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Disclaimer: The conclusion and guidance given at the end has been given in a completely non-professional capacity. Since this is not intended to be professional investment advice, we cannot be held liable in any way.

AMD (NYSE: AMD) has just reported its Q1 Results for 2014. About 3 months back, I advised against investing (short) because of my forecast of a significant decrease in revenue next quarter. And as far as shorts are concerned, the chipmaker has infact reported a loss. Interestingly however, the reported GAAP diluted LPS (Loss Per Share) of 0.03$ and consequently the reported non-GAAP diluted EPS of 0.02$ is higher than analysts expectation of a  break even on non-GAAP.

Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE: AMD) nets Loss Per Share of 3 Cents on GAAP basis – SCRYPT Mining Sales Drying Off, CPU Portion in Decline while GPU portion sees Significant Growth

AMD StockNumbers aren’t everything, because even though the numbers might make it appear as if this Quarterly Report depicts a bad result, the reality is quite different. What we are seeing are signs of an actual, possible company turnabout. I.e. this report could be the first sign that the Profit of Q4 FY13 was not a mere fluke.

AMD logo
Hardware

During their quarterly earnings call for Q1 2014, AMD revealed that they would stick with 28nm across all their products as opposed to 20nm which is the process reserved for their future products. Many have their eyes on AMD’s next generation of graphics cards which will feature new and improved 20nm process technology but we have to wait a bit more to see those GPUs in action.AMD 20nm

AMD To Stick With 28nm Across All Products This Year

Lisa Su (Senior Vice President and General Manager of Global Business Units at AMD) revealed that their graphics and semi-custom business products are both on 28nm. We have seen several 28nm products across AMD graphics and processors designs which include the Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series for graphics while Steamroller, Jaguar powering AMD’s processors and accelerated processing units. The transcript of the session can be seen below:

Lisa Su – SVP and General Manager of Global Business Units

Sure, Chris. So let me take that and give you a little bit of our thinking.

So in terms of product and technology selection, certainly we need to be at the leading-edge of the technology roadmap. So what we’ve said in the past is certainly this year all of our products are in 28-nanometer across both, you know, graphics client and our semi-custom business. We are, you know, actively in the design phase for 20-nanometer and that will come to production. And then clearly we’ll go to FinFET. So that would be the progression of it.

Lisa Su – SVP and General Manager of Global Business Units

David, I think what I said earlier sort of what we’re doing in terms of technology strategy, we are 28 this year, we have 20-nanometer in design, and then FinFET thereafter. So that’s the overall product portfolio. via Seeking Alpha

Videocardz has released some pretty interesting information regarding AMD’s upcoming Never Settle Forever Bundle (2014). The information not only mentions the exact games but the cards supported. However it seems that many modern games are not included, although it does contain its fair share of AAA titles from Square Enix and Eidos.

Never Settle Forever Banner

AMD’s Buyer’s Choice Game Offers

AMD Never Settle Forever 2014 Bundle – 3 Tiers scaled along the AMD Radeon GPU Lineup

Anyone familiar with AMD’s past Never Settle promotion bundles would recognize the three tiered reward mechanism of the promotion offer. Basically if you buy the low end, i.e. an R7 250 or an  R7 240 you will get only one game. If you buy the middle end, i.e. the R9 260, R9 270 or the R9 270X you will get 2 games. And if you buy the high end of AMD Radeon GPUs, namely the R9 280, R9 280X, R9 290, R9 290X and R9 295X2 you will get 3 games along with your brand new GPU. Here is the complete list of games that will be given to you courtesy of the AMD team and restrictions/Indie Packages that apply (if any).

