AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2012 - What to expect

Subject: General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 7, 2012 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: hsa, fusion, amd, AFDS

One of the best show experiences I had last year was a surprise to me - AMD's first annual Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS) was hosted in the Seattle / Bellevue area.  I say that it was a surprise only because the inaugural year for vendor-specific shows like this tend to be pretty bland and lack interesting information, but that wasn't the case in 2011.  We saw ARM get on stage with AMD to talk about the idea of "dark silicon" and how to prevent it, we saw the first AMD Trinity notebook and even got details of the Tahiti GPU architecture well ahead of release.  

We expect even better things in 2012.

afds.jpg

While I don't know exactly what surprises will be on display this year I am looking forward to seeing the improvement from software developers after having another 12 months to work on APU-accelerated applications.  HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) has been getting a lot of buzz from AMD and the industry as we push towards a combined memory address space and the ultimate acceleration of programs across both serialized and parallel processors on the same die.

If you are in the Seattle / Bellevue area and you have the ability to attend AFDS, I would highly encourage you to do so.  You'll have access to:

  • Keynotes
  • Never before seen demos
  • Technical tracks and sessions to learn about HSA and programming for it

If you can't make it though, you should definitely follow the whole event right here at PC Perspective - the easiest way is to keep track of our AFDS tag to make sure you don't miss any of the potentially industry shifting news! 

You can also expect us to have a live blog from the event as well!

Podcast #205 - News from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much more!

Subject: General Tech | June 7, 2012 - 12:21 PM |
Tagged: trinity, ROG, PSU, podcast, nvidia, LAMD, Intel, corsair, computex, asus, amd, a85, 680M

PC Perspective Podcast #205 - 06/07/2012

Join us this week as we talk about all of the news from Computex 2012! - Ultrabooks, Trinity Motherboards, New products from Corsair, and much 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!

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

Program length: 1:31:35

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:25 Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. 0:03:15 MSI Radeon HD 7950 Review
  6. 0:10:00 ASUS Sabertooth X79 Review
  7. 0:11:10 DV Nation RAMRod system review
  8. 0:18:25 Samsung Series 5 Chromebook review
  9. 0:19:10 Intel Ultrabook Ivy Bridge reference review
  10. 0:21:00 AD BREAK
  11. 0:21:47 AMD loses monthly Catalyst updates
  12. 0:25:20 Ultrabooks
    1. Gigabyte has some
    2. Acer Aspire S7
    3. Acer Iconia Tablets
    4. ASUS TAICHI dual-screen
    5. ASUS Transformer Book
    6. ASUS 800 / 610 Windows 8 tablets
  13. 0:36:00 MAINGEAR 11-in gaming machine
  14. 0:37:00 Sandisk PCIe SSD competitor
  15. 0:42:00 Trinity / A85 Motherboards
    1. From ECS
    2. From ASRock
    3. Lots from MSI
  16. 0:45:30 ASUS says THEY have the overclocking record
  17. 0:46:30 Macbook coming with ultra high-res display?
  18. 0:51:00 Gigabyte X79S motherboard
  19. 0:53:00 LSI shows SF-2000 driving smaller flash
  20. 0:59:30 Corsair has...
    1. A new PSU
    2. A new dominator module
    3. A new SSD with a new controller
  21. 1:05:30 NVIDIA wants discrete GPUs in Ultrabooks
  22. 1:07:30 NVIDIA shows GeForce GTX 680M GPU
    1. Alienware gets it
  23. 1:11:00 ASUS MARS III dual GTX 680 card
  24. 1:13:00 3DMark for Windows 8 Screenshots
  25. 1:15:00 AMD releases Brazos 2.0
  26. 1:16:45 New ASUS ROG Gear
  27. 1:21:00 ASUS shows off beastly concept motherboards
  28. 1:24:10 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: ASUS USB-N53 with bendy straw
    2. Jeremy: ah, going with the Norse God
    3. Josh: Great basic case for business AND pleasure
    4. Allyn: Samsung 830 Series 256GB for $199 at TigerDirect
  29. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  30. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  31. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  32. Closing

