A curious new driver from AMD
In case you missed the news, AMD is going to be making a big push with their Radeon brand from now until the end of the year starting with an incredibly strong game bundle that includes as many as three full games and 20% off the new Medal of Honor. The second part of this campaign is a new driver specifically the 12.11 beta that will be posted to the public later this week.
AMD is claiming to have made some substantial improvements on quite a few games including the very popular Battlefield 3 and the upcoming Medal of Honor (both of which use the same base engine). But keep in mind that 15% is a LOT and this is the best case scenario in specific maps and you may not see benefits on others.
There are going to be some debates about the validity of these performance boosts from AMD until we can get some more specific details on WHAT has changed. Essentially the company line is that they have finally "caught up" to the GCN GPU architecture introduced with the Radeon HD 7970 in January of 2012. We traditionally see this happen with new GPU architectures from both vendors but for it to have taken this long is troublesome and will surely cause some raised eyebrows from gamers and the competition.
We decided to run through the Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition with this new 12.11 beta driver to compare it to the 12.9 beta driver we had just completed testing on a few weeks ago. AMD claims performance advantages for all the GCN cards including the 7700/7800/7900 cards though we only had time to test a single card for our initial article. The results are on the following pages...
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 22, 2012 - 12:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: never settle, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, bundle, amd
AMD has a couple of surprises for gamers today, both using the "Never Settle" branding. Later this morning you will see an article that looks at a new driver revision - 12.11 beta - that will be published this week (it maybe online already). Promising performance increases is 20% and more, it should be an interesting discussion.
Another big push for AMD going into the holiday season will be the Never Settle game bundle; a collection of games included with a graphics card purchase unlike you have ever seen before. And we aren't talking about scrub games here, with the HD 7900 series of cards you'll see Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Starting today, if you buy an AMD Radeon HD 7900 series of graphics cards, including the HD 7990, HD 7970 and HD 7950, you will get three full games absolutely free! Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs to be exact. Also, you will get a 20% discount on a copy of the new Medal of Honor: Warfighter. And because I already asked, AMD assures us that this is the ONLY discount on Medal of Honor that will be available this year.
Buyers on tighter budgets aren't going to be left out and if you pick up an HD 7800 series or an HD 7770 GHz Edition (not a 7750), you'll get a free copy of Far Cry 3 as well as the 20% off offer on Medal of Honor.
And just to mix things up, if you buy a PAIR of Radeon HD 7800s or a pair of HD 7770 GHz Editions AMD will add in a free copy of Hitman.
I realize that not every gamer is interested in every game that is released, but the value of the Never Settle bundle is really unmatched in anything I have seen before. Valued at $170, the package that you can get by purchasing a Radeon HD 7950 3GB for $299 in theory brings the total out of pocket price of the GPU to $129!!
As I have mentioned previously, bundles are not a cure-all for performance issues, but they can definitely swing a buyer's decision when the other factors are close. I think AMD will have a HUGE advantage going into the holiday buying season even though NVIDIA has the Assassin's Creed 3 bundle (with the GTX 650 Ti) and the Borderlands 2 bundle (with the GTX 660 Ti and above).
See what happens when you have healthy competition in the market? Gamer's always come out ahead!
Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | October 20, 2012 - 12:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: hitman, amd, extravalanza, hitman: absolution, video
We are at the first AMD ExtravaLANza today getting some hands on time with some cool new hardware as well as new games like Far Cry 3, Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution. We attended a session with the Hitman developer IO Interactive where some interesting information about the DX11 features. I recorded a video of the presentation for those interested in seeing it in its entirety.
The brand new Glacier2 engine has some impressive new features including:
- DX11 hardware tessellation on character models
- A global illumination engine using light propagation volumes
- AA options including FXAA and MSAA 2x-8x
- Eyefinity and HD3D
There is more, but you can hear it all in the video above. IO Interactive wanted to assure PC gamers that they are developing the game to be a first class PC title with higher quality imaging, controls and texture detail; this doesn't look to be a standard console port.
