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The USB Implementers Forum announced this week that Intel's upcoming "Ivy Bridge" 7-Series Chipset, and other Intel chipsets, have achieved, finally, USB 3.0 certification. Intel's Ivy Bridge silicon, which is due to ship in Q2 2012, will have USB 3.0 as a standard feature, for the first time ever. At the moment, it has only been made available on select notebooks and desktops, and requires chips from AMD, or additional chips from NEC, and others.
General Manager of Intel's Chipset and SoC IP Group, Ahmad Zaidi, said in a statement:
SuperSpeed USB certification...helps ensure interoperability and backward compatibility within the broad USB ecosystem.
Analysts believe that once USB 3.0 has been baked into Intel's chipset, it will made the standard universal as it can be offered on virtually any PC. Brian O'Rourke, research director for In-Stat, has said:
Intel's integration of SuperSpeed USB into its upcoming core logic chipset is critical because it allows cost-conscious PC (makers) to offer the technology at a very competitive price point. Additionally, SuperSpeed USB adoption in PCs is leading to broad adoption in PC peripherals, consumer electronics, and mobile devices.
Intel did show off a Medfield-powered tablet at IDF which had NFC tech built in, as well as being partnered with MasterCard, it promises to bring PayPass checkouts to Ultrabooks.
Intel is now entering a licensing deal with Inside Secure. Inside Secure specializes in contactless payment systems and will be lending its Microread, Secured and Open NFC products to Intel for future chips.
NFC should feature in Ultrabooks, and we should see it in any future x86-powered smartphones, too. NFC is looking to become the next pure standard, and with companies like Intel behind it, it gives more confidence to the technology, and its customers.
GlobalFoundaries will be a name that will be commonly mentioned in 2012, which is something they'll be easily doing if they continue at this pace. They've announced a dual-core Cortex A9 test chip that is built on a 28nm HPP (High Performance Plus) process.
This test chip clocks in at 2.5GHz and is said to be capable of higher frequencies. It operating voltage is just 0.85V. Both the frequency and voltage targets are good for a Cortex A9 implementation, but remember, this is just a test chip.
Most companies are expecting to pass the 2GHz mark next year on high-performance 28nm processes, so we should see this by the end of 2012, if not early 2013. We should see these designs in tablets and netbook replacements, with ARM being Windows 8-compatible now.
AMD launched their AMD FX processor family with just a few units, two eight-core parts (FX-8150, FX-8120), a six-core product (FX-6100), and the quad-core one (FX-4100). But there's now a new processor set to hit the shelves of retailers worldwide, a six-core FX-6200 chip.
The FX-6200 receives quite the speed boost compared to the FX-6100. The FX-6100 has a stock clock speed of 3.3GHz and 3.90GHz under TurboCore, but the FX-6200 puts its hard hat on and gets onto its Bulldozer with stock clocks at 3.8GHz and a TurboCore speed of 4.10GHz. AMD have a chart which shows that we should expect a 10-percent increase in performance when using MainConcept Convert HD to Flash. I look forward to seeing some real-world, gaming results.
Now, if AMD could just find those 800 million transistors that have gone missing...
To look, or not to look. Ah, come on. You know you're going to take a peek. What does it include? Well, the gist of it, there's not much exciting happening for CPUs (in my opinion) for 2012. The roadmap shows that Intel's superhero, the Core i7-3960K, won't be replaced any time throughout 2012. So, if you have one, you'll feel safe knowing you have the knees that are on those bees throughout the year.
But, there will be shifts in all other segments: premium (Core i7), mainstream (Core i5), transactional (Core i3), legacy (Pentium) and value (Celeron and Atom). The biggest change we'll see from Intel in 2012 is the launch of the 22nm-based Socket 1155. There will be a bunch of CPUs released under this new fabrication.
These chips include the Core i7-3770K which will sit at the top of the hill, clocked at 3.50GHz, sporting 8MB of cache, 8 threads, and a Turbo Boost speed of 3.90GHz. TDP sits at 77W and does so throughout the entire 22nm-based range. This is down from the 32nm-based chips with TDP's at a max of 95.
