So when is that GTX680 coming out anyways?

Subject: General Tech | March 12, 2012 - 12:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kelper, GK104, gtx680

Whether you are an NVIDIA fan or not you are likely anxiously awaiting the release of NVIDIA's new GPU.  Since AMD is currently holding the lead on graphics cards they have no competition to lower the price of their high end cards which can beat anything NVIDIA currently has on the market.  Depending on the price and performance of the new Kepler chip, its release should have an effect on the pricing of at least one line of AMD card, be it Pitcairn or Cape Verde.  This is why SemiAccurate's pegging of the expected release dates, both paper and physical, are worth taking a look at, especially if your GPU recently died and you are looking at getting a new one.  We should have a good idea of the price, performance and availability by the end of March.

Nvidia Fermi1.jpg

"Today, March 8, is the day where the press that Nvidia flew in get their ‘tech day’, basically the deep dive on Kepler. Then, like we said a few days ago, Nvidia will paper launch the cards next Monday, March 12. From that point, things get a little hazy because people are arguing over two different days. Some are saying Friday March 23, others Monday March 26, with a few more saying 23 than 26. It could be none of the above though, but if you bet on two weeks out, you won’t be far off."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: SemiAccurate

NVIDIA Tegra 3 Processor Accelerates Many High End Applications

Subject: Mobile | March 10, 2012 - 12:53 AM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tegra, quad core, nvidia, mobile

NVIDIA's Tegra 3 mobile processor may not have much market share (yet), but it sure is powerful! In a recent blog post, the company reiterated just how much it is accelerating applications on mobile platforms including photo editing, remote desktop clients, and even mobile video editing. They further got comments from several of the app developers that stated the Tegra 3 was the piece that made their applications run so smoothly. Granted, some of this is marketing and promotion; however, that fact doesn't make their mobile quad core (4+1 power saving core) SoC any less impressive hardware wise.

Tegra 3.jpg

Some of the applications NVIDIA heralded include Snapseed, PowerDirector, Splashtop, and Photaf. Snapseed and PowerDirector are photo editor and video editing applications respectively while Photaf is a photo stitching app that allows you to combine multiple shots into panoramas.

Finally, Splashtop is an application that takes advantage of the Tegra 3 to bring a remote desktop client to Android that proclaims to be fast enough to run games as well as the more traditionally desktop access. Both Splashtop and Photaf are available now on Google Play for you to test out while PowerDirector and Snapseed are coming later this year to Android.

Below is the above mentioned video of the Android application developers talking about the benefits of the quad core Tegra 3 processor.

What do you guys think of NVIDIA's "4+1" core processor?   Will it stand up to the new Apple A5X chip (according to NVIDIA it wont while Apple says the opposite (obviously), but we'll have to wait until we have an iPad in house to see who's chip is actually faster)?

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Joins Linux Foundation

Subject: General Tech | March 9, 2012 - 09:37 PM |
Tagged: software, OS, nvidia, linux

In a recent press release, the Linux Foundation added four new members, one of which is a big deal in the graphics card industry. In addition to the new members of Fluendo, Lineo Solutions, and Mocana is the green GPU powerhouse NVIDIA. According to Maximum PC, there is talk around the web of the company moving to open source graphics drivers; however, NVIDIA has not released anything to officially confirm or deny.

Linux Foundation Logo.GIF

The Linux Foundation's Logo

Such a move would be rather extreme and unlikely, but it would certainly be one that is welcomed by the Linux community. Officially, the Vice President of Linux Platform Software Scott Pritchett stated the company is "strongly committed" to delivering quality software/hardware experiences and they hope their membership in the Linux Foundation will "accelerate our collaboration with the organizations and individuals instrumental in shaping the future of Linux." Further, they hope to be able to add to and enhance the user and development experience of the open source operating system.

The three other members to join the Linux Foundation specialize in multimedia software (Fluendo), embedded system development (Lineo Solutions), and device-agnostic security (Mocana) but the green giant that is NVIDIA has certainly stolen the show and is the big announcement for them (which isn't a bad thing that they joined, it is kind of a big deal to have them). Amanda McPherson, VP of Marketing and Developer Services for the Linux Foundation wrapped up the press release by saying that all of the new members "represent important areas of the Linux ecosystem and their contributions will immediately help advance the operating system.”

