Wednesday, April 10, 2013

AnandTech Article Channel

AnandTech Article Channel

Intel Confirms Falcon Ridge Production in 2013, Ramp in 2014

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 10:51 AM PDT

Yesterday Intel announced its updated Redwood Ridge Thunderbolt controllers (adding 4K/DP1.2 support, lower power operation and slightly lower BOM cost) as well as next year's Falcon Ridge family of Thunderbolt controllers. I assumed that Falcon Ridge would ship alongside Broadwell in late 2014 but I just got word that the new Thunderbolt controllers will begin production by the end of this year and ramp volume through 2014. I don't have more specific dates than that, but it's still good news.

All Intel is saying about Falcon Ridge is the spec includes a speed bump to 20Gbps per lane up from the current controllers with 10Gbps per lane. Intel's own presentation refers to a single channel/two lane Falcon Ridge controller, delivering no additional bandwidth above existing TB implementations (although there may be practical advantages since you can't easily aggregate all TB channels today). I would assume that we'd see even higher bandwidth implementations but Intel isn't talking about any of that today.

The Crucial/Micron M500 Review (960GB, 480GB, 240GB, 120GB)

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 06:59 AM PDT

This is probably the most excited I've been about any SSD launch in quite a while. At CES this year, Crucial announced its M500 SSD - the world's first to use Micron's new 128Gbit MLC NAND die. Courtesy of the cost savings and density increase associated with this new 128Gbit NAND, the M500 would be available in a 960GB capacity, priced at $599. That works out to be around $0.62 per GB for a truly gigantic drive by today's standards. It's exciting. For the past five years I've been learning to live off of less storage that I thought I needed, but the M500 had the potential to spoil me once again.

Intel Releases OpenCL 1.2 Driver and Tools Update for Ivy Bridge and Haswell

Posted: 09 Apr 2013 05:00 AM PDT

Intel has released an updated OpenCL driver for their 3rd Generation Core (Ivy Bridge) and 4th Generation Core (which we can safely call as Haswell) products that brings OpenCL 1.2 support on both the CPU and the GPU, moving a step up from OpenCL 1.1 in previous releases. The driver also implements better integration with both Direct3D and OpenGL. The driver is for Windows 7 and 8 only.  Intel has also released an updated SDK  along with the driver.  The full release notes for the SDK release can be found here. Intel also supports OpenCL 1.2 on Xeon Phi.

Also of note, Intel has also recently updated their VTune Amplifier 2013 tool to add support for collecting GPU performance metrics in OpenCL applications running on Intel GPUs. Now it is possible to collect metrics such as utilization of the Execution Unit (EU) array and usage of on-chip local memory and cache of Intel HD graphics from within VTune. This will enable programmers to better understand the performance characteristics of their code on Intel GPUs, and thus will allow them to optimize their code better. According to an Intel forum post, for full GPU functionality VTune does require that the BIOS in the developer's machine support an option to collect performance metrics on the Intel GPU. This may be problematic for some developers. For example, I have a notebook with HD 4000 but was not able to enable some metrics because my notebook's BIOS does not have this option.

AMD has provided similar tools (such as CodeXL), as well as OpenCL 1.2 drivers for their GPUs for quite a while. Nvidia provides mature profiling tools for CUDA applications but their OpenCL tooling has been lackluster at best and Nvidia drivers remain at OpenCL 1.1.  Overall it is good to see Intel continuosly upgrading their driver and tool support for GPU computing APIs. 

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