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AMD Appears To Be Pushing It’s Boltzmann Plan

November 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Troubled chipmaker AMD is putting a lot of its limited investment money into the “Boltzmann Initiative” which is uses heterogeneous system architecture ability to harness both CPU and AMD GPU for compute efficiency through software.

VR-World says that stage one results are finished and where shown off this week at SC15. This included a Heterogeneous Compute Compiler (HCC); a headless Linux driver and HSA runtime infrastructure for cluster-class, High Performance Computing (HPC); and the Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability (HIP) tool for porting CUDA-based applications to C++ programming.

AMD hopes the tools will drive application performance from machine learning to molecular dynamics, and from oil and gas to visual effects and computer-generated imaging.

Jim Belak, co-lead of the US Department of Energy’s Exascale Co-design Center in Extreme Materials and senior computational materials scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory said that AMD’s Heterogeneous-compute Interface for Portability enables performance portability for the HPC community.

“The ability to take code that was written for one architecture and transfer it to another architecture without a negative impact on performance is extremely powerful. The work AMD is doing to produce a high-performance compiler that sits below high-level programming models enables researchers to concentrate on solving problems and publishing groundbreaking research rather than worrying about hardware-specific optimizations.”

The new AMD Boltzmann Initiative suite includes an HCC compiler for C++ development, greatly expanding the field of programmers who can leverage HSA.

The new HCC C++ compiler is a key tool in enabling developers to easily and efficiently apply the hardware resources in heterogeneous systems. The compiler offers more simplified development via single source execution, with both the CPU and GPU code in the same file.

The compiler automates the placement code that executes on both processing elements for maximum execution efficiency.



Apple Acknowledges Issue With iPad Pro

November 23, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Some iPad Pro owners have reported strange behavior in their new 12.9-inch tablets. Normally when you charge a device, unless the battery has completely died, the screen remains responsive. But some iPad Pros are completely freezing, then dying, after a recharge. The problem appears to be widespread — Apple’s support communities are filled with complaints about the issue.

Apple knows about the problem, but hasn’t said why it’s happening. There doesn’t seem to be a real fix for it, either — at least not yet. The company published a support document on Thursday advising Pro users to force restart their tablets to bring them back to life, but that’s not really a long-term solution, because the issue is ongoing.

“When I connect my iPad Pro to the charger for more than an hour, it goes dead,” one iPad Pro owner reported in the Apple support forum. “It takes multiple hard resets to bring it back to life.”

MacRumors first reported the iPad Pro issue last Monday, just days after the supersized tablets began shipping, and even experienced the problem with one of its own tablets. Apple employees are reportedly advising a range of solutions, from using iTunes to restore settings to performing a hard restart, as Apple is now officially recommending.

We’ll update this story when Apple pushes out a fix for the problem.


Tim Cook Says No To iOS Powered Laptops

November 18, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Computing

Apple CEO Tim Cook has again shot down the idea of following in the footsteps of rival Microsoft to develop a notebook that runs his company’s mobile operating system, iOS.

“We feel strongly that customers are not really looking for a converged Mac and iPad,” Cook told The Irish Independent, Ireland’s largest daily newspaper, in aninterview published Sunday. “Putting those two together would not achieve either. You’d begin to compromise in different ways.”

But take Cook’s comments with a grain — or more — of salt. “These are tactical communications, nothing about what they might do, or what they potentially will do,” noted Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in a Monday interview.

Cook, who has been on a swing through Europe to meet with Irish officials about an expansion of Apple’s facility in the country, and in the U.K. to trumpet the iPad Pro, which went on sale last week, again took time to take a swipe at the competition.

“What that would wind up doing,” Cook said, referring to a notebook-slash-tablet analogous to Microsoft’s new Surface Book, “is that neither experience would be as good as the customer wants.”

In earlier interviews while in Europe, Cook had previously bashed the Surface Book, a 2-in-1 with an integrated keyboard and detachable screen that reverts to a tablet when held separately. “It’s trying to be a tablet and a notebook and it really succeeds at being neither. It’s sort of deluded,” Cook said of the Surface Book.