Update - MSI has contacted us that the bug has been fixed through a new BIOS that was rolled out at the start of this month. The issue was related to AMD drivers and MSI’s double PWM fan control system on the TriFrozr graphics cooler. For those running MSI’s Radeon R9 290X Lightning, you can download the following BIOS file and update your cards using the LiveBIOS utility to ensure optimal performance.

http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R9_290X_LIGHTNING.html#/?div=Utility&os=Win8.1

[Report] At Hawaii’s launch there were multiple jokes about it running too hot. Well, if you are an MSI R9 290X Lightning owner then the joke might become a harsh reality for you. It turns out that a bug that ails only the 290X Lightning’s stops both side fans from working, causing severe heating issues. We were first notified of this critical malfunction by reader Greg Mann and a simple forum search revealed that the problem was rampant in practically every MSI Lightning (R9 290X) out there. At the time of writing, AMD has been notified of the problem.

Lightning R9 290X Catalyst 14.3 Fan Bug Overheating

Catalyst 14.3 Beta Drivers causes critical fan malfunction in MSI Lightning R9 290X

Catalyst 14.3 Driver Issue causes Side Fans of the MSI R9 290X Lightning to Stop Working

Thankfully however, from what we can see in the forum responses at least, all owners noticed the problem quickly enough and stopped any GPU intensive activity while downgrading to a safe Catalyst version. It is worth noting here that the Catalyst 14.3 is a BETA driver and AMD has warned about bugs like this on practically every documentation available.  However from a cursory glance this issue has been prevalent in even 14.2 BETA drivers. Here is the hierarchy of the problem:

  • Catalyst 14.3: Causes critical malfunction of side fans not functioning and middle fan locked at 30%. Manual override using MSI Afterburner or Catalyst Control Not possible. The result is almost certain damage to the GPU if it is put under continuous, heavy load.
  • Catalyst 14.2: Causes the auto feature to malfunction, resulting in the side fans not spinning up and increasing RPM when GPU is put under load. The result is inadequate cooling and overheating. Manual override is possible.
  • Catalyst 13.12: Everything works fine.

AMD Partners are releasing their more or less similar looking R9 295X2′s in an orderly fashion and today XFX have marked their entry with the XFX R9 295X2 ‘Core Edition’. Which is more or less your reference R9 295X2 with just the AMD sticker removed and a bordered XFX sticker in its place (it looks like theres nothing there, but its there). It will ship in a cardboard box and will retail for about $1499 MSRP.

XFX-R9295X2-2

XFX R9 295X2 Core Edition Revealed – A Reference R9 295X2 in a Box

XFX deserves a special mention in the tech world because its story is a sad one. It used to be a fluent Nvidia Partner back in the days (before 2009 to be exact) and rolled out some amazing cards. I still have the XFX GTS 250 Core Edition with me to this day. However it decided that it will start manufacturing AMD Radeon cards as well but that was against the exclusivity understanding they had with Nvidia. The result? they got a boot from Nvidia’s partners and ended up making AMD cards exclusively. Sadly Corporate Ethics is a debate better left untouched. Moving on.

The XFX R9 295X2 will be your standard Vesuvius, but for those who against all odds,  do not know, here are the official specs: 28nm Hawaii XT Cores, with 2816 Stream Processors per GPU and 8GB of memory (4GB per GPU) paired up with dual 512-bit memory interface. The GPUs are clocked at 1018MHz while the memory is clocked at a lazy 5Ghz. It uses Asetek’s custom cooling solution with water blocks and a 120mm radiator fan.

Sid Meier’s Civilization Series has been part and parcel of the childhood of many gamers around the world, myself included. If you consider yourself a fan of the RTS and Turn Based Strategy genre than the Civilization series is a rite of passage, along with the other classics such as Age of Empire and Command and Conquer. Before I descend into too much nostalgia, let me clear something up. Civilization: Beyond Earth is definitely not a sequel but technically speaking it hasn’t been stated as a reboot (of the highly acclaimed Alpha Centauri) either. So my calling “Civilization: Beyond Earth” a reboot might be a factual fallacy; a re-visitation would be more appropriate but that would make for a shallow headline. Moving on.

sid meier beyond earth

Mantle API will Power Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth – Coming to Windows, Steam OS/Linux and Mac OS

I will tell you one thing though. Sid Meier’s team has left no stone unturned in an attempt to distribute it to the widest audience possible. The game not only supports every major platform including Windows, Steam OS, Linux and Mac OS but will also have Mantle API support hardwired into the code. Expect to see Mantle API fueled performance out of the box and without any synthetic updates unlike Battlefield 4 and Thief. It goes without saying that DirectX  is supported and unless I am mistaken, Nvidia will be working on bringing out a DX 11 Optimization Driver for the game in a tit for tat fashion.

