PDXLAN Gears up with sponsors and gamers

Subject: Editorial, Shows and Expos | July 16, 2011 - 09:51 AM |
Tagged: sli, sapphire, pdxlan, pdx, nvidia, msi, amd

If you are a PC gaming and live near or around the Portland, OR area you are familiar with the concept of PDXLAN - one of the most popular (but still cool and underground) LAN events in the country.  The primary event is going on this weekend and I am here to both game and take a look at what the sponsors are showing off. 

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MSI has a lot of stuff going on including a look at the latest version of the Afterburner overclocking tool, the 3GB version of the GTX 580 Lightning (that Josh is currently working on a review of) and even a NVIDIA Surround based Dirt 3 sim seat.

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Gaming laptops are still taking off here in the US and MSI has a couple on display including a HUGE 18-in mode (on the right) with a keyboard that lights up with various colors of LEDs, configurable.  

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The Sapphire guys are here as well and are showing off much of what AMD for gamers including Eyefinity configurations like the very popular 5x1 portrait mode.  This is something that only AMD offers currently and in this demo we were looking at Dragon Age II.  It was definitely grabbing some attention!

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Showing that AMD's HD3D technology does indeed have legs Sapphire was showing off the new Samsung SyncMaster SA950 that has a nice external design.  I am going to spend some more time with it today to see how it performs, so check back for more!

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If you are here, you can also find me getting butt kicked at various games.  This is the machine I'll be on, a Maingear built GTX 580 SLI right with an overclocked Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor and 30-in display.  I know, it sucks to be me, but someone has to sacrifice and play on it, right?

More from PDXLAN later today!

Source: PCPer

Podcast #162 - Adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 01:38 PM |
Tagged: podcast, bitcoin, mining, gpu, gpgpu, amd, nvidia, eyefinity, APU

PC Perspective Podcast #162 - 7/14/2011

This week we talk about our adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks 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 Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:16:40

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 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. 0:02:10 Bitcoin Currency and GPU Mining Performance Comparison
  6. 0:22:48 Bitcoin Mining Update: Power Usage Costs Across the United States
  7. 0:34:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:34:50 Eyefinity and Me
  9. 0:45:00 Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance
  10. 0:47:02 As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic
  11. 0:49:40 A PC Macbook Air: Can Intel has?
  12. 0:53:00 PC: for all your Xbox gaming needs
  13. 0:56:06 Email from Howard
  14. 1:00:28 Email from Ian
  15. 1:03:00 Email from Jan
    1. In case you're interested, here are almost 150mpix of HDR: http://rattkin.info/archives/430
  16. 1:08:55 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  17. 1:09:45 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Dropped the ball
    2. Jeremy: I NEED FLEET COMMANDER
    3. Josh: Finally getting cheap enough for me to buy
    4. Allyn: http://gplus.to/
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. 1:15:15 Closing
Source:

The Bulldozer has sprung another leak, get a peek at the upcoming FX series

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 09:40 AM |
Tagged: zambezi, leak, fx series, bulldozer, amd

Turkish site Donanim Haber got the scoop on Bulldozer and the news is good.  Compared to the first silicon we saw, which had 32 cores running at 1.8GHz, with this new leak we see seven models all running at much more respectable speeds.  There are three 8 core FX CPUs of which the high end FX-8150 runs at 3.6GHz, 4.2GHz under boost.  One of the two six core FX Bulldozers runs at 3.3/3.9GHz, the second called FX-6120 remains mysterious and similarly we know the quad core FX-4100 runs at 3.6/3.8GHz with the FX-4120 still having undetermined clock speeds.  All are based on the 32nm Zambezi core and all will be unlocked Black Edition and support DDR3 up to 1866MHz.  The actual performance when compared to SandyB is up for debate, a good starting point is this article at Real World Tech, which gives you educated guesses based on the leaked benchmarks.  Part of the uncertainly lies in the new architecture and trying to interpret how 4 modules, each module with a single shared FPU/MMX/SIMD unit and two ALUs from an engineering sample.

