Khronos Announces "Next" OpenGL & Releases OpenGL 4.5

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | August 15, 2014 - 08:33 PM |
Tagged: siggraph 2014, Siggraph, OpenGL Next, opengl 4.5, opengl, nvidia, Mantle, Khronos, Intel, DirectX 12, amd

Let's be clear: there are two stories here. The first is the release of OpenGL 4.5 and the second is the announcement of the "Next Generation OpenGL Initiative". They both occur on the same press release, but they are two, different statements.

OpenGL 4.5 Released

OpenGL 4.5 expands the core specification with a few extensions. Compatible hardware, with OpenGL 4.5 drivers, will be guaranteed to support these. This includes features like direct_state_access, which allows accessing objects in a context without binding to it, and support of OpenGL ES3.1 features that are traditionally missing from OpenGL 4, which allows easier porting of OpenGL ES3.1 applications to OpenGL.

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It also adds a few new extensions as an option:

ARB_pipeline_statistics_query lets a developer ask the GPU what it has been doing. This could be useful for "profiling" an application (list completed work to identify optimization points).

ARB_sparse_buffer allows developers to perform calculations on pieces of generic buffers, without loading it all into memory. This is similar to ARB_sparse_textures... except that those are for textures. Buffers are useful for things like vertex data (and so forth).

ARB_transform_feedback_overflow_query is apparently designed to let developers choose whether or not to draw objects based on whether the buffer is overflowed. I might be wrong, but it seems like this would be useful for deciding whether or not to draw objects generated by geometry shaders.

KHR_blend_equation_advanced allows new blending equations between objects. If you use Photoshop, this would be "multiply", "screen", "darken", "lighten", "difference", and so forth. On NVIDIA's side, this will be directly supported on Maxwell and Tegra K1 (and later). Fermi and Kepler will support the functionality, but the driver will perform the calculations with shaders. AMD has yet to comment, as far as I can tell.

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Image from NVIDIA GTC Presentation

If you are a developer, NVIDIA has launched 340.65 (340.23.01 for Linux) beta drivers for developers. If you are not looking to create OpenGL 4.5 applications, do not get this driver. You really should not have any use for it, at all.

Next Generation OpenGL Initiative Announced

The Khronos Group has also announced "a call for participation" to outline a new specification for graphics and compute. They want it to allow developers explicit control over CPU and GPU tasks, be multithreaded, have minimal overhead, have a common shader language, and "rigorous conformance testing". This sounds a lot like the design goals of Mantle (and what we know of DirectX 12).

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And really, from what I hear and understand, that is what OpenGL needs at this point. Graphics cards look nothing like they did a decade ago (or over two decades ago). They each have very similar interfaces and data structures, even if their fundamental architectures vary greatly. If we can draw a line in the sand, legacy APIs can be supported but not optimized heavily by the drivers. After a short time, available performance for legacy applications would be so high that it wouldn't matter, as long as they continue to run.

Add to it, next-generation drivers should be significantly easier to develop, considering the reduced error checking (and other responsibilities). As I said on Intel's DirectX 12 story, it is still unclear whether it will lead to enough performance increase to make most optimizations, such as those which increase workload or developer effort in exchange for queuing fewer GPU commands, unnecessary. We will need to wait for game developers to use it for a bit before we know.

Prying OpenGL to slip a little Mantle inside

Subject: General Tech | August 15, 2014 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, Mantle, opengl, OpenGL Next

Along with his announcements about FreeSync, Richard Huddy also discussed OpenGL Next and its relationship with Mantle and the role it played in DirectX 12's development.  AMD has given Chronos Group, the developers of OpenGL, complete access to Mantle to help them integrate it into future versions of the API starting with OpenGL Next.  He also discussed the advantages of Mantle over DirectX, citing AMD's ability to update it much more frequently than Intel has done with DX.  With over 75 developers working on titles that take advantage of Mantle the interest is definitely there but it is uncertain if devs will actually benefit from an API which updates at a pace faster than a game can be developed.  Read on at The Tech Report.

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"At Siggraph yesterday, AMD's Richard Huddy gave us an update on Mantle, and he also revealed some interesting details about AMD's role in the development of the next-gen OpenGL API."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AMD Catalyst 14.7 Release Candidate 3

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 14, 2014 - 07:20 PM |
Tagged: catalyst 14.7 RC3, beta, amd

A new Catalyst Release Candidate has arrived and as with the previous driver it no longer supports Windows 8.0 or the WDDM 1.2 driver, so upgrade to Win 7 or Win 8.1 before installing please.  AMD will eventually release a driver which supports WDDM 1.1 under Win 8.0 for those who do not upgrade.

