Buy an AMD GPU (or two) and get a free copy of DiRT 3

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 24, 2011 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: xfx, sapphire, powercolor, msi, his, free, dirt 3, amd

If you haven't heard of DiRT 3 by now, you've been missing one of the more technically innovative games developed recently.  Racing fans will go overboard for the choice of cars, spanning 50 years of racing history, which you can compete with in races across all terrain types and the more artistic will like the freestyle gymkhana events. 

The techies will be impressed by the depth of support for DX11 features and we're not just talking about tessellation added on as an afterthought.  The game was designed from the ground up to take advantage of the best graphics cards and to move the way light and shadows interact beyond DX10 HDR and the features other new games have been using. 

Whichever you are, picking up a new Radeon card from Sapphire, Powercolor, MSI, HIS or XFX nets you a free copy of the game! How can you go wrong with that?

 

 

No doubt you’ve heard that the newest addition to Codemasters’ racing games, DiRT 3 has launched today. The reviews are also in, and they’re great, I mean, they’re really great.

Being a Gaming Evolved title, we worked with Codemasters very closely on this one - DiRT 3 makes advances in graphics technologies, taking full advantage of the DirectX™ 11 API, first supported by AMD Radeon graphics. Here’s a glimpse of what DiRT 3 is truly capable of doing – giving players the ultimate visual experience:

  • Shader Model 5.0 Contact Hardening Shadows
  • DirectCompute Accelerated High Definition Ambient Occlusion
  • Optimized Hardware Tessellation

In addition, DiRT 3 has been validated for various Eyefinity configurations, including the brand new 5x1 setup. But the fun doesn’t stop there. You’ll see some examples of it here.

We believe DiRT 3 is such a great game, that we’ve been working with our AIB partners to make this game widely accessible to everyone who buys an AMD Radeon graphics card from our select AIBs, FOR FREE – please visit www.amd.com/dirt3 for more details.

 

Source: AMD

AMD FirePro V5900 & V7900: Professional Card, 3 Displays, Cheap...ish

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 24, 2011 - 11:18 AM |
Tagged: firepro, amd

There exists a breed of video card users who want power, but not in games. They will pay thousands for the best hardware and not measure success in frames per second, but seconds per frame. There exists: professionals. AMD, NVIDIA, Matrox, and others cater to this market’s desire for top performance, features, and reliability in content production, scientific simulation, and engineering applications. AMD just recently updated their professional line with the V5900 and V7900 cards and are lauding some advantages to going red.

21-Professionals.jpg

Professionals have standards: Be efficient. That is all.

 

There are four main points that AMD boasts for their latest entries into the professional market.

  • Geometry Boost: doubles the amount of geometry that can be processed per clock by the card which should make using large models a smoother experience.
  • EQAA: a new method of antialiasing which allows graphics cards to raise the level of antialiasing, but only for part of the process, and provide quality close to the higher level with a performance hit only slightly larger than the lower level. NVIDIA had CSAA, which is almost identical, for a while though.
  • PowerTune: a method of raising and lowering the clock rate of various components of the card to compensate for the differing load across the card at different times.
  • Single-card triple-monitor: the ability to connect more than two monitors to a single single-slot card allows professionals to have three (or four for the V7900) displays saving money, heat, and space. This is possibly the most compelling feature of the entire line, especially for the professional market. 
21-amd.jpg
 No ATI to be seen here folks.
 
Obviously outside the professional market there is little use for graphics cards like these as gaming cards are cheaper and faster than their professional counterparts. For professionals, however, these cards look to be very compelling especially since performance is said to be within the same ballpark of and sometimes exceeding NVIDIA’s $4000 Quadro 6000. Troubles still exist for AMD as some professional applications such as After Effects and Premiere CS5 are partially coded in NVIDIA’s CUDA which will not be accelerated on AMD’s offering. Still, for programs not specifically written for NVIDIA, AMD’s latest offering looks to be very appetizing. Keep an eye out for our review coming very soon.
Source: Icronic

AMD Announces Two New G Series APU For Embedded Systems

Subject: Processors | May 24, 2011 - 10:50 AM |
Tagged: processor, cpu, APU, amd

Recently, AMD launched two new AMD Embedded G-Series APUs (Accelerated Processing Units). The two new chips have a TDP rating of 5.5 and 6.4 watts, which represent a 39% improvement in power savings over the previous iterations. The 361mm² chip package is capable of being used in embedded systems without the need for a fan to cool it. The embedded chips include one or two low power x86 Bobcat processors and a discrete class DirectX 11 GPU on a single die.