Cook’s stance is not new: The CEO has repeatedly said Apple had no interest in 2-in-1 devices, at one point calling tablets with keyboards akin to a Frankenstein mashup of toaster and refrigerator. That, of course, was long before Apple decided to join the market with the 12.9-in. iPad Pro and its optional Smart Keyboard.



GPU Shipments Appear To Be On The Rise

November 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Beancounters at JPR have been adding up the numbers and dividing by their shoe size and worked out that GPU shipments are up for both Nvidia and AMD.

Over the last few months both have been busy with new releases. Nvidia has its GeForce GTX 950 and GTX 980 Ti, while AMD put its first HBM-powered cards in the Radeon R9 Fury X, Fury and the super-small R9 Nano into the shops.

According to JPR, overall GPU shipments are up quarter-over-quarter – with AMD’s overall GPU shipments up 15.8 per cent. But before AMD fanboys get all excited by a surprise return to form from AMD, JPR said that that NVIDIA “had an exceptionally strong quarter”. Nvidia saw an uptick of 21.3 per cent.

The PC market as a whole increased by 7.5 per cent quarter-over-quarter but decreased 9 per cent year-over-year. Nivida’s discrete GPU shipments were up 26.3 per cent according to JPR, while AMD’s discrete GPUs spiked by 33 per cent.

AMD’s mobile GPU shipments for notebooks increased by 17 per cent, while NVIDIA had 14 per cent.



Apple, Banks Exploring Person-to-Person Mobile Payment Service

November 13, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple Inc is holding discussions with several U.S. financial institutions to develop a person-to-person mobile payment service, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The talks are ongoing and it is unclear if any of the banks have signed an agreement with Apple, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The service, which would compete with PayPal Inc’s popular Venmo, would allow users to transfer funds from their checking accounts through Apple devices, the Journal reported on Wednesday.

The service would likely be linked to the company’s Apple Pay system, which allows customers to make credit-card and debit-card payments with their mobile phones, the newspaper said.

A launch isn’t imminent, but one person told the Journal that Apple could roll it out next year.

Apple has been talking with a number of banks about the service, including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Capital One Financial Corp, Wells Fargo & Co  and U.S. Bancorp.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.



Will The xCodeGhost Malware Wreak Havoc On IOS Devices

November 13, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A security firm has released a list of ongoing and incoming threats that cover a range of things from Apple’s iOS to the Internet of Things (IoT).

In its third report this year, Quick Heal warns that Apple users in particular better brace themselves for impact as more and more malware writers who’ve earned their stripes targeting Android users turn their attention to iOS.

“As the number of iPhone owners rises across the world, iOS has become a new potential target for Android malware authors and hackers. It is expected that Android malware will soon be altered to attack iOS users as well, and jailbroken iOS devices will be the first wave of targets for these attacks,” explained the firm (PDF).

“Recently, the ‘XcodeGhost’ malware was found on the Apple App Store and this is just the beginning of such attacks.”

In a section on wearables, Quick Heal predicts hackers will increasingly target fitness trackers, something that other security researchers have already warned about.

A lot of space in the report is reserved for Android-flavoured threats, and users are offered advice on protecting themselves such as if there is an option to use a password over a touch sign-in, then you ought to take it.

“A group of researchers have discovered a serious security flaw in the Android Lollipop version running on devices right now. This flaw allows attackers to bypass the lockscreen of an Android smartphone by using a massive password and thereby exposing the homescreen,” it explains.

“The attack essentially works by opening the in-built camera application and afflicts people using a password to protect their Android device and lock their screen.”

The most significant Android threat is a rascal called Android.Airpush.G, which claims 30 percent of the bug pool and is the kind of adware thing that makes you want to take a hammer to your phone screen. The second most prominent issue is Android.Reaper.A, which can haul in a large data harvest when in place.

Quick Heal is not the only security company in town, and a post on the Symantec website also seems set to put the fear into the Apple user community. That post, read it here – if you dare, says that the Mabouia ransomware is capable of causing a problem for Mac and PC users alike.

Fortunately, Mabouia is a proof-of-concept attack that a researcher shared with both Apple and Symantec. Symantec says that the PoC effort achieves at least one first.

“Mabouia is the first case of file-based crypto ransomware for OS X, albeit a proof-of-concept. Macs have nevertheless already been targeted by ransomware in the form of browser-based threats,” it explained.

