Subject: General Tech, Mobile | January 11, 2012 - 03:48 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: virtualization, tegra, Lucidlogix, gpu, gaming, game, embedded, CES2012, CES
Earlier today Lucid (LucidLogix), the company behind quite a few GPU virtualization technologies, announced yet another piece of GPU virtualization software. This time; however, instead of wrangling as much performance as possible from multi-GPU beasts, this technology- codenamed "XLR8"- is aimed at the mobile market of tablets, smartphones, and laptops with integrated graphics. Such products are powered by integrated GPUs in AMD's APUs and Intel's Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge processors, and by the GPUs in mobile SoCs (system on a chip) like Nvidia's Tegra and ARM's Mali graphics processors. XLR8 uses "unique CPU multithreading" to feed the mobile GPUs as efficiently as possible.
According to Lucid, many of the PC graphics issues are magnified when it comes to embedded GPUS including visual tearing, pipeline inefficiencies, power management, and artifacting. Offir Remez, president of Lucid further stated that most of the big, popular PC games have playability issues on mobile platforms and on computers with integrated graphics. "If it's got a GPU, we can improve the end user experience."
The company further expanded that the XLR8 technology works by disabling unnecessary and redundant processes in addition to "unique multithreading" to improve system (gaming) responsiveness up to 200 percent. The XLR8 software monitors battery drain and power draw while shutting down background processes to increase CPU frame generation and minimizing redundant GPU rendering processes.
If this sounds a lot like marketing speak, it certainly does. On the other hand, Lucid has been able to push some useful virtualization technology into desktops, so maybe mobile platforms are just the next step for the company. The company is currently demonstrating the XLR8 software in private at CES and is being tested by hardware partners. Mobile SoC are getting faster and more powerful, and on battery powered devices there is always room for efficiency improvements. Once reviewers manage to get their hands on some actual hardware, and XLR8 is past the concept/testing stage you can bet that people will have a better understanding of what exactly XLR8 is capable of.
PC Perspective's CES 2012 coverage is sponsored by MSI Computer.
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Subject: Graphics Cards | December 21, 2011 - 07:26 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, 7900, radeon hd, tahiti, gpu, pcb
Tech Power Up managed to get their hands on a couple photos of the PCBs used in the upcoming AMD Radeon HD 7900 series graphics cards. The blue boards show the traces and connectors that will eventually house the memory chips, graphics processor, capacitors, PCI-E power and video out connections (among others). This particular PCB is allegedly the "cost effective" version that is an alternative for Add-In-Board partners (for example: Sapphire, HIS, and XFX) so that they can offer lower cost cards.
The naked boards feature spots for two DVI, one HDMI, and one Display Port connector, although graphics card manufacturers do not have to include all of the connectors enabling low profile HTPC friendly versions. Further, the PCB features connections for an 8+2 analog VRM (voltage regulators), 12 memory chips, and two 8 pin PCI-E power connectors.
Keep in mind that this PCB is merely a reference design and may not be used in all Tahiti cards. AMD has given its partners free reign to design their own PCBs for the 7950 graphics cards. On the 7970 card; however, the cost effective reference design may well be used in many third party 7970 cards as an alternative to the main 7970 board design.
I suppose we will just have to wait until tomorrow for the official launch to learn more about the new cards. However, being so close to the launch date, the photos are likely representative of the actual PCB design. More photos can be found here.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 20, 2011 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, turks, Caicos, graphics core next, GCN, cape verde, HD7770, kepler
Rebranding and rebadging is becoming a very bad habit for both major GPU manufacturers. It is fair to imply that NVIDIA was the first to start doing so on a regular basis but AMD has noticed that they have successfully managed it on several different chip families and has since joined in on crushing enthusiasts hopes in the holy name of the profit margin. On the other hand, with the financial difficulties that both companies are experiencing it is a viable strategy no matter how much enthusiasts dislike the practice.
Just two weeks ago we received information about the mobile chips from NVIDIA and AMD and the news was not good. From AMD we have rebranded Turks and Caicos chips with improved clock speeds but the same base technology already on the market. NVIDIA didn't even go that far and released the exact same chips as the previous generation, under new names.
We have heard rumours that AMD will also be applying that marketing strategy to at least some of the upcoming HD 7xxx series cards but thanks to a link from VR-Zone we know where the new chips will start. The HD7770 will feature Graphics Core Next and a 128-bit memory interface, replacing the ageing Juniper chips. As far as power there seems to be only a single PCIe 6 pin connector needed, which should keep the power draw to around 100W. If you are planning on picking a new AMD card when they arrive on the market ensure you do not look lower in the family as you will be picking up a rebranded card.
