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AMD Confirms Stadia Will Run on Intel CPUs

As one of the world's most pervasive cloud service providers, Google is in a better position to launch a successful game streaming platform than almost anyone. The hardware they choose to use for the launch of their "Stadia" streaming service will undoubtedly influence future game streaming efforts, hence AMD's stock price shot through the roof when Google announced they were using AMD GPUs. However, PCGamesN writer Dave James noticed that Google was conspicuously silent when it came to Stadia's CPUs. They were happy to share clock speeds, cache numbers and the fact that they're using "custom" x86 chips, but they refused to confirm the vendor of the platform's CPU. Eventually, AMD reached out and said that "the Stadia platform is using custom AMD Radeon datacentre GPUs, not AMD CPUs." Barring any surprise announcements from VIA, that more or less confirms that Stadia will run on some sort of Intel CPU platform, but just why Google refused to mention Chipzilla by name remains a mystery. The author suggested that Intel might not want to associate themself with what might be a "doomed" venture. Maybe Google plans to switch to EPYC CPUs or an unannounced Intel server platform sometime in the future, or maybe they just don't think it's particularly relevant. Whatever the reason may be, I also find the omission to be curious, and look forward to seeing what happens with Stadia's hardware in the future.

A switch to AMD's EPYC processors has been mooted as a potential future step for Stadia, and Google's Phil Harrison told us himself that "we're just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time," so there is some potential for a changing of the processor guard either before or after launch. Whatever the truth of the matter is I still find it beyond strange that no-one involved is talking about the Intel CPUs being used for Google Stadia, even if they're not necessarily doing anything that special with regards the innovative streaming service. Certainly the multi-GPU features on offer with the Radeon graphics cards warranted mention, but just a note on the specs slide alone could have still done good things for Intel.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

PCIe SSDs Will Overtake SATA in 2019

A recent report from Digitimes claims that PCIe SSDs could finally overtake SATA SSD shipments in 2019. Unit prices for 512GB PCIe SSDs have supposedly fallen 11% sequentially, down to a price of $55 in Q1 2019, while SATA SSD prices only dropped 9%. The price gap between the different SSDs was around 30% in 2018, and according to the publication's market sources, that gap is only going to shrink as time goes on. Meanwhile, thanks to the rapidly falling prices of NAND flash memory chips, total SSD shipments are expected to rise dramatically. Digitimes expects shipments to increase "20-25%" in 2019, while a separate report claims that changes in enterprise market shipments could be even more dramatic. Relatively low prices for high performance drives with capacities of up to 16TB are apparently tempting many companies away from HDDs. Meanwhile, laptop makers are starting to ship lower-cost devices with SSDs by default, and according to PCPartPicker's latest charts, retail prices for standalone consumer drives have been dropping as well. Overall, it looks like 2019 will be a great year for anyone who's looking for more speedy storage, but the big flash manufacturer's efforts to slow production could stop the tumbling prices by 2020.

Falling average selling prices for consumer Gen 3.0x2 PCIe SSDs fitted in notebooks will accelerate the adoption of such SSDs by OEMs. This, coupled with demand for ever-higher storage capacity and speed to support cloud computing, 5G and autonomous driving applications, will further stimulate market demand for PCIe SSDs and inspire brand vendors to gear up production of such lucrative storage devices and related chips, the sources indicated. For instance, Taiwan-based IC designers Silicon Motion Technology, Phison Electronics, and Silicon Integrated Systems are racing to roll out enhanced version of PCI SSD controller chips, while major brand vendors such as Kingston Technology, Adata Technology, Transcend Information, Seagate and Micron have also listed PCIe SSDs as their mainstream product lines.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 10:17 AM (CDT)

Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

At their GDC 2019 conference, Intel confirmed that they'll launch 9th generation mobile processors in the 2nd quarter of 2019. While 9th generation H-series and Y-series "Ice Lake" parts recently showed up on the EEC website, Intel told PC World that these parts are based on 14nm Coffee Lake Silicon. The company also mentioned that one of their goals with his release is "longer battery life" for gamers and more casual users alike, and they're promoting their Wi-Fi 6 capable AX200 chip and 3D XPoint memory with the new chips Meanwhile, Intel also showed off a new software suite for their modern IGPs and (presumably) their future GPUs. The "Intel Graphics Command Center" is essentially their answer to Nvidia's GeForce Experience and AMD's Game Advisor, as it automatically scans your PC for supported games and applies the optimal settings for your current hardware. An "early access" version of the control panel is available on the Microsoft Store, and oddly enough, it says it was "released" on 11/26/2018. Unlike other app stores, the Microsoft Store doesn't log updates or list old changes, so it was presumably in some kind of closed alpha before being officially launched today.

We asked, you answered. You're tired of our 'old, boring, corporate-looking' Graphics Control Panel. We were too and we designed a completely new one from the ground up! We're incorporating the changes you - the gamers, home theater enthusiasts, professionals, and everyday tinkerers requested. Using a phased approach, we're rolling out something we're proud to share with you: introducing the Intel Graphics Command Center.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 9:54 AM (CDT)

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some "early designs" of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe's specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven't seen on a high-end reference card in some time.

Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel's upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 8:32 AM (CDT)

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 driver has been released and it adds support for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Generation Zero. Fixed issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA 2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API.

