Podcast #351 - More AMD Fiji Leaks, Rumors on GTX 980 Ti and a great $99 portable DAC!

Subject: Editorial | May 28, 2015 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: X99, video, sapphire, r9 285, podcast, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, gigabyte, Fiji, DAC, amd

PC Perspective Podcast #351 - 05/28/2015

Join us this week as we discuss AMD Fiji Leaks, rumors on GTX 980 Ti, a great $99 portable DAC, 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!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti Specifications Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2015 - 05:03 PM |
Tagged: rumors, nvidia, leaks, GTX 980 Ti, gpu, gm200

Who doesn’t love rumor and speculation about unreleased products? (Other than the manufacturers of such products, of course.) Today VideoCardz is reporting via HardwareBattle a GPUZ screenshot reportedly showing specs for an NIVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti.


Image credit: HardwareBattle via VideoCardz.com

First off, the HardwareBattle logo conveniently obscures the hardware ID (as well as ROP/TMU counts). What is visible is the 2816 shader count, which places it between the GTX 980 (2048) and TITAN X (3072). The 6 GB of GDDR5 memory has a 384-bit interface and 7 Gbps speed, so bandwidth should be the same 336 GB/s as the TITAN X. As far as core clocks on this GPU (which seems likely to be a cut-down GM200), they are identical to those of the TITAN X as well with 1000 MHz Base and 1076 MHz Boost clocks shown in the screenshot.


Image credit: VideoCardz.com

We await any official announcement, but from the frequency of the leaks it seems we won’t have to wait too long.

Could it be a 980 Ti, or does the bill of lading lie?

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 21, 2015 - 07:33 PM |
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, 980 Ti


The source of leaks and rumours is often unexpected, such as this import data of a shipment headed from China into India.  Could this 6GB card be the GTX 980 Ti that so many have theorized would be coming sometime around AMD's release of their new cards?  Does the fact that 60,709 Indian Rupees equal 954.447 US Dollars put a damper on your excitement or could it be that these 6 lonely cards are being sold at a higher rate overseas than they might be in the US? 

We don't know but we do know there is a mysterious card out there somewhere.

Source: Zauba

NVIDIA Under Attack Again for GameWorks in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 17, 2015 - 12:04 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, nvidia, hairworks, gameworks, amd

I feel like every few months I get to write more stories focusing on the exact same subject. It's almost as if nothing in the enthusiast market is happening and thus the cycle continues, taking all of us with it on a wild ride of arguments and valuable debates. Late last week I started hearing from some of my Twitter followers that there were concerns surrounding the upcoming release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Then I found a link to this news post over at Overclock3d.net that put some of the information in perspective.

Essentially, The Witcher 3 uses parts of NVIDIA's GameWorks development tools and APIs, software written by NVIDIA to help game developers take advantage of new technologies and to quickly and easily implement them into games. The problem of course is that GameWorks is written and developed by NVIDIA. That means that optimizations for AMD Radeon hardware are difficult or impossible, depending on who you want to believe. Clearly it doesn't benefit NVIDIA to optimize its software for AMD GPUs financially, though many in the community would like NVIDIA to give a better effort - for the good of said community.


Specifically in regards to The Witcher 3, the game implements NVIDIA HairWorks technology to add realism on many of the creatures of the game world. (Actually, the game includes HairWorks, HBAO+, PhysX,  Destruction and Clothing but our current discussion focuses on HairWorks.) All of the marketing and video surrounding The Witcher 3 has been awesome and the realistic animal fur simulation has definitely been a part of it. However, it appears that AMD Radeon GPU users are concerned that performance with HairWorks enabled will suffer.

An example of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with HairWorks

One of the game's developers has been quoted as such:

Many of you have asked us if AMD Radeon GPUs would be able to run NVIDIA’s HairWorks technology – the answer is yes! However, unsatisfactory performance may be experienced as the code of this feature cannot be optimized for AMD products. Radeon users are encouraged to disable NVIDIA HairWorks if the performance is below expectations.

There are at least several interpretations of this statement floating around the web. First, and most enflaming, is that NVIDIA is not allowing CD Project Red to optimize it by not offering source code. Another is that CD Project is choosing to not optimize for AMD hardware due to time considerations. The last is that it simply isn't possible to optimize it because of hardware limitations of HairWorks.

