Podcast #283 - AMD Kaveri APU Launch, Gigabyte's New Slim Gaming Notebook, and CES 2014 Wrapup!

Subject: General Tech | January 16, 2014 - 12:26 AM |
Tagged: video, R9 290X, podcast, msi, Kaveri, gsync, gigabyte, freesync, benq, amd, a8-7600, 290x

PC Perspective Podcast #283 - 01/16/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Kaveri APU Launch, Gigabyte's New Slim Gaming Notebook, and CES 2014 Wrapup!

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

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

 
Program length: 1:13:50

AMD Officially Launches R5, R7, R9 M200 Mobile GPU Series

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2014 - 11:56 PM |
Tagged: r9 m290x, r7 m265, r5 m230, mobile gpu, GCN, amd

AMD recently took the wraps off of its latest mobile GPU series in the form of the R5 M200, R7 M200, and R9 M200 series. Currently, there is one GPU in each respective Rx M200 series including the AMD Radeon R5 M230, R7 M265, and R9 M290X. Do not get too excited, however. All of the new mobile GPUs are based on desktop versions of Volcanic Islands and not AMD's new Hawaii GPUs. As such, the Rx M200 series are essentially rebrands of the Radeon HD 8000M series (which was in turn OEM rebrands of the HD 7000M series) based around AMD's Graphics Core Next 1.0 architecture and specifically the Pitcairn GPU implementation.

All of the Rx M200 series support DirectX 11.2 Tier 1, up to 4GB GDDR5 memory, and at least 320 GCN shader cores. Informatin on the mid-range R7 M265 is scarce, but AMD has released information on the low and high end chips. Further, Computer Base has managed to put together specifications for the R5 M230 and R9 M290X. In short, the R5 M230 is a rebranded HD 8570 with higher clockspeeds and support for more memory while the R9 M290X is a rebranded HD 8970M with official support for DirectX 11.2 Tier 1 (the HD8970M technically supports it as well). A more detailed breakdown is as follows.

AMD-Radeon-R9-M200-300W.png

The R9 M290X features 1280 shaders clocked at 850MHz/900MHz (base/boost), 80 texture units, and 32 ROPs. OEMs can pair the GPU with up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at 1,200 MHz on a 256-bit bus.

The R5 M230 has 320 shaders clocked at 855MHz, 20 texture units, and 4 ROPs. This GPU can support up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory at 1,000MHz over a 64-bit bus.

Users will be able to get the new Rx M200 series graphics cards in mobile systems from Alienware, Clevo, Lenovo, and MSI. Other manufactures should pick up the new GPUs soon as well. The new series is not terribly exciting being nearly identical to the existing HD 8000M counterparts, but it does update the lineup to AMD's new naming and branding scheme. Notably, should AMD release a Hawaii-based mobile GPU, it has not left itself much room as far as naming goes (R9 M295X?).

Source: AMD

AMD looking to take up the Mantle of huge scale games

Subject: General Tech | January 15, 2014 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: Star Swarm, Oxide Games, Nitrous, Mantle, gaming, amd

Without having seen Frostbite run in Mantle there is still some supposition as to the true effect of the new technology; will it increase the performance of high end PCs and allow lower end ones to do things they cannot under DirectX?  Engadget has a video of a different Mantle based engine called Nitrous, displaying a demo called Star Swarm which can display thousands of objects simultaneously on screen.  In the video they switch to DirectX to show you how much the demo slows down and what effects need to be disabled to be able to make it perform as it does under Mantle.  If this translates to real game performance Mantle could totally change RTS and most other types of games by a huge margin.  Let's hope it arrives soon now that Kaveri is out!

nitrous-lead2.jpg

"Some RTS games set the limit at 50-70 units, while others can cope with as many as 500, but a new game engine called Nitrous takes things up a level: It uses AMD's Mantle programming tool to speed up communication between the CPU and GPU, allowing up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (i.e., not mindless clones or animations) to be displayed onscreen at one time."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: Engadget

GIGABYTE Announces Official Support for AMD A-Series ‘Kaveri’ APUs

Subject: Motherboards | January 14, 2014 - 06:18 PM |
Tagged: Kaveri, gigabyte, pcie 3.0, amd, FM2+, A88X, A55

