Kaveri Goes Mobile
The processor market is in an interesting place today. At the high end of the market Intel continues to stand pretty much unchallenged, ranging from the Ivy Bridge-E at $1000 to the $300 Haswell parts available for DIY users. The same could really be said for the mobile market - if you want a high performance part the default choice continues to rest with Intel. But AMD has some interesting options that Intel can't match when you start to enter the world of the mainstream notebook. The APU was slow to develop but it has placed AMD in a unique position, separated from the Intel processors with a more or less reversed compute focus. While Intel dominates in the performance on the x86 side of things, the GPU in AMD's latest APUs continue to lead in gaming and compute performance.
The biggest problem for AMD is that the computing software ecosystem still has not caught up with the performance that a GPU can provide. With the exception of games, the GPU in a notebook or desktop remains under utilized. Certain software vendors are making strides - see the changes in video transcoding and image manipulation - but there is still some ground AMD needs to accelerate down.
Today we are looking at the mobile version of Kaveri, AMD's latest entry into the world of APUs. This processor combines the latest AMD processor architecture with a GCN-based graphics design for a pretty advanced part. When the desktop version of this processor was released, we wrote quite a bit about the architecture and the technological advancements made into, including becoming the first processor that is fully HSA compliant. I won't be diving into the architecture details here since we covered them so completely back in January just after CES.
The mobile version of Kaveri is basically identical in architecture with some changes for better power efficiency. The flagship part will ship with 12 Compute Cores (4 Steamroller x86 cores and 8 GCN cores) and will support all the same features of GCN graphics designs including the new Mantle API.
Early in the spring we heard rumors that the AMD FX brand was going to make a comeback! Immediately enthusiasts were thinking up ways AMD could compete against the desktop Core i7 parts from Intel; could it be with 12 cores? DDR4 integration?? As it turns out...not so much.
Subject: General Tech, Displays, Mobile | June 3, 2014 - 07:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vesa, dockport, DisplayPort, amd
Remember DockPort? The three in one connection we have discussed in the past? The Thunderbolt-ish connection for devices with DisplayPort which allows transmission of audio and video plus USB data and power all on one connector. It's here! (even if the devices aren't quite common yet)
NEWARK, CA (3 June 2014) The Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA) today announced the release of the DockPort standard. Developed by several VESA member companies, DockPort is an optional extension of the DisplayPort standard that will allow USB 3.1 data and DC power for battery charging to be carried over a single DisplayPort connector and cable that also carries high-resolution audio/video (A/V) data.
This new extension of the DisplayPort standard is fully backward compatible with all existing DisplayPort devices. When a DockPort-enabled DisplayPort source such as a computer or tablet is connected with a DockPort-enabled DisplayPort sink such as a display monitor or docking station A/V plus USB data and power will be transferred over a common cable through a single connector. If either the source or sink device is not a DockPort-enabled, then source and sink will recognize only the DisplayPort A/V data stream.
As computing platforms become increasingly mobile, it becomes necessary to reduce the number of external connectors, explained Steve Belt, Corporate Vice President - Strategic Alliances & Solutions Enablement AMD, a VESA member company. With DockPort, VESA has developed a technology standard that enhances elegant docking designs, reduces mobile form factors, and enriches the user experience with streamlined, one-cable access to a wide range of external displays, peripherals and storage.
DockPort is the first royalty-free industry standard that combines these three essential interface functions into a single connector. VESA first revealed its intention to develop this standard at the 2014 International Consumer Electrics Show. It anticipates that several vendors will demonstrate DockPort-enabled DisplayPort systems at Computex Taiwan, which begins today.
Until today, most mobile computing platforms required three separate interfaces to support power charging, data transmission and external video, said Chris Griffith, Business Development Manager for Consumer and Computing Interface at Texas Instruments, a VESA member company. With DockPort, VESA has elegantly merged this ungainly tangle of wires into a single, sleek connector, combining power charging with the industrys most popular data transportUSBand the industrys highest-speed A/V transportDisplayPort. DockPort can reduce system implementation cost as designers can reduce external connectors and simplify docking implementations.
VESA is developing a compliance test protocol to certify systems that meet the DockPort standard. Systems that satisfy this test protocol will be permitted to display VESAs new DockPort logo on their packaging as a guide for consumers seeking this capability.
The new DockPort standard demonstrates the enormous adaptability of the DisplayPort standard, according to VESA Board Chair Alan Kobayashi, Fellow & Executive R&D Management for DisplayPort Group at MegaChips Technology America. On the one hand, DisplayPort is a flexible A/V transport protocol that easily coexists with other protocols, like USBit plays nicely with others. On the other hand, DisplayPort is also a robust and proven connector design whose electro-mechanical properties can accommodate data and power over a common passive copper cable and interface.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 3, 2014 - 02:10 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Intel, amd, richard huddy
Interesting news is crossing the ocean today as we learn that Richard Huddy, who has previously had stints at NVIDIA, ATI, AMD and most recently, Intel, is teaming up with AMD once again. Richard brings with him years of experience and innovation in the world of developer relations and graphics technology. Often called "the Godfather" of DirectX, AMD wants to prove to the community it is taking PC gaming seriously.