I went to NVIDIA with these complaints about HairWorks and Brian Burke gave me this response:

We are not asking game developers do anything unethical.
GameWorks improves the visual quality of games running on GeForce for our customers.  It does not impair performance on competing hardware.
Demanding source code access to all our cool technology is an attempt to deflect their performance issues. Giving away your IP, your source code, is uncommon for anyone in the industry, including middleware providers and game developers. Most of the time we optimize games based on binary builds, not source code.
GameWorks licenses follow standard industry practice.  GameWorks source code is provided to developers that request it under license, but they can’t redistribute our source code to anyone who does not have a license. 
The bottom line is AMD’s tessellation performance is not very good and there is not a lot NVIDIA can/should do about it. Using DX11 tessellation has sound technical reasoning behind it, it helps to keep the GPU memory footprint small so multiple characters can use hair and fur at the same time.
I believe it is a resource issue. NVIDIA spent a lot of artist and engineering resources to help make Witcher 3 better. I would assume that AMD could have done the same thing because our agreements with developers don’t prevent them from working with other IHVs. (See also, Project Cars)
I think gamers want better hair, better fur, better lighting, better shadows and better effects in their games. GameWorks gives them that.  

Interesting comments for sure. The essential take away from this is that HairWorks depends heavily on tessellation performance and we have known since the GTX 680 was released that NVIDIA's architecture performs better than AMD's GCN for tessellation - often by a significant amount. NVIDIA developed its middleware to utilize the strength of its own GPU technology and while it's clear that some disagree, not to negatively impact AMD. Did NVIDIA know that would be the case when it was developing the software? Of course it did. Should it have done something to help AMD GPUs more gracefully fall back? Maybe.

Next, I asked Burke directly if claims that NVIDIA was preventing AMD or the game developer from optimizing HairWorks for other GPUs and platforms were true? I was told that both AMD and CD Project had the ability to tune the game, but in different ways. The developer could change the tessellation density based on the specific GPU detected (lower for a Radeon GPU with less tessellation capability, for example) but that would require dedicated engineering from either CD Project or AMD to do. AMD, without access to the source code, should be able to make changes in the driver at the binary level, similar to how most other driver optimizations are built. Burke states that in these instances NVIDIA often sends engineers to work with game developers and that AMD "could have done the same had it chosen to."  And again, NVIDIA reiterated that in no way do its agreements with game developers prohibit optimization for AMD GPUs.

It would also be possible for AMD to have pushed for the implementation of TressFX in addition to HairWorks; a similar scenario played out in Grand Theft Auto V where several vendor-specific technologies were included from both NVIDIA and AMD, customized through in-game settings. 

NVIDIA has never been accused of being altruistic; it doesn't often create things and then share it with open arms to the rest of the hardware community. But it has to be understood that game developers know this as well - they are not oblivious. CD Project knew that HairWorks performance on AMD would be poor but decided to implement the technology into The Witcher 3 anyway. They were willing to sacrifice performance penalties for some users to improve the experience of others. You can argue that is not the best choice, but at the very least The Witcher 3 will let you disable the HairWorks feature completely, removing it from the performance debate all together.

In a perfect world for consumers, NVIDIA and AMD would walk hand-in-hand through the fields and develop hardware and software in tandem, making sure all users get the best possible experience with all games. But that style of work is only helpful (from a business perspective) for the organization attempting to gain market share, not the one with the lead. NVIDIA doesn't have to do it and chooses to not. If you don't want to support that style, vote with your wallet.

Another similar controversy surrounded the recent release of Project Cars. AMD GPU performance was significantly lower than comparable NVIDIA GPUs, even though this game does not implement any GameWorks technologies. In that case, the game's developer directly blamed AMD's drivers, saying that it was a lack of reaching out from AMD that caused the issues. AMD has since recanted its stance that the performance delta was "deliberate" and says a pending driver update will address gamers performance issues.


All arguing aside, this game looks amazing. Can we all agree on that?

The only conclusion I can come to from all of this is that if you don't like what NVIDIA is doing, that's your right - and you aren't necessarily wrong. There will be plenty of readers that see the comments made by NVIDIA above and continue to believe that they are being at best disingenuous and at worst, are straight up lying. As I mentioned above in my own comments NVIDIA is still a for-profit company that is responsible to shareholders for profit and growth. And in today's world that sometimes means working against other companies than with them, resulting in impressive new technologies for its customers and push back from competitor's customers. It's not fun, but that's how it works today.

