Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2013 - 01:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tegra 4, tegra, shield, nvidia, Tegrazone
Remember Project Shield from CES and before? The Inquirer has managed to get their hands on an actual console at the Game Developers Conference and played a bit of Need For Speed streamed from a PC onto the Shield. Project Shield its self is a Tegra 4 powered controller running Android 4.2 with a 5" 720p display attached and wireless connectivity. The actual game is streamed wireless from a PC with a Kepler GPU via the Tegrazone application, so the real performance limit occurs from latency, similar to the company once known as Onlive. While The Inq was not quite ready to toss their money at Project Shield, but it was close.
"CHIP DESIGNER Nvidia caused something of a stir at CES when it announced the Project Shield handheld games console, and with its launch nearing, the firm is letting people try its first own-brand game console, which we managed to get our hands on at this week's GDC gaming conference in San Francisco."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Installing GLaDOS in the ceiling of your house @ Hack a Day
- Maybe don't install that groovy pirated Android keyboard @ The Register
- Backing your Apple Mac up with Time Machine @ Tweaktown
- The Best Servers for Linux in 2013 @ Linux.com
- Ninjalane Podcast - GTX Titan, Free 2 Play and Cooler Master Interview
The GTX 650 Ti Gets Boost and More Memory
In mid-October NVIDIA released the GeForce GTX 650 Ti based on GK106, the same GPU that powers the GTX 660 though with fewer enabled CUDA cores and GPC units. At the time we were pretty impressed with the 650 Ti:
The GTX 650 Ti has more in common with the GTX 660 than it does the GTX 650, both being based on the GK106 GPU, but is missing some of the unique features that NVIDIA has touted of the 600-series cards like GPU Boost and SLI.
Today's release of the GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST actually addresses both of those missing features by moving even closer to the specification sheet found on the GTX 660 cards.
Our video review of the GTX 650 Ti BOOST and Radeon HD 7790.
Option 1: Two GPCs with Four SMXs
Just like we saw with the original GTX 650 Ti, there are two different configurations of the GTX 650 Ti BOOST; both have the same primary specifications but will differ in which SMX is disabled from the full GK106 ASIC. The newer version will still have 768 CUDA cores but clock speeds will increase from 925 MHz to 980 MHz base and 1033 MHz typical boost clock. Texture unit count remains the same at 64.
Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2013 - 01:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: bioshock infinite, geforce, GeForce 314.22, nvidia, gaming
BioShock Infinite launches tomorrow and promises to be an exciting third installment to the award-winning franchise.
GeForce gamers today can get ready for a great Day 1 experience with BioShock Infinite by upgrading to our new GeForce 314.22 Game Ready drivers. These drivers are Microsoft WHQL-certified and available for download on GeForce.com.
Our software engineers have been working with Irrational Games over the past two years to optimize BioShock Infinite for GeForce users and, as a result, these drivers offer game-changing performance increases of up to 41 percent.
Also, with a single click in GeForce Experience, gamers can optimize the image quality in BioShock Infinite and have it instantly tuned to the capability of their PC’s hardware.
GeForce 314.22 drivers also offer several other significant performance increases in other current games. For more details, refer to the release highlights on the driver download pages and read the GeForce driver article on GeForce.com.
GeForce 314.22 Highlights
Delivers GeForce Game Ready experience for BioShock Infinite:
- Up to 41% faster performance
- Optimal game settings with GeForce Experience
- Microsoft WHQL-certified
Increases gaming performance in other popular titles:
- Up to 60% faster in Tomb Raider
- Up to 23% faster in Sniper Elite V2
- Up to 13% faster in Sleeping Dogs
- Adds new SLI and 3D Vision profiles for upcoming games.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | March 20, 2013 - 06:26 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows rt, nvidia, GTC 2013
NVIDIA develops processors, but without an x86 license they are only able to power ARM-based operating systems. When it comes to Windows, that means Windows Phone or Windows RT. The latter segment of the market has disappointing sales according to multiple OEMs, which Microsoft blames them for, but the jolly green GPU company is not crying doomsday.