City of Industry, California, January 14th, 2014 – GIGABYTE TECHNOLOGY Co. Ltd., a leading manufacturer of motherboards and graphics cards, today announced official support for next generation AMD A-Series APUs based on the highly anticipated ‘Kaveri’ architecture. GIGABYTE ‘Kaveri’ support includes current AMD A88X and A55 (rev3.0) platform motherboards plus forthcoming A78 platform motherboards.

image004.png
By enabling support on current GIGABYTE AMD motherboards for these new AMD A-Series APUs, GIGABYTE ensures our customers are able to take advantage of a whole new approach to PC architecture design,” commented Henry Kao, Vice President of GIGABYTE Motherboard Business Unit. “Combining the highest level of quality design with the most advanced set of features, GIGABYTE FM2+ motherboards offer the best user experience for these new A-Series APUs.”

“These FM2+ Series motherboards from GIGABYTE are the ultimate showcase for our new A-Series APUs,” said Bernd Lienhard, corporate vice president and general manager, Client Business Unit, AMD. “In collaboration with GIGABYTE, AMD is proud to enable a truly optimized user experience in terms of raw computer performance while creating an industry-leading visual and audio experience with the latest generation of our APUs.”

GIGABYTE FM2+ Series Motherboards
GIGABYTE FM2+ Series motherboards showcase a number of features and technologies that separate them from the competition, including GIGABYTE AMP-UP Audio which includes an upgradable OP Amp, studio-grade Nichicon capacitors and Gain Boost switches. True Digital Power Delivery is combined with Triple Display Support including AMD Dual Graphics and AMD Eyefinity Technology support. GIGABYTE FM2+ series motherboards also provide native 4K resolution support via Display port and HDMI ports.

GIGABYTE FM2+ Series motherboards also integrate a range of features designed to ensure the long term stability and longevity of your PC. GIGABYTE DualBIOS ensures users are protected from BIOS failure, while an exclusive 2x Copper PCB design optimizes heat dissipation from the critical power delivery areas of the motherboard. One-Fuse-per-Port ensures each USB port has its own dedicated power fuse that prevents unwanted USB port failure.

image006.png

AMD Kaveri Platform Highlights
The latest AMD A10-7850K and A10-7700K APUs integrate an enhanced CPU core based on the ‘Steamroller’ architecture with a new and updated Radeon Graphics core. Supporting native 8 GT/s PCI Express gen 3.0 and DX11.1 graphics, these new AMD A-Series APUs also offer native support for 4K resolution displays on HDMI and DisplayPort.

Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Maintained by the HSA Foundation, HSA is a system architecture that allows accelerators such as the graphics processor (GPU) to operate at the same processing level as the system's CPU, providing up to 50 per cent more GPU performance and up to 20 per cent more x86 instructions executed per cycle compared to previous implementations. The new AMD A10 series APUs are the first desktop PC processors to implement the performance advantages of HSA.

image008.png

AMD TrueAudio Technology
The latest AMD A-Series APUs are also the first equipped with AMD TrueAudio Technology a new programmable audio pipeline that fundamentally redefines how digital audio is processed. By allowing the graphics cores to handle sound processing for spatialization, reverb, limiters and simultaneous voice processing, game developers have greater artistic freedom than ever before, allowing for a vastly more realistic and compelling audio experience.

GIGABYTE FM2+ Series Motherboard Models

 

AMD A88X Platform

G1.Sniper A88X

F2A88X-UP4

F2A88X-D3H

F2A88XN-WIFI

F2A88XM-D3H

F2A88XM-HD3

F2A88XM-DS2

 

 

AMD A55 Platform (rev3.0 and above)

F2A55M-HD2

F2A55M-DS2

   

 

AMD A78 Platform (Forthcoming models)

F2A78M-D3H

F2A78M-HD2

   

 

Source: Gigabyte

AMD announces Garlic and Onion flavours on their first HSA chips

Subject: Processors | January 14, 2014 - 02:52 PM |
Tagged: a10-6700, a8-6500, a8-7600, amd, APU, hsa, i3-4330, Kaveri

Not only are the first Kaveri reviews arriving today, the A10-7850K is up for sale on both NewEgg and Amazon and the A10-7700K is available on NewEgg.  This new part, at 45W competes favourably with the previous 100W Trinity APU in most tests and when Ryan boosted it to 65W it gained a little more.  The Steamroller cores have been updated but not in a way that has a huge effect on CPU performance, on the other hand the 384 SIMD units composing the GPU portion of this chip are quite impressive, 1080p gaming of current generation titles is possible on this chip and we haven't seen it's big brother with 512 SIMD units yet.  In the Tech Report's review you can see that BF4 is playable on this chip and this is not the Mantle version optimized for AMD's new architecture.  It is also a pity that Thief was unavailable to see just what TrueAudio is capable of.  Unfortunately this chip will not find its home in gamers dream machines, that is simply not where AMD is targeting its CPUs.  However, for SFF systems that need to be energy efficient and where a discrete GPU is to big to fit Kaveri will usher in a new level of performance.

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"AMD's next-generation APU packs in a ton of innovation, including updated "Steamroller" CPU cores, GCN graphics, and advanced HSA features. But is it enough to restore AMD's competitiveness in desktop processors?"

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

The AMD Kaveri Architecture

Kaveri: AMD’s New Flagship Processor

How big is Kaveri?  We already know the die size of it, but what kind of impact will it have on the marketplace?  Has AMD chosen the right path by focusing on power consumption and HSA?  Starting out an article with three questions in a row is a questionable tactic for any writer, but these are the things that first come to mind when considering a product the likes of Kaveri.  I am hoping we can answer a few of these questions by the end of this article, but alas it seems as though the market will have the final say as to how successful this new architecture is.

AMD has been pursuing the “Future is Fusion” line for several years, but it can be argued that Kaveri is truly the first “Fusion” product that completes the overall vision for where AMD wants to go.  The previous several generations of APUs were initially not all that integrated in a functional sense, but the complexity and completeness of that integration has been improved upon with each iteration.  Kaveri takes this integration to the next step, and one which fulfills the promise of a truly heterogeneous computing solution.  While AMD has the hardware available, we have yet to see if the software companies are willing to leverage the compute power afforded by a robust and programmable graphics unit powered by AMD’s GCN architecture.

(Editor's Note: The following two pages were written by our own Josh Walrath, dicsussing the technology and architecture of AMD Kaveri.  Testing and performance analysis by Ryan Shrout starts on page 3.)

Process Decisions

The first step in understanding Kaveri is taking a look at the process technology that AMD is using for this particular product.  Since AMD divested itself of their manufacturing arm, they have had to rely on GLOBALFOUNDRIES to produce nearly all of their current CPUs and APUs.  Bulldozer, Piledriver, Llano, Trinity, and Richland based parts were all produced on GF’s 32 nm PD-SOI process.  The lower power APUs such as Brazos and Kabini have been produced by TSMC on their 40 nm and 28 nm processes respectively.

kv01.jpg

Kaveri will take a slightly different approach here.  It will be produced by GLOBALFOUNDRIES, but it will forego the SOI and utilize a bulk silicon process.  28 nm HKMG is very common around the industry, but few pure play foundries were willing to tailor their process to the direct needs of AMD and the Kaveri product.  GF was able to do such a thing.  APUs are a different kind of animal when it comes to fabrication, primarily because the two disparate units require different characteristics to perform at the highest efficiency.  As such, compromises had to be made.

Continue reading our review of the new AMD Kaveri A8-7600 APU!!