 

Computex: MSI Showing Off Five G-series Gaming Notebooks

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | June 7, 2012 - 06:36 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, msi, mobile, laptops, Ivy Bridge, Intel, gaming notebook, gaming, computex, amd

MSI has been busy at this year’s Computex trade show. In addition to the company’s graphics cards and motherboard displays, MSI is showing off four new G Series gaming notebooks. Three of them are running Intel Ivy Bridge processors while the fourth machine is powered by a top-end AMD Trinity APU. Included in the new G series is the GT70, GT60, GE70, GE60, and GX60. The only AMD system is the GX60. Let’s take a look at that one first.

MSI GX60

The GX60 has a similar exterior build as the other G Series notebooks, but has vastly different internals and does not appear to have the same audio technology as the Intel-based notebooks. The desktop replacement class (read: heavy and not so great battery life heh) laptop features an AMD A10-4600M APU, AMD A70M chipset, and AMD Radeon 7970M graphics card. Other features include MSI’s “SuperRAID” storage with up to two SSDs in RAID and a mechanical hard drive, Steelseries keyboard, and a Killer E2200 gaming network card. Another interesting feature is the system’s ability to output to up to three displays with AMD Eyefinity technology. The system was able to pull a respectable 30 frames per second on the Unigine Heave benchmark and will have an MSRP of around 1,000 British Pounds (~$1,557.70 USD). According to eTeknix, the AMD Trinity-based notebook will be available soon.

The Intel Ivy Bridge based systems get a bit more love than the AMD Trinity system with SuperRAID support, up to 32GB of RAM, MSI Audio Boost (powered by Dynaudio or THX TruStudiio Pro depending on model), gold-plated audio connectors, Turbo Drive Engine and NVIDIA discrete graphics. The Intel and AMD G series laptops all get 1080p displays and custom backlit keyboards built by SteelSeries. The AMD system may well have MSI Audio Boost, gold plated connectors, and the like but MSI did not seem to tout them on the GX60 like they did for the Intel ones. The GX60 does at least get the SteelSeries keyboard and SuperRAID tech. Anyway, onto the Intel gaming rigs.

MSI GT70 and GT60

The MSI GT 70 is the largest and fastest gaming notebook at the MSI booth with a 17” 1080p display, quad core Core i7 processor, SuperRAID storage, THX certified Dynaudio sound, Turbo Drive Engine, Killer E2200 NIC, and a NVIDIA GTX 680M mobile GPU with GDDR5 RAM. The GT70 utilizes MSI’s SuperRAID to the fullest with two SSDs and a mechanical hard drive for up to 700MB/s read speeds. The system further features a backlit keyboard from SteelSeries that has five LED pattern modes (Normal, Gaming, Wave, Breathing, and Dual Color) and various selectable colors to choose from. The GT70 was pulling about 45 frames-per-second on the Unigine Heaven benchmark and P20,000 on 3DMark Vantage. Consumers should expect it to be available for around 2,500 British Pounds (~$3,894.25 USD).

MSI_GT70_Gaming Notebook.jpg

The MSI GT70 gaming notebook

The GT60 is a smaller version of the GT70 with 15.6” chassis, slightly slower Ivy Bridge Core i7 processor at 2.9GHz, and only a GTX 670M graphics card. It features the same MSI technology as its bigger brother, the GT70, but may not have the exact SuperRAID setup. Otherwise it has Dynaudio, 1080p display, the backlit SteelSeries keyboard, and lots of other goodies. No price info on this one to report, unfortunately.

