Archive for the ‘CPU’ Category

Nvidia wants to buy CPU designer Arm—Qualcomm is not happy about it

February 12th, 2021
Some current Arm licensees view the proposed acquisition as highly toxic.

Enlarge / Some current Arm licensees view the proposed acquisition as highly toxic. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Nvidia)

In September 2020, Nvidia announced its intention to buy Arm, the license holder for the CPU technology that powers the vast majority of mobile and high-powered embedded systems around the world.

Nvidia's proposed deal would acquire Arm from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank for $40 billion—a number which is difficult to put into perspective. Forty billion dollars would represent one of the largest tech acquisitions of all time, but 40 Instagrams or so doesn't seem like that much to pay for control of the architecture supporting every well-known smartphone in the world, plus a staggering array of embedded controllers, network routers, automobiles, and other devices.

Today’s Arm doesn’t sell hardware

Arm's business model is fairly unusual in the hardware space, particularly from a consumer or small business perspective. Arm's customers—including hardware giants such as Apple, Qualcomm, and Samsung—aren't buying CPUs the way you'd buy an Intel Xeon or AMD Ryzen. Instead, they're purchasing the license to design and/or manufacture CPUs based on Arm's intellectual property. This typically means selecting one or more reference core designs, putting several of them in one system on chip (SoC), and tying them all together with the necessary cache and other peripherals.

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Posted in acquisition, antitrust, ARM, CPU, GPU, merger, mobile cpu, NVIDIA, processors, Qualcomm, regulation, Tech | Comments (0)

White House hastens to address global chip shortage

February 12th, 2021
Ford has cut production at its Chicago facility from three shifts to one as a global chip shortage takes a toll on the car industry.

Enlarge / Ford has cut production at its Chicago facility from three shifts to one as a global chip shortage takes a toll on the car industry. (credit: Scott Olson | Getty Images)

The Biden administration has pledged to take immediate action to address a global shortage of semiconductors that has forced the closure of several US car plants.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said the administration was "identifying potential chokepoints in the supply chain" after coming under pressure from lawmakers, semiconductor companies, and car manufacturers over the shortages.

A surge in demand for consumer electronics during the pandemic has led to the shortage of chips, which has been exacerbated in the US by sanctions on SMIC, the Chinese chipmaker.

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Posted in ARM, automakers, cars, chip shortage, CPU, Policy, Tech | Comments (0)

After corporate blunders and setbacks, Intel ousts CEO Bob Swan

January 13th, 2021
Intel Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan during an Intel press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Enlarge / Intel Chief Executive Officer Bob Swan during an Intel press event for CES 2020 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on January 6, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (credit: Getty Images)

Intel is replacing its chief executive Bob Swan after a series of manufacturing setbacks and competitive blunders that lost the veteran Silicon Valley company its crown as the top US chipmaker.

Swan, its former finance chief who held the top job for just over two years, will be succeeded on February 15 by former Intel veteran Pat Gelsinger, who is currently chief executive of VMware, the infrastructure software group.

The company made the move just days before Mr. Swan was expected to unveil Intel’s new manufacturing strategy, together with the company’s latest earnings.

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Posted in Bob Swan, CPU, Intel, Tech, x86 | Comments (0)

Intel at CES: Alder Lake looks a lot like M1, plus new chips for gaming laptops

January 12th, 2021

The Consumer Electronics Show this week was never going to be where Intel would venture into extreme detail on major new 12th-generation CPUs, but nonetheless, the company hosted a press conference this morning that laid out a few new evolutions of the 11th-gen CPUs it has already been shipping, plus an early look at what to expect from the 12th-generation Alder Lake.

Using an improved version of the 10nm SuperFin process, Alder Lake will take on Apple's ARM instruction set-based M1 chip and its ilk with a somewhat similar architecture. Namely, that means a hybrid architecture of high-performance (Golden Lake) and high-efficiency (Gracemont) cores similar in spirit to ARM's BIG.little design and to Lakefield. Intel says these are desktop and laptop CPUs and that they'll reach consumers in the second half of 2021, but details are otherwise pretty sparse.

