Podcast #263 - AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | August 8, 2013 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, nvidia, crossfire, sli, frame rating, 7990, john carmack, Oculus

PC Perspective Podcast #263 - 08/08/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMDs Crossfire Fix, Carmack Leaving id, Left 4 Dead 3 rumors 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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes 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

Program length: 1:13:47

 

AMD Drops Radeon HD 7990 to $699 with 8 Free Games

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 7, 2013 - 01:05 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, hd 7990, never settle, never settle reloaded

An interesting bit of information just came to PC Perspective this morning and it revolves around the price of the AMD Radeon HD 7990.  If the title didn't tip you off, we have found that Newegg.com is listing various HD 7990 dual-Tahiti graphics cards for $699!!

7990price.png

When the card launched in April, it had a retail price of $999 and since then had come down to the ~$880 range.  Today though, AMD has definitely made an aggressive move against NVIDIA by lowering the price of its flagship product a full $300.

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Not only that, but the Radeon HD 7990 6GB dual-GPU card will still include 8 free PC games, while supplies last.  As part of the Never Settle series of bundles, the HD 7990 includes Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Deus Ex.  If you don't own all or some of those titles, that makes the HD 7990 price drop even MORE appealing.

The Radeon HD 7990 hasn't been a card to avoid controversy.  Our initial review of the card showed that CrossFire scaling was resulting in very poor perceived performance and our Frame Rating system was able to detail how and why very precisely.  But on August 1st, AMD released a new Catalyst 13.8 driver that introduced a frame pacing fix for the problem for single monitor (non 4K) users. 

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I would highly encourage any user thinking about buying the Radeon HD 7990 to read over my Catalyst 13.8 updated article to see if the hardware makes sense for you.  With a $699 price tag, compared to the $999 of the GeForce GTX 690 or GTX TITAN from NVIDIA, the product is spectacularly interesting as long as you don't use multi-display Eyefinity or one of the new 4K dual-head displays like the ASUS PQ321Q

For gamers that are using a single panel though, hopefully at 2560x1440 or 2560x1600, this price drop might turn things around.  Check out those new $699 prices at Newegg!

Source: Newegg

So you want a second opinion on Frame Pacing, eh?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 2, 2013 - 12:44 PM |
Tagged: video, stutter, radeon, nvidia, hd 7990, frame rating, frame pacing, amd

Scott Wasson from The Tech Report and Ryan have been discussing the microstuttering present in Crossfire and while Ryan got his hands on the hardware to capture the raw output first, The Tech Report have been investigating this issue as in depth as Ryan and Ken have been.  Their look at the new Catalyst and the effects of Frame Pacing show the same results as you saw yesterday in Ryan's article; for essentially no cost in performance you can get a much smoother experience when using a CrossFire system on a single display.  In their article they have done a great job of splicing together videos of runthroughs of several games with the Frame Pacing disabled on one side and enabled on the other, allowing you to see with your own eyes the difference in game play, without having to have your own Crossfire system.

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"Can a driver fix what ails the Radeon HD 7990? Will the new Catalysts magically transform this baby into the fastest graphics card on the planet? We go inside the second to find out."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta is now available

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 1, 2013 - 02:54 PM |
Tagged: frame pacing, Catalyst 13.8 Beta, catalyst, beta, amd

Yes, you too can now benefit from the Frame Pacing which Ryan has been testing and posted the results to.  For anyone with a multi-GPU system using Radeon cards this is an update worth installing as you will see a significant benefit to your gaming experience, along with the other benefits that the new Catalyst offers.

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Highlights of the Windows AMD Catalyst™ 13.8 Beta release:

  • Support for CrossFire Frame Pacing
    • Frame Pacing ensures that frames rendered across multiple GPUs in a CrossFire configuration will be displayed at an even and regular pace
    • Enabled through the AMD Catalyst Control Center; Globally or on a per application basis
    • Supported for DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 applications and resolutions up and including 2560x1600 (single display)
  • OpenGL 4.3 support – full support for the OpenGL 4.3 feature set
  • Performance improvements found in AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta:
    • Metro Last Light – Improves performance up to 7% on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series
  • OpenGL support for User Profiles and Catalyst Application Profiles:
    • Users can now create per application 3D setting profiles for OpenGL applications
    • OpenGL applications are now supported through Catalyst Application Profile updates (for single GPU and AMD CrossFire configurations)
  • AMD Enduro Technology enhancement – The AMD Catalyst Control Center now shows which applications are active on the Performance GPU and the Power saving GPU

Windows Catalyst Package:  http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/AMDCatalyst13-8WINBetaDriver....