MSI GE70 and GE60

The two MSI GE branded gaming laptops are the budget versions of the GT70 and GT60. They feature slower IVY Bridge processors, a downgrade in the Intel chipset to H76M, and a GPU downgrade to a NVIDIA GT650M with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The displays are still 1080p, but they do not have Dynaudio (only THX TruStudio Pro), and the SteelSeries keyboards are not backlit. Of the two, the GE70 has a slightly faster Intel processor. They do both feature Turbo Drive Engine technology and likely SuperRAID though the setups are likely limited versus the bigger GT70’s chassis. Again, no word on how much these will cost or when they will be shipping.

All the notebooks have a nice black finish to them and the SteelSeries keyboard looks pretty nice. I’m interested in the AMD GX60 myself as I find Trinity neat. The Intel-based systems are definitely power houses though, especially the GT70 and although I don’t expect battery life to be anywhere near great these would be a good choice for gamers that demand the portability of a laptop platform.

Update: the press release does clarify that the GT70 and GE70 have 17.3” 1080p screens while the GT60 and GE60 have 15.6” 1080p screens. It also lists USB 3.0 compatibility on the Intel-based notebooks along with a built-in 720p 30fps webcam for video conferencing.

Below you can find a video by eTeknix that goes into more detail on the MSI gaming notebooks. You can further find the official MSI press release here.

Source: MSI
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

What does $399 buy these days?

I think it is pretty safe to say that MSI makes some pretty nice stuff when it comes to video cards. Their previous generation of the HD 6000 and GTX 500 series of cards were quite popular, and we reviewed more than a handful here. That generation of cards really seemed to stake MSI’s reputation as one of the top video card vendors in the industry in terms of quality, features, and cooling innovation. Now we are moving onto a new generation of cards from both AMD and NVIDIA, and the challenges of keeping up MSI’s reputation seem to have increased.

r7850tf3_01.jpg

The competition has become much more aggressive as of late. Asus has some unique solutions, and companies such as XFX have stepped up their designs to challenge the best of the industry. MSI has found themselves to be in a much more crowded space with upgraded cooler designs, robust feature sets, and pricing that reflects the larger selection of products that fit such niches. The question here is if MSI’s design methodology for non-reference cards is up to the challenge.

Previously I was able to review the R7970 Lightning from MSI, and it was an impressive card. I had some initial teething problems with that particular model, but a BIOS flash later and some elbow grease allowed it to work as advertised. Today I am looking at the R7950 TwinFrozr3GD5/OC. This card looks to feature a reference PCB combined with a Twin Frozr III cooling solution. I was not entirely sure what to expect with this card, since the Lightning was such a challenge at first.

Click to read the entire article.

AMD Releases Brazos 2.0, dual-core Bobcat for low power platforms

Subject: Processors | June 6, 2012 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: Zacate, Hudson-M3L, FCH, E2-1800, E2-1200, computex, brazos 2.0, brazos, Bobcat, amd

 Today AMD is officially releasing their Brazos 2.0 parts. This is a case of good news/bad news for the company. The good news is that they have an updated product that is based on their very successful Brazos 1.0 platform and that particular part has sold over 30 million units and is included in some 160 designs. The bad news is that AMD did not improve the product dramatically over what we previously had.

b2_comp_chart.jpg

While Brazos will not beat these Intel offerings in pure performance, they do match up nicely in terms of price and battery life.

It is well known that AMD cancelled their original Bobcat 2.0 28 nm parts last fall (Krishna and Wichita), and instead worked on improving the fabrication of the current Brazos APUs. Little is known as to why those original 28 nm parts were cancelled, but perhaps the overriding reason is that there simply would not be enough 28 nm production through the first three quarters of 2012 to enable AMD to adequately meet demand on these parts (all the while sacrificing higher margin GPU wafer orders on the 28 nm node). We also must consider that AMD could have been counting on GLOBALFOUNDRIES to have their flavor of 28 nm HKMG process up and running, which of course at this time it is not.

These new Brazos 2.0 chips are still manufactured on TSMC’s 40 nm process, but that particular process is very mature at this time. This has allowed AMD and TSMC to squeeze every last drop of performance and efficiency out of the aging 40 nm node, and in so doing has allowed AMD a bit more headroom when it comes to the Zacate APUs that Brazos 2.0 is based off of. The two new processors are the E2-1800 and the E2-1200.

The E2-1800 is a dual core Bobcat CPU featuring an APU with 80 stream units based on the older HD 5000 series of parts. AMD has renamed the GPU to the HD 7340, though it has little in common with the GCN (Graphics Core Next) based HD 7000 graphics units. AMD increased the core CPU speed from the E-450 by 50 MHz and the GPU portion by 80 MHz. This gives the E2-1800 a core clockspeed of 1.7 GHz and the graphics runs at a brisk 680 MHz. This continues to be an 18 watt TDP part and the die size is the same 75 mm squared.

Click here to read more.

Source: AMD

Computex: MSI Unveils Four New AMD Trinity FM2 Socket Motherboards

Subject: Motherboards | June 5, 2012 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: trinity, msi, htpc, fm2, computex, amd

Located at Booth L0810 in Nangang Hall 4F, MSI is showing off a tong of new hardware. One of the interesting displays is a wall of new motherboards based on AMD’s desktop Trinity APUs. Using the company’s Hybrid Digital Power design, the FM2 socket-based motherboards come in three sizes: EATX, ATX, and mini-ITX to meet various project needs.

SAM_1957.JPG

MSI's Trinity display at Computex 2012. Source: MSI

MSI A85IA-E53

The smallest of the bunch is the MSI A85IA-E53 motherboard, which is designed for HTPC use. Based on AMD’s A75 chipset, the mini-ITX board features an AMD FM2 socket in the middle, with two DDR3 DIMM slots (a maximum of 16GB of memory) below, a single PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot to the left, and four SATA 6Gbps ports to the right of the FM2 socket.

SAM_1959.JPG

Source: MSI

Rear IO on the board includes a combo PS/2 port, optical audio (TOSLink) output, VGA and HDMI video outputs, three eSATA ports, two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a Gigabit LAN port, and analog audio out via three 3.5mm jacks. The motherboard also features integrated WiFi and Bluetooth radios. Built with the company’s military class III components, the A85IA-E53 comes packed with the ClickBIOS II, OC Genie II, and support for HD7000 series graphics cards.

MSI has two mid-sized ATX form factor motherboards with the the MSI A55M-P33 (F2) and MSI A85MA-35. The former is intended for traditional desktop use cases while the latter is rather shallow in depth and is meant to be used in living room HTPCs.

MSI A55M-P33 (F2)

The MSI A55M-P33 (F2) is the company’s budget desktop motherboard. It supports OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technologies as well as AMD Dual Graphics which allows the pairing of a Trinity APU integrated graphics card and discrete AMD GPU. In adition to the FM2 socket, the board features two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB of 1866MHz memory), four SATA 3Gbps ports, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, one PCI-E 2.0 x1 slot, and one legacy PCI slot.

A55M-P33 (F2).jpg

Source: TechPowerUP

This motherboard is actually based on the AMD A55 chipset which explains the lack of 6Gbps ports and USB 3.0 support. The company describes the board as the “value choice” for those upgrading to a new Trinity-based system. Rear IO on the A55M-P33 (F2) includes eight USB 2.0 ports, six 3.5mm jacks for analog audio output, Gigabit Ethernet, and DVI and VGA display outputs.

MSI A85MA-E35

The second ATX motherboard is the MSI A85MA-E35. This motherboard has been designed wider and shallower than traditional desktop ATX boards so that it can fit into slim HTPC cases (that usually have more room longways than height-wise as they need to be able to fit into AV racks and other short spaces). It is essentially the mATX A85IA-E53’s big brother as it takes the AMD A75 chipset and takes advantage of the larger PCB area to add additional functionality. The motherboard features MSI’s OC Genie II and ClickBIOS II technology and AMD’s Dual Graphics support for pairing a dedicated GPU with the Trinity APU’s graphics portion.