And in all honestly, I heartily approve of this cat and mouse chase of Red and Green. Because in the end the only people that are benefiting from this topsy turvy race are the Gamers. Here is the official statement from the PR department over at Firaxis Games Studio about their upcoming IP:

3D Mark’s Hall of Fame is one of the most prestigious proving grounds for Overclockers all over the world and recently it has been dominated by Nvidia products. However the pros over at OcUK have landed the top spot with AMD’s R9 290X. There are four categories in total, Single GPU configurations, Dual GPU Configurations, Triple GPU Configurations and Quad GPU Configurations. OcUK’s 8Pack Overclocking team is the top dog at the Quad SLI section with 4 R9 290Xs.

Quad GPU Benchmark

OcUK’s 8Pack Overclocking Team Lands the Top Position at 3d Mark Hall of Fame with 4 R9 290Xs

Overclockers UK’s (eh) 8 Pack team is a well known bunch of enthusiasts and they have proven their metal once again (and of the R9 290X) by smashing the Quad Config World Record with their AMD powered rigs. For those interested they used retail MSI Lightning R9 290Xs to get into the Quad GPU Hall of Fame of 3dMark. The complete specs were 4 Way R290X Lightning, 4930K, Corsair Dominator plats C9 2730+ and EK Water Cooling

This adds another badge to 8 pack’s growing list of achievements this year:

*Nothing mentioned in this leak is set in concrete, AMD is bound to change a few things here and there.

[Exclusive] [Editorial]: I have just recently gotten my hands on a somewhat outdated and alleged AMD GPU specification details, the essentials of which should nonetheless hold true. The specifics mentioned in this post are liable to change and the primary focus of this leak is to serve as the basis of all future Pirate Islands speculation. This is going to be a very very interesting post, so buckle up, but keep that pinch of salt handy.

AMD Pirate IslandsHas absolutely nothing to do with AMD, but seemed awfully convenient. Respective Owners Reserve All Rights.

AMD Pirate Islands GPUs: R9 390X ‘Bermuda’ R9 380X ‘ Fiji’ R9 370X ‘ Treasure Island’

So lets begin, basically the AMD Details show three GPUs, the R9 390X, R9 380X and R9 370X, namely the Pirate Islands series. According to these details all GPUs will be based on the TSMC 20nm Node and will be true Pirate Island cores, which is why nomenclature of the dies will be derivative in nature. Another thing mentioned is that all Pirate Island GPUs will have the DirectX 12 Hardware Feature Set. According to these details the R9 370X is slated for announcement/arrival sometime this July-August this year. The R9 370X will feature a ‘Treasure Island XTX’ core and supposedly has 1536 Stream-processors, 96 Texture Units and 48 ROPs on the uncut die. Of course this road-map precedes the report we got of TSMC having a little trouble with 20nm so I am not sure how valid the time frame is anymore.

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Side
Hardware

AMD, today officially launches their flagship dual-chip Radeon R9 295X2 graphics card powered by two beastly Hawaii cores. The Radeon R9 295X2 is also the first reference card from a GPU manufacturer to adopt a hybrid cooler as a reference design which adds to the aesthetics and cooling of the card.AMD Radeon R9 295X2

AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2 ‘Vesuvius’ Bursts Vulcan-Power With Two Full Hawaii Cores

The naming of the card is enough to suggest the amount of power and performance the card holds. Featuring a tremendous dual Hawaii chip configuration, the Radeon R9 295X2 is a feat of engineering from the AMD team. The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 ‘Vesuvius’ features the Hawaii XT cores with GCN 1.1 architecture. With two Hawaii XT GPUs on the same board, the specifications equate to 2816 x 2 stream processors, 176 x 2 texture mapping units, 64 x 2 Raster Operators and 4 GB of GDDR5 memory on each chip which equates to a total of 8 GB GDDR5 memory. Double these and you get an impressive 5632 stream processors, 352 TMUs and 128 ROPs for an unprecedented amount of gaming and compute performance.

