Intel has finally flicked the power button on its 10nm fabrication facility, with the prototyping phase to begin very soon. Intel will reportedly enter the trial production stage in the coming weeks, with Intel shipping Kaby Lake-based CPUs to customers on time.
The company will be starting its 10nm factory during Q3 2016, confirming that it's upcoming Cannonlake processors are still on track. This means we should see trial productions begin later this year, where volume production will begin in the first half of 2017. Intel's current 14nm process was delayed into the mainstream market by 6-9 months or so, but in that time it still managed to keep a node lead over competitors in Samsung and TSMC.
AMD is set to get back into the CPU game in a big way with its next generation Zen architecture, which will be arriving to consumers in early 2017 - but reports have surfaced stating that an early run of Zen CPUs will hit later this year. We've already reported on the 32-core server variants of Zen, with the consumer CPUs hitting 4- and 8-core CPU markets.
During AMD's recent earnings call, company CEO Lisa Su said: "We have been very focused on the server launch for first half of 2017. Desktop should launch before that. In terms of true volume ability, I believe it will be in the first quarter of 2017. We may ship some limited volume towards the end of the fourth quarter, based on how bring up goes and the customer readiness".
Su said that AMD should have a limited run of Zen processors for their partners to use in testing in order to prepare for the desktop launch of the Zen-powered CPUs. The limited shipment should kick off in Q4 2016 (so, not long now) with the consumer launch in early 2017 aimed at high-end desktops and enthusiasts - where AMD has been losing to Intel for a number of years now.
Right now it's all eyes and ears on Polaris and graphics cards with the Radeon RX 480, and the soon-to-be-released Radeon RX 470 and RX 460, but the upcoming Zen architecture is beginning to rear its head, and will rock CPU sockets in the very near future.
According to the latest leaks, engineering samples of the Zen CPU are around the place, with 4-, 8-, 24-, and 32-core variants in the wild. The first two SKUs will slot into the new AM4 socket, while the 24- and 32-core variants will be used in servers.
The quad-core Zen CPU has a 65W TDP, while the 8-core model rocks a 95W TDP - teasing the efficiency tweaks that AMD will deliver with Zen. The 24- and 32-core server SKUs ramp the TDP up to 150W and 180W, respectively. When it comes to tech specs, we should see the quad-core Zen CPU with 8 CPU threads 2MB of L2 cache and 8MB of L3 cache while the 8-core Zen CPU will rock 16 threads with double the cache.
AMD's next-gen Radeon RX 480 is finally here, and it rocks quite a lot of performance for $199 - but what about the CPU side of the business? Zen isn't going to be here for a little while yet, but the company has reached a milestone in its production.
AMD has started the rollout of its enterprise-class Naples processor, which is a 32-core beast with 64 threads of CPU power. Naples is the codename of AMD's next Opteron platform, which will support the 32-core CPU. Naples will reportedly be built into an 8-core base design, with 16- and 32-core chips being made in an MCM (Multi-Chip Module) format.
The new Naples processor was spotted on the Zauba shipping database, where it was noted to be shipped on June 20, listed as the Naples Test Board. AMD will be tapping the 14nm FinFET process for its Naples CPU, just like the Polaris architecture on the GPU side of things. It will support 8 memory channels, and up to 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes, and up to 32 x SATA/NVMe devices.
While there might be a 1000-core processor in the wild, we won't see it in consumer or prosumer machines in that form, ever - at least not until the likes of Intel or AMD can hit 1000 processors on a single chip. Well, Intel is getting closer with its new Xeon Phi 7290 processor, which has 72 CPU cores.
Intel's new Xeon Phi 7290 is the fastest processor the company has released, and it's also their most expensive. The new Xeon Phi 7290 has 72 processing cores at 1.5GHz each, with Intel sending them out in September, with a huge price tag of $6294. Intel's next-gen Xeon Phi 7290 doesn't rely on the PCIe bus, allowing it to handle a much higher wider variety of workloads, and configurations that aren't supported by usual accelerators.
Intel has included 16GB of HBM with 490GB/sec of memory bandwidth for applications that are memory bound, while the dual-port Intel Omni-Path Fabric makes an appearance, reducing the cost of Intel's new Xeon Phi 7290, in terms of cost, power consumption and space required. The new Xeon Phi 7290 is one of four new processors, with the new chips packaged very similar to video cards, functioning as primary processors, or co-processors - depending on the use.
This isn't something I thought I'd be writing in 2016, but a team at the University of California, Davis, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering have hit a world's first. The team have designed the first "KiloCore" processor, which has 1000 independent programmable processors, with a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second.
The new 1000-core processor has 621 million transistors and was shown off during the recent 2016 Symposium on VLSI Technology and Circuits in Honolulu on June 16. Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Bevan Baas, who led the team that designed KiloCore, said: "To the best of our knowledge, it is the world's first 1,000-processor chip and it is the highest clock-rate processor ever designed in a university".
Up until now, there has been no other chips made with over 300 processors, with most of them being made for research purposes and only a handful are sold commercially. The new 1000-processor KiloCore was fabricated by IBM on their 32nm CMOS technology, so we're not even talking anything radically advanced like the 14nm and 10nm nodes that are being used and played with now.
It looks like Samsung is continuing to out-innovate everyone else, announcing that Samsung and even TSMC are producing chips using the new FoWLP yield technology. What the hell is FoWLP yield technology you ask?
FoWLP, or Fan-Out Wafter Level Packaging platform, allows smartphone OEMs to reduce the thickness of their devices by a great degree, which has multiple benefits. FoWLP also doesn't need a PCB, and also increases the efficiency of chips by 30%, as well as reducing the thickness of smartphones by at least 0.3mm.
Apple is reportedly using TSMC as its main supplier of 10nm FinFET processors, and Samsung wants a cut of that business - which is where FoWLP comes into play. Samsung might end up winking just right at Apple, especially if TSMC can't keep up with Apple's high demand. With smartphones hitting the whole no bezel, super-thin, more battery wishlist - Samsung's impressive new FoWLP technology is going to come in handy big time over the coming years.
We've been hearing so much about the Zen architecture from AMD, but this new information is rather exciting. Our friends at Fudzilla have exclusive information on an upcoming Zen CPU with 32 cores, and 64 threads, with a huge 64MB of L3 cache.
The chip has a codename of Naples, powered by the Zen architecture, with each CPU core featuring its own dedicated 512KB cache. A cluster of Zen cores share 8MB of L3 cache, pumping the total L3 shared cache of 64MB. There will be a 16-core variant as well, with both of the CPUs being made on the 14nm FinFET process. Naples has 8 independent memory channels, with up to 128 PCIe 3.0 lanes. This makes AMD ready for the super-fast NVMO memory controllers and drives, with Naples set to support 32 SATA and NVMe drives.
Naples also has support for a huge 16 x 10GbE network, with the controller integrated, with Naples being slotted into a SP3 LGA server socket. We should expect the server-bound Zen products to have 35W to 180W TDPs, with dual, quad, 16, and 32-core server variants of Zen, with a release window of late 2016, or sometime in 2017.
Computex 2016 - Intel exec Navin Shenoy confirmed that Intel's 14nm 7th-gen Kaby Lake Core CPU will enter production later this quarter, with an eventual release in 2016.
"I'm excited to tell you that two new products will be coming from Intel later this year: Apollo Lake for the value and entry-level PC, 2-in-1 and tablet, and the 7th Generation Core, formally codenamed Kaby Lake, will be coming later this year. We have over 400 designs coming to market on the Seventh Gen Core, and you can expect lots of innovations from our OEM partners bringing this product to market," said Intel's General Manager of Intel's Client Computing Group Navin Shenoy said during Intel's Computex 2016 keynote.
With the seventh-generation Kaby Lake chip series, Intel has broken its tick-tock cadence for the first time in the last decade, opting instead for the new "process, architecture, optimization" model. Kaby Lake--and the new low-power, entry-level Apollo Lake--will use the same 14nm process node as Skylake and Broadwell-E, but will feature significant microarchitecture tweaks and optimizations. Intel also announced Kaby Lake will natively support USB 3.1 and Thunderbolt 3, with higher-end chips maxing out at 95W TDP.
Computex 2016 - After revealing the $199 VR-ready Radeon RX 480 and the Summit Ridge Zen silicon at Computex, AMD revealed its latest 7th-generation Bristol Ridge and Stony Ridge APUs with massive improvements in CPU and GPU performance and power efficiency.
AMD's new 7th-generation APU lineup is a medley of processors separated in performance tiers across two product families: Bristol Ridge for higher-end gaming and performance, and Stony Ridge for everyday and entry-level use. The APUs range from the lower-end 2.8GHz A6-9210 to the performance-grade 3.7GHz 7th-gen FX 9830P. AMD boasts that Bristol Ridge's premiere FX chips are 56% faster than previous gens, with the entry-level A6 series 51% faster than past generations. The Bristol Ridge APUs are also beating Intel's mobile chips: According to AMD, the new FX-9800P is 50% faster than Intel's i7 6500U processor.
The lineup puts emphasis power efficiency and performance, which is exactly what users need in laptops. AMD's new 7th generation APUs leverage four Excavator cores and eight Radeon Graphics Core Next Cores, with integrated GPUs ranging from Radeon R2 to Radeon R7 graphics. The A10, A12, and FX series support performance gaming features like FreeSync and pairing up with discrete desktop video cards with Dual Graphics, whereas EyeFinity and Framerate Target Control are reserved for the top two models. The FX series also sports DirectX 12 and Vulkan with multi-adapter support.