The Red Team is the new black

Subject: General Tech | July 22, 2016 - 12:39 PM |
Tagged: amd, profits

It is reasonable to expect more in depth analysis from Josh about AMD's earnings this quarter but the news is too good not to briefly mention immediately.  AMD brought in $1.027 billion in revenue this quarter, a cool $68.7 million higher than expected, mostly thanks to console sales as these numbers do not include the new Polaris cards which are just being released.  This is very good news for everyone, having $69 million in profit will give AMD a bit of breathing room until Polaris can start selling and Zen arrives next year.  It also gives investors a boost of confidence in this beleaguered company, something that has not happened for quite a while.  Drop by The Register for more numbers and a link to the slides from the AMD financial meeting from yesterday.

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"AMD's share price is up more than seven per cent in after-hours trading to $5.60 at time of writing. That's agonizingly close to the magic six-buck mark for the troubled semiconductor giant that this time last year was struggling to look viable."

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Source: The Register

Oh the things you see in VR presentations; the RX 460 for instance

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 01:02 PM |
Tagged: rx 460, polaris 11, oculus rift, amd

TechARP spotting something unexpected at the Radeon RX 480 launch in Malaysia, a Radeon RX 460.  One suspects that the picture below does not represent its final form but it does give you an idea of the dimensions and the outputs which seem to include DVI, DP and HDMI.  TechARP were given some of the specs of this AMD Polaris 11 GPU based card, 14 Compute Units, 2 GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit memory bus. 

The biggest takeaway is what AMD was doing with it, this was powering an Oculus Rift VR demo so it is safe to say this card meets at least the minimum specs for the headset.  Drop by for more pictures and a video.

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"We just stumbled upon an actual Radeon RX 460 graphics card. AMD was using it to power a virtual reality demo on an Oculus VR headset. That was our first encounter with the Radeon RX 460, so we had to take off the perspex cover to take a closer look!"

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Podcast #409 - GTX 1060 Review, 3DMark Time Spy Controversy, Tiny Nintendo and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2016 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: Wraith, Volta, video, time spy, softbank, riotoro, retroarch, podcast, nvidia, new, kaby lake, Intel, gtx 1060, geforce, asynchronous compute, async compute, arm, apollo lake, amd, 3dmark, 10nm, 1070m, 1060m

PC Perspective Podcast #409 - 07/21/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 1060 review, controversy surrounding the async compute of 3DMark Time Spy 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Casper!

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

Program length: 1:34:57
  1. Week in Review:
  2. 0:51:17 This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. 1:26:26 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Sapphire Nitro Bot
    2. Allyn: klocki - chill puzzle game (also on iOS / Android)
  5. Closing/outro

Manufacturer: AMD

Introduction: Rethinking the Stock Cooler

AMD's Wraith cooler was introduced at CES this January, and has been available with select processors from AMD for a few months. We've now had a chance to put one of these impressive-looking CPU coolers through its paces on the test bench to see how much it improves on the previous model, and see if aftermarket cooling is necessary with AMD's flagship parts anymore.

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While a switch in the bundled stock cooler might not seem very compelling, the fact that AMD has put effort into improving this aspect of their retail CPU offering is notable. AMD processors already present a great value relative to Intel's offerings for gaming and desktop productivity, but the stock coolers have to this point warranted a replacement.

Intel went the other direction with the current generation of enthusiast processors, as CPUs such as my Core i5-6600k no longer ship with a cooler of any kind. If AMD has upgraded the stock CPU cooler to the point that it now cools efficiently without significant noise, this will save buyers a little more cash when planning an upgrade, which is always a good thing.

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The previous AMD stock cooler (left) and the AMD Wraith cooler (right)

A quick search for "Wraith" on Amazon yields retail-box products like the A10-7890K APU, and the FX-8370 CPU; options which have generally required an aftermarket cooler for the highest performance. In this review we’ll take a close look at the results with the previous cooler and the Wraith, and throw in results from the most popular aftermarket cooler of them all; the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Wraith CPU Cooler!!

Manufacturer: Overclock.net

Yes, We're Writing About a Forum Post

Update - July 19th @ 7:15pm EDT: Well that was fast. Futuremark published their statement today. I haven't read it through yet, but there's no reason to wait to link it until I do.

