hUMA has come with a weapon to slay the memory latency dragon

Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2013 - 01:23 PM |
Tagged: Steamroller, piledriver, Kaveri, Kabini, hUMA, hsa, GCN, bulldozer, APU, amd

AMD may have united GPU and CPU into the APU but one hurdle had remained until now, the the non-uniformity of memory access between the two processors.  Today we learned about one of the first successful HAS projects called Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, aka hUMA, which will appear in the upcoming Kaveri chip family.   The use of this new technology will allow the on-die CPU and GPU to access the same memory pool, both physical and virtual and any data passed between the two processors will remain coherent.  As The Tech Report mentions in their overview hUMA will not provide as much of a benefit to discrete GPUs, while they will be able to share address space the widely differing clock speeds between GDDR5 and DDR3 prevent unification to the level of an APU.

Make sure to read Josh's take as well so you can keep up with him on the Podcast.

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"At the Fusion Developer Summit last June, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster teased Kaveri, AMD's next-generation APU due later this year. Among other things, Papermaster revealed that Kaveri will be based on the Steamroller architecture and that it will be the first AMD APU with fully shared memory.

Last week, AMD shed some more light on Kaveri's uniform memory architecture, which now has a snazzy marketing name: heterogeneous uniform memory access, or hUMA for short."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access

 

Several years back we first heard AMD’s plans on creating a uniform memory architecture which will allow the CPU to share address spaces with the GPU.  The promise here is to create a very efficient architecture that will provide excellent performance in a mixed environment of serial and parallel programming loads.  When GPU computing came on the scene it was full of great promise.  The idea of a heavily parallel processing unit that will accelerate both integer and floating point workloads could be a potential gold mine in wide variety of applications.  Alas, the promise of the technology did not meet expectations when we have viewed the results so far.  There are many problems with combining serial and parallel workloads between CPUs and GPUs, and a lot of this has to do with very basic programming and the communication of data between two separate memory pools.

huma_01.jpg

CPUs and GPUs do not share common memory pools.  Instead of using pointers in programming to tell each individual unit where data is stored in memory, the current implementation of GPU computing requires the CPU to write the contents of that address to the standalone memory pool of the GPU.  This is time consuming and wastes cycles.  It also increases programming complexity to be able to adjust to such situations.  Typically only very advanced programmers with a lot of expertise in this subject could program effective operations to take these limitations into consideration.  The lack of unified memory between CPU and GPU has hindered the adoption of the technology for a lot of applications which could potentially use the massively parallel processing capabilities of a GPU.

The idea for GPU compute has been around for a long time (comparatively).  I still remember getting very excited about the idea of using a high end video card along with a card like the old GeForce 6600 GT to be a coprocessor which would handle heavy math operations and PhysX.  That particular plan never quite came to fruition, but the idea was planted years before the actual introduction of modern DX9/10/11 hardware.  It seems as if this step with hUMA could actually provide a great amount of impetus to implement a wide range of applications which can actively utilize the GPU portion of an APU.

Click here to continue reading about AMD's hUMA architecture.

MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65, an inexpensive start to a great HTPC

Subject: Motherboards | April 26, 2013 - 03:32 PM |
Tagged: msi, FM2-A85XA-G65, socket fm2, amd

Compared to most current Intel boards, MSI's FM2-A85XA-G65 is very clean looking, especially around the CPU socket.  This particular board benefits from LucidLogix's Virtu MVP in addition to hybrid Crossfire present on FM2 boards and will handle proper Crossfire as it does have a pair of PCIe 16x slots.  You could build an agile HTPC with this motherboard, with 8 channel sound available and D-Sub, DVI-D, HDMI and DisplayPort output all present.  The board is currently available for $110, a full review can be found over at X-bit Labs.

xb_board1_big.jpg

"MSI mainboards look great, have very convenient layout and use only high-quality components. These boards are energy-efficient, fast and work well with default settings. However, there are quite a few things in their BIOS that could use some extra work and the boards do not keep the power-saving technologies up and running during overclocking. Everything we have just said is true for the main hero of our today’s review."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:

Motherboards

Source: X-bit Labs

Podcast #248 - AMD HD 7990, CrossFire Frame Rating improvements, 4K TVs and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 25, 2013 - 02:13 PM |
Tagged: video, Xe, seiki, raidr, podcast, nvidia, Never Serttle, hd 7990, GA-Z77N-WiFi, frame rating, crossfire, amd, 4k

PC Perspective Podcast #248 - 04/25/2013

Join us this week as we discuss AMD HD 7990, CrossFire Frame Rating improvements, 4K TVs 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: 1:16:34

  1. 0:01:20 Update on Indiegogo: You guys rock!
  2. Week in Review:
  3. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Seiki 4K TV - more support from enthusiasts! and wet puppies
    2. Jeremy: This is not news people, NFC is a feature but if you are paranoid you can check with this app
    3. Allyn: Put your bits on an ioSafe. Put your 'papers' here.
    4. Tim: BT Sync, it's in public alpha now so go grab it!
  4. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  5. Closing/outro

 

Author:
Subject: Processors
Manufacturer: AMD

Jaguar Hits the Embedded Space

 

It has long been known that AMD has simply not had a lot of luck going head to head against Intel in the processor market.  Some years back they worked on differentiating themselves, and in so doing have been able to stay afloat through hard times.  The acquisitions that AMD has made in the past decade are starting to make a difference in the company, especially now that the PC market that they have relied upon for revenue and growth opportunities is suddenly contracting.  This of course puts a cramp in AMD’s style, but with better than expected results in their previous quarter, things are not nearly as dim as some would expect.

Q1 was still pretty harsh for AMD, but they maintained their marketshare in both processors and graphics chips.  One area that looks to get a boost is that of embedded processors.  AMD has offered embedded processors for some time, but with the way the market is heading they look to really ramp up their offerings to fit in a variety of applications and SKUs.  The last generation of G-series processors were based upon the Bobcat/Brazos platform.  This two chip design (APU and media hub) came in a variety of wattages with good performance from both the CPU and GPU portion.  While the setup looked pretty good on paper, it was not widely implemented because of the added complexity of a two chip design plus thermal concerns vs. performance.

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AMD looks to address these problems with one of their first, true SOC designs.  The latest G-series SOC’s are based upon the brand new Jaguar core from AMD.  Jaguar is the successor to the successful Bobcat core which is a low power, dual core processor with integrated DX11/VLIW5 based graphics.  Jaguar improves performance vs. Bobcat in CPU operations between 6% to 13% when clocked identically, but because it is manufactured on a smaller process node it is able to do so without using as much power.  Jaguar can come in both dual core and quad core packages.  The graphics portion is based on the latest GCN architecture.

Read the rest of the AMD G-Series release by clicking here!

XFX Announces Malta Dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 24, 2013 - 10:14 PM |
Tagged: xfx, malta, hd 7990, GCN, dual gpu, amd

Now that AMD’s dual-gpu Malta graphics card is official, cards from Add-In Board (AIB) partners are starting to roll in. One such recently announced card is the XFX Radeon HD 7990 card. The XFX card is based on the reference AMD design, which includes two Radeon HD 7970 GPUs in a Crossfire configuration.

The two GPUs can boost up to 1GHz clock speeds and feature a total of 4096 stream processors, 256 texture units, 64 ROPs, and 8.6 billion transistors. The card also includes 3GB of GDDR5 memory per GPU running off a 384-bit bus. It supports AMD’s Eyefinity technology and offers up one DL-DVI and four mini-DisplayPort video outputs.

XFX Radeon HD 7990.jpg

The XFX HD 7990 uses the reference AMD heatsink as well, which includes a massive aluminum fin stack with five copper heatpipes that run the length of the heasink and directly touch the two 7970 GPUs. Three shrouded fans, in turn, keep the heatsink cool.

