Getting burned by the Steam Controller

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2014 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Controller, gdc 14

At the Game Developers Conference last month The Tech Report had some one on one time with the Steam Controller and walked away with a less than positive impression.  It would seem that the learning curve for this device is rather steep, especially when they tried Portal 2.  Fine aiming, circle strafing and other tasks which come naturally to those used to a keyboard and mouse were quite difficult to accomplish on the new controller.  When asked, the Valve rep admitted it took them about 8 hours to familiarize themselves with the Steam Controller.  Is that too steep a learning curve or is it simply part of the fun of playing with a new type of console and controller?

controller.jpg

"Valve's Steam controller looks great on paper. It promises not just greater accuracy than conventional console gamepads, but also support for point-and-click titles that traditionally required a mouse and keyboard. There's a downside, though. As TR's Cyril Kowaliski learned first-hand, the Steam controller has a pretty steep learning curve—steep enough, perhaps, to put off some potential converts."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

GDC 2014: Shader-limited Optimization for AMD's GCN

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 29, 2014 - 10:45 PM |
Tagged: gdc 14, GDC, GCN, amd

While Mantle and DirectX 12 are designed to reduce overhead and keep GPUs loaded, the conversation shifts when you are limited by shader throughput. Modern graphics processors are dominated by sometimes thousands of compute cores. Video drivers are complex packages of software. One of their many tasks is converting your scripts, known as shaders, into machine code for its hardware. If this machine code is efficient, it could mean drastically higher frame rates, especially at extreme resolutions and intense quality settings.

amd-gcn-unit.jpg

Emil Persson of Avalanche Studios, probably known best for the Just Cause franchise, published his slides and speech on optimizing shaders. His talk focuses on AMD's GCN architecture, due to its existence in both console and PC, while bringing up older GPUs for examples. Yes, he has many snippets of GPU assembly code.

AMD's GCN architecture is actually quite interesting, especially dissected as it was in the presentation. It is simpler than its ancestors and much more CPU-like, with resources mapped to memory (and caches of said memory) rather than "slots" (although drivers and APIs often pretend those relics still exist) and with how vectors are mostly treated as collections of scalars, and so forth. Tricks which attempt to combine instructions together into vectors, such as using dot products, can just put irrelevant restrictions on the compiler and optimizer... as it breaks down those vector operations into those very same component-by-component ops that you thought you were avoiding.

Basically, and it makes sense coming from GDC, this talk rarely glosses over points. It goes over execution speed of one individual op compared to another, at various precisions, and which to avoid (protip: integer divide). Also, fused multiply-add is awesome.

I know I learned.

As a final note, this returns to the discussions we had prior to the launch of the next generation consoles. Developers are learning how to make their shader code much more efficient on GCN and that could easily translate to leading PC titles. Especially with DirectX 12 and Mantle, which lightens the CPU-based bottlenecks, learning how to do more work per FLOP addresses the other side. Everyone was looking at Mantle as AMD's play for success through harnessing console mindshare (and in terms of Intel vs AMD, it might help). But honestly, I believe that it will be trends like this presentation which prove more significant... even if behind-the-scenes. Of course developers were always having these discussions, but now console developers will probably be talking about only one architecture - that is a lot of people talking about very few things.

This is not really reducing overhead; this is teaching people how to do more work with less, especially in situations (high resolutions with complex shaders) where the GPU is most relevant.

GDC wasn't just about DirectX; OpenGL was also a hot topic

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 09:26 AM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, gdc 14, GDC, amd, Intel

DX12 and its Mantle-like qualities garnered the most interest from gamers at GDC but an odd trio of companies were also pushing a different API.  OpenGL has been around for over 20 years and has waged a long war against Direct3D, a war which may be intensifying again.  Representatives from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA all took to the stage to praise the new OpenGL standard, suggesting that with a tweaked implementation of OpenGL developers could expect to see performance increases between 7 to 15 times.  The Inquirer has embedded an hour long video in their story, check it out to learn more.

slide-1-638.jpg

"CHIP DESIGNERS AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC)."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: The Inquirer
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

DX11 could rival Mantle

The big story at GDC last week was Microsoft’s reveal of DirectX 12 and the future of the dominant API for PC gaming.  There was plenty of build up to the announcement with Microsoft’s DirectX team posting teasers and starting up a Twitter account of the occasion. I hosted a live blog from the event which included pictures of the slides. It was our most successful of these types of events with literally thousands of people joining in the conversation. Along with the debates over the similarities of AMD’s Mantle API and the timeline for DX12 release, there are plenty of stories to be told.