“For example, in 2013, researchers at Malwarebytes discovered browser-based ransomware that targeted Safari for Mac users through a malicious website. The website directed Windows users to a drive-by download, while Mac users were served JavaScript that caused Safari to display persistent pop-ups informing the user their browser had been “locked” by the FBI for viewing illegal content.”



Apple’s iPad Pro Goes On Sale Today

November 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple Inc announced that its iPad Pro will be available to order online starting today and arrive at stores later this week.

The 12.9 inch-screen tablet, which starts at $799 but costs more than $1,000 if buyers also want a keyboard and an optional stylus, will be available in more than 40 countries, including the United States, the UK, China and Japan.

Sales of iPads have been falling for several quarters as big-screen iPhones appeal to more consumers.

Apple sold 54.86 million iPads in the year ended Sept. 26 – a drop of 19 percent from a year earlier.

Since launching iPad with a 9.7-inch screen in 2010, Apple has released a mini version in 2012 with a 7.9-inch screen.

Apple unveiled the larger iPad Pro on Sept. 9, hoping to rival Microsoft Corp’s 12-inch Surface Pro 3 in attracting business customers.

Research firm Forrester projects that sales to businesses will represent as much as 20 percent of the overall tablet market by 2018, compared to 14 percent this year, as the market grows from 218 million units to 250 million units.



AMD And GoFlo Have Successful 14nm FinFET Production

November 10, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD said that Globalfoundaries has demonstrated silicon success on the first AMD products using GloFlo’s 14nm FinFET process technology.

We are pretty sure that it is talking about the prototypes for Zen, but AMD is not being that specific. Nevertheless, AMD is being enthusiastic.

As a result of this milestone, Gloflo silicon-proven technology is planned to be integrated into multiple AMD products that address the growing need for high-performance, power-efficient compute and graphics technologies across a broad set of applications, from personal computers to data centres to immersive computing devices, AMD said.

Er that will be Zen then.

AMD said that it has taped out multiple products using 14nm Low Power Plus (14LPP) process technology and is currently conducting validation work on 14LPP production samples.
Today’s announcement represents another significant milestone towards reaching full production readiness of Globalfoundries’ 14LPP process technology, which will reach high-volume production in 2016, AMD said.

The 14LPP platform taps the benefits of three-dimensional, fully-depleted FinFET transistors to enable customers like AMD to deliver more processing power in a smaller footprint for applications that demand the ultimate in performance.

Mark Papermaster, senior vice president and chief technology officer at AMD said that FinFET technology is expected to play a critical foundational role across multiple AMD product lines, starting in 2016.

“Globalfoundaries has worked tirelessly to reach this key milestone on its 14LPP process. We look forward to Globalfoundaries continued progress towards full production readiness and expect to leverage the advanced 14LPP process technology across a broad set of our CPU, APU, and GPU products.”

Mike Cadigan, senior vice president of product management at Globalfoundaries said that the 14nm FinFET technology is among the most advanced in the industry.

“Through our close design-technology partnership with AMD, we can help them deliver products with a performance boost over 28nm technology, while maintaining a superior power footprint and providing a true cost advantage due to significant area scaling.”

Globalfoundaries 14LPP FinFET is ramping with production-ready yields and excellent model-to-hardware correlation at its Fab 8 facility in New York.

AMD said that in January, the early-access version of the technology (14LPE) was successfully qualified for volume production, while achieving yield targets on lead customer products.
The performance-enhanced version of the technology (14LPP) was qualified in the third quarter of 2015, with the early ramp occurring in the fourth quarter of 2015 and full-scale production set for 2016.


Is The Apple Watch Really A Success?

November 10, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Press is doing its best to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat over the failure of the iWatch to meet the hype.

Today the papers are full of stories claiming that Apple is the “King of the Smartwatch” because it has sold more than its rivals put together. The figure quoted is a speculative seven million .

We are not saying that figure is bad. In fact many smartwatch sellers would only dream of selling that many but it is simply nowhere near what was expected. When Apple announced it was “inventing” the smartwatch the Tame Apple Press confidently predicted 42 million of the things would ship in the first year.