A85MA-E35.jpg

Source: TechPowerUp

The board is rather spaced out as the PCB is stretched out to keep things as shallow as possible. It does feature two DDR3 DIMM slots (maximum of 16GB 1866MHz RAM), the AMD FM2 processor socket, one PCI-E 2.0 x16 slot, two PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and one legacy PCI slot. The only motheboard component with a heatsink attached is the southbridge, which is powering six SATA ports, at least four of which are 6Gbps (MSI only lists four 6Gbps ports in the documentation, seen above and to the right of the board [TechPowerUp indicates that all six are 6Gbps, however]). Rear IO includes four USB 3.0 ports, six analog audio out jacks, Gigabit LAN, and what is likely a PS/2 port and optical audio output.

MSI A85XA-G65

Finally, the FM2 motherboard to rule them all (or at least the company’s AMD lineup) is the MSI A85XA-G65. The board comes packed with MSI technology including Military Class III components, OC Genie II, ClickBIOS II, Hybrid Design Power, THX TruStuio Pro, AMD Dual Graphics (APU+discrete card), AMD CrossFire, NVIDIA SLI, and AMD Eyefinity.

In other words, MSI has bolted just about everything it could to this board. They confidently labeled the motherboard as the board for enthusiasts to use to push Trinity overclocks as far as possible. The first thing I noticed about the image (seen below) of the A85XA-G65 was the massive heatsinks on the VRMs and southbridge – did I mention they were huge? In addition to the well-cooled VRMs, the motherboard features four DDR3 DIMM slots (max of 32GB 1866MHz RAM), two PCI-E 2.0 x16 slots, three PCI-E 2.0 x1 slots, and two legacy PCI slots towards the bottom of the board. To the right is the southbridge (with relatively large heatsink) powering eight SATA 6Gbps ports.

SAM_1954.JPG

Source: MSI

The A85XA-G65 supports DisplayPort, DVI, HDMI, and VGA video outputs. Beyond that, rear IO includes a combo PS/2 port, four USB 2.0 ports, two USB 3.0 ports, Gigabit LAN, six 3.5mm jacks for multi-channel analog audio outputs, and an optical audio output. If you want to push desktop Trinity to the max, this board definitely seems like a good place to start.

MSI has definitely come out in full force with a slew of AMD Trinity motherboards. The HTPC ones, and the mini-ITX one in particular, interest me. The beastly A85XA-G65 is also pretty neat for overclocking potential. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more Computex 2012 coverage! What do you guys want to see from the show? You can see a few more photos after the break.

Source: MSI

ASRock Reveals New Technology Advances at COMPUTEX 2012

Subject: Motherboards, Shows and Expos | June 4, 2012 - 10:06 PM |
Tagged: Z77, x79, trinity, sandy bridge-e, PLX PEX 8747, Ivy Bridge, Intel, fm2, asrock, amd

Four new Intel motherboards from ASRock were revealed at Computex, the X79 Extreme11, Z77 Extreme9 and Z77 OC Formula.  All use their new XFast 555 Technology software for XFast RAM, XFast LAN and XFast USB which should at the very least allow you great control over all the frequencies on your motherboard. 

extreme11.jpg

The motherboard for power users supports Sandy Bridge E processors, the X79 Extreme11 sports PLX PEX 8747 bridges which means this motherboard can run multi-GPU 4-Way SLI/CrossFireX at PCIe Gen3 x16/x16/x16/x16 and puts EVGA's Classified SR-2 in serious trouble on the Leaderboard when released.  24 + 2 Power Phase Design, onboard Creative Sound Core3D and an LSI SAS2308 chip which gives you ten SATA3 connectors with 8 of the able to be set to SAS mode.

extreme9.jpg

The  Z77 Extreme9 also sports the PLX PEX 8747 bridge which allows a surprising full PCIe Gen3 x8/x8/x8/x8 quad GPU mode.  The included T2R Dual Band WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n + BT v4.0 Module supports dual band WiFi and BlueTooth and combines with the Wi-SB BOX to provide better signal and an extra pair of USB 3.0 connectors.