Known Issues: Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 4:51 PM (CDT)

Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Several news outlets seems to think Nvidia's GTC presentation was relatively longwinded and unexciting this year. The three-hour keynote reportedly featured some software announcements and a low power Jetson board, among other things, but didn't feature the 7nm Ampere GPUs many were expecting. EE Times says that the "unspoken message" at the presentation was that "Nvidia doesn't need to pre-announce a new and faster chip because it owns that software stack and channel today," and the emphasis on CUDA seemed to really drive that point home. However, in one of the more exciting parts of the presentation, Nvidia did highlight the Q2VKPT project we covered earlier this year. Nvidia's CEO seemed quite excited about the introduction of raytracing to Quake II, and they showed off some of the project's gameplay, which you can see below:

Presaging that future, Nvidia's chief scientist, Bill Dally, told reporters about a research project in optical chip-to-chip links. It targets throughput in terabits/second while drawing 2 picojoules/bit/s. In an initial implementation, 32 wavelengths will run at 12.5 Gbits/s each, with a move to 64 wavelengths doubling bandwidth in a follow-up generation. Dally predicted that copper links will start run out of gas as data rates approach 100 Gbits/s, already on many roadmaps for network switches. Progress in more power-efficient laser sources and ring resonators will enable the long-predicted shift, he said. If the future evolves as he believes, bleeding-edge GPUs may continue to skip an appearance at some Nvidia events. Attendees will have to hope that as the interconnects speed up, the keynotes don't get even longer.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 11:25 AM (CDT)

Google Partners with AMD for Google Stadia Game Streaming Service

Google has selected AMD as its partner for the Google Stadia game streaming service. Google will use high-performance, custom AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia. AMD noted how its commitment to open-source AMD Linux drivers would allow Google and its development partners to inspect the code and understand exactly how the driver works, enabling them to better optimize their applications to interface with AMD Radeon GPUs. AMD supplies other tools such as the AMD Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) that allows developers to identify timing issues that might lead to optimizations. The Google Stadia service will feature game streams with resolutions up to 4K HDR 60 FPS. Google announced a 2019 launch time for the game streaming service.

Streaming graphics-rich games to millions of users on demand and from the cloud requires ultra high-performance processing capabilities to minimize latency and maximize game performance. It also requires advanced technologies to tackle unique datacenter challenges, including security, manageability, and scalability. The AMD graphics architecture supports a wide range of today's gaming platforms -- from PCs to major game consoles -- enabling developers to optimize their games for a single GPU architecture and extend these benefits across multiple platforms which now include large-scale cloud gaming platforms.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 4:41 PM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

AMD Talks 3D Stacking at Rice Presentation

AMD has talked up their "chiplet" based approach used in their upcoming products, and according to some reports, Marvell is already selling products based on the chiplet concept. But the next logical step from that approach is to move from 2D to 3D, where different dies are "stacked" on top of each other. In a recent presentation at Rice University, AMD confirmed that they're working on 3D stacking techniques in their future designs, and that it's a necessary step to keep the improvements coming, but didn't elaborate much beyond that. Check out the memory and stacking talk in the presentation below:
Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

Atari VCS Is Powered by 14nm AMD Ryzen APU with Radeon Vega Graphics

Atari has announced that the upcoming Atari VCS will now be powered by a 14nm AMD processor featuring high-performance Radeon Vega graphics architecture and two "Zen" CPU cores. The hardware team at Atari has replaced the AMD "Bristol Ridge" processor with the new AMD Ryzen APU. The new AMD Ryzen platform will bring welcomed upgrades such as greater efficiency, faster speeds, and cooler temps; allowing the VCS to benefit from a simpler and more effective power architecture and thermal solution. The new processor includes built-in Ethernet, Native 4K video with modern HDCP, and a secure frame buffer that fully-supports DRM video (Netflix, HBO, etc.). The North American schedule is now targeting end of 2019 for delivery of the Atari VCS system for Indiegogo backers. Thanks @MixManSC !

This upgrade will translate to better overall performance in a cooler and quieter box--all with minimal impact to our manufacturing processes. While additional specifications about the new AMD processor will be announced closer to launch, be assured that the new AMD Ryzen processor is a much better fit for this project in multiple ways and will further enable the Atari VCS to deliver on its promise to be a unique and highly flexible platform for creators. Atari cannot thank our great partners at AMD enough for bringing forward this exciting new--and thus-far unannounce -- product for us to utilize in the VCS.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 5:26 PM (CDT)

3DFX's Unreleased Rampage GPU Lives On in 2019

Before 3dfx was shut down, they started developing a "Rampage" GPU that never saw the light of day. Even though the Rampage cards didn't enter mass production, a couple of prototypes were made, and Oscar Barea and Martin Gamero Prieto got their hands on one for their upcoming book on the history of 3dfx. Now, footage of a living, breathing "Rampage 2000" GPU running Quake and other 3D titles for a couple of seconds has appeared on YouTube, suggesting that the company made at least partially functional drivers for the GPU before they went under. Check them out below:
Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 18, 2019 10:41 AM (CDT)

A Reminder from AMD: Our Processors Aren't Affected by New "SPOILER" Vulnerability

AMD has published a support article confirming its chips should be immune to "SPOILER," a new CPU vulnerability outlined by computer scientists at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the University of Lubeck. As explained in their paper, SPOILER takes advantage of "a weakness in the address speculation of Intel’s proprietary implementation of the memory subsystem." This makes it easier for memory attacks such as "Rowhammer" to be carried out, but evidently, only Intel users need worry.

We are aware of the report of a new security exploit called SPOILER which can gain access to partial address information during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because of our unique processor architecture. The SPOILER exploit can gain access to partial address information above address bit 11 during load operations. We believe that our products are not susceptible to this issue because AMD processors do not use partial address matches above address bit 11 when resolving load conflicts.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 4:40 PM (CDT)