In the second half of 2013 Intel was forced to deal with at least six different desktop processor groups. On the top of the food chain Intel has Ivy Bridge E, Sandy Bridge E followed by, Haswell LGA 1150 and Ivy Bridge 1150 processors. The end carries the remains of Sandy Bridge processors, Celeron BGA and Bay Trail Atom processors.
As you can imagine Ivy Bridge E, Sandy Bridge E both based on LGA 2011 socket occupy some two percent of total Intel socket market while Haswell LGA 1150 reaches almost 30 percent of total shipments by socket in 2H 2013.
The most dominant products were naturally Ivy Bridge LGA 1155 parts that accounted for more than sixty percent of total shipments. Sandy Bridge 32nm processors in Socket 1155 are taking three percent of total shipments in 2H 2013 while Celeron BGA / Bay Trail D and old Atom based on Clower Trail 32nm should occupy some 5 percent.
In 1H 2014 Ivy Bridge E will eat the Sandy Bridge E market taking most of the pie for itself. Haswell and Haswell refresh, both LGA 1150 parts, should occupy close to 55 percent of the market while Ivy Bridge is doomed to shrink to 40 percent. Sandy Bridge LGA 1155 will be in some one to two percent of socketed processors that will ship in 1H 2014, while Celeron BGA and Bay Trail D (same thing under different brand) will grow into the Cedar View D market and conquer the rest of the low-end.
Both Haswell refresh and Bay Trail D should continue growing in 2H 2014 according to Intel’s desktop transition guide.
AMD has announced that its proprietary Mantle graphics API is attracting more interest as some big names sign up. Rebellion Entertainment has entered the game with its Asura engine and officially adopted Mantle for their upcoming Sniper Elite V3.
It looks like the first title that will be supported by Mantle will be Sniper Elite 3. So far no one is saying what advantage there will be for Asura to run on Mantle, it seems likely that it will give boosts in performance as well as enhanced graphics quality. Chris Kingsley chief technology officer and co-founder of Rebellion Entertainment said in a press release that his studio was pushing technology as far as it could.
“We are excited about the possibilities that Mantle brings to PC gaming and the industry as a whole. We believe that supporting Mantle will enable us to stay on the bleeding edge of PC gaming and ensure that we don’t leave any performance on the table when it comes to offering gamers amazing experiences,” he said.
Mantle, a cross-platform application programming interface for windows designed specifically for graphics processing units based on graphics core next (GCN) architecture, presenting a deeper level of hardware optimisation. Mantle is supposed to bypass bottlenecks in modern PC/API architectures and enables nine times more draw calls per second than DirectX and OpenGL thanks to lower CPU overhead, AMD claims.
Esoteric business software maker, which no one is really certain what it does, SAP is debating whether to accelerate moving more of its business to the cloud.
The move would be a change in strategy which might initially have only a small impact on its sales. Co-chief executive Jim Hagemann-Snabe said the change would generate more sales by 2017 particularly in markets like the US where there is a big push onto the cloud.
Talking to a Morgan Stanley investor conference this morning, Hagemann-Snabe said that this would have impact on the 2015 level, I don’t expect enormous impact but it would have some impact because you are delaying some revenues. In the long term however it makes a lot of sense, which is not the sort of thing people expect from SAP.
Researchers have made a quantum leap in the search for ultra-fast computing.
Scientist at Simon Fraser University managed to keep information in a quantum memory state for 39 minutes, smashing a hypothetical world record.
Previous attempts yielded results of under 30 seconds at room temperature and just under three minutes in cryogenic conditions.
The global race to harness the power of qubits has high stakes – the ability to create computers capable of calculating many times faster. Qubits are able to exist simultaneously in a superimposed state of ’0′ and ’1′.
This experiment involved a new type of silicon that could, scientists believe, be the secret of creating long term memory in quantum systems.
Speaking to Sky News, co-author of the paper Stephanie Simmons of Oxford University said, “Thirty-nine minutes may not seem very long but as it only takes one-hundred-thousandth of a second to flip the nuclear spin of a phosphorus ion – the type of operation used to run quantum calculations – in theory over two million operations could be applied in the time it takes for the superposition to naturally decay by one percent.”
