More Ivy Bridge on Linux experiments

Subject: General Tech | June 28, 2012 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: Intel, opengl, opencl, linux, Ivy Bridge

Intel really seems to have taken the general criticism about the lack of Linux support during the initial release of Sandy Bridge to heart and made sure not to repeat the mistake with Ivy Bridge.  Phoronix have spent the last two months exhaustively testing the performance of the i7-3770K and today offer some general observations about the chip and Intel's support of open source.  Much of it is good news, like the performance of the OpenGL driver as well as its support for OpenGL 4.0 but some is not so good such as the fact that AMD's OpenCL for the CPU works better than Intel's implementation with neither running on the GPU yet.  Check out the other findings in the article.

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"It has been 66 days since Intel formally introduced their Ivy Bridge processors as the 2012 successor to Sandy Bridge. My views on Intel Ivy Bridge (specifically the Core i7 3770K model) back on launch-day were very positive in terms of the Linux compatibility, CPU performance, and the HD 4000 graphics capabilities. Since then I've conducted dozens of additional tests looking at the Core i7 Ivy Bridge on Linux in different areas from comparative benchmarks to Microsoft Windows, trying to run BSD operating systems on the latest hardware, looking at the virtualization performance, compiler tuning, etc. Here is a recap of this additional Ivy Bridge testing that has happened over the past two months of near constant benchmarking."

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Source: Phoronix

AMD and Intel both need to improve their Linux support

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2012 - 01:00 PM |
Tagged: linux, Intel, amd, Ivy Bridge, llano, opencl

Two different stories today focus on how both major CPU vendors have allowed their support for the new features present in their architectures to fall behind for Linux OSes.  From The Inquirer we hear about the how poor OpenCL support from AMD is leaving APU accelerated computing for Linux to lag behind Windows development.  This goes far beyond purely graphical tasks and the complaints we have heard from gamers as OpenCL is a computing language that can handle far more than just pushing pixels.  The two most common OpenCL applications that people are familiar with are the GPU clients for BOINC and Folding@Home, which enable you to chug work units on your graphics card or the graphics cores on your CPU.  AMD's Neal Robinson who is the current senior director of Consumer Developer Support has taken up the challenge of promoting Linux OpenCL support from within AMD, so keep your eyes peeled for news from his team.

Intel's Ivy Bridge is no better according to Phoronix, as testing shows very little improvement on the default Ubuntu Unity desktop with Compiz.  That is what allows Ubuntu users to show the iconic Desktop Cube on the Gnome desktop environment and using it shows negative effects on the general performance of the system.  Switching to KDE and OpenGL generally resulted in better performance as did Xfce.  Phoronix does not hold out much hope for the improvement of Compiz on Ivy Bridge processors or Intel's open source drivers for the near future, either for graphics or GPU accelerated computation.

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"For AMD flaky Linux support isn't just a matter of gamers complaining, but now with its APUs, standard applications are simply not making use of the compute power that AMD needs to compete with Intel."

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Source: The Inquirer

New Trojan.Badminer Malware Steals Your Spare Processing Cycles To Make Criminals Money At Your Expense

Subject: General Tech | August 17, 2011 - 11:02 PM |
Tagged: trojan, opencl, mining, Malware, gpgpu, bitcoin

A new piece of malware was recently uncovered by anti-virus provider Symantec that seeks to profit from your spare computing cycles. Dubbed Trojan.Badminer, this insidious piece of code is a trojan that (so far) is capable of affecting Windows operating systems from Windows 98 to Windows 7. Once this trojan has been downloaded and executed (usually through an online attack vector via an unpatched bug in flash or java), it proceeds to create a number of files and registry entries.

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It's a trojan infected bitcoin, oh the audacity of malware authors!

After it has propagated throughout the system, it is then able to run one of two mining programs. It will first search for a compatible graphics card, and run Phoenix Miner. However, if a graphics card is not found, it will fall back to RPC miner and instead steal your CPU cycles.  The miners then start hashing in search of bitcoin blocks, and if found, will then send the reward money to the attacker’s account.

It should be noted that bitcoin mining itself is not inherently bad, and many people run it legitimately. In fact, if you are interested in learning more about bitcoins, we ran an article on them recently. This trojan on the other hand is malicious because it is infecting the user’s computer with unwanted code that steals processing cycles from the GPU and CPU to make the attacker money. All these GPU and CPU cycles come at the cost of reduced system responsiveness and electricity, which can add up to a rather large bill, depending on where you live and what hardware the trojan is able to get its hands on.

