were published with the names Meltdown and Spectre, prompting a reaction from hardware and software companies. AMD chips are immune to Meltdown but have some vulnerability to the two Spectre variants. Spectre variant 1 requires application-level fixes; variant 2 requires operating system-level alterations.

Both Intel and AMD have released microcode updates to alter their processor behavior to give operating systems the control necessary to protect against Spectre variant 2. Microsoft has been shipping the Intel microcode, along with the operating system changes necessary to use the microcode’s new features, for several weeks now; with yesterday’s patch, similar protections are now enabled on AMD machines.

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Xbox Project Scorpio: Will it really do 4K?

While Project Scorpio was no secret before this year’s E3, it’s safe to say that few expected Microsoft to announce it alongside the slimmed down Xbox One S. Fewer still expected the company to one-up the recently confirmed PlayStation Neo. If the leaked Neo specs are to be believed—and several developers have confirmed the specs to multiple publications, including Ars Technica—Microsoft’s Project Scorpio is set to be around 40 percent faster, a reversal of the performance difference between the current Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

It’s safe to say that Microsoft was growing tired of all those 1080p resolution memes.

And so gamers have been promised a console for release in 2017 that packs a whopping 6 teraflops of processing power (compared to the current Xbox One’s mere 1.31), along with a much improved 320GB/s of memory bandwidth. Even ignoring some of Microsoft’s more questionable claims (uncompressed pixels anyone?), those are some impressive specs. Forget 1080p/60fps: Microsoft says that this system is more than enough hardware to push a VR headset (the company isn’t saying which one yet, but I’d bet on Oculus), and run regular games at 4K resolution with support for High Dynamic Range (HDR).

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AMD announces two more Polaris video cards: RX 470, RX 460

AMD CEO Lisa Su shows off two new Polaris 14mm process video cards. Boy, the RX 460 and RX 470 sure are tiny, ain’t they?

LOS ANGELES—At E3′s second-annual PC Gaming Show, AMD CEO Lisa Su unveiled two graphics cards based on the company’s new Polaris architecture: the RX 460 and the RX 470.

These new 14nm process cards looked itsy-bitsy, teeny-weenie in Su’s hands, and they will be matched with lower-end specs than the $199 RX 480 card (likely around £160), which received a separate reveal two weeks ago. Su described the RX 470 as an ideal card for “1080p gaming” and is likely to be based on a slimmed down version of the chip in the RX 480, while the RX 460 promises to offer serious power for the low energy requirement of 75 watts and is designed for e-sports games like League of Legends and other MOBAs.

VR with a backpack. Doesn’t look silly at all…

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Nvidia GTX 1070 review: Faster than the Titan, at a more reasonable price

Enlarge (credit: Mark Walton)

Specs at a glance: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070
CUDA CORES 1920
TEXTURE UNITS 120
ROPS 64
CORE CLOCK 1506MHz
BOOST CLOCK 1683MHz
MEMORY BUS WIDTH 256-bit
MEMORY BANDWIDTH 256GB/s
MEMORY SIZE 8GB GDDR5
Outputs 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0b with support for 4K60 10/12b HEVC Decode, 1x dual-link DVI
Release date Founders Edition: June 10
PRICE Founders Edition (as reviewed): £399, €499, $450; Partner cards priced at £329, €419, $379

In January, Nvidia’s GTX 970 became the most popular graphics card on Steam—a remarkable feat considering the next most popular chip at the time, HD Graphics 4000, isn’t really designed for gaming at all, but is instead integrated into Intel CPUs. Today, the GTX 970 still commands a hefty five percent share of the Steam audience. Its successor, the GTX 1070—the second graphics card based on Nvidia’s latest Pascal architecture following the powerful but pricey GTX 1080—has some big shoes to fill.

And it does fill them… for the most part. As Nvidia promised, the GTX 1070 is indeed faster than both the GTX 980 Ti and the Titan X, and by some margin: as much as 12 percent in some tests. Just a couple of months ago these cards cost upwards of £500/$650—the GTX 1070, at the high end, costs just £399/$449.

In its Founders Edition form (Nvidia’s new nomenclature for reference cards), the GTX 1070 is cool and quiet too, the smaller, more efficient TSMC 16nm FinFET manufacturing process letting Nvidia ramp up performance to Titan-beating levels, while keeping the TDP down to a reasonable 150W.

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Computex 2016: It’s a wrap!

Just like that, Computex 2016 has come to an end. As in previous years, the show kicked off with ASUS' big keynote presentation, but this time it wasn't just laptops, tablets and smartphones — the company also unveiled its first home robot, Zenbo. W…