The next stage will be to find a way to manipulate the qubits to talk to each other in a meaningful way so that information can be passed between them during their short, glorious lives.
Although there is a significant amount of research to come before quantum computing provides an effective alternative to traditional methods, this has been a huge leap forward for the concept, and it’s widely expected that eventually the next leap will be the leap home.
A few days ago AMD announced it would extend the Battlefield 4 bundle deal to all R9-series cards, but right now it’s starting to sound like President Obama telling Americans that none of them will lose their healthcare plans.
In theory all R9 cards could get the bundle, but AMD is saying that it is up to AIB partners to decide whether they will offer the game with all cards or just with some. It basically sounds like AIBs could offer pricier SKUs with the BF4 bundles and also plain cards with a discount. It is unclear how much the bundle would affect the retail price.
This is what AMD said to clarify the situation:
An email sent to press that provided details on AMD’s Battlefield 4 promotion was not clear and has led to some confusion in the marketplace. It suggested that all customers who purchased an AMD Radeon R9 series graphics card on or after November 13, 2013 would receive a complimentary copy of Battlefield 4. While all AMD Radeon R9 series cards are theoretically eligible for the promotion (which is administered by AMD’s channel partners), retailers and add-in-board partners ultimately decide which select AMD Radeon R9 SKUs will include a copy of BF4.
In addition, AMD made it clear that customers who purchased R9 cards before November 13 are not eligible for any retroactive bundle deal due to contractual agreements with EA/DICE. However, as a gesture of goodwill AMD plans to hand out 1,000 BF4 codes on social media, although the full details of the giveaway have not been announced yet.
Basically if you are interested in getting an R9 BF4 bundle, it’s probably best to wait for a few days or weeks and see what AMD channel partners plan to offer.
Although its new Mantle API was announced back at the Hawaii launch bash, AMD did not share too many details. As far as technology goes, Mantle is more or less straightforward; it’s a thin layer on top of GCN hardware.
The general idea is that Mantle could drastically reduce API overhead in certain scenarios, allowing developers to tap the full potential of GCN-based GPUs. One of the ways it does this is by batching draw calls, grabbing more polygons to render without placing much strain on the CPU.
It also allows developers to streamline games for optimum performance, by queuing and distributing threads on the CPU and GPU, thereby harnessing more computing power from both. This process could be improved upon with a bit of help from HSA, which means upcoming AMD APUs could gain a bit of gaming muscle with no added silicon.
Then there’s parallelism – Mantle can use multiple CPU cores more efficiently than DirectX and OpenGL, reducing CPU workloads. It gets even better with multi-GPU support, as Mantle can basically “see” multiple GCN-based GPUs as a single GPU, improving load balancing and eliminating microstuttering in the process. It’s also interesting from an APU perspective, as it could potentially lead to even greater performance gains for users with AMD APUs and discrete graphics, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
So how much of a performance boost are we looking at? Well AMD claims 20 to 50 percent, which sounds very impressive indeed, if not too optimistic – so we’re probably looking at something closer to 20 percent. However, we’re still months away from seeing Mantle in action, which leads us to AMD’s next problem – adoption. Mantle support is coming to BF4 next month and it should give us an idea of what to expect. DICE says Mantle will be supported by no fewer than 15 Frostbite based games. Apart from DICE, AMD says it has a few other developers lined up.
The trouble is multi-vendor support. Oddly enough Frostbite head honcho Johan Andersson said Mantle is actually not tied to AMD’s GCN architecture and it’s forward compatible. This obviously means AMD’s post-GCN GPUs will support it, but it also means Nvidia could embrace it as well, as DICE claims “most Mantle functionality can be supported on today’s modern GPUs” – unless DICE thinks Nvidia doesn’t make modern GPUs, this more or less means Nvidia GPUs could support Mantle sometime in the future.
Cash strapped chipmaker AMD has had to apply for a short term loan to help the company slow its financial decline. The outfit has raised half-billion dollar line of finance from a group of lenders, with Bank of America acting as agent.
