AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.3 Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2016 - 12:42 AM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, graphics drivers, vulkan, dx12, DirectX 12

New graphics drivers from AMD have just been published, and it's a fairly big release. First, Catalyst 16.3 adds Vulkan support to main-branch drivers, which they claim is conformant to the 1.0 specification. The Khronos Group website still doesn't list AMD as conforming, but I assume that they will be added shortly (rather than some semantic “conformant” “fully conformant” thing going on). This is great for the platform, as we are still in the launch window of DirectX 12.

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Performance has apparently increased as well, significantly. This is especially true in the DirectX 12 title, Gears of War Ultimate Edition. AMD claims that FuryX will see up to a 60% increase in that title, and the R9 380 will gain up to 44%. It's unclear how much that is in real world performance, especially in terms of stutter and jank, which apparently plagues that game.

The driver also has a few other interesting features. One that I don't quite understand is “Power Efficiency Toggle”. This supposedly “allows the user to disable some power efficiency optimizations”. I would assume that means keeping you GPU up-clocked under certain conditions, but I don't believe that was much of an issue for the last few generations. That said, the resolved issues section claims that some games were choppy because of core clock fluctuation, and lists this option as the solution, so maybe it was. It is only available on “select” Radeon 300 GPUs and Fury X. That is, Fury X specifically, not the regular Fury or the Nano. I expect Ryan will be playing around with it in the next little while.

Last of the main features, the driver adds support for XConnect, which is AMD's new external graphics standard. It requires a BIOS that support external GPUs, which AMD lists the Razer Blade Stealth as. Also noteworthy, Eyefinity can now be enabled with just two displays, and Display Scaling can be set per-game. I avoid manually controlling drivers, even my Wacom tablet, to target specific applications, but that's probably great for those who do.

As a final note: the Ashes of the Singularity 2.0 benchmark now supports DirectFlip.

If you have a recent AMD GPU, grab the drivers from AMD's website.

Source: AMD

AMD to Add DirectFlip for DX12, Indicates FreeSync Incompatible with UWP Games

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 3, 2016 - 08:00 PM |
Tagged: uwp, radeon, dx12, amd

AMD's Robert Hallock, frequenter of the PC Perspective live streams and a favorite of the team here, is doing an AMAA on reddit today. While you can find some excellent information and views from Robert in that Q&A session, two particular answers stood out to me.

Asked by user CataclysmZA: Can you comment on the recent developments regarding Ashes of the Singularity and DirectX 12 in PC Perspective and Extremetech's tests? Will changes in AMD's driver to include FlipEx support fix the framerate issues and allow high-refresh monitor owners to enjoy their hardware fully? http://www.pcper.com/reviews/General-Tech/PC-Gaming-Shakeup-Ashes-Singularity-DX12-and-Microsoft-Store

Answer from Robert: We will add DirectFlip support shortly.

Well, there you have it. This is the first official notice I have from AMD that it is in fact its driver that was causing the differences in behavior between Radeon and GeForce cards in Ashes of the Singularity last week. It appears that a new driver will be incoming (sometime) that will enable DirectFlip / FlipEx, allowing exclusive full screen modes in DX12 titles. Some of our fear of the unknown can likely be resolved - huzzah!

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Ashes of the Singularity wouldn't enter exclusive full screen mode on AMD Radeon hardware.

Another quesiton also piqued my interest:

Asked by user CataclysmZA: Can you comment on how FreeSync is affected by the way games sold through the Windows Store run in borderless windowed mode?

Answer from Robert: This article discusses the issue thoroughly. Quote: "games sold through Steam, Origin [and] anywhere else will have the ability to behave with DX12 as they do today with DX11."

While not exactly spelling it out, this answer seems to indicate that for the time being, AMD doesn't think FreeSync will work with Microsoft Store sold games in the forced borderless windowed mode. NVIDIA has stated that G-Sync works in some scenarios with the new Gears of War (a Universal Windows Platform app), but it seems they too have issues. 

As more informaiton continues to come in, from whatever sources we can validate, I'll keep you updated!

