Forget the ARES II, here's a reference 7990

Subject: General Tech | April 24, 2013 - 12:51 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. 

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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.

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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!!

Upcoming Never Settle Bundle Games Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 23, 2013 - 07:05 AM |
Tagged: amd, never settle, never settle reloaded, bundle

While browsing around on Twitter today I saw mention of a leaked slide on the Tech Report forums that seems to point in the direction of upcoming games to be included in future AMD Never Settle gaming bundles.  AMD has been knocking the ball out of the park when it comes to bundled software with graphics card releases as they have gotten essentially every major PC game in the last 12 months. 

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This slide indicates that Grid 2, Company of Heroes 2, Rome: Total War II, Splinter Cell Blacklist, Lost Planet 3, Battlefield 4, Raven's Cry and Watch Dogs will all eventually make their way to the AMD bundle list at some point this year.  Whether it will be in one mega-bundle or several different promotions throughout the year isn't known, but AMD is serious about keeping up appearances in the PC gaming front.

Source: Tech Report

10 years ago saw AMD reach x64

Subject: General Tech | April 22, 2013 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: opteron, history, get off my lawn, amd, 64-bit

AMD64 arrived a decade ago with the launch of the first Opteron processor in April of 2003, back in the days when NVIDIA made motherboards and ATI was a separate company.  In those days AMD looked like serious competition for Intel as they were out innovating Intel and competing for Big Blue's niche markets as they were first to cross the GHz line and the first to offer a 64bit architecture on a commercially available platform.  At that point Intel actually licensed AMD64, re-branded it as x86-64 and used it on their Xeon processor line, a huge victory for AMD.  Unfortunately there was not much in the way of consumer software capable of taking advantage of 64-bit architecture and unfortunately remains so to this day, apart from peoples ability to benefit from the enlarged RAM pool allowed.  Take a walk down memory lane at The Inquirer, and remember the good old days when AMD was prospering.

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"A DECADE AGO AMD released the first Opteron processor and with it the first 64-bit x86 processor."

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Tech Talk

Source: The Register

Raja Koduri Returns to AMD After 4 Years at Apple

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 19, 2013 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: raja koduri, apple, amd

Interesting information has surfaced today about the addition of a new executive at AMD.  Raja Koduri, who previously worked for ATI and AMD as Chief Technology Officer, departed the company in 2009 for a four year stint at Apple, helping to turn that company into an SoC power house.  Developing its own processors has enabled Apple to stand apart from the competition in many mobile spaces and Koduri is partly responsible for the technological shift at Apple.

Starting on Monday though, Raja Koduri is officially back at AMD, taking over as the CVP (Corporate Vice President) of Visual Computing.  This position will result in more complete control over the entirety of the hardware and software platforms AMD is developing including desktop discrete, mobile and APU/SoC designs.  This marks the second major returning visionary executive in recent memory to AMD, the first of which was Jim Keller in August of 2012 (also returning from a period with Apple). 

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It will take some time for Koduri to have effect on AMD's current roadmap

Having known Raja Koduri for quite a long time I have always seen the man as an incredibly intelligent engineer that was able to find strengths in designs that others could not.  Much of the success of the ATI/AMD GPU divisions during the 2000s was due to Koduri's leadership (among others of course) and I think having him back at AMD at an even more senior role is great news for both discrete graphics fans and APU users. 

In a discussion with Koduri recently, Anandtech got some positive feedback for PC gamers:

Raja believes there’s likely another 15 years ahead of us for good work in high-end discrete graphics, so we’ll continue to see AMD focus on that part of the market.

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Koduri sees 15 years more GPU evolution

So even though this hiring isn't going to change AMD's position on the APU and SoC strategy, it is good to have someone at the CVP level that sees the importance and value of discrete, high power GPU technology. 

In many talks with AMD over the last 6 months we kept hearing about the healthy influx of quality personnel though much of it was still under wraps.  Keller was definitely one of them and Koduri is another and both of the hires give a lot of hope for AMD as a company going forward.  Some in the industry have already written AMD off but I find it hard to believe that this caliber of executive would return to a sinking ship. 

Source: CNET

AMD Never Settles: Far Cry 3 Blood Dragon Bundled

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 13, 2013 - 11:22 PM |
Tagged: never settle, never settle reloaded, amd, far cry 3

So when AMD reloaded their Never Settle bundles, they left an extra round in the barrel.

Some of my favorite games were given to me in a bundle with some piece of computer hardware. You might remember from the PC Perspective game night that I am a major fan of the Unreal Tournament franchise. My first Unreal Tournament game was an unexpected surprise when I purchased my first standalone GPU. My 166MHz Pentium computer also came bundled with Mechwarrior 2 and Wipeout.

As we discussed, AMD considers bundle-offers as a way to keep the software industry rolling forward. The quantity and quality of games which participate in the recent Never Settle bundles certainly deserve credit as it is due. Bioshock: Infinite is a game that just about every PC gamer needs to experience, and there are about a half-dozen other great titles as a part of the promotion depending upon which card or cards you purchase.

As it turns out, AMD negotiated with Ubisoft and added Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon to their Never Settle bundle. The coolest part is that AMD will retroactively email codes for this new title to anyone who has redeemed a Never Settle: Reloaded code.

