Battle of the IGPs
Our long journey with Frame Rating, a new capture-based analysis tool to measure graphics performance of PCs and GPUs, began almost two years ago as a way to properly evaluate the real-world experiences for gamers. What started as a project attempting to learn about multi-GPU complications has really become a new standard in graphics evaluation and I truly believe it will play a crucial role going forward in GPU and game testing.
Today we use these Frame Rating methods and tools, which are elaborately detailed in our Frame Rating Dissected article, and apply them to a completely new market: notebooks. Even though Frame Rating was meant for high performance discrete desktop GPUs, the theory and science behind the entire process is completely applicable to notebook graphics and even on the integrated graphics solutions on Haswell processors and Richland APUs. It also is able to measure performance of discrete/integrated graphics combos from NVIDIA and AMD in a unique way that has already found some interesting results.
Battle of the IGPs
Even though neither side wants us to call it this, we are testing integrated graphics today. With the release of Intel’s Haswell processor (the Core i7/i5/i3 4000) the company has upgraded the graphics noticeably on several of their mobile and desktop products. In my first review of the Core i7-4770K, a desktop LGA1150 part, the integrated graphics now known as the HD 4600 were only slightly faster than the graphics of the previous generation Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge. Even though we had all the technical details of the HD 5000 and Iris / Iris Pro graphics options, no desktop parts actually utilize them so we had to wait for some more hardware to show up.
When Apple held a press conference and announced new MacBook Air machines that used Intel’s Haswell architecture, I knew I could count on Ken to go and pick one up for himself. Of course, before I let him start using it for his own purposes, I made him sit through a few agonizing days of benchmarking and testing in both Windows and Mac OS X environments. Ken has already posted a review of the MacBook Air 11-in model ‘from a Windows perspective’ and in that we teased that we had done quite a bit more evaluation of the graphics performance to be shown later. Now is later.
So the first combatant in our integrated graphics showdown with Frame Rating is the 11-in MacBook Air. A small, but powerful Ultrabook that sports more than 11 hours of battery life (in OS X at least) but also includes the new HD 5000 integrated graphics options. Along with that battery life though is the GT3 variation of the new Intel processor graphics that doubles the number of compute units as compared to the GT2. The GT2 is the architecture behind the HD 4600 graphics that sits with nearly all of the desktop processors, and many of the notebook versions, so I am very curious how this comparison is going to stand.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 4, 2013 - 06:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon hd 7990, frame rating, amd, 7990
Editor's Update (Ryan): After the long holiday I finally got around to asking AMD for an official response to this rumor. AMD says simply:
"Plain and simple: AMD has not EOL'd the world's fastest graphics card, the AMD Radeon HD 7990."
Obviously the company is steadfast that the report from WCCFTech is incorrect so I eagerly await the new driver due by July 31st for improved frame pacing and multi-GPU performance!
WCCFTech caught wind, via Overclockers.Ru, of a Radeon HD 7990 cancellation rumor. The flagship card, codenamed after the Mediterranean island, "Malta", contains two Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPUs in Crossfire. Before the canonical AMD design, certain third-party add-in-board (AIB) partners created their own designs with the 7990 moniker with a pair of 7970 GPUs as its foundation. The first official 7990s launched in April 2013.
But, it did not have the best reception.
Never Settle, get it before it settles.
The two main issues regarding 7990 adoption are, according to WCCFTech, micro-stuttering with Crossfire setups and the better dollar value of paired 7970s. The 7990 comes in at the thousand dollar ($1000 USD) price point despite being, for all intents and purposes, nearly identical to a pair of separate 7970 cards. While the 7990 has access to a superior "Never Settle" bundle when compared to twin 7970s, with the addition of a Deux Ex: Human Revolution license, it would be difficult to consider that as an excuse for the $200-$300 USD price gap.
Cost aside, this would be a really odd time to cancel the 7990. The product was launched just a few months ago, despite similar price concerns, only to be allegedly killed right before the driver that makes it worth its weight? If true, either AMD decided to annul their "mistake", or we will get some interesting news when the frame pacing driver finally gets released.