As Apple failed to get the product to market and others popped up analysts started to drop the figures down. At the launch, when it became obvious that the Apple Watch was not shipping with nearly enough functionality, people like an analyst who previously predicted Apple would sell 24 million devices during 2016 has significantly reduced this figure – to 21 million – following the lukewarm reaction. Later, Pacific Crest Securities analyst Andy Hargreaves made the predictions in a research note to clients.

He said: ‘Anecdotal evidence suggests Apple Watch demand is slowing quickly’ and predicted sales for 2015 will reach 10.5 million – 500,000 less than his initial estimates.

It can be seen on this basis that seven million is hugely disappointing and it is not surprising that Apple is desperately trying to keep the actual numbers secret.

We estimate that seven million is roughly the same figure of hardcore Apple fanboys who will buy anything the company buys even if they don’t need it. Apparently they are so stupid that they have bought a watch that runs out of battery in 12 hours or have not realized they just need to take their phone out of their pocket to get the same functionality.

Again the Tame Apple Press has another cunning plan to keep people focused on the smartwatch.

It is talking about how more people will flock to the smartwatch when Apple releases all the functionality it promised for the smartwatch the first time.

However they are also ignoring the fact that Apple might equally lose customers because those who saw the first one thought it was complete pants and swore they would never buy another.



Is Activision’s Move To Buy King A Smart One?

November 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Gaming

Activision Blizzard has bought King Digital Entertainment for $5.9 billion, marking not only one of the largest acquisitions in videogame history but one of the largest deals ever made in the entertainment business. Comparing this to previous entertainment deals highlights just how extraordinary the figures involved are; the purchase price values King at significantly more than Marvel Entertainment (acquired by Disney for $4.2 billion), Star Wars owner Lucasfilm (Disney again, for $4.1 billion) and movie studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (acquired by Sony for almost $5 billion). The price dwarfs the $1.5 billion paid by Japanese network SoftBank and mobile publisher GungHo for Supercell back in 2013 – though it’s not quite on the same scale as the $7.4 billion price tag Disney paid for Pixar, or in the same ballpark as the $18 billion-odd involved in the merger that originally created Activision Blizzard itself.

How is $5.9 billion justified? Well, it’s a fairly reasonable premium of 20% over the company’s share price – though if you’ve been holding on to King shares since its IPO in 2014, you’ll still be disappointed, as it’s far short of the $22.50 IPO price, or even the $20.50 that the shares traded at on their first day on the open market. The company’s share price has been more or less stable this year, but Activision’s offer still doesn’t make up for the various tumbles shares took through 2014.

A better justification, perhaps, lies in the scale of King’s mobile game business. The company is a little off its peak at the moment. Candy Crush Saga, its biggest title, is on a slow decline from an extraordinary peak of success, and other titles aren’t growing fast enough to make up for that decline, but it still recorded over half a billion monthly active users (MAUs) in its recently reported second quarter figures. In terms of paying users, the company had 7.6 million paying users each month – more than Blizzard’s cash cow, World of Warcraft, and moreover, the average revenue from each of those users was $23.26, far more than a World of Warcraft subscriber pays. King took in $529 million in bookings during the quarter, 81 per cent of it from mobile devices – a seriously appealing set of figures for a company like Activision, which struggles to get even 10 per cent of its revenues from mobile despite its constant lip-service to the platform.

In buying King, Activision instantly makes itself into one of the biggest players in the mobile space, albeit simply by absorbing the company that is presently at the top of the heap. It diversifies its bottom line in a way that investors and analysts have been crying out for it to do, reducing its reliance on console (still damn near half of its revenues) and on the remarkable-but-fading World of Warcraft, and bulking up its anaemic mobile revenues to the point of respectability. On paper, this deal turns Activision into a much more broad-based company that’s far more in line with the present trajectory of the market at large, and should assuage the fears of those who think Activision’s over-reliance on a small number of core franchises leaves it far more vulnerable than rivals like Electronic Arts.