Subject: General Tech | October 19, 2012 - 02:04 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: quarterly earnings, downer, billions, amd
The hard numbers have arrived and AMDs quarter was every bit as bad as investors had feared, with a non-GAAP net loss of US$150 million and a $0.20 loss per share. The actual income for this quarter was $1.27 billion, the low end of the predictions that were made by analysts and with the sluggish movement in the PC market the choice has been made to lower operating costs as opposed to trying to increase revenue. To do so they will be reducing their global workforce by 15% over the coming quarter and restructuring the company with the goal of reducing operating costs by 25% so that a $1.3 billion dollar quarter would be a break even point, not a loss. The Register details other changes Rory Read is planning on implementing, more of a focus on chips for servers and embedded cores and SoCs for communication and industrial applications. As well AMD's win on the console side, with the Sony PS4 using AMD for both CPU and GPU as well as the WiiU which will use an AMD GPU and the as yet unnamed new XBox, all of which will garner licensing incomes for AMD for years to come. The talk about ultra-low-power chips for tablets and ultrabook like products is hopeful, though it is unlikely to be a major revenue source it would be a good move to attempt to grab more market share in that segment. DigiTimes also weighs in here.
"One week ago, AMD warned investors that its financial results for its third quarter of 2012 were going to be worse than it had previously estimated, with revenues down about 10 per cent from the previous quarter rather than the 1 per cent, plus or minus 3 per cent, that they had forecasted earlier.
They were spot on – not that being correct about such a disappointing result will win them many friends on the Street.
After the markets closed this Thursday, AMD announced that its Q3 2012 revenues were $1.27bn, which hit that prediction of a 10 per cent quarter-to-quarter slippage."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- One year on, SSL servers STILL cower before the BEAST @ The Register
- Multiply Your Encrypted Linux Backups with Horcrux @ Linux.com
- Mozilla launches Firefox marketplace for Android @ The Inquirer
- Arctic Charging Station @ Kitguru
- Motherboard Advertising & DRAM Compatibility @ Benchmark Reviews
- SysAdmin Corner: 7 Network Security F-Ups Small Offices Make @ Techgage
- Good Old Games Adds Mac OS X Support @ Slashdot
Subject: Editorial, General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 08:09 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: contest, video, giveaway, amd, llano, APU
In a self-serving attempt to increase awareness about the PC Perspective YouTube channel, we are running another contest where you can win one of four AMD Llano A8-3870K APUs simply by leaving a comment and being a subscriber.
That's right, there are two steps:
We'll pick our winners on October 24th! Good luck!
Podcast #223 - AVADirect Mini ITX Gaming Machine, Patriot Gauntlet 320GB Wireless Drive, Windows 8 Pricing and more!
Subject: General Tech | October 18, 2012 - 02:38 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: video, windows 8, podcast, patriot, nvidia, mini ITX, Intel, gpu, gauntlet, gauntle node, cpu, AVADirect, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #223 - 10/18/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the AVADirect Mini ITX Gaming Machine, Patriot Gauntlet 320GB Wireless Drive, Windows 8 Pricing 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Scott Michaud
Program length: 56:12
Podcast topics of discussion:
- Week in Reviews:
- 0:24:30 This podcast is brought to you by MSI
- News items of interest:
0:39:30 Alxtech.net/pcper Ad spot!! http://alxtech.net/pcper/
- Now at $0.50/slot for pcper viewers and listeners!!
- 0:42:00 Intel may have 10-core Ivy Bridge-E ready
- 0:43:45 Corsair raising money for charity with gaming marathon!
- 0:45:50 Win a FREE AMD APU on our YouTube channel!
- 1-888-38-PCPER or email@example.com
- http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
Subject: General Tech | October 16, 2012 - 03:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, price cuts, amd
The news out of DigiTimes today speaks of deep cuts to AMD's previous generation processors, specifically the A4 family. According to their sources the the A4-3300 will be cut in price by 35% and the 3400 model by 25%, both cuts being much larger than is usual in the industry. As well there could be a cut in price of the new FM2 based A4-5300 by almost 50%, again a much steeper cut than is usual. However given the difficulties that AMD is currently experiencing, as well as the price cuts we've seen on the GPU side the report was enough to make us curious. As we at PC Perspective have our own anonymous sources who will sometimes comment on things not yet set in stone and in this case we did get a reply. That reply stated that AMD will be making no price moves on the A series. Aren't conflicting stories great?
