K is for an Unlocked Clock Multiplier

Because that makes sense… right?

Flaming WaferIt’s the weekly roundup!

Xtreview is reporting that AMD is planning on updating its A-series of Fusion APU’s in Q4 with a pair of multiplier unlocked models that also boast a 100MHz speed bump over their respective multiplier locked predecessors. The use of the “K” designator, which Intel also uses to mark its multiplier unlocked products, is really a mixed blessing for consumers. It simplifies the comparison of the AMD and Intel product line ups, but it also depreciates AMD’s relatively strong Black Edition brand which quite a number of consumers have grown rather fond of.

Asus and Asrock are going to be shipping a number of A55 based motherboards for AMD’s A-series of APU’s. This chipset differs from its A75 brethren by lacking USB 3.0 and SATA III support. Gigabyte and ECS have already rolled out there line-ups based on the A55 chipset so it was only a matter of time before we saw all of the major motherboard makers entering the market like we’re now seeing. Hopefully increased competition in this market segment will force prices down and lower the cost of a Llano based system. So my question to you, Llano, or A-series APU’s? Which do you prefer?

Anand put in a few words on AMD’s recent Brazos update, saying, “Although not a major architectural or process change, the Brazos refresh is significant nonetheless.” Three new models are being released, the C-60, E-300, and the E-450. All of these chips have the standard improvement in clock speed that we’ve come to expect from a mid-cycle product refresh, as well as DDR3-1333 support, and a version of AMD’s Turbo Core. The E-300 is probably the most overlooked of the three new chips, it replaces the E-240, which was the weakest link in AMD’s E-Series, and was also the default chip in many OEM laptops. Hopefully, AMD will quickly replace the E-240 with its E-300 chips, which offer a significantly better experience. If Atom taught us anything it’s that low power, single core, chips are just not going to cut it for a decent computing experience in this day and age.

AMD is apparently bringing a new marketing campaign to India with the goal of doubling its market share in that country. Called the, “Future is Me”, the campaign is specifically targeted at youth and features a contest with celebrity judges. Apparently this style of marketing has proven itself to be rather effective in other countries for AMD, with one representative saying, “In China, we had a huge success with a similar campaign after we launched our Accelerated Processing Units.” So for anyone taking notes here, AMD’s seems to be countering Intel’s mass media advertising and ubiquity with a social marketing strategy, and it seems to be working.

In one of the most aptly named articles I have ever had the pleasure to read, titled, “AMD BULLDOZER DELIVERY ALREADY SOON” Xtreview relays some general time frames for the arrival of AMD’s Zambezi. The 2nd half of September looks to be the launch window, with initial deliveries occurring, “next week or later.” Hmm… Well as long as all of the rumour mills are pumping out the same information then something has to be happening during that time frame.  But not on September 19th, that much is for sure.

Kirk Ladendorf of the Statesman did an excellent article on AMD’s new CEO, Rory Read, formerly of Lenovo who was just recently announced. Focusing first on his compensation for the new job, and then moving on to the expectations of the industry, it seems that AMD’s Rory Read has a lot of serious work to do.

Josh Walrath of PC Perspective did a little investigation this week on the low stock of HD 6970 in the retail channel. The possibilities seem to range from poor bin splits to pre-next generation stock clearing; the only thing that is really clear is that they’re relatively difficult to find. Let’s hope AMD gets this sorted out, or launches the 7-series, at this point either would be nice.

Intel - logo

Benchmarks of Intel’s Cedar Trail parts appeared recently. It seems that Intel’s managed to up the clocks on the graphics cores leading to some significant performance improvements; in one case up to three times the performance of the old line up. It remains to be seen as to whether or not this will be enough to stop the market share loss to AMD and revitalise Intel’s forays into the hand-held market, but it’s definitely an improvement.

Microsoft Logo

Microsoft has been showing off a few improvements to its Windows 8 operating system, including a more detailed file copy information window and better options for dealing with file conflicts. These are most needed improvements, as the most annoying loading bars are the ones that give no context to their progress, and while this wasn’t an issue with file copy operations in Windows 7, pretty graphs and more detailed data on the progress of the operation is never a bad thing.

Rumours are starting to float around that Microsoft is going to be launching a Windows 8 based tablet at some point. It is said to be a quad core based device, but it remains to be seen what hardware platform will be the basis for this device. More competition is never a bad thing, but if you look at Microsoft’s previous track record in this market space it’s hard to have much hope for a change in the status quo.

InsideHW’s Zeljko Djuric got the scoop on Lenovo’s forthcoming ThinkPad X1 this week. Sporting an integrated battery and 43 minutes battery life under load the X1 has a number of draw backs due to its form factor, but it retains all the positives of being a Thinkpad, such as high build quality and an excellent keyboard. More detailed reviews should start appearing in the near future, but the X1 looks like a quality build.

JEDEC released some more information on its specifications for the upcoming DDR4 standard. 1.2 Volts seems to be the new standard, which is quite a bit lower the currently common 1.65 Volt DDR3. It also appears that DDR4 is going to have substantially more clock speed headroom than its precursors. The thing to keep in mind here is that while these improvements sound quite nice we’re still at least a year away from seeing real-ish products and even further from seeing mass adoption for the standard.

The CEO of ARM, Warren East, was recently confronting the rumours about ARM being an acquisition target. Saying that, “ARM has been built around the principle of being agnostic at every point in the value chain.” He also pointed to the great number of ARM licensees as a reason that ARM will not be acquired, “There are 800 licensees out there. Most are perpetual licenses. They last forever. The worst that company could do is seriously inconvenience their competitors.” It’s a strong argument against any kind of acquisition, but an even stronger argument for ARM’s continuing, and growing, market presence.

It appears that the popular image manipulation software package, GIMP, is going to be adding both multicore and GPGPU support in its 3.0 release using OpenCL. GIMP is making changes in order to make it more competitive with proprietary suites like Adobe’s Photoshop and remove the bottleneck that only supporting a single thread has caused for the program. Accelerator support improvements are always welcome, because what’s the point of having an overclocked, multi-GPU, system if nothing can take advantage of all that power.

Eurogamer’s Wesley Yin-Poole had a chance to interview Valve’s Gabe Newell and managed to get a few entertaining bits out of him. Mr. Newell said that he is still not tired of being asked about Half-Life 3, but that he’s just doesn’t have anything to say. He also talked a bit about Valve’s release strategy, which is constantly moving more and more toward a rapid update system for released games, and confirmed that it will continue in this manner and possibly accelerate in the future. This is definitely an interview worth looking at, and good on Gabe Newell for being such an open and engaging interview personality.

Ryan Paul of Ars Technica wrote an excellent retrospective article on the history of Linux. It covers the initial release of Linux, at about 250 thousand lines of code, and its evolution and development over time into the 14 million line behemoth that it is today. Linux has come a long way during its storied history, but just as we say every year, next year is going to be the year of Linux.S|A

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Thomas Ryan is a freelance technology writer and photographer from Seattle, living in Austin. You can also find his work on SemiAccurate and PCWorld. He has a BA in Geography from the University of Washington with a minor in Urban Design and Planning and specializes in geospatial data science. If you have a hardware performance question or an interesting data set Thomas has you covered.