Highlights of the Linux AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta release:
This release of AMD Catalyst™ Linux introduces support for the following new features:

  • OpenGL 4.3 – full support for the OpenGL 4.3 feature set
  • SLED11 SP3 support
  • PowerXpress A+I support with Intel Haswell on SLED11 SP3
  • Dynamic primary surface resizing
  • Kernel 3.10 support

Resolved Issue highlights:

  • Enduro Technology on AMD + AMD Ubuntu platforms
  • Source Engine games hang when running on the High Performance ASIC
  • Maya 2011-2013 – Various visual corruptions issues have been resolved
  • Maya 2011-2013 – Mesh/Polygons selection performance has been improved
  • Unigine Heaven – Intermittent Crashes have been resolved
  • Unigine Heaven – Performance has been improved up to 11% on single GPU configurations
  • Left 4 Dead 2 – Visual corruption issues have been resolved
  • Visual artifacts are no longer seen with XvBA playback and CABAC=No

“Testing use Only” watermark has been removed.

Linux Catalyst Package: http://support.amd.com/us/kbarticles/Pages/AMDCatalyst13-8LINBetaDriver....

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Frame Pacing for CrossFire

When the Radeon HD 7990 launched in April of this year, we had some not-so-great things to say about it.  The HD 7990 depends on CrossFire technology to function and we had found quite a few problems with AMD's CrossFire technology over the last months of testing with our Frame Rating technology, the HD 7990 "had a hard time justifying its $1000 price tag."  Right at launch, AMD gave us a taste of a new driver that they were hoping would fix the frame pacing and frame time variance issues seen in CrossFire, and it looked positive.  The problem was that the driver wouldn't be available until summer.

As I said then: "But until that driver is perfected, is bug free and is presented to buyers as a made-for-primetime solution, I just cannot recommend an investment this large on the Radeon HD 7990."

Today could be a very big day for AMD - the release of the promised driver update that enables frame pacing on AMD 7000-series CrossFire configurations including the Radeon HD 7990 graphics cards with a pair of Tahiti GPUs. 

It's not perfect yet and there are some things to keep an eye on.  For example, this fix will not address Eyefinity configurations which includes multi-panel solutions and the new 4K 60 Hz displays that require a tiled display configuration.  Also, we found some issues with more than two GPU CrossFire that we'll address in a later page too.

 

New Driver Details

Starting with 13.8 and moving forward, AMD plans to have the frame pacing fix integrated into all future drivers.  The software team has implemented a software based frame pacing algorithm that simply monitors the time it takes for each GPU to render a frame, how long a frame is displayed on the screen and inserts delays into the present calls when necessary to prevent very tightly timed frame renders.  This balances or "paces" the frame output to the screen without lowering the overall frame rate.  The driver monitors this constantly in real-time and minor changes are made on a regular basis to keep the GPUs in check. 

7990card.JPG

As you would expect, this algorithm is completely game engine independent and the games should be completely oblivious to all that is going on (other than the feedback from present calls, etc). 

This fix is generic meaning it is not tied to any specific game and doesn't require profiles like CrossFire can from time to time.  The current implementation will work with DX10 and DX11 based titles only with DX9 support being added later with another release.  AMD claims this was simply a development time issue and since most modern GPU-bound titles are DX10/11 based they focused on that area first.  In phase 2 of the frame pacing implementation AMD will add in DX9 and OpenGL support.  AMD wouldn't give me a timeline for implementation though so we'll have to see how much pressure AMD continues with internally to get the job done.

Continue reading our story of the new AMD Catalyst 13.8 beta driver with frame pacing support!!

Podcast #262 - Live from QuakeCon 2013!

Subject: General Tech | August 1, 2013 - 01:35 PM |
Tagged: video, shield, Samsung, quakecon, podcast, nvidia, frame rating, crossfire, amd, 840 evo, 7990

PC Perspective Podcast #262 - 08/01/2013

Join us this week as we discuss NVIDIA SHIELD, the Samsung 840 EVO, Viewer Q&A, and much more LIVE from QuakeCon 2013!

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!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Program length: 1:19:01

Rumored AMD Carrizo APU (Kaveri Successor) Will Support FM2+ Socket

Subject: Processors | July 31, 2013 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: Kaveri, fm2, carrizo, APU, amd radeon, amd

Rumors recently surfaced via VR-Zone china that AMD’s Kaveri APU successor will be code-named Carrizo, and it will be compatible with the upcoming FM2+ socket and AMD A88X chipset that Kaveri will use. 

AMD’s Carrizo APUs will reportedly be available in TDPs up to 65W and will feature Excavator CPU cores along with a next generation Radeon GPU. Much like Kaveri, Carrizo will be fully HSA compliant. The chips will also include support for DDR4.

Carrizo will allegedly begin sampling in August 2014 with mass production starting around December. That means Carrizo will be available for purchase within the first half of 2015.

FM2+ boards like the ASUS A55BM-A/USB3 are rumored to support AMD's Carrizo APUs (the successor to Kaveri).

The rumors also suggest that Carrizo will be joined by a low power “Beema” System on a Chip (SoC) and a BGA-based Nolan APU for embedded systems. Details on these complementary chips are scarce, however. Perhaps most telling is last bit of the article that suggests that AMD will not be releasing a AM3+ Vishera CPU-only processor successor. It seems AMD is going all in as an APU company after all.

I have been looking forward to the launh of AMD's Kaveri since AFDS 2012, and Carrizo appears to be a refinement of that chip. It should be more power efficient and faster thanks to architecture tweaks and process shrinks. I think that AMDs architecture and HSA approach has potential, and I'm excited to see what these upcoming chips can do with regards to performance.