NVIDIA has generally enjoyed good support on the major Linux distributions, but now that they are a member here's hoping they can further improve their Linux graphics card drivers. What is your take on the Linux Foundation's new members, will they make a difference?

TSMC Suffers 28 nm Woes

Subject: Editorial | March 9, 2012 - 08:45 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, tahiti, process node, nvidia, kepler, amd, 28 nm

 Charlie over at Semiaccurate is reporting that TSMC has closed down their entire 28 nm line.  Shut down.  Not running wafers.  This obviously cannot be good.

Apparently TSMC stopped the entire line about three weeks ago and have not restarted it.  This type of thing does not happen very often, and when it does, things are really out of whack.  Going back we have heard mixed reviews of TSMC’s 28 nm process.  NVIDIA was quoted as saying that yields still were not very good, but at least were better than what they experienced with their first 40 nm part (GTX 400 series).  Now, part of NVIDIA’s problem was that the design was as much of an issue as the 40 nm process was.  AMD at the time was churning out HD 5000 series parts at a pretty good rate, and they said their yields were within expectations.

tsmc_logo.jpg

AMD so far is one of the first customers out of the gate with a large volume of 28 nm parts.  The HD 7900 series has been out since the second week of January, the HD 7700 series since mid-February, and the recently released HD 7800 series will reach market in about 2 weeks.  Charlie has done some more digging and has found out that AMD has enough product in terms of finished boards and packaged chips that they will be able to handle the shutdown from TSMC.  Things will get tight at the end, but apparently the wafers in the middle of being processed have not been thrown out or destroyed.  So once production starts again, AMD and the other customers will not have to wait 16 to 20 weeks before getting finished product.

NVIDIA will likely not fare nearly as well.  The bulk of the stoppage occurred during the real “meat and potatoes” manufacturing cycle for the company.  NVIDIA expects to launch the first round of Kepler based products this month, but if production has been stopped for the past three weeks then we can bet that there are a lot of NVIDIA wafers just sitting in the middle of production.  Charlie also claims that the NVIDIA launch will not be a hard one, and NVIDIA expects retail products to be available several weeks after the introduction.

The potential reasons for this could be legion.  Was there some kind of toxic spill that resulted in a massive cleanup that required the entire line to be shut down?  Was there some kind of contamination that was present while installing the line, but was not discovered until well after production started?  Or was something glossed over during installation that ballooned into a bigger problem that just needed to be rectified (a stitch in time saves nine)?

Source: SemiAccurate

GTX 680, Turbo Cores, and Cuda Cores!

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 8, 2012 - 03:59 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 680, GDC

It seems that there have been a few leaks on NVIDIA's first Kepler based product.  Techpowerup and Extreme Tech are both reporting on leaks that apparently came from Cebit and some of NVIDIA's partners.  We now have a much better idea what the GTX 680 is all about.

mark-rein-kepler-nvidia-gk104.jpg

Epic's Mark Rein is showing off his own GTX 680 which successfully ran their Samaritan Demo.  It is wrapped for his protection.  (Image courtesy of Extreme Tech)

The chip that powers the GTX 680 is the GK104, and it is oddly enough the more "midrange/enthusiast" offering.  It has a total of 1536 CUDA cores, runs at 703 MHz core and 1406 MHz hot clock, has a 256 bit memory bus pumping out 196 GB/sec, and has a new and interesting feature that is quite a bit like the Turbo core functionality we see from both AMD and Intel in their CPUs.  Apparently when a scene gets very complex, the chip is able to overclock itself up to 900 MHz core/1800 MHz hot clock.  It will stay there for either as long as the scene needs it, or the chip approaches its upper TDP limit.

These reports paint the GTX 680 as being about 10% faster than the HD 7970 in certain applications, but in others it is slower.  I figure that when reviews are finally released the two cards will have traded blows with each other over who has the fastest graphics card.  Let's call it a draw.

The GTX 680 should be unveiled in the next week or so, but initial reviews will not surface until later in the month.  Retail availability will be relegated until then, but with the issues that TSMC has had with their 28 nm process (it has been stopped since the middle of February) we have no idea how much product NVIDIA and its partners has.  Things could be scarce after the introduction for some time.

Source: NVIDIA

Alleged NVIDIA GK104 Kepler GTX 670 Ti Photo Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 8, 2012 - 12:41 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, graphics card, gpu, GK104, gaming, 28nm

GDC 2012 is upon us, and in addition to the Samaritan demo and some gaming goodness, we spotted a leaked image over at Legit Reviews that is allegedly a photo of a production NVIDIA GTX 670 Ti graphics card.

GTX670Ti.jpg

The cooler looks to cover the whole PCB and be of the blower design, funneling hot air of the of the front of the card and out of the case.  The connectors include two DVI, one HDMI, and one Display Port.  Rumors suggest that the latest NVIDIA cards will be capable of multi-display (>2) from a single card much like AMD cards have been doing for some time.

Not a whole lot is known about the upcoming GK104 "Kepler" GPUs with a good deal of certainty, but we have reported on a few leaks including that the cards will have 2 GB of GDDR5 RAM on a 256 bit memory bus, and that the cards may just be coming out in May. Due to Epic using a working Kepler GPU in their Samaritan demo, that launch date does not sound too far fetched either. On the performance front, there are conflicting rumors; some rumors state that the cards will blow AMD out of the water and other people swear the cards will not be as powerful as the rumors suggest. I suppose we'll find out soon though!

Are you still waiting for NVIDIA's Kepler GPUs or have you jumped on the latest Radeon series?

Unreal Engine Samaritan Demo Running On Single NVIDIA Kepler GPU

Subject: General Tech | March 7, 2012 - 09:38 PM |
Tagged: unreal, udk, samaritan, nvidia, fxaa

Last year we saw Unreal unviel their Samaritan demo which showed off next generation gaming graphics using three NVIDIA 580 GTX graphics cards in SLI.  Epic games showed off realistic hair and cloth physics along with improved lighting, shadows, anti-aliasing, and more bokeh effects than gamers could shake a controller at with their Samaritan demo, and I have to say it was pretty impressive stuff a year ago, and it still is today. What makes this round special is that hardware has advanced such that the Samaritan level graphics can be achieved in real time with a single graphics card, a big leap from last year's required three SLI'd NVIDIA GTX 580s!

The Samaritan demo was shown at this years' GDC 2012 (Games Developers Conference) to be running on a single NVIDIA "Kepler" graphics card in real time, which is pretty exciting. Epic did not state any further details on the upcoming NVIDIA graphics card; however, the knowledge that the single GPU was able to pull off what it took three Fermi cards to do certainly holds promise.

According to GeForce; however, it was not merely the NVIDIA Kepler GPU that made the Samaritan demo on a single GPU possible. The article states that it was the inclusion of NVIDIA's method for anti-aliasing known as FXAA, or Fast Approximate Anti-Aliasing that enabled it. Unlike the popular MSAA option employed by (many of) today's games, FXAA uses much less memory, enabling single graphics cards to avoid being bogged down by memory thrashing. They further state that the reason MSAA is not ideal for the Samaritan demo is because the demo uses deferred shading to provide the "complex, realistic lighting effects that would be otherwise impossible using forward rendering," a method employed by many game engines. The downside to the arguably better lighting in the Samaritan demo is that it requires four times as much memory. This is because the GPU RAM needs to hold four samples per pixel, and the workload is magnified four times in areas of the game where there are multiple intersecting pieces of geometry.

MSAAvsFXAA.png

FXAA vs MSAA

They go on to state that without AA turned on, the lighting in the Samaritan demo uses approximately 120 MB of GPU RAM, and with 4x MSAA turned on it uses about 500 MB. That's 500 MB of memory dedicated just to lighting when it could be used to hold more of the level and physics, for example and would require a GPU to swap more data that it should have to (using FXAA). They state that FXAA on the other hand, is a shader based AA method that does not require additional memory, making it "much more performance friendly for deferred renderers such as Samaritan."