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Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.7​ RC3 Driver for Windows Includes all improvements found in the AMD Catalyst 14.7 RC driver

  • Display interface enhancements to improve 4k monitor performance and reduce flickering.
  • Improvements apply to the following products: ​
    • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series
    • AMD Radeon R9 270 Series
    • AMD Radeon HD 7800 Series​ ​​
  • Even with these improvements, cable quality and other system variables can affect 4k performance. AMD recommends using DisplayPort 1.2 HBR2 certified cables with a length of 2m (~6 ft) or less when driving 4K monitors.​
  • Wildstar: AMD Crossfire profile support
  • Lichdom: Single GPU and Multi-GPU performance enhancements
  • Watch Dogs: Smoother gameplay on single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations​

Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.7​ RC Driver for Windows

  • Includes all improvements found in the AMD Catalyst 14.6 RC driver
    • AMD ​CrossFire and AMD Radeon Dual Graphics profile update for Plants vs. Zombies​​​
    • Assassin's Creed IV - improved CrossFire scaling (3840x2160 High Settings) up to 93%
    • Collaboration with AOC has identified non-standard display timings as the root cause of 60Hz SST flickering exhibited by the AOC U2868PQU panel on certain AMD Radeon graphics cards.
    • A software workaround has been implemented in AMD Catalyst 14.7 RC driver to resolve the display timing issues with this display. Users are further encouraged to obtain newer display firmware from AOC that will resolve flickering at its origin.
    • Users are additionally advised to utilize DisplayPort-certified cables to ensure the integrity of the DisplayPort data connection.​​​

Feature Highlights of the AMD Catalyst 14.6 RC Driver for Windows

  • Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements):
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
    • AMD Radeon R9 290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
  • 3DMark Sky Diver improvements:
    • AMD A4-6300 – improves up to 4%
    • Enables AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire support
  • Grid Auto Sport: AMD CrossFire profile
  • Wildstar: Power Xpress profile
    • Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
    • Performance improves up to 24% at 2560x1600 on the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series of products for both single GPU and multi-GPU configurations.
  • Watch Dogs: AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvements
  • Battlefield Hardline Beta: AMD CrossFire profile

Known Issues

  • Running Watch Dogs with a R9 280X CrossFire configuration may result in the application running in CrossFire software compositing mode
  • Enabling Temporal SMAA in a CrossFire configuration when playing Watch Dogs will result in flickering
  • AMD CrossFire configurations with AMD Eyefinity enabled will see instability with BattleField 4 or Thief when running Mantle
  • Catalyst Install Manager text is covered by Express/Custom radio button text
  • Express Uninstall does not remove C:\Program Files\(AMD or ATI) folder
Source: AMD

Richard Huddy Discusses FreeSync Availability Timeframes

Subject: General Tech, Displays | August 14, 2014 - 04:59 PM |
Tagged: amd, freesync, g-sync, Siggraph, siggraph 2014

At SIGGRAPH, Richard Huddy of AMD announced the release windows of FreeSync, their adaptive refresh rate technology, to The Tech Report. Compatible monitors will begin sampling "as early as" September. Actual products are expected to ship to consumers in early 2015. Apparently, more than one display vendor is working on support, although names and vendor-specific release windows are unannounced.

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As for cost of implementation, Richard Huddy believes that the added cost should be no more than $10-20 USD (to the manufacturer). Of course, the final price to end-users cannot be derived from this - that depends on how quickly the display vendor expects to sell product, profit margins, their willingness to push new technology, competition, and so forth.

If you want to take full advantage of FreeSync, you will need a compatible GPU (look for "gaming" support in AMD's official FreeSync compatibility list). All future AMD GPUs are expected to support the technology.

Source: Tech Report

Podcast #313 - New Kaveri APUs, ASUS ROG Swift G-Sync Monitor, Intel Core M Processors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 14, 2014 - 03:30 PM |
Tagged: video, ssd, ROG Swift, ROG, podcast, ocz, nvidia, Kaveri, Intel, g-sync, FMS 2014, crossblade ranger, core m, Broadwell, asus, ARC 100, amd, A6-7400K, A10-7800, 14nm

PC Perspective Podcast #313 - 08/14/2014

Join us this week as we discuss new Kaveri APUs, ASUS ROG Swift G-Sync Monitor, Intel Core M Processors and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:41:24
 

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

 

Meet Tonga, soon to be your new Radeon

Subject: General Tech | August 13, 2014 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: tonga, radeon, FirePro W7100, amd

A little secret popped out with the release of AMD's FirePro W7100, a new family of GPU that goes by the name of Tonga, which is very likely to replace the aging Tahiti chip that has been used since the HD 7900 series.  The stats that The Tech Report saw show interesting changes from Tahiti including a reduction of the memory interface to 256-bit which is in line with NVIDIA's current offerings.  The number of stream processors might be reduced to 1792 from 2048 but that is based on the W7100 and it the GPUs may be released with the full 32 GCN compute units.  Many other features have seen increases, the number of Asynchronous Compute Engines goes from 2 to 8, the number of rasterized triangles per clock doubles to 4 and it adds support for the new TrueAudio DSP and CrossFire XDMA.

