Subject: General Tech | February 7, 2014 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: seattle, Opteron A111, opteron, arm, amd
The Inquirer had a chance to hear more about the upcoming Opteron A111 which contains an ARM Cortex A57. We now know it runs at 2GHz, can address up to 128GB of RAM and has enough channels for 8 drives to be connected to it. While the chips will be able to operate in tandem with traditional x86 server chips the reduction in power needed and heat produced could mean Opteron based servers could be as small as a cellphone. We also know that they will be running on a specially flavoured version of Fedora, read on to see what else was revealed by Ian Drew.
"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has spilled some more details about its first ARM based server processor."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Just how solid is cloud storage in 2014 @ The Register
- Broken Age and the Kickstarter factor @ The Tech Report
- The Android Experiment: Wearables and satnav @ The Inquirer
- Omate TrueSmart Smartwatch Review @ Madshrimps
- Make a cool be quiet! wallpaper to win amazing hardware! @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 6, 2014 - 08:54 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, radeon, R7 250X
The AMD Radeon R7 250X has been mentioned on a few different websites over the last day, one of which was tweeted by AMD Radeon Italia. The SKU, which bridges the gap between the R7 250 and the R7 260, is expected to have a graphics processor with 640 Stream Processors, 40 TMUs, and 16 ROPs. It should be a fairly silent launch, with 1GB and 2GB versions appearing soon for an expected price of around 90 Euros, including VAT.
Image Credit: Videocardz.com
The GPU is expected to be based on the 28nm Oland chip design.
While it may seem like a short, twenty Euro jump from the R7 250 to the R7 260, the single-precision FLOP performance actually doubles from around 800 GFLOPs to around 1550 GFLOPs. If that metric is indicative of overall performance, there is quite a large gap to place a product within.
We still do not know official availability, yet.
Subject: General Tech | February 6, 2014 - 03:14 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, Mantle, r9 290, 290x, battlefield 4, Chromebox, Chromebook, t440s, nvidia, Intel
PC Perspective Podcast #286 - 02/06/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the release of AMD Mantle, Battlefield 4 Performance, Chromeboxes and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 5, 2014 - 02:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, Mantle, amd, battlefield 4
Now that the new Mantle enabled driver has been released several sites have had a chance to try out the new API to see what effect it has on Battlefield 4. [H]ard|OCP took a stock XFX R9 290X paired with an i7-3770K and tested both single and multiplayer BF4 performance and the pattern they saw lead them to believe Mantle is more effective at relieving CPU bottlenecks than ones caused by the GPU. The performance increases they saw were greater at lower resolutions than at high resolutions. At The Tech Report another XFX R9 290X was paired with an A10-7850K and an i7-4770K and compared the systems performance in D3D as well as Mantle. To make the tests even more interesting they also tested D3D with a 780Ti, which you should fully examine before deciding which performs the best. Their findings were in line with [H]ard|OCP's and they made the observation that Mantle is going to offer the greatest benefits to lower powered systems, with not a lot to be gained by high end systems with the current version of Mantle. Legit Reviews performed similar tests but also brought the Star Swarm demo into the mix, using an R7 260X for their GPU. You can catch all of our coverage by clicking on the Mantle tag.
"Does AMD's Mantle graphics API deliver on its promise of smoother gaming with lower-spec CPUs? We take an early look at its performance in Battlefield 4."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Humble Sid Meier Bundle announced: So much Civilisation! @ HEXUS
- HARD ONES: Three new PC games that are BLOODY DIFFICULT @ The Register
- Developers Reporting No Payments From Strategy First @ Rock, Paper, SHOTGUN
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2014 - 01:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: arm, OCP, open source, Intel, amd, seattle, opteron
The Inquirer had a chance to talk to Lakshmi Mandyam, the director of Server Systems and Ecosystems at ARM, about their plans for the server room. ARM and their SBSA team have joined forces with Microsoft's Open Technology initiative which is key to AMD's adoption of ARM architecture in their new Opteron series. These projects will offer several key benefits to customers, the open source nature will allow customization in the server room for those customers with specific needs and the know how to implement them and the nature of ARM processors can bring energy bills down. This could also be great news for smaller businesses that require a proper server, they will be able to build that server out of a number of inexpensive ARM based processors instead of having to spend the price of the currently available x86/64 CPUs from Intel and AMD.