Without anti-aliasing, the game world would look much more jagged and not realistic. AA seeks to smooth out the jagged edges, and FXAA enabled Epic to run their Samaritan demo on a single next generation NVIDIA graphics card. Pretty impressive if you ask me, and I'm excited to see game developers roll some of the Samaritan graphical effects into their games. Knowing that Epic Game's engine can be run on a single graphics card implies that this future is all that much closer. More information is available here, and if you have not already seen it the Samaritan demo is shown in the video below.

Source: GeForce

Podcast #191 - ASUS AMD GPU Roundup, IMFT Flash, and tons of news from MWC!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | February 29, 2012 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: vengeance, tegra, podcast, nvidia, MWC, Intel, corsair, asus, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #191 - 02/29/2012

Join us this week as we talk about our ASUS AMD GPU Roundup, IMFT Flash, and tons of news from MWC!

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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malvantano

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

Program length: 1:05:06

Program Schedule: 

  1. 0:00:32 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. 0:01:38 Contest Reminder - http://pcper.com/contest
  6. 0:03:35 SilverStone TJ08-E Micro-ATX Tower Enclosure Review
  7. 0:05:00 Asus DirectCU and DirectCU II for AMD: 6850, 6870, 6950, and 6970 Boards Under the Microscope
  8. 0:16:15 AMD Updates the FX Line: Some Thoughts on Future Moves for AMD
  9. 0:22:55 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:23:45 Intel Ivy Bridge delay is confirmed essentially
  11. 0:27:30 GPU sales look a little down in the month
  12. 0:31:13 Could this new research lead to light speed RAM?
  13. 0:33:45 Just Delivered: Corsair Vengeance K90, K60, M90, M60 Keyboards and Mice
  14. 0:36:30 Intel / Micron Flash Technology Venture Expands, Micron Assumes Two Plants
  15. 0:40:30 Qualcomm Shipped Most Smartphone and Tablet GPUs in 2011
  16. 0:42:20 MWC 12: Samsung to compete with Tegra on quad-core CPU
  17. 0:45:20 MWC 12: Huawei enters the mobile SoC world with quad-core K3V2
  18. 0:47:00 Nokia World's Largest Windows Phone OS Smartphone Vendor in Q4 2011
  19. 0:49:00 MWC 12: Intel branded, Atom-powered smartphone to be sold by Orange
  20. 0:51:30 MWC 12: ASUS Unveils Infinity Tablets, Dockable Smartphone
  21. 0:55:00 MWC 12: Lots of industry support for NVIDIA DirectTouch
  22. 0:56:55 MWC 12: NVIDIA Roadmap Outlines Tegra's Future Including 4G and Die Shrink
  23. Contest Reminder - http://pcper.com/contest
  24. 1:00:00 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: A phone that shows pictures of hotels
    2. Jeremy: Audio steganography
    1. Josh: If you do wanna go AMD... cheaply
    2. Allyn: CircuitLab
  25. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  26. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  27. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  28. Closing

Source:

MWC 2012: Nvidia Shows Off Tegra 3’s Muscles With 5 New Games

Subject: Mobile | February 28, 2012 - 12:43 PM |
Tagged: tegra 3, tablet, nvidia, MWC, mobile world congress, gaming

 Nvidia has always been happy to show off the gaming capabilities of Tegra 2 and Tegra 3. No surprise there – the company’s roots are in PC graphics, which goes hand-in-hand with PC games. When we reviewed the Transformer Prime there were several beautiful pre-installed games, such as Shadowgun, that showed off the hardware. Now Nvidia has come up with not one but five more new titles to brag about at Mobile World Congress – including a new Sonic the Hedgehog game.

Let’s have a look at them.

Dark Kingdom THD

This is a role-playing game built in the vein of games like Diablo and Torchlight. The visuals are impressive and a game like this should control well on a tablet, so this could prove to be an excellent title. I do wish the graphics offered more variety, however – they look a bit dark and dreary to me. 

Eden to GREEEEN THD


Hey, are you tired of tower defense games yet? I hope not, because that’s what Eden to GREEEEN is, albeit it one that has somewhat less restrictive mechanics than most titles in the genre. Of the games that Nvidia showed at Mobile World Congress this is easily the least attractive, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be fun to play.

Golden Arrow THD

goldenarrow.jpg

This is a hack-and-slash title that apparently will be including a lot of lens flare and explosions. I’m not sure that sounds appealing, but if you’re into that sort of thing, go for it. There’s no video available for this title right now, so we don’t have a lot to go on.

Hamilton’s Great Adventure THD

 

This game, which is already available on other platforms (you can even pick it up on Steam), is a puzzle game that asks players to navigate hazardous terrain on their quest to collect treasure and do over adventure-y things. The versions of this game that have come out for other platforms have received a fair amount of praise, so Nvidia is wise to be bragging about adding this to its stable.

Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II

 

 

Nvidia has been bragging about Tegra 3’s console-quality graphics, so why not poach one of console gaming’s most popular franchises? Sonic The Hedgehog 4: Episode II looks to be a straight port of the version that will be available on game consoles, which means platforming at light speed with excellent 3D graphics. I sincerely hope that the controls are solid, because if so, this could be one of the best games on any tablet.

Availability for the titles shown by Nvidia is generally vague, but can be summed up as vaguely “spring.” The Sonic game, for example, will be coming out for Xbox 360 on May 16, so the tablet version will probably release sometime close to that date.

 

Source: Nvidia

MWC 12: NVIDIA Roadmap Outlines Tegra's Future Including 4G and Die Shrink

Subject: Mobile | February 27, 2012 - 10:53 AM |
Tagged: wayne, tegra 3, tegra, tablets, nvidia, MWC 12, mobile, grey

This year is a big one for smaller silicon manufacturing processes with Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge, and NVIDIA and AMD moving to 28nm GPU processes. According to a report on VR-Zone, NVIDIA is already planning their next move for Tegra, including a die shrink to 28nm.

They managed to get their hands on a road map (shown below) for NVIDIA's Tegra SoC (system on a chip) lineup that extends into 2013. With Tegra 3, NVIDIA began by sampling the chip to Asus and the Transformer Prime. After that success, other partners and devices are starting to pick up the mobile chip, and they expect the situation to be the same for future Tegra iterations.

They company allegedly taped out a Tegra 4 (T40) SoC at the end of December 2011, and is starting to sample it to OEM partners to find someone to do a Tegra 3 like launch, with one device/platform to debut first and others to follow in later months.

NVIDIA_Roadmap_Tegra4.jpeg

The Tegra 4 chip is code named "Wayne" and will be comprised of multiple ARM Cortex A15 CPU cores and a new GPU on a 28nm process. The company alos plans to show off a dual core 28nm SoC that uses two Cortex A15 CPU cores, a revamped GPU, and an Icera 4G LTE radio at Mobile World Congress 2013 next year.

Further, the roadmap details a new Tegra 3 chip that is intended to be used with Windows on ARM powered notebooks and tablets. While the new Tegra 3 (T35) SoC will not be a die shrink, it will have higher clock speeds due to less restrictions placed on the maximum TDP (thermal design power) allowed for the devices. VR-Zone estimates that the T35 chips will run somewhere between 1.6 GHz and 1.7 GHz.

Currently there are some incompatibilities with Tegra and 4G LTE radios which has caused some LTE devices to go with Qualcomm SoCs, so it is good to see NVIDIA working on improving compatibility and then integrating the basebands into their future SoCs to rectify the issue.

As far as this year is concerned, we should see the updated Tegra 3 chip and a new version of Tegra 2 that integrates a Icera 4G LTE baseband. The Wayne and Grey chips will likely not be released until 2013 at the earliest. The expanded Tegra portfolio should help them to gain some market share, though exactly how much remains to be seen.

Source: VR-Zone