Hopefully, we should only have to wait 2 or 3 more months to find out for sure.

amdbulldozersaathizi_dh_fx57.jpg

"According to recent information from AMD, two quad-core, two and three of the six-core, including the 8-core processor for 2011 Bulldozer-based model to the market poised to offer 7 different FX. AMD's most powerful processor will be the standard 8-core 3.6GHz FX-8150 processor at 2.0 technology will serve and Turbo Core 4.2GHz operating frequency of up to increase. AMD's 8-core processor, the second how quickly the standard 3.1GHz FX-8120 has been working in the technology and the Turbo Core 2.0 4GHz can go up automatically."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Author:
Subject: Editorial
Manufacturer: AMD

The Dirty Laggard

 

It may seem odd, but sometimes reviewers are some of the last folks to implement new technology.  This has been the case for myself many a time.  Yes, we get some of the latest and greatest components, but often we review them and then keep them on the shelf for comparative purposes, all the while our personal systems run last generation parts that we will not need to re-integrate into a test rig ever again.  Or in other cases, big money parts, like the one 30” 2560x1600 LCD that I own, are always being utilized on the testbed and never actually being used for things like browsing, gaming, or other personal activities.  Don’t get me wrong, this is not a “woe-is-me” rant about the hardships of being a reviewer, but rather just an interesting side effect not often attributed to folks who do this type of work.  Yes, we get the latest to play with and review, but we don’t often actually use these new parts in our everyday lives.

One of the technologies that I had only ever seen at trade shows is that of Eyefinity.  It was released back in the Fall of 2009, and really gained some momentum in 2010.  Initially it was incompatible with Crossfire technology, which limited it to a great degree.  A single HD 5970 card could push 3 x 1920x1080 monitors in most games, but usually only with details turned down and no AA enabled.  Once AMD worked a bit more on the drivers were we able to see Crossfire setups working in Eyefinity, which allowed users to play games at higher fidelity with the other little niceties enabled.  The release of the HD 6900 series of cards also proved to be a boon to Eyefinity, as these new chips had much better scaling in Crossfire performance, plus were also significantly faster than the earlier HD 5800 series at those price points.

eye_fin.jpg

Continue on to the rest of the story for more on my experiences with AMD Eyefinity.

Author:
Manufacturer: General

How much will these Bitcoin mining configurations cost you in power?

Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them.  At the time we were much more interested in the performance of these configurations but now that we have that information and we started to look at the potential profitability of doing something like this, look at the actual real-world cost of running a mining machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week became much more important. 

This led us to today's update where we will talk about the average cost of power, and thus the average cost of running our 16 different configurations, in 50 different locations across the United States.  We got our data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website where they provide average retail prices on electricity divided up by state and by region.  For use today, we downloaded the latest XLS file (which has slightly more updated information than the website as of this writing) and started going to work with some simple math. 

Here is how your state matches up:

kwh-1.jpg

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The first graph shows the rates in alphabetical order by state, the second graph in order from the most expensive to the least.  First thing we noticed: if you live in Hawaii, I hope you REALLY love the weather.  And maybe it's time to look into that whole solar panel thing, huh?  Because Hawaii was SO FAR out beyond our other data points, we are going to be leaving it out of our calculations and instead are going to ask residents and those curious to just basically double one of our groupings.

Keep reading to get the full rundown on how power costs will affect your mining operations, and why it may not make sense to mine AT ALL with NVIDIA graphics cards! 

Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | July 13, 2011 - 11:13 AM |
Tagged: llano, dual graphics, crossfire, APU, amd, a8-3850, 3850

Last week we posted a short video about the performance of AMD's Llano core A-series of APUs for gaming and the response was so positive that we have decided to continue on with some other short looks at features and technologies with the processor.  For this video we decided to investigate the advantages and performance of the Dual Graphics technology - the AMD APU's ability to combine the performance of a discrete GPU with the Radeon HD 6550D graphics integrated on the A8-3850 APU.

For this test we set our A8-3850 budget gaming rig to the default clock speeds and settings and used an AMD Radeon HD 6570 1GB as our discrete card of choice.  With a price hovering around $70, the HD 6570 would be a modest purchase for a user that wants to add some graphical performance to their low-cost system but doesn't stretch into the market of the enthusiast.

The test parameters were simple: we knew the GPU on the Radeon HD 6570 was a bit better than that of the A8-3850 APU so we compared performance of the discrete graphics card ALONE to the performance of the system when enabling CrossFire, aka Dual Graphics technology.  The results are pretty impressive:

You may notice that these percentages of scaling are higher than those we found in our first article about Llano on launch day.  The reasoning is that we used the Radeon HD 6670 there and found that while compatible by AMD's directives, the HD 6670 is overpowering the HD 6550D GPU on the APU and the performance delta it provides is smaller by comparison.  

So, just as we said with our APU overclocking video, while adding in a discrete card like the HD 6570 won't turn your PC into a $300 graphics card centered gaming machine it will definitely help performance by worthwhile amounts without anyone feeling like they are wasting the silicon on the A8-3850.  

