AMD leaks have been plentiful this weekend, just days before the Hawaii event. There have been leaks/rumors surrounding the new video cards and there has been leaks/rumors about Kaveri. Lets talk about Kaveri.
The most recent rumors surrounding Kaveri are that the chip will top out at 832 stream processors instead of 512. The “leaks” show the chip posting several hundred percent gains in benchmarks over CPUs that cant take advantage of gpgpu compute like HSA can, all on 3GB of 1600 DDR3. Kaveri is going to be the first chip ever to support HSA, so hearing rumors that it is going to have a larger GPU is exciting. But for anyone following these types of things, the big question is how AMD plans to get around the memory bottleneck with the bigger GPU?
If Kaveri can post these kinds of numbers with 1600Mhz memory, what could it do with the now reasonably priced 2400Mhz sticks? The thing about having a GPU on the same die as the CPU is that the gpu does not have its own pool of super fast GDDR5 like discrete cards do. Regardless of how many stream processors the APU has, the gpu has to use the same memory that the cpu does i.e. DDR3-1600Mhz system memory, this alone limits the graphic performance severely. To put things into perspective, your typical mid-range video card now of days has a effective clock speed of 3-4Ghz (3-4000Mhz) So if AMD wants to make huge advances with it APUs, it needs really, really fast memory. Could you imagine Kaveri with 4000Mhz memory?!
Many might not know it, but AMD is responsible for many of the major tech advances that we all know and love. The most notable are 64bit processors and GDDR memory. The fastest processors in the world that we all love and enjoy (Intel) wouldn’t be in existence if if were not for the amd64 technology that intel has to license from AMD. Nvidia video cards would be garbage if it were not for GDDR memory, the 6Ghz memory of the Nvidia titan? Lets all take a moment to thank AMD. Fact is that AMD has been one of the most innovative tech companies in recent history, they are sitting on a ton of drool worthy tech and heterogeneous system architecture is next to turn the computing world on its head and its only a few months away.
Being the first APU to sport HSA features, its no shock that we are seeing performance gains from kaveri like the benchmark numbers pictured above. But one thing that cannot forgotten, no matter how fast the APU can process things, serial or parallel, the faster the processor, the faster data can be moved in and out of memory. So, one would think Kaveri should support all sorts of baller memory like DDR4, DDR5 and DDR6. (maybe not the last one but hey, maybe with Kaveri’s successor, Carrizo). Point being, AMD needs to make some money so Kaveri needs to mop the floor with Intel and Nvidia, and the faster the memory Kaveri can support, the more embarrassing it will be for Intel and Nvidia.
DDR4 is the most likely memory standard which I would think Kaveri would support, it is still too early for GDDR6 and GDDR5 would be too big of a PITA to implement. Or would it be? Regardless, HSA will exploit any memory type better than anything that came before it, including Intels Iris Pro , but like I said, AMD needs to put the whipping on the competition so it needs to deal with any bottleneck the best it can. The faster the better.
It is possible that AMD will try to get around the bottleneck with GDDR5 memory. Why do I think so? Well first, there have been rumblings about Kaveri supporting GDDR5 but also, along with HuMA and all the other changes that AMD is making to get HSA working properly, it would be hard resisting not including its support (yes, this is what I am basing my technical analysis off of lols). Especially since Kaveri’s HSA features revolve around the GPU, why would any chip designer not want to? There is of course, no official word on what types of memory Kaveri will support, But trust me when I say that AMD is serious about memory (read URL), so I am hopeful.
The thing about GDDR5 though is that the chips have to be directly soldered to the PCB. In the case of Kaveri’s socket-able desktop chip, this means that GDDR5 chips would have to be soldered directly to the motherboard, for laptops it would not be so bad, but having a desktop mobo without removable/upgrade-able memory is out of the question. It would be best if they could just put GDDR5 on a a DIMM like everything else… What if I told you that this is exactly what is going to happen.
JEDEC, for those that don’t know, is the organization that handles the specifications and standards of things relating to computer memory. The reason I bring up JEDEC is because they have already outlined a standard for GDDR5 to be put on a user replaceable DIMM, it will be known as GDDR5M and should be in the market around the same time as DDR4 if not sooner. Something else to take note of about JEDEC is that a guy named Joe Macri is its head honcho. Joe Macri works for AMD, what a coincidence. Hell, JEDEC is pretty much run by AMD.
Right, carrying on.
GDDR5M will come in the form of SODIMM, so it will look like a stick of memory for your laptop. If you dont beleive me, go check out the specification yourself. AMD says that after DDR3, GDDR5M will be the interim solution until HBM (high bandwidth memory) becomes the norm, thats when AMDs APUs will really shine (that’s an entirely different story for later). It is also said that GDDR5M will be cheaper than GDDR4, the memory standard that Intel will be using for its future chips. On top of having this type of stuff in laptops, could you imagine a small form factor motherboard that used SODIMMs instead of DIMMs? I actually like the mini-itx mobo and SFF cases, the smaller the better is how I see it.
To top it all off, the memory company Hynix has already started shipping the chips needed for these GDDR5M sticks, So we might see these things popping up on newegg this holiday season from our favorite memory companies. I just think its funny how these things could become reality all of a sudden precisely around the same time Kaveri is set to launch, but then again I could be too forward thinking and Kaveri will be stuck on ddr3, who knows. I just think that it is too much of a coincidence that AMD, JEDEC and Hynix are all working to get something shipping that no one will/can use other than AMD HSA parts.
So anyway, everything points to AMD using some baller memory. It is well know that AMD will not go down the eDRAM road like Intel and Microsoft did. HSA chips wont need very fast memory to outpace anything from Intel as long as it can be done in parallel, and having that very fast memory will without a doubt secure AMDs complete dominance or the foreseeable future. GDDR5M would be icing on the cake for sure.
Obviously this is all speculation so take it with a grain of salt, beyond being an enthusiast I also trade, so speculating is what I do. One thing is for sure though, Kaveri and HSA in general are going to give Intel a spanking big time, and if AMD has that ace up its sleeve (GDDR5M), its going to be game over. I would say Intels CEO would get fired, but he just recently quit for no good reason other than he wants to “spend more time with his family”. Timing for the CEOs abrupt departure is also very funny indeed.