AnandTech | Intel’s Core 2011 Mobile Roadmap Revealed: Sandy Bridge Part II

AnandTech | Intel’s Core 2011 Mobile Roadmap Revealed: Sandy Bridge Part II.

Late last week we pulled back the covers on Intel’s next-generation Core architecture update: Sandy Bridge. Due out in Q1 2011, we learned a lot about Sandy Bridge’s performance in our preview. Sandy Bridge will be the first high performance monolithic CPU/GPU from Intel. Its performance was generally noticeably better than the present generation of processors, both on the CPU and GPU side. If you haven’t read the preview by now, I’d encourage you to do so.

One of the questions we got in response to the article was: what about Sandy Bridge for notebooks? While Sandy Bridge is pretty significant for mainstream quad-core desktops, it’s even more tailored to the notebook space. I’ve put together some spec and roadmap information for those of you who might be looking for a new notebook early next year.

Mobile Sandy Bridge

Like the desktop offering, mobile Sandy Bridge will arrive sometime in Q1 of next year. If 2010 was any indication of what’s to come, we’ll see both mobile and desktop parts launch at the same time around CES.

The mobile Sandy Bridge parts are a little more straightforward in some areas but more confusing in others. The biggest problem is that both dual and quad-core parts share the same brand; in fact, the letter Q is the only indication that the Core i7 2720QM is a quad-core and the Core i7 2620M isn’t. Given AMD’s Bulldozer strategy, I’m sure Intel doesn’t want folks worrying about how many cores they have – just that higher numbers mean better things.

Mobile Sandy Bridge CPU Comparison
Base Frequency L3 Cache Cores / Threads Max Single Core Turbo Memory Support Intel Graphics EUs Intel HD Graphics Frequency / Max Turbo TDP
Core i7 2920XM 2.5GHz 8MB 4 / 8 3.5GHz DDR3-1600 12 650 / 1300MHz 55W
Core i7 2820QM 2.3GHz 8MB 4 / 8 3.4GHz DDR3-1600 12 650 / 1300MHz 45W
Core i7 2720QM 2.2GHz 6MB 4 / 8 3.3GHz DDR3-1600 12 650 / 1300MHz 45W
Core i7 2620M 2.7GHz 4MB 2 / 4 3.4GHz DDR3-1600 12 650 / 1300MHz 35W
Core i5 2540M 2.6GHz 3MB 2 / 4 3.3GHz DDR3-1333 12 650 / 1150MHz 35W
Core i5 2520M 2.5GHz 3MB 2 / 4 3.2GHz DDR3-1333 12 650 / 1150MHz 35W

You’ll notice a few changes compared to the desktop lineup. Clock speeds are understandably lower, and all launch parts have Hyper Threading enabled. Mobile Sandy Bridge also officially supports up to DDR3-1600 while the desktop CPUs top out at DDR3-1333 (though running them at 1600 shouldn’t be a problem assuming you have a P67 board).

The major difference between mobile Sandy Bridge and its desktop countpart is all mobile SB launch SKUs have two graphics cores (12 EUs), while only some desktop parts have 12 EUs (it looks like the high-end K SKUs will have it). The base GPU clock is lower but it can turbo up to 1.3GHz, higher than most desktop Sandy Bridge CPUs. Note that the GPU we tested in Friday’s preview had 6 EUs, so mobile Sandy Bridge should be noticeably quicker as long as we don’t run into memory bandwidth issues. Update: Our preview article may have actually used a 12 EU part, we’re still trying to confirm!

Even if we only get 50% more performance out of the 12 EU GPU, that’d be enough for me to say that there’s no need for discrete graphics in a notebook – as long as you don’t use it for high-end gaming.

While Arrandale boosted multithreaded performance significantly, Sandy Bridge is going to offer an across the board increase in CPU performance and a dramatic increase in GPU performance. And from what I’ve heard, NVIDIA’s Optimus technology will work with the platform in case you want to do some serious gaming on your notebook.

AnandTech | Farewell to ATI, AMD to Retire the ATI Brand Later this Year

 

AnandTech | Farewell to ATI, AMD to Retire the ATI Brand Later this

Year.Four years ago AMD did the unthinkable: it announced the 5.4 billion dollar acquisition of ATI in a combination of cash and stock. What followed was a handful of very difficult years for AMD, an upward swing for ATI and the eventual spinoff of AMD’s manufacturing facilities to GlobalFoundries in order to remain profitable and competitive.

In the years post acquisition, many criticized AMD for blowing a lot of money on ATI and having little to show for it. Even I felt that for $5.4 billion AMD could’ve put together its own competent graphics and chipset teams.