After the initial session, I wanted to setup meetings with both AMD and NVIDIA to discuss what had been shown and get some feedback on the planned direction for the GPU giants’ implementations.  NVIDIA presented us with a very interesting set of data that both focused on the future with DX12, but also on the now of DirectX 11.

15.jpg

The reason for the topic is easy to decipher – AMD has built up the image of Mantle as the future of PC gaming and, with a full 18 months before Microsoft’s DirectX 12 being released, how developers and gamers respond will make an important impact on the market. NVIDIA doesn’t like to talk about Mantle directly, but it’s obvious that it feels the need to address the questions in a roundabout fashion. During our time with NVIDIA’s Tony Tamasi at GDC, the discussion centered as much on OpenGL and DirectX 11 as anything else.

What are APIs and why do you care?

For those that might not really understand what DirectX and OpenGL are, a bit of background first. APIs (application programming interface) are responsible for providing an abstraction layer between hardware and software applications.  An API can deliver consistent programming models (though the language can vary) and do so across various hardware vendors products and even between hardware generations.  They can provide access to feature sets of hardware that have a wide range in complexity, but allow users access to hardware without necessarily knowing great detail about it.

Over the years, APIs have developed and evolved but still retain backwards compatibility.  Companies like NVIDIA and AMD can improve DirectX implementations to increase performance or efficiency without adversely (usually at least) affecting other games or applications.  And because the games use that same API for programming, changes to how NVIDIA/AMD handle the API integration don’t require game developer intervention.

With the release of AMD Mantle, the idea of a “low level” API has been placed in the minds of gamers and developers.  The term “low level” can mean many things, but in general it is associated with an API that is more direct, has a thinner set of abstraction layers, and uses less translation from code to hardware.  The goal is to reduce the amount of overhead (performance hit) that APIs naturally impair for these translations.  With additional performance available, the CPU cycles can be used by the program (game) or be slept to improve battery life. In certain cases, GPU throughput can increase where the API overhead is impeding the video card's progress.

Passing additional control to the game developers, away from the API or GPU driver developers, gives those coders additional power and improves the ability for some vendors to differentiate. Interestingly, not all developers want this kind of control as it requires more time, more development work, and small teams that depend on that abstraction to make coding easier will only see limited performance advantages.

The reasons for this transition to a lower level API is being driven the by widening gap of performance between CPU and GPUs.  NVIDIA provided the images below.

04.jpg

On the left we see performance scaling in terms of GFLOPS and on the right the metric is memory bandwidth. Clearly the performance of NVIDIA's graphics chips has far outpaced (as have AMD’s) what the best Intel desktop processor have been able and that gap means that the industry needs to innovate to find ways to close it.

Continue reading NVIDIA Talks DX12, DX11 Efficiency Improvements!!!

GDC 14: NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel Discuss OpenGL Speed-ups

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 21, 2014 - 10:41 PM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, amd

So, for all the discussion about DirectX 12, the three main desktop GPU vendors, NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel, want to tell OpenGL developers how to tune their applications. Using OpenGL 4.2 and a few cross-vendor extensions, because OpenGL is all about its extensions, a handful of known tricks can reduce driver overhead up to ten-fold and increase performance up to fifteen-fold. The talk is very graphics developer-centric, but it basically describes a series of tricks known to accomplish feats similar to what Mantle and DirectX 12 suggest.

opengl_logo.jpg

The 130-slide presentation is broken into a few sections, each GPU vendor getting a decent chunk of time. On occasion, they would mention which implementation fairs better with one function call. The main point that they wanted to drive home (since they clearly repeated the slide three times with three different fonts) is that none of this requires a new API. Everything exists and can be implemented right now. The real trick is to know how to not poke the graphics library in the wrong way.

The page also hosts a keynote from the recent Steam Dev Days.

That said, an advantage that I expect from DirectX 12 and Mantle is reduced driver complexity. Since the processors have settled into standards, I expect that drivers will not need to do as much unless the library demands it for legacy reasons. I am not sure how extending OpenGL will affect that benefit, as opposed to just isolating the legacy and building on a solid foundation, but I wonder if these extensions could be just as easy to maintain and optimize. Maybe it is.