AMD_APU.png

AMD currently has three systems utilizing the new APUs, including a Pico-ITX form factor computer, a Qseven form factor computer, and a digital sign system. Buddy Broeker, the Director of Embedded Solutions for AMD stated that "today we take the ground-breaking AMD Fusion APU well below 7W TDP and shatter the accepted traditional threshold for across-the-board fanless enablement."

The two new chips are named the T40R and the T40E.  The chips both run at 1.00GHz; however, the 6.4 watt TDP T40E is a dual core chip and the 5.5 watt TDP T40R is a single core variant.  Both chips include an AMD Radeon 6250 GPU, a 64KB L1 cache, and a 512KB L2 cache per each CPU core.  Further, the chips feature an integrated DDR3 memory controller that can support up to 667MHz solder-down SODIMMs or two DIMM slots.  More details on the series as a whole can be found here.

Mobile and embedded processors continue to get smaller and faster. Have you seen any AMD powered embedded technology in your town?

Source: AMD

Leaking Llano and Bulldozer prices

Subject: General Tech | May 23, 2011 - 02:01 PM |
Tagged: llano, leak, bulldozer, amd

We now know what to expect from AMD's Llano, as far as pricing and initial model numbers.  None of the Llano chips top $200 which is good as the Intel models that they will be competing against are also in that price range.  Bulldozer is a little more expensive, with the lower end quad-core running $220 up to $320 for the high end octo-core, again bang on with Intel's competing Sandy Bridge parts.  It is a question of the performance gap between Intel and AMD, which unfortunately remains unanswered for now.

llano.jpg

"AMD has started shipping its Llano APUs to notebook clients and will begin to market the APUs to channels in July 2011, according to sources from notebook makers.

AMD targets to ship one million notebook-use Llano APUs in June, 1.5 million in July, and a total of 8-9 million for the whole of 2011, revealed the sources, citing AMD's internal estimates.

If the shipment goals are realized, AMD will be able to boost its share in the notebook CPU segment to 15% by the end of the year, the sources commented."

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Source: DigiTimes

AMD discusses "Heterogeneous Computing"

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 22, 2011 - 08:04 PM |
Tagged: fusion, amd, AFDS

In a little over three weeks’ time AMD will host their AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 (AFDS): a three-day conference with the hopes of promoting heterogeneous computing amongst developers. We have increasingly seen potential applications of using the parts of your computer outside the standard x86 core over the years though much of it was through NVIDIA’s brand. Building up to the summit, AMD’s DeveloperCentral talked with Lee Howes, parallel computing expert and Member of Technical Staff for Programming Models at AMD, about his upcoming session at AFDS.

20-AFDS.png

I can't get over how much AFDS looks like a diagnosis.

In the short five-question interview, Dr. Howes outlined that the goal of his session is to show developers what to expect, good and bad, from developing for a heterogeneous architecture such as that of an APU. The rest of the interview was spent discussing how heterogeneous computing is currently and will eventually look like. Topics spanned from the slow perceived uptake of parallel computing in the home to the technological limitations of traditional CPUs that APUs and other heterogeneous computing systems look to bypass.

While AFDS is (by its namesake) a developer’s conference it is very much relevant to peer at for the end-user. The support for developers of newer computing architectures will help fuel the cycle of adoption between software and hardware which ends up with a better experience for us. What tasks would you like to see accelerated by heterogeneous computing? Let us know in the comments below.