More than anything, it looks like Intel is trying to get ahead of the narrative that the company is facing some serious challenges ahead as Macs with M1 CPUs delivered much better price-to-performance ratios than what Intel is currently putting in competing devices—especially in the face of Intel's delays.

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Posted in Alder Lake, CES 2021, CES2021, CPU, Intel, Intel Core i9 11900K, Rocket Lake-S, Tech | Comments (0)

How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world

December 20th, 2020
How an obscure British PC maker invented ARM and changed the world

Enlarge (credit: Jason Torchinsky)

Let's be honest: 2020 sucks. So much of this year has been a relentless slog of bad news and miserable events that it's been hard to keep up. Yet most of us have kept up, and the way most of us do so is with the small handheld computers we carry with us at all times. At least in America, we still call these by the hilariously reductive name "phones."

We can all use a feel-good underdog story right now, and luckily our doomscrolling 2020 selves don't have to look very far. That's because those same phones, and so much of our digital existence, run on the same thing: the ARM family of CPUs. And with Apple's release of a whole new line of Macs based on their new M1 CPU—an ARM-based processor—and with those machines getting fantastic reviews, it's a good time to remind everyone of the strange and unlikely source these world-controlling chips came from.

If you were writing reality as a screenplay, and, for some baffling reason, you had to specify what the most common central processing unit used in most phones, game consoles, ATMs, and other innumerable devices was, you'd likely pick one from one of the major manufacturers, like Intel. That state of affairs would make sense and fit in with the world as people understand it; the market dominance of some industry stalwart would raise no eyebrows or any other bits of hair on anyone.

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Posted in Acorn, Acorn Archimedes, ARM, bbc micro, Biz & IT, CPU, cpu architecture, Features | Comments (0)

New RISC-V CPU claims recordbreaking performance per watt

December 4th, 2020
Grainy photograph of computer components.

Micro Magic's new CPU prototype is seen here running on an Odroid board. (credit: Micro Magic)

Micro Magic Inc.—a small electronic design firm in Sunnyvale, California—has produced a prototype CPU that is several times more efficient than world-leading competitors, while retaining reasonable raw performance.

We first noticed Micro Magic's claims earlier this week, when EE Times reported on the company's new prototype CPU, which appears to be the fastest RISC-V CPU in the world. Micro Magic advisor Andy Huang claimed the CPU could produce 13,000 CoreMarks (more on that later) at 5GHz and 1.1V while also putting out 11,000 CoreMarks at 4.25GHz—the latter, all while consuming only 200mW. Huang demonstrated the CPU—running on an Odroid board—to EE Times at 4.327GHz/0.8V, and 5.19GHz/1.1V.

Later the same week, Micro Magic announced the same CPU could produce over 8,000 CoreMarks at 3GHz while consuming only 69mW of power.

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Posted in CPU, mobile CPUs, RISC-V, Tech | Comments (0)

Mac mini and Apple Silicon M1 review: Not so crazy after all

November 19th, 2020

Apple is crazy, right? The Mac just had its best year of sales ever, and Cupertino is hitting the platform with a shock like it hasn’t had in nearly 15 years—back in a time when the Mac was not having such a good year. Apple is beginning the process of replacing industry-standard Intel chips with its own, custom-designed silicon.

In a way, we're not just reviewing the new Mac mini—a Mac mini is always a Mac mini, right? We're reviewing an ARM-based Mac for the first time. And this is not exactly the same story as all the other ARM machines we've looked at before, like Windows 10 on ARM—a respectable option with some serious tradeoffs.

Sure, longer battery life and quick waking from sleep are already out there on other ARM computers. But as you may have seen in our hands-on earlier this week, what we're encountering here is also a performance leap—and as you'll also see in this review, a remarkable success at making this new architecture compatible with a large library of what could now, suddenly, be called legacy Mac software.

