AMD’s Computex 2018 Conference: The Liveblog

AMD’s Computex 2018 Conference: The Liveblog

Computex wouldn’t be the biggest tech show in Asia without one of the biggest CPU manufacturers – AMD. We’re at their live conference, so join us for everything they’ve got to show.

12:05 PM: AMD CEO Lisa Su comes out full of energy: starting about data consumption growing 50-fold by 2025. Fastest start to an AMD conference in a long while.

The CEO reinforces discussion about “high performance computing” and redefining the industry. Smells like new products, possibly server market, but possibly more Ryzen CPUs too.

12:07 PM: Covering the Ryzen launch: 20 new product designs in the last year across desktop, mobile and portable. More than 5 million Ryzen shipments to date, the AMD CEO adds.

Moving onto the Radeon line: over 400 million people “PC and console gamers” using radeon tech, with an image of the Xbox One X shown off.

“There is a lot of momentum around our Radeon product portfolio,” Lisa Su says.

12:10 PM: Focusing briefly on EPYC, AMD’s offering to the server market. Focusing on their core count, I/O capacity, memory channels per CPU and memory capacity.

Cisco’s announcement that they’re picking up AMD’s EPYC gets another run here, as does a slide comparing AMD’s EPYC to Intel’s Xeon line.

So today’s going to focus on: Vega graphics, FreeSync, Rzyen CPUs, the next gen of Threadripper, and 7nm Radeon Vega GPUs.

12:15 PM: confirming that there will be a demonstration of that 7nm GPU later in the conference. That’ll be fun to see, given NVIDIA’s talk about new GPUs earlier in the week.

Talk moves to gaming now: slide appears showing that 335 million watched esports last year, the amount of streamers has risen to 800 million from 2016 to 2017, and the PC gaming hardware market grew to $US34 billion in 2017 from $US30 billion a year prior.

12:18 PM: Worth noting this release from AMD’s press centre – the fact that FreeSync tech is being introduced into new Samsung QLED TVs.

“AMD (NASDAQ: AMD) and Samsung today announced support for Radeon FreeSync™ technology in the new Samsung QLED 55” to 82” TV range, bringing the ultimate, ultrawide 4K gaming experience to an entirely new format – big screen TVs.”

82″ TV with FreeSync. Bloody hell.

12:20 PM: Still talking about community and esports. Far Cry 5 gets a run here, with AMD talking up their collaboration with game developers. “Over 2x more Radeon FreeSync monitors than competition,” the next slide reads.

There’s only one competitor, but you never mention them by name.

12:23 PM: This is the year of Vega, the crowd is told.

So, almost twenty minutes without talk of a new product. To their credit, AMD’s made the time fly real well. A show reel kicks off – a mountain is crumbling, and the Acer Predator logo appears.

That’s it. Acer’s general manager of consumer notebooks, Jerry Hou, comes to the stage.

12:26 PM: Three machines are being introduced by ACER, all using second gen Ryzen stuff. Acer Nitro 50 appears, with a Ryzen 7 2700X and a RX 580 GPU and a Qi wireless charging pad.

Second machine: Predator Orion 5000, running off a Ryzen 7 2700X and an AMD B450 motherboard. Last time I saw this PC, it was sporting two GTX 1080 Ti’s in SLI, but that was running Intel hardware inside.

Third product has a video – which accidentally plays a fraction early. It’s based off the Ryzen desktop CPU with a Vega 56 GPU, but it’s an Acer Predator laptop (with full numpad).

The Helios 500 will also have a 144Hz panel in a 17.3″ IPS display, with FreeSync support as well. No prices yet.

The AMD representative pops the Acer predator back on the shelf. There’s five more laptops on the stage: a HP, a Dell XPS, what looks like two ASUS laptops, and a final one that I can’t quite make out.

12:32 PM: RX Vega 56 Nano is being released now in “select markets”. Same functionality as the original Vega 56 card, but infinitely better form factor.

They bring up a rather laggy and buggy version of Strange Brigade onto the stage. (That’s not due out until late August, from memory.) Xbox’s FreeSync support, which rolled out earlier this year, is getting shown off on a Samsung QLED screen now.

Worth adding that there’s a firmware update for a range of Samsung TV’s that gives them FreeSync support, which is nice. About 20 monitors supported.

12:36 PM: Talking about “continuing to innovate” with AMD’s game partnerships over the next 12 months. Jim Anderson comes to the stage, which means it should be Ryzen time.