The dual-GPU monster is eligible for AMD’s Never Settle bundle which includes eight free games. With purchase of the HD 7990 (from any eligible AIB), you get free key codes for the following games:

  • Bioshock Infinite
  • Crysis 3
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution
  • Far Cry 3
  • Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
  • Hitman: Absolution
  • Sleeping Dogs
  • Tomb Raider

The XFX press release further assures gamers that the card can, in fact, play Crysis 3 at maximum settings at a resolution of 3840 x 2160. The company did not mention pricing, however.

For those interested in AMD’s new Malta GPU, check out our review as well as how the card performs when paired with a prototype AMD driver that seeks to address some of the frame rating issues exhibited by AMD's Crossfire multi-GPU solution.

Source: XFX

PowerColor Launches HD 7990 V2 Based On Official AMD Malta GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 24, 2013 - 07:09 PM |
Tagged: amd, powercolor, hd 7990, malta, dual gpu, crossfire

PowerColor (a TUL corporation brand) launched its dual-GPU Radeon HD 7990 V2 graphics card, and this time the card is based on the (recently reviewed) official dual-GPU AMD “Malta” GPU announced at the Games Developers Conference (GDC). The new HD 7990 V2 graphics card features two AMD HD 7970 cards in a Crossfire configuration. That means that the Malta-based card features a total of 4096 stream processors, and a rated 8.2 TFLOPS of peak performance.

PowerColor HD 7990 V2 Malta.jpg

The PowerColor HD 7990 V2 joins the company’s existing Devil 13 and HD 7990 graphics cards. The new card sports a triple-fan shrouded heatsink that is somewhat tamer-looking that the custom Devil 13. Other hardware includes 3GB of GDDR5 RAM per GPU clocked at 1500MHz and running on a 384-bit bus (again, per GPU) for a total of 6GB. Both GPUs have clock speeds of 950MHz base and up to 1GHz boost.

PowerColor HD 7990 V2 Malta GPU.jpg

The new GPU has a single DL-DVI and four mini-DisplayPort video outputs. PowerColor is touting the card’s Eyefinity prowess as well as its ZeroCore support for reducing power usage when idle. The board has a TDP of 750W and is powered by two PCI-E power connections. In all, the HD 7990 V2 graphics card measures 305 x 110 x 38mm. While PowerColor has not released pricing or availability, expect the card to be available soon and around the same price (or a bit lower than) as its existing (custom) HD 7990.

The full press release can be found here.

Source: PowerColor

Forget the ARES II, here's a reference 7990

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: ARES II, amd, radeon, hd 7990, malta, tahiti

We've seen tests of dual 7970s in CrossFire simulating a 7990 and ASUS released the ARES II which was the closest we had until today with the release of the reference HD 7990.  There are many reviews to chose from when looking at this new flagship card, such as from a pure performance perspective such as [H]ard|OCP's which did not come out well for AMD's new card.  If you are more interested in our new Frame Rating process then there are two reviews to read, one that deals with the 7990 on the publicly available driver and perhaps more interesting is a prototype driver provided to Ryan that is intended to fix Crossfire stuttering on single displays but not for EyeFinity

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"Today marks the launch of AMD's Radeon HD 7990. The Radeon HD 7990 is a dual-GPU video card that has its two GPUs down on a single PCB that uses CrossFire to operate the two Radeon HD 7970 GPUs. We will test this video card in the latest games, comparing it to GeForce GTX 680 SLI and Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition CrossFire. "

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

The card we have been expecting

Despite all the issues that were brought up with our new graphics performance testing methodology we are calling Frame Rating, there is little debate in the industry that AMD is making noise once again in the graphics field.  From the elaborate marketing and game bundles with all Radeon HD 7000 series cards over the last year to the hiring of Roy Taylor, VP of sales but also the company's most vocal supporter. 

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Along with the marketing though goes plenty of technology and important design wins.  With the dominance of the APU on the console side (Wii U, Playstation 4 and the next Xbox), AMD is making sure that the familiarity with its GPU architecture there pays dividends on the PC side as well.  Developers will be focusing on AMD's graphics hardware for 5-10 years with the console generation and that could result in improved performance and feature support for Radeon graphics for PC gamers. 