Clock speeds are maintained at 1018 MHz for the core which is impressive considering AMD managed to clock their chip 18 MHz faster than the stock variant without worrying about the heat. This shows that the new cooling design has things kept well under control. The 8 GB GDDR5 memory runs across a 512-Bit X 2 memory bus that is clocked at 1250 MHz effective clock speed (5.00 GHz effective clock speed). This pumps out a total of 640 GB/s memory bandwidth.

We have received word that VESA has accepted AMD’s proposal and FreeSync will become a standard for Display Port 1.2a. FreeSync, who was brought to life to rival Nvidia’s G-Sync, will now be a much greater force to be reckoned with then it was before with just a prototype to support it.

AMD VESA DisplayPort 1.2a Standard

Display Port 1.2A to have FreeSync Standard – Proposal accepted by VESA

Nvidia made headlines when it launched its new Monitor-GPU Syncing technology that is the Nvidia G-Sync. However currently G-Sync Enabled Monitors are pretty pricey. But one thing could not be denied, if G-Sync is successful it would almost completely (and subtly) shift the PC Market to Green’s Side. AMD Seemed to think so as well because, it started working on its own Free Alternative whose very name was a pun to Nvidia, called FreeSync.

Now it seems, with a brilliant move, AMD might just start shifting the odds in its favor again.
A report by the aptly named French hardware site Hardware.fr states that VESA (Video and Electronics Standards Association) has just approved AMD’s proposal and FreeSync will now become a part of the standard of Display port 1.2a. However do note that VESA has added an ‘optional’ tag to the standard (contradictory and oxymoronic, I know. ) which means that it will be upto the individual manufacturers whether to implement it in monitor models or not.

TSMC-logo
Hardware

Taiwan Semi-Conductor Manufacturing Company, TSMC, is expected to launch its 16nm FinFET manufacturing process plus at the end of 2014. This will add two more advanced processes to its portfolio. Its competitors, Intel and Samsung already produce the 14nm nodes, and this move will likely put TSMC in a better position to compete with them. 

tsmc2

16nm FinFet plus an addition to the 16nm FinFet introduced last year by TSMC.

In September last year, TSMC released the 16nm FinFet designs. These additions were expected to provide methodologies for boosting power and area in 16nm. This included low voltage operation analysis and high resistance layer routing optimization. According to the original road map released by TSMC, the 16nm FinFet was expected to enter production by the end of this year. According to CEO Andy Liu in January, the 16nm FinFet plus has 15% better performance than its predecessor.

The 16nm FinFet plus is expected to enter production in early 2015. According to digitimes, this may help TSMC win A9 processor orders from Apple. According to JP Morgan Securities, some mobile fabless computer may directly adopt the 16nm and migrate from the 20nm, since it gives an additional die shrink.

A short update on the almost forgotten sibling of the A10-7850k: the Kaveri A8-7600. Basically, the retail SKU which is the AMD A8-7600 has been delayed to the second quarter of 2014. This is the same time frame the rest of Kaveri arrives. However the OEM variant is still on schedule for Q1 2014 release. AMD Kaveri

AMD Kaveri APU A8-7600 OEM on Schedule for Q1 – Retail delayed to Second Quarter

When the Kaveri APU launched a few months ago the engineering samples that were shipped to review sites included the A8-7600 along with the A10-7700K and A10-7800K. However though both A10 APUs were available on launch the A8-7600 wasn’t (mostly). The much more energy efficient and cheaper counterpart targeted at a very select niche of low-end products was supposed to debut in Q1 2014. However sweclockers.com now confirms that this will not be the case. Homebuilders and people who require a PIB (Processor in a box packaging) will have to wait till the second quarter of 2014, which is almost 6 months after launch and reviews. Here is the official statement of AMD that was given to our Swedish friends:

