Southern Island is ahead of the pack, but it is set to low power for now

Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2011 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, nvidia, gpu, amd, 28nm

Thanks to some information garnered by SemiAccurate we have a very good idea of AMD's release plans for their new GPU family, what we have been referring to as Southern Islands.  The confusion that we felt from AMD's announcement that Southern Island parts would be ready sooner than expected arose from the reported difficulties that TSMC was having with their 28nm HKMG process.  Thankfully someone had a chance to take apart some 28nm TSMC field programmable arrays and inside found a HKMG design modified for lower power states than the original specs.  That doesn't mean cellphone level graphics performance but certainly means that the first GPUs we see from Southern Islands will not be the high end cards.  AMD did the same thing with previous generations of GPUs, so the release schedule is becoming a habit, even if not what would be preferred.

There are other side effects to this choice by AMD and TSMC which are probably going to hurt NVIDIA, who are hoping to get full power Kepler based GPUs out at the beginning of next year.  Since NVIDIA tends towards more aggressive clocks, the experience that TSMC has with what is called the HPL 28nm process will not necessarily help NVIDIA's HKMG 28nm process.  SemiAccurate has more.

chipworks_151433-c_branded.jpg

"The final piece of the TSMC 28nm HKMG process puzzle was put in place at SemiCon last week, it now makes sense. Chipworks got ahold of a Xilinx Kintex-7 FPGA, and it revealed a few secrets on the operating table.

If you recall, AMD is on track to put out Southern Islands chips much earlier than most people, SemiAccurate included, expected, possibly even this quarter. The real question is what process they are going to make it on, the TSMC 40nm SiON or 28nm HKMG? 40nm would be big, hot, and limited, think volcanic island more than Southern, while the 28nm SHP HKMG process wasn’t supposed to be ready until late Q1, best case. The short story is that Southern Islands is very likely not on either one."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

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Source: SemiAccurate

NVDA Cum Laude-ing Stanford a CUDA Center of Excellence

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | July 17, 2011 - 01:07 PM |
Tagged: stanford, nvidia, CUDA

NVIDIA has been pushing their CUDA platform for years now as a method to access your GPU for purposes far beyond the scopes of flags and frags. We have seen what a good amount of heterogeneous hardware will do to a process with a hefty portion of parallelizable code from encryption to generating bitcoins; media processing to blurring the line between real-time and non-real-time 3d rendering. NVIDIA also recognizes the role that academia plays in training the future programmers and thus strongly supports when an institution teaches how to use GPU hardware effectively, especially when they teach how to use NVIDIA GPU hardware effectively. Recently, NVIDIA knighted Stanford as the latest of its CUDA Center of Excellence round table.

GPUniversity.jpg

It will be 150$ if you want it framed.

The list of CUDA Centres of Excellence now currently includes: Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard School of Engineering, Institute of Process Engineering at Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Taiwan University, Stanford Engineering, TokyoTech, Tsinghua University, University of Cambridge, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Maryland, University of Tennessee, and the University of Utah. If you are interested in learning about programming for GPUs then NVIDIA has just graced blessing on one further choice. Whether that will affect many prospective students and faculty is yet to be seen, but it makes for many amusing puns nonetheless.

Source: NVIDIA

PDXLAN Gears up with sponsors and gamers

Subject: Editorial, Shows and Expos | July 16, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
Tagged: sli, sapphire, pdxlan, pdx, nvidia, msi, amd

If you are a PC gaming and live near or around the Portland, OR area you are familiar with the concept of PDXLAN - one of the most popular (but still cool and underground) LAN events in the country.  The primary event is going on this weekend and I am here to both game and take a look at what the sponsors are showing off. 

pdx01.jpg

MSI has a lot of stuff going on including a look at the latest version of the Afterburner overclocking tool, the 3GB version of the GTX 580 Lightning (that Josh is currently working on a review of) and even a NVIDIA Surround based Dirt 3 sim seat.

pdx02.jpg

Gaming laptops are still taking off here in the US and MSI has a couple on display including a HUGE 18-in mode (on the right) with a keyboard that lights up with various colors of LEDs, configurable.  

pdx03.jpg

The Sapphire guys are here as well and are showing off much of what AMD for gamers including Eyefinity configurations like the very popular 5x1 portrait mode.  This is something that only AMD offers currently and in this demo we were looking at Dragon Age II.  It was definitely grabbing some attention!

pdx04.jpg

Showing that AMD's HD3D technology does indeed have legs Sapphire was showing off the new Samsung SyncMaster SA950 that has a nice external design.  I am going to spend some more time with it today to see how it performs, so check back for more!

pdx05.jpg

If you are here, you can also find me getting butt kicked at various games.  This is the machine I'll be on, a Maingear built GTX 580 SLI right with an overclocked Intel Core i7 Sandy Bridge processor and 30-in display.  I know, it sucks to be me, but someone has to sacrifice and play on it, right?

More from PDXLAN later today!

Source: PCPer

Podcast #162 - Adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2011 - 04:38 PM |
Tagged: podcast, bitcoin, mining, gpu, gpgpu, amd, nvidia, eyefinity, APU

PC Perspective Podcast #162 - 7/14/2011

This week we talk about our adventures in Bitcoin Mining, the Eyefinity experience, Ultrabooks 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

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

Program length: 1:16:40

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:40 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. 0:02:10 Bitcoin Currency and GPU Mining Performance Comparison
  6. 0:22:48 Bitcoin Mining Update: Power Usage Costs Across the United States
  7. 0:34:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  8. 0:34:50 Eyefinity and Me
  9. 0:45:00 Video Perspective: AMD A-series APU Dual Graphics Technology Performance
  10. 0:47:02 As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic
  11. 0:49:40 A PC Macbook Air: Can Intel has?
  12. 0:53:00 PC: for all your Xbox gaming needs
  13. 0:56:06 Email from Howard
  14. 1:00:28 Email from Ian
  15. 1:03:00 Email from Jan
    1. In case you're interested, here are almost 150mpix of HDR: http://rattkin.info/archives/430
  16. 1:08:55 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  17. 1:09:45 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Dropped the ball
    2. Jeremy: I NEED FLEET COMMANDER
    3. Josh: Finally getting cheap enough for me to buy
    4. Allyn: http://gplus.to/
  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. 1:15:15 Closing
Source:
Author:
Manufacturer: General

How much will these Bitcoin mining configurations cost you in power?

Earlier this week we looked at Bitcoin mining performance across a large range of GPUs but we had many requests for estimates on the cost of the power to drive them.  At the time we were much more interested in the performance of these configurations but now that we have that information and we started to look at the potential profitability of doing something like this, look at the actual real-world cost of running a mining machine 24 hours a day, 7 days a week became much more important. 

This led us to today's update where we will talk about the average cost of power, and thus the average cost of running our 16 different configurations, in 50 different locations across the United States.  We got our data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration website where they provide average retail prices on electricity divided up by state and by region.  For use today, we downloaded the latest XLS file (which has slightly more updated information than the website as of this writing) and started going to work with some simple math. 

Here is how your state matches up:

kwh-1.jpg

kwh-2.jpg

The first graph shows the rates in alphabetical order by state, the second graph in order from the most expensive to the least.  First thing we noticed: if you live in Hawaii, I hope you REALLY love the weather.  And maybe it's time to look into that whole solar panel thing, huh?  Because Hawaii was SO FAR out beyond our other data points, we are going to be leaving it out of our calculations and instead are going to ask residents and those curious to just basically double one of our groupings.

Keep reading to get the full rundown on how power costs will affect your mining operations, and why it may not make sense to mine AT ALL with NVIDIA graphics cards! 

Author:
Manufacturer: General

What is a Bitcoin?

This article looking at Bitcoins and the performance of various GPUs with mining them was really a big team effort at PC Perspective.  Props goes out to Tim Verry for doing the research on the process of mining and helping to explain what Bitcoins are all about.  Ken Addison did a great job doing through an alottment of graphics cards running our GUIMiner and getting the data you will see presented later.  Scott Michaud helped with some graphics and imagery and I'm the monkey that just puts it all together at the end.

** Update 7/13/11 **  We recently wrote another piece on the cost of the power to run our Bitcoin mining operations used in this performance article.  Based on the individual prices of electric in all 50 states of the US, we found that the cost of the power to run some cards exceeded the value of the Bitcoin currency based on today's exchange rates.  I would highly recommend you check out that story as well after giving this performance-based article a thorough reading.  ** End Update **

A new virtual currency called Bitcoin has been receiving a great deal of news fanfare, criticism and user adoption. The so called cryptographic currency uses strong encryption methods to eliminate the need for trust when buying and selling goods over the Internet in addition to a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server that maintains a public record of every transaction to prevent double spending of the electronic currency. The aspect of Bitcoin that has caused the most criticism and recent large rise in growth lies in is its inherent ability to anonymize the real life identities of users (though the transactions themselves are public) and the ability to make money by supporting the Bitcoin network in verifying pending transactions through a process called “mining” respectively. Privacy, security, cutting out the middle man and making it easy for users to do small casual transactions without fees as well as the ability to be rewarded for helping to secure the network by mining are all selling points (pun intended) of the currency.

When dealing with a more traditional and physical local currency, there is a need to for both parties to trust the currency but not much need to trust each other as handing over cash is fairly straightforward. One does not need to trust the other person as much as if it were a check which could bounce. Once it has changed hands, the buyer can not go and spend that money elsewhere as it is physically gone. Transactions over the Internet; however, greatly reduce the convenience of that local currency, and due to the series of tubes’ inability to carry cash through the pipes, services like Paypal as well as credit cards and checks are likely to be used in its place. While these replacements are convenient, they also are much riskier than cash as fraudulent charge-backs and disputes are likely to occur, leaving the seller in a bad position. Due to this risk, sellers have to factor a certain percentage of expected fraud into their prices in addition to collecting as much personally identifiable information as possible. Bitcoin seeks to remedy these risks by bringing the convenience of a local currency to the virtual plane with irreversible transactions, a public record of all transactions, and the ability to trust strong cryptography instead of the need for trusting people.

paymentpal.jpg

There are a number of security measures inherent in the Bitcoin protocol that assist with these security goals. Foremost, bitcoin uses strong public and private key cryptography to secure coins to a user. Money is handled by a bitcoin wallet, which is a program such as the official bitcoin client that creates public/private key pairs that allow you to send and receive money. You are further able to generate new receiving addresses whenever you want within the client. The wallet.dat file is the record of all your key pairs and thus your bitcoins and contains 100 address/key pairs (though you are able to generate new ones beyond that). Then, to send money one only needs to sign the bitcoin with their private key and send it to the recipient’s public key. This creates a chain of transactions that are secured by these public and private key pairs from person to person. Unfortunately this cryptography alone is not able to prevent double spending, meaning that Person A could sign the bitcoin with his private key to Person B, but also could do the same to Person C and so on. This issue is where the peer-to-peer and distributed computing aspect of the bitcoin protocol come into play. By using a peer-to-peer distributed timestamp server, the bitcoin protocol creates a public record of every transaction that prevents double spending of bitcoins. Once the bitcoin has been signed to a public key (receiving address) with the user’s private key, and the network confirms this transaction the bitcoins can no longer be spent by Person A as the network has confirmed that the coin belongs to Person B now, and they are the only ones that can spend it using their private key.

Keep reading our article that details the theories behind Bitcoins as well as the performance of modern GPUs in mining them!  

As expected NVIDIA's next generation GPU release schedule was a bit optimistic

Subject: General Tech | July 8, 2011 - 12:37 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, 28nm, kepler, maxwell

TSMC's 28nm wafer yields are having a negative effect on NVIDIA's scheduled release of their next generation of GPUs, no matter what the PR coming out of NVIDIA might suggest.  That news is coming from graphics card manufacturers who were hoping to release cards but have since seen NVIDIA's scheduled releases delayed by a year.  While it may be true that TSMC is partly to blame for the delay there is also talk about the chips performance being lower than was expected and is needed to challenge AMD.  The news for NVIDIA gets even worse as DigiTimes confirms that AMD is still on schedule with it's 28nm chips.  This may seem like a bit of deja vu, as we saw similar production problems from TSMC's initial 40nm chips; though that effected both major GPU makers more or less equally.

nvidia jensen.jpg

"Despite Nvidia CEO Huang Jen-hsun previously saying that the company is set to announce its new 28nm GPU architecture at the end of 2011 and 22/20nm in 2013, sources from graphics card makers have pointed out that Nvidia has already adjusted its roadmap and delayed 28nm Kepler and 22/20nm Maxwell to 2012 and 2014.

The sources believe that the delay is due to unsatisfactory yield rates of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company's (TSMC) 28nm process as well as lower-than-expected performance of Kepler.

TSMC originally expected its 28nm capacity at Fab15 to be available in the fourth quarter of 2011 and was set to start pilot production for its 20nm process technology in the third quarter of 2012.

However, TSMC's other major client Qualcomm, currently, still has not yet adjusted its 28nm process schedule and is set to launch three new products, 8960. 8270 and 8260A using dual-core Krait architecture in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Meanwhile, AMD will follow its original schedule and enter the 28nm era in the first half of 2012. The company's next-generation graphics chips Southern Island as well as Krishna and Wichita processors, which will replace the existing Ontraio and Zacate processors, and will all adopt a 28nm process from TSMC."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes

Always someone to ruin the parade, NVIDIA's response to AMD's Southern Island news

Subject: General Tech | July 6, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
Tagged: southern islands, parade, nvidia, kepler, fermi, amd

As is common in the industry, when one company releases news their competitors have to do something to distract people.  Since in this case it was AMD's announcement of the Southern Islands release, it is NVIDIA who feels the need to hold a competing spectacle.  In this case it was news that their new Fermi based 28nm Kepler GPU has taped out ... maybe.  In this particular scenario we have an intentional leak from NVIDIA which was light on details and heavy on spin.  SemiAccurate takes a long look at some of NVIDIA's claims, from the doubling of transistors with no cost in TDP to the probable difference between Tesla branded Fermi and GeForce branded Fermi cards to NVIDIA's claims that switching from 40nm to 28nm is hard and that it is all TSMC's fault. 

CUDA_roadmap.jpg

"When SemiAccurate announced that AMD (NYSE:AMD) was aiming for September with Southern Islands (SI), you could almost set your watch to the Nvidia (NASDAQ:NVDA) response. If you are new to the PR game, you will probably scratch your head wondering what we mean by Nvidia response, officially there is silence, but there definitely was a response."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: SemiAccurate

Podcast #160 - Lenovo ThinkPad X1, OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2, Crysis 2 DX11 update, Llano preview and more!

Subject: General Tech | June 30, 2011 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: podcast, X1, Thinkpad, revodrive, ocz, nvidia, llano, Lenovo, Intel, dx11, crysis 2, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #160 - 6/30/2011

This week we talk about the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, OCZ RevoDrive 3 X2, Crysis 2 DX11 update, Llano preview 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, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano

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

Program length: 57:49

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:45 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. 0:02:16 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Review: Thin is In
  6. 0:03:08 Samsung Nexus S 4G Review: Google Bliss.
  7. 0:05:04 Super Fast PCI Express Cable Capable of 32 Gbps Announced By The PCI SIG
  8. 0:08:37 OCZ RevoDrive 3 x2 480GB PCIe SSD Review - Seriously Fast Storage
  9. 0:24:23 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:25:00 Crysis 2: DirectX 11 free update released
  11. 0:31:45 NVIDIA Releases GeForce GTX 580M and 570M, Brings Optimus to Hardcore Gaming Laptops
  12. 0:34:10 Badaboom, the once NVIDIA only transcoding accelerator, now works with Sandy Bridge
  13. 0:38:40 Llano's dance card is available, pick a date with your favourite new AMD APU tomorrow
  14. 0:41:05 Just Delivered: Cost effective AM3+ Boards.
  15. 0:42:30 Show and tell: Llano CPU and MB
  16. 0:44:26 Free games?
    1. http://www.pcper.com/news/General-Tech/Meet-Medic-Uber-Update-and-TF2-itself-are-freed
  17. 0:48:20 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
  18. 0:50:45 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Bitcoins?  Ken is testing a LOT of GPUs for this!
    2. Jeremy: I guess I'll shout out to Might & Magic entertaining me for 25 SMEGGING YEARS!
    3. Josh: Eyefinity!  It is a lot of fun.  Surprising capabilities from many modern applications.  Even a lot of older ones...
    4. Allyn: RevoDrive 3!
  19. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  20. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  21. 0:56:35 Closing

 

Source:

Badaboom, the once NVIDIA only transcoding accelerator, now works with Sandy Bridge

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2011 - 11:34 AM |
Tagged: transcoding, quick sync video, nvidia, Intel, badaboom

When we first met Elemental Technologies Badaboom video transcoding accelerator it would only work with NVIDIA CPUs.  Ryan tested version 1.1 of the program, taking various movies and recorded TV and transcoding it into formats able to play on Blackberrys, iPhones, YouTube and a wide variety of other formats. 

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The testing showed nice improvements when utilizing an NVIDA GPU and the ability to use multiple GPUs, each able to do their own transcoding simultaneously would help anyone who needed a couple of Blu-ray movies transferred to their mobile device in a hurry.  The quality of the transcoding was of high quality and Ryan did not see any of the issues that were present when using AMD's Avivo, as there is little point in quickly transcoding video if it ends up painful to watch.

We hadn't heard much else about Badaboom until today, when it was announce that version 2.0 will support Intel's new Quick Sync Video as well as NVIDIA's cards.  We don't have any benchmarks to show you how effective Sandy Bridge parts will be at accelerating transcoding but you can see the long list of pre-processing filters and learn a bit about Intel's media SDK on this page at Intel.

badaboom.gif

"Intel Quick Sync Video, built right into 2nd generation Intel Core processors, is breakthrough hardware acceleration that lets the user complete in minutes what used to take hours. Create DVDs or Blu-ray discs, cover video files for your media plater, and convert video for upload to your favorite social networking sites - all in a flash.

Badaboom uses Intel Quick Sync Video technology to transcode video files in just minutes. Why do videos need to be transcoded? In order for a video to play back on a device such as a smartphone or a tablet, it needs to be formatted to correct specifications. With so many different devices out there, odds are low a video from a camcorder will automatically play on all of them. That's where Badaboom comes in: it transcodes video files to play on hundreds of the most popular devices available today-and it does so quickly and easily."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

 

Source: Intel