Either way, the performance figures do not lie.

Source: NVIDIA

Oculus Rift Development Kit 2 (DK2) Are $350, Expected July

Subject: General Tech, Displays, Shows and Expos | March 21, 2014 - 10:04 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Oculus, gdc 14, GDC

Last month, we published a news piece stating that Oculus Rift production has been suspended as "certain components" were unavailable. At the time, the company said they are looking for alternate suppliers but do not know how long that will take. The speculation was that the company was simply readying a new version and did not want to cannibalize their sales.

This week, they announced a new version which is available for pre-order and expected to ship in July.

DK2, as it is called, integrates a pair of 960x1080 OLED displays (correction, March 22nd @ 3:15pm: It is technically a single 1080p display that is divided per eye) for higher resolution and lower persistence. Citing Valve's VR research, they claim that the low persistence will reduce motion blur as your eye blends neighboring frames together. In this design, it flickers the image for a short period before going black, and does this at a high enough rate keep your eye fed with light. The higher resolution also prevents the "screen door effect" complained about by the first release. Like their "Crystal Cove" prototype, it also uses an external camera to reduce latency in detecting your movement. All of these should combine to less motion sickness.

I would expect that VR has a long road ahead of it before it becomes a commercial product for the general population, though. There are many legitimate concerns about leaving your users trapped in a sensory deprivation apparatus when Kinect could not even go a couple of days without someone pretending to play volleyball and wrecking their TV with ceiling fan fragments. Still, this company seems to be doing it intelligently: keep afloat on developers and lead users as you work through your prototypes. It is cool, even if it will get significantly better, and people will support its research while getting the best at the time.

DK2 is available for pre-order for $350 and is expected to ship in July.

Source: Oculus

Microsoft DirectX 12 Live Blog Recap

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 21, 2014 - 11:25 AM |
Tagged: dx12, DirectX, DirectX 12, GDC, gdc 14, nvidia, Intel, amd, qualcomm, live, live blog

We had some requests for a permanent spot for the live blog images and text from this week's GDC 14 DirectX 12 reveal.  Here it is included below!!

  Microsoft DirectX 12 Announcement Live Blog (03/20/2014) 
9:53
Ryan Shrout: 

Hi everyone!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:53 Ryan Shrout
9:53
Ryan Shrout: 

We are just about ready to get started - people are filing in now.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:53 Ryan Shrout
9:53
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

?video

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:53 Guest
9:53
Ryan Shrout: 

Sorry, no video for this. They wouldn't allow us to record or stream.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:53 Ryan Shrout
9:55
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

kk, no worries

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:55 Guest
9:55
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

Pictures?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:55 Guest
9:55
Ryan Shrout: 

Yup!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:55 Ryan Shrout
9:59
Ryan Shrout: 

Just testing out photos. I promise the others will be more clear.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:59 Ryan Shrout
9:59
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 9:59 
10:00
[Comment From SebastianSebastian: ] 

Looks like it's a very small event

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:00 Sebastian
10:00
Ryan Shrout: 

The room is much smaller than it should be. Line was way too long for a room like this.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:00 Ryan Shrout
10:01
Josh Walrath: 

that is a super small room for such an event. Especially considering the online demand for details!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:01 Josh Walrath
10:02
Ryan Shrout
 
Qualcomm's Eric Demers, AMD's Raja Koduri, NVIDIA's Tony Tamasi.
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:02 
10:03
Ryan Shrout: 

And we are starting!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:03 Ryan Shrout
10:03
Josh Walrath: 

Have those boys gotten their knives out yet. Are the press circling them and snapping their fingers?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:03 Josh Walrath
10:03
Ryan Shrout: 

Going over a history of DX.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:03 Ryan Shrout
10:03
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:03 
10:04
Ryan Shrout: 

Talking about the development process.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:04 Ryan Shrout
10:04
Ryan Shrout: 

All partner base.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:04 Ryan Shrout
10:04
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:04 
10:05
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

why cant I comment ?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 Guest
10:05
Ryan Shrout: 

GPU performance is "embarrassing parallel" statement here.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 Ryan Shrout
10:05
Scott Michaud: 