DisplayPort Adds DockPort Extension to Royalty-Free VESA Standard

Subject: General Tech | January 13, 2014 - 01:26 PM |
Tagged: amd, vesa, dockport

One of AMD's pet projects will be seeing the light of day in the very near future, one that could put another nail in Thunderbolt's overpriced coffin.  AMD in association with several other VESA members have developed an update to DisplayPort called DockPort that will provide USB 3.0 power and data over the cable at the same time it transmits up to 21.6 Gbps of DisplayPort Video.  This will be of great usage when connecting your machine to a docking station, with one cable you get a lot of connectivity options and could also mean much smaller and less expensive docking stations are possible.

ti-dockport-chip.jpg

INTERNATIONAL CES, LAS VEGAS (7 January 2014) – The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA®) announced today that DockPort will be added as an official extension to the existing DisplayPort standard. DockPort is an emerging technology that enables high-speed USB 3.0 data over the existing DisplayPort connector. Originally developed by AMD, Texas Instruments, and other VESA member companies, the DockPort extension will allow notebooks, tablets and other small form factor computers to aggregate the display, data and power interfaces into a single convenient connector.

Computers and other smart devices require high-speed I/O ports to share high-resolution video with external displays, high-bandwidth data with external storage and other peripherals, and power for battery charging. As notebooks and tablets become thinner and more portable, consumers want to combine these three common interfaces into a single port on their mobile device. With a single DisplayPort connection using the new DockPort extension and enhanced power capabilities under development, consumers will be able to attach their computers or tablets to a docking station and have instant, hassle-free access to a wide array of external resources.

“Consumers are happiest when they can personalize their electronics systems and reduce the number of cables they need to deal with at the same time,” explained Steve Belt, AMD’s corporate vice president of strategic alliances. “We identified DisplayPort as an ideal starting point and began collaborating with other industry leaders to create DockPort as an extension of DisplayPort’s capabilities. With just one inexpensive connector, users can now access power, a mouse, keyboard, external optical and hard disk drives, printers, gaming controller, and up to four external monitors. That’s a lot of capability from a single, standardized connector.”

AMD’s Discovery Tablet reference design, which utilizes DisplayPort with the DockPort extension to enable video, data and power over one connector, won two 2014 CES Innovation Awards.

“VESA’s decision to augment the popular DisplayPort standard with the single-connector capabilities of TI’s innovative DockPort controller is a win for end equipment designers and consumers,” said Wes Ray, systems and applications manager for Consumer and Computing Interface at Texas Instruments. “As an open standard, DockPort will be readily available for designers to implement, and more quickly deliver, the convenience of a single connection in devices such as tablets, notebooks, docking stations and dongles.”

DisplayPort is the world’s most advanced, high data rate video interface standard. It connects computers and other video sources to televisions and displays, while maintaining backward compatibility with VGA, DVI and HDMI. The global standard is backed by more than 200 technology leaders worldwide.

Designed to be robustly ‘future proof’ as well as backward compatible, DisplayPort allows a video source to drive up to four displays, and it is the only video interface that can support 4K UHD TVs and displays with deep color at 60 frames per second. DisplayPort with the DockPort extension will continue to be a royalty-free standard. DisplayPort-certified systems are available from every leading display manufacturer, and consumers purchase millions of DisplayPort products every year.
“Being a modern, high-speed, packet-based digital interface, DisplayPort was designed to be extensible while also providing backward compatibility,” said Craig Wiley, Sr. Director of Marketing for Parade Technologies, and Chair of the VESA Board of Directors. “Similar to Thunderbolt and MyDP, the new DockPort extension will utilize the flexibility of DisplayPort technology to create a single display, data, and, in the near future, power connector, while still being backward compatible with all other DisplayPort devices. We expect the DockPort feature will appear in main-stream products since its performance is tailored for standard connectors and passive cables.”

Source: VESA

Just a reminder of the state of Hawaii

Subject: General Tech | January 10, 2014 - 12:45 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, hawaii, catalyst, amd

Confirming the results that Ryan and other sites have seen are the results of [H]ard|OCP's testing of two different retail R9 290X GPUs against a pair of press sample cards.  Much as with Ryan's findings even using the newer Catalyst 13.11 Beta 5 driver, Quiet mode performance varies far more than Uber mode does but even Uber mode displays some differences between models.  However they draw a slightly different conclusion based on their experiences, determining that the variance is not just a matter of press samples versus retail cards but a variance between any and all 290X GPUs.  The complexity of this huge chip is such that the differences in manufacturing process and tolerances are to blame and some cards will simply be better than others.  They also are disappointed by AMD's marketing team, citing that the key is 'With NVIDIA GTX 600 and 700 series the video cards are "running faster than advertised" and with AMD R9 290X the video card is running "slower than advertised."'

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"The AMD Radeon R9 290X arrived recently with a high level of performance, and a high level of controversy. There have been reports of performance variance between Radeon R9 290X video cards. We have two purchased retail cards today with stock cooling that we will test and see if performance variances exist."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CES 2014: VisionTek Launches Liquid Cooled CryoVenom R9 290 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 10, 2014 - 02:19 AM |
Tagged: water cooling, VisionTek, r9 290, liquid cooling, CES 2014, CES, amd

VisionTek unveiled a new custom liquid cooled graphics card based on AMD's R9 290 GPU. The CryoVenom R9 290 900675 card uses a custom engineered full cover EK water block that allows VisionTek to wring the full potential out of AMD's Hawaii GPU by overclocking it 24% over stock clockspeeds while running much cooler than the fan cooled reference cards.

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_Close Up.jpg

As a refresher, the AMD R9 290 GPU at the heart of the new graphics card is based on AMD's latest Hawaii architecture and features 2,560 shaders, 160 texture units, and 64 ROPs. The GPU interfaces with 4GB of GDDR5 memory on a 512-bit bus. The reference R9 290 GPUs have a GPU clockspeed of 947 MHz and memory clockspeed of 1250 MHz (note the clockspeed problems of reference cards due to the coolers used).

The VisionTek card ditches a fan HSF in favor of a full cover waterblock that cools the GPU, memory, and VRMs. It has a nickel-plated copper base with an acrylic top. Water is channeled through a micro-fin array designed to cool the card without putting strain on low pressure pumps. A black anodized aluminum backplate adds support and passive (additional) VRM cooling to the graphics card. The CryoVenom maintains the two DL-DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video output connections of reference cards, however.

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_top.jpg

Going with a liquid cooler has allowed VisionTek to ratchet up the clockspeeds to an impressive 1,175 MHz for the GPU and 1,450 MHz for the memory. That is a respectable 24% and 16% increase over stock, respectively and is estimated to offer up to 38% better overall performance at those overclocked speeds. Perhaps even more impressive than the overclocks themselves is that VisionTek claims to be able to keep the card just under 52-degrees C under load which is a significant improvement over stock!

VisionTek CryoVenom R9 290_display output.jpg

According to VisionTek, each Cryovenom R9 290 graphics card is custom build and put through a variety of burn in tests to ensure that it can operate at the rated overclocks and is free of water leaks when attached to a loop.

The liquid cooled cards have an MSRP of $550 and will be available shortly (the cards are currently out of stock on the VisionTek site). Here's hoping that VisionTek is able to keep the cards at MSRP, because even at a $150 premium over the MSRP of reference cards it would still be a good deal at a time when reference cards are being sold at prices well over MSRP.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: VisionTek

CES 2014: AMD Supported in SteamOS "Out of the Box". Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9 in SteamOS Public Stable Branch

Subject: General Tech | January 9, 2014 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: SteamOS, CES 2014, CES, amd

The Steam platform prides itself on benefiting from the many billions of dollars spent by the PC industry in-fighting. Two-and-a-half of the consoles seem to realize that they cannot keep up with the constant churn as the PC trots along its exponential curve. They, now more than ever, align themselves with our industry instead of running their own R&D treadmill. Each of these companies now license the efforts of AMD.

steam-os-machines.png

Simply put, consoles struggle because their business model plans on a big loss followed by a few years of rest to have a chance of breaking even. Slow and steady wins the race.

SteamOS is a console that, instead of seeing how much it can justify locking down, goes the other way. So, when the prototype units were announced, it felt really weird to see a fairly wide selection of components... from a set of Intel processors and NVIDIA discrete graphics cards. AMD and Intel were a bit late for one reason or another.

But only just a bit. An updated AMD graphics driver, the Catalyst 13.11 Beta 9.9, has just been integrated into the SteamOS public stable branch. This driver is expected to fix tearing, overlay performance, in-game performance, and "malfunctioning return to desktop".

The driver will also be released on AMD.com soon.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!