The First 28nm GPU Architecture
It is going to be an exciting 2012. Both AMD and NVIDIA are going to be bringing gamers entirely new GPU architectures, Intel has Ivy Bridge up its sleeve and the CPU side of AMD is looking forward to the introduction of the Piledriver lineup. Today though we end 2011 with the official introduction of the AMD Southern Islands GPU design, a completely new architecture from the ground up that engineers have been working on for more than three years.
This GPU will be the first on several fronts: the first 28nm part, the first cards with support for PCI Express 3.0 and the first to officially support DirectX 11.1 coming with Windows 8. Southern Islands is broken up into three different families starting with Tahiti at the high-end, Pitcairn for sweet spot gaming and Cape Verde for budget discrete options. The Radeon HD 7970 card that is launching today with availability in early January is going to be the top-end single GPU option, based on Tahiti.
Let's see what 4.31 billion transistors buys you in today's market. I have embedded a very short video review here as well for your perusal but of course, you should continue down a bit further for the entire, in-depth review of the Radeon HD 7970 GPU.
Southern Islands - Starting with Tahiti
Before we get into benchmark results we need to get a better understanding of this completely new GPU design that was first divulged in June at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit. At that time, our own
lovely and talented Josh Walrath wrote up a great preview of the architecture that remains accurate and pertinent for today's release. We will include some of Josh's analysis here and interject with anything new that we have learned from AMD about the Southern Islands architecture.
When NVIDIA introduced the G80, they took a pretty radical approach to GPU design. Instead of going with previous VLIW architectures which would support operations such as Vec4+Scalar, they went with a completely scalar architecture. This allowed a combination of flexibility of operation types, ease of scheduling, and a high utilization of compute units. AMD has taken a somewhat similar, but still unique approach to their new architecture.
Speed Bumps and Unlocked Processors
AMD has announced the latest members of their fairly successful APU series for both the desktop and the mobile markets. The original release in June of this year saw the first fully integrated 32 nm APUs from AMD. These proved to be quite popular with their decent CPU performance and outstanding integrated graphics speed and quality. The launch was not entirely smooth for AMD though, even though the company had been shipping products to partners and OEMs for some months.
The desktop saw limited SKUs, and the availability of the top end parts was disappointing to say the least. AMD and their partners at GLOBALFOUNDRIES were not able to produce enough usable chips to supply demand. Quantities were tight throughout the summer, and the mobile market did not see as big of a boost for AMD as was hoped. AMD did get a lot of new business though, as the thermal and power envelopes of these A-series chips were able to match that of Intel.
Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2011 - 12:00 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: tahiti, radeon, pitcairn, overclock, HD7000, amd
One quickly forgets about the initially released reference GPUs once the cards with custom coolers, capacitors and PCBs arrive on the market all cool and factory overclocked. Usually the original GPU and card designer, in this case AMD, licenses theit top tier partners, like MSI , Gigabyte or Sapphire, to sell cards following a design that AMD provides along with the license to design and sell the cards. As SemiAccurate points out, this has lead to a market where the only unique feature they can add is usually armed and wearing a bikini. After the card has been on the market for a while, then AMD allows non-reference designs to appear for some cards from some manufacturers.
Not so with one of the four lineups of GPUs soon to arrive on the market, AMD will be freeing us from the tyranny of Ruby in different outfits and allow their partners to modify the Tahiti Pro cards from the get go. Expect to see a large difference in the appearance and specifications of AMD's new high end series of cards. That is the only one of the four to get this treatment, Tahiti, Pitcairn and Pitcairn XT cards will still come out only as copies of the reference card design. This may change over time but for now the idea of custom cooler, power distribution and PCB design is something to look forward to in the coming years.
"Back to the new news, and it concerns the Tahiti Pro card. Word has reached SemiAccurate that Tahiti Pro will be unconstrained to the normal reference designs. If you recall, most GPU manufacturers will force AIBs to make cards based on the reference design for the first 3 months or so, and there are a variety of very good business reasons to do this.
