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Compute Unit (click to enlarge)

Graphics Core Next (click to enlarge)
Sources claim TSMC's manufacturing is that good

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is the world's largest semiconductor foundry, and as such is constantly under pressure from its customers and competitors. The company recently announced that its newest 28nm process has entered mass production. Smaller process geometries typically mean that a faster, smaller, and cheaper processor will be available.
 
Two of TSMC's biggest customers are AMD and NVIDIA. Both have taped out GPU designs using TSMC's 28nm High Performance (28HP) process. AMD's next-generation GPU series is codenamed Southern Islands. The Tahiti GPU is supposed to launch early in December, while NVIDIA's Kepler GPU will launch in February of 2012.
 
28HP is the first process from TSMC to use High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology, as opposed to the typical silicon oxynitride (SiON) found in 40nm GPUs. HKMG uses a material with a high dielectric constant instead of the traditional silicon dioxide gate dielectric. This allows for a substantial reduction in gate leakage, thus lowering overall power consumption and allowing for higher clock speeds.
 
According to sources within TSMC, the 28HP HKMG process is doing very well. So well, in fact, that it supports up to a 45 percent clock speed improvement over the firm's own 40G process used to make the last two generations of video cards. This speed improvement is based on the same leakage per gate, but the GPU firms may choose to favor lower power consumption over a pure speed boost.
 
Our AMD contacts declined to respond to these assertions and directed our attention to a presentation made in June at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit by Eric Demers, the Chief Technology Officer of AMD Graphics.
 
The flip side of the manufacturing process is the architecture and design, and AMD has already previewed the basis for its future graphics architectures, known as Graphics Core Next (GCN). The basic design of GCN will form the foundation for the next few generations of AMD graphics processors.
 
The fundamental unit of AMD’s previous designs has been the Streaming Processor, utilizing a Very Long Instruction Word (VLIW) architecture designed to take advantage of Instruction Level Parallelism (ILP). That will be supplanted by the Compute Unit, comprised of multiple 16-wide vector Single Instruction, Multiple Data (SIMD) units designed for Thread Level Parallelism (TLP).
 
L1 and L2 caches will support the CUs, while the GPU will have access to the main system memory. Support for C++ programming has been added, making it easier to program for the GPU and CPU within the same application.

While all of these changes will benefit compute applications, it is not yet clear what impact this will have on current games and those already in the pipeline. The architectural changes may end up helping or hindering performance. Nevertheless, the entire 28nm graphics lineup will support resolutions of up to 16000 x 16000 pixels.
 
Of course, yields have always been a big problem with introducing a new node. TSMC had significant challenges with its 40nm process, leading to shortages of the Radeon HD 5800 series. HKMG processes typically use atomic layer deposition for high-k materials, which has been a challenge even for Intel.
 
Ultimately, we know that the next-generation of GPUs will be "significantly" faster, but the effects of the new architecture are still unknown and could change things positively or negatively. The better the performance, the more likely it is to sell out. The final clock speeds are still being determined, so final performance numbers will have to wait until the first official launch. The latest word on the street is December 6.


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Process isn't everything
By bug77 on 11/4/2011 10:54:28 AM , Rating: 2
ATI's X1800 and nvidia's GTX480 will vouch for that.
2x nm process was supposed to also bring down the price of SSDs and it didn't.




RE: Process isn't everything
By Shig on 11/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Process isn't everything
By cwolf78 on 11/4/2011 11:19:41 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I can't wait for Intel to BLAST this.

I think you'll be waiting a long, long time.

quote:
Their 3-D tri-gate transistor Ivy Bridge technology makes this look like a JOKE.

Not as much as AMD and Nvidia's GPUs make Intel's look like a joke.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Samus on 11/4/11, Rating: 0
RE: Process isn't everything
By tastyratz on 11/4/2011 2:35:42 PM , Rating: 3
And Honda makes a phenomenal f1 engine, yet they don't produce a reasonably competitive sport compact car.