There was also a leak on the NVIDIA side today, with a single slide marked for internal use only appearing at a site called EXP Review. These types of slides and the benchmarks on them should always be taken with at least your daily allowance of sodium, if not more as the rules for what optimizations can be done to the benchmarks are very different for internal testing. They do show a nice performance difference, the GTX780 ranges from 190% to 230% of the performance of a GTX580. Astute readers will immediately start wondering what happened to the GTX6xx family, as according to this slide NVIDIA seems to be skipping an entire series with Kepler. Perhaps that is where rebranded Fermi chips could find a niche?
The coming year looks dangerous for GPU buyers, with older cards masquerading as newer models, thanks to AMD mixing VLIW4/5 cards with GCN cards and NVIDIA's suspicious naming scheme. While we have a bit of information about AMD's new cards, no indication of their performance has tipped up on the net. If NVIDIA's benchmarks are even close to reality a doubling of performance in a single generation would be a coup for them, as that type of increase in such a short time is almost unheard of. Then again, NVIDIA has been working on this architecture for a long while now. We will find out more over the coming months as both products come closer to their first appearance on the market, likely by the end of Q1.
Subject: General Tech | October 26, 2011 - 11:56 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gpu, amd, nvidia, southern islands, kepler, TSMC, 28nm
While most enthusiasts are living up to the name as far as the build up to the coming GPU refreshes from both AMD and NVIDIA is concerned, the manufacturers are quite the opposite. There are several probable reasons for this attitude, not least of which are the number of HD 6570s and GTS 450s that are still in their stock. Remember those cards from back in the spring of this year, which were the high end of a huge range of GPUs from both companies spanning $20 to either side of $100? Think that with the current generation of Llano and SandyBridge that any knowledgeable person is going to purchase one, let alone when you consider how close the release of next generation of APUs is? The two major players in the discrete GPU market not only updated the top end of their cards quickly over the past several quarters there was a widening of the market which saw current generation cards available from ~$75 to ~$750 with some segments separated by as little as $10. That translates to huge inventories at the manufacturer level which they then have to convince resellers and retailers to purchase for stock to sell to the consumer and many of those cards are still sitting there collecting dust. No wonder these same companies are leery of purchasing more stock before finding a way to recover some profit from the stock they have now.
To make things even worse there exist doubts about the 28nm process from TSMC, which DigiTimes discusses here. While AMD is still claiming delivery of HD7000 family cards before the coming year, the troubles that NVIDIA seems to be having with the same process concerns those who need to be able to buy large volumes of chips in order to turn a profit selling graphics cards. Even worse is the realization that the first cards NVIDIA will be releasing are simply a die shrink, without architectural changes. When two companies go to the same source for the same thing and one reports getting apple cider and the other apple vinegar, you really have to start to wonder what is really going on.
"While Nvidia and AMD are poised to use Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC's) 28nm technology to produce the GPUs Kepler and Southern Islands respectively, most Taiwan-based graphics card makers hold a conservative attitude about the new GPUs with some makers cautiously watching the market status before making any further decisions, according to industry sources.
Compared to the makers' eagerness for the previous-generation GPUs, graphics card makers are rather conservative about the upcoming 28nm chips due to concerns such as TSMC's weak 40nm process yield rate issues may re-occur in its 28nm process and weakening demand for graphics cards and lower-than-expected gross margins."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Did Nvidia have to spin their 28nm GPU shrinks? @ SemiAccurate
- PARC, Thinfilm unveil first printed, flexible CMOS computer circuit @ ExtremeTech
- AIDA64 v2.00 is released !
- Linus Torvalds discusses ARM issues at Linuxcon Europe @ The Inquirer
- KDE 4: Leader of the Semantic Pack @ Linux
- IBM names Ginni Rometty prez and CEO @ The Register
- Samsung Announces PM830 Prices in NYC Gala Event With Batman @ SSD Review
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 15, 2011 - 12:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, gpu, graphics card, southern islands, HD 7000
Tom’s Hardware reports that a source within AMD has indicated that the company may release their upcoming Southern Islands GPU earlier than expected. Previous rumors suggested that AMD would have their performance desktop graphics cards out in the first quarter of 2012 with the lower clocked and mobile processors coming out a bit sooner than that.
If this new information turns out to be true, we may be seeing the high performance desktop graphics cards released in limited quantities of 7000 to 10,000 units in December with a full rollout of the company’s 28nm graphics card lineup in the months following. Specifically, the first cards may be available as soon as December 6th, 2011. It remains to be seen whether or not the lower power cards will still be released before the high performance desktop cards.