Source: reddit

AMD Announces Radeon R9 Nano Price Cut

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 11, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, R9 Fury X, price cut, press release, amd

AMD has announced a price cut for the Radeon R9 Nano, which will now have a suggested price of $499, a $150 drop from the original $649 MSRP.

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VideoCardz had the story this morning, quoting the official press release from AMD:

"This past September, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card launched to rave reviews, claiming the title of the world’s fastest and most power efficient Mini ITX gaming card, powered by the world’s most advanced and innovative GPU with on-chip High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for incredible 4K gaming performance. There was nothing like it ever seen before, and today, it remains in a class of its own, delivering smooth, true-to-life, premium 4K and VR gaming in a small form factor PC.

At a peak power of 175W and in a 6-inch form factor, it drives levels of performance that are on par with larger, more power-hungry GPUs from competitors, and blows away Mini ITX competitors with up to 30 percent better performance than the GTX 970 Mini ITX.

As of today, 11 January, this small card will have an even bigger impact on gamers around the world as AMD announces a change in the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card’s SEP from $649 to $499. At the new price, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card will be more accessible than ever before, delivering incredible performance and leading technologies, with unbelievable efficiency in an astoundingly small form factor that puts it in a class all of its own."

The R9 Nano (reviewed here) had been the most interesting GPU released in 2015 to the team at PC Perspective. It was a compelling product for its tiny size, great performance, and high power efficiency, but the dialogue here probably mirrored that of a lot of potential buyers; for the price of a Fury X, did it make sense to buy the Nano? It was all going to depend on need, but very few enclosures on the market do not support a full-length GPU, as we discovered when testing out small R9 Nano builds.

Now that the price will move down $150 it becomes an easier choice: $499 will buy you a full R9 Fury X core for $150 less. The performance of a Fury X is only a few percentage points higher than the slighly lower-clocked Nano, so you're now getting most of the way there for much less. We have seen some R9 Fury X cards selling for $599, but even at $100 more would you buy the Fury X over a Nano? If nothing else the lower price makes the conversation a lot more interesting.

Source: VideoCardz

CES 2016: Zotac ZBOX EA740 Features AMD Radeon R9 GPU

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2016 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: zbox, small form factor, radeon, R9 M365X, i3-6100T Skylake, CES 2016, CES, amd

Zotac had several new ZBOX small form-factor PCs on display at CES, and among these was a new E series system featuring a pairing of an Intel Skylake i3 with an AMD Radeon R9 GPU.

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The Radeon in question is the R9 M365X, a discrete mobile part with 640 stream processors, up to 925 MHz core clock, and 2 GB of dedicated 128-bit GDDR5 memory running at up to 1125 MHz (72 GB/s max bandwidth). This is running on a very capable platform powered by a 6th-gen Intel Core i3-6100T, a 35W 2 core/4 thread part running at 3.20 GHz.

ZBOX-EA740-1.jpg

Here is a rundown of the specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-6100T (Skylake) dual-core, 3.20 GHz
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M365X with 2 GB GDDR5
  • Memory: 2x DDR3L-1600 SoDIMM slots
  • Storage: 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 Gbps; M.2 SSD slot
  • USB: 2x USB 3.0; USB 3.0 Type-C
  • Networking: 2x Gigabit LAN; 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Display output: 3x DisplayPort

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Good to see a discrete AMD GPU option in one of these small form-factor ZBOX units, as previous E-series models offered only NVIDIA or Intel solutions. Unfortunately no release date or price was announced.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Zotac

Rumor: Polaris Is the next AMD Radeon Core Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 31, 2015 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, radeon, Polaris, graphics card, gpu, GCN, amd

A report claims that Polaris will succeed GCN (Graphics Core Next) as the next AMD Radeon GPU core, which will power the 400-series graphics cards.

