AMD will be cracking the Linux Catalyst wide open over the next year

Subject: General Tech | October 8, 2014 - 12:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux, unified driver, pirate islands

AMD had some news at the 2014 X.Org Developer's Conference that concerns their strategy when it comes to providing open source drivers for Linux.  To start off with the bad news, the new unified driver was prototyped on a not yet released Linux kernel and Sea Islands GPUs and will only work on the next generation of graphics cards, the Pirate Islands.  That is not a terrible thing as backwards compatibility can be a Kong sized monkey on the back of a driver and a fresh start allows the incorporation of features that might be skipped if legacy support is a main focus.  Only a small portion of the driver blob will be proprietary, the majority will be based on Catalyst but will be fully open source and editable.  This means users of the X.Org Server or even just those playing with new versions of the Linux kernel will no longer have to wait for a new Catalyst to be released nor will those playing with OpenGL.  Dive in deeper at Phoronix.

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"Alex Deucher of AMD has taken the floor at XDC2014, which got underway today in France to provide an update on the company's new unified open-source driver strategy. Compared to what I originally reported earlier in the year when breaking the news, there's some notable changes but overall this is an exciting endeavor for AMD Linux customers with the open and closed source AMD GPU drivers going to share the same (open-source) Linux kernel driver."

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Source: Phoronix
Author:
Manufacturer: Rebellion

Quick Performance Comparison

Earlier this week, we posted a brief story that looked at the performance of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor on the latest GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD. Last week also marked the release of the v1.11 patch for Sniper Elite 3 that introduced an integrated benchmark mode as well as support for AMD Mantle.

I decided that this was worth a quick look with the same line up of graphics cards that we used to test Shadow of Mordor. Let's see how the NVIDIA and AMD battle stacks up here.

For those unfamiliar with the Sniper Elite series, the focuses on the impact of an individual sniper on a particular conflict and Sniper Elite 3 doesn't change up that formula much. If you have ever seen video of a bullet slowly going through a body, allowing you to see the bones/muscle of the particular enemy being killed...you've probably been watching the Sniper Elite games.

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Gore and such aside, the game is fun and combines sniper action with stealth and puzzles. It's worth a shot if you are the kind of gamer that likes to use the sniper rifles in other FPS titles.

But let's jump straight to performance. You'll notice that in this story we are not using our Frame Rating capture performance metrics. That is a direct result of wanting to compare Mantle to DX11 rendering paths - since we have no way to create an overlay for Mantle, we have resorted to using FRAPs and the integrated benchmark mode in Sniper Elite 3.

Our standard GPU test bed was used with a Core i7-3960X processor, an X79 motherboard, 16GB of DDR3 memory, and the latest drivers for both parties involved. That means we installed Catalyst 14.9 for AMD and 344.16 for NVIDIA. We'll be comparing the GeForce GTX 980 to the Radeon R9 290X, and the GTX 970 to the R9 290. We will also look at SLI/CrossFire scaling at the high end.

Continue reading our performance results in Sniper Elite 3!!

AMD's mobile APU update, Carrizo-L for Christmas, full Carrizo for the new year

Subject: General Tech | October 7, 2014 - 12:57 PM |
Tagged: mobile apu, Excavator, Carrizo-L, carrizo, amd, 28nm

Kaveri, Beema and Mullins are on their way out to be replaced by the Excavator based Carrizo family towards the end of the year.  We can hope they will appear in products in time for Christmas as the low power Carrizo-L, rumoured to be around 12-35W TDP, will arrive.  In the new year the more powerful Carrizo, speculated at 45-65W TDP, will be available.  It is unclear how long the delay will be between availability to system builders and the products appearing on the market.  The chips will support DDR3, contain a GPU based on GCN 3.0 and stacked on-package memory which will be accessible by Through Silicon Via to act as a sort of L3 cache for HSA applications.  DigiTimes also mentions it will run Win8 and Win10 as well as SLED.

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"AMD is planning to announce next-generation Carrizo APUs in March 2015 to replace its existing Kaveri APUs for the mainstream performance notebook segment and will release Carrizo-L APUs for the entry-level notebook segment in December 2014 at the earliest to challenge Intel's Pentium and Celeron processors, according to sources from notebook players."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD Dropping R9 290X to $399, R9 290 to $299

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 6, 2014 - 03:21 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, hawaii, GTX 980, GTX 970, geforce, amd

On Saturday while finishing up the writing on our Shadow of Mordor performance story, I noticed something quite interesting. The prices of AMD's flagship Radeon products had all come down quite a bit. In an obvious response to the release of NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970, the Radeon R9 290X and the Radeon R9 290 have lowered prices in a very aggressive fashion.

UPDATE: A couple of individual cards appear to be showing up as $360 and $369 on Newegg!

