Subject: Graphics Cards | February 26, 2014 - 06:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, Mantle, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, DirectX, amd
UPDATE (2/27/14): AMD sent over a statement today after seeing our story.
AMD would like you to know that it supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming. While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle, and AMD is very excited to share the future of our own API with developers at this year’s Game Developers Conference.
Credit over to Scott and his reader at The Tech Report for spotting this interesting news today!!
It appears that DirectX and OpenGL are going to be announcing some changes at next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. According to some information found in the session details, both APIs are trying to steal some of the thunder from AMD's Mantle, recently released with the Battlefield 4 patch. Mantle is na API was built by AMD to enable more direct access (lower level) to its GCN graphics hardware allowing developers to code games that are more efficient, providing better performance for the PC gamer.
From the session titled DirectX: Evolving Microsoft's Graphics Platform we find this description (emphasis mine):
For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.
However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console.
Come learn our plans to deliver.
Another DirectX session hosted by Microsoft is titled DirectX: Direct3D Futures (emphasis mine):
Come learn how future changes to Direct3D will enable next generation games to run faster than ever before!
In this session we will discuss future improvements in Direct3D that will allow developers an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead across a broad ecosystem of hardware.
If you use cutting-edge 3D graphics in your games, middleware, or engines and want to efficiently build rich and immersive visuals, you don't want to miss this talk.
Now look at a line from our initial article on AMD Mantle when announced at its Hawaii tech day event:
It bypasses DirectX (and possibly the hardware abstraction layer) and developers can program very close to the metal with very little overhead from software.
This is all sounding very familiar. It would appear that Microsoft has finally been listening to the development community and is working on the performance aspects of DirectX. Likely due in no small part to the push of AMD and Mantle's development, an updated DirectX 12 that includes a similar feature set and similar performance changes would shift the market in a few key ways.
Is it time again for innovation with DirectX?
First and foremost, what does this do for AMD's Mantle in the near or distant future? For now, BF4 will still include Mantle support as will games like Thief (update pending) but going forward, if these DX12 changes are as specific as I am being led to believe, then it would be hard to see anyone really sticking with the AMD-only route. Of course, if DX12 doesn't really address the performance and overhead issues in the same way that Mantle does then all bets are off and we are back to square one.
Interestingly, OpenGL might also be getting into the ring with the session Approaching Zero Driver Overhead in OpenGL:
Driver overhead has been a frustrating reality for game developers for the entire life of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate, while on mobile devices driver overhead is more insidious--robbing both battery life and frame rate. In this unprecedented sponsored session, Graham Sellers (AMD), Tim Foley (Intel), Cass Everitt (NVIDIA) and John McDonald (NVIDIA) will present high-level concepts available in today's OpenGL implementations that radically reduce driver overhead--by up to 10x or more. The techniques presented will apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms. Additionally, they will demonstrate practical demos of the techniques in action in an extensible, open source comparison framework.
This description seems to indicate more about new or lesser known programming methods that can be used with OpenGL to lower overhead without the need for custom APIs or even DX12. This could be new modules from vendors or possibly a new revision to OpenGL - we'll find out next month.
All of this leaves us with a lot of questions that will hopefully be answered when we get to GDC in mid-March. Will this new version of DirectX be enough to reduce API overhead to appease even the stingiest of game developers? How will AMD react to this new competitor to Mantle (or was Mantle really only created to push this process along)? What time frame does Microsoft have on DX12? Does this save NVIDIA from any more pressure to build its own custom API?
Gaming continues to be the driving factor of excitement and innovation for the PC! Stay tuned for an exciting spring!
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 25, 2014 - 03:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: ddr3, Kaveri, A10 7850K, amd, linux
You don't often see performance scaling as clean as what Phoronix saw when testing the effect of memory speed on AMD's A10-7850K. Pick any result and you can clearly see a smooth increase in performance from DDR3-800 to DDR3-2400. The only time that increase seems to decline slightly is between DDR3-2133 and 2400MHz, with some tests showing little to no increase between those two speeds. Some tests do still show an improvement, for certain workloads on Linux the extra money is worth it but in other cases you can save a few dollars and limit yourself to the slightly cheaper DDR3-2133. Check out the full review here.