You can, we just need to publish them. And there's *a lot* of comments.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 Scott Michaud
10:05
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 
10:05
Josh Walrath: 

We see everything, Peter.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 Josh Walrath
10:05
Ryan Shrout: 

CPU performance has not improved at the same rate. This difference rate of increase is a big challenge for DX.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:05 Ryan Shrout
10:06
Ryan Shrout: 

Third point has been a challenge, until now.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:06 Ryan Shrout
10:07
Ryan Shrout: 

What do developers want? List similar to what AMD presented with Mantle.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:07 Ryan Shrout
10:07
Ryan Shrout: 

DX12 "is no dot release"

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:07 Ryan Shrout
10:08
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:08 
10:08
Ryan Shrout: 

It faster, more direct. ha ha.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:08 Ryan Shrout
10:08
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:08 
10:08
Ryan Shrout: 

Xbox One games will see improved performance. Coming to all MS platforms. PC, mobile too.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:08 Ryan Shrout
10:08
Josh Walrath: 

Oh look, mobile!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:08 Josh Walrath
10:09
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 
10:09
Ryan Shrout: 

New tools are a requirement.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 Ryan Shrout
10:09
Josh Walrath: 

We finally have a MS answer to OpenGL ES.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 Josh Walrath
10:09
Scott Michaud: 

Hmm, none of the four pictures in the bottom is a desktop or Laptop.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 Scott Michaud
10:09
Ryan Shrout: 

D3D 12 is the first version to go much lower level.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 Ryan Shrout
10:09
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

The last one is a desktop...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:09 Guest
10:10
Scott Michaud: 

Huh, thought it was TV. My mistake.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:10 Scott Michaud
10:10
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:10 
10:10
Ryan Shrout: 

Yeah, desktop PC is definitely on the list here guys.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:10 Ryan Shrout
10:11
Ryan Shrout: 

Going to show us some prototypes.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:11 Ryan Shrout
10:11
Ryan Shrout: 

Ported latest 3DMark.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:11 Ryan Shrout
10:12
Ryan Shrout: 

In DX11, one core is doing most of the work.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:12 Ryan Shrout
10:12
Ryan Shrout: 

on d3d12, overall CPU utilization is down 50%

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:12 Ryan Shrout
10:13
Ryan Shrout: 

Also, the workload is more spread out.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:13 Ryan Shrout
10:13
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:13 
10:13
Ryan Shrout: 

Interesting data for you all!!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:13 Ryan Shrout
10:13
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:13 
10:14
Ryan Shrout: 

Grouping entire pipeline state into state objects. These can be mapped very efficiently to GPU hardware.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:14 Ryan Shrout
10:14
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:14 
10:15
Ryan Shrout: 

"Solved" multi-threaded scalability.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:15 Ryan Shrout
10:15
Scott Michaud: 

Hmm, from ~8ms to ~4. That's an extra 4ms for the GPU to work. 20 GFLOPs for a GeForce Titan.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:15 Scott Michaud
10:15
[Comment From JayJay: ] 

Multicore Scalability.... Seems like a big deal when you have 6-8 cores!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:15 Jay
10:16
Josh Walrath: 

It is a big deal for the CPU guys.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:16 Josh Walrath
10:16
Ryan Shrout: 

D3D12 allows apps to control graphics memory better.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:16 Ryan Shrout
10:16
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:16 
10:17
Ryan Shrout: 

API is now much lower level. Application tracks pipeline status, not the API.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:17 Ryan Shrout
10:17
[Comment From JimJim: ] 

20 GFlops from a Titan? Stock Titan gets around 5 ATM.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:17 Jim
10:17
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:17 
10:18
Ryan Shrout: 

Less API and driver tracking universally. More more predictability.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:18 Ryan Shrout
10:18
Ryan Shrout: 

This is targeted at the smartest developers, but gives you unprecedented performance.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:18 Ryan Shrout
10:18
Ryan Shrout: 

Also planning to advance state of rendering features. Feature level 12.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:18 Ryan Shrout
10:19
Scott Michaud: 

Titan gets around ~5 Teraflops, actually... if it is fully utilized. I'm saying that an extra 4ms is an extra 20 GFlops per frame.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:19 Scott Michaud
10:19
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:19 
10:19
Josh Walrath: 