ocing.jpg

The Z77 OC Formula wants to step on ASUS' toes; while the score is impressive, the overclocks need a little work.  They don't say much about this board but from the preliminary testing it looks like great fun for the serious overclocker.

thunderbolt.jpg

Last but not least is the Z77 Extreme6/TB4 which features four channel Thunderbolt, for that you can read two Thunderbolt ports.  ASRock mentions that this "allows one port to be connected to the onboard graphics and the other one can be used for discrete graphics card." which could lead to all sorts of speculation.

FM2.jpg

On the AMD side we have the ATX FM2A75 Pro4, and microATX FM2A75 Pro4-M and FM2A75M-DG which support Trinity processors but unfortunately we don't have much more than their names.  TechPowerUp did get some pictures of the boards recently.

They are also showing the EN2C602-4L, E3C204-V, E3C204-4L and H77WS-DL server boards which come with a full suite of software to ensure an easy setup, an IPC motherboard for those small purpose-built applications and an intriguing HTPC box called the ASRock VisionX Series.  This is reputed to featuring Ivy Bridge, Radeon HD 7850M graphics and AMD HD3D Technology with dual band WiFi but might cost a bit more than the alternative, the ASRock MINI Series which has and AMD E2-1800 backed up by a Radeon HD7340.

visionx.jpg

Source: ASRock

Video Perspective: AMD A10-4600M vs Core i7-3720QM on Diablo III

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 1, 2012 - 07:52 AM |
Tagged: video, trinity, Ivy Bridge, Intel, i7-3720QM, diablo iii, APU, amd, a10-4600m

So, apparently PC gamers are big fans of Diablo III, to the tune of 3.5 million copies sold in the first 24 hours.  That means there are a lot of people out there looking for information about the performance they can expect on various harware configurations with Diablo III.  Since we happened to have the two newest mobile processors and platforms on-hand, and because many people seemed to assume that "just about anything" would be able to play D3, we decided to put it to the test.

d3-1.png

In our previous reviews of the AMD Trinity and Intel Ivy Bridge reference systems, the general consensus was that the CPU portion of the chip was better on Intel's side while the GPU portion was still weighted towards the AMD Trinity APU.  Both of these CPUs, the A10-4600M and the Core i7-3720QM, are the highest end mobile solutions from both AMD and Intel. 

d3-2.png

The specifications weren't identical, but again, for a mobile platform, this was the best we could do.  With the AMD system only having 4GB of memory compared to the Ivy Bridge system with 8GB, that is one lone "stand out" spec.  The Intel HD 4000 graphics offer a noticeable upgrade from the HD 3000 on the Sandy Bridge platform but AMD's new HD 7660G (based on Cayman) also sees performance increase. 

d3-3.png

We ran our tests at 1366x768 with "high" image quality settings and ran through a section of the early part of the game a few times with FRAPs to get our performance results.  We did also run some tests to an external monitor at 1920x1080 with "low" presets and AA disabled - both are reported in the video below.  Enjoy!

AMD June Update: Catalyst monthly drops gone, higher clocked 7700, more free games

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 31, 2012 - 03:07 PM |
Tagged: dirt showdown, catalyst, amd, 7770, 7750

I just got off the phone with AMD this afternoon as they gave me a quick update on the status of Radeon PC gaming with some interesting news about the low-end HD 7700 cards and the world of Catalyst driver updates going into the future.

amdjune01.png

First up, there a few changes coming to gamers looking at cards in the Radeon HD 7770 series including higher base clocks, higher overclocking potential and the inclusion of a free copy of DiRT Showdown.  When the Cape Verde GPUs first launched in February the default clock speeds were 1.0 GHz on the HD 7770 and 800 MHz on the HD 7750.  Going ahead, the default clocks will be available to AICs at 1.1 GHz and 900 MHz, a 100 MHz clock speed jump for each.  