"Earlier in the week I published benchmarks showing AMD Kaveri's DDR3-800MHz through DDR3-2133MHz system memory performance. Those results showed this latest-generation AMD APU craving -- and being able to take advantage of -- high memory frequencies. Many were curious how DDR3-2400MHz would fair with Kaveri so here's some benchmarks as we test out Kingston's HyperX Beast 8GB DDR3-2400MHz memory kit."
Here are some more Memory articles from around the web:
- DDR3-800MHz To DDR3-2133MHz Memory Testing With AMD's Kaveri @ Phoronix
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 8GB 2133MHz DDR3L SO-DIMM Memory Kit Review @ Legit Reviews
- Patriot Viper 3 16GB 2400MHz Memory Kit @ eTeknix
- Team Group Vulcan 8GB 2400MHz C10 Memory Kit @ eTeknix
- Patriot Viper 8GB DDR3-2133 C11 (Low Profile) Memory @ Funky Kit
- G.SKILL Ripjaws 1866MHz 8GB DDR3L SO-DIMM Memory Kit Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 25, 2014 - 02:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Mantle, TrueAudio, Thief 4, thief
AMD released their Catalyst 14.2 Beta V1.3 graphics drivers today, coinciding with the launch of Thief. The game, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, is another entry in "Gaming Evolved" and their "Never Settle" promotion. Soon, it will also support Mantle and TrueAudio.
Being Theif's launch driver, it provides optimizations for both single-GPU and Crossfire customers in that title. It also provides fixes for other titles, especially Battlefield 4 which can now run Mantle with up-to four GPUs. Battlefield 3 and 4 also supports Frame Pacing on very high (greater than 2560x1600) resolution monitors in dual-card Crossfire. It also fixes a couple of bugs in using Crossfire with DirectX 9 games, missing textures Minecraft, and corruption in X-Plane.
Catalyst 14.2 Beta V1.3 driver is available now at AMD's website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 19, 2014 - 12:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: raptr, gaming evolved, amd
The AMD Gaming Evolved App updates your drivers, optimizes your game settings, streams your gameplay to Twitch, accesses some social media platforms, and now gives prizes. Points are given for playing games using the app, optimizing game settings, and so forth. These can be exchanged for rewards ranging from free games, to Sapphire R9-series graphics cards.
This program has been in beta for a little while now, without the ability to redeem points. The system has been restructured to encourage using the entire app by lowering the accumulation rate for playing games and adding other goals. Beta participants do not lose all of their points, rather it is rescaled more in line with the new system.
Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 02:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Kabini
As you may have heard mention of on the podcast last night, AMD has a habit of crowding the lower end of the CPU and GPU markets with a wde variety of choices of product separated by very little money. While this can lead some entry level PC buyers to a bit of confusion at first, having a wide variety of choices is a good thing for the consumer. DigiTimes reported on an interesting decision made by AMD which bucks that trend, at least in China. It would seem that instead of releasing Kabini there, AMD is depending on the deep price cuts they've applied to previous generations of APU to compete against Intel as those price cuts would make Kabini much less attractive in that market. As a bonus we also received confirmation that Beema is still on schedule for the second half of this year.