While pure speculation, my immediate reflex would be that AMD had some problem during the development of their frame pacing driver. The initial results presented by Ryan showed a great improvement, but what about a pair of 7990 cards? The way in which they, allegedly, are killing off the 7990 would suggest something abrupt came up.
Hopefully, for AMD, that was not the case.
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2013 - 12:07 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: hsa, amd, LibreOffice
Need an excuse to give the 'boss' on why you need to buy a new AMD CPU or GPU? Check out The Register for a reason custom made for you; accelerated LibreOffice performance which will help you when working on spreadsheets. AMD will be working with the designers at the (slightly more successful) competitor to OpenOffice to allow the newest versions to be HSA compliant. This is perhaps not a huge win as many people do not work with office documents which will greatly benefit from GPU acceleration but it does serve to show the acceptance the industry has to the HSA as LibreOffice joins applications such as Open C, C++ AMP, Java and Python in supporting HSA features.
"It is great to work on LibreOffice with The Document Foundation to expose the raw power of AMD GPUs and APUs, initially to spreadsheet users," said Manju Hegde, VP of heterogeneous solutions at AMD, in a statement."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 2013 #NoDRM Summer Sale Finale: Last chance for games up to 85% off! @ Good Old Games
- Boxee Sold To Samsung @ Slashdot
- Intel rumored to plunk $10bn down for Israeli fab expansion @ The Register
- 3.10 Linux Kernel Development Rate @ Linux.com
- ASUS RT-AC66U & PCE-AC66 802.11AC Network Kit Review @ Hardware Canucks
Subject: General Tech | July 4, 2013 - 12:45 AM | Ken Addison
Tagged: podcast, video, corsair, 900D, 7790, 650ti boost, amd, Richland, nvidia, kepler, titan, Intel, ssd
PC Perspective Podcast #258 - 07/04/2013
Join us this week as we discuss the Corsair 900D, HD 7790 vs GTX 650Ti BOOST, Leaked AMD APUs 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 Malventano
Program length: 1:14:23
Week in Review:
0:10:50 HD 7790 and 650 Ti BOOST Roundup
News items of interest:
0:58:25 Hardware/Software Picks of the Week:
1-888-38-PCPER or firstname.lastname@example.org
The GPU Midrange Gets a Kick
I like budget video cards. They hold a soft spot in my heart. I think the primary reason for this is that I too was once a poor college student and could not afford the really expensive cards. Ok, so this was maybe a few more years ago than I like to admit. Back when the Matrox Millennium was very expensive, I ended up getting the STB Lightspeed 128 instead. Instead of the 12 MB Voodoo 2 I went for the 8 MB version. I was never terribly fond of paying top dollar for a little extra performance. I am still not fond of it either.
The sub-$200 range is a bit of a sweet spot that is very tightly packed with products. These products typically perform in the range of a high end card from 3 years ago, yet still encompass the latest features of the top end products from their respective companies. These products can be overclocked by end users to attain performance approaching cards in the $200 to $250 range. Mind, there are some specific limitations to the amount of performance one can actually achieve with these cards. Still, what a user actually gets is very fair when considering the price.
Today I cover several flavors of cards from three different manufacturers that are based on the AMD HD 7790 and the NVIDIA GTX 650 Ti BOOST chips. These range in price from $129 to $179. The features on these cards are amazingly varied, and there are no “sticker edition” parts to be seen here. Each card is unique in its design and the cooling strategies are also quite distinct. Users should not expect to drive monitors above 1920x1200, much less triple monitors in Surround and Eyefinity.
Now let us quickly go over the respective chips that these cards are based on.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | July 3, 2013 - 03:12 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Richland, APU, amd
Accidents happen. AMD has been rolling out their Richland APUs for the last month and partners have been keeping up with supporting products. While common, the problem with rolling releases is the potential confusion over what has and what has not been released. Unfortunately for MSI, their support chart for FM2 CPUs includes a couple of products which are news to us.