Unfortunately, it leads to a problem where the reviews all are the same, mainly because all the cards are the same. The main difference between manufacturers comes down to what color the AIB decides to put on the chrome bikini of the girl with the big sword riding the mythical beast just below their logo. We are partial to Hafnium bikini’s on women riding giant Were-moles around here. Luckily, Tahiti Pro changes this."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- NVIDIA Releases Source To CUDA Compiler @ Slashdot
- Global DRAM oversupply expected to fall to 13% in 1H12, say Taiwan makers @ DigiTimes
- Futuremark 3DMark 11 v1.0.3 Now Available on NGOHQ.com
- TP-Link TL-WR2543ND router @ The Inquirer
- TRENDnet TEW-691GR 450Mbps Wireless N Gigabit Router Review @ Real World Labs
- The Antec Giveaways: Part 2 @ AnandTech
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 9, 2011 - 07:05 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tahiti, radeon, pitcaim, HD 7000, amd
AMD has had a good run with it’s 6000 series cards, but the show must go on and in that vein the company has been working on manufacturing their next generation of graphics cards. The new cards will be of the 7000 series variety and will be broken into the same two architecture model for the upper tier/performance parts and the budget and small form factor fitting parts with the Tahiti and Pitcairn GPUs respectively. As the launch window for the new graphics cards gets closer tidbits of information is starting to leak out. In fact, popular news and rumor site Fudzilla recently got their hands on a few leaked 7000 Series details!
Included in the leaks are information on the performance parts as well as the mid-range GPUs. On the Tahiti front, a photo of two AMD Radeon HD 7900 series cards in CrossfireX has emerged, showing the underside of the PCB, crossfire connectors, PCI-E power connectors and a possible opportunity for a math wiz to approximate the size of the card based on the known dimensions of that particular PSU (heh). Because there are 12 memory chips on the card, the site claims that the rumored 384-bit memory bus is all but confirmed. Further, the cards require both an 8 pin and 6 pin PCI-E PSU connector for power. These cars are engineering samples and things could change between now and release; however, the speculations seem reasonable. The Tahiti based graphics cards will allegedly be priced at $399 and $499 for the 7950 and 7970 respectively.
The Pitcairn GPU based cards will represent the mid-range of AMD’s 7000 series lineup. According to un-named sources, Fudzilla believes that AMD may be releasing the mid-range graphics cards around February 20th, 2012 or about a month after the Chinese New Year. The cards will be carrying similar naming conventions to their predecessor, including the Radeon HD 7850 and Radeon HD 7870. Due to Tahiti pricing, it’s likely that the mid-range 7000 series graphics cards will be priced at $199 USD for the 7850 and $299 USD for the Radeon 7870, at least until Nvidia’s Kepler arrives to shake up the pricing.
Personally, I’m excited for the 7000 series, and am anxious to see what kind of F@H and gaming performance I can wring out of it! Are you planning an upgrade next year, or will you skip this generation?
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 2, 2011 - 11:28 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, catalyst, radeon
AMD has pushed out a third performance driver built off of their Catalyst 11.11 driver build. In this release you get all of the improvements from both 11a and 11b, along with new improved CrossfireX performance in Skyrim. If you have skipped the two previous updates it is probably worth grabbing this release if you are having any performance issues with the games listed below.
Elder Scrolls Skyrim
- New in Catalyst 11.11c: Delivers AMD CrossfireX performance scaling for the AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series
- Delivers AMD CrossfireX performance scaling for AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series
- Improves performance 2-7% on single GPU configurations
- Resolve corruption seen when enabling Multi-Sample Anti-Aliasing on the AMD Radeon HD 6970 Series
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
- New in Catalyst 11.11b: Delivers AMD CrossfireX performance scaling
Batman Arkham City
- Improves DirectX 11 performance for single GPU configurations
- Delivers AMD CrossfireX performance scaling Resolves a number of image/stability issues seen with the title: Fix geometry corruption, sometimes seen in Bash TV entrance
- Fix issues with Low-memory conditions on 32bit systems.
- Fix issue with extreme corruption with missing textures on 32bit systems.
- Fix memory leaks when deleting/reusing sync objects.
- Fix hitching and pausing, especially noticeable on some Quad Core systems when doing races and Stanley Express runs.
- Fix some missing shadows
- Resolves intermittent corruption seen when playing the game at specific camera angles
Download and install the Driver from the following location: (direct links)
AMD Catalyst 11.11c Performance Driver for Windows vista & Windows 7
AMD Catalyst 11.11c Performance Driver for Windows XP
AMD has slowly but surely been taking over the desktop computer. The AMD brand is slowly encompassing all of the components inside AMD powered computers. For the past few years, the company has been heavily investing in and marketing the idea of an all AMD powered computer filled with parts certified to work with each other and deliver a consistent platform (ie Spider, Fusion, and AMD Vision) experience by using an AMD CPU, motherboard, and graphics card together.
