Fully Enabling the A10-7850K while Utilizing a Standalone GPU

Subject: Processors | July 9, 2014 - 02:42 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, msi, Luxmark, Lightning, hsa, GTX 580, GCN, APU, amd, A88X, A10-7850K

When I first read many of the initial AMD A10 7850K reviews, my primary question was how would the APU act if there was a different GPU installed on the system and did not utilize the CrossFire X functionality that AMD talked about.  Typically when a user installs a standalone graphics card on the AMD FM2/FM2+ platform, they disable the graphics portion of the APU.  They also have to uninstall the AMD Catalyst driver suite.  So this then leaves the APU as a CPU only, and all of that graphics silicon is left silent and dark.

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Who in their right mind would pair a high end graphics card with the A10-7850K? This guy!

Does this need to be the case?  Absolutely not!  The GCN based graphics unit on the latest Kaveri APUs is pretty powerful when used in GPGPU/OpenCL applications.  The 4 cores/2 modules and 8 GCN cores can push out around 856 GFlops when fully utilized.  We also must consider that the APU is the first fully compliant HSA (Heterogeneous System Architecture) chip, and it handles memory accesses much more efficiently than standalone GPUs.  The shared memory space with the CPU gets rid of a lot of the workarounds typically needed for GPGPU type applications.  It makes sense that users would want to leverage the performance potential of a fully functioning APU while upgrading their overall graphics performance with a higher end standalone GPU.

To get this to work is very simple.  Assuming that the user has been using the APU as their primary graphics controller, they should update to the latest Catalyst drivers.  If the user is going to use an AMD card, then it would behoove them to totally uninstall the Catalyst driver and re-install only after the new card is installed.  After this is completed restart the machine, go into the UEFI, and change the primary video boot device to PEG (PCI-Express Graphics) from the integrated unit.  Save the setting and shut down the machine.  Insert the new video card and attach the monitor cable(s) to it.  Boot the machine and either re-install the Catalyst suite if an AMD card is used, or install the latest NVIDIA drivers if that is the graphics choice.

Windows 7 and Windows 8 allow users to install multiple graphics drivers from different vendors.  In my case I utilized a last generation GTX 580 (the MSI N580GTX Lightning) along with the AMD A10 7850K.  These products coexist happily together on the MSI A88X-G45 Gaming motherboard.  The monitor is attached to the NVIDIA card and all games are routed through that since it is the primary graphics adapter.  Performance seems unaffected with both drivers active.

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I find it interesting that the GPU portion of the APU is named "Spectre".  Who owns those 3dfx trademarks anymore?

When I load up Luxmark I see three entries: the APU (CPU and GPU portions), the GPU portion of the APU, and then the GTX 580.  Luxmark defaults to the GPUs.  We see these GPUs listed as “Spectre”, which is the GCN portion of the APU, and the NVIDIA GTX 580.  Spectre supports OpenCL 1.2 while the GTX 580 is an OpenCL 1.1 compliant part.

With both GPUs active I can successfully run the Luxmark “Sala” test.  The two units perform better together than when they are run separately.  Adding in the CPU does increase the score, but not by very much (my guess here is that the APU is going to be very memory bandwidth bound in such a situation).  Below we can see the results of the different units separate and together.

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These results make me hopeful about the potential of AMD’s latest APU.  It can run side by side with a standalone card, and applications can leverage the performance of this unit.  Now all we need is more HSA aware software.  More time and more testing is needed for setups such as this, and we need to see if HSA enabled software really does see a boost from using the GPU portion of the APU as compared to a pure CPU piece of software or code that will run on the standalone GPU.

Personally I find the idea of a heterogeneous solution such as this appealing.  The standalone graphics card handles the actual graphics portions, the CPU handles that code, and the HSA software can then fully utilize the graphics portion of the APU in a very efficient manner.  Unfortunately, we do not have hard numbers on the handful of HSA aware applications out there, especially when used in conjunction with standalone graphics.  We know in theory that this can work (and should work), but until developers get out there and really optimize their code for such a solution, we simply do not know if having an APU will really net the user big gains as compared to something like the i7 4770 or 4790 running pure x86 code.

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In the meantime, at least we know that these products work together without issue.  The mixed mode OpenCL results make a nice case for improving overall performance in such a system.  I would imagine with more time and more effort from developers, we could see some really interesting implementations that will fully utilize a system such as this one.  Until then, happy experimenting!

Source: AMD

NVIDIA claims GTX 680 sales outpace GTX 580

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 29, 2012 - 01:56 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 680, GTX 580, GK104, fermi

During the annual investors meeting with NVIDIA top-brass and the powers that hold the money on Wall Street, an interesting slide was presented in a somewhat veiled answer to the questions we (among many others) have had to the availability and yields of their latest Kepler GPUs.

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At first glance, the graph would seem to validate claims that the stock and shipping rate of the new GeForce GTX 680 is simply unable to keep up with higher than expected and higher than normal demand.  The line on the bottom represents the GTX 580 (both lines are mislabeled as GT rather than GTX) launch, the top the GTX 680 with the lower axis represented as weeks after launch.  The vertical axis is labeled as "Units Sold Out Globally" but there are no numbers attached to it, making things incredibly vague.  

When I asked for clarification all I was really given was that "it means sales of boards from AICs to distributors, system builders, e-tailers and retailers."  This indicates that we are talking about boards either on Newegg.com, at Fry's or being sold through system builders like Maingear and Puget Systems. 

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NVIDIA's GTX 690 - one of the Kepler based cards MIA

The term "sold out" gave me a bit of pause - but when questioned "is it fair to translate 'units sold out globally' to 'units sold globally'?" I received an affirmative. 

If we take NVIDIA's information as it is presented, then we see that after six weeks of product availability, the GTX 680 has sold and shipped at a rate 60% higher than that of the GeForce GTX 580 which launched in November of 2010.  If that is true then we can agree with NVIDIA that demand is much higher for the GTX 680 than any other flagship GPU launch in recent memory and the continued stock and availability problems for Kepler are buyer created and strictly an NVIDIA yield issue.  

NVIDIA has told me many times that they would obviously love to have more GTX 680s to sell to consumers as having them out of stock is only costing themselves money.  How long it will take NVIDIA to balance out capacity with demand has yet to be seen though, so you can continue to check out our sort-of-weekly updates on GPU stock.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: Asus

3 NV for DCII

The world of video cards is a much changed place over the past few years.  Where once we saw only “sticker versions” of cards mass produced by a handful of manufacturers, we are now seeing some really nice differentiation from the major manufacturers.  While the first iterations of these new cards are typically mass produced by NVIDIA or AMD and then distributed to their partners for initial sales, these manufacturers are now more consistently getting their own unique versions out to retail in record time.  MSI was one of the first to put out their own unique designs, but now we are seeing Asus becoming much more aggressive with products of their own.

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The DirectCU II line is Asus’ response to the growing number of original designs from other manufacturers.  The easiest way to categorize these designs is that they straddle nicely the very high end and extreme products like the MSI Lightning series and those of the reference design boards with standard cooling.  These are unique designs that integrate features and cooling solutions that are well above that of reference cards.

DirectCU II applies primarily to the cooling solutions on these boards.  The copper heatipipes in the DirectCU II cooler are in direct contact with the GPU.  These heatpipes then are distributed through two separate aluminum fin arrays, each with their own fan.  So each card has either a dual slot or triple slot cooling solution with two 80 mm fans that dynamically adjust to the temperature of the chip.  The second part of this is branded “Super Alloy Power” in which Asus has upgraded most of the electrical components on the board to match higher specifications.  Hi-C caps, proadlizers, polymer caps, and higher quality chokes round out the upgraded components which should translate into more stable overclocked performance and a longer lifespan.

Read the entire article here.

Podcast #186 - Gigabyte GTX 580 Super OC, Intel and AMD Results, Kepler Rumors and more!

Subject: Editorial | January 26, 2012 - 02:10 PM |
Tagged: video, podcast, kepler, Intel, HD 7970, GTX 580, gigabyte, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #186 - 01/26/2012

Join us this week as we talk about a Gigabyte GTX 580 Super Overclock card, how much money Intel and AMD made (or didn't make), Kepler rumors, HD 7970 stock and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

  • iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store
  • RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano

This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!

Program length: 1:02:56

Program Schedule:

  1. Introduction
  2. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  3. http://pcper.com/podcast
  4. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Puget Systems Genesis I Sandy Bridge-E Workstation Review
  6. Gigabyte GeForce GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock - Last Hurrah for Fermi
  7. Intel Reports Massive Q4 and Yearly Earnings
  8. AMD Announces Q4 2011 Results
  9. Are AMD's Southern Islands about to be swamped by a Kepler tidal wave?
  10. LaCie's Little Big Disk now comes in Thunderbolt
  11. AMD Radeon HD 7970 3GB Cards In Stock - For Now
  12. AMD Catalyst 12.1 and AMD Catalyst 12.2 Preview drivers
  13. Email from Scott
  14. Email from Branden
  15. Email from abouechot an Intel SRT "hack"
  16. Voicemail about memory qualification on X79
  17. Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: MAINGEAR EPIC T1000 Thermal Cooling Solution
    2. Jeremy: Remember MakerBot and RepRap?  Well, 3D printing keeps getting better
    1. Josh: I love memory.
    2. Allyn: Logitech c920 WIIIDE SCREEEEN
  18. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. Closing

Author:
Manufacturer: Gigabyte

Guess what? Overclocked.

The NVIDIA GTX 580 GPU, based on the GF110 Fermi architecture, is old but it isn't forgotten.  Released in November of 2010, NVIDIA had held the single GPU performance grown for more than a year before it was usurped by AMD and the Radeon HD 7970 just this month.  Still, the GTX 580 is a solid high-end enthusiast graphics card that has wide spread availability and custom designed, overclocked models from numerous vendors making it a viable option.

Gigabyte sent us this overclocked and custom cooled model quite a while ago but we had simply fallen behind with other reviews until just after CES.  In today's market the card has a bit of a different role to fill - it surely won't be able to pass up the new AMD Radeon HD 7970 but can it fight the good fight and keep NVIDIA's current lineup of GPUs more competitive until Kepler finally shows himself?

The Gigabyte GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock Card

With the age of the GTX 580 designs, Gigabyte had plenty of time to perfect their PCB and cooler design.  This model, the Super Overclock (GV-N580SO-15I), comes in well ahead of the standard reference speeds of the GTX 580 but sticks to the same 1.5 GB frame buffer.

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The clock speed is set at 855 MHz core and 1025 MHz memory, compared to the 772 MHz core speed and 1002 MHz clock rate of the reference design.  That is a very healthy 10% clock rate difference that should equate to nearly that big of a gap in gaming performance where the GPU is the real bottleneck.  

Continue reading our review of the Gigabyte GTX 580 1.5GB Super Overclock graphics card!!

KFA^2 Launches Overclocked, Multi-Display GTX 580 MDT X4 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 16, 2011 - 11:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia surround, nvidia, mdt x4, kfa2, GTX 580, europe

KFA^2 is a leading European graphics card manufacturer for Nvidia based cards. Their latest card is the KFA^2 GTX 580 EX OC MDT X4, and it represents the top tier of their multi-display lineup.

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As the name implies, the new GTX 580 EX OC MDT X4 card is based on Nvidia’s GTX 580 GPU. From there, the card is overclocked and outfitted with the ability to drive up to four displays. Using their “virtual single monitor mode,” the card is able to present an Eyefinity like display (via Nvidia Surround tech) to the operating system (as one giant display), and then stretch the output across three monitors. The resolution of the three monitor display can be up to 5760x1080. Interestingly the refresh rate needs to be at 50Hz. The card package will include the necessary driver and application software to make the multi-display work. There are three mini HDMI ports and one mini Display Port on the back of the card, and the three mini HDMI ports are used for the three monitor surround panel while the Display port can be hooked up to a fourth monitor that is not part of the main display group.

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The card has 1.5 GB of GDDR5 memory as well as the same 384-bit memory interface; however, from there the core and memory clocks both get a nice overclock at 840 MHz and 2004 MHz respectively. Further, the KFA^2 model ditches the reference cooling solution for a custom LED lit affair with a total of three fans to keep the card frosty at the overclocked clock speeds. Graham Brown, the European Marketing Manager for KFA^2 stated that “all these features combine, has produced a new level to consider when looking at the GTX 580 range.”

The new graphics card will be available throughout Europe soon and will come with a 2 year warranty. No word yet on pricing but expect it to be somewhere around $540 USD.

Source: KFA^2

PNY pairs with asetek to ensure their new GTX 580 makes a splash

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 8, 2011 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: pny, GTX 580, watercooling, asetek

PNY tends to have limited releases of their graphics cards and some of them tend to be rather unique, like their new watercooled GTX580.  [H]ard|OCP wanted to test the performance of this cooler in two scenarios, one with only the GTX580 taking advantage of watercooling so that there is hot air from the CPU moving around the case and a second where both the CPU and GPU are watercooled on the same loop.  That makes a fair amount of difference to the amount of ambient heat present in the case, which has an effect on the efficiency of watercooling.  [H]'s results are encouraging but this card does come at a price, $650 for the model that has waterblocks for both your CPU and GPU.  If cooler temperatures and near silent operation are high on your list of requirements then check out what PNY has to offer.

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"While PNY is not a name we have talked about when it comes to graphic cards since 2001, these guys are still around. For the most part there is nothing special about its cards, but today we have something that is special from PNY, an out-of-the box water cooled GTX 580. Let's see what it does for us."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gear Up with MSI: Win Intel Motherboards, GeForce Graphics Cards

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 30, 2011 - 08:13 AM |
Tagged: z68, x79, sandy bridge-e, msi, GTX 580, GTX 560, giveaway, contest

This is a pretty big week here at PC Perspective as we released our highly anticipated review of the Intel Sandy Bridge-E and X79 platform.  If you haven't read that over, you need to do so, right away!!  But we also have some impressive gear to giveaway thanks to our friends at MSI and their "Gear Up with MSI" campaign!

What are the prizes?  I know that's what you want to know first...

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Wow, these are some stellar prizes!  First prize basically gets the components required for one of the fastest gaming rigs on the planet while the 2nd prize will be able to play Batman: Arkham City with all the top settings! 

So what do you have to do to win these prizes?  The steps are simple:

  1. Make a comment on this post thanking MSI for this kick ass contest!!  That's pretty simple right?  You don't have to register, though we would appreciate it!
  2. Like MSI on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MSI.ComputerUS
    1. (Just a hint, they have a lot of Facebook-specific contests throughout the year!)
  3. Like PC Perspective on Facebook: http://facebook.com/pcper
  4. Follow PC Perspective on Twitter: http://twitter.com/pcper
  5. Circle PC Perspective on Google+: http://gplus.to/pcper
    1. (Another hint, comments on our G+ post about this contest get another entry!)

We will pick random winners in our pool of entries on Wednesday, the 7th of December!  Sorry, US and Canada residents only for this one!  If you don't have a Facebook/Twitter/Google+ account commenting here will still enter you.

Oh, and if you haven't seen the other contest MSI is running around the release of Batman: Arkham City, you should check out this page on their site.  Posting a photo of yourself dressed up like Batman has never been so lucrative! 

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The Grand Prize for MSI's Batman Photo Contest!!

Winners Announced!!  Sorry about the late update, but we did pick our winners!  The first prize went to use "Equinox2355" and the second prize went to "Deman".  Thanks to everyone for participating and we'll have more contests very soon!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Is a GTX 590 just not enough for you?

A Legacy of Unique Engineering

ASUS has often been one of only a handful of companies that really pushes the limits of technology on their custom designed products including graphics cards, sound cards, notebooks, motherboards and more.  Just a little over a year ago I wrote a review of the ASUS ARES Dual Radeon HD 5870 graphics card - the first of its kind and it was labeled the "Ultimate Graphics Card" at the time.  Life on the top of mountain doesn't last that long in the world of the GPU though and time (and the GTX 590 and HD 6990) left the Greek god of war in the rearview mirror.

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This time around we have a successor to the MARS - the NVIDIA version that combines two top-level GPUs on a single PCB.  The new ASUS MARS II we are reviewing today is a pair of binned GTX 580 GPUs paired together for full-time SLI and built with a limited edition run of 999 units.  In many ways the MARS II and the ARES share a lot of traits: custom designed cooling and PCB, a unique aesthetic design, limited edition status and significant physical weight as well.  Of course, the price tag is also pretty high and if you aren't comfortable reading about a $1300 graphics card you might as well turn around now...  For those that dare though, you can be sure that the MARS II will have you dreaming about PC gaming power for years to come!

Continue reading our review of the ASUS MARS II Dual GTX 50 3GB!!!

Author:
Manufacturer: ASUS

Republic of Gamers Means Business

Introduction

I have got to be honest with you - most of the time getting me excited for graphics cards any more is a chore.  Unless we are talking about a new architecture from NVIDIA or AMD, card vendors are hard pressed to the same attention from me they used to a couple of years ago when every card release was something to pay attention to.  Over the next week or so though it turns out that ASUS and Gigabyte have a few noteworthy items definitely worth some grade-A analysis and reviewing starting with today's: the ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 580 beast.

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The Republic of Gamers brand is reserved for the highest-end parts from the company that are obviously targeted at three main segments.  First, the serious gamers and enthusiasts that demand the top level performance either because they can't stand to lose at gaming or just want nothing but the best for their own experiences.  Secondly are the professional overclockers that live on features and capabilities that most of us could only dream of pushing and that need LN2 to get the job done.  Finally, the case modding groups that demand not only great performance, but sexy designs that add to the aesthetics of the design as whole and aren't boring.  The ROG brand does a very commendable job of hitting all three of these groups in general and specifically with the new Matrix-series GTX 580.  

In the following pages we will document what makes this card different, how it performs, how it overclocks and why it might be the best GTX 580 card on the market today.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS ROG Matrix GTX 580 Platinum!!