NVIDIA just skimming the Surface RT, they hope.
As reported by The Verge, NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang was optimistic that Microsoft would eventually let Windows RT blossom. He noted how Microsoft very often "gets it right" at some point when they push an initiative. And it is true, Microsoft has a history of turning around perceived disasters across a variety of devices.
They also have a history of, as they call it, "knifing the baby."
I think there is a very real fear for some that Microsoft could consider Intel's latest offerings as good enough to stop pursuing ARM. Of course, the more the pursue ARM, the more their business model will rely upon the-interface-formerly-known-as-Metro and likely all of its certification politics. As such, I think it is safe to say that I am watching the industry teeter on a fence with a bear on one side and a pack of rabid dogs on the other. On the one hand, Microsoft jumping back to Intel would allow them to perpetuate the desktop and all of the openness it provides. On the other hand, even if they stick with Intel they likely will just kill the desktop anyway, for the sake of user confusion and the security benefits of cert. We might just have less processor manufacturers when they do that.
So it could be that NVIDIA is confident that Microsoft will push Windows RT, or it could be that NVIDIA is pushing Microsoft to continue to develop Windows RT. Frankly, I do not know which would be better... or more accurately, worse.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 20, 2013 - 01:47 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tesla, tegra 3, supercomputer, pedraforca, nvidia, GTC 2013, GTC, graphics cards, data centers
There is a lot of talk about heterogeneous computing at GTC, in the sense of adding graphics cards to servers. If you have HPC workloads that can benefit from GPU parallelism, adding GPUs gives you computing performance in less physical space, and using less power, than a CPU only cluster (for equivalent TFLOPS).
However, there was a session at GTC that actually took things to the opposite extreme. Instead of a CPU only cluster or a mixed cluster, Alex Ramirez (leader of Heterogeneous Architectures Group at Barcelona Supercomputing Center) is proposing a homogeneous GPU cluster called Pedraforca.
Pedraforca V2 combines NVIDIA Tesla GPUs with low power ARM processors. Each node is comprised of the following components:
- 1 x Mini-ITX carrier board
1 x Q7 module (which hosts the ARM SoC and memory)
- Current config is one Tegra 3 @ 1.3GHz and 2GB DDR2
- 1 x NVIDIA Tesla K20 accelerator card (1170 GFLOPS)
- 1 x InfiniBand 40Gb/s card (via Mellanox ConnectX-3 slot)
- 1 x 2.5" SSD (SATA 3 MLC, 250GB)
The ARM processor is used solely for booting the system and facilitating GPU communication between nodes. It is not intended to be used for computing. According to Dr. Ramirez, in situations where running code on a CPU would be faster, it would be best to have a small number of Intel Xeon powered nodes to do the CPU-favorable computing, and then offload the parallel workloads to the GPU cluster over the InfiniBand connection (though this is less than ideal, Pedraforca would be most-efficient with data-sets that can be processed solely on the Tesla cards).
While Pedraforca is not necessarily locked to NVIDIA's Tegra hardware, it is currently the only SoC that meets their needs. The system requires the ARM chip to have PCI-E support. The Tegra 3 SoC has four PCI-E lanes, so the carrier board is using two PLX chips to allow the Tesla and InfiniBand cards to both be connected.
The researcher stated that he is also looking forward to using NVIDIA's upcoming Logan processor in the Pedraforca cluster. It will reportedly be possible to upgrade existing Pedraforca clusters with the new chips by replacing the existing (Tegra 3) Q7 module with one that has the Logan SoC when it is released.