Personally, I'm interested to see how AMD's approach with their Southern Islands GPU will match up against Nvidia's current and future (more) general purpose computing design. Are you excited for Southern Islands?
Subject: Processors | October 7, 2011 - 06:44 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: zambezi, gpu, cpu, bulldozer, amd, 9 core
It is less than a week before Bulldozer’s official launch (October 12th), and it would seem that a Ukrainian retailer was not able to wait as it leaked AMD’s FX-8120 Bulldozer processor in a price list. The 32nm chip is stated to have eight cores running at 3.1 GHz, 8 MB L2 cache, and 8MB of L3 cache. Further, the core stepping is said to be B2 and is comprised of Zambezi processing cores. The FX-8120 has a 95W TDP and is compatible with motherboards from the AM3+ series and newer.
The processor is listed as model number FD8120FRGUBOX, and carries a price of $221 USD or 1,791 UAH. The website is currently listing October 10th; however, it is not clear if customers will be able to purchase the processor that day by the pricing page alone. If the leaked benchmarks turn out to be close to the truth, would you consider the FX-8120 a good value?
Subject: General Tech | September 15, 2011 - 07:23 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: sandy bridge, podcast, Ivy Bridge, idf 2011, idf, gpu, cpu, bulldozer, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #170 - 9/15/2011
Join us this week as we discuss AMD Bulldozer developments, the Windows 8 Developer Preview, News from IDF and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Allyn Malventano
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- 0:00:40 Introduction
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- Stay Tuned for a contest!!
- 0:01:30 ECS HDC-I Fusion Mini ITX Motherboard Review
- 0:02:36 Bulldozer First Release and the State of 32nm AMD Parts
- 0:10:15 AMD Bulldozer Processor hits 8.429 GHz - New World Record!
- 0:13:50 Oh joy the BIOS level trojan is finally here
- 0:17:50 Windows 8 Developer Preview Build Sees Public Release At BUILD Conference
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- 0:24:37 IDF 2011: Intel Haswell Architecture Offers 20x Lower Standby Power
- 0:27:08 IDF 2011: Intels Shows a PC Running on Solar Power
- 0:30:10 IDF 2011: New Ivy Bridge Details from Mooly Eden Keynote
- 0:35:27 SSD Update: 710 series
- 0:38:31 IDF 2011: ASUS UX21 Ultrabook Still Sexy, I Still Want It
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- 0:40:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
- Ryan: Ultrabooks - I wants them
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- Josh: gettin closer to that $1 per GB: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820227552
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Subject: General Tech | September 6, 2011 - 01:32 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gpu, hardware, Utility, windows, amd, Intel, nvidia
GPU-Z is a fine little Windows utility that, much like its CPU-Z brethren, can tell you all sorts of useful information about your graphics sub-system. The lightweight program does not require a restart, and weighs in at 922 KB. GPU-Z is distributed by TechPowerUp, and is now officially on it’s 0.5.5 version.
The new version adds support for a slew of AMD and Nvidia graphics cards, improved support for BIOS identification, and a new tab for a giveaway by graphics card vendor PowerColor. On the AMD front, the new version adds support for the companies line of A-Series APU graphics cores, AMD’s mobile cayman GPU “Blackcomb,” and various FirePro cards including the V8000, V3700, and 2460 (FireMV). On the Nvidia side of things, the new version adds support for the GeForce GT 530, GT 545, GT 560 Ti OEM, Quadro 400, Quadro 4000M, and Quadro 5000. Further, GPU-Z updated support for mobile versions of Nvidia cards, including the GeForce GT 305M, 410M, 520M, 520MX, 555M, and the GTX 580M.
The program further improves the BIOS readings of Nvidia cards as well as fixing a shader count detection bug on the Blackcomb mobile Cayman AMD parts. The ASUS MARS II GPU also receives support in version 0.5.5. PowerColor is holding a giveaway for a 6990 graphics card to a lucky winner. The new GPU-Z tab has all the relevant information as well as an entry form. Lastly, the program will now remember the last selected GPU selected from the drop down on multi-GPU systems.
The updated support is nice, and the lightweight program starts up just as fast as the previous versions. Do you use GPU-Z? You can download the new version here.
Jacob Freeman, Product Manager for EVGA recently posted a new photo of the upcoming EVGA Classified GTX 580 graphics card that is said to be taken from the final version of the card. Suffice it to say, this card is a beast in more ways than one. The giant card takes no prisoners in the performance and features department and demands a large chassis with lots of room. A photo of the front of the card is below.
According to this earlier EVGA forum posting by the same Jacob Freeman, the card is jam packed, including three PCI-E power connectors (two 8 pin and one 6 pin), a 14x3 phase "state of the art" power management circuitry, dual BIOS support for resetting the card in case of flashing or overclocking too aggressively, an extra large cooler and fan, up to 4 way SLI, physical voltage monitoring headers for the GPU, Frame Buffer, and PCI-Express voltages, and status LEDs for each. The card has more depth that the traditional cards, thanks to the cooler that sticks out farther from the expansion slot bracket; however, it does maintain the standard double slot width and has a length of 11 inches (hence the need for a rather roomy case).
Head on over to the forum post linked above fore more photos of the EVGA GTX 580 Classified graphics card!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 4, 2011 - 02:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: peddie, market share, gpu
TIBURON, CA-August 4, 2011—Jon Peddie Research (JPR), the industry's research and consulting firm for graphics and multimedia, announced estimated graphics chip shipments and suppliers’ market share for Q2’11.
Shipments during the second quarter of 2011 did not behave according to past years with regard to seasonality, and was higher on a year-to-year comparison for the quarter. 2011 is shaping up to be an anomalous year as businesses take their own path to recovery.
Normally, the second quarter of the year is a slower business quarter in the graphics industry (and in the PC industry as a whole). This year, Q2’11 did not conform to the normal seasonal cycle. Instead, sales were up significantly compared to previous years. The growth in Q2 comes as a welcome change, if not a bit worrying—is it inventory building for back to school and the holiday season, or channel stuffing?
Our forecast for the coming years has been modified since the last report, and is less aggressive on both desktops and notebooks—tablets have changed the nature of the PC market. Our findings include Desktops, Notebooks (and Netbooks), and PC-based commercial (i.e., POS) and industrial/scientific and embedded; and do not include handhelds (i.e., mobile phones), x86 Servers or ARM-based Tablets (i.e. iPad and Android-based Tablets), Smartbooks, or Servers.
The quarter in general
- In Q2’11, Intel celebrated its sixth quarter of Embedded Processor Graphics CPU (EPG, a multi-chip design that combined a graphics processor and CPU in the same package) shipments, and enjoyed a 21% average growth in Desktops and Notebooks.
- AMD and Nvidia lost in overall market share, while Intel grew compared to last quarter.
- Year to year this quarter Intel had tremendous market share growth (14.7%), AMD had a loss of 14.2%, and Nvidia slipped 18.4% in the overall market partially due to the company withdrawing from the integrated segments.
- The Q2’11 change in total shipments from last quarter increased 6.3%, significantly above the ten-year average of 3.5%, and raising concerns about an inventory buildup.
- Netbooks contributed to notebook growth a bit,however, iPads and Android tablets have probably cannibalized some netbook sales.
- Over 84 million PCs shipped worldwide in Q2’11, an increase of 2.4% compared to Q1’11, (based on an average of reports from Dataquest, IDC, and HSI) causing speculation that the 6.3% up-swing in graphics could be an inventory buildup and have a negative impact on Q3 or Q4.
- AMD’s HPU quarter-to-quarter growth has been extraordinary at an average of 80% for desktop and notebook, and Intel’s EPG growth was significant at an average of 41%. This is a clear showing of the industry’s affirmation of the value of CPUs with embedded graphics and is in line with our forecasts. The major, and logical, impact is on older IGPs, and some on low-end add-in boards (AIBS).
Graphics chips (GPUs) and chips with graphics (IGPs, HPUs, and EPGs) are a leading indicator for the PC market. At least one and often two GPUs are present in every PC shipped. It can take the form of a discrete chip, a GPU integrated in the chipset, or embedded in the CPU. The average has grown from 115% in 2001 to almost 160% GPUs per PC.
Since the crash of 2009, combined with the introduction and influence of ARM-based Tablets, the PC market has deviated from historical trends. Until the segment for Tablets is clearly defined the fluctuations in the market data is likely to continue. The disruptions probably won’t settle down for a while as Tablets find their place in the market and agreement can be reached on to include them in the PC market analysis, or to not include them.
Market shares shifted for the big three, and put pressure on the smaller three, and they showed a decrease in shipments as indicated in Table 1 (units are in millions.)
Intel continues to be the overall market share leader in Q2’11, elevated by Core i5 EPG CPUs, Sandy Bridge, and Pineview Atom sales for Netbooks. AMD gained market share quarter-to quarter and Nvidia lost share. Nvidia is exiting the integrated graphics segments and shifting focus to discrete GPUs. The company showed significant discrete market share gain (30% qtr-qtr) due to they say strong connect with new Intel Sandybridge notebooks. Ironically Nvidia enjoyed some serendipitous sales of IGPs in Q2. AMD share dropped 7.3 points.
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