Fans of AMD will point to G-Sync, GameWorks, CUDA, PhysX, FCAT and even SLI as indications of NVIDIA's negative impact on open PC gaming. I would argue that more users would look at that list and see improvements to PC gaming, progress that helps make gaming on a computer so much better than gaming on a console. The truth likely rests somewhere in the middle; there will always be those individuals that immediately side with one company or the other. But it's the much larger group in the middle, that shows no corporate allegiance and instead just wants to have as much fun as possible with gaming, that will impact NVIDIA and AMD the most.

So, since I know it will happen anyway, use the comments page below to vent your opinion. But, for the benefit of us all, try to keep it civil!

NVIDIA SHIELD and SHIELD Pro Show up on Amazon

Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2015 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: Tegra X1, tegra, shield pro, shield console, shield, nvidia

UPDATE: Whoops! It appears that Amazon took the listing down... No surprise there. I'm sure we'll be seeing them again VERY SOON. :)

Looks like the release of the new NVIDIA SHIELD console device, first revealed back at GDC in March, is nearly here. A listing for "NVIDIA SHIELD" as well as the new "NVIDIA SHIELD Pro" showed up on Amazon.com today.


Though we don't know what the difference between the SHIELD and SHIELD Pro are officially, according to Amazon at least, the difference appears to be the internal storage. The Pro model will ship with 500GB of internal storage, the non-Pro model will only have 16GB. You'll have to get an SD Card for more storage on the base model if you plan on doing anything other than streaming games through NVIDIA GRID it seems.


No pricing is listed yet and there is no release date on the Amazon pages either, but we have always been told this was to be a May or June on-sale date. Both models of the NVIDIA SHIELD will include an HDMI cable, a micro-USB cable and a SHIELD Controller. If you want the remote or stand, you're going to have to pay out a bit more.


For those of you that missed out on the original SHIELD announcement from March, here is a quick table detailing the specs, as we knew them at that time. NVIDIA's own Tegra X1 SoC featuring 256 Maxwell GPU cores powers this device using the Android TV operating system, promising 4K video playback, the best performing Android gaming experience and NVIDIA GRID streaming games.

  NVIDIA SHIELD Specifications
Processor NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell™ GPU with 3GB RAM
Video Features 4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264)
Audio 7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI
High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192kHz over HDMI and USB
High-resolution audio upsample to 24-bit/192hHz over USB
Storage 16 GB
Wireless 802.11ac 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
Bluetooth 4.1/BLE
Interfaces Gigabit Ethernet
HDMI 2.0
Two USB 3.0 (Type A)
Micro-USB 2.0
MicroSD slot (supports 128GB cards)
IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
Gaming Features NVIDIA GRID™ streaming service
NVIDIA GameStream™
SW Updates SHIELD software upgrades directly from NVIDIA
Power 40W power adapter
Weight and Size Weight: 23oz / 654g
Height: 5.1in / 130mm
Width: 8.3in / 210mm
Depth: 1.0in / 25mm
OS Android TV™, Google Cast™ Ready
Bundled Apps PLEX
NVIDIA SHIELD controller
HDMI cable (High Speed), USB cable (Micro-USB to USB)
Power adapter (Includes plugs for North America, Europe, UK)
Requirements TV with HDMI input, Internet access
Options SHIELD controller, SHIELD remove, SHIELD stand


Source: Amazon.com

NVIDIA Releases 352.84 WHQL Drivers for Windows 10

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 15, 2015 - 11:36 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, geforce, graphics drivers, nvidia, whql

The last time that NVIDIA has released a graphics driver for Windows 10, they added a download category to their website for the pre-release operating system. Since about January, graphics driver updates were pushed by Windows Update and, before that, you would need to use Windows 8.1 drivers. Receiving drivers from Windows Update also meant that add-ons, such as PhysX runtimes and the GeForce Experience, would not be bundled with it. I know that some have installed them separately, but I didn't.


The 352.84 release, which is their second Windows 10 driver to be released outside of Windows Update, is also certified by WHQL. NVIDIA has recently been touting Microsoft certification for many of their drivers. Historically, they released a large number of Beta drivers that were stable, but did not wait for Microsoft to vouch for them. For one reason or another, they have put a higher priority on that label, even for “Game Ready” drivers that launch alongside a popular title.

For some reason, the driver is only available via GeForce Experience and NVIDIA.com, but not GeForce.com. I assume NVIDIA will publish it there soon, too.

Source: NVIDIA

Oculus Rift "Full Rift Experience" Specifications Released

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Displays, Systems | May 15, 2015 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: Oculus, oculus vr, nvidia, amd, geforce, radeon, Intel, core i5

Today, Oculus has published a list of what they believe should drive their VR headset. The Oculus Rift will obviously run on lower hardware. Their minimum specifications, published last month and focused on the Development Kit 2, did not even list a specific CPU or GPU -- just a DVI-D or HDMI output. They then went on to say that you really should use a graphics card that can handle your game at 1080p with at least 75 fps.


The current list is a little different:

  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 (or higher)
  • Intel Core i5-4590 (or higher)
  • 8GB RAM (or higher)
  • A compatible HDMI 1.3 output
  • 2x USB 3.0 ports
  • Windows 7 SP1 (or newer).

I am guessing that, unlike the previous list, Oculus has a more clear vision for a development target. They were a little unclear about whether this refers to the consumer version or the current needs of developers. In either case, it would likely serve as a guide for what they believe developers should target when the consumer version launches.

This post also coincides with the release of the Oculus PC SDK 0.6.0. This version pushes distortion rendering to the Oculus Server process, rather than the application. It also allows multiple canvases to be sent to the SDK, which means developers can render text and other noticeable content at full resolution, but scale back in places that the user is less likely to notice. They can also be updated at different frequencies, such as sleeping the HUD redraw unless a value changes.

The Oculus PC SDK (0.6.0) is now available at the Oculus Developer Center.

Source: Oculus

Podcast #349 - Death of Media Center, i7 NUC, Fractal Define S and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 14, 2015 - 02:46 PM |
Tagged: podcast, video, supermicro, X99, Intel, amd, corsair, H100i GTX, H80i GT, fractal, define s, akracing, nvidia, shield, grid, epson, xeon e7 v3

PC Perspective Podcast #349 - 05/14/2015

Join us this week as we discuss the Death of Media Center, i7 NUC, Fractal Define S 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
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  • MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file

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

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!


Use your SHIELD to stream games over NVIDIA GRID at 1080p

Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2015 - 02:40 PM |
Tagged: gaming, shield, nvidia, grid

Ryan and the crew have tested out NVIDIA's GRID, the cloud streaming service that lets you play games at 720p, as long as you have a 10 Mbps down connection on a network with a NVIDIA GameStream-ready 5 GHz Wi-Fi router and 60 ms or less ping time to a GRID server.  In testing Ryan did notice lag but he still found them playable once he mentally adjusted to the delay.


Today NIVIDA announced an upgrade to the GRID service, 35 of the 50 games on the service can now stream at a full 1080p and 60fps including Batman: Arkham Origins, Devil May Cry 4 and Dirt 3 Complete Edition.  In order to properly enjoy the HD quality you will need a compatible router from the list linked to above and connection of at least a 30 Mbps down, with 50Mbps being recommended by NVIDIA for best results. 


The new SHIELD Hub beta is available to SHIELD owners by following the link in NVIDIA's blog post here.  They also announced the addition of Bionic Commando to their library, playable at the new resolution.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA has mixed results for this first quarter

Subject: General Tech | May 8, 2015 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, earnings, Q1 2015, billion

NVIDIA's reported revenue of $1.15 billion just missed the analysts predictions, they saw an increase of roughly 4% from Q1 2014 but an 8% drop compared to the last quarter of 2014 which saw the release of the GTX 970 and the usual spike in sales from the holidays.  However when you look at net income, there was a drop of 2.2% compared to a year ago.  GPU sales made up the bulk of the income and are doing well as that division increased sales by 14% from last year bring in revenue 4.7% higher than last year.  Mobile Tegra sales saw a similar increase of 4.3% but the same can not be said for their LTE division, the Icera LTE modem unit is now on the chopping block, to either be dissolved or sold off.  You can get more numbers from this story at The Register.


"Nvidia has reported revenues of US$1.15 billion for the first quarter ended April 26, 2015, up 4% from US$1.10 billion a year earlier, but down 8% from US$1.25 billion the previous quarter."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: DigiTimes