Pedraforca V2 has an initial cluster size of 64 nodes. While the speaker was reluctant to provide TFLOPS performance numbers, as it would depend on the workload, with 64 Telsa K20 cards, it should provide respectable performance. The intent of the cluster is to save power costs by using a low power CPU. If your sever kernel and applications can run on GPUs alone, there are noticeable power savings to be had by switching from a ~100W Intel Xeon chip to a lower-power (approximately 2-3W) Tegra 3 processor. If you have a kernel that needs to run on a CPU, it is recommended to run the OS on an Intel server and transfer just the GPU work to the Pedraforca cluster. Each Pedraforca node is reportedly under 300W, with the Tesla card being the majority of that figure. Despite the limitations, and niche nature of the workloads and software necessary to get the full power-saving benefits, Pedraforca is certainly an interesting take on a homogeneous server cluster!
In another session relating to the path to exascale computing, power use in data centers was listed as one of the biggest hurdles to getting to Exaflop-levels of performance, and while Pedraforca is not the answer to Exascale, it should at least be a useful learning experience at wringing the most parallelism out of code and pushing GPGPU to the limits. And that research will help other clusters use the GPUs more efficiently as researchers explore the future of computing.
The Pedraforca project built upon research conducted on Tibidabo, a multi-core ARM CPU cluster, and CARMA (CUDA on ARM development kit) which is a Tegra SoC paired with an NVIDIA Quadro card. The two slides below show CARMA benchmarks and a Tibidabo cluster (click on image for larger version).
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more GTC 2013 coverage!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2013 - 06:52 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: GTC 2013, tyan, HPC, servers, tesla, kepler, nvidia
Server platform manufacturer TYAN is showing off several of its latest servers aimed at the high performance computing (HPC) market. The new servers range in size from 2U to 4U chassis and hold up to 8 Kepler-based Tesla accelerator cards. The new product lineup consists of two motherboards and three bare-bones systems. The S7055 and S7056 are the motherboards while the FT77-B7059, TA77-B7061, and FT48-B7055.
The TA77-B7061 is the smallest system, with support for two Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors and four Kepler-based Tesla accelerator cards. The FT48-B7055 has si7056 specifications but is housed in a 4U chassis. Finally, the FT77-B7059 is a 4U system with support for two Intel Xeon E5-2600 processors, and up to eight Tesla accelerator cards. The S7055 supports a maximum of 4 GPUs while the S7056 can support two Tesla cards, though these are bare boards so you will have to supply your own cards, processors, and RAM (of course).
According to TYAN, the new Kepler-based HPC systems will be available in Q2 2013, though there is no word on pricing yet.
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for further GTC 2013 Coverage!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2013 - 02:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: unified virtual memory, ray tracing, nvidia, GTC 2013, grid vca, grid, graphics cards
Today, NVIDIA's CEO Jen-Hsun Huang stepped on stage to present the GTC keynote. In the presentation (which was live streamed on the GTC website and archived here.), NVIDIA discussed five major points, looking back over 2013 and into the future of its mobile and professional products. In addition to the product roadmap, NVIDIA discussed the state of computer graphics and GPGPU software. Remote graphics and GPU virtualization was also on tap. Finally, towards the end of the Keynote, the company revealed its first appliance with the NVIDIA GRID VCA. The culmination of NVIDIA's GRID and GPU virtualization technology, the VCA is a device that hosts up to 16 virtual machines which each can tap into one of 16 Kepler-based graphics processors (8 cards, 16 GPUs per card) to fully hardware accelerate software running of the VCA. Three new mobile Tegra parts and two new desktop graphics processors were also hinted at, with improvements to power efficiency and performance.
On the desktop side of things, NVIDIA's roadmap included two new GPUs. Following Kepler, NVIDIA will introduce Maxwell and Volta. Maxwell will feature a new virtualized memory technology called Unified Virtual Memory. This tech will allow both the CPU and GPU to read from a single (virtual) memory store. Much as with the promise of AMD's Kaveri APU, the Unified Virtual Meory will result in speed improvements in heterogeneous applications because data will not have to be copied to/from the GPU and CPU in order for the data to be processed. Server applications will really benefit from the shared memory tech. NVIDIA did not provide details, but from the sound of it, the CPU and GPU both continue to write to their own physical memory, but their is a layer of virtualized memory on top of that, that will allow the two (or more) different processors to read from each other's memory store.
Following Maxwell, Volta will be a physically smaller chip with more transistors (likely a smaller process node). In addition to the power efficiency improvements over Maxwell, it steps up the memory bandwidth significantly. NVIDIA will use TSV (through silicon via) technology to physically mount the graphics DRAM chips over the GPU (attached to the same silicon substrate electrically). According to NVIDIA, this new TSV-mounted memory will achieve up to 1 Terabytes/second of memory bandwidth, which is a notable increase over existing GPUs.
NVIDIA continues to pursue the mobile market with its line of Tegra chips that pair an ARM CPU, NVIDIA GPU, and SDR modem. Two new mobile chips called Logan and Parker will follow Tegra 4. Both new chips will support the full CUDA 5 stack and OpenGL 4.3 out of the box. Logan will feature a Kepler-based graphics porcessor on the chip that can “everything a modern computer ought to do” according to NVIDIA. Parker will have a yet-to-be-revealed graphics processor (Kepler successor). This mobile chip will utilize 3D FinFET transistors. It will have a greater number of transistors in a smaller package than previous Tegra parts (it will be about the size of a dime), and NVIDIA also plans to ramp up the frequency to wrangle more performance out of the mobile chip. NVIDIA has stated that Logan silicon should be completed towards the end of 2013, with the mobile chips entering production in 2014.
Interestingly, Logan has a sister chip that NVIDIA is calling Kayla. This mobile chip is capable of running ray tracing applications and features OpenGL geometric shaders. It can support GPGPU code and will be compatible with Linux.
NVIDIA has been pushing CUDA for several years, now. The company has seen some respectable adoption rates, by growing from 1 Tesla supercomputer in 2008 to its graphics cards being used in 50 supercomputers, with 500 million CUDA processors on the market. There are now allegedly 640 universities working with CUDA and 37,000 academic papers on CUDA.
Finally, NVIDIA's hinted-at new product announcement was the NVIDIA VCA, which is a GPU virtualization appliance that hooks into the network and can deliver up to 16 virtual machines running independant applications. These GPU accelerated workspaces can be presneted to thin clinets over the netowrk by installing the GRID client software on users' workstations. The specifications of the GRID VCA is rather impressive, as well.
The GRID VCA features:
- 2 x Intel Xeon processors with 16 threads each (32 total threads)
- 192GB to 384GB of system memory
- 8 Kepler-based graphics cards, with two GPUs each (16 total GPUs)
- 16 x GPU-accelerated virtual machines
The GRID VCA fits into a 4U case. It can deliver remote graphics to workstations, and is allegedly fast enough to deliver gpu accelerated software that is equivalent to having it run on the local machine (at least over LAN). The GRID Visual Computing Appliance will come in two flavors at different price points. The first will have 8 Kepler GPUs with 4GB of memory each, 16 CPU threads, and 192GB of system memory for $24,900. The other version will cost $34,900 and features 16 Kepler GPUs (4GB memory), 32 CPU threads, and 384GB system memory. On top of the hardware cost, NVIDIA is also charging licensing fees. While both GRID VCA devices can support unlimited devices, the licenses cost $2,400 and $4,800 per year respectively.
Overall, it was an interesting keynote, and the proposed graphics cards look to be offering up some unique and necessary features that should help hasten the day of ubiquitous general purpose GPU computing. The Unified Virtual Memory was something I was not expecting, and it will be interesting to see how AMD responds. AMD is already promising shared memory in its Kaveri APU, but I am interested to see the details of how NVIDIA and AMD will accomplish shared memory with dedicated grapahics cards (and whether CrossFire/SLI setups will all have a single shared memory pool)..
Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more GTC 2013 Coverage!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2013 - 09:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: GTC 2013, nvidia
We just received word from Tim Verry, our GTC correspondent and news troll, about his first kick at the conference. This... is his story.
Graphics card manufacturer, NVIDIA, is hosting its annual GPU Technology Conference (GTC 2013) in San Jose, California this week. PC Perspective will be roaming the exhibit floor and covering sessions as NVIDIA and its partners discuss upcoming graphics technologies, GPGPU, programming, and a number of other low level computing topics.