Source: AMD

The lad doth protest too much, methinks ... AMD is probably not in that much trouble

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2011 - 09:08 AM |
Tagged: amd, finance

At The Inquirer you can read a counterpoint to a recent analysts comments on the failure of AMD in the current market.  It seems that APUs are not hot ... even though that is exactly what Intel's SandyBridge processors are whether they call them that or not.  The analyst is unimpressed with the performance of the CPU portion of Llano, which is understandable as most of us were underwhelmed with its performance.  He completely glosses over half of Llano, calling it "integrated graphics circuitry" and giving no recognition to the fact that it is the fastest iGPU ever seen and can even earn you Bitcoins.  As The Inquirer points out, the size graphics portion of the APU on AMD opens up quite a bit of utility that people just aren't programming for and while the CPU portion is clocked lower it performs true multithreaded apps much more efficeintly.

He then goes on to denegrate AMD's chances in the server room, citing Intel's Xeon refresh.  What is strange is that Intel's move to 22nm in 2012 is somehow much more of a safe bet that AMD's first generation of Bulldozer for the server room.  Both are new architectures and while Intel is generally a safe bet, AMD and GF are also a team to bet on.  He also misses mention of AMD's Terramar and Sepang, which will compete directly with the Xeon E7 lineup and apparently has no idea about ARM's plans whatsoever.

Can't argue his point about the lack of a CEO though.

AMD_Stock.jpg

AMD's Quarter 2 2011

"A CHIP ANALYST at JMP Securities has downgraded AMD, alleging that the company's APU and server offerings aren't in sync with the needs of its retail partners and are falling behind the competition, both of which, if true, are damaging for AMD's prospects."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Manufacturer: General

What is a Bitcoin?

This article looking at Bitcoins and the performance of various GPUs with mining them was really a big team effort at PC Perspective.  Props goes out to Tim Verry for doing the research on the process of mining and helping to explain what Bitcoins are all about.  Ken Addison did a great job doing through an alottment of graphics cards running our GUIMiner and getting the data you will see presented later.  Scott Michaud helped with some graphics and imagery and I'm the monkey that just puts it all together at the end.

** Update 7/13/11 **  We recently wrote another piece on the cost of the power to run our Bitcoin mining operations used in this performance article.  Based on the individual prices of electric in all 50 states of the US, we found that the cost of the power to run some cards exceeded the value of the Bitcoin currency based on today's exchange rates.  I would highly recommend you check out that story as well after giving this performance-based article a thorough reading.  ** End Update **

A new virtual currency called Bitcoin has been receiving a great deal of news fanfare, criticism and user adoption. The so called cryptographic currency uses strong encryption methods to eliminate the need for trust when buying and selling goods over the Internet in addition to a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that maintains a public record of every transaction to prevent double spending of the electronic currency. The aspect of Bitcoin that has caused the most criticism and recent large rise in growth lies in is its inherent ability to anonymize the real life identities of users (though the transactions themselves are public) and the ability to make money by supporting the Bitcoin network in verifying pending transactions through a process called “mining” respectively. Privacy, security, cutting out the middle man and making it easy for users to do small casual transactions without fees as well as the ability to be rewarded for helping to secure the network by mining are all selling points (pun intended) of the currency.

When dealing with a more traditional and physical local currency, there is a need to for both parties to trust the currency but not much need to trust each other as handing over cash is fairly straightforward. One does not need to trust the other person as much as if it were a check which could bounce. Once it has changed hands, the buyer can not go and spend that money elsewhere as it is physically gone. Transactions over the Internet; however, greatly reduce the convenience of that local currency, and due to the series of tubes’ inability to carry cash through the pipes, services like Paypal as well as credit cards and checks are likely to be used in its place. While these replacements are convenient, they also are much riskier than cash as fraudulent charge-backs and disputes are likely to occur, leaving the seller in a bad position. Due to this risk, sellers have to factor a certain percentage of expected fraud into their prices in addition to collecting as much personally identifiable information as possible. Bitcoin seeks to remedy these risks by bringing the convenience of a local currency to the virtual plane with irreversible transactions, a public record of all transactions, and the ability to trust strong cryptography instead of the need for trusting people.

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There are a number of security measures inherent in the Bitcoin protocol that assist with these security goals. Foremost, bitcoin uses strong public and private key cryptography to secure coins to a user. Money is handled by a bitcoin wallet, which is a program such as the official bitcoin client that creates public/private key pairs that allow you to send and receive money. You are further able to generate new receiving addresses whenever you want within the client. The wallet.dat file is the record of all your key pairs and thus your bitcoins and contains 100 address/key pairs (though you are able to generate new ones beyond that). Then, to send money one only needs to sign the bitcoin with their private key and send it to the recipient’s public key. This creates a chain of transactions that are secured by these public and private key pairs from person to person. Unfortunately this cryptography alone is not able to prevent double spending, meaning that Person A could sign the bitcoin with his private key to Person B, but also could do the same to Person C and so on. This issue is where the peer-to-peer and distributed computing aspect of the bitcoin protocol come into play. By using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server, the bitcoin protocol creates a public record of every transaction that prevents double spending of bitcoins. Once the bitcoin has been signed to a public key (receiving address) with the user’s private key, and the network confirms this transaction the bitcoins can no longer be spent by Person A as the network has confirmed that the coin belongs to Person B now, and they are the only ones that can spend it using their private key.