Titan is around 5 TFlops total, that 20 GFLOPS is potential performance in the time gained by optimizations.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:19 Josh Walrath
10:19
Ryan Shrout: 

Better collision and culling

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:19 Ryan Shrout
10:19
Ryan Shrout: 

Constantly working with GPU vendors to find new ways to render.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:19 Ryan Shrout
10:20
Ryan Shrout: 

Forza 5 on stage now. Strictly console developer.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:20 Ryan Shrout
10:20
[Comment From Lewap PawelLewap Pawel: ] 

So 20GFLOPS per frame is 20x60 = 1200GFLOPS/sec? 20% improvement?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:20 Lewap Pawel
10:21
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:21 
10:21
Scott Michaud: 

Not quite, because we don't know how many FPS we had originally.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:21 Scott Michaud
10:21
Ryan Shrout: 

Talking about porting the game to D3D12

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:21 Ryan Shrout
10:22
Ryan Shrout: 

4 man-months effort to port core rendering engine.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:22 Ryan Shrout
10:22
Ryan Shrout: 

Demo time!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:22 Ryan Shrout
10:22
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:22 
10:22
Ryan Shrout: 

Rendering at static 60 FPS.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:22 Ryan Shrout
10:23
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:23 
10:23
Ryan Shrout: 

Bundles allows for instancing but with variance.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:23 Ryan Shrout
10:24
Ryan Shrout: 

Resource lifetime, track memory directly. No longer have D3D tracking that lifetime, much cheaper on resources.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:24 Ryan Shrout
10:24
Ryan Shrout: 

"It's all up to us, and that's how we like it."

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:24 Ryan Shrout
10:24
Ryan Shrout: 

Does anyone else here worry that DX12 might leave out some smaller devs that can't go so low level?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:24 Ryan Shrout
10:25
Josh Walrath: 

I would say that depends on the quality of tools that MS provides, as well as IHV support.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:25 Josh Walrath
10:25
Scott Michaud: 

Not really, for me. The reason why they can go so much lower these days is because what is lower is more consistent.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:25 Scott Michaud
10:26
Ryan Shrout: 

And now back to info. Will you have to buy new hardware? I would say no since they just showed Xbox One... lol

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:26 Ryan Shrout
10:26
[Comment From killeakkilleak: ] 

Small devs will use an Engine, not make their own.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:26 killeak
10:26
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:26 
10:26
Ryan Shrout: 

On stage now is Raja Koduri from AMD.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:26 Ryan Shrout
10:27
Scott Michaud: 

Not true at all, actually. Just look at Frictional (Amnesia). They made their own engine tailored for what their game needed.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:27 Scott Michaud
10:27
Ryan Shrout: 

AMD has been working very closely with DX12. Heh.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:27 Ryan Shrout
10:27
Josh Walrath: 

Shocking!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:27 Josh Walrath
10:28
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 
10:28
Josh Walrath: 

Strike a pose!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 Josh Walrath
10:28
Ryan Shrout: 

There is tension: AMD is trying to push hw forward, MS is trying to push their platform forward.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 Ryan Shrout
10:28
Ryan Shrout: 

Very honest assessment of the current setup between AMD, NVIDIA, MS.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 Ryan Shrout
10:28
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

Scott, with the recent changes with CryEngine, UE4 going subscription based more Indies might just go that route.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 Guest
10:28
Ryan Shrout: 

DX12 is an area where they had the least tension in Raja's history in this field.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:28 Ryan Shrout
10:29
Scott Michaud: 

Definitely. But that is not the same thing as saying that indies will not make their own engine.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:29 Scott Michaud
10:29
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:29 
10:29
Ryan Shrout: 

Key is that current users get benefit with this API on day 1.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:29 Ryan Shrout
10:29
Ryan Shrout: 

"Like getting 4 generations of hardware ahead."

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:29 Ryan Shrout
10:29
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:29 
10:31
Josh Walrath: 

That answers a few of the burning questions!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:31 Josh Walrath
10:31
Ryan Shrout: 

Up now is Eric Mentzer from Intel.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:31 Ryan Shrout
10:31
[Comment From KevKev: ] 

Thank you! Great news guys!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:31 Kev
10:31
Scott Michaud: 

You're welcome! : D

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:31 Scott Michaud
10:32
[Comment From JimJim: ] 

OH, intel and AMD in the same room....