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Amazon.com is showing some R9 290X cards at $399

For now, Amazon.com is only listing the triple-fan Gigabyte R9 290X Windforce card at $399, though Newegg.com has a couple as well.

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Amazon.com also has several R9 290 cards for $299

And again, Newegg.com has some other options for R9 290 cards at these lower prices.

Let's assume that these price drops are going to be permanent which seems likely based on the history of AMD and market adjustments. That shifts the high end GPU market considerably.

     
GeForce GTX 980 4GB $549  
  $399 Radeon R9 290X 4GB
GeForce GTX 970 4GB $329  
  $299 Radeon R9 290 4GB

The battle for that lower end spot between the GTX 970 and R9 290 is now quite a bit tighter though NVIDIA's Maxwell architecture still has a positive outlook against the slightly older Hawaii GPU. Our review of the GTX 970 shows that it is indeed faster than the R9 290 though it no longer has the significant cost advantage it did upon release. The GTX 980, however, is much tougher sell over the Radeon R9 290X for PC gamers that are concerned with price per dollar over all else. I would still consider the GTX 980 faster than the R9 290X...but is it $150 faster? That's a 35% price difference NVIDIA now has to contend with.

NVIDIA has proven that is it comfortable staying in this position against AMD as it maintained it during essentially the entire life of the GTX 680 and GTX 780 product lines. AMD is more willing to make price cuts to pull the Radeon lineup back into the spotlight. Though the market share between the competitors didn't change much over the previous 6 months, I'll be very curious to see how these two strategies continue to play out.

Author:
Manufacturer: WB Games

Testing Notes

In what can most definitely be called the best surprise of the fall game release schedule, the open-world action game set in the Lord of the Rings world, Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor has been receiving impressive reviews from gamers and the media. (GiantBomb.com has a great look at it if you are new to the title.) What also might be a surprise to some is that the PC version of the game can be quite demanding on even the latest PC hardware, pulling in frame rates only in the low-60s at 2560x1440 with its top quality presets.

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Late last week I spent a couple of days playing around with Shadow of Mordor as well as the integrated benchmark found inside the Options menu. I wanted to get an idea of the performance characteristics of the game to determine if we might include this in our full-time game testing suite update we are planning later in the fall. To get some sample information I decided to run through a couple of quality presets with the top two cards from NVIDIA and AMD and compare them.

Testing Notes

Without a doubt, the visual style of Shadow of Mordor is stunning – with the game settings cranked up high the world, characters and fighting scenes look and feel amazing. To be clear, in the build up to this release we had really not heard anything from the developer or NVIDIA (there is an NVIDIA splash screen at the beginning) about the title which is out of the ordinary. If you are looking for a game that is both fun to play (I am 4+ hours in myself) and can provide a “wow” factor to show off your PC rig then this is definitely worth picking up.

Continue reading our performance overview of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor!!

Cherry Trail, Nolan and Amur coming soon

Subject: General Tech | October 3, 2014 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, Cherry Trail, Nolan, Amur

As usual neither AMD nor Intel had any comments to pass onto DigiTimes about processors they have yet to release but the chances are that this story is fairly accurate.  In March we should start hearing more about Cherry Trail, Intel's 64-bit ultramobile CPU designed for the next generation of tablets.  AMD will be working on two chips, Nolan which we know very little about apart from the fact that it will be used in tablets and a new chip called Amur.  Amur is an HSA chip designed specifically for use in devices running Android and Linux and incorporates ARM architecture, specifically the Cortex A57.  That puts it in the Seattle family which Josh went into detail about in his article here which will make it a rather interesting product.

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"Intel's Cherry Trail CPUs will enter mass production in March 2015. Intel is also preparing the Atom Z3000 processor for the 64-bit tablet market. As for 4G chips, Intel is set to use SoFIA-series processors for the tablet market, the sources said."

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Source: DigiTimes

Podcast #320 - Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 and more!

Subject: General Tech | October 2, 2014 - 02:05 PM |
Tagged: X99 Classified, X99, video, tlc, tegra k1, ssd, Samsung, podcast, nvidia, micron, M600, iphone 6, g-sync, freesync, evga, broadwell-u, Broadwell, arm, apple, amd, adaptive sync, a8, 840 evo, 840

PC Perspective Podcast #320 - 10/02/2014

Join us this week as we discuss the Micron M600 SSD, NVIDIA and Adaptive Sync, Windows 10 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!

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  • 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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

AMD Catalyst 14.9 for Windows

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 29, 2014 - 05:33 PM |
Tagged: whql, radeon, Catalyst 14.9, amd

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The full release notes are available here or take a look at the highlights below.