That’s on paper. In practice, though, what has Activision just bought for $5.9 billion? That’s a slightly trickier question. The company is, unquestionably, now the proud owner of one of the most talented and accomplished creators and operators of mobile games in the world. King’s experience of developing, marketing and, crucially, running mobile games at enormous scale, and the team that accomplished all of that, is undoubtedly valuable in its own right. Those are talents that Activision didn’t have yesterday, but will have tomorrow. Are those talents worth $5.9 billion, though? Without wishing for a moment to cast doubt on the skills of those who work at King, no, they’re not. $5.9 billion isn’t “acquihire” money, and when that’s the kind of cash involved we simply can’t think of this as an “acquihire” deal. Activision didn’t pay that kind of money in order to get access to the talent and experience assembled at King. It paid for King itself, for its ongoing businesses and its IP.

Open the shopping bag, and you might struggle to understand how the contents reach $5.9 billion at the till. King has one remarkable, breakthrough, enormously successful IP – Candy Crush Saga, which still accounts (not including heavily marketed spin-off title Candy Crush Soda Saga) for 39 per cent of the company’s gross bookings. No doubt deeply aware of the danger of being over-reliant on revenues from this single title, King has worked incredibly hard to find success for other games in its portfolio. But even its great efforts in this regard have failed to compensate for falling revenues from Candy Crush, and it’s notable that a fair amount of the “non-Candy Crush Saga” revenue that the company boasts actually comes from Candy Crush Soda Saga. Other titles like Farm Heroes Saga and Pet Rescue Saga are no doubt profitable and successful in their own right, and King would be a sustainable business even without Candy Crush. But it would be a much, much smaller business, and certainly not a $5.9 billion business.

Despite being generally bullish about King’s prospects, then, it’s hard to avoid the feeling that the company has done incredibly well out of this acquisition. The undoubted talent and experience of its teams aside, this is, realistically, a company with one IP worth paying for, and unlike Star Wars or the Avengers, Candy Crush is a very new IP whose longevity is entirely untested and whose potential for merchandising or cross-media ventures is dubious at best. King has done better than most of its rivals in the mobile space at applying some of the lessons of its biggest hit to subsequent games and making them successful, but it shares with every other mobile developer the same fundamental problem: none of them has ever worked out how to bottle the lightning that creates a mega-hit and repeat the success down the line. Absent of another Candy Crush game, the odds are that King’s business would slowly deflate as the air escaped from the Candy Crush bubble, until the company’s sustainable (and undoubtedly profitable) core was what was left. Selling up to Activision at a healthy premium while the company is still “inflated” by the likely unrepeatable success of Candy Crush is a fantastic move for the company’s management and investors, but rather less so for Activision.

Perhaps, though, the whole might be more than the sum of its parts? Couldn’t Activision, holders of some of the world’s favourite console and PC game IP, work with King to leverage that IP and the firm’s reach in traditional games, creating new business at the interaction of their respective specialisations? That’s a big part of what made Pixar so valuable to Disney, for example; the match between their businesses was of vital importance to that deal, and the same can broadly be said for Disney’s other huge acquisitions, Lucasfilm and Marvel. (SoftBank’s purchase of Supercell, by comparison, was rather more of a straightforward market-share land grab.) What could this new hybrid, Activision Blizzard King, hope to achieve in terms of overlap that enhances the value of its various component parts?

Certainly, Activision has some properties that could work on mobile (I’m thinking specifically of Skylanders here, though others may also fit); some Blizzard properties could also probably work on mobile, though I very much doubt that Blizzard (which retains a strong degree of independence within the group) is a good cultural fit for King, and is deeply unlikely to work with it in any manner which gives up the slightest creative control over its properties. King’s properties, meanwhile, don’t look terribly enticing as console or PC games, and conversions done this way would almost certainly defeat the entire purpose of the deal anyway, since the objective is to bolster Activision’s mobile business. The prospect of a mobile game based on Call of Duty or another major console IP may seem superficially interesting, but we’ve been down this road before and it didn’t lead anywhere impressive. Sure, core gamers are on mobile too, but they’ve by and large been nonplussed at best and outraged at worst by the notion of engaging with mobile versions of their console favourites. It’s genuinely hard to piece together the various IPs and franchises owned by King and Activision and see how there’s any winning interaction between them on the table.

This is what makes me keep returning to those other mega-deals – to Star Wars, to Marvel, to Pixar – and finding the contrast between them and Activision / King so extraordinary. Each of those multi-billion dollar deals was carried out by Disney with a very specific, long-term plan in mind that would leverage the abilities of both acquirer and acquired to create something far more than the sum of its parts. Each of those deals had a very clear raison d’être beyond simply “it’ll make us bigger.” Each of those companies fitted with the new parent like a piece of a puzzle. King’s only role in Activision’s “puzzle” is that they do mobile, and Activision sucks at mobile; there’s no sense of any grand plan that will play out.