"After announcing its latest FM2-based A series APUs (Trinity) on October 1, AMD is set to reduce prices of its previous-generation APUs with the FM1-based A4-3300 to be reduced from US$46 to US$30, according to sources from motherboard players. AMD Taiwan declined to comment about its price strategy."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Microsoft reveals Surface tablet pricing @ The Inquirer
- The 3D die stack tack: Toshiba builds towering column of flash @ The Register
- Asustek to participate in initial launch of Windows RT tablet @ DigiTimes
- NETGEAR R6300 Wireless Router 802.11ac Review @ HardwareHeaven
- Magellan RoadMate 5265T-LMB Review @ TechReviewSource
- Olympus SP-620UZ Review @ TechReviewSource
- Massive Manic Giveaway with Cooler Master @ TechwareLabs
Subject: General Tech | October 15, 2012 - 02:54 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, jobs, sad
If Friday's announcement of AMD's lowered financial expectations was not enough to depress you, The Inquirer has heard from three separate sources that AMD is looking to cut between 1000 to 3000 employees, representing 10% to 30% of its workforce. Rory Read's excising of the marketing department has not magically reversed the $500M in reported losses so far this year and so he will be attempting to treat the symptoms with a larger dose of the same cure. Being a publicly owned company who have seen their stock prices plummet by 14% last week so something had to be done, even if on the surface it looks to be bad for the company in the long term. The chances are good that the graphics department will be left mostly intact but the CPU team could be facing a lot of cuts which could slow or derail the development of the next generation of processors.
"Last week AMD revised its revenue forecasts down considerably due to weak demand and now multiple sources have said that the firm is preparing to lay off a significant percentage of its workforce. According to three sources that spoke to Allthingsd, AMD is preparing to cut anywhere between 10 percent and 30 percent of its 11,000 employees."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Controlling a robot with your mind @ Hack a Day
- Nvidia releases CUDA 5 to support Kepler GPGPU features @ The Inquirer
- UDIRC Microquad UFO @ Metku.net
- Amazon reportedly is eyeing up Texas Instruments' SoC business @ The Inquirer
- Nikon D700 FX 12.1MP Digital SLR Camera Review @ ModSynergy
- The Tech Report Podcast 121: APUs, GPUs, and SSDs
Subject: General Tech | October 12, 2012 - 07:34 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, financial results, quarterly earnings
While we do not have the finalized results of AMD's Q3 earnings, The Register did report that they will not be meeting the targets that were set previously. The are lowering both expected revenues as well as their gross margins projections. While this news is not unexpected it does illustrate the difficulties which AMD is currently experiencing. With new products already for sale and more scheduled for release before the new year, there is still hope for AMD to make a bit of a recovery. As we have pointed out many times before, whether you purchase AMD products or not, the continued existence of AMD is crucial to keep the marketplace competitive.
shamelessly stolen from macgasm
"AMD has announced lowered expectations for its third-quarter financial results, with revenues declining 10 per cent from the previous quarter, down from the 1 per cent – give or take 3 per cent – that it had previously projected."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- TLC NAND could penetrate biz with flash-to-flash backup @ The Register
- AMD Hondo-based products to be launched in mid-November at the earliest @ DigiTimes
- My smartphone conundrum @ The Tech Report
- Office 2013 hits RTM, will ship starting in November @ The Register
- What is going on with Nvidia’s GK114? @ SemiAccurate
- Fractal Design End Mod
Subject: Storage | October 10, 2012 - 09:30 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: ram disk, radeon ramdisk, radeon memory, amd memory, amd
AMD launched a new Radeon branded memory product today called the Radeon RAMDisk. Despite the rather unoriginal name, it is a piece of software that will allow you to use a portion of your system RAM as a hard drive-like storage device where you can install programs. AMD has partnered with Dataram to develop the software.