AMD A10-6800K APU Overclocked to 8.2GHz

Subject: Processors | July 28, 2013 - 01:08 PM |
Tagged: Richland, overclocking, LN2, APU, amd, a10-6800k

A Finnish overclocker known as “The Stilt” recently pushed an AMD Richland APU to 8.2GHz using liquid nitrogen. In doing so, The Stilt broke the world record for APU overclocking, besting his previous overclock attempt.

AMD A10-6800K Richland APU Overclocked to 8GHz.jpg

Specifically, the chip was a retail version of the AMD A10-6800K “Richland” APU. It was overclocked to 8203.01 MHz with a 130.21 MHz base clock and 63x multiplier. Even more impressive is that The Stilt managed the overclock with less voltage -- 1.968 volts -- than his earlier (and lower) overclock. For comparison, the earlier overclock brought the A10-6800K to 8000.48 MHz using 2.008 volts.

AMD A10-6800K Richland APU Overclocked to 8GHz.png

The system used to overclock the APU included an ASUS F2A85-V Pro motherboard, 8GB of AMD DDR3 Performance memory, and a Radeon HD 7750 graphics card. The overclocker used liquid nitrogen to cool the APU while the GPU was left at stock settings and with its default air cooler. The RAM was overclocked to 2083.6 MHz with 10-11-10-27 timings.

In all, it is an impressive overclock considering all four CPU cores were left enabled! More details along with validation of the overclock can be found over at HWBot.

Also read: AMD A10-6800K and A10-6700 Review: Richland Finally Lands @ PC Perspective

Source: HWBot

AMD Announces Several New Gaming Evolved Titles

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2013 - 05:45 AM |
Tagged: thief, pc gaming, gaming evolved, gaming, amd

Earlier this week, AMD announced that several new PC games would be part of the company's Gaming Evolved program. First revealed in 2010, AMD's Gaming Evolved program is the equivalent to NVIDIA's The Way It's Meant To Be Played initiative. The AMD program works with game developers to implement new technologies and to optimize games for AMD hardware.

amdgamingevolved.jpg

Specifically, AMD has announced that it has worked with developers under its Gaming Evolved program to develop the following games:

  • Castlevania: Lord of Shadow
  • Final Fantasy XIV
  • Leisure Suit Larry Reloaded
  • Murdered: Soul Suspect
  • Pirate 101
  • Shadow of the Eternals
  • Thief

These games are upcoming PC games, some of which will be available as soon as next month while others are still in-development. AMD worked with MercuryStream, Square Enix, N-Fusion Interactive, Airtight Games, KingsIsle Entertainment, Precursor Games, and Eidos Montreal respectively.

Screenshots of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow (Left) and Thief (Right). Click on image for a larger version.

These next generation games should work well on AMD platforms as a result of the developers' partnership with AMD. Hopefully that means next-generation visuals and games that will work best on the PC with all the usual customization and graphics settings options that PC gamers expect.

Source: AMD

PC Leading The Crew of Next Generation Platforms

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2013 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: ps4, pc gaming, amd

The last ten years were somewhat hostile to PC gamers: DRM forced us into an arms race with companies we were trying to purchase services from; our versions were ported often late and carelessly; and we were told, repetitively, that our money was not relevant to real business-or-something-like-that. The rise of Steam aside, the whole last generation became the mullet of video game history...

Console in the front; PC in the back; console in the front; PC in the back.

The next generation at least demonstrates promise for our platform as we cross the blurry divide. Small and Indie studios push new concepts, and even new business models, almost always with the PC forefront. The growth of mobile, whether cutting into computer sales or not, are often designed abstracted from native hardware which allow software like Bluestacks to include the PC and pave the way toward development in completely open, abstract platforms, such as standards-compliant web browsers.

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We will also experience a rebirth, due in part to AMD and their role in the upcoming console architectures, of games developed first on the PC and later ported to other platforms. The Crew, developed by Ubisoft Reflections, is the sum of a large repository of Windows, finally 64-bit, Direct3D 11 source code. From there, the PlayStation 4 version is derived.

Eurogamer goes into remarkable depth about certain aspects of the PS4 architecture and the process of bringing a PC title to its transistors. For instance, we were confused during Sony's announcement about the logistics of attaching Jaguar cores to a unified GDDR5-based memory system. The Eurogamer column, which draws reference to an earlier ExtremeTech editorial suggesting three possible block diagrams describing PS4 memory interfaces, more-than-suggests asymmetry between access rates across the alleged two four-core CPU modules, GPU, and system memory.

ps4-architecture.png

Image Credit, ExtremeTech via Eurogamer

As an interesting side-note: it turns out that just 6 cores will be available to developers, the remaining two are reserved for operating system usage.

It is good to see the PC leading the charge, genuinely this time, into what video games will eventually become. Feel free to market to other platforms as there will be no discrimination against your interested from my direction. So long as my dollars are respected when I decide their best use is for your product, I will be a satisfied customer.

Source: Eurogamer