Along with these base clock increases you'll find that the Catalyst driver will allow you to push the clock speed up a bit higher as well.

Maybe more interesting than all that is many of the new SKUs will be including a free copy of the new DiRT Showdown, a value of $50 according to Steam today.  For a graphics card with a starting price of $109 or $129, a free copy of basically anything is a pretty sweet addition and should entice some people to make the move and upgrade from integrated graphics. 

amdjune03.png

After that good news came some more INTERESTING news about changes to AMD's driver organization going forward.  I have never been shy about sharing my disgust for some of the confusion that AMD's driver numbering systems, in-between and dual releases caused not only reviewers but the consumers we represent.  In an attempt to prevent this again AMD is moving away from the fixed cadence of a monthly Catalyst driver release and instead will move to a "dynamic" schedule.

Starting with driver release 12.6, Catalyst drivers will be released in an on-demand format and will be posted when there is a need for it either with significant performance increases or the release of a new game, etc.  You can see above that they are hoping to make sure that each Catalyst release will "deliver substantial benefit" to consumers as opposed to the monthly releases that might only offer minor changes. 

Here is where I think they are making a mistake: they are still going to be versioned as YEAR.MONTH so you'll see 12.8, 12.11, 13.3, etc types of versions.  But what if you release more than one a month?  Are we going to 12.85?  12.8.1?  If you are skipping the monthly cadence then WHY BOTHER with the "year.month" nomenclature?  Just increase the version in arbitrary amounts like we see with NVIDIA's drivers.  It just makes more sense.

Regardless, I am curious to see how much work AMD continues to put into their driver releases.  When I asked AMD is this meant they were scaling back on resources for the Catalyst team, I was assured that was NOT the case and in anything they were increasing staff in this area.  We'll see over time if AMD's new driver schedule (or lack thereof) benefits gamers.

Source: AMD

Graphics Card (GPU) Stock Check - May 30th, 2012

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 30, 2012 - 06:21 PM |
Tagged: stock check, radeon, nvidia, HD 7970, hd 7950, hd 7870, hd 7850, hd 7770, hd 7750, GTX 690, gtx 680, gtx 670, geforce, amd

Due to popular request, I am going to try to keep our readers up to date on the current availability of graphics cards and pricing on the market.  With the recent price drops from AMD, the frequent out-of-stock status of the GTX 680 cards and the release of the GTX 670, I thought this would be a great summary of the current situation.

gtx680_galaxy.jpg

NVIDIA's highest end offering, the GTX 690

We will try to post new updates weekly or maybe more frequently as we see fit.  Newegg is our partner of choice for this today, so let's see what we have.

AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series

Radeon HD 7970 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $469

Radeon HD 7950 3GB - In Stock
Starting at $389

Radeon HD 7870 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $329

Radeon HD 7850 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $249

Radeon HD 7770 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $129

Radeon HD 7750 1GB - In Stock
Starting at $109

NVIDIA GeForce GTX 600 Series

GeForce GTX 690 4GB - No Stock
Starting at $999

GeForce GTX 680 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $539

GeForce GTX 670 2GB - In Stock
Starting at $399

This week we have some good news!  For two full days (in a row!) NVIDIA has had GTX 680 SKUs in stock at Newegg.com.  The only downside is that two available at the time of this writing (EVGA Superclocked+ and Zotac AMP!) are priced a bit higher thanks to their overclock settings.  The EVGA part has a base clock of 1058 MHz while the Zotac has an impressive 1098 MHz base clock compared to the reference speed of 1006 MHz.  As of this post you can find the EVGA model for $539 and the Zotac option for $549.  We are almost at the point to offering up these cards in our leaderboard...  Gasp!

gtx680_20120530.png

AMD is still doing great on availability with the Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 widely available for the price of $469 / $389 with a set of three free games including DiRT Showdown and Dues Ex: Human Revolution.   

If you are looking for our latest graphics reviews to judge the performance of the above cards, here you go: