NVIDIA Outlines Multi-GPU and Cloud Graphics With Project Maximus and Virtual Graphics Technologies

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 9, 2011 - 05:08 PM |
Tagged: virtual graphics, tesla, quadro, project maximus, nvidia

It's that time of year again, SIGGRAPH is upon us. The same graphics showcase that brings oohs and ahhs over the latest in ray tracing generated graphics each year has seen NVIDIA bring multi-GPU, scalable Tesla computing power and professional graphics for mobile devices delivered using the Internet at SIGGRAPH 2011. The multi-GPU and cloud based graphics technologies have been dubbed Project Maximus and Virtual Graphics respectively.

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According to Engadget, Project Maximus sees NVIDIA opting to recommend a lower end Quadro card and combining it with an almost infinitely scalable Tesla powered cluster. The light Quadro card would handle all of the graphics duties in displaying the desktop and applications' output while the attached Tesla processors would be responsible for handling all of the underlying computationally intensive calculations. This option will be especially interesting for businesses and professional designers as they will be able to allocate to each user only the power they need to get the job done, and future upgrade-ability would improve by allowing more Tesla processors to be added as opposed to a whole graphics system overhaul. Engadget quoted NVIDIA in further clarifying that in some programs, "better performance is achieved by adding a Tesla companion processor, as opposed to scaling up the primary Quadro graphics. Users still require as much graphics as possible."

Virtual Graphics on the other hand is NVIDIA's technology preview that aims to bring quality graphics to numerous devices so long as they have a solid internet connection. Much like onlive is able to stream games to low end computers, NVIDIA's virtual graphics technology seems to be pushing professional level graphics to mobile devices by using graphics card clusters based in the cloud to deliver much more graphical prowess than the mobile SoC (System on a Chip) graphics processors can provide alone. Branching off from Virtual Graphics technology is Project Monterrey, which is an initiative to bring NVIDIA Quadro level graphics on an application agnostic basis to any device capable of maintaining a solid internet connection.

Adobe and Autodesk have already signed on as software partners, and HP will be delivering a three GPU workstation later this year.  More photos of the NVIDIA presentation are available over at Engadget.

Source: Engadget

John Carmack Interview: Question and Topic suggestions?

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 4, 2011 - 11:15 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, john carmack, interview, carmack, amd

A couple of years back we talked on the phone with John Carmack during the period of excitement about ray tracing and game engines.  That interview is still one of our most read articles on PC Perspective as he always has interesting topics and information to share.  While we are hosting the PC Perspective Hardware Workshop on Saturday at Quakecon 2011, we also scheduled some time to sit with John again to pick his brain on hardware and technology.

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If you had a chance to ask John Carmack questions about hardware and technology, either the current sets of each or what he sees coming in the future, what would you ask?  Let us know in our comments section below!! (No registration required to comment.)

Source: PCPer

Asus May Launch a Kal-El Powered Transformer Tablet This Year

Subject: General Tech | August 3, 2011 - 08:20 AM |
Tagged: tablet, nvidia, kal-el, asus

As Superman fans well know, Kal-El is faster than a speeding bullet, and NVIDIA’s new Tegra 3 Kal-El chip is no different. We reported on a demonstration of the Kal-El chip running games with dynamic lighting and realistic cloth physics earlier this year, and it is certainly an impressive mobile chip.

Speaking of “impressive,” Asus’ chairman Jonney Shih was quoted by Forbes recently in stating that the upcoming Transformer 2 device would be “impressive.” While Shih was not able to share any details about the device in question, he did mention that Asus will be unveiling new tablets before the end of this year. With the NVIDIA Kal-El chip set to launch this month, the timing is certainly favorable for a quad core Transformer 2.

ASUS_Transformer.jpg

The Transformer 1, will the second iteration have even more oomph?

Of all the Android tablets, the Transformer has been one of the most well recieved; therefore, it seems likely that Asus would pursue another iteration of the device.  Whether that device will be powered by the Tegra 3 chip is still uncertain, however.  Do you think the rumor of a quad core Transformer is likely, or is this something that is "too good to be true?"

Source: Forbes

Podcast #163 - Mini ITX Z68 Motherboard, PDXLAN coverage, Sandy Bridge-E rumors and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 21, 2011 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: vellamo, podcast, nvidia, Intel, eyefinity, Android, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #163 - 7/21/2011

This week we talk about a Mini ITX Z68 Motherboard, PDXLAN coverage, Sandy Bridge-E rumors 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 and Allyn Malventano

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

Program length: 1:22:27

Program Schedule:

  1. 0:00:31 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. 0:02:20 BlackBerry PlayBook Review: Good Hardware Seeks Great Software
  6. 0:04:10 Eyefinity and Me - An Idiot's Guide to AMD's Multi-Monitor Technology
  7. 0:05:05 Qualcomm Vellamo Browser Benchmark and Results - Android Web Performance
  8. 0:10:45 Zotac thinks small with their new Z68 motherboard
  9. 0:15:15 This Podcast is brought to you by MSI Computer, and their all new Sandy Bridge Motherboards!
  10. 0:16:20 One Billion work units down and the FLOPs are still rising - team ranking page 
  11. 0:20:05 Intel Sandy Bridge-E Processors Just In Time For Christmas But With Some Features Removed 
  12. 0:25:02 Steam readies update to download system, just in (Valve) time
  13. 0:29:25 PDXLAN Custom Cases Round 1
  14. 0:34:15 Overclockers Achieve Impressive Llano Overclocking Results, Come Close to 5GHz
  15. 0:38:30 Intel and AMD be warned; ARM could grab up to 20% of the laptop market in the next 4 years 
  16. 0:44:00 Southern Island is ahead of the pack, but it is set to low power for now  
  17. 0:48:02 FPS games have hit the innovation wall? Not so says John Carmack 
  18. 0:56:35 With Intel's recent purchasing habits, could crossdressing be in their future? 
  19. 1:03:00 New Apple Hardware overview
  20. 1:09:45 Quakecon Reminder - http://www.quakecon.org/
    1. Tshirts, prizes, stuff!
  21. 1:12:30 Hardware / Software Pick of the Week
    1. Ryan: Spotify
    2. Jeremy: sweet RAM deal
    3. Allyn: http://www.passwordcard.org/en
  22. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  23. http://pcper.com/podcast   
  24. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  25. 1:20:55 Closing

Source:

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:

Tech Talk

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!