The AMD Radeon RAMDisk will create drives up to 64GB in size, and is designed to be used with AMD's own Radeon-branded DDR3 modules (though other manufacturer's RAM will work as well). The RAM disk offers up almost-instantaeous access times and impressive read and write speeds for your applications and virtual machines.
According to AMD, the Radeon RAMDisk can reach read speeds as high as 25,600 MB/s with DDR3 1600 RAM and up to 1700% faster game loading times than a traditional mechanical hard drive. It further supports the Windows operating system (Vista and above), and has a minimum system requirement of 4GB of system RAM.
The software costs $18.99 at time of writing for the full version.
The best part about this announcement though is the release of a freeware version of the Radeon RAMDisk that can create disks up to 6GB with AMD-branded RAM or 4GB with RAM from any other manufacturer! While that is fairly limiting in that you are not really going to be able to put much ont there (and installing games is almost out of the question entirely) you can still do a lot with a 4GB RAM disk by installing Office, photo editors, virtual machines (like Peppermint Linux), and other heavily used programs to speed up the important stuff.
You can acess the full press release on the Radeon RAMDisk website.
- Free version - Limited to 4GB or 6GB RAMDisks depending on memory brand.
- Paid version - Create disks up to 64GB
If you have been with the site for at least the year that I’ve been writing here, you will know that I’m a huge fan of RAM disks. So, naturally, when I was passed the press release I just had to try it out.
While the extent of the performance increase is going to vary from program to program, the drive itself is extremely fast. When copying a .iso file to the Radeon RAMDisk, it was limited by my SSD's read speed, for example.
The RAM Disk was set up om my main desktop which has basic specifications as follows:
- Intel Core i7 -860 CPU
- 8GB (4 x 2GB) G.Skill DDR3 at 1333 MHz and 9-9-9-24 CAS timings
- Gigabyte P55-UD3R Motherboard
- 4096 MB Radeon RAMDisk
- 80GB Intel X25-M G2 SSD
- 2TB Samsung Spinpoint hard drive
- Windows 8 RTM
In addition to the file copy tests, I also used the HDTune benchmark to measure transfer speeds. Needless to say, RAM blows solid state NAND out of the water in speed (though it does cost more and is volatile storage).
In fact, it pulled such impressive numbers from HDTune that it skewed the chart a lot. Those little blips underneath it are from my Intel X25-M G2 80GB SSD and my 2TB Samsung Spinpoint mechanical hard drive.
HDTune also reports access times and burst speeds. The RAM disk had a 0.0 ms access time, the SSD has a 0.1 ms access time, and the mechanical hard drive brought up the rear with a 13.9 ms access time. Interestingly, the Samsung hard drive actually beat the SSD in burst speed. The RAM disk crush both of the other drives by a significant margin, however with a burst speed of 5,155 MB/s.
Over the years, I have used a RAMDisk for hosting photo editors as as using the drive for media I was currently working on. It worked well at the time, but the free software was not exactly what I would call stable. However, the AMD software is a mere 6.2 MB download that installs quickly and is easy to configure. The UI is spartan (and resembles Windows Classic), but it gets the job done and has yet to crash on me after trying to break it today (heh). It does not feel "janky" at all, and I have to give AMD and Dataram props for that.
Below are screenshots of the Radeon RAMDisk interface. You can create new disks as well as loading saved ones.
Yes, RAM being faster than hard drive storage is not new information, but I did find it surprising just how much faster it was, even compared to my SSD. Heck, even compared to a DDR2 based RAM disk, it was fast. It really puts into perspective why the hard drive is the slowest aspect of modern computers, and why things can slow to a crawl when the CPU has to reach out past the internal cache and system RAM to the hard drive to fetch data. If you are running a system with a lot of 'extra' RAM, I encourage you to take AMD's new Radeon RAMDisk software for a test drive. It's time to give those DDR3 DIMMs a workout!
Do you use RAM disks to speed up your favorite applications?