Every time I read the word "atom," I say to myself "up and Atom" from the character "Radioactive Man" from the Simpsons. Anyway, researchers from McGill University and Sandia National Laboratories have built a circuit that has two wires that are separated by just 150 atoms, built on a 15nm process.
Circuits of this size include the usual benefits of lower power consumption and heat, as well as bringing extra functionality due to the larger transistor density. The challenges at this level, as you can imagine, are great. Dan Olds, an analyst at The Gabriel Consulting Group said of this research:
This kind of research also uncovers other potential problems arising from ever smaller shrinks. Getting to 15nm or 16nm will mean smaller and more powerful devices that are more energy efficient. But when we're talking about such a small scale, designing chips that can be mass-produced with decent yields is quite a challenge. There will also be challenges for the design of devices that will use these processors. Devices based on 15nm processes will pack more performance and functionality into much smaller form factors. Functions that used to take two or more chips will be accomplished by one transistor-jammed processor.
In an exclusive interview with NordicHardware, Managing Director of Intel Northern Europe, Pay Bliemer, revealed that Intel is currently playing with 14nm circuits and have them actually "up and running" in a lab.
Bliemer also states that whilst manufacturing technology is becoming much more complicated, Intel is still full steam ahead with their current roadmaps. Intel were the first to tap into the 32nm technology for mass production of microprocessors and by the end of Q1 2012, they will roll out their Ivy Bridge architecture sporting a 22nm process with "3D Transistors", also known as Tri-gate transistors.
Bliemer also says that by the time Ivy Bridge launches, Intel will be one and a half nodes ahead of the competition. He adds:
I wouldn't say that we have problem but there's no denying that it's getting more complicated the smaller you make something, so you're running into limitations - but our R&D as well from an architectural point of view are the guys making the manufacturing and that's within the same company - which makes Intel unique still. So we can really work extremely close with these teams. We are the same team, the guys who are going to manufacture the parts and the ones who will be designing the parts.
Our latest poll had over 3,100 people who answered, You now know everything about Sandy Bridge-E - what do you do?
This was one of the most even polls we have ran in sometime. Out in front by a small margin the option of staying on my current system took first place with 25% of the votes.
In a close second place the option of staying on an existing Sandy Bridge system took 19% of the votes, while third place went to checking out what AMD is doing.
AMD may not have released what people were expecting when they unleashed Bulldozer, but that has not stopped the CPU from selling out on retail shelves. AMD are selling out as soon as shops receive stock, even while they're not competitively priced against Intel's Core range.
Is it the "It's an 8-core CPU!!" marketing that is doing its magic here? Or are the uninformed customers grabbing it thinking this is somehow better than Intel's offerings? Most tech sites, magazines, forums, and what have you have taken a ride in the Bulldozer and not enjoyed it that much. It can beat Intel's Core i7 2600K in some tests, but overall, it's not in the same league.
Bulldozer has run over the Phenom II and Athlon II processors, which were relatively good chips with good pricing as well as selling well. Manufacturing plants however, share equipment between 45nm products and the new 32nm-based chips, so one has to be discontinued.
Faildozer strikes again, Bulldozer actually has 800 million LESS transistors than originally thought
AMD's Bulldozer "FX" series of processors have not enjoyed the lime light lately, where we could replace lime light with poo flinging and we'd be more on the mark. We've covered it a few times now and even our reviewer Shane Baxtor was not that impressed.
It got its arse handed to it in most tests, with existing platforms like the Phenom II actually beating it sometimes. Sad. But, it seems as though AMD did not even know how many transistors the Bulldozer sported, with an e-mail from Anand Lal Shimpi of AnandTech, where AMD's PR department and Anand has shared his thoughts:
This is a bit unusual. I got an email from AMD PR this week asking me to correct the Bulldozer transistor count in our Sandy Bridge E review. The incorrect number, provided to me (and other reviewers) by AMD PR around 3 months ago was 2 billion transistors. The actual transistor count for Bulldozer is apparently 1.2 billion transistors. I don't have an explanation as to why the original number was wrong, just that the new number has been triple checked by my contact and is indeed right. The total die area for a 4-module/8-core Bulldozer remains correct at 315 mm².