In all likelihood, Activision has just paid a huge premium for a company which is past the peak of its greatest hit title and into a period of managed decline, not to mention a company with which its core businesses simply don’t fit in any meaningful way. King’s a great company in many respects, but its acquisition isn’t going to go down as a great deal for Activision – and we can expect to see plenty of that $5.9 billion being frittered away in goodwill write-downs over the coming few years.

Will AMD’s Zen Processor Hit The Mark?

November 6, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

A website based its article on one forum post claims that AMD Zen meets all expectations because he knows someone who works in AMD. So it must be true.

The fact that AMD Zen “meets all expectations” got us excited until we looked a bit deeper. It turns out that the report is based on a guy who swears he knows a guy that use to work for AMD on K12 L2 cache design. It is not clear if he met the guy in a pub or not.

His other colleague that still works there tells him that the test chip has meet all of the expectations and the team didn’t find any significant bottlenecks and this got the partners on the server side very excited. We have had our share of AMD Zen exclusive news, but it will take a while until this chip hits the market, we expect it in late 2016.

At the stage of development AMD should actually be in the end phase anyway and if everything went fine, the test chip should be running. The last few quarters are  used to further optimise the design.

AMD definitely needs a break and Zen is a new architecture on a new manufacturing nod, which is  a most complicated and complex thing you can do in chip development. If all continues to go well, the K12 might ship in limited quantities toward s the end of the 2016 and in serious quantities by 2017. Intel should have a Kaby Lake 14nm successor to Skylake launching in a similar timeframe which gives AMD a fighting chance.

Intel has 99 percent of the server market share according to Bloomberg report . If K12 gets even close to performance of Intel desktop and server chips,AMD has a realistic chance of recovery. Server manufacturers don’t really like the one player only market, as the increase competition could drive the prices down.



AMD Replaces Catalyst With Crimson

November 5, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

AMD has announced Radeon Software Crimson, a “mini graphics operating system” to replace the firm’s Catalyst Driver and work alongside the standalone Radeon Technologies Group (RTG) chip division announced a month ago.

RTG was launched as a dedicated focus for amateur and professional gamers on virtual reality and augmented reality, and the group’s senior vice president, Raja Koduri, said that Crimson will have the same focus on software.

“We have been delivering graphics drivers for 20 plus years. “These so-called drivers have evolved into a graphics mini operating system, Radeon Software, which we deliver on a regular basis to all users,” said Koduri.”

Crimson loads games in less than one second, 10 times faster than the previous Catalyst Driver, according to the firm.

The OS has new features along with greater stability and improved performance. For example, one feature at the core of the software, Radeon Settings, is a user interface built on a new architecture. It was based on ‘three fundamental principles’ when it was designed: responsiveness, discoverability and ease of use.

“We combined these and you now have at your fingertips the ability to control your GPU through one modern application,” said RTG senior manager Terry Makedon.

Other features include a new brushed metal UX design, faster start-up, better navigation, a new Game Manager, an updated Overdrive feature and new video, display and Eyefinity tools.

Users can also change the software to set overclock settings for games so they can run the video card at higher speeds than the factory defaults, and the ability to launch a game with different preset graphics settings so they run at their optimum.

Radeon Software Crimson will arrive by the end of the year, AMD said, and has a feature set for all types of user, whether a dedicated gamer or developer.



AMD Has Mystery Product Named Magnum

October 30, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

It would appear that AMD has a mystery product called Magnum which seems to have something to do FPGA and DTV.

According to WCCFTECH Zauba, an Indian shipping firm has a shipping entry for a an AMD product codenamed “Magnum.”


The part originated in Canada where much of AMD’s GPU research and development is carried out. This would suggest that Magnum is a GPU and not CPU project.

It has been known that AMD wants to experiment with FPGA but it would appear that this is connected to digital TV. AMD flogged its DTV business to Broadcom in 2008. Going back into the market would be a nightmare because it is a crowded field. AMD has a good SoC so why would it need an FPGA.