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"The bottom line is that Tonga joins the Hawaii (Radeon R9 290X) and Bonaire (R7 260X) chips as the only members of AMD' s GCN 1.1 series of graphics processors. Tonga looks to be a mid-sized GPU and is expected to supplant the venerable Tahiti chip used in everything from the original Radeon HD 7970 to the current Radeon R9 280."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Kaveri on Linux

Subject: Processors | August 11, 2014 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: A10-7800, A6-7400K, linux, amd, ubuntu 14.04, Kaveri

Linux support for AMD's GPUs has not been progressing at the pace many users would like, though it is improving over time but that is not the same with their APUs.  Phoronix just tested the A10-7800 and A6-7400K on Ubuntu 14.04 with kernel 3.13 and the latest Catalyst 14.6 Beta.  This preview just covers the raw performance, you can expect to see more published in the near future that will cover new features such as the configurable TDP which exists on these chips.  The tests show that the new 7800 can keep pace with the previous 7850K and while the A6-7400K is certainly slower it will be able to handle a Linux machine with relatively light duties.  You can see the numbers here.

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"At the end of July AMD launched new Kaveri APU models: the A10-7800, A8-7600, and A6-7400K. AMD graciously sent over review samples on their A10-7800 and A6-7400K Kaveri APUs, which we've been benchmarking and have some of the initial Linux performance results to share today."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Source: Phoronix

It's not just Broadwell today, we also have Seattle news

Subject: General Tech | August 11, 2014 - 01:47 PM |
Tagged: amd, seattle, hot chips

AMD has been showing off a reference Seattle-based server at Hot Chips and The Tech Report had an opportunity to see it.  Eight 64-bit Cortex-A57 chips are set up in pairs, each pair sharing 1MB of L2 cache while the 8MB of L3 cache is accessible by all eight chips as well as the coprocessors, memory controller, and I/O subsystems.  The system can address up to 128GB of DDR3 or DDR4, and you get support fot 8 SATA 6Gbps ports and 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0 to apportion between the slots.  There is a secure System Control Processor, a partitioned Cortex-A5 core with its own ROM, RAM, and I/O to control power, boot and configuration control with support for TrustZone as well as a Cryptographic Coprocessor which accelerates all encryption processes as you might well expect.  Read on for more information about AMD's unique new take on server technology.

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"For some time now, the features of AMD's Seattle server processor have been painted in broad brush strokes. This morning, at the Hot Chips symposium, AMD is filling in most of the missing details. We were treated to an advance briefing last week, where AMD provided previously confidential information about Seattle's cache network, memory controller, I/O features, and coprocessors."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AMD Branded SSDs good; Radeon R7 branded SSDs not so much

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2014 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: ssd, radeon r7, confusing, amd, 19nm

In a branding move that has no possibility of causing confusion, AMD has announce the name of their new SSD line and it seems that the next Radeon R7 240 you buy might be a GPU or then again it might not be.  Brand confusion aside, the drives will use 19nm Toshiba NAND fabbed at SanDisk and are predicted to perform similar to other drives with the same NAND, reads of 550MBps and 530MBps write.  However as we well know the key to performance lies in the controller and the number of channels so it will be interesting to see the first benchmarks.  As The Inquirer points out this could lead to the release of AMD branded machines, containing AMD made APU, RAM, SSD and discrete GPU.

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also Radeon

"The Radeon R7 range consisting of 120GB, 240GB and 480GB flavours and is designed to appeal to the gaming market, putting it in direct competition with Micron's Crucial range which expanded to include the MX100, which premiered earlier this year claiming 89 percent performance improvement over a standard hard drive."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer

ASUS Republic of Gamers Announces the Crossblade Ranger

Subject: Motherboards | August 7, 2014 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: SupremeFX 2014, LANGuard, KeyBot, GameFirst III, FM2+, crossblade ranger, ASUS ROG, asus, amd

ASUS Republic of Gamers have just released their first FM2+ board, the Crossblade Ranger which should be available for ~$160 in the next few days, a perfect base for the A10-7800 and A6-7400K which Josh just reviewed.  There is a host of features on this board, from an updated SupremeFX 2014 audio system to eliminate interference and adjust impedance to the LANGuard and GameFirst III networking enhancements.  KeyBot is also new, it allows you to program macros on any USB keyboard regardless of the capabilities of the keyboard itself.  Check out the full release for a breakdown of the features.