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Jim
10:32
Scott Michaud: 

Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm in the same room...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Scott Michaud
10:32
Ryan Shrout: 

Intel has made big change in graphics; put a lot more focus on it with tech and process tech.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Ryan Shrout
10:32
Josh Walrath: 

DX12 will enhance any modern graphics chip. Driver support from IHVs will be key to enable those features. This is a massive change in how DX addresses the GPU, rather than (so far) the GPU adding features.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Josh Walrath
10:32
[Comment From GuestGuest: ] 

so this means xbox one will get a performance boost?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Guest
10:32
Scott Michaud: 

Yes

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:32 Scott Michaud
10:33
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:33 
10:33
Scott Michaud: 

According to "Benefits of Direct3D 12 will extend to Xbox One", at least.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:33 Scott Michaud
10:33
Ryan Shrout: 

Intel commits to having Haswell support DX12 at launch.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:33 Ryan Shrout
10:34
Ryan Shrout: 

BTW - thanks to everyone for stopping by the live blog!! :)

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Ryan Shrout
10:34
Josh Walrath: 

Just to reiterate... PS4 utilizes OpenGL, not DX. This change will not affect PS4. Changes to OpenGL will only improve PS4 performance.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Josh Walrath
10:34
Ryan Shrout: 

If you like this kind of stuff, check out our weekly podcast! http://pcper.com/podcast

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Ryan Shrout
10:34
Ryan Shrout: 

No mention of actual DX12 launch time quite yet...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Ryan Shrout
10:34
[Comment From MagnarockMagnarock: ] 

Finish?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Magnarock
10:34
Ryan Shrout: 

And Intel is gone. Short and sweet.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Ryan Shrout
10:34
Scott Michaud: 

Still have NVIDIA and Qualcomm, at least.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:34 Scott Michaud
10:35
Scott Michaud: 

So -- not finished.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:35 Scott Michaud
10:35
Ryan Shrout: 

Up next is Tony Tamasi from NVIDIA.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:35 Ryan Shrout
10:35
Ryan Shrout: 

NVIDIA has been working with MS since the inception of DX12. Still don't know when that is...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:35 Ryan Shrout
10:35
[Comment From AlexAlex: ] 

PS4 doesn't use OpenGL, but custom APIs instead...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:35 Alex
10:35
Scott Michaud: 

True, it's not actually OpenGL... but is heavily heavily based on OpenGL.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:35 Scott Michaud
10:36
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:36 
10:36
Ryan Shrout: 

They think it should be done with standards so there is no fragmentation.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:36 Ryan Shrout
10:36
Ryan Shrout: 

lulz.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:36 Ryan Shrout
10:37
Scott Michaud: 

Because everything that ends in "x" is all about no fragmentation :p

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:37 Scott Michaud
10:37
Ryan Shrout: 

NVIDIA will support DX12 on Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell and forward!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:37 Ryan Shrout
10:37
Ryan Shrout: 

For developers that want to get down deep and manage all of this, DX12 is going to be really exciting.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:37 Ryan Shrout
10:38
Ryan Shrout: 

NVIDIA represents about 55% of the install base.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:38 Ryan Shrout
10:38
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:38 
10:38
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:38 
10:39
Ryan Shrout: 

Developers already have DX12 drivers. The Forza demo was running on NVIDIA!!!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:39 Ryan Shrout
10:39
Ryan Shrout: 

Holy crap, that wasn't on an Xbox One!!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:39 Ryan Shrout
10:39
Scott Michaud: 

Fermi and forward... aligning well with the start of their compute-based architectures... using IEEE standards (etc). Makes perfect sense. Also might help explain why pre-Fermi is deprecated after GeForce 340 drivers...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:39 Scott Michaud
10:40
Ryan Shrout: 

Support quote from Tim Sweeney.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:40 Ryan Shrout
10:41
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:41 
10:41
[Comment From CrackolaCrackola: ] 

Any current NVIDIA cards DX12 ready? Titan, etc?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:41 Crackola
10:41
Ryan Shrout: 

Up now is Eric Demers from Qualcomm.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:41 Ryan Shrout
10:42
Scott Michaud: 