The part is expensive $342 which puts it out of the range of TV makers. It could be for a console or a device like Nvidia’s Shield, but then you would not need an FPGA for that.

So Magnum is a mystery and will probably remain so.



AMD CPU Designer Heads To Samsung

October 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

The brains behind some key CPU designs in AMD and Apple has defected to Samsung.

Jim Keller, who has been behind some of the biggest CPU core design projects with AMD and Apple has walked away from designing AMD’s Zen CPU.

The move should be a blow as we think AMD needs all the help it can get at the moment, and Zen is either going to save the company or be its swan song.

Samsung will use Keller to design newer, bigger chips, or perhaps even smaller, low-power chips, as the company gears up for the internet of things.

Keller’s CV is impressive. He worked at DEC until 1998 and helped design the Alpha 21164 and 21264 processors. In 1998 he moved to AMD, where he worked on the Athlon (K7) processor. He was the lead architect of the AMD K8 microarchitecture and designed the x86-64 instruction set and HyperTransport interconnect.

In 1999, he worked at SiByte which was bought by Broadcom. He was chief architect until 2004 when he moved to P.A. Semi. At the time PA Semi was making low-power mobile processors and it was bought by Apple in 2008. As part of Jobs’ Mob Keller was part of the team to design the Apple A4 and A5 system-on-a-chip mobile processors which ended up in the iPhone 4, 4S, iPad and iPad 2.

In Keller returned to AMD to work on Zen. It is not clear why he is going, just before the Zen chip gets its act together.



Is Oracle and Intel Going After IBM In The Server Space?

October 28, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Oracle and Intel have teamed up to fight IBM in the server space, trying to convince Power System users to instead run their Oracle Database on Oracle Engineered Systems, powered by Intel Xeons.

The dastardly scheme, dubbed Exa Your Power, was unveiled at the Oracle Openworld conference in San Francisco, where Intel CEO Brian Krzanich and Oracle CEO Mark Hurd took to the stage for a bit of mutual back-slapping.

Hurd said thousands of computers are currently running Oracle technology on IBM systems, which are “large and costly. We think you can do better than this.” He added that switching to an Oracle-Intel architecture would offer up to 15 times the current performance offered by IBM.

Intel and Oracle will carry out a free proof-of-concept migration model to test customers’ database and application performance, and show firms how much better their Oracle database workloads would perform if they migrated away from IBM Power Systems onto an Intel-Oracle stack.

IT services provider CSC said it recently migrated an Oracle Database for a major insurance provider from IBM Power 7 to an Exadata X5 engineered system as a proof of concept, and found that the insurer’s Siebel application ran up to 10 times faster and its ETL processes ran up to 12 times faster on Exadata.

The anti-IBM stance is an interesting way to kick off this year’s OpenWorld show considering that IBM is a major sponsor of the show.

“IBM is proud to be a Grande sponsor at Oracle OpenWorld and will have a significant presence at this year’s event. Join us for a great lineup of activities and learn how IBM and Oracle can help you get more value out of your Oracle investments,” IBM gushed ahead of the event. #awkward.

Long-term partners Oracle and Intel have also teamed up to improve the performance of cloud systems via a new joint initiative dubbed Project Apollo.

Krzanich said Apollo is a “scaled version of Oracle’s cloud datacentre that can be used as the foundation for hardware and software optimisation, specifically to enhance your Oracle Cloud experience”.

Intel senior VP Doug Fisher and president of Oracle Product Development
Thomas Kurian spearheaded the project. Fisher explained that the firms decided to get a team together in a lab with the aim of reducing the complexity and improving the performance of cloud-based environments.

“We gave them state of the art software from Oracle and state of the art platforms with Intel architecture, which has a Xeon super SKU in it, allowing them to optimise with the latest and greatest technology.”

Fisher said that the lab team, consisting of Intel and Oracle engineers, spun up 1,500 VMMs, and started tuning the workload, managing to improve performance by 50 percent and reduce the variance of how long it takes to complete the workload by 10 times down to three percent. The aim of these efforts is to let customers deliver SLAs with higher levels of predictability.

Intel and Oracle will also produce and share blueprints of all the learning from the labs team to customers, so they can take the architecture configurations and deploy these in their own environment.