The official statement from AMD follows:
AMD is proud to announce the return of the well-respected authority in gaming, Richard Huddy. After three years away from AMD, Richard returns as AMD's Gaming Scientist in the Office of the CTO - he'll be serving as a senior advisor to key technology executives, like Mark Papermaster, Raja Koduri and Joe Macri. AMD is extremely excited to have such an industry visionary back. Having spent his professional career with companies like NVIDIA, Intel and ATI, and having led the worldwide ISV engineering team for over six years at AMD, Mr. Huddy has a truly unique perspective on the PC and Gaming industries.
Mr. Huddy rejoins AMD after a brief stint at Intel, where he had a major impact on their graphics roadmap. During his career Richard has made enormous contributions to the industry, including the development of DirectX and a wide range of visual effects technologies. Mr. Huddy’s contributions in gaming have been so significant that he was immortalized as ‘The Scientist’ in Max Payne (if you’re a gamer, you’ll see the resemblance immediately).
Kitguru has a video from Richard Huddy explaining his reasoning for the move back to AMD.
This move points AMD in a very interesting direction going forward. The creation of the Mantle API and the debate around AMD's developer relations programs are going to be hot topics as we move into the summer and I am curious how quickly Huddy thinks he can have an impact.
I have it on good authority we will find out very soon.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 2, 2014 - 11:41 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: computex, radeon, r9 295x2, Hawaii XT, dual gpu, computex 2014, ASUS ROG, asus, Ares, amd
The latest installment in the ASUS ARES series of ultra-powerful, limited-edition graphics cards has been announced, and the Ares III is set to be the “world’s fastest” video card.
The dual-GPU powerhouse is driven by two “hand-selected” Radeon Hawaii XT GPUs (R9 290X cores) with 8GB of GDDR5 memory. The card is overclockable according to ASUS, and will likely arrive factory overclocked as they claim it will be faster out of the box than the reference R9-295x2. The ARES III features a custom-designed EK water block, so unlike the R9 295x2 the end user will need to supply the liquid cooling loop.
ASUS claims that the ARES III will “deliver 25% cooler performance than reference R9 295X designs“, but to achieve this ASUS “highly” recommends a high flow rate loop with at least a 120x3 radiator “to extract maximum performance from the card,” and they “will provide a recommended list of water cooling systems at launch”.
Only 500 of the ARES III will be made, and are individually numbered. No pricing has been announced, but ASUS says to expect it to be more than a 295x2 ($1499) - but less than a TITAN Z ($2999). The ASUS ROG ARES III will be available in Q3 2014.
For more Computex 2014 coverage, please check out our feed!
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 07:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, dirty pool, business as usual, amd
The topic on NVIDIA Gameworks was discussed at great length on last night's PCPer Podcast and from the live comments as well as the comments on Ryan's original story this is obviously a topic which draws strong opinions. As it is always best to limit yourself to debating topics of which you are familiar with the facts The Tech Report's article on the aftereffects of the Forbes story is well worth a read. Cyril had a chance to speak with a rep from NVIDIA's driver development team about Hallock's comments pertaining to NVIDIA's Gameworks and the legitimacy of AMD's complaints. As you might expect there is a lot of denial and finger pointing from both sides; what long time enthusiasts might describe as 'business as usual'. Both sides of this argument have vehemently denied ever attempting to undermine each others business but yet both sides can point to specific instances in which the competition has used questionable methods to get a leg (or hair) up on the competition.
"Earlier today, I spoke with Cem Cebenoyan, Director of Engineering for Developer Technology at Nvidia, who offered a rebuttal to a Forbes story we covered yesterday. In that story, AMD's Robert Hallock alleged that Nvidia's GameWorks program prevents AMD from working with game developers on GPU optimizations."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate buys LSI flash technology from Avago for $450m @ The Inquirer
- Samsung outs first vertical 3D NAND flash SSD aimed at PC market @ The Inquirer
- Asustek to establish unified cloud platform and increase personal cloud users @ DigiTimes
- WWDC 2014 Preview: iOS 8, Mac OS X 10.10 and hardware expected @ The Inquirer
- Rap chap tapped for $3 BEELLION: Apple finally buys Dr Dre's Beats @ The Register
- Linksys EA6900 AC1900 802.11ac Wireless Router @ Kitguru
- How to Manage Printers in Linux @ Linux.com
- rying Out Steam In-Home Streaming With Hamachi For Remote Play @ Legit Reviews
Podcast #302 - ASUS PB287Q 4K Monitor, NVIDIA and AMD's fight over GameWorks, Haswell-E Leaks and more!