Today's release of the Radeon HD 7990 6GB Malta dual-GPU graphics card shows a renewed focus on high-end graphics markets since the release of the Radeon HD 7970 in January of 2012.  And while you may have seen something for sale previously with the HD 7990 name attached, those were custom designs built by partners, not by AMD. 

slide2_0.jpg

Both ASUS and PowerColor currently have high-end dual-Tahiti cards for sale.  The PowerColor HD 7990 Devil 13 used the brand directly but ASUS' ARES II kept away from the name and focused on its own high-end card brands instead. 

The "real" Radeon HD 7990 card was first teased at GDC in March and takes a much less dramatic approach to its design without being less impressive technically.  The card includes a pair of Tahiti, HD 7970-class GPUs on a single PCB with 6GB of total memory.  The raw specifications are listed here:

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Considering there are two HD 7970 GPUs on the HD 7990, the doubling of the major specs shouldn't be surprising though it is a little deceiving.  There are 8.6 billion transistors yes, but there are still 4.3 billion on each GPU.  Yes there are 4096 stream processors but only 2048 on each GPU requiring software GPU scaling to increase performance.  The same goes with texture fill rate, compute performance, memory bandwidth, etc.  The same could be said for all dual-GPU graphics cards though.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon HD 7990 6GB Graphics Card!!

Author:
Manufacturer: Various

A very early look at the future of Catalyst

Today is a very interesting day for AMD.  It marks both the release of the reference design of the Radeon HD 7990 graphics card, a dual-GPU Tahiti behemoth, and the first sample of a change to the CrossFire technology that will improve animation performance across the board.  Both stories are incredibly interesting and as it turns out both feed off of each other in a very important way: the HD 7990 depends on CrossFire and CrossFire depends on this driver. 

If you already read our review (or any review that is using the FCAT / frame capture system) of the Radeon HD 7990, you likely came away somewhat unimpressed.  The combination of a two AMD Tahiti GPUs on a single PCB with 6GB of frame buffer SHOULD have been an incredibly exciting release for us and would likely have become the single fastest graphics card on the planet.  That didn't happen though and our results clearly state why that is the case: AMD CrossFire technology has some serious issues with animation smoothness, runt frames and giving users what they are promised. 

Our first results using our Frame Rating performance analysis method were shown during the release of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan card in February.  Since then we have been in constant talks with the folks at AMD to figure out what was wrong, how they could fix it, and what it would mean to gamers to implement frame metering technology.  We followed that story up with several more that showed the current state of performance on the GPU market using Frame Rating that painted CrossFire in a very negative light.  Even though we were accused by some outlets of being biased or that AMD wasn't doing anything incorrectly, we stuck by our results and as it turns out, so does AMD. 

Today's preview of a very early prototype driver shows that the company is serious about fixing the problems we discovered. 

If you are just catching up on the story, you really need some background information.  The best place to start is our article published in late March that goes into detail about how game engines work, how our completely new testing methods work and the problems with AMD CrossFire technology very specifically.  From that piece:

It will become painfully apparent as we dive through the benchmark results on the following pages, but I feel that addressing the issues that CrossFire and Eyefinity are creating up front will make the results easier to understand.  We showed you for the first time in Frame Rating Part 3, AMD CrossFire configurations have a tendency to produce a lot of runt frames, and in many cases nearly perfectly in an alternating pattern.  Not only does this mean that frame time variance will be high, but it also tells me that the value of performance gained by of adding a second GPU is completely useless in this case.  Obviously the story would become then, “In Battlefield 3, does it even make sense to use a CrossFire configuration?”  My answer based on the below graph would be no.

runt.jpg

An example of a runt frame in a CrossFire configuration

NVIDIA's solution for getting around this potential problem with SLI was to integrate frame metering, a technology that balances frame presentation to the user and to the game engine in a way that enabled smoother, more consistent frame times and thus smoother animations on the screen.  For GeForce cards, frame metering began as a software solution but was actually integrated as a hardware function on the Fermi design, taking some load off of the driver.

Continue reading our article on the new prototype driver from AMD to address frame pacing issues in CrossFire!!