AMD will be able to hit the 45W TDP with the, apparently, upcoming A8-6500T and A10-6700T APUs. Tom's Hardware seemed to have slightly different information, their chart does not exactly jive with the one posted by MSI; for instance, they claimed the T suffix implied a low power variant when MSI's chart confirmed a 45W TDP... fairly loud and clear. As such, our table will be my best attempt at combining both charts along with a bit more leaked GPU information from TechPowerUP.
|Base Clock||2.1 GHz||2.5 GHz|
|L2 Cache||4 MB||4 MB|
|L3 Cache||0 MB (N/A)||0 MB (N/A)|
Radeon HD 8550D
(Not HD 8650D)
|Radeon HD 8650D|
|GPU Clock||720 MHz||720 MHz|
|GPU Boost Clock||844 MHz (???)||844 MHz (???)|
|GPU Shader Count||256||384|
It is impossible to know expected price, release window, or even whether the product still exists. For that, we will need to wait for an official unveiling... or at least another unofficial one.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 06:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 8.1, radeon, amd
You should be extremely cautious about upgrading to the Windows 8.1 Release Preview. Each of your apps, and all of your desktop software, must be reinstalled when the final code is released later this year; it is a detour to a dead end.
If curiosity overwhelms reason, and your graphics card was made by AMD withing the last few years, you will at least have a driver available.
It would be a good idea to refer to the AMD article to ensure that your specific model is supported. The driver covers many graphics cards from the Radeon, APU, and FirePro product categories. Many models are certified against Windows Display Driver Model version 1.3 (WDDM 1.3) although some, pre-Graphics Core Next architecture (as far as I can tell), are left behind with WDDM 1.2 introduced with Windows 8.
WDDM 1.3, new to Windows 8.1, allows for a few new developer features:
Enumerating GPU engine capabilities
- A DirectX interface to query card capabilities
- Helps schedule work, especially in "Linked Display Adapter" (LDA, think Crossfire) configurations.
Using cross-adapter resources in a hybrid system
- For systems with both discrete and embedded GPUs, such as an APU and a Radeon Card
- Allows for automatic loading of both GPUs simultaneously for appropriate applications
- Cool, but I've already loaded separate OpenCL kernels simultaneously on both GTX 670 and Intel HD 4000 in Windows 7. Admittedly, it would be nice if it were officially supported functionality, though.
Choice in YUV format ranges, studio or extended, for Microsoft Media Foundation (MMF)
- Formerly, MMF video processing assumed 16-235 black-white, which professional studios use.
- Webcam and Point-and-Shoot use 0-255 (a full byte), which are now processed properly.
Wireless Display (Miracast)
- Attach your PC wirelessly to a Miracast display adapter attached to TV by HDMI, or whatever.
Multiplane overlay support
- Allows GPU to perform complicated compositing, such as video over a website.
- If it's the same as proposed for Linux, will also allow translucency.
AMD's advertised enhancements for Windows 8.1 are:
- Already covered, a part of WDDM 1.3.
48 Hz Dynamic Refresh rates for Video Playback
- Not a clue, unless it is part of an upcoming HFR format for consumers.
Aggressive V-sync interrupt optimization
- Again, not a clue, but it sounds like something to be Frame Rated?
Skype/Lync video conferencing acceleration
- ... just when we move to a dual-machine Skype broadcasting setup...
DX 11.1 feature: Tiled Resources
- Some sources claim DirectX 11.2???
- Will render the most apparent details to a player with higher quality.
If you own Windows 8, you can check out 8.1 by downloading it from the Windows Store... if you dare. By tomorrow, Microsoft will provide ISO version for users to create install media for users who want to fresh-install to a, hopefully unimportant, machine.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2013 - 04:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, geforce, frame rating, fcat, crossfire, amd
Well, the date has been set. AMD publicly stated on its @AMDRadeon Twitter account that a new version the prototype driver we originally previewed with the release of the Radeon HD 7990 in April will be released to the public on July 31st. For a problem that many in the industry didn't think existed.