It seems as if AMD was not happy with the amount of case badge stickers from other companies for the remaining parts; however, as the company officially announced today that AMD is bringing to market is own AMD branded DDR3 memory modules with the assistance of experienced memory manufacturers Patriot and VisionTek. VisionTek will be making the modules available in the US through their distributor D&H, while the Patriot modules are generally available in the US already.
A close up shot of the Performance Edition provided by AMD.
The new AMD RAM will be controlled end-to-end on the design, oversight, and certification side by AMD while the physical processes of constructing and mass producing the modules will be in the hands of partners (currently Patriot and VisionTek). AMD will offer three speed tiers with capacities including 2 GB, 4 GB, and 8 GB (matched 4GB kits). Specifically, the three speed tiers will be labeled Entertainment Edition, Performance Edition, and Radeon Edition memory in order of slowest/cheapest to fastest (and most expensive). The Entertainment Edition should be shipping soon in the last quarter of 2011 and has at least a planned soft launch of November 2011. Entertainment Edition memory will be the slowest tier, weighing in at 1333 MHz or 1600 MHz and will be best suited for low power systems and HTPC applications. Performance Edition on the other hand will come only in 1600 MHz, low latency, and matched pair modules. This middle tier of AMD RAM is planned to launch in January of 2012. Last up is the Radeon Edition DDR3 which will come in 1866 MHz RAM that has been tuned, tested, and certified for certain system configurations.
To make things a bit more interesting, AMD will be allowing software overclocking of the DDR3 RAM via its AMD OverDrive application, along with planned support for Intel XMP memory overclocking profiles.
The company is claiming up to a 20 % platform performance increase in gaming, and in our own tests we did find a noticeable increase in performance with AMD’s Llano APUs when using higher clocked memory modules. For example, in Dirt 3 the system was able to hit a minimum of 31 FPS (frames per second) when using the A-3850 APU and 1866 MHz whereas with slower clocked modules, the system dipped under the ideal 30 FPS minimum that gamers like to see. Further, by using higher clocked RAM, we managed to get a 25 % increase in performance out of StarCraft II, so AMD’s claims aren’t too far off the mark.
I’ll admit that when rumors surfaced a few months ago that AMD might be entering the DRAM market, I was a bit worried. The company has only recently stopped seeing red on their profitability statements, and the DRAM market has notoriously thin margins. Especially after the lackluster Bulldozer launch and bout of layoffs, I really did not want to see AMD try to spread itself too thin. On the other hand, they are not doing the manufacturing themselves, opting to leave the physical processes up to other companies who are already in the business and know how to stay afloat in the crowded waters. The branding and ability for AMD to offer a platform consisting of an AMD CPU, graphics card, motherboard, and RAM is an advantage that their competition simply can’t match, and its good to see the company taking advantage of that. I don’t expect AMD to start making power supplies, hard drives (though I wouldn’t say no to a nice Radeon RAM Drive ;) ), and cases, but the core components are now all united under the AMD banner and the barrier to entry for new DIYers (do it yourself/self built computers) is now lower. As long as the company can make it work, I’m all for it. What do you guys think of the new AMD branded RAM, is it something you’d use?
Subject: General Tech | November 11, 2011 - 04:27 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, giveaway
I think I just created a new thing for us here at PC Perspective: Free Stuff Friday. After our contest for Skyrim, I thought I would let you know about another completely free contest you can enter. The prizes:
- 1 x XFX Radeon HD 6870 Black Edition
- 2 x Deus Ex: Human Revolution
All you have to do to enter is visit our friend Terry Makedon's blog and vote on your Game of Year selection!
Nov 8 2011 - What is the best PC game of 2011? Simple - it is the one that gamers vote as their favorite. I always hated "game of the year" articles that were written by editors or self appointed experts because they don't necessarily reflect the people's choice. What gave anyone the authority to decide what was the best game of the year? Realistically those articles should be called "My Opinion On Game of the Year". To really find the game of the year, I wanted to have a long running poll for gamers that will have a large sample size. This should undeniably put the "Best PC Game of 2011" question to bed.The other point of this article is to make sure you, the gamers are aware of the best games of the year (as voted by other gamers) so that you can try them out. VOTE AT THE TOP RIGHT OF THIS PAGE
Head on over and put in your vote, follow him on Twitter and get in on the action for a free graphics card or a free copy of DE:HR!!
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 24, 2011 - 03:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, geforce, bf3, amd
I know that you might have Battlefield 3 overload by now, but I wanted to make sure you all remembered to take a look at our BF3 Performance Guide from a couple weeks back to make sure your PC is ready for what might be the most anticipated and talked about PC titles in years.