Right now, Symantec is offering up general tips on keeping users’ computers free from the infection, including enabling a software firewall (or at least being behind a router with its own firewall that blocks unsolicited incoming connections), running the computer as the lowest level user possible with UAC turned on, and not clicking on unsolicited email attachments or links.

If you are also a bitcoin miner, you may want to further protect yourself by securing your bitcoin wallet in the event that you also accidentally become infected by a trojan that seeks to steal the wallet.dat file (the file that essentially holds all your bitcoin currency).

Stay vigilant folks, and keep an eye out on your system GPU and CPU utilization in addion to using safer computing habits to keep nastly malware like this off of your system.  On a more opinionated note, is it just me or have malware authors really hit a new low with this one?

Source: Symantec

AMD Accelerates APU OpenCL Performance With New SDK

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | August 8, 2011 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: amd, APU, sdk, opencl

AMD released its new APUs (Accelerated Processing Unit) to the masses, and now they are revving the processors up with a new software development kit that increases performance and efficiency of OpenCL based applications. The new version 2.5 APP SDK is tailored to the APU architecture where the CPU and GPU are on the same die. Building on the OpenCL standard, APP SDK 2.5 promises to reduce the bandwidth limitation of the CPU to GPU connection, allowing for effective data transfer rates as high as 15GB per second in AMDs A Series APUs. Further performance enhancements include reduced kernel launch times and PCIe overhead.

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AMD states that the new APP SDK will improve multi-gpu support for AMD APU graphics paired with a discrete card, and will “enable advanced capabilities” to improve the user experience including gesture based interfaces, image stabilization, and 3D applications.

The new development kit is currently being used by developers worldwide in the AMD OpenCl coding competition, where up to $50,000 in prizes will be given away to winning software submissions. You can get started with the SDK here.

Source: AMD

AMD announces new OpenCL programming tools

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: opencl, amd, AFDS

If you are a developer of applications which requires more performance than a CPU alone can provide then you are probably having a gleeful week. Today Microsoft announced their competitor to OpenCL and we have a large write-up about that aspect of their keynote address. If you are currently an OpenCL developer you are not left out, however, as AMD has announced new tools designed to make your life easier too.

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General Purpose GPU utilities: Because BINK won't satisfy this crowd.

(Logo trademark Apple Inc.)

AMD’s spectrum of enhanced tools includes:

  • gDEBuger: An OpenCL and OpenGL debugger, profiler, and memory analyzer released as a plugin for Visual Studio.
  • Parallel Path Analyzer (PPA): A tool designed to profile data transfers and kernel execution across your system.
  • Global Memory for Accelerators (GMAC) API: Lets developers use multiple devices without needing to manage multiple data buffers in both the CPU and the GPU.
  • Task Manager API: A framework to manage scheduling kernels across devices. 

These tools and utilities should make the development of software easier and allow more developers to take the risk on the new technology. The GPU has already proven itself worthy of more and more important tasks and it is only a matter of time before it is finally ubiquitous enough that it is a default component as important as the CPU itself. As an ironic aside, that should spur the adoption of PC Gaming given how many people would have sufficient hardware.

Source: AMD

AMD pick up an OpenGL & CL tool makers as well as an R&D site

Subject: General Tech | June 1, 2011 - 11:19 AM |
Tagged: amd, opengl, opencl, graphic remedy

There is big news from AMD this morning, in addition to the Trinity news we saw from Computex they have purchased the makers of gDEBugger and have opened a new R&D centre in Tel Aviv.  gDEBugger is a debugger for OpenGL and OpenCL for Windows, Mac and Linux and hopefully spells a resurgence for AMD's ailing professional level FirePro graphics cards.   The Cayman family's two professional cards, the AMD FirePro V7900 and V5900 have just come onto the market to compete against NVIDIA's far more famous Quadro lineup and lag behind in raw performance but not in performance per dollar.  Perhaps a strong feature set, including custom debugging tools will help AMD become a more attractive choice for graphics professionals.   Drop by NGOHQ for more information on the purchase and the R&D centre.

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"AMD announced the opening of a new research and development (R&D) center in Israel, located in the Tel-Aviv area. A world class team of highly talented software engineers is working on the latest heterogeneous computing technologies for the next generation of parallel computing platforms. This announcement follows AMD’s recent acquisition of Graphic Remedy, a renowned Israeli startup company specializing in development tools for heterogeneous computing and 3D graphics.

"We are extremely excited to have this new team on board working on AMD’s latest technologies and future products.” said Ben Bar-Haim, corporate vice president, software development, AMD."

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Source: NGOHQ