AMD-Polaris.jpg

Image via VideoCardz.com

As these rumors go, this is about as convoluted as it gets. VideoCardz has published the story, sourced from WCCFtech, who was reporting on a post with supposedly leaked slides at HardwareBattle. The primary slide in question has since been pulled, and appears below:

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Image via HWBattle.com

Of course the name does nothing to provide architectural information on this presumptive GCN replacement, and a new core for the 400-series GPUs was expected anyway after the 300-series was largely a rebranded 200-series (that's a lot of series). Let's hope actual details emerge soon, but for now we can speculate on mysterious tweets from certain interested parties:

 

Source: VideoCardz
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

May the Radeon be with You

In celebration of the release of The Force Awakens as well as the new Star Wars Battlefront game from DICE and EA, AMD sent over some hardware for us to use in a system build, targeted at getting users up and running in Battlefront with impressive quality and performance, but still on a reasonable budget. Pairing up an AMD processor, MSI motherboard, Sapphire GPU with a low cost chassis, SSD and more, the combined system includes a FreeSync monitor for around $1,200.

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Holiday breaks are MADE for Star Wars Battlefront

Though the holiday is already here and you'd be hard pressed to build this system in time for it, I have a feeling that quite a few of our readers and viewers will find themselves with some cash and gift certificates in hand, just ITCHING for a place to invest in a new gaming PC.

The video above includes a list of components, the build process (in brief) and shows us getting our gaming on with Star Wars Battlefront. Interested in building a system similar the one above on your own? Here's the hardware breakdown.

  AMD Powered Star Wars Battlefront System
Processor AMD FX-8370 - $197
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO - $29
Motherboard MSI 990FXA Gaming - $137
Memory AMD Radeon Memory DDR3-2400 - $79
Graphics Card Sapphire NITRO Radeon R9 380X - $266
Storage SanDisk Ultra II 240GB SSD - $79
Case Corsair Carbide 300R - $68
Power Supply Seasonic 600 watt 80 Plus - $69
Monitor AOC G2460PF 1920x1080 144Hz FreeSync - $259
Total Price Full System (without monitor) - Amazon.com - $924

For under $1,000, plus another $250 or so for the AOC FreeSync capable 1080p monitor, you can have a complete gaming rig for your winter break. Let's detail some of the specific components.

cpu.jpg

AMD sent over the FX-8370 processor for our build, a 4-module / 8-core CPU that runs at 4.0 GHz, more than capable of handling any gaming work load you can toss at it. And if you need to do some transcoding, video work or, heaven forbid, school or productivity work, the FX-8370 has you covered there too.

cooler.jpg

For the motherboard AMD sent over the MSI 990FXA Gaming board, one of the newer AMD platforms that includes support for USB 3.1 so you'll have a good length of usability for future expansion. The Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO cooler was our selection to keep the FX-8370 running smoothly and 8GB of AMD Radeon DDR3-2133 memory is enough for the system to keep applications and the Windows 10 operating system happy.

Continue reading about our AMD system build for Star Wars Battlefront!!

Thought you wouldn't see a new Radeon Crimson driver before the New Year, eh?

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 17, 2015 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: radeon, crimson, amd

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That's right folks, the official AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 15.12 has just launched for you to install.  This includes the fixes for fan speeds when you are using AMD Overdrive, your settings will stick and the fans will revert to normal after you go back to the desktop from an intense gaming session.  There are multiple fixes for Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4 and several GUI fixes within the software itself.  As always there are still a few kinks being worked out but overall it is worth popping over to AMD to grab the new driver.  You should also have less issues upgrading from within Crimson after this update as well.

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

What RTG has planned for 2016

Last week the Radeon Technology Group invited a handful of press and analysts to a secluded location in Sonoma, CA to discuss the future of graphics, GPUs and of course Radeon. For those of you that seem a bit confused, the RTG (Radeon Technologies Group) was spun up inside AMD to encompass all of the graphics products and IP inside the company. Though today’s story is not going to focus on the fundamental changes that RTG brings to the future of AMD, I will note, without commentary, that we saw not a single AMD logo in our presentations or in the signage present throughout the week.