Big news for CrossFire! We plan to release our driver that delivers improved multi-GPU frame pacing on July 31. More info soon.
— AMD Radeon Graphics (@AMDRadeon) June 20, 2013
Since that April release AMD has been very quiet about its driver changes and actually has refused to send me updated prototypes over the spring. Either they have it figured out or they are worried they haven't - but it looks like we'll find out at the end of next month and I feel pretty confident that the team will be able to address the issues we brought to light.
For those of you that might have missed the discussion, our series of Frame Rating stories will tell you all about the issues with frame pacing and stutter in regards to AMD's CrossFire multi-GPU technology.
- Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing
- Frame Rating: Visual Effects of Vsync on Gaming Animation
- Frame Rating: AMD Improves CrossFire with Prototype Driver
AMD gave the media a prototype driver in April to test with the Radeon HD 7990, a card that depends on CrossFire to work correctly, and the improvements were pretty drastic.
So what can we expect on July 31st? A driver that will give users the option to disable or enable the frame pacing technology they are developing - though I am still of the mindset that disabling is never advantageous. More to come in the next 30 days!
Subject: General Tech, Processors | June 19, 2013 - 08:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: overclock, amd
Thankfully, they were not "firing" on all four cylinders; while Ryan does prefer thermite, overclockers tend to prefer liquid nitrogen. There are some distinct advantages of ice over fire, the main one for computer users is the potential for massive bumps in frequency and voltage. Of course, you cannot really get any effective use out of a machine that relies on a steady stream of fluid cold enough that it takes less digits to write out its temperature in Kelvin, but a large bump makes good bragging rights.
Finnish overclocker, "The Stilt", managed to push his four-core part to 8000.39 MHz just long enough to have CPU-Z validate his accomplishment. With a frequency multiplier of 63.0 atop a bus speed of 126.99, this gets within 800MHz of the AMD FX-8350 running on just one module (6 of 8 cores disabled) recorded by ASUS late last year.
But no, it will probably not run Crysis.
Subject: General Tech | June 19, 2013 - 03:02 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, Kyoto, berlin, seattle, warsaw, arm
DigiTimes named the four new families of server chip that AMD will be using to keep their products in the server room. Kyoto is known as the Opteron X-series and is available now, based on Jaguar and offering GPU compute enhancements as well as increased CPU performance. The Seattle family will replace these CPUs in the near future and will represent a new era for AMD as these chips will be clusters of ARM Cortex-A57 on AMD's advanced Freedom Fabric. Berlin will be a true x86 AMD chip with the new Steamroller architecture which will replace Piledriver and support HSA compliant optimizations. Last is Warsaw, which will be the most powerful chip, uniting 12 or 16 Piledriver cores in a chip which is compatible with the current Socket G43 used by the Opteron 6300 family, offering a simple drop in upgrade solution.
"AMD has publicly disclosed its strategy and roadmap to recapture market share in enterprise and data center servers by unveiling products that address key technologies and meet the requirements of the fastest-growing data center and cloud computing workloads."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Nvidia stretches CUDA coding to ARM chips @ The Register
- Intel previews future 'Knights Landing' Xeon Phi x86 coprocessor with integrated memory @ The Register
- Fusion-io's founding CEO quits board @ The Register
- Apple issues Java patch for Mac OS X users fixing 40 critical vulnerabilities @ The Inquirer
- Flash flaw potentially makes every webcam or laptop a PEEPHOLE @ The Register
- The Linux Kernel As An Exquisitely Sensitive Stability Test For Overclocked Systems @ TechARP
- Samsung EX2F Camera Review - A Low-Light Advanced Point-And-Shoot For Any Photographer @ SSD Review
- Australian unis to test quantum-comms-over-fibre @ The Register
- Uros Goodspeed review: MiFi, but bigger @ Hardware.info
- Adding wireless charging to any phone @ Hack a Day
- Canon PowerShot N Review @ TechReviewSource
- E3 2013: Wrap Up Coverage @ Legit Reviews