ASUS Sabertooth Motherboard Supporting 990FX Chipset Pictured

Subject: Motherboards | May 21, 2011 - 12:12 AM |
Tagged: asus, amd, 990fx

Soon, Intel based ASUS motherboards will be joined at the high end by one based on the AMD 990FX chipset.  TechPowerUp has the scoop on an upcoming Sabertooth motherboard.

While Intel seems to get the honors of the majority of high end motherboards, AMD enthusiasts will soon be able to get their hands on an ASUS 990FX Sabertooth motherboard with an AM3+ socket. ASUS is bringing out both the Republic of Gamers (ROG) as well as their "The Ultimate Force" branding. Let's see what that marketing speak purports to give AMD enthusiasts:

AMDSabertooth.jpg

According to TechPowerUp, the Sabertooth board for the AMD 990FX chipset "is designed to run up to four discrete graphics cards." Further, The board hosts an AM3+ socket, 10-phase digital VRMs, four DDR3 RAM slots connected to the CPU via a HyperTransport 3.1 link. TechPowerUp claims that the board will be able to accomodate up to 1866 MHz memory modules. The black PCB and green heatsinks keep with ASUS' TUF branded motherboards, and supports such features as UEFI BIOS and MemOK.

Connectivity options include:

   ASUS 990FX Sabertooth AMD Motherboard
PCI-E 4x PCI-E 2.0 (x16/x4/x16/NC or x16/x4/x8/x8)
PCI 1x PCI
SATA 6x SATA 3 ports and 2x SATA 2 ports

USB

1x USB 3 header, 1x USB 2
Firewire 1x Internal Firewire header
SPDIF-Out 1x Internal header
Rear I/O

1x PS/2 mouse/keyboard port

1x Optical Out

1x Firewire

6x USB 2.0

2x USB 3.0

2x eSATA (one powered)

1x Gigabit Ethernet

6x HD Audio ports (2.1 out + mic in or 5.1 output)

It's nice to see that AMD is still getting some high end motherboard love from manufacturers and consumers.  You can find more photos over at TechPowerUp.

Source: TechPowerUp
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI Computers

MSI R6970 Lightning: High Speed, Low Drag

MSI has been on a tear as of late with their video card offerings.  The Twin Frozr II and III series have all received positive reviews, people seem to be buying their products, and the company has taken some interesting turns in how they handle overall design and differentiation in a very crowded graphics marketplace.  This did not happen overnight, and MSI has been a driving force in how the video card business has developed.

r6970_box1.jpg

Perhaps a company’s reputation is best summed up by what the competition has to say about them.  I remember well back in 1999 when Tyan was first considering going into the video card business.  Apparently they were going to release a NVIDIA TnT-2 based card to the marketplace, and attempt to work their way upwards with more offerings.  This particular project was nixed by management.  A few years later Tyan attempted the graphics business again, but this time with some ATI Radeon 9000 series of cards.  Their biggest seller was their 9200 cards, but they also offered their Tachyone 9700 Pro.  In talking with Tyan about where they were, the marketing guy simply looked at me and said, “You know, if we had pursued graphics back in 1999 we might be in the same position that MSI is in now.”

Discrete Graphics Card Shipments See Slight Increase Versus Previous Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 10, 2011 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, jpr, gpu, amd

The last quarter of 2010 saw shipments totalling 18.84 million units. In 2011, shipments rose slightly by 2% to 19.03 million add-in cards. According to JPR (Jon Peddie Research), while Q1 of 2011 behaved similarly to past years seasonally, it did not fair as well overall as shipments did not exceed those of Q1 2010. Where AMD increased units shipped by 5.7% versus the previous quarter (Q4 2010), NVIDIA saw a 2% decrease.

JPR notes that while increase in units shipped versus Q4 2010 was rather slight, it remains a positive change due to Q4 2010 behaving irregularly regarding the seasonal cycle.

The increased units shipped further reflect changes in market share for the two largest discrete graphics card makers. Versus last quarter, NVIDIA lost 2.7% of the market while AMD gained 4.4%. JPR states that AMD has gained 16.6% market share while rival NVIDIA lost 8.4 on a year-to-year basis.

 

Q1 2011

Market Share

Q4 2010

Market Share

Market Share

Change Qtr-Qtr

Previous Year

Market Share

Market Share

Change Yr-Yr

AMD 40.46% 38.77% 4.37% 34.65% 16.79%
NVIDIA 59.12% 60.77% -2.71% 64.50% -8.35%
Others 0.42% 0.47% -9.99% 0.85% -50.62%

JRP's reported market shares over time.

John Peddie Research notes that of the 19.03 million discrete graphics cards shipped, NVIDIA was the clear market leader, thanks in part to sales of CUDA and GPU-Compute cards used in scientific and data research.  The add-in board market is further composed of three main segments that amount to the 19.03 million boards shipped.  On the high end rests the enthusiast gamer (approx. 9 million sold per year) and GPU-compute markets which exists as lower volume of sales but higher price per card.  The majority of graphics card shipments come from the mainstream market which is a balance of price and volume.  Finally, the workstation segment which is smaller than even the enthusiast gaming market but traditionally sees higher average asking prices for the hardware that is shipped.

JPR estimates that the add-in market will fall 4.5% to $19.8 billion USD despite positive increases in the number of cards shipped due to "a gradual decline in the ASP."

As the chart illustrates, NVIDIA still remains the market juggernaut, shipping 11.25 million cards; however, AMD has made a lot of headway in the past year.  With both the AMD 6950 and Nvidia 560ti proving to be the cards of choice by many gamers worldwide competition is healthy and enthusiasts have only to benefit from the market's positive increases.

Source:

AMD Releases 11.5 Catalyst Drivers, Fixes Many Windows 7 Bugs

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2011 - 11:51 AM |
Tagged: catalyst, amd

AMD has released its latest Catalyst display drivers today. The new 11.5 drivers focus mainly on bug-fixes and interface improvements. The new features of the driver package include improvements to Hydravision for Eyefinity setups:

  • HydraGrid is now awar of user created bezels.
  • HydraGrid now includes an "Automatic Grid" that aligns itself to a user defined Eyefinity display layout.

amd-logo.jpg

Other important aspects of this driver release are bug fixes for the Windows 7 and XP operating systems:

A number of bugs have been fixed for Windows 7, notably:

  • Windows Media Player no longer randomly hangs or displays a black screen after playing VC1 (WMV) video files for over 4 hours.
  • Bioshock no longer displays visual corruption with Vsynch and MLAA enabled.
  • Transcoding MPEG-2 video to H.264 no longer causes an application crash.
  • Transcoding H.264 to AVCHD no longer generates lagging video.

Winows XP on the other hand, has only recieved a single bug fix.  A crossfire issue has been fixed so that Civilization V " no longer stops responding during game launch when Crossfire is enabled."

More information on bug fixes for Windows 7 as well as installation help can be found in the release notes here.

Source: AMD

AMD's new and improved minimalist BIOS replacement, Coreboot

Subject: General Tech | May 9, 2011 - 08:51 AM |
Tagged: amd, coreboot, uefi, bios, embedded, llano, opteron, s3

A lot of attention is being paid to UEFI, the new graphical BIOS replacement that not only lets you utilize 2TB+ drives as a boot device but will give you mouse control over the games that come integrated with your settings.  It does offer quite a few advantages over the old BIOS but adds complexity as well.  AMD has gone a different route with their Opteron series with Coreboot (aka LinuxBIOS) a different way of initializing a computer.  It does a very minimal hardware initialization and then moves into what is called a payload, which contains the familiar abilities of the BIOS but not integrated directly into the hardware initialization in any way.  This is far more useful for server and embedded applications than the latest ROG board, which is why embedded Llano will be receiving support and why Opteron already does.  Follow the links from The Inquirer for more.

Coreboot_menuconfig1.png

"CHIP DESIGNER AMD has announced that its upcoming Llano accelerated processing unit (APU) will support Coreboot.

AMD has been pushing development the BIOS replacement initiative Coreboot for many years but has focused on getting support for its embedded and server processors. Now the company has come out and said that all of its future processors will support Coreboot, from Llano onwards."

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Source: The Inquirer