Update 2 - July 20th @ 6:50pm EDT: We interviewed Jani Joki, Futuremark's Director of Engineering, on our YouTube page. The interview is embed just below this update.

Original post below

The comments of a previous post notified us of an Overclock.net thread, whose author claims that 3DMark's implementation of asynchronous compute is designed to show NVIDIA in the best possible light. At the end of the linked post, they note that asynchronous compute is a general blanket, and that we should better understand what is actually going on.

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So, before we address the controversy, let's actually explain what asynchronous compute is. The main problem is that it actually is a broad term. Asynchronous compute could describe any optimization that allows tasks to execute when it is most convenient, rather than just blindly doing them in a row.

I will use JavaScript as a metaphor. In this language, you can assign tasks to be executed asynchronously by passing functions as parameters. This allows events to execute code when it is convenient. JavaScript, however, is still only single threaded (without Web Workers and newer technologies). It cannot run callbacks from multiple events simultaneously, even if you have an available core on your CPU. What it does, however, is allow the browser to manage its time better. Many events can be delayed until the browser renders the page, it performs other high-priority tasks, or until the asynchronous code has everything it needs, like assets that are loaded from the internet.

mozilla-architecture.jpg

This is asynchronous computing.

However, if JavaScript was designed differently, it would have been possible to run callbacks on any available thread, not just the main thread when available. Again, JavaScript is not designed in this way, but this is where I pull the analogy back into AMD's Asynchronous Compute Engines. In an ideal situation, a graphics driver will be able to see all the functionality that a task will require, and shove them down an at-work GPU, provided the specific resources that this task requires are not fully utilized by the existing work.

Read on to see how this is being implemented, and what the controversy is.

RetroArch Announces Vulkan API Support (& Async Compute)

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: n64, dolphin, libretro, retroarch, vulkan, async shaders, asynchronous compute, amd

While the Dolphin emulator has a lot of mind share, and recently announced DirectX 12 support, they have only just recently discussed working on the open alternative, Vulkan. It looks like the LibRetro developer community will beat them with an update to RetroArch and the LibRetro API. The page for RetroArch 1.3.5 exists as of (according to Google) yesterday, but 404s, so it should be coming soon. It is still in experimental mode, but it's better than nothing.

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Interestingly, they also claim that their Vulkan port of Angrylion makes use of asynchronous compute. It's unclear what it uses that for, but I'm sure it will make for interesting benchmarks.

AMD Reveals Radeon RX 460 and RX 470 Specifications

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2016 - 01:10 AM |
Tagged: rx 470, rx 460, polaris 11, polaris 10, gcn4, esports, amd

At a launch event in Australia earlier this week AMD talked about its Polaris architecture, launched the RX 480 and revealed the specifications for the Polaris 10-based RX 470 and Polaris 11-derived RX 470 GPUs. The new budget GPUs are aimed at 1080p or lower gaming and will allegedly be available for purchase sometime in August.

AMD Polaris 10 and Polaris 11.png

First up is the AMD Radeon RX 470. This GPU is based on Polaris 10 (like the RX 480) but has some hardware disabled (mainly the number of stream processors). Based on the same 14nm process the GPU has 2,048 cores running at not yet known clocks. Thankfully, AMD has left the memory interface intact, and the RX 470 uses the same 256-bit memory bus pairing the GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory on the reference design and up to 8GB GDDR5 on partner cards.

Speaking of the reference design, the reference RX 470 will utilize a blower style cooler that AIBs can use but AMD expects that partners will opt to use their own custom dual and triple fan coolers (as would I). The card is powered by a single 6-pin power connector though, again, AIBs are allowed to design a card with more.

This card is reportedly aimed at 1080p gaming at "ultra and max settings". Video outputs will include DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 HDR support.

AMD Radeon RX 480 RX 470 and RX 460.png

Breaking away from Polaris 10 is the RX 460 which is the first GPU AMD has talked about using Polaris 11. This GCNv4 architecture is similar it its larger Polaris sibling but is further cut down and engineered for low power and mobile environments. While the "full" Polaris 11 appears to have 16 CUs (Compute Units), RX 460 will feature 14 of them (this should open up opportunities for lots of salvaged dies and once yields are good enough we might see a RX 465 or something with all of its stream processors enabled). With 14 CUs, that means RX 460 has 896 stream processors (again clock speeds were not discussed) and a 128-bit memory bus. AMD's reference design will pair this card with 2GB of GDDR5 but I would not be surprised to see 4GB versions possibly in a gaming laptop SKU if only just because it looks better (heh). There is no external PCI-E power connector on this card so it will be drawing all of its power from the PCI-E slot on the motherboard.