Subject: General Tech | May 29, 2014 - 02:51 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, podcast, asus, 4k, pb287q, nvidia, amd, gameworks, ubisoft, watch dogs, crucial, mx100, tegra k1, gsync
PC Perspective Podcast #302 - 05/29/2014
Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS PB287Q 4K Monitor, NVIDIA and AMD's fight over GameWorks, Haswell-E Leaks 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, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Maleventano
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
Allyn: For Josh - the Wenger Giant Knife
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 28, 2014 - 07:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: driver, Catalyst 14.4 beta, amd
Get the latest Catalyst for your Radeon!
- Starting with AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta, AMD will no longer support Windows 8.0 (and the WDDM 1.2 driver) Windows 8.0 users should upgrade (for Free) to Windows 8.1 to take advantage of the new features found in the AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta
- AMD Catalyst 14.4 will remain available for users who wish to remain on Windows 8 A future AMD Catalyst release will allow for the WDDM 1.1 (Windows 7 driver) to be installed under Windows 8.0 for those users unable to upgrade to Windows 8.1
- The AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Driver can be downloaded from the following links: AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Driver for Windows
- NOTE! This Catalyst Driver is provided "AS IS", and under the terms and conditions of the End User License Agreement provided with it.
- Performance improvements
- Watch Dogs performance improvements AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 4x MSAA – improves up to 25%
- AMD Radeon R9290X - 2560x1600 4x MSAA – improves up to 28%
- AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra settings, MSAA = 4X) - 92% scaling
- Murdered Soul Suspect performance improvements
- AMD Radeon R9 290X – 2560x1600 4x MSAA – improves up to 16%
- AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra settings, MSAA = 4X) - 93% scaling
- AMD Eyefinity enhancements: Mixed Resolution Support
- A new architecture providing brand new capabilities
- Display groups can be created with monitors of different resolution (including difference sizes and shapes)
- Users have a choice of how surface is created over the display group
- Fill – legacy mode, best for identical monitors
- Fit – create the Eyefinity surface using best available rectangular area with attached displays.
- Expand – create a virtual Eyefinity surface using desktops as viewports onto the surface.
- Eyefinity Display Alignment
- Enables control over alignment between adjacent monitors
- One-Click Setup Driver detects layout of extended desktops
- Can create Eyefinity display group using this layout in one click!
- New user controls for video color and display settings
- Greater control over Video Color Management:
- Controls have been expanded from a single slider for controlling Boost and Hue to per color axis
- Color depth control for Digital Flat Panels (available on supported HDMI and DP displays)
- Allows users to select different color depths per resolution and display
- AMD Mantle enhancements
- Mantle now supports AMD Mobile products with Enduro technology
- Battlefield 4: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1366x768; high settings) – 21% gain
- Thief: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; high settings) – 14% gain
- Star Swarm: AMD Radeon HD 8970M (1920x1080; medium settings) – 274% gain
- Enables support for Multi-GPU configurations with Thief (requires the latest Thief update)
... and much more, grab it here.
The AMD Argument
Earlier this week, a story was posted in a Forbes.com blog that dove into the idea of NVIDIA GameWorks and how it was doing a disservice not just on the latest Ubisoft title Watch_Dogs but on PC gamers in general. Using quotes from AMD directly, the author claims that NVIDIA is actively engaging in methods to prevent game developers from optimizing games for AMD graphics hardware. This is an incredibly bold statement and one that I hope AMD is not making lightly. Here is a quote from the story:
Gameworks represents a clear and present threat to gamers by deliberately crippling performance on AMD products (40% of the market) to widen the margin in favor of NVIDIA products. . . . Participation in the Gameworks program often precludes the developer from accepting AMD suggestions that would improve performance directly in the game code—the most desirable form of optimization.
The example cited on the Forbes story is the recently released Watch_Dogs title, which appears to show favoritism towards NVIDIA GPUs with performance of the GTX 770 ($369) coming close the performance of a Radeon R9 290X ($549).
It's evident that Watch Dogs is optimized for Nvidia hardware but it's staggering just how un-optimized it is on AMD hardware.
Watch_Dogs is the latest GameWorks title released this week.
I decided to get in touch with AMD directly to see exactly what stance the company was attempting to take with these kinds of claims. No surprise, AMD was just as forward with me as they appeared to be in the Forbes story originally.