"CHIP DESIGNER ARM announced at the Open Compute Project (OCP) Summit last week that servers based on its architecture have taken a step forward with the arrival of ARM v8-A based 64bit servers, known as the Server Base System Architecture (SBSA) specification."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Samsung reveals prices, availability dates of 'Pro' tablets @ The Inquirer
- ARM posts sterling revenue growth, but moneymen spank it anyway @ The Register
- Adobe goes out of band to fix frightful Flash flaw @ The Register
- How to Resize, Rename, Sort and Proof Photos from the Command Line @ Linux.com
- THUNDERING GAS destroys disks during data centre incident @ The Register
- Rollei CarDVR-110 Full HD GPS Car Camera @ NikKTech
What Mantle signifies about GPU architectures
Mantle is a very interesting concept. From the various keynote speeches, it sounds like the API is being designed to address the current state (and trajectory) of graphics processors. GPUs are generalized and highly parallel computation devices which are assisted by a little bit of specialized silicon, when appropriate. The vendors have even settled on standards, such as IEEE-754 floating point decimal numbers, which means that the driver has much less reason to shield developers from the underlying architectures.
Still, Mantle is currently a private technology for an unknown number of developers. Without a public SDK, or anything beyond the half-dozen keynotes, we can only speculate on its specific attributes. I, for one, have technical questions and hunches which linger unanswered or unconfirmed, probably until the API is suitable for public development.
Or, until we just... ask AMD.
Our response came from Guennadi Riguer, the chief architect for Mantle. In it, he discusses the API's usage as a computation language, the future of the rendering pipeline, and whether there will be a day where Crossfire-like benefits can occur by leaving an older Mantle-capable GPU in your system when purchasing a new, also Mantle-supporting one.
Q: Mantle's shading language is said to be compatible with HLSL. How will optimizations made for DirectX, such as tweaks during shader compilation, carry over to Mantle? How much tuning will (and will not) be shared between the two APIs?
[Guennadi] The current Mantle solution relies on the same shader generation path games the DirectX uses and includes an open-source component for translating DirectX shaders to Mantle accepted intermediate language (IL). This enables developers to quickly develop Mantle code path without any changes to the shaders. This was one of the strongest requests we got from our ISV partners when we were developing Mantle.
Follow-Up: What does this mean, specifically, in terms of driver optimizations? Would AMD, or anyone else who supports Mantle, be able to re-use the effort they spent on tuning their shader compilers (and so forth) for DirectX?
[Guennadi] With the current shader compilation strategy in Mantle, the developers can directly leverage DirectX shader optimization efforts in Mantle. They would use the same front-end HLSL compiler for DX and Mantle, and inside of the DX and Mantle drivers we share the shader compiler that generates the shader code our hardware understands.
Subject: General Tech | February 4, 2014 - 01:08 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, encoder, open source, VCE
You may have missed this news about AMD in amongst the Mantle announcements, support has been added for the VCE2 hardware encoding engine on newer AMD GCN based GPUs. The open-source Radeon driver now supports GStreamer OpenMAX which can speed H.264 encoding in general but is truly optimized for encoding for mobile devices. The current release is still a work in progress, the official release will come soon and you can track the progress by signing up to the mailing lists mentioned by Phoronix. This is good news as previously the only open source hardware accelerated encoding was through Intel's GPU and VA-API.