Just because intel makes great advances in silicone, does not mean implementation over a crappy gpu design is anything more than lipstick on a pig.

In reality what we will find is eventually they will become more and more "good enough" to handle the average user, making dedicated gpu's slowly obsolete. Mix that with the possibility of future ray tracing in video games which is all cpu load and you see the gpu market continue to dwindle.


RE: Process isn't everything
By someguy123 on 11/4/2011 2:56:02 PM , Rating: 2
You can already do GPGPU raytracing, though I hear there are accuracy problems with CUDA.

Intel's IGPs are already "good enough". We find them terrible, but the average person would find the HD3000 very fast for their needs.

That said, it seems like they're trying to improve at least, claiming a 60% bump next cycle.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Boze on 11/5/2011 10:52:35 AM , Rating: 4
The HD3000 can barely handle World of Warcraft, and its one of the simplest 3D games out there.

As technologies like Aero and Flash start to make use of the GPU, there's more and more reason to have more powerful GPUs or CPUs that can take the place of the GPU (which again just makes it a GPU anyway).

Intel's IGPs are "good enough" if all you're doing is using Excel and Word, and maybe some non-image / video intensive PowerPoint.

In other words, its good enough for "business". I would hardly say its good enough for the home user who wants to say, watch YouTube in 1080p, watch a Blu-ray, play a complex Flash game or two (Bloon's Tower Defense 4 @ levels over 75, I'm looking at you ), or play some casual game, like say Blizzard's upcoming Titan.


RE: Process isn't everything
By someguy123 on 11/5/2011 3:05:16 PM , Rating: 1
You're thinking the old GMA igps. the HD3k is alright for wow. Comparable to the 5450 according to anandtech. It does gpu acceleration for flash/HD video just fine, and it's free.

I don't know why there is fanboyism over hardware. These are just devices to be used. One can get better over time.


RE: Process isn't everything
By xrodney on 11/7/2011 2:16:11 AM , Rating: 1
Depend on resolution, on low its OK, but try 1800p or even better 2560x1600 or more and you get pretty much slideshow on HD3k.


RE: Process isn't everything
By someguy123 on 11/7/2011 5:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Right, but it's free, integrated GPU.

It's not a fullsized device. Even your full discrete desktop GPUs will struggle at those kinds of resolutions. Like I said, it's comparable to a 5450, which isn't fantastic, but for what it is, it's useful.

Not really sure what you guys expect out of an IGP. Even fusion GPUs don't provide 1800 resolution performance. I don't understand how people can expect something so small to perform similarly to something exponentially larger, hotter, and more expensive. I hear intel's trying to get into the GPU market with knights ferry, but their IGP was never meant to take over the discrete market.


RE: Process isn't everything
By BZDTemp on 11/5/2011 9:56:46 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, sorry but Honda does not make F1 engines and has not done so since 2008:-)

They do however make the engine for Indycar so maybe that is what you had in mind and you were of course right about their road cars. However if Honda wanted they could combine the Civic with say their 2.4L found in the Accord and perhaps push it a bit further and have a nifty sports compact.

Anyway my whole point is that picking Honda for you analogy was a bit off. If anything Honda makes great engines but, lately, pretty dull cars and if we thing of the engine as the GPU then that's sort of the opposite with Intel (crappy GPU but good packaging).


RE: Process isn't everything
By EricMartello on 11/5/2011 11:07:19 PM , Rating: 3
No, it was a fair statement. None of honda's "sports cars" are competitive with what is available from other brands. They're surpassed in every relevant performance category by offers from Mitsubishi, Subaru, GM and even Chrysler...Toyota seems to be in the same performance-anemic category but at least at one point they had competitive cars in their lineup.