“Production of the AMD A8-7600 is on track and will be available first to AMD’s OEM customers in Q1 2014 to ENSURE the introduction of AMD based systems in Q2 2014. Additional parts of the AMD A8-7600 for PIB production will be available for sale in the component channel in 2H 2014.”

R9 295X2 Logo
Hardware

The AMD Radeon R9 295X2 official specifications and pictures have finally been exposed by the always active Videocardz. The fully blown leaks shows the impressive Hybrid cooling design AMD has manged to assemble on their next generation Dual-Chip graphics card which features full Hawaii XT chips for unparalleled 4K and beyond gaming performance.AMD Radeon R9 295X2 Performance  ReEngineered

AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2 Vesuvius Exposed – Powered by Full Hawaii XT GPUs

There’s a reason why AMD codenamed their upcoming dual-chip graphics card ‘Vesuvius’. While everyone had doubts if AMD would manage to fit two Hawaii cores in their next dual chip graphics card, its known now that AMD definitely has the engineering feat required to get two Hawaii XT cores run parallel to one another on a same PCB.

With two Hawaii XT GPUs on the same board, the specifications equate to 2816 x 2 stream processors, 176 x 2 texture mapping units, 64 x 2 Raster Operators and 4 GB of GDDR5 memory on each chip which equates to a total of 8 GB GDDR5 memory. Double these and you get an impressive 5632 stream processors, 352 TMUs and 128 ROPs for an unprecedented amount of gaming and compute performance. Clock speeds are maintained at 1018 MHz for the core which is impressive considering AMD managed to clock their chip 18 MHz faster than the stock variant without worrying about the heat. This shows that the new cooling design has things well kept under control. The 8 GB GDDR5 memory runs across a 512-Bit X 2 memory bus that is clocked at 1250 MHz effective clock speed.

Ladies and gentlemen, the NDA lifts on the eighth but it was only a matter of time until the benchmarks of the R9 295X2 Dual GPU Card leaked. All eyes were at our Chinese friends but the leak actually came from a source we weren’t expecting. The leak comes from the Arabian website called DarkTech-reviews.com .

AMD Radeon R9 295X2 GPUImage courtesy of Chiphell Forums.

AMD ‘Vesuvius’ R9 295X2 – The Dual Hawaii-XT Beast with Hybrid Cooling thrashes competition in Preliminary Benchmarks.

I know you came here for the benchmarks so before I ramble, here is the treasure chest:

AMD FX
Hardware

When AMD announced the FX-9590 last year it was seen as an attempt to connect back with its enthusiast community. Boasting a clock speed of 5 Ghz, the chip was faster than anything else on AMD’s lineup. Even then, it would have a hard time competing with Haswell and Ivy-Bridge E. Now, according to our sources, the FX-9590 is reaching the end of its life cycle only after a mere 9 months.

FX-9590 Exiting before its time, is Heat Problem the real reason?

FX-9590Heat was naturally going to be a problem the 9590 would have to face after being able to clock at 5 Ghz. The TDP of the board is very high 220 Watts. This brings strong problems in areas of motherboard compatibility with a variety of hardware. Another problem is the cooler choice for this heat produced. However, perhaps the most valid reason for the exit of the FX 9590 is the release of Mantle.

Mantle, as we know, works by cutting down CPU bottlenecks and therefore allows applications to utilize the CPU and GPU capabilities more effectively. This allows greater control over the hardware installed. Therefore, due this better utilization, the clock speed of CPU’s in gaming and other applications could be less important, with greater focus being paid towards better utilization of available hardware resources. This leaves the 9590 rather in the middle, with it’s selling point left obsolete.



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