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Posted in apple, Apple silicon, big sur, CPU, desktop, Features, Gadgetology, GPU, Intel, M1, Mac, Mac mini, MacOS, macOS Big Sur, Tech | Comments (0)

A history of Intel vs. AMD desktop performance, with CPU charts galore

November 17th, 2020
A tortoise and a hare are on a racetrack.

Enlarge / Spoiler: When it comes to performance over the years, Intel is the slow and steady tortoise to AMD's speedy-but-intermittent hare. (credit: Aurich Lawson / Getty Images)

The comment wars between Intel and AMD fans have been hot for the last few release cycles, with a lot of digital ink spilled about which company has—or has not—improved significantly over the years. There's been no shortage of opinions about the current raw performance of each company's fastest processors, either. We thought it would be interesting to dive into archived performance benchmarks of the fastest desktop/enthusiast CPUs for each company to get a good overview of how each has really done over the years—and perhaps to even see if there are patterns to be gleaned or to make some bets about the future.

Before we dive into charts, let's start out with some tables—that way, you can see which CPUs we're using as milestones for each year. While we're at it, there are a couple of irregularities in the data; we'll discuss those also and talk about the things that a simple chart won't show you.

Twenty years of enthusiast computing

Year Intel Model AMD Model Notes
2001 Pentium 4 2.0GHz (1c/1t) Athlon XP 1900+ (1c/1t)
2002 Pentium 4 2.8GHz (1c/2t) Athlon XP 2800+ (1c/1t) Intel introduces hyperthreading
2003 Pentium 4 Extreme 3.2GHz (1c/2t) Athlon XP 3200+ (1c/1t)
2004 Pentium 4 3.4GHz (1c/2t) Athlon 64 FX-55 (1c/1t)
2005 Pentium 4 3.8GHz (1c/2t) Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (2c/2t)
2006 Pentium Extreme 965 (2c/4t) Athlon 64 X2 5000+ (2c/2t) Intel takes the undisputed performance lead here—and keeps it for a decade straight.
2007 Core 2 Extreme QX6800 (4c/4t) Phenom X4 9600 (4c/4t) Intel and AMD both launch the first true quad-core desktop CPUs
2008 Core 2 Extreme X9650 (4c/4t) Phenom X4 9950 (4c/4t)
2009 Core i7-960 (4c/8t) Phenom II X4 965 (4c/4t)
2010 Core i7-980X (6c/12t) Phenom II X6 1100T (6c/6t) Intel and AMD both introduce hex-core desktop CPUs
2011 Core i7-990X (6c/12t) FX-8150 (8c/8t)
2012 Core i7-3770K (4c/8t) FX-8350 (8c/8t) Intel abandons hex-core desktop CPUs—but few miss them, due to large single-threaded gains
2013 Core i7-4770K (4c/8t) FX-9590 (8c/8t) AMD's underwhelming FX-9590 launches—and it's Team Red's last enthusiast CPU for four long years
2014 Core i7-4790K (4c/8t) FX-9590 (8c/8t) Intel's 5th generation Core dies stillborn. AMD releases low-power APUs, but no successor to FX-9590
2015 Core i7-6700K (4c/8t) FX-9590 (8c/8t)
2016 Core i7-7700K (4c/8t) FX-9590 (8c/8t) Strictly speaking, 2016 was an Intel whiff—Kaby Lake didn't actually launch until January 2017
2017 Core i7-8700K (6c/12t) Ryzen 7 1800X (8c/16t) Launch of AMD's Zen architecture, return of the Intel hex-core desktop CPU
2018 Core i9-9900K (8c/16t) Ryzen 7 2700X (8c/16t)
2019 Core i9-9900KS (8c/16t) Ryzen 9 3950X (16c/32t) AMD's Zen 2 architecture launches, Intel whiffs hard in the performance segment
2020 Core i9-10900K (10c/20t) Ryzen 9 5950X (16c/32t) AMD's Zen 3 finally crushes Intel's long-held single-threaded performance record

Although both Intel and AMD obviously launch a wide array of processors for different price points and target markets each year, we're limiting ourselves to the fastest desktop or "enthusiast" processor from each year. That means no server processors and no High-End Desktop (HEDT) processors either—so we won't be looking at either Threadrippers or the late model XE series Intel parts.