Keep reading our article that details the theories behind Bitcoins as well as the performance of modern GPUs in mining them!  

AMD Radeon HD 6990M Comes Screaming to Gaming Laptops

Subject: Mobile | July 11, 2011 - 08:49 PM |
Tagged: mobile radeon, hd 6990m, amd radeon, amd

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Few competitors love to one-up each other more than AMD and NVIDIA, and in that spirit the red team has today announced the release of its new Radeon HD 6990M just two weeks after NVIDIA claimed the limelight with its GTX 570M and 580M.

No, this isn’t a dual-GPU solution like the desktop version. Despite the name, the HD 6990M is not based off the Cayman architecture used in the HD 6990 but instead on Barts XT. According to AMD, the decision to use Barts XT rather than Cayman was based on power efficiency. Cramming Cayman into a notebook chassis, even one with an 18” display, wasn’t a viable option. Still, AMD claims that this new mobile GPU will be the world’s quickest, beating even NVIDIA’s new GTX 580M. 

The HD 6990M will be shipping with impressive specifications including a whopping 1120 Stream Processors with a clock speed of 715 MHz, bringing the compute power to 1.6 TFlops. This is paired to 2GB of GDDR5 memory at 900 MHz, making for memory bandwidth of over 115 GB/sec.

6990-3.png

Data supplied by AMD.

UPDATE (7/12/11 @ 10:00am): AMD contacted us to let me know the benchmark results we posted with this news release needed to be changed.  The NEW results from the presentation show the difference between the Radeon HD 6970M and the Radeon HD 6990M to be much less AND the difference between the HD 6990 and NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580M to be MUCH smaller.  I have asked AMD for an explanation here and we'll see what we get later today.

The company’s press material shows the HD 6990M defeating the already available HD 6970M by approximately 25% in a number of games. If the part performs as promised, it should indeed be a difficult for NVIDIA to defeat – but we’ll have to wait for a review before making a judgment.

6990-4.png

Data supplied by AMD.

Besides its blazing fast performance, the new GPU will offer the typical suite of AMD features including full support for DirectX 11, Eyefinity, Crossfire, HD3D, and driver-based power management features like PowerExpress and Vari-Bright.

Several laptops have been announced as available with the including the Clevo P170HM, P150HM and X7200, the Alienware M18x, and unspecified laptops from Eurocom. The HD 6990M should be available for order on the M18x as of today.

Source: AMD

As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 09:37 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, 28nm, kepler, maxwell

TSMC's 28nm wafer yields are having a negative effect on NVIDIA's scheduled release of their next generation of GPUs, no matter what the PR coming out of NVIDIA might suggest.  That news is coming from graphics card manufacturers who were hoping to release cards but have since seen NVIDIA's scheduled releases delayed by a year.  While it may be true that TSMC is partly to blame for the delay there is also talk about the chips performance being lower than was expected and is needed to challenge AMD.  The news for NVIDIA gets even worse as DigiTimes confirms that AMD is still on schedule with it's 28nm chips.  This may seem like a bit of deja vu, as we saw similar production problems from TSMC's initial 40nm chips; though that effected both major GPU makers more or less equally.

nvidia jensen.jpg

"Despite Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-hsun previously saying that the company is set to announce its new 28nm GPU architecture at the end of 2011 and 22/20nm in 2013, sources from graphics card makers have pointed out that Nvidia has already adjusted its roadmap and delayed 28nm Kepler and 22/20nm Maxwell to 2012 and 2014.

The sources believe that the delay is due to unsatisfactory yield rates of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process as well as lower-than-expected performance of Kepler.

TSMC originally expected its 28nm capacity at Fab15 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.

However, TSMC's other major client Qualcomm, currently, still has not yet adjusted its 28nm process schedule and is set to launch three new products, 8960. 8270 and 8260A using dual-core Krait architecture in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, AMD will follow its original schedule and enter the 28nm era in the first half of 2012. The company's next-generation graphics chips Southern Island as well as Krishna and Wichita processors, which will replace the existing Ontraio and Zacate processors, and will all adopt a 28nm process from TSMC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes