As AMD is now well into their third generation of RDNA architecture GPUs, the sun has been slowly setting on AMD’s remaining Graphics Core Next (GCN) designs, better known by the architecture names of Polaris and Vega. In recent weeks the company dropped support for those GPU architectures in their open source Vulkan Linux driver, AMDVLK, and now we have confirmation that the company is slowly winding down support for these architectures in their Windows drivers as well. Under AMD’s extended driver support schedule for Polaris and Vega, the drivers for these architectures will no longer be kept at feature parity with the RDNA architectures. And while AMD will continue to support Polaris and Vega for some time to come, that support is being reduced to security updates and “functionality updates as available.” What’s odd is that AMD is still selling these as integrated GPUs to this day, and they, too, are getting this treatment. That’s a pretty shitty deal for people buying these products today.
Being announced today by AMD for a November 21st launch, this morning AMD is taking the wraps off of their Ryzen 7000 Threadripper CPUs. These high-end chips are being split up into two product lines, with AMD assembling the workstation-focused Ryzen Threadripper 7000 Pro series, as well as the non-pro Ryzen Threadripper 7000 series for the more consumer-ish high-end desktop (HEDT) market. Both chip lines are based on AMD’s tried and true Zen 4 architecture – derivatives of AMD’s EPYC server processors – incorporating AMD’s Zen 4 chiplets and a discrete I/O dies. As with previous generations of Threadripper parts, we’re essentially looking at the desktop version of AMD’s EPYC hardware. With both product lines, AMD is targeting customer bases that need CPUs more powerful than a desktop Ryzen processor, but not as exotic (or expensive) as AMD’s server wares. This means chips with lots and lots of CPU cores – up to 96 in the case of the Threadripper 7000 Pro series – as well as support for a good deal more I/O and memory. The amount varies with the specific chip lineup, but both leave Ryzen 7000 and its 16 cores and 24 PCIe lanes in the dust. I’m hoping these will eventually find their way to eBay, so that around five years from now, I can replace my dual-Xeon workstation with a Threadripper machine.
ECC support has been standard on Ryzen processors, but with the recent introduction of the Ryzen 7000 series and the new AM5 socket, any mention of ECC was dropped from specification pages and similar documentation. It turns out, though, that there’s more to this story. A couple months ago I came across a topic on the ASRock forums talking about ECC support on AM5 motherboards, in which a user called ApplesOfEpicness said that they’d worked with an AMD engineer to get ECC RAM going within AMD’s AGESA firmware. They’d claimed to have tested it on an ASRock motherboard with an updated UEFI, by shorting ground and data pins, and seeing errors be reported up to the OS. I was intrigued by this! Even though I didn’t have the same motherboard that ApplesOfEpicness did, I had chosen an ASRock board (the B650E PG Riptide)—I had figured that if ECC was possible on any AM5 board at all, it would be supported on ASRock. So based on the forum post, last week I ordered a pair of 32 GB server-grade ECC sticks from v-color. I updated my motherboard’s UEFI to the latest version (version 1.28 with AGESA 18.104.22.168b), and then replaced my existing RAM with the new sticks. I started up the system, and after a very long link training process… it booted up! It boots, but does it actually work? This may seem like a simple question to answer, but it turns out it’s a lot harder to verify working ECC than you might think. Excellent investigative work by the author, Rain.
Phoenix is the latest addition to AMD’s long line of APUs (chips with integrated graphics). Ever since Picasso launched with Zen cores and Vega graphics, AMD’s APUs saw massive improvements from generation to generations. That’s largely because AMD started from so far behind. But Zen 2 and Zen 3 APUs were already very solid products, so Phoenix’s improvements make it a very dangerous competitor. AMD has put a lot of focus into reducing power consumption across every area of the chip. Zen 4 cores do an excellent job on the CPU side, while RDNA 3 provides strong graphics performance. Hardware offload helps power efficiency on specialized AI and audio processing workloads. To support all this, Infinity Fabric gets lower power states and very flexible clock behavior. Phoenix ends up being able to perform well across a wide range of form factors and power targets. These are the kinds of chips powering the current slew of mobile gaming devices like the Steam Deck and its various competitors. It’s great to see this market segment take off, mostly thanks to AMD and Valve, but I’m going to hold off just one or two generations more before jumping in. If AMD’s pace of improvement continues, these handheld devices are going to become even thinner and lighter. That being said, I’d still love to review a Steam Deck for OSNews, specifically because of its Linux base. Maybe I’ll run into an acceptable deal at some point soon.
Kicking off a busy day of product announcements and updates for AMD’s data center business group, this morning AMD is finally announcing their long-awaited high density “Bergamo” server CPUs. Based on AMD’s density-optimized Zen 4c architecture, the new EPYC 97×4 chips offer up to 128 CPU cores, 32 more cores than AMD’s current-generation flagship EPYC 9004 “Genoa” chips. According to AMD, the new EPYC processors are shipping now, though we’re still awaiting further details about practical availability. There is so much competition in the processor space at the moment – it’s just great. Few of us will ever get to use or even see these processors, but eventually, technologies developed for the very high end of the today will make their way down to the attainable end of tomorrow.
But as you might think, nobody at AMD envisioned it that way in the planning or design stages. No engineer would ever start working with the idea to “build a shit product”; a recent chat with an engineer who was at AMD during Bulldozer’s development gave us additional insight on what the original goals for the architecture were. AMD originally wanted Bulldozer to be like K10, but with a shared frontend and FPU. In one architecture, AMD would improve single threaded performance while massively increasing multithreaded performance, and move to a new 32 nm node at the same time. But those goals were too ambitious, and AMD struggled to keep clock frequency up on the 32 nm process. This resulted in cuts to the architecture, which started to stack up. The last AMD processor I used pre-Zen was a Phenom II, which was a fine processor for the price. However, after that, it quickly became clear that Intel had taken the lead. As such, I never experienced this era of AMD, and I think many of you will have had the same experience. This makes articles like these incredibly interesting.
The AMD EPYC 9004 series, codenamed “Genoa” is nothing short of a game-changer. We use that often in the industry, but this is not a 15-25% generational improvement. The new AMD EPYC Genoa changes the very foundation of what it means to be a server. This is a 50-60% (or more) per-socket improvement, meaning we get a 3:2 or 2:1 consolidation just from a generation ago. If you are coming from 3-5 year-old Xeon Scalable (1st and 2nd Gen) servers to EPYC, the consolidation potential is even more immense, more like 4:1. This new series is about much more than just additional cores or a few new features. AMD EPYC Genoa is a game-changer, and we are going to go in-depth as to why in this article. These are absolutely monster processors, and widen the already existing gap between AMD and Intel in the server space even more.
AMD is gearing up to launch its next-generation Radeon RX 7000-series GPUs next month, and today the company shared more details about the cards’ pricing, performance levels, and the new RDNA 3 GPU architecture that will power all of its graphics cards for the next couple of years. The launch begins at the high end, with the Radeon RX 7900 XTX and RX 7900 XT. AMD will launch both of these GPUs on December 13, with the 7900 XTX starting at $999 and the XT starting at $899 (cards made by AMD’s partners will surely push these prices upward a bit). Both of these price tags undercut Nvidia’s RTX 4000 series, which starts at $1,599 for the top-tier GeForce RTX 4090 and $1,199 for the RTX 4080. Graphics cards have become insanely expensive. While AMD’s prices undercut NVIDIA, they’re still bonkers expensive. Assuming you’ll be able to even find them at these prices to begin with.
Since AMD’s relaunch into high-performance x86 processor design, one of the fundamental targets for the company was to be a competitive force in the data center. By having a competitive product that customers could trust, the goal has always been to target what the customer wants, and subsequently grow market share and revenue. Since the launch of 3rd Generation EPYC, AMD is growing its enterprise revenue at a good pace, however questions always turn around to what the roadmap might hold. In the past, AMD has disclosed that its 4th Generation EPYC, known as Genoa, would be coming in 2022 with Zen 4 cores built on TSMC 5nm. Today, AMD is expanding the Zen 4 family with another segment of cloud-optimized processors called Bergamo. As part of AMD’s Data Center event today, the company is showcasing that its 4th Generation EPYC roadmap will consist of two segments: Genoa, with up to 96 Zen 4 cores, and Bergamo, with up to 128 Zen 4c cores. Not only are we getting official confirmation of core counts, but AMD is disclosing that Bergamo will be using a different type of core: the Zen 4c core. Imagine how much faster I could translate on one of these.
AMD’s CFO Devinder Kumar recently commented that AMD stands ready to manufacture Arm chips if needed, noting that the company’s customers want to work with AMD on Arm-based solutions. Kumar’s remarks came during last week’s Deutsche Bank Technology Conference, building on comments from AMD CEO Lisa Su earlier in the year that underscored the company’s willingness to create custom silicon solutions for its customers, be they based on x86 or Arm architectures. Intel also intends to produce Arm and RISC-V chips, too, meaning that the rise of non-x86 architectures will be partially fueled by the stewards of the dominant x86 ecosystem. This is entirely unsurprising news. You don’t have to build Snapdragon or Apple-level ARM chips to make a lot of money with Arm, and companies like Intel and AMD would be stupid not to look into it.
From a competitive standpoint, Milan continues to strengthen and maintain a very stark one-sided performance advantage against its biggest competitor, Intel. Rome had already offered more raw socket performance than the best Intel had to offer at the time, and the gap is currently quite large as Intel has not updated in that time. Intel has stated that its Ice Lake Xeon-SP family will come sometime soon, however unless Intel manages to close the core count gap, then AMD looks to be in very good shape. Meanwhile, as AMD is focused on Intel, the Arm competition has also entered the market with force through 2020, and designs such as the Ampere Altra are able to outperform the new top Milan SKUs in many throughput-bound workloads. AMD still has very clear advantages, such as much superior memory performance through huge caches, or vastly superior per-thread performance with specialised dedicated SKUs. Still, it leaves AMD in a spot as they can’t claim to be the outright performance leader under every scenario, and offers another generational target to consider as it develops future cores. Another monstrous CPU by AMD, and another case where Intel simply doesn’t even come close. There’s offerings on the ARM front, though, that are slowly starting to make their way into the data centre.
In the tests that matter, most noticeably the 3D rendering tests, we’re seeing a 3% speed-up on the Threadripper Pro compared to the regular Threadripper at the same memory frequency and sub-timings. The core frequencies were preferential on the 3990X, but the memory bandwidth of the 3995WX is obviously helping to a small degree, enough to pull ahead in our testing, along with the benefit of having access to 8x of the memory capacity as well as Pro features for proper enterprise-level administration. The downside of this comparison is the cost: the SEP difference is +$1500, or another 50%, for the Threadripper Pro 3995WX over the regular Threadripper 3990X. With this price increase, you’re not really paying +50% for the performance difference (ECC memory also costs a good amount), but the feature set. Threadripper Pro is aimed at the visual effects and rendering market, where holding 3D models in main memory is a key aspect of workflow speed as well as full-scene production. Alongside the memory capacity difference, having double the PCIe 4.0 lanes means more access to offload hardware or additional fast storage, also important tools in the visual effects space. Threadripper Pro falls very much into the bucket of ‘if you need it, this is the option to go for‘. AMD is entirely in a league of its own with these processors. I keep repeating it, but AMD’s comeback is one of the most remarkable stories in the history of technology.
For our benchmark suite, almost all of our benchmarks show an uplift for the new Ryzen 5000 Mobile series, some considerably so: our compile benchmark is +12%, Corona rendering is +18%, Dolphin emulation +17%, NAMD +8%, Blender +6%. To our surprise our SPEC2006 1T benchmark is +32%, accelerated considerably by the 16 MB L3 cache, but also because these CPUs also support a higher instantaneous power turbo modes than the previous generation. This enables some competitive performance numbers against Intel’s Tiger Lake platform in single thread focused tests (AMD wins on multithread quite easily). AnandTech with the only deep dive that really matters.
When AMD announced that its new Zen 3 core was a ground-up redesign and offered complete performance leadership, we had to ask them to confirm if that’s exactly what they said. Despite being less than 10% the size of Intel, and very close to folding as a company in 2015, the bets that AMD made in that timeframe with its next generation Zen microarchitecture and Ryzen designs are now coming to fruition. Zen 3 and the new Ryzen 5000 processors, for the desktop market, are the realization of those goals: not only performance per watt and performance per dollar leaders, but absolute performance leadership in every segment. We’ve gone into the new microarchitecture and tested the new processors. AMD is the new king, and we have the data to show it. AMD didn’t lie – these new processors are insanely good, and insanely good value, to boot. If you’re building a new PC today – AMD is the only logical choice. What a time to be alive.
Preparing to close out a major month of announcements for AMD – and to open the door to the next era of architectures across the company – AMD wrapped up its final keynote presentation of the month by announcing their Radeon RX 6000 series of video cards. Hosted once more by AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, AMD’s hour-long keynote revealed the first three parts in AMD’s new RDNA2 architecture video card family: the Radeon RX 6800, 6800 XT, and 6900 XT. The core of AMD’s new high-end video card lineup, AMD means to do battle with the best of the best out of arch-rival NVIDIA. And we’ll get to see first-hand if AMD can retake the high-end market on November 18th, when the first two cards hit retail shelves. AMD’s forthcoming video card launch has been a long time coming for the company, and one they’ve been teasing particularly heavily. For AMD, the Radeon RX 6000 series represents the culmination of efforts from across the company as everyone from the GPU architecture team and the semi-custom SoC team to the Zen CPU team has played a role in developing AMD’s latest GPU technology. All the while, these new cards are AMD’s best chance in at least half a decade to finally catch up to NVIDIA at the high-end of the video card market. So understandably, the company is jazzed – and in more than just a marketing manner – about what the RX 6000 means. If AMD’s promises and performance comparisons shown today hold up, these new Radeon cards put AMD right back in the game with NVIDIA, going toe-to-toe with NVIDIA’s latest RTZ 30×0 cards – all the way up to the 3090, at lower prices and lower power consumption. Of course, those are just promises and charts, but AMD has proven itself lately to be fairly accurate and fair when announcing new products. If the promises hold up, Dr. Lisa Su and her team will have not only stomped all over Intel, but will also be ready to stomp all over NVIDIA, especially if they manage to follow a similar trajectory as they did with the Zen line of processors. If you are in the market for a new mid to high-end PC, you haven’t had this many viable options in a long, long time.
Dr. Lisa Su, the CEO of AMD, has today announced the company’s next generation mainstream Ryzen processor. The new family, known as the Ryzen 5000 series, includes four parts and supports up to sixteen cores. The key element of the new product is the core design, with AMD’s latest Zen 3 microarchitecture, promising a 19% raw increase in performance-per-clock, well above recent generational improvements. The new processors are socket-compatible with existing 500-series motherboards, and will be available at retail from November 5th. AMD is putting a clear marker in the sand, calling one of its halo products as ‘The World’s Best Gaming CPU’. We have details. They just keep kicking Intel while they’re down. This is a massive leap forward without a nanometer change.
As we’ve shown in the review, this means that we get some CPUs. The Ryzen 3 3300X and Ryzen 3 3100 are odd elements to the Ryzen family, especially the 3100 with its awkward CCX and core configuration, but both parts offer a lot of performance for their pricing. At $120 and $99 respectively, using AMD’s latest Zen 2 microarchitecture and the power efficient 7nm TSMC process, AMD is defining a new base line in budget performance. AMD now leads in budget, mid-range, high-end, crazy server processors, and game consoles.
You’re probably familiar with modern processors made by Advanced Micro Devices. But AMD’s processors go back to 1975, when AMD introduced the Am2901. This chip was a type of processor called a bit-slice processor: each chip processed just 4 bits, but multiple chips were combined to produce a larger word size. This approach was used in the 1970s and 1980s to create a 16-bit, 36-bit, or 64-bit processor (for example), when the whole processor couldn’t fit on a single fast chip. The Am2901 chip became very popular, used in diverse systems ranging from the Battlezone video game to the VAX-11/730 minicomputer, from the Xerox Star workstation to the F-16 fighter’s Magic 372 computer. The fastest version of this processor, the Am2901C, used a logic family called emitter-coupled logic (ECL) for high performance. In this blog post, I open up an Am2901C chip, examine its die under a microscope, and explain the ECL circuits that made its arithmetic-logic unit work. A very detailed, technical look at this processor.
When AMD introduced its Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs at CES, the company made bold claims of game-changing performance. Coming off of years of underwhelming laptop chips, AMD promised it had optimized Ryzen 4000 for mobile computing. Now we’ve tested those claims in AMD’s Ryzen 9 4900HS chip, an 8-core, 7nm chip with Radeon Vega cores. We’re stunned at the CPU’s impressive tour de force that defeats just about every Intel 8th- and 9th-gen laptop CPU we’ve ever seen. Just open up your YouTube feed and you’ll see pretty much every PC hardware channel staring at disbelief in just how good AMD’s Ryzen 4000 mobile processors really are. This isn’t just a “kind of good enough” processor – the top of the line model is faster than or equal than Intel’s top of the line processor at both single core and multicore workloads, while using slightly more than half the power. It’s all well and good for AMD to roundly run circles around Intel in the server and desktop/workstation space, but the laptop space is where the real money and mindshare can be found. This new line of AMD mobile processors is simply stunning.
AMD has filed at least two DMCA notices against Github repos that carried “stolen” source code relating to AMD’s Navi and Arden GPUs, the latter being the processor for the upcoming Xbox Series X. The person claiming responsibility for the leak informs TorrentFreak that if they doesn’t get a buyer for the remainder of the code, they will dump the whole lot online. I’d love to hear the backstory behind this hack. For a company like AMD, such a hack must’ve been an inside job, right? While I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore by just how lacking security can be at even the most prominent technology companies, I just can’t imagine it being very easy to get your hands on this documentation and code without some form of inside help.