The future... is tomorrow!
A number of tech companies will be on site and delivering presentations to show off their latest Kepler-based systems. NVIDIA will deliver its keynote presentation tomorrow for the press, financial and industry analysts, and business partners to provide a glimpse at the green team's roadmap throughout 2013 - and maybe beyond.
We cannot say for certain what NVIDIA will reveal during its keynote; but, since we have not been briefed ahead of time, we are completely free to speculate! I think one certainty is the official launch of the Kepler-based K6000 workstation card; for example. While I do not expect to see Maxwell, we could possibly see a planned refresh of the Kepler-based components with some incremental improvements: I predict power efficiency over performance. Perhaps we will receive a cheaper Titan-like consumer card towards the end of 2013? Wishful thinking on my part? A refresh of its GK104 architecture would be nice to see as well, even if actual hardware will not show up until next year. I expect that NVIDIA will react to whatever plans AMD has to decide whether it is in their interest to match them or not.
I do expect to see more information on GRID and Project SHIELD, however. NVIDIA has reportedly broadened the scope of this year's conference to include mobile sessions: expect Tegra programming and mobile GPGPU goodness to be on tap.
It should be an interesting week of GPU news. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more coverage as the conference gets underway.
What are you hoping to see from NVIDIA at GTC 2013?
Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2013 - 02:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, hack, GTX 690, K5000, K10, quadro, tesla, linux
It will take a bit of work with a soldering iron but Hack a Day has posted an article covering how to mod one of the GPUs on a GTX690 into thinking it is either a Quadro K5000 or Tesla K10. More people will need to apply this mod and test it to confirm that the performance of the GPU actually does match or at least compare to the professional level graphics but the ID string is definitely changed to match one of those two much more expensive GPUs. They also believe that a similar mod could be applied to the new TITAN graphics card as it is electronically similar to the GTX690. Of course, if things go bad during the modification you could kill a $1000 card so do be careful.
"If hardware manufacturers want to keep their firmware crippling a secret, perhaps they shouldn’t mess with Linux users? We figure if you’re using Linux you’re quite a bit more likely than the average Windows user to crack something open and see what’s hidden inside. And so we get to the story of how [Gnif] figured out that the NVIDIA GTX690 can be hacked to perform like the Quadro K5000. The thing is, the latter costs nearly $800 more than the former!"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- The TR Podcast 130: A series of grunts about convertible tablets
- Microsoft updates its Kinect for Windows SDK @ The Inquirer
- Asustek to launch new Intel-based smartphone in June @ DigiTimes
- The 2013 Top 7 Best Linux Distributions for You @ Linux.com
- Watch out, office bods: A backdoor daemon lurks in HP LaserJets @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | March 16, 2013 - 11:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, tomb raider
The last month has been good to PC gamers: from Starcraft, to SimCity, to Tomb Raider, all with the promise of Bioshock Infinite just around the corner. We are being dog piled by one bulky release after another... most of which we are theoretically able to play.
Of course this is a call to action for GPU driver engineers. The software required to make your video card run is extremely complex with graphics instructions being compiled and interpreted at runtime for routinely shifting architectures. Performance increases are often measured in the double digit percentages albeit for some set "X" of components in some set "Y" of games.
GeForce 314.14 beta drivers launched early in the month with decent performance increases particularly for setups with SLi-paired 680s. Tomb Raider fans found themselves quite a bit left out with the reboot of the franchise doing everything but rebooting their PCs with NVIDIA and Intel hardware.
Now, two weeks later, NVIDIA has released yet another beta driver, dubbed 314.21, aimed squarely at Tomb Raider. Performance increases are claimed to be an average 45% higher than previous versions with some configurations seeing upwards of 60% increases in performance. The delay was allegedly caused by the hardware developer not receiving the game code with enough time before launch to create the updates.
If you are a Tomb Raider, check out the drivers at NVIDIA's website.