All this is happening as AMD struggles with the economic downturn and a decline in PC sales. The outfit is good for the cash. After all it is focusing on game consoles and associated royalties, which at its fiscal third-quarter earnings saw the business unit increase in revenue by 110 percent on the previous quarter, and 96 percent year-over-year.
AMD said the proceeds of the five-year secured revolving line of credit, ending November 2018, which retires may be used for general corporate services, such as working capital needs.
The PS4 and Xbox One are about to go on sale and both consoles are powered by custom AMD silicon. Analysts are expecting strong sales and AMD is bound to ship millions of Jaguar-based custom parts for Sony’s and Redmond’s latest consoles.
As a result, AMD is gaining market share in the x86 space. This is hardly surprising given the sheer volume of next-gen consoles that will be produced over the next few quarters, although AMD still lacks competitive x86 parts in the mid-range and high-end segments.
Mercury Research principal analyst Den McCarron told IDG that millions of new consoles will sell in the coming weeks, boosting AMD’s numbers in the process. Intel on the other hand still relies on shipments of PC and server parts, so the PC slump is taking its toll.
McCarron argues AMD’s long-term goal is to get outside the PC market. AMD is already seeing growth thanks to custom chips in the non-PC space. Meanwhile Intel is hoping to seize more tablet market share with Bay Trail parts. Neither AMD nor Intel have any smartphone at this point, although Intel is slowly getting there.
Intel ended Q3 with an 80.2 percent market share, down from 83.3 percent a year ago. AMD went up to 19.3 percent, up from 16.1 percent. However, in the PC space Intel actually gained share, while AMD’s share dropped from 16.1 to 15.8 percent.
AMD is unlikely to score big design wins for custom chips in the short run, but with emerging technologies like HSA its upcoming APU-based server parts and their custom derivatives could become a bit more interesting.
AMD has confirmed what we knew all along. Although it might announce the first Kaveri products later this year, the first desktop parts will be available on January 14 2014. Although many were hoping to see the first Kaveri chips by the end of the year, having them just two weeks into 2014 doesn’t really make much of a difference.
So what can we expect from the first batch of Kaveri parts?
One part revealed during the APU 13 presentation was the A10-7850K. It appears to be a 3.7GHz quad-core with 512 Radeon cores (R7-series GPU). The theoretical performance calculated by AMD for this particular part is 856 GFLOPs.
However, the trouble with Kaveri is that we still don’t know the impact of HUMA, HSA and Mantle on actual real world performance. HUMA will let the chip share memory between the GPU and CPU, although GDDR5 support is lacking, shattering the wet dreams of many a fanboy. HSA and Mantle could unlock even more performance.
“Kaveri can perform well above its class because of these technologies,” an AMD spokesman told EE Times.
So far AMD is confirming Mantle support in four upcoming games. Mantle could practically allow AMD APUs to do more with less silicon, boosting their price/performance ratio. Of course, more developers need to embrace Mantle in order to give new AMD APUs a competitive edge.
That’s according to the publisher, which also highlights the game’s number one ranking on Xbox Live, and the most pre-ordered release at US retailer GameStop.
Activision claims over 15,000 stores opened at midnight on Monday to sell the game across the globe, although it stopped short of revealing unit figures.
“Ghosts is an amazing game which ushers in the next generation of Call of Duty,” commented Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.
“This is the must have launch title for the next generation of consoles, and we expect Call of Duty: Ghosts to be the most successful launch title for the Xbox One and PS4 by a wide margin. In fact, according to GameStop, Call of Duty: Ghosts is their most pre-reserved next gen title.”
Like all major companies, Electronic Arts from time to time has come under fire from pundits and consumers. In fact, earlier this year, the publisher won the Consumerist poll for “Worst Company in America” for the second straight year. Whether or not there’s any merit to that accusation, rather than simply shrug it off, EA says it’s listening and wants to do even better by its consumers.
In a recent interview with Kotaku, newly minted CEO Andrew Wilson and vice president of the Games Label, Patrick Soderlund, talked at length about making consumers more satisfied than they have been with EA in the last few years.