"AMD is doing another large and important open-source graphics driver code drop this morning. This morning AMD is publishing their VCE code that allows for hardware-based video encoding. "
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft builds admin tool to spare Office 365 sellers' blushes @ The Register
- Satya Nadella confirmed as Microsoft CEO @ The Inquirer
- Java botnet hits Mac, Linux and Windows machines @ The Inquirer
- How to Manage File and Folder Permissions in Linux @ Linux.com
- Sony denies Vaio-to-Lenovo rumour @ The Register
- Weaponized Quadrotor Upgrades @ Hack a Day
- The Obligatory Super Hole VIII – The Uppity Armchair CD Edition @ The Tech Report
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 1, 2014 - 11:29 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Mantle, BF4, amd
AMD has released the Catalyst 14.1 Beta driver (even for Linux) but you should, first, read Ryan's review. This is a little less than what he expects in a Beta from AMD. We are talking about crashes to desktop and freezes while loading a map on a single-GPU configuration - and Crossfire is a complete wash in his experience (although AMD acknowledges the latter in their release notes). According to AMD, there is even the possibility that the Mantle version of Battlefield 4 will render with your APU and ignore your dedicated graphics.
If you are determined to try Catalyst 14.1, however, it does make a first step into the promise of Mantle. Some situations show slightly lower performance than DirectX 11, albeit with a higher minimum framerate, while other results impress with double-digit percentage gains.
Multiplayer in BF4, where the CPU is more heavily utilized, seems to benefit the most (thankfully).
If you understand the risk (in terms of annoyance and frustration), and still want to give it a try, pick up the driver from AMD's support website. If not? Give it a little more time for AMD to whack-a-bug. At some point, there should be truly free performance waiting for you.
A quick look at performance results
Late last week, EA and Dice released the long awaited patch for Battlefield 4 that enables support for the Mantle renderer. This new API technology was introduced by AMD back in September. Unfortunately, AMD wasn't quite ready for its release with their Catalyst 14.1 beta driver. I wrote a short article that previewed the new driver's features, its expected performance with the Mantle version of BF4, and commentary about the current state of Mantle. You should definite read that as a primer before continuing if you haven't yet.
Today, after really just a few short hours with a useable driver, I have only limited results. Still, I know that you, our readers, clamor for ANY information on the topic. I thought I would share what we have thus far.
As I mentioned in the previous story, the Mantle version of Battlefield 4 has the biggest potential to show advantages in times where the game is more CPU limited. AMD calls this the "low hanging fruit" for this early release of Mantle and claim that further optimizations will come, especially for GPU-bound scenarios. Because of that dependency on CPU limitations, that puts some non-standard requirements on our ability to showcase Mantle's performance capabilities.
For example, the level of the game and even the section of that level, in the BF4 single player campaign, can show drastic swings in Mantle's capabilities. Multiplayer matches will also show more consistent CPU utilization (and thus could be improved by Mantle) though testing those levels in a repeatable, semi-scientific method is much more difficult. And, as you'll see in our early results, I even found a couple instances in which the Mantle API version of BF4 ran a smidge slower than the DX11 instance.
For our testing, we compiled two systems that differed in CPU performance in order to simulate the range of processors installed within consumers' PCs. Our standard GPU test bed includes a Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E processor specifically to remove the CPU as a bottleneck and that has been included here today. We added in a system based on the AMD A10-7850K Kaveri APU which presents a more processor-limited (especially per-thread) system, overall, and should help showcase Mantle benefits more easily.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 31, 2014 - 04:36 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: 7850k, A10-7850K, amd, APU, gt 630, Intel, nvidia, video
As a follow up to our first video posted earlier in the week that looked at the A10-7850K and the GT 630 from NVIDIA in five standard games, this time we compare the A10-7850K APU against the same combination of the Intel and NVIDIA hardware in five of 2013's top free to play games.
UPDATE: I've had some questions about WHICH of the GT 630 SKUs were used in this testing. Our GT 630 was this EVGA model that is based on 96 CUDA cores and a 128-bit DDR3 memory interface. You can see a comparison of the three current GT 630 options on NVIDIA's website here.
If you are looking for more information on AMD's Kaveri APUs you should check out my review of the A8-7600 part as well our testing of Dual Graphics with the A8-7600 and a Radeon R7 250 card.
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