Subject: Graphics Cards | July 22, 2016 - 05:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, graphics drivers
Turns out the Pascal-based GPUs suffered from DPC latency issues, and there's been an ongoing discussion about it for a little over a month. This is not an area that I know a lot about, but it's a system that schedules workloads by priority, which provides regular windows of time for sound and video devices to update. It can be stalled by long-running driver code, though, which could manifest as stutter, audio hitches, and other performance issues. With a 10-series GeForce device installed, users have reported that this latency increases about 10-20x, from ~20us to ~300-400us. This can increase to 1000us or more under load. (8333us is ~1 whole frame at 120FPS.)
NVIDIA has acknowledged the issue and, just yesterday, released an optional hotfix. Upon installing the driver, while it could just be psychosomatic, the system felt a lot more responsive. I ran LatencyMon (DPCLat isn't compatible with Windows 8.x or Windows 10) before and after, and the latency measurement did drop significantly. It was consistently the largest source of latency, spiking in the thousands of microseconds, before the update. After the update, it was hidden by other drivers for the first night, although today it seems to have a few spikes again. That said, Microsoft's networking driver is also spiking in the ~200-300us range, so a good portion of it might be the sad state of my current OS install. I've been meaning to do a good system wipe for a while...
Measurement taken after the hotfix, while running Spotify.
That said, my computer's a mess right now.
That said, some of the post-hotfix driver spikes are reaching ~570us (mostly when I play music on Spotify through my Blue Yeti Pro). Also, Photoshop CC 2015 started complaining about graphics acceleration issues after installing the hotfix, so only install it if you're experiencing problems. About the latency, if it's not just my machine, NVIDIA might still have some work to do.
It does feel a lot better, though.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 02:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rx480, rx 480, Radeon RX 480, radeon, power draw, PCIe power, graphics drivers, driver, Crimson Edition 16.7.1, amd
As promised, AMD has released an updated driver for the RX 480 graphics card, and the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 promises a fix for the power consumption concerns we have been covering in-depth.
Note: We have published our full analysis of the new 16.7.1 driver, available here.
AMD lists these highlights for the new Crimson Edition 16.7.1 software:
"The Radeon RX 480’s power distribution has been improved for AMD reference boards, lowering the current drawn from the PCIe bus.
A new 'compatibility mode' UI toggle has been made available in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues. This toggle is 'off' by default.
Performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the 'compatibility' toggle."
You can go directly to AMD's page for this updated driver from this direct link: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/desktop?os=Windows%2010%20-%2064
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 09:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, linux, graphics drivers, rx 480, Polaris
Linux support from AMD seems to be improving, as it has been on Windows. We'll be combining two separate, tiny stories into one, so bear with us. The first is from Fudzilla, and it states that AMD has AMDGPU-PRO 16.30 drivers for the RX 480 out on day one. It's nice to see that their Radeon driver initiative applies to Linux, too.
That brings us to the second story, this one from Phoronix. One Windows, the Crimson 16.7.1 drivers will include a fix for the RX 480 power issues (which we will obviously test of course). Michael Larabel was apparently talking with AMD's Linux team, and it seems likely that this update will roll into the Linux driver as well. They "are still investigating", of course, but it is apparently on their radar.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 08:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, graphics drivers, amd
In the next 24 hours or so, AMD will publish Radeon Software 16.7.1, which addresses the power distribution issues in the AMD Radeon RX 480. The driver makes two major changes. First, AMD claims that it will lower the draw from the PCIe bus. While they don't explicitly say how, it sounds like it will increase the load on the 6-pin PCIe cable, which is typically over-provisioned. In fact, many power supplies have 6-pin connectors that have the extra two pins of an 8-pin connector hanging off of it.
Second, seemingly for those who aren't comfortable with the extra load on the 6-pin PCIe connector, a UI control has been added to lower overall power. Being that the option's called “compatibility”, it sounds like it should put the RX 480 back into spec on both slot and the extra power connector. Again, AMD says that they believe it's not necessary, and it seems to be true, because that option is off by default.
Beyond these changes, the driver also adds a bunch of game optimizations. Allyn and Ryan have been working on this coverage, so expect more content from them in the very near future.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, Oculus, nvidia, graphics drivers, DiRT Rally
A Game Ready Driver has just launched for DiRT Rally VR. GeForce Drivers 368.69 WHQL increments upon the last release, obviously adding optimizations for DiRT Rally VR, but it also includes a few new SLI profiles (Armored Warfare, Dangerous Golf, iRacing: Motorsport Simulator, Lost Ark, and Tiger Knight) and probably other bug fixes.
The update doesn't yet have a release date, but it should be soon. According to NVIDIA's blog post, it sounds like it will come first to the Oculus Store, but arrive on Steam later this month. I haven't been following the game too heavily, but there doesn't seem to be any announcement about official HTC Vive support that I can find.
You can pick them up at NVIDIA's website or through GeForce Experience. Thankfully, the GeForce Experience 3 Beta seems to pick up on new drivers much quicker than the previous version.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2016 - 10:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers
GeForce Hotfix 368.51 drivers have been released by NVIDIA through their support website. This version only officially addresses flickering at high refresh rates, although its number has been incremented quite a bit since the last official release (368.39) so it's possible that it rolls in other changes, too. That said, I haven't heard too many specific issues with 368.39, so I'm not quite sure what that would be.