“There are lots of really big public companies that make a lot of money that are loved by their consumers,” Wilson acknowledged. “That’s because the consumers feel like they get value from that company in the investment in their dollars [and] time.”
To that end, Wilson would like his consumers to really feel like they, not EA, are getting the better end of the deal when they purchase any games from the publisher. “Any time we create something, if you’re asking for an investment from the consumer in dollars and time, make sure they feel like they’re stealing from you and that they are getting the best end of that deal and the rest will follow. And that will be our philosophy,” he continued.
Interestingly, Soderlund admitted that the Consumerist distinction really did give EA pause. The executives have been thinking about what it means and what the company can do to change perceptions around EA.
“We started thinking about how we don’t want to be viewed as the worst company in America. I personally don’t think we’ve ever been the worst company in America, but it says something. The consumers out there are telling us something. And we actually took it very seriously. This was before Andrew was the CEO. We and [EA chief operating officer] Peter Moore and a couple of other guys in the executive company got together to try to understand what caused people to say these things. And there were some things out there that…consumers told us they didn’t like. Online pass was one thing.”
It may sound easy, but one of the best things EA can do for its reputation is to make amazing game experiences. If consumers love the games, the rest should follow. Wilson noted that for as much as EA has tried to raise its own bar on quality, it’s still not enough.
“The demand and expectation on us are higher than they ever have been,” Wilson said. “We need a mechanism and a process which we can get to better games more quickly. If we can be faulted for anything, over the years, it’s kind of hanging on to ideas or concepts of games too long, driving too hard against them, spending too much to the point that we couldn’t invest in other opportunities and ideas. And a big part of what Patrick and [fellow top execs] Frank [Gibeau] and Lucy [Bradshaw] and I committed to is let’s drive a culture of innovation inside the company that actually starts a lot more stuff but at the same time kills a bunch more stuff before it gets to market so that we can give ourselves more short-term goals to get to that next innovative product.”
While EA is still trying to convince investors that profits are coming, its management ultimately sees the consumer perception and game quality issues as the most important to tackle. If it handles those problems with aplomb, the bottom line will take care of itself.
“…whether it’s DLC or something else, as long as we take the approach of being player-[d]riven and not driven by a short-term financial decision, players are telling us that Battlefield Premium is a good thing, because they’re buying it, they like it and they look at this and say, ‘Wow this is a great value proposition. I get four or five expansion packs and all these things for $50 that I can play over two years’ time. That’s worth something. Will Electronic Arts make money out of that? Yes, but will the consumers like it and want it? Yes they do. Wholeheartedly. I think that’s an approach where if we come at it from a consumer perspective and we do things that they tell us they want and we do that well, business will follow,” said Soderlund.
According to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics, global shipments of mobile SoCs in the second quarter of 2013 were 44 percent higher than in the same period last year.
Qualcomm still dominates the market, with a 53-percent revenue share. Apple ranks second at 15 percent, while MediaTek got the bronze with an 11-percent share. Samsung came in fourth, trailed by Spreadtrum, a fabless Chinese chipmaker that specializes in TD-SCDMA 3G-enabled parts.
So how did it end up so high in the rankings? Well, Spreadtrum is the third biggest player in China, a market traditionally dominated by MediaTek. While Qualcomm and MediaTek started to focus on mid-range parts for the local market, Sptreadtrum decided to churn out cheaper, low-end parts.
“Strategy Analytics estimates that low-cost suppliers MediaTek and Spreadtrum together captured over one-third volume share in the smartphone applications processor market in Q2 2013, thanks to the smartphone boom in emerging markets,” said Sravan Kundojjala, Senior Analyst, Strategy Analytics. “MediaTek and Spreadtrum’s improving global footprint coupled with their maturing product portfolio could spell a threat to global players such as Qualcomm, Broadcom, NVIDIA and Intel.”
Qualcomm still has a virtual monopoly in the LTE market and it is expected to further strengthen its position as Snapdragon 800 parts end up in more designs. However, it is losing share in China.