Honda did succeed in creating an aftermarket full if idiots who think sticking a big red R, 20" rims and a gaudy spoiler on their car make it into a "street legal race car". Oh and don't forget the obnoxiously loud muffler they buy on ebay, with a 1.5" inlet and 6" outlet for that mad exhaust flow, yo.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Unspoken Thought on 11/6/2011 3:30:17 AM , Rating: 2
http://www.lexus.com/models/ISF/
http://www.lexus.com/LFA/

http://rpmware.com/around-the-web/honda-s2000-goet...
http://www.gizmag.com/hondas-nsx-supercar-replacem...

After a quick search, couldn't find much on the new S3000 or NSX. But Lexus does have some sexy sports cars. Just FYI.


RE: Process isn't everything
By EricMartello on 11/6/2011 4:40:33 PM , Rating: 2
The NSX had "supercar" pricing so it doesn't get to be compared to cars like the Evolution, Impreza, Corvette, Viper, Trans AM or other high-performing sub-$100K cars. The Lexus LFA is also a six-figure ride with limited availability...while the ISF is still not up to the same performance level as the late-model Supra Turbo was...granted that the Supra would have been more expensive today if you factored in its price with inflation.

Bottom line is that the only sports cars we got from HONDA, even if we include its expensive luxury division, is the NSX and S2000 - both out of production now, and neither had a long production run. Honda is seriously lacking in a performance car tradition that even other Japanese makers have and that is a simple fact. There is no Honda car that is like the Corvette or Nissan Z - honda focused on overpriced lawnmowers and econo-cars and that's clearly reflected in their lineup...although they do make some nice motorcycles.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Alexvrb on 11/6/2011 8:55:51 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. Honda has never come from that kind of background. The closest thing to affordable sports car that was competitive was the S2000. Toyota was doing great for a while with the Supra, until they killed it off. The FWD Celicas are bleh.

The other Jap carmakers have much more of a sports car lineage, although Mitsubishi is struggling a bit lately, and I've never been fond of Subaru's over-boosted H4s in the STIs. I laugh every time I hear somebody blew one of them up racing, and spends many thousands of dollars on a stronger souped up replacement that could have bought you an LS7 or even LS9.

Nissan has some nice stuff right now though.


RE: Process isn't everything
By EricMartello on 11/7/2011 12:28:20 AM , Rating: 3
I enjoy performance cars of all makes, so its nameplate doesn't matter a lot to me. The Nissan GT-R is a sweet ride with a reasonable pricetag for what it is; I don't care much about their other current offerings. GM's LSx engines are solid and powerful, but are often hated on for being pushrod type engines lacking variable valve timing, multiple cams and other nonsense they don't need. I find that to be ignorant; it's the simplicity of those engines' design that lets them perform as well as they do with high reliability.

On the other hand, the 4G63 turbo engine found in older Eclipses and the Evo 8 and 9 is an extremely dependable turbo engine with a cast-iron block and forged internals. I don't think Mitsubishi is having problems with their cars now so much as it is a lack of direction by the people running the company. I heard they plan to axe the Evo and focus on electric cars - big mistake if the rumor is true.


RE: Process isn't everything
By th3pwn3r on 11/7/2011 3:46:52 PM , Rating: 2
You heard wrong. The Evo will continue to be but it's not going to be a performance car. Reason is due to the head honcho over at Mitsubishi not being a automotive performance enthusiast. If you were the boss and in it for the money you'd take the same route.


RE: Process isn't everything
By EricMartello on 11/9/2011 4:19:57 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You heard wrong. The Evo will continue to be but it's not going to be a performance car. Reason is due to the head honcho over at Mitsubishi not being a automotive performance enthusiast. If you were the boss and in it for the money you'd take the same route.


LOL that sounds more "rumorish" than what I heard...and if the Evo won't be a performance car it won't be an Evo. The Evo always was and will be a "everything that you need, nothing you don't" type of car with high performance...and I think the Evo X deviated from that formula a bit too much...the Evo IX was the last "real" Evo produced.

If I was "the boss" I would most definitely not axe my globally recognized and admired performance icon that has a long history and heritage with the company and brand. You'd have to be a total moron to do that even if you are looking at the bottom line.

Supposing the Evo was a "loss leader" in terms of raw sales, the attention and interest it brings to the brand can make up for it. I see commercials for the Subaru Impreza almost daily...can't remember the last time there was a commercial on TV for an Evo.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Da W on 11/7/2011 1:24:09 PM , Rating: 2
It's called a civic and it dominated the world for decades.


RE: Process isn't everything
By 91TTZ on 11/4/2011 11:56:20 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
I can't wait for Intel to BLAST this. Their 3-D tri-gate transistor Ivy Bridge technology makes this look like a JOKE.


Intel wouldn't want to blast this. They're pretty close to having a monopoly in the PC CPU market and they wouldn't want to hurt AMD since that would pretty much unleash the federal government on them. In fact, if AMD were really in danger of going bankrupt, Intel would probably invest a massive amount of money in them to prop them up, similar to what Microsoft did for Apple in the late 90's.

quote:

The thing that makes AMD, Nvidia, and ARM so great is amazing engineering and performance per watt, NOT manufacturing.


Actually Intel's latest processors have better performance per watt than AMD's offerings. Haven't you read Anand's article about Bulldozer?


RE: Process isn't everything
By werfu on 11/4/2011 12:57:23 PM , Rating: 2
Bulldozer performance per Watt being low is related to the design AMD has designed. They used a long pipeline while hopping that speed and better branching prediction would reduce the impact. It didn't. The architecture could be good, but it still need significant tweaking to outperform previous K10.5 design. A K10.5 with a die-shink, like the A8350 but without the integrated GPU, would absolutely blast Bulldozer. But after investing so much in Bulldozer, AMD isn't going to scrap it. I do think they'll do what Intel did with the first Core design. It combined the best of the Pentium Mobile and of Netburst. Ultimately they will end up with a better CPU design. And Intel isn't going to let AMD die, as other said, the Damocles sword of anti-trust being already upon them.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Mitch101 on 11/4/2011 1:29:30 PM , Rating: 2
The only benefit I saw in someone getting Bulldozer is if they plan on massively overclocking it. It sure overclocks a lot higher than the previous design but sadly clock for clock the bulldozer is a dud. Still I would probably go for a Intel 2600K and overclock that from all the benches Ive seen.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Da W on 11/4/2011 2:14:52 PM , Rating: 1
Intel is upgrading its process technology so fast that they can't recoup their investment. They sold 45nm Nahalem for a whole year while producing lousy 32nm dual core Clarkdale, because 45nm wasn't done paying for. Same will go with ivy bridge, i guess they will target laptop and you will still be stucked with i72600K on the desktop. Look at the stock price in the past decade, and all that for having nearly destroyed AMD.


RE: Process isn't everything
By someguy123 on 11/4/2011 2:53:07 PM , Rating: 2
Intel's stock has a cap of 124.75B.

AMD has a cap of 3.96B.

You can't simply compare stock prices 1:1. Intel also owns it's foundries. It's not paying off someone for their 45nm chips, unless you mean they're gradually paying off foundry costs, which simply isn't true. New processes have to be tested on a large scale, so it's more likely that the chips were not hitting the yields they wanted, so they sold the underclocked leftovers as "mainstream/low frequency" clarkdales.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Sivar on 11/7/2011 6:31:33 PM , Rating: 3
I work for a semiconductor company.
I assure you that no semiconductor company in the world drops an old process 100% when a new one is available. Equipment is upgraded over time, and that is done, the business processes in place are tuned for new procedures.
Most semiconductors do not need the latest and greatest. Intel's highest-end CPUs might, but their low-end models do not, nor do their network controllers, south bridges, or medical equipment. Did you know Intel makes medical equipment?
The latter is a great example of an industry that wants the most reliable, well-tested, long-lasting products rather than "the fastest." It was be not only logistically impossible, but a terrible business move for them, or any related company, to move every product into a single process.


By Unspoken Thought on 11/6/2011 3:51:03 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Haven't you read Anand's article about Bulldozer?


Is that the only article you read about it? I'll agree that Bulldozer is not ideal for gamers, but it's performance isn't necessarily a downgrade from the phenoms. If you aren't a software or electrical engineer building cpus, I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket with just one review. I bet there is software that can utilize its advantages, whether AMD supports development of said software is another story.

This isn't towards you, but I see this all the time...

OMG! OMG! Bulldozer is coming out! What? This review says its not so much faster than Intel? Ahhh! Its total crap, and AMD needs to burn for getting my hopes up!!........seriously?


RE: Process isn't everything
By silverblue on 11/4/2011 12:18:34 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe not, but performance per watt can depend very heavily on the process.


RE: Process isn't everything
By Boze on 11/4/2011 11:19:35 AM , Rating: 2
The lack of reduction in price for SSDs is probably due more to consumer demand than any other single factor.

Once you've used your operating system of choice, be it Linux, Windows 7, or OS X on an SSD, you don't want to go back to mechanical hard disks. The performance increase in going from even the best designed 7200 / 10000 rpm drives to even a moderate SSD is amazing.

An SSD also allows you to take a miserable laptop computing experience (I'm thinking 5400 rpm drives here) and turns it into a joy. Lower power CPUs seem to come alive from the additional throughput that the disk offers.

That said, the prices most certainly have come down, along with performance going up.

I paid $150 for each of my drives, a total of $300, and that was with a $20 MIR for each.

Nowadays I can cruise on over to Newegg and pick up two OCZ Solid 3 60 GB drives for $95 each with a $10 rebate.

Same storage capacity, $100 less, and quite literally double the performance. All in two years. If that isn't the very definition of progress, then I fail to see what is.


RE: Process isn't everything
By chrnochime on 11/4/11, Rating: -1
RE: Process isn't everything
By mufdvr3669 on 11/4/2011 12:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
From tech-reports review of a crucial m4 "the m4 can write 72 terabytes of data over its lifetime. Amortize that over a five-year span, and you're looking at 40GB per day."


RE: Process isn't everything
By yomamafor1 on 11/4/2011 1:20:16 PM , Rating: 2
Theoretically, SSD can last up to 1,200,000 hours under normal usage. If it is used 24 hours continuously, it can last over 1300 years. But of course realistically, it wouldn't last 1300 years. It would last about 10 years (according to Anand). If used heavily, it'll probably last 5. However, most people would discard and get news ones before the SSD begins to fail.

The Intel X-25M that I'm using is already 2 years old, and it is still going very strong, despite being constantly formatted for new OSes.


RE: Process isn't everything
By euler007 on 11/4/2011 2:19:32 PM , Rating: 2
Yes it did. Three years ago.

My 2-3 year old Intel G2 80GB SSD drive still shows 99% of life left in the SSD toolbox. That's after running for two years as my main boot drive (upgraded this year to a 160GB G320, kept the 80GB as a secondary drive).


By Unspoken Thought on 11/6/2011 3:53:15 AM , Rating: 2
What are your Host Writes at?


RE: Process isn't everything
By bug77 on 11/4/2011 1:03:04 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The lack of reduction in price for SSDs is probably due more to consumer demand than any other single factor.


Actually it's due to data retention problems of the new process.


RE: Process isn't everything
By MamiyaOtaru on 11/7/2011 3:58:06 AM , Rating: 2
i wish. Stuck an Intel SSD in a macbook and didn't notice a damn thing, except it was quieter. It's still a dog


RE: Process isn't everything
By Gungel on 11/4/2011 11:20:41 AM , Rating: 2
SSD's are 1/2 the price from last year. Take for example a OCZ Vertex Plus 120GB SATA II drive which can be found for $99. A Vertex 120GB drive a year ago was around $200. But of course if you buy the latest tech drives with SATA 6.0Gb/s and Sandforce 2xxx controller it will be more.


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