As always with a hotfix driver, NVIDIA pushed it out with minimal testing. It should pretty much only be installed if you have a specific issue (particularly the listed one(s)) and you don't want to wait until one is released that both NVIDIA and Microsoft looked over (although Microsoft's WHQL certification has been pretty lax since Windows 10).
Oddly enough, they only seem to list 64-bit links for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. I'm not sure whether this issue doesn't affect Windows 7 and 32-bit versions of 8.1 and 10, or if they just didn't want to push the hotfix out to them for some reason.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 02:11 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers
NVIDIA has released a new graphics driver, in line with EA's new title, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. Version 368.39 is another of their WHQL-certified, Game Ready-branded drivers that integrates all of their tweaks to improve the game's performance, including an updated SLI profile. It also includes performance tweaks for Insomniac's Oculus-exclusive VR title, Edge of Nowhere, which released on June 6th.
Beyond performance enhancements for specific titles, the driver also includes new features and fixes to known bugs. On the feature side of things, a handful of OpenGL extensions were added to support new features in Pascal. Extensions allow hardware vendors to add features without the Khronos Group needing to officially support it in the standard (although many turn multi-vendor and eventually end up in a later core specification). In this case, NVIDIA has added Single Pass Stereo to increase VR performance, Lens Matched Shading to also increase VR performance, Improved Conservative Rasterization to reduce the chance that a pixel fragment will be missed during rasterization of degenerate or otherwise odd geometry, and Double Precision Atomic Operations to increase reliability when doing GPU-compute on 64-bit, double-precision values in OpenGL.
On Windows 10, seven bugs were fixed in 368.39, and two of those were fairly high profile. First, the GTX 1080 Founders Edition fan speed revving issue has been fixed, as NVIDIA mentioned a few days ago. Second, performance issues (stuttering) in Total War: WARHAMMER were fixed. They also fixed an issue where Metal Gear Solid V would fail to launch (white screen).
The new drivers are available on GeForce Experience or their website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 08:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd
Over the last few months, AMD has been fighting their reputation for being slow and unreliable with driver updates. Ryan wrote a piece about it after AMD discussed the issue with him. He noted that, while the increase is noticeable and great, it takes time and consistency to trust that a company will provide their products with a certain level of support.
Since then, AMD has released two drivers in April, three in May, and now, already, one in June. Each of these provide enhancements for individual games, right in line with their release dates, as well as fix several issues along the way. Crimson Edition 16.6.1 aligns with Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, which makes this post surprisingly difficult to type. It also includes enhancements for Paragon and a Crossfire profile for Dark Souls III. If users were experiencing flickering and corruption with videos in a web browser, AMD claims that was also fixed in this version.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2016 - 11:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, graphics drivers, AMDGPU, amd
On Windows, we really only have one graphics driver per GPU. On Linux, however, there is a choice between open drivers and closed, binary-only blobs. Open drivers allow users to perpetuate support, for either really old hardware or pre-release software, without needing the GPU vendor to step in. It can also be better for security, because open-source software can be audited, which is better (albeit how much better is up for debate) than just having a few eyes on it... if any at all.
As we reported a few months ago, AMD has been shifting their structure. Rather than two completely different code-bases, AMDGPU is an open-source driver, officially supported by AMD, that communicates with the Linux kernel. This chunk is compliant with the GPL, so it can be bundled with the operating system. Above this, a user space driver adds the various APIs, game-specific optimizations, and so forth. AMD calls this plug-in component AMD GPU-PRO.
This component has now been released for Ubuntu 16.04, which includes OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan 1.0.
Open-source developers can create their own components, using the same AMDGPU hooks that AMD uses, and release those on their own. This is not a perfect solution, though. If, at any point, AMD disagrees with a necessary, proposed change, then the only way forward could be to fork the project, which AMD wouldn't support with their closed-source blob, leading to the previous situation. That said, AMD is putting a lot of effort into this, so it would stand to reason that they aren't intending to throw all of that away over a pull request.
Either way, you can get AMD GPU-PRO Beta from AMD's page for Ubuntu 16.04. SteamOS added AMD GPU-PRO with their 2.80 update last week.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 24, 2016 - 06:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers
Yesterday, NVIDIA has released WHQL-certified drivers to align with the release of Overwatch. This version, 368.22, is the first public release of the 367 branch. Pascal is not listed in the documentation as a supported product, so it's unclear whether this will be the launch driver for it. The GTX 1080 comes out on Friday, but two drivers in a week would not be unprecedented for NVIDIA.
While NVIDIA has not communicated this too well, 368.22 will not install on Windows Vista. If you are still using that operating system, then you will not be able to upgrade your graphics drivers past 365.19. 367-branch (and later) drivers will required Windows 7 and up.
Before I continue, I should note that I've experienced so issues getting these drivers to install through GeForce Experience. Long story short, it took two attempts (with a clean install each time) to end up with a successful boot into 368.22. I didn't try the standalone installer that you can download from NVIDIA's website. If the second attempt using GeForce Experience failed, then I would have. That said, after I installed it, it seemed to work out well for me with my GTX 670.
While NVIDIA is a bit behind on documentation, the driver also rolls in other fixes. There were some GPU compute developers who had crashes and other failures in certain OpenCL and CUDA applications, which are now compatible with 368.22. I've also noticed that my taskbar hasn't been sliding around on its own anymore, but I've only been using the driver for a handful of hours.
You can get GeForce 368.22 drivers from GeForce Experience, but you might want to download the standalone installer (or skip a version or two if everything works fine).