Despite the protest and sideline evaluations, good has come from the acquisition. The most noticeable is the fact that AMD’s chipset business is the strongest it has ever been. AMD branded chipsets and integrated graphics are actually very good. And later this year, AMD will ship its first Fusion APUs (single die CPU/GPU): Ontario using Bobcat cores and an AMD GPU. Ontario will be the first tangible example of direct AMD/ATI collaboration since the acquisition.

Just as we’re about to see results from the acquisition AMD is announcing that it will retire the ATI brand later this year. Save those boxes guys, soon you won’t see an ATI logo on any product sold in the market.

The motivation behind the decision to retire the ATI brand comes from AMD’s own internal research. Unfortunately AMD isn’t sharing the details of this research, just the three major findings from it:

1) AMD brand preference triples when the person surveyed is aware of the ATI-AMD merger.
2) The AMD brand is viewed as stronger than ATI when compared to graphics competitors (presumably NVIDIA).
3) The Radeon and Fire Pro brands themselves (without ATI being attached to them) are very high as is.

The second point is really the justification for all of this. If AMD’s internal research is to be believed, AMD vs. NVIDIA is better from a marketing standpoint than ATI vs. NVIDIA. Honestly, AMD’s research seems believable. AMD has always seemed like a stronger brand to me than ATI. There’s little room for ego in business (despite it being flexed all too often) and I don’t believe AMD would hurt its marketing simply to satisfy any AMD executives – the research makes sense.

Meanwhile the third point is the realization that there are very few product lines with the ATI brand left. ATI’s chipset operations were quickly absorbed in to AMD and given appropriate naming, while ATI’s consumer electronics products such as their Digital TV division have been sold to other companies. Radeon and FirePro are the only two ATI product lines left, and both are strong brands on their own.

The brand switch also reflects some internal changes at AMD. Many important ATI employees have been relocated to AMD’s base of operations in Austin, Texas in order to help with Liano, Ontario, and AMD’s future Fusion products. So the line between AMD and ATI has been further blurring for some time.

The brand switch will start late this year, I’d guess in Q4 with Ontario and a new GPU release. AMD (and NVIDIA) originally had GPU designs for the 32nm process node however extensive teething problems with 40nm and 32nm forced TSMC to cancel the node and move directly to 28nm. This cancellation required both companies to redesign their parts to work within existing 40nm processes and move their original plans out to coincide with 28nm in 2011. As a result we will see an incremental update to the Radeon HD 5000 series at the end of this year, but don’t expect the sort of performance boost we got with the 5800 vs. 4800. This upcoming hardware will probably carry the AMD Radeon HD 6000 series brand. All existing hardware will continue to carry the ATI brand.

To go along with the new brand we get new logos. If OEMs want to display a badge without the AMD brand, there’s an alternative for that as well:

AMD states the AMD-less logos are purely at the request of OEMs who sell systems with Intel CPUs and AMD GPUs. I suspect Intel’s logo program may have some stipulations on being used adjacent to a sticker with an AMD logo on it, although AMD told me it was purely at the request of the OEMs trying to avoid confusion.

The other major change is AMD’s brand simplification at the retail level. Last year AMD introduced a new platform brand called Vision. If you buy a PC with all AMD components (CPU, chipset and GPU) it can carry a Vision logo (similar to Intel’s Centrino brand). There are four categories of Vision support all with increasing hardware requirements: Vision, Vision Premium, Vision Ultimate and Vision Black. The idea is that if you buy a standard Vision PC you’ll have a good entry level machine, but buying up the stack grants you additional capabilities and performance (e.g. Blu-ray playback, web cam support, discrete GPUs, multicore CPUs etc…). We’ve explained it all in greater detail here.

Starting next year, AMD’s Vision badge will be the only CPU brand you see on retail desktops/notebooks. You’ll still get Radeon/Fire Pro badges on systems that use those parts, but you’ll no longer see a Phenom II, Athlon II, Turion or Sempron logo on Vision systems. Instead you’ll see what CPU is inside on the little card that sits next to the system at your local retailer.

I suspect this will last until AMD introduces Bulldozer, at which point it’ll probably be very eager to build up its brand – assuming performance its is competitive.

Final Words

Retiring the ATI brand comes at an interesting time in the microprocessor market. Graphics is becoming much more important, but to date we have very few examples outside of 3D games as good consumer applications for powerful GPUs. AMD views this as the perfect time to consolidate its brands before the CPU/GPU line gets more blurry.