Around 60 new Ryzen systems should come to market over the remainder of the year, Anderson adds.

12:45 PM: Bugger me, internet dropped out for a while. Fortunately, nothing was announced bar treading old ground. (That other laptop, incidentally, was from awei.)

Dell’s Ray Wah takes the stage. Just before he got on, AMD waved around a HP x360 using a Ryzen APU. Not a new product, but nice and tiny nonetheless.

Wah mentions what Dell did last year by putting an 8-core CPU into an all-in-one machine (which they did at the original Ryzen launch). Wah mentions that the amount of cores in the desktop has somehow quadrupled over the last 12 months … which seems not entirely accurate. But anyway. ASUS takes the stage.

12:49 PM: A sizzle reel of ASUS VivoBooks plays. They then show off the ASUS X570ZD, which has a Ryzen 2700U and a GTX 1050.

Kind of undercuts all that talk about beating out discrete graphics cards before.

Next up: a very vocal fellow from Lenovo, who’s name I missed.

12:52 PM: awei’s Michael Young, last up. Apparently awei had been planning to expand into the PC market since 2016; their Matebook got shown off at MWC at the end of February, so not a ge turnaround time there.

Next product: the Matebook D 14″ – a Ryzen 5 2500U with a 14″ 1080p screen that weighs 1.45kg and has a 57.4Wh battery.

Anderson returns, pivoting to desktop hardware.

12:56 PM: Focusing on the 2nd-gen Ryzen launch, with a graph showing the i7-8700K against the Ryzen 7 2700X. The graph compares the “average FPS of 12 games at 1440p”, however, which isn’t the greatest comparison.

James Prior then fires up Far Cry 5 – a game that was optimised for AMD hardware – with a side-by-side comparison versus an Intel system. It’s not mentioned what the system is, but the AMD system was about five or six frames behind most of the time. No actual fights, explosions or NPCs were displayed at any point – odd demo, really.

1:01 PM: Video for Threadripper gen 2 plays. It’s based on the 12nm+ Zen architecture, with improved boost algorithms, and up to 32 cores/64 threads at the top of the CPU stack. Due out Q3 this year.

Demo vs the i9-7980XE now runs in Blender. The Threadripper being used is on an air cooler and only has 24 cores, but it still flogged the 7980XE handily. A second demo plays, just showing off the 32-core Threadripper running in Blender with extra volumetric lighting. It’s quick.

1:08 PM: So David Wang from AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group – the Vega division – takes the stage.

First slide: the Vega roadmap. They’re still predicting the 7nm+ architecture to hit by 2020, with Vega on 7nm and Navi on 7nm dropping between now and then.

1:09 PM: Focusing on the benefits of 7nm. The first 7nm card: Radeon Instinct Vega, the GPUs targeted at workstations and servers. There’s also mention of more deep learning tech and hardware virtualisation, but that’s an extension of existing tech.

AMD announces the “Radeon Open Ecosystem” – frameworks for common libraries, natural language processing, image and video speech, and hardware abstraction. A slide follows with AMD’s GPU ray tracing, something NVIDIA was touting heavily themselves earlier in the week.

Key difference here: Radeon ProRender is free and open-source, and hardware agnostic. NVIDIA’s tech – and this came out well before Computex – was baked into DirectX 12, meaning the fancy Battlefront 2 video you probably saw wouldn’t have been possible using Vulkan.

AMD then plays their demo of their 7nm GPU – a Cinema 4D R19 rendering presentation. I’ll pop up a video shortly, but it’s not anywhere as flashy as anyone would have hoped.

“Stay tuned” for news about 7nm GPUs for gaming, AMD CEO Lisa Su says. Nothing more, however.

1:20 PM: As for 7nm EPYC, AMD’s going to be sampling that generation of their CPUs later this year (launching in 2019). “You’ll see that the 7nm EPYC is the same socket as the first generation,” Dr Su adds.

1:22 PM: And that’s it for the show. So as far as new hardware, it was really just a range of laptops with AMD APUs, Ryzen processors, and a return of the Nano (in Vega 56 form).

Hopefully more of those will make Vega cards more available in Australia. Beyond that, however, it’s really setting up 2019 as the big year – that’s when 7nm should either be available in desktop form, both on the CPU and GPU side.

The author travelled to Computex 2018 as a guest of ASUS.

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