NVIDIA said Fermi, Kepler, and Maxwell will be DX12-ready. So like... almost everything since GeForce 400... almost.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 Scott Michaud
10:42
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 
10:42
Ryan Shrout: 

Qualcomm has been working with MS on mobile graphics since there WAS mobile graphics.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 Ryan Shrout
10:42
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 
10:42
Ryan Shrout: 

Most windows phones are powered by Snapdragon.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 Ryan Shrout
10:42
Josh Walrath: 

We currently don't know what changes in Direct3D will be brought to the table, all we are seeing here is how they are changing the software stack to more efficiently use modern GPUs. This does not mean that all current DX11 hardware will fully support the DX12 specification when it comes to D3D, Direct Compute, etc.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:42 Josh Walrath
10:43
Ryan Shrout: 

DX12 will improve power efficiency by reducing overhead.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:43 Ryan Shrout
10:43
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:43 
10:44
Ryan Shrout: 

Perf will improve on mobile device as well, of course. But gaming for longer periods on battery life is biggest draw.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:44 Ryan Shrout
10:45
Ryan Shrout: 

Portability - bringing titles from the PC to Xbox to mobile platform will be much easier.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:45 Ryan Shrout
10:45
[Comment From David UyDavid Uy: ] 

I think all Geforce 400 series is Fermi. so - Geforce 400 and above.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:45 David Uy
10:45
Scott Michaud: 

I think the GeForce 405 is the only exception...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:45 Scott Michaud
10:45
Ryan Shrout: 

Off goes Eric.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:45 Ryan Shrout
10:45
Ryan Shrout: 

MS back on stage.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:45 Ryan Shrout
10:46
Ryan Shrout: 

And now a group picture lol.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:46 Ryan Shrout
10:46
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:46 
10:47
Ryan Shrout: 

By the time they ship, 50% of all PC gamers will be DX12 capable.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:47 Ryan Shrout
10:47
Ryan Shrout: 

Ouch, targeting Holiday 2015 games.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:47 Ryan Shrout
10:48
Ryan Shrout: 

Early access coming later this year.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:48 Ryan Shrout
10:48
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:48 
10:48
Josh Walrath: 

Yeah, this is a pretty big sea change.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:48 Josh Walrath
10:48
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:48 
10:49
Ryan Shrout
 
 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:49 
10:49
Scott Michaud: 

50% of PC Gamers sounds like they're projecting NOT Windows 7.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:49 Scott Michaud
10:49
Ryan Shrout: 

They are up for Q&A not sure how informative they will be...

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:49 Ryan Shrout
10:50
Josh Walrath: 

OS support? Extension changes to D3D/Direct Compute?

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:50 Josh Walrath
10:50
Ryan Shrout: 

Windows 7 support? Won't be announcing anything today but they understand the request.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:50 Ryan Shrout
10:51
Ryan Shrout: 

Q: What about support for multi-GPU? They will have a way to target specific GPUs in a system.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:51 Ryan Shrout
10:51
Ryan Shrout: 

This session is wrapping up for now!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:51 Ryan Shrout
10:51
Ryan Shrout: 

Looks like we are light on details but we'll be catching more sessions today so check back on http://www.pcper.com/

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:51 Ryan Shrout
10:52
Scott Michaud: 

"a way to target specific GPUs in a system" this sounds like developers can program their own Crossfire/SLi methods, like OpenCL and Mantle.

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:52 Scott Michaud
10:52
Ryan Shrout: 

Also, again, if you want more commentary on DX12 and PC hardware, check out our weekly podcast! http://www.pcper.com/podcast!

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:52 Ryan Shrout
10:52
Ryan Shrout: 

Thanks everyone for joining us! We MIGHT live blog the other sessions today, so you can sign up for our mailing list to find out when we go live. http://www.pcper.com/subscribe

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:52 Ryan Shrout
10:57
Scott Michaud: 

Apparently NVIDIA's blog says DX12 discussion begun more than four years ago "with discussions about reducing resource overhead". They worked for a year to deliver "a working design and implementation of DX12 at GDC".

 
 
Thursday March 20, 2014 10:57 Scott Michaud
11:03
 

 
 
 

 

Set your calendar! PC Perspective GDC 14 DirectX 12 Live Blog is Coming!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2014 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: live blog, gdc 14, dx12, DirectX 12, DirectX

UPDATE: If you are looking for the live blog information including commentary and photos, we have placed it in archive format right over here.  Thanks!!