Although Samsung and Apple rank relatively high, they don’t exactly have a habit of selling their chips to competing handset makers, and even if they did, they don’t exactly make cheap chips, so the China market is practically up for grabs.
Earlier this year Samsung launched the first commercially available big.LITTLE ARM SoC and unleashed its marketing machine, hyping the benefits of ARM’s big.LITTLE configuration and octa-cores in general. Qualcomm wouldn’t stand for it. Qualcomm’s outspoken CMO Anand Chandrasekher took a few less than diplomatic jabs at Samsung, saying octa-cores are “dumb” and that Qualcomm has no intention of building them, since its engineers “don’t do dumb things”.
From a purely technical perspective Chandrasekher was right and most technologists agreed with him. Qualcomm and Apple have made it abundantly clear that optimized custom cores can easily beat the brute force approach of smaller chip designers who use off-the-shelf ARM tech. However, there is a very good reason some companies are still betting on the “more is better” approach and it all comes down to money rather than silicon.
Designing custom cores is simply not an option for smaller outfits. They lack the resources and know-how to pull it off, so custom cores are reserved for big players, at the top of ARM’s licensing pyramid. On the face of it, this doesn’t leave smaller chipmakers that many options – they have to use what they’ve got, and they’ve got IP for reference ARM cores which they can’t play around with. However, operating under such constraints is forcing them to look for alternative ways of coming up with competitive designs.
One of the ways of getting around these limitations was demonstrated by MediaTek, in the form of their new Cortex A7-based octa-core, the MT6592. Although it’s an octa-core, it is practically a mid range chip, but in some benchmarks like Antutu it comes close to Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 600, but MediaTek’s chip has a much less potent GPU and since it’s an octa-core its real world performance won’t be as good as the benchmarks would have us believe, as most apps can’t put the additional cores to good use.
So why does it make perfect sense then? Well, ARM has a peculiar and complicated IP licensing model. In case you’re interested in the finer points of ARM’s business model and how it could apply to cheap octa-cores, you can check out this extensive report on Anandtech.
The Windows 8.1 launch didn’t get much attention, which probably has something to do with the fact that it’s basically Windows 8 done right. However, users of AMD APUs could have a good reason to celebrate.
According to AMD’s senior marketing manager Clarice Simmons, Windows 8.1 is a lot better than Windows 8 when it comes to harnessing the potential of AMD silicon. Writing in her blog, Simmons said the new OS could deliver performance gains of up to 9.5 percent on some PCs based on AMD APUs.
However, her numbers are for the A10-6800K and the 9.5 percent gain only applies to machines with an outdated video driver. With the same driver, the difference is actually 3.5 percent, which still isn’t bad but it’s not nearly as good as 9.5 percent.
“Our work with Microsoft includes development on the essential operating system “plumbing” that enables Windows to directly leverage AMD technology in order to run more efficiently. The two companies also cooperate on the development and tuning of the latest AMD video drivers,”wrote Simmons.
“Of course AMD’s fast CPU and GPU cores contribute to high performance, but having software that is optimized to take advantage of the AMD hardware architecture is a significant advantage. Tuning our device drivers to simultaneously suit AMD hardware, software applications, and Windows 8.1 makes systems more streamlined.”
Simmons also pointed out that AMD Wireless Display works better on Windows 8.1, due to better architectural implementation and support for Miracast, better ecosystem support and new solutions that enable the OS to tap low latency display encode paths available in Radeons.
The maker of expensive esoteric software which no-one is really sure what it does, SAP has decided to pull the plug on its offering for small businesses. Business weekly Wirtschaftswoche said SAP would stop the development of a software dubbed Business By Design, although existing customers will be able to continue to use it.
SAP insists that development capacity for Business By Design was being reduced, but that the product was not being shut down. Business by Design was launched in 2010 and was supposed to generate $1 billion of revenue. The product, which cost roughly 3 billion euros to develop, currently has only 785 customers and is expected to generate no more than 23 million euros in sales this year.
The Wirtschaftswoche report said that ever since the SAP product’s launch, customers had complained about technical issues and the slow speed of the software.