The AMD Stance
Central to AMD’s latest annoyance with the competition is the NVIDIA GameWorks program. First unveiled last October during a press event in Montreal, GameWorks combines several NVIDIA built engine functions into libraries that can be utilized and accessed by game developers to build advanced features into games. NVIDIA’s website claims that GameWorks is “easy to integrate into games” while also including tutorials and tools to help quickly generate content with the software set. Included in the GameWorks suite are tools like VisualFX which offers rendering solutions like HBAO+, TXAA, Depth of Field, FaceWorks, HairWorks and more. Physics tools include the obvious like PhysX while also adding clothing, destruction, particles and more.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 27, 2014 - 12:00 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, R9, R7, eyefinity, amd
AMD has just launched their Catalyst 14.6 Beta drivers for Windows and Linux. This driver will contain performance improvements for Watch Dogs, launching today in North America, and Murdered: Soul Suspect, which arrives next week. On Linux, the driver now supports Ubuntu 14.04 and its installation process has been upgraded for simplicity and user experience.
Unless performance improvements are more important to you, the biggest feature is the support for Eyefinity with mixed resolutions. With Catalyst 14.6, you no longer need a grid of identical monitors. One example use case, suggested by AMD, is a gamer who purchases an ultra-wide 2560x1080 monitor. They will be able to add a pair of 1080p monitors on either side to create a 6400x1080 viewing surface.
If the monitors are very mismatched, the driver will allow users to letterbox to the largest rectangle contained by every monitor, or "expand" to draw the largest possible rectangle (which will lead to some assets drawing outside of any monitor). A third mode, fill, behaves like Eyefinity currently does. I must give AMD a lot of credit for leaving the choice to the user.
Returning to performance with actual figures, AMD claims "up to" 25% increases in Watch Dogs at 1080p or 28% at 1600p, compared to the previous version. The new CrossFire profile also claims up to 99% scaling in that game, at 2560x1600 with 8x MSAA. Murdered: Soul Suspect will see "up to" 16% improvements on a single card, and "up to" 93% scaling. Each of these results were provided by AMD, which tested on Radeon R9 290X cards. If these CrossFire profiles (well, first, are indicative of actual performance, and) see 99% scaling across two cards, that is pretty remarkable.
A brief mention, AMD has also expanded their JPEG decoder to Kabini. Previously, it was available to Kaveri, as of Catalyst 14.1. This allows using the GPU to display images, with their test showing a series of images being processed in about half of the time. While not claimed by AMD, I expect that the GPU will also be more power-efficient (as the processor can go back to its idle state much quicker, despite activitating another component to do so). Ironically, the three images I used for this news post are encoded in PNG. You might find that amusing.
AMD Catalyst 14.6 Beta Drivers should be now available at their download site.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2014 - 05:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, radeon, r9 295x2, R9 290X
Through hard work or good luck you find yourself the proud owner of an R9 295X2 and a 4K display but somehow the performance just isn't quite good enough. You can't afford another X2 though there is an R9 290X in your price range but you just aren't sure if it will help your system out at all. That is where [H]ard|OCP steps in with this review where they prove that tri-fire in this configuration does indeed work. Not only does it work, it allows you to vastly increase your performance over a 295X2 or to improve the performance somewhat while raising your graphics settings to new highs. For those using 5760x1200 Eyefinity you probably already have your graphics options cranked; this upgrade will still offer you a linear increase in performance. Not bad if you have the money to invest!
"Will adding a single AMD Radeon R9 290X video card to the AMD Radeon R9 295X2 work? Will you get triple-GPU performance, ala TriFire CrossFire performance? This just might be a more financially feasible configuration for gamers versus QuadFire that provides a great gaming experience in Eyefinity and 4K resolutions."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X OC @ Kitguru
- Sapphire Vapor-X R9 290X - Cooling the Savage Beast @HiTech Legion
- MSI Radeon R9 280X Gaming 6 GB @ techPowerUp
- Sapphire R9 290X Vapor-X OC 4GB Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
- CLUB3D R9 290X RoyalAce Superoverclock @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon R9 290 On Ubuntu 14.04 With Catalyst Can Beat Windows 8.1 @ Phoronix
- Catalyst On Ubuntu 14.04 Linux Competes Well With Windows 8.1 @ Phoronix
- High-End NVIDIA GeForce vs. AMD Radeon Linux Gaming Comparison @ Phoronix
- Windows 8.1 Still Outperforms Linux With Latest Intel GPU Drivers @ Phoronix
- Raijintek Morpheus @ techPowerUp
- PNY GTX 780 XLR8 OC Edition @ [H]ard|OCP
- Palit GTX780 Jetstream 6GB SLi (Ultra HD 4K) @ Kitguru
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 750 @ Hardware Secrets
- ASUS GeForce GTX 780 Ti DirectCU II OC @ X-bit Labs