The latest version of the AMD Catalyst Software Suite, AMD Catalyst 14.9 is designed to support the following Microsoft Windows platforms:

Highlights of AMD Catalyst 14.9 Windows Driver

  • Support for the AMD Radeon R9 280
  • Performance improvements (comparing AMD Catalyst 14.9 vs. AMD Catalyst 14.4)
    • 3DMark Sky Diver improvements
      • AMD A4 6300 – improves up to 4%
      • Enables AMD Dual Graphics / AMD CrossFire support
    • 3DMark Fire Strike
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 5% in Performance Preset
    • 3DMark11
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series - improves up to 4% in Entry and Performance Preset
    • BioShock Infinite
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – 1920x1080 - improves up to 5%
    • Company of Heroes 2
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series - improves up to 8%
    • Crysis 3
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 10%
    • Grid Auto Sport
      • AMD CrossFire profile
    • Murdered Soul Suspect
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, 4x MSAA, 16x AF) – improves up to 50%
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 6%
      • CrossFire configurations improve scaling up to 75%
    • Plants vs. Zombies (Direct3D performance improvements)
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X - 1920x1080 Ultra – improves up to 11%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X - 2560x1600 Ultra – improves up to 15%
      • AMD Radeon R9290X CrossFire configuration (3840x2160 Ultra) - 92% scaling
    • Batman Arkham Origins:
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (4x MSAA) – improves up to 20%
      • CrossFire configurations see up to a 70% gain in scaling
    • Wildstar
      • Power Xpress profile Performance improvements to improve smoothness of application
      • Performance improves up to 30% on the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 Series of products for both single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
    • Tomb Raider
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series – improves up to 5%
    • Watch Dogs
      • AMD Radeon R9 290 Series / R9 270 Series – improves up to 9%
      • AMD CrossFire – Frame pacing improvement
      • Improved CrossFire performance – up to 20%
    • Assassin's Creed IV
      • Improves CrossFire scaling (3840x2160 High Settings) up to 93% (CrossFire scaling improvement of 25% compared to AMD Catalyst 14.4)
    • Lichdom
      • Improves performance for single GPU and Multi-GPU configurations
    • Star Craft II
      • AMD Radeon R9 290X (2560x1440, AA, 16x AF) – improves up to 20%

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 desktop
      • 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)
  • AMD AM1 JPEG decoding acceleration
    • JPEG decoding acceleration was first enabled on the A10 APU Series in AMD Catalyst 14.1 beta, and has now been extended to the AMD AM1 Platform
    • Provides fast JPEG decompression Provides Power Efficiency for JPEG decompression

Resolved Issues

  • 60Hz SST flickering has been identified as an issue with non-standard display timings exhibited by the AOC U2868PQU panel on certain AMD Radeon graphics cards. A software workaround has been implemented in the AMD Catalyst 14.9 driver to resolve the display timing issues with this display
  • Users seeing flickering issues in 60Hz SST mode are further encouraged to obtain newer display firmware from their monitor vendor that will resolve flickering at its origin.
  • Users are additionally advised to utilize DisplayPort-certified cables to ensure the integrity of the DisplayPort data connection.
  • 4K panel flickering issues found on the AMD Radeon R9 290 Series and AMD Radeon HD 7800
  • Series Screen tearing observed on AMD CrossFire systems with Eyefinity portrait display configurations
  • Instability issues for Grid Autosport when running in 2x1 or 1x2 Eyefinity configurations
  • Geometry corruption in State of Decay
Source: AMD

Podcast #319 - GTX 980 and 970, Noctua NH-D15, Acer's 4K G-Sync Display and more!

Subject: General Tech | September 25, 2014 - 12:24 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, GTX 980, GTX 970, maxwell, nvidia, amd, noctua, NH-D15, acer, 4k, 4k gsync, XB280HK, 840, 840 evo, Samsung

PC Perspective Podcast #319 - 09/25/2014

Join us this week as we discuss our GTX 980 and 970 Review, Noctua NH-D15, Acer's 4K G-Sync Display 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!

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Cheap laptops are expected to cut into mobile GPU sales

Subject: General Tech | September 24, 2014 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, hp, dell, asus, acer, toshibe, mobile gpu

The growing market of low cost $200 to $400 10" to 15" laptops is expected to cut into the sales of AMD and NVIDIA's mobile GPUs as they are forced to focus more on higher end models.  That is a much smaller market and the margins generally favour the laptop vendor as opposed to the company providing the mobile GPU.  This will be felt more strongly by NVIDIA as AMD's APU lineup will appear in the smaller and less expensive notebooks but will still have an effect on AMD's bottom line over the coming quarters.  DigiTimes also mentioned that AMD's R9 390X is due out in the first half of 2015 and that both companies are currently reducing the price of their GPUs in the hopes of increasing their sales volumes on the desktop.

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"Notebook vendors including Hewlett-Packard (HP), Dell, Lenovo, Asustek Computer, Acer and Toshiba, will launch low-cost models with CPUs with integrated graphics in the fourth quarter of 2014 and therefore AMD and Nvidia are expected to see demand for their discrete mobile GPUs decrease, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers."

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Source: DigiTimes