Much of what I learned during the RTG Summit in Sonoma is under NDA and will likely be so for some time. We learned about the future architectures, direction and product theories that will find their way into a range of solutions available in 2016 and 2017.

What I can discuss today is a pair of features that are being updated and improved for current generation graphics cards and for Radeon GPUs coming in 2016: FreeSync and HDR displays. The former is one that readers of PC Perspective should be very familiar with while the latter will offer a new window into content coming in late 2016.

High Dynamic Range Displays: Better Pixels

In just the last couple of years we have seen a spike in resolution for mobile, desktop and notebook displays. We now regularly have 4K monitors on sale for around $500 and very good quality 4K panels going for something in the $1000 range. Couple that with the increase in market share of 21:9 panels with 3440x1440 resolutions and clearly there is a demand from consumers for a better visual experience on their PCs.

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But what if the answer isn’t just more pixels, but better pixels? We already have this discussed weekly when comparing render resolutions in games of 4K at lower image quality solutions versus 2560x1440 at maximum IQ settings (for example) but the truth is that panel technology has the ability to make a dramatic change to how we view all content – games, movies, productivity – with the introduction of HDR, high dynamic range.

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As the slide above demonstrates there is a wide range of luminance in the real world that our eyes can see. Sunlight crosses the 1.6 billion nits mark while basic fluorescent lighting in our homes and offices exceeds 10,000 nits. Compare to the most modern PC displays that range from 0.1 nits to 250 nits and you can already tell where the discussion is heading. Even the best LCD TVs on the market today have a range of 0.1 to 400 nits.

Continue reading our overview of new FreeSync and HDR features for Radeon in 2016!!

AMD Confirms Tonga 384-bit Memory Bus, Not Enabled For Any Products

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 4, 2015 - 03:34 AM |
Tagged: Tonga XT, tonga, Radeon R9 380X, Radeon R9 285, Radeon R9 280X, Radeon R9 280, radeon, amd, 384-bit

While it was reported a year ago that AMD's Tonga XT GPU had a 384-bit memory bus in articles sourcing the same PC Watch report, when the Radeon R9 380X was released last month we saw a Tonga XT GPU with a 256-bit memory interface.

tonga_384.png

The full Tonga core features a 384-bit GDDR5 memory bus (Credit: PC Watch)

Reports of the upcoming card had consistently referenced the wider 384-bit bus, and tonight we are able to officially confirm that Tonga (not just Tonga XT) has been 384-bit capable all along, though this was never enabled by AMD. The reason? The company never found the right price/performance combination.

AMD's Raja Koduri confirmed Tonga's 384-bit bus tonight, and our own Ryan Shrout broke the news on Twitter.

So does this mean an upcoming Tonga GPU could offer this wider memory bus? Tonga itself was a follow-up to Tahiti (R9 280/280X), which did have a 384-bit bus, but all along the choice had been made to keep the updated core at 256-bit.

Now more than a year after the launch of Tonga a new part featuring a fully enabled memory bus doesn't seem realistic, but it's still interesting to know that significantly more memory bandwidth is locked away from owners of these cards.

Fix Coming for AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 29, 2015 - 10:25 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics driver, radeon, crimson

Users have been reporting that the latest AMD graphics driver, Radeon Software Crimson Edition, has been incorrectly setting fan speeds. Some users report that the driver spins up fans to 100% and others report that they slow down to 30% regardless of load.

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Over the weekend, AMD acknowledged the issue and claim that a fix is intended for Monday.

Some users also claim that the card will stick with that fan setting until it cooks itself. This seems odd to me, since GPUs (and CPUs of course) are now designed to down-volt if temperatures reach unsafe levels, and even cut power entirely if heat cannot be managed. We haven't really seen reports of graphics cards cooking themselves since the Radeon HD 5000 series implemented hardware in response to Furmark and OCCT. That said, the driver bug might some how override these hardware protections.

In the mean time, you'll either want to keep an eye on your fan settings and reset them as necessary, or roll back to the previous driver. AMD didn't comment on the high fan speed issue that some were complaining about, so I'm not sure if this fix will address both issues.