It is nearly time for Microsoft to reveal the secrets behind DirectX 12 and what it will offer PC gaming going forward.  I will be in San Francisco for the session and will be live blogging from it as networking allows.  We'll have a couple of other PC Perspective staffers chiming in as well, so it should be an interesting event for sure!  We don't know how much detail Microsoft is going to get into, but we will all know soon.

dx12.jpg

Microsoft DirectX 12 Session Live Blog

Thursday, March 20th, 10am PDT

http://www.pcper.com/live

You can sign up for a reminder using the CoverItLive interface below or you can sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list. See you Thursday!

GDC 14: Unreal Engine 4 Launches with Radical Changes

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 05:15 PM |
Tagged: unreal engine 4, gdc 14, GDC, epic games

Game developers, from indie to the gigantic, can now access Unreal Engine 4 with a $19/month subscription (plus 5% of revenue from resulting sales). This is a much different model from UDK, which was free to develop games with their precompiled builds until commercial release, where an upfront fee and 25% royalty is then applied. For Unreal Engine 4, however, this $19 monthly fee also gives you full C++ source code access (which I have wondered about since the announcement that Unrealscript no longer exists).

Of course, the Unreal Engine 3-based UDK is still available (and just recently updated).

This is definitely interesting and, I believe, a response to publishers doubling-down on developing their own engines. EA has basically sworn off engines outside of their own Frostbite and Ingite technologies. Ubisoft has only announced or released three games based on Unreal Engine since 2011; Activision has announced or released seven in that time, three of which were in that first year. Epic Games has always been very friendly to smaller developers and, with the rise of the internet, it is becoming much easier for indie developers to release content through Steam or even their own website. These developers now have a "AAA" engine, which I think almost anyone would agree that Unreal Engine 4 is, with an affordable license (and full source access).

Speaking of full source access, licensees can access the engine at Epic's GitHub. While a top-five publisher might hesitate to share fixes and patches, the army of smaller developers might share and share-alike. This could lead to Unreal Engine 4 acquiring its own features rapidly. Epic highlights their Oculus VR, Linux and Steam OS, and native HTML5 initiatives but, given community support, there could be pushes into unofficial support for Mantle, TrueAudio, or other technologies. Who knows?

A sister announcement, albeit a much smaller one, is that Unreal Engine 4 is now part of NVIDIA's GameWorks initiative. This integrates various NVIDIA SDKs, such as PhysX, into the engine. The press release quote from Tim Sweeney is as follows:

Epic developed Unreal Engine 4 on NVIDIA hardware, and it looks and runs best on GeForce.

Another brief mention is that Unreal Engine 4 will have expanded support for Android.

So, if you are a game developer, check out the official Epic Games blog post at their website. You can also check their Youtube page for various videos, many of which were released today.

Source: Epic Games

Intel Devil's Canyon Offers Haswell with Improved TIM, 9-series Chipsets

Subject: Processors | March 19, 2014 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: tim, Intel, hawell, gdc 14, GDC, 9-series

An update to the existing Haswell 4th Generation Core processors will be hitting retail sometime in mid-2014 according to what Intel has just told us. This new version of the existing processors will include new CPU packaging and the oft-requested improved thermal interface material (TIM).  Overclockers have frequently claimed that the changes Intel made to the TIM was limiting performance; it seems Intel has listened to the community and will be updating some parts accordingly.

haswellplus.jpg

Recent leaks have indicated we'll see modest frequency increases in some of the K-series parts; in the 100 MHz range.  All Intel is saying today though is what you see on that slide. Overclocks should improve with the new thermal interface material but by how much isn't yet known.

These new processors, under the platform code name of Devil's Canyon, will target the upcoming 9-series chipsets.  When I asked about support for 8-series chipset users, Intel would only say that those motherboards "are not targeted" for the refreshed Haswell CPUs.  I would not be surprised though to see some motherboard manufacturers attempt to find ways to integrate board support through BIOS/UEFI changes.

Though only slight refreshes, when we combine the Haswell Devil's Canyon release with the news about the X99 + Haswell-E, it appears that 2014 is shaping up to be pretty interesting for the enthusiast community!