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Posted in AMD, AMD vs. Intel, CPU, CPU performance, desktop CPU, Features, gaming CPU, Intel, Tech | Comments (0)

Intel SGX defeated yet again—this time thanks to on-chip power meter

November 10th, 2020
Intel SGX defeated yet again—this time thanks to on-chip power meter

Enlarge

Researchers have devised a new way to remotely steal cryptographic keys from Intel CPUs, even when the CPUs run software guard extensions, the in-silicon protection that’s supposed to create a trusted enclave that’s impervious to such attacks.

PLATYPUS, as the researchers are calling the attack, uses a novel vector to open one of the most basic side channels, a form of exploit that uses physical characteristics to infer secrets stored inside a piece of hardware. Whereas most power side channels require physical access so attackers can measure the consumption of electricity, PLATYPUS can do so remotely by abusing the Running Average Power Limit. Abbreviated as RAPL, this Intel interface lets users monitor and control the energy flowing through CPUs and memory.

Leaking keys and a whole lot more

An international team of researchers on Tuesday is disclosing a way to use RAPL to observe enough clues about the instructions and data flowing through a CPU to infer values that it loads. Using PLATYPUS, the researchers can leak crypto keys from SGX enclaves and the operating system, break the exploit mitigation known as Address Space Layout Randomization, and establish a covert channel for secretly exfiltrating data. Chips starting with Intel’s Sandy Bridge architecture are vulnerable.

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Posted in Biz & IT, CPU, cryptography keys, Intel, sgx, side-channel, Tech | Comments (0)

AMD’s Zen 3 CPUs are here—we test the blistering-fast 5900X and 5950X

November 5th, 2020
Brand-new CPUs look so pretty before you put the thermal paste on and hide them under a cooler.

Enlarge / Brand-new CPUs look so pretty before you put the thermal paste on and hide them under a cooler. (credit: Jim Salter)

Specs at a glance: Ryzen 5000XT CPUs, as tested
OS Windows 10 Professional
CPU Ryzen 9 5950X (16c/32t)
Ryzen 9 5900X (12c/24t)
Ryzen 9 3900XT (12c/24t)—$455 at Amazon
RAM 2x 32GB Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR4 3200—$180 ea at Amazon
GPU MSI GeForce 2060 RTX Super—formerly $450 at Amazon
HDD Samsung 860 Pro 1TB SSD—$200 at Amazon
Motherboard ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Hero (Wi-Fi)—$380 at Amazon
Cooling NZXT Kraken X63 fluid cooler with 280mm radiator—$150 at Newegg
PSU EVGA 850Ga Modular PSU—$140 at Amazon
Chassis  Primochill Praxis Wetbench test chassis—$200 at Amazon
Price as tested ≈$1,500 as tested, excluding CPU

A month ago, AMD announced the arrival of the Zen 3 desktop CPU architecture. The announcement included new AMD internal benchmarks that implied Intel had lost its last desktop performance trophy—pure single-threaded performance.

Last week, Ars got samples of the two highest-end models in the new CPU lineup—the $800, 16-core/32-thread Ryzen 9 5950X, and the $550 12-core/24-thread Ryzen 9 5900X. And we can confirm most of AMD's benchmark claims—IPC has improved, along with both single and multi-threaded performance, across the board, beating Intel soundly on nearly all fronts.

The only quibble we have with AMD's claims regards power consumption, not performance—and to be fair, it's almost certainly not AMD's fault. The system's desktop idle power consumption increased about 10W—but the increase affected our older Ryzen 9 3900XT CPU, as well as the two new Zen 3 parts. Knowing that, we expect the increase comes from the mandatory BIOS upgrade we had to perform on the ROG Crosshair VIII Hero motherboard, rather than the new CPUs themselves.

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Posted in AMD, CPU, CPUs, desktop CPUs, gaming CPUs, ryzen 5000, Tech, Zen 3 | Comments (0)