So if you have ever Reloaded your Never Settle in the past, check your email as apparently you can Never Settle your reloads again.

Source: AMD

PowerColor Launches Revised Factory Overclocked Radeon HD 7790 OC V2 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 13, 2013 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: radeon hd7790, powercolor, GCN, amd, 7790

PowerColor launched a new factory overclocked graphics card recently that is a revision of a previous model. The PowerColor HD7790 OC V2 is based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and measures a mere 180 x 150 x 38mm.

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The AMD Radeon HD 7790 GPU features 896 stream processors, 56 texture units, and 80 ROP units. The GPU is clocked at 1000 MHz base and 1030 MHz boost while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at the 6Gbps reference speed. PowerColor has fitted the overclocked card with an aluminum heatsink cooled by a single 8mm copper heatpipe and 70mm fan.

The new card features two DL-DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video outputs. Its model number is AX7790-1GBD5-DHV2/OC. According to Guru3D, the new/revised card is priced at 120 pounds sterling. However, considering the currently available OC (non-V2) card is $150, the revised card is likely to come in around that price when it hits US retailers.

Also: If you have not already, read our latest Frame Rating article to see how the Radeon HD 7790 graphics card stacks up against the competition!

Source:

Podcast #246 - ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX motherboard, more Frame Rating, DirectX 12 and more!

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2013 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: video, xeon, thunderbolt, roccat, quadro, premiere, podcast, opencl, nerdytec, Ivy Bridge-E, haswell, frame rating, firepro, falcon ridge, DirectX 12, couchmaster, ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #246- 04/11/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the ASUS P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX motherboard, more Frame Rating, DirectX 12 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

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI!

Program length: 1:01:46

  1. Winner last week? Mike McLaughlin!! Congrats!
  2. Week in Review:
  3. 0:24:00 NerdyTec COUCHMASTER
  4. News items of interest:
  5. 0:47:00 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
    1. Allyn: Ultra Brush dust remover
  6. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  7. Closing/outro

 

Author:
Manufacturer: PC Perspective

What to look for and our Test Setup

Because of the complexity and sheer amount of data we have gathered using our Frame Rating performance methodology, we are breaking it up into several articles that each feature different GPU comparisons.  Here is the schedule:

 

Today marks the conclusion of our first complete round up of Frame Rating results, the culmination of testing that was started 18 months ago.  Hopefully you have caught our other articles on the subject at hand, and you really will need to read up on the Frame Rating Dissected story above to truly understand the testing methods and results shown in this article.  Use the links above to find the previous articles!

To round out our Frame Rating testing in this interation, we are looking at more cards further down the product stack in two different sets.  The first comparison will look at the AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 graphics cards in both single and dual-card configurations.  Just like we saw with our HD 7970 vs GTX 680 and our HD 7950 vs GTX 660 Ti testing, evaluating how the GPUs compare in our new and improved testing methodology in single GPU configurations is just as important as testing in SLI and CrossFire.  The GTX 660 ($199 at Newegg.com) and the HD 7870 ($229 at Newegg.com) are the closest matches in terms of pricing though both card have some interesting game bundle options as well.

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AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition

Our second set of results will only be looking at single GPU performance numbers for lower cost graphics cards like the AMD Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7790 and from NVIDIA the GeForce GTX 650 Ti and GTX 650 Ti BOOST.  We didn't include multi-GPU results on these cards simply due to time constraints internally and because we are eager to move onto further Frame Rating testing and input testing. 

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NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 660


If you are just joining this article series today, you have missed a lot!  If nothing else you should read our initial full release article that details everything about the Frame Rating methodology and why we are making this change to begin with.  In short, we are moving away from using FRAPS for average frame rates. We are using a secondary hardware capture system to record each frame of game play as the monitor would receive them. That recorded video is then analyzed to measure real world performance.

Because FRAPS measures frame times at a different point in the game pipeline (closer to the game engine) its results can vary dramatically from what is presented to the end user on their display.  Frame Rating solves that problem by recording video through a dual-link DVI capture card that emulates a monitor to the testing system and by simply applying a unique overlay color on each produced frame from the game, we can gather a new kind of information that tells a very unique story.

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The capture card that makes all of this work possible.

I don't want to spend too much time on this part of the story here as I already wrote a solid 16,000 words on the topic in our first article and I think you'll really find the results fascinating.  So, please check out my first article on the topic if you have any questions before diving into these results today!

Test System Setup
CPU Intel Core i7-3960X Sandy Bridge-E
Motherboard ASUS P9X79 Deluxe
Memory Corsair Dominator DDR3-1600 16GB
Hard Drive OCZ Agility 4 256GB SSD
Sound Card On-board
Graphics Card NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7870 2GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti 1GB
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7850 2GB
AMD Radeon HD 7790 1GB
Graphics Drivers AMD: 13.2 beta 7
NVIDIA: 314.07 beta
Power Supply Corsair AX1200i
Operating System Windows 8 Pro x64

On to the results! 

Continue reading our review of the GTX 660 and HD 7870 using Frame Rating!!