"AMD is expected to ship 300,000 Kabini processors in the first quarter of 2014, 1.2 million units in the first half, and 3.8-3.9 million units in the whole year, the sources indicated."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- How about a Radeon R9 290X for 900 bucks? @ The Tech Report
- Samsung ramping up 25nm production for DRAM @ DigiTimes
- The UNTOLD SUCCESS of Microsoft: Yes, it's Windows 7 @ The Register
- Lenovo cracks its first ever $10bn quarter @ The Register
- Indonesia market: BlackBerry to stage a turnaround with Jakarta model @ DigiTimes
- Win MSI GTX760 Gaming and Z87I Gaming ITX combo! @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | February 14, 2014 - 02:11 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, r9 270x, r7 265, r7 260x, podcast, nvidia, fusion-io, arm, amd, A17
PC Perspective Podcast #287 - 02/14/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the release of the AMD R7 265, Coin Mining's effect on GPU Prices, NVIDIA Earnings 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
- 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
Week in Review:
0:28:45 NVIDIA Posts Solid Quarter
News items of interest:
0:56:15 In a Galaxy far far away?
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Josh: $379 for next few days!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 13, 2014 - 02:31 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: radeon, r7 265, pitcairn, Mantle, gpu, amd
Some time in late February or March you will be able to purchase the R7 265 for around $150, a decent price for an entry level GPU that will benefit those who are currently dependent on the GPU portion of an APU. This leads to the question of its performance and if this Pitcairn refresh will really benefit a gamer on a tight budget. Hardware Canucks tested it against the two NVIDIA cards closest in price, the GTX 650 Ti Boost which is almost impossible to find and the GTX 660 2GB which is $40 more than the MSRP of the R7 265. The GTX 660 is faster overall but when you look at the price to performance ratio the R7 265 is a more attractive offering. Of course with NVIDIA's Maxwell release just around the corner this could change drastically.
If you already caught Ryan's review, you might have missed the short video he just added on the last page.
"AMD's R7 265 is meant to reside in the space between the R7 260X and R9 270, though performance is closer to its R9 sibling. Could this make it a perfect budget friendly graphics card?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD updates Radeon R7 series with R7 265 GPU, promising 25 percent more power @ The Inquirer
- Sapphire Radeon R7 265 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire R7 265 Dual X @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte Windforce Radeon R9 280X OC Video Card Review @HiTech Legion
- XFX Radeon R9 290 Double Dissipation @ Benchmark Reviews
- Sapphire R7 260X 2GB OC 2x DVI Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- Sapphire R9-290X Tri-X “Sapphire Takes a Shot at Cooling the Monster” Review! @ Bjorn3D
- Asus R9 290 Direct CU II OC @ Kitguru
- Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X OC 4 GB @ techPowerUp
- GIGABYTE R9 290X WindForce OC Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Mantle BF4 and StarSwarm Testing Part 2 @ Legit Reviews
- Gigabyte GTX 780 Ti GHz Edition 3GB @ eTeknix
- MSI GeForce GTX 780 Ti GAMING 3G @ [H]ard|OCP
Straddling the R7 and R9 designation
It is often said that the sub-$200 graphics card market is crowded. It will get even more so over the next 7 days. Today AMD is announcing a new entry into this field, the Radeon R7 265, which seems to straddle the line between their R7 and R9 brands. The product is much closer in its specifications to the R9 270 than it is the R7 260X. As you'll see below, it is built on a very familiar GPU architecture.
AMD claims that the new R7 265 brings a 25% increase in performance to the R7 line of graphics cards. In my testing, this does turn out to be true and also puts it dangerously close to the R9 270 card released late last year. Much like we saw with the R9 290 compared to the R9 290X, the less expensive but similarly performing card might make the higher end model a less attractive option.
Let's take a quick look at the specifications of the new R7 265.
Based on the Pitcairn GPU, a part that made its debut with the Radeon HD 7870 and HD 7850 in early 2012, this card has 1024 stream processors running at 925 MHz equating to 1.89 TFLOPS of total peak compute power. Unlike the other R7 cards, the R7 265 has a 256-bit memory bus and will come with 2GB of GDDR5 memory running at 5.6 GHz. The card requires a single 6-pin power connection but has a peak TDP of 150 watts - pretty much the maximum of the PCI Express bus and one power connector. And yes, the R7 265 supports DX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3, and Mantle, just like the rest of the AMD R7/R9 lineup. It does NOT support TrueAudio and the new CrossFire DMA units.
|Radeon R9 270X||Radeon R9 270||Radeon R7 265||Radeon R7 260X||Radeon R7 260|
|GPU Code name||Pitcairn||Pitcairn||Pitcairn||Bonaire||Bonaire|
|Rated Clock||1050 MHz||925 MHz||925 MHz||1100 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory Clock||5600 MHz||5600 MHz||5600 MHz||6500 MHz||6000 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||179 GB/s||179 GB/s||179 GB/s||104 GB/s||96 GB/s|
|TDP||180 watts||150 watts||150 watts||115 watts||95 watts|
|Peak Compute||2.69 TFLOPS||2.37 TFLOPS||1.89 TFLOPS||1.97 TFLOPS||1.53 TFLOPS|
The table above compares the current AMD product lineup, ranging from the R9 270X to the R7 260, with the R7 265 directly in the middle. There are some interesting specifications to point out that make the 265 a much closer relation to the R7 270/270X cards than anything below it. Though the R7 265 has four fewer compute units (which is 256 stream processors) than the R9 270. The biggest performance gap here is going to be found with the 256-bit memory bus that persists; the available memory bandwidth of 179 GB/s is 72% higher than the 104 GB/s from the R7 260X! That will definitely improve performance drastically compared to the rest of the R7 products. Pay no mind to that peak performance of the 260X being higher than the R7 265; in real world testing that never happened.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 10, 2014 - 12:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, R7, hd 7770, amd, 250x
With the exception of the R9 290X, the R9 290, and the R7 260X, AMD's recent branding campaign with the Radeon R7 and R9 series of graphics cards is really just a reorganization and rebranding of existing parts. When we reviewed the Radeon R9 280X and R9 270X, both were well known entities though this time with lower price tags to sweeten the pot.
Today, AMD is continuing the process of building the R7 graphics card lineup with the R7 250X. If you were looking for a new ASIC, maybe one that includes TrueAudio support, you are going to be let down. The R7 250X is essentially the same part that was released as the HD 7770 in February of 2012: Cape Verde.
AMD calls the R7 250X "the successor" to the Radeon HD 7770 and its targeting the 1080p gaming landscape in the $99 price range. For those keeping track at home, the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition parts are currently selling for the same price. The R7 250X will be available in both 1GB and 2GB variants with a 128-bit GDDR5 memory bus running at 4.5 GHz. The card requires a single 6-pin power connection and we expect a TDP of 95 watts.
Here is a table that details the current product stack of GPUs from AMD under $140. It's quite crowded as you can see.
|Radeon R7 260X||Radeon R7 260||Radeon R7 250X||Radeon R7 250||Radeon R7 240|
|GPU Code name||Bonaire||Bonaire||Cape Verde||Oland||Oland|
|Rated Clock||1100 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1050 MHz||780 MHz|
|Memory||2GB||2GB||1 or 2GB||1 or 2GB||1 or 2GB|
|Memory Clock||6500 MHz||6000 MHz||4500 MHz||4600 MHz||4600 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||104 GB/s||96 GB/s||72 GB/s||73.6 GB/s||28.8 GB/s|
|TDP||115 watts||95 watts||95 watts||65 watts||30 watts|
|Peak Compute||1.97 TFLOPS||1.53 TFLOPS||1.28 TFLOPS||0.806 TFLOPS||0.499 TFLOPS|
The current competition from NVIDIA rests in the hands of the GeForce GTX 650 and the GTX 650 Ti, a GPU that was released itself in late 2012. Since we already know what performance to expect from the R7 250X because of its pedigree, the numbers below aren't really that surprising, as provided by AMD.
AMD did leave out the GTX 650 Ti from the graph above... but no matter, we'll be doing our own testing soon enough, once our R7 250X cards find there way into the PC Perspective offices.
The AMD Radeon R7 250X will be available starting today but if that is the price point you are looking at, you might want to keep an eye out for sales on those remaining Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition parts.
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