The reference graphics card is a tiny affair with a single fan HSF and support for DP 1.3/1.4 HDR. AMD further mentions 4K H.264 / HEVC encoding/decoding support. AMD is positioning this card at HTPCs and "eSports" budget gamers.

One other tidbit of information from the announcement was that AMD reiterated their new "RX" naming scheme saying that RX would be reserved for gaming and we would no longer see R9, R7, and R5 branding though AMD did not rule out future products that would not use RX aimed at other non-gaming workloads. I would expect that this will apply to APU GPUs eventually as well.

Naturally, AMD is not talking exact shipping dates or pricing but expect them to be well under the $239 of the RX 480! I would guess that RX 470 would be around the $150 mark while RX 460 will be a sub $100 part (if only barely).

What do you think about the RX 470 and RX 460? If you are interested in watching the whole event, there is a two part video of it available on YouTube. Part 1 and Part 2 are embedded below the break.

Source: Videocardz

Podcast #408 - RX 480 Conclusions, GTX 1060 Preview, 4TB Samsung 850 EVO and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, rx 480, radeon, Primochill, praxis, power consumption, podcast, phononic, gtx 1060, amd, 850 EVO, 4TB

PC Perspective Podcast #408 - 07/14/2016

Join us this week as we discuss a conclusion to the RX 480 power issue, the GTX 1060, a 4TB Samsung 850 EVO 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

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

Program length: 1:36:40
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope (hackable and overclockable!)
  4. Closing/outro

DOOM on Vulkan Benchmarks

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 13, 2016 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, R9 Fury X, nvidia, Mantle, gtx 1070, fury x, doom, amd

We haven't yet benchmarked DOOM on Vulkan Update (immediately after posting): Ryan has just informed me that, apparently, we did benchmark Vulkan on our YouTube page (embed below). I knew we were working on it, I just didn't realize we published content yet. Original post continues below.

As far as I know, we're trying to get our testing software for frame time analysis running on the new API, but other sites have posted framerate-based results. The results show that AMD's cards benefit greatly from the new, Mantle-derived interface (versus the OpenGL one). On the other hand, while NVIDIA never really sees a decrease, more than 1% at least, it doesn't really get much of a boost, either.

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Image Credit: ComputerBase.de

I tweeted out to ID's lead renderer programmer, Tiago Sousa, to ask whether they take advantage of NVIDIA-specific extensions on the OpenGL path (like command submission queues). I haven't got a response yet, so it's difficult to tell whether this speaks more toward NVIDIA's OpenGL performance, or AMD's Vulkan performance. In the end, it doesn't really matter, though. AMD's Fury X (which can be found for as low as $399 with a mail-in rebate) is beating the GTX 1070 (which is in stock for the low $400s) by a fair margin. The Fury X also beats its own OpenGL performance by up to 66% (at 1080p) with the new API.

The API should also make it easier for games to pace their frames, too, which should allow smoother animation at these higher rates. That said, we don't know for sure because we can't test that from just seeing FPS numbers. The gains are impressive from AMD, though.

Asynchronous Atomic Ghandi coming in Civ VI

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2016 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx12, civilization VI, asynchronous compute, amd

AMD, 2K and Firaxis Games have been working together to bring the newest DX12 features to Civilization IV and today they have announced their success.  The new game will incorporate Asynchronous Compute in the engine as well as support for Explicit Multi-Adapter for those with multiple GPUs.  This should give AMD cards a significant performance boost when running the game, at least until NVIDIA can catch up with their support for the new technologies ... HairWorks is not going to have much as effect on your units as Async Compute will.

If you haven't been keeping an eye out, we have seen the video of Egypt's leader which also talk about terrain adjacency bonuses and England's leader and civilization specific units and buildings.

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"Complete with support for advanced DirectX 12 features like asynchronous compute and explicit multi-adapter, PC gamers the world over will be treated to a high-performance and highly-parallelized game engine perfectly suited to sprawling, complex civilizations."

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Source: Radeon.com