Here is a summary of the content we have written based on the game - make sure you know ALL of it so you can get your system prepared for the pending battle!!
- Battlefield 3 (BF3) System Build Guide - What you need to succeed
- Come see our easy suggestions for building a system for BF3 (or upgrading) based on your target resolution and quality settings.
- Battlefield 3 Beta Performance Testing and Image Quality Evaluation - Day 1
- We test quite a few graphics cards to see where your setup currently stands with Battlefield 3.
- More Battlefield 3 Beta Performance Results: GTX 460, Radeon HD 5850 and 9800 GT!
- We added some lower end cards to the performance article as well including the very popular 9800 GT.
- PCPer Live! Battlefield 3 Beta Party and Discussion @ 10:30pm EST
- You missed it, but it was fun and we are going to be doing more next weekend!
- Battlefield 3 Beta: Caspian Border Performance and Screenshots
- Come see the performance results from our 64-player testing on the Caspian Border map!
- Battlefield 3 (BF3) Beta Performance: Quality Preset and SLI Scaling
- Here you can see how performance scales from Ultra to High, Medium and Low presets as well as how much performance gain you can expect from SLI scaling.
Keep checking back at PC Perspective as we are planning on doing some more fun live streaming of our BF3 matches and be sure to sign up for the official PCPer "Fragging Frogs" platoon in Battlelog!
RAGE is not as dependant on your graphics hardware as it is on your CPU and storage system (which may be an industry first); the reason for which we will discover when talking about the texture pop-up issue on the next page.
The first id Software designed game since the release of Doom 3 in August of 2004, RAGE has a lot riding on it. Not only is this the introduction of the idTech 5 game engine but also culminates more than 4 years of development and the first new IP from the developer since the creation of Quake. And since the first discussions and demonstrations of Carmack's new MegaTexture technology, gamers have been expecting a lot as well.
Would this game be impressive enough on the visuals to warrant all the delays we have seen? Would it push today's GPUs in a way that few games are capable of? It looks like we have answers to both of those questions and you might be a bit disappointed.
First, let's get to the heart of the performance question: will your hardware play RAGE? Chances are, very much so. I ran through some tests of RAGE on a variety of hardware including the GeForce GTX 580, 560 Ti, 460 1GB and the Radeon HD 6970, HD 6950, HD 6870 and HD 5850. The test bed included an Intel Core i7-965 Nehalem CPU, 6GB of DDR3-1333 memory running off of a 600GB VelociRaptor hard drive. Here are the results from our performance tests running at 1920x1080 resolution with 4x AA enabled in the game options:
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 29, 2011 - 06:51 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, pcper live, nvidia, geforce, bf3, battlefield 3, amd
Look, there isn't any football on tonight, so what else are you going to do? Rather than watch a rerun of Seinfeld, why not stop by here at http://pcper.com/live to hang out and not only watch us play some Battlefield 3 but also participate yourself by calling in on Skype, using Google+ Hangouts or even just chatting on our IRC server (welcome back to 1998, amiright?).
We are going to start the show at 10:30pm EST and plan on running until midnight at least, but it all depends on participation levels from YOU!
What all do we have on the agenda? Well, it is going to be pretty informal as we are still getting our feet wet with this whole "live" thing but here is what we are planning:
- Watch Ryan and Ken get destroyed over and over in Battlefield 3 and watch as we attempt to sneak our way into the password protected Caspian levels with vehicles, 64 players and a new game type (oh my!).
- Skype call ins from readers and gamers that want to talk about BF3 and their experiences with the game so far. How does it run on your hardware? Discussion like this will help others that might not have the beta figure out what they might want to upgrade in the near future. (Be prepared to give us your Skype handle in the chat so we can call you!)
- Trying some group games via our PC Perspective Platoon, the Fragging Frogs! (Head over and apply to join or become a fan!) You can also find me on EA Origin or in the Battlelog system as "ryanshrout".
- We will discuss our brainstorming sessions for what hardware we will recommend for certain gaming resolutions and specific image quality settings in a future article...all live!
- Maybe some surprise guests from the PC Perspective staff and beyond...??
We will be streaming the festivities live on our Justin.tv channel (embedded below) and will have a chat widget here as well for those of you that would rather use IRC than the integrated Justin.tv chat.
In short, we are planning on having a good time playing some games and talking hardware so if you are into that, then I think you should be sure to stop by and say hello!! Let us know in the comments if you have anything else you want to see or any more ideas for our live show. Thanks!!!