AMD also pointed out that its market share has been on a steady climb over the past few years. According to Mercury Research, AMD’s discrete GPUs climbed from ~33% marketshare at the end of 2007 to 51% last quarter. AMD has executed unusually well on the GPU side and NVIDIA has had some very difficult years in the process, both of which are responsible for AMD’s climb. The ATI name will go out on a high note.


AMD Discrete GPU Marketshare, Source: Mercury Research

If all goes well with AMD’s two exciting new CPU architectures next year, the brand will only get stronger going forward. Bobcat could do very well in today’s netbook/thin and light notebook form factors and Bulldozer may mark a return to competition in the server and high end desktop markets.

DailyTech – Intel Acquires Infineon Wireless, Promises Not to Kill ARM Support

 

DailyTech - Intel Acquires Infineon Wireless, Promises Not to Kill ARM Support

DailyTech – Intel Acquires Infineon Wireless, Promises Not to Kill ARM Support.

Move may mark the start of the x86 smart phone invasion, though

As previously reported, Intel has been pursuing an acquisition of Infineon Technologies AG’s wireless unit.  Infineon AG, spun-off in 1999 from Siemens AG, has seen lots of recent business making broadband signal processing chips for numerous Android smartphones and for the iPhone.

The deal is now official.  Intel plans to close the deal by calendar Q1 2011.  It will purchase Infineon’s wireless unit, WLS, for $1.4B USD in cash (a vastly smaller sum than its recent $7.68B USD acquisition of the world’s top antivirus software maker, McAfee).

The deal does not include much of Infineon’s R&D or fabrication business.  It also does not cover the company’s ARM CPU offerings, which it’s hoping will soon gain traction in Android smartphones.

The move gives Intel a mobile wireless communications platform, which it can potentially employ with Atom platform x86 processors as part of a system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution for smartphones.  That SoC package could also employ hardware-security using intellectual property from McAfee.

Currently there are no smartphones on sale with x86 processors (current smartphones use the alternative ARM architecture).  Intel hopes to soon change that, and the assets from Infineon help prepare it for its upcoming battle in the smartphone sector.

Intel promises to play fair, though and to continue to support ARM customers like Apple.  The company’s press release states, “WLS will operate as a standalone business. Intel is committed to serving WLS’ existing customers, including support for ARM-based platform.”

The acquisition could also help Intel add wireless 3G or 4G connections to its netbook chipsets.  Infineon and Intel’s press release indicates that they are currently gunning for WiMAX as the 4G (fourth generation wireless) technology of choice.  Sprint, the first carrier in the U.S. to deploy a widespread 4G network uses WiMAX, but the nation’s top network Verizon is betting on LTE for its 4G effort.  Infineon has also looked into LTE technology in the past.

DailyTech – Ninth Circuit Court Rules in Favor of Warrantless GPS Tracking

Federal agents can now enter your property without warrant and track you in nine western states

Most would consider the Constitution is one of the finest achievements by the U.S. people and has viewed as a paradigm internationally.  However, in an age of technological revolution, members of U.S. local, state, and national level — on both sides of the aisle — are increasingly viewing some of the Constitution’s guaranteed rights as inappropriate or at least subject to review.

Among them is the Fourth Amendment, part of the original Bill of Rights.  It states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

While some developments such warrantless wiretaps or police arrests of people who photograph them have ruffled feathers in the past, a new legal precedent is raising more than a few eyebrows.

Under the laws of California and eight other Western states, state, local, or federal agents can sneak onto your property without a warrant, plant a GPS tracking device on your vehicle and monitor your movements 24-7 — without a warrant.

The ruling has already been upheld at the federal level via a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit decision.

The case came before the court via the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) 2007 arrest of Juan Pineda-Moreno, an Oregon resident who they suspected was growing marijuana in California.  At night, federal agents snuck on his property without warrants and planted a GPS tracking device on his Jeep.  The data collected later lead to his arrest and prosecution.

Mr. Pineda-Moreno’s appeal to the federal court fell on deaf ears.  The judges who made the ruling told him that his private property (his driveway) was not applicable to Fourth Amendment protections as it was open to strangers, such as delivery people and neighborhood children, who could wander across it uninvited.

Two separate panels of judges on the circuit upheld the decision.  Eventually the Supreme Court will likely be forced to review this ruling.

Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, who delivered a dissenting opinion on the Ninth Circuit’s decision, says that the result of the current law is to essentially equate justice to the amount of money you have.  He points out that the rich can afford electric gates, fences and security booths have a large protected zone of privacy around their homes — which allow your property to qualify for the states’ creative reinterpretation of Fourth Amendment protections.

Judge Kozinski remarks, “1984 may have come a bit later than predicted, but it’s here at last.  Some day, soon, we may wake up and find we’re living in Oceania.”

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