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Fremont, CA (6th August, 2014) - ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) today announced the Crossblade Ranger, the first AMD FM2+ motherboard to carry the revered ROG brand name, packed with game-boosting features for an AMD-based gaming powerhouse that is beyond compare. The Crossblade Ranger’s core benefits include the best gaming networking with Intel Gigabit Ethernet, the best gaming audio from SupremeFX 2014, the best gaming interface with KeyBot and the best gaming performance.

Best gaming networking
The Crossblade Ranger is fitted with state-of-the-art Intel Gigabit Ethernet that delivers better throughput and lower power consumption than competing solutions from other vendors.

The new motherboard’s networking capabilities additionally benefit from ROG-exclusive GameFirst III technology for optimal online gameplay. This advanced network-optimization software assigns top priority to game-data packets, allocating them more bandwidth to ensure the best online-gaming experience and clear, stutter-free online team-chat — all controlled with ROG’s usual intuitive flair.

These features are coupled with LANGuard Ethernet socket technology. LANGuard works by employing advanced filtering components with low impedance capacitors to reduce noise and improve throughput and also includes ESD and surge-protection to prevent damage from lightning strikes and static-electricity discharges.

Best gaming audio
Immersive audio is essential for gaming, so the Crossblade Ranger is engineered with SupremeFX 2014. At its core the SupremeFX 2014 solution uses PCB isolation techniques to minimize electromagnetic interference (EMI) and premium ELNA audio capacitors to provide precise 7.1 channel audio that’s on par with the best soundcards.

SupremeFX 2014 features dedicated hardware for features such as Sonic SenseAmp and Sonic SoundStage. Sonic SenseAmp automatically detects analog-audio front-panel (AAFP) headphone impedance and adjusts the amp gain to provide the best volume control range - taking the guesswork and hassle out of setting gain manually.

Sonic Soundstage is a hardware based solution that features preset audio profiles for a variety of gaming genres. First-person shooter (FPS), racing, combat and sports games presets are available via an onboard hardware switch or via the included (Windows) driver package. The benefit of including an onboard hardware switch is that the Sonic Soundstage presets can be applied without needing a driver – so works with any operating system. For Windows users, the presets are fully customizable via software, allowing one to tailor sound to personal preference.

SupremeFX 2014 also includes additional software features to provide a competitive gaming edge and improve immersion.

Designed for first-person shooters (FPS), Sonic Radar II displays a stealthy overlay that shows what opponents and teammates are up to. Players see the precise direction and origin of in-game sounds such as gunshots, footsteps and call-outs, enabling them to hone enemy-pinpointing skills.

Sonic Studio can be used to create virtual surround modes for stereo headsets, provides EQ controls to tune various parts of the audio spectrum and includes noise reduction algorithms for microphones – this all adds up to make SupremeFX 2014 the complete gaming audio solution.

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Best gaming interface
The Crossblade Ranger includes KeyBot, a clever tool that lets users instantly ‘upgrade’ an existing keyboard simply by attaching it to the dedicated USB socket.

Once connected, the KeyBot microprocessor is activated and the user is able to use their current keyboard to control multimedia playback, launch favorite applications or assign macros to specific keys —perfect for automating complicated in-game key sequences without the need for an expensive gaming keyboard.

Best gaming performance and experience
Being an ROG motherboard, the Crossblade Ranger is infused with core ROG DNA.

Overclocking Features
ROG’s Auto-Tuning technology enables the Crossblade Ranger to unleash the true power of AMD APUs with just few mouse clicks. Thanks to the TPU microprocessor (Turbo Processing Unit), the Auto-Tuning routine applies a CPU overclock without need to enter UEFI - perfect for users that are new to the platform.

For users that prefer manual control, the TPU microprocessor and bundled Turbo-V application allows real-time voltage adjustments within the Windows operating system to simplify the process of overclocking a system. Naturally, the ROG UEFI is also chock-full of overclocking functions that help squeeze every ounce of performance from the AMD FM2+ platform.

Fan Controls
To keep things cool and quiet, we’ve included five onboard fan headers – each with PWM (4-pin) or DC (3-pin) control. Extensive fan control options are available within UEFI or the automated Fan Xpert 3 calibration utility. Using either method, anyone can customize fan profiles in order to maximize cooling efficiency and eliminate unnecessary fan noise. The level of control on offer here sets a new standard for the FM2+ platform and completely negates the need for using a dedicated and expensive fan controller.

ROG Accessories
The Crossblade Ranger is also compatible with the ROG Front Base dual-bay gaming panel. The ROG Front Base enables one-click performance boosting, fan-controls, shielded front audio input/outputs, audio profile selection, volume control and real-time system monitoring to provide everything a gamer needs within a single unit.

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AVAILABILITY & PRICING
The ASUS ROG Crossblade Ranger lands with an MSRP of $159.99 and will be available at all major online retailers in August.

Source: ASUS