Podcast #253 - NVIDIA GTX 780, OCZ Vertex 450, Western Digital Se Hard Drives and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 30, 2013 - 12:19 AM |
Tagged: video, vertex 450, vertex, titan, podcast, pcper, ocz, gtx 780, 780

PC Perspective Podcast #253 - 05/30/2013

Join us this week as we discuss the NVIDIA GTX 780, OCZ Vertex 450, Western Digital Se Hard Drives and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

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

Program length: 1:04:43

  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
    1. Ryan: Ball Bearing fans / EVGA ACX Cooler
    2. Allyn: Sony HX300 (20MP, 50x optical zoom (24mm-1200mm))
  3. 1-888-38-PCPER or podcast@pcper.com
  4. Closing/outro

Subject: Storage

Introduction, Specifications and Packaging

Introduction

A while back, we saw OCZ undergo a major restructuring. 150+ product SKUs were removed from their lineup, leaving a solid core group of products for the company to focus on. The Vertex and Agility lines were spared, and the Vector was introduced and well received by the community. With all of that product trimming, we were bound to see another release at some point:

ext-front.JPG

Today we see a branch from one of those tree limbs in the form of the Vertex 3.20. This is basically a Vertex 3, but with the 25nm IMFT Sync flash replaced by newer 20nm IMFT Sync flash. The drop to 20nm comes with a slight penalty in write endurance (3000 cycles, down from the 5000 rating of 25nm) for the gain of cheaper production cost (more dies per 300mm wafer).

imft 20 nm.jpg

IMFT has been cooking up 20nm flash for a while now, and it is becoming mature enough to enter the mainstream. The first entrant was Intel's own 335 Series, which debuted late last year. 20nm flash has no real groundbreaking improvements other than the reduced size, so the hope is that this shrink will translate to lower cost/GB to the end user. Let's see how the new Vertex shakes out.

Specifications:

  • Capacity: 120, 240GB
  • Sequential read:  550 MB/sec
  • Sequential write: 520 MB/sec
  • Random read IOPS (up to):  35 k-IOPS
  • Random write IOPS (up to):  65 k-IOPS

Packaging:

packaging.JPG

This simple plastic packaging does away with the 3.5" bracket previously included with all OCZ models.

Continue reading our review of the OCZ Vertex 3.20 240GB SSD!!

NVIDIA Details Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 25, 2013 - 08:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, tegra, tegra 4, Tegra 4i, pixel, vertex, PowerVR, mali, adreno, geforce

 

When Tegra 4 was introduced at CES there was precious little information about the setup of the integrated GPU.  We all knew that it would be a much more powerful GPU, but we were not entirely sure how it was set up.  Now NVIDIA has finally released a slew of whitepapers that deal with not only the GPU portion of Tegra 4, but also some of the low level features of the Cortex A15 processor.  For this little number I am just going over the graphics portion.

layout.jpg

This robust looking fellow is the Tegra 4.  Note the four pixel "pipelines" that can output 4 pixels per clock.

The graphics units on the Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i are identical in overall architecture, just that the 4i has fewer units and they are arranged slightly differently.  Tegra 4 is comprised of 72 units, 48 of which are pixel shaders.  These pixel shaders are VLIW based VEC4 units.  The other 24 units are vertex shaders.  The Tegra 4i is comprised of 60 units, 48 of which are pixel shaders and 12 are vertex shaders.  We knew at CES that it was not a unified shader design, but we were still unsure of the overall makeup of the part.  There are some very good reasons why NVIDIA went this route, as we will soon explore.

If NVIDIA were to transition to unified shaders, it would increase the overall complexity and power consumption of the part.  Each shader unit would have to be able to handle both vertex and pixel workloads, which means more transistors are needed to handle it.  Simpler shaders focused on either pixel or vertex operations are more efficient at what they do, both in terms of transistors used and power consumption.  This is the same train of thought when using fixed function units vs. fully programmable.  Yes, the programmability will give more flexibility, but the fixed function unit is again smaller, faster, and more efficient at its workload.

layout_4i.jpg

On the other hand here we have the Tegra 4i, which gives up half the pixel pipelines and vertex shaders, but keeps all 48 pixel shaders.

If there was one surprise here, it would be that the part is not completely OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant.  It is lacking in one major function that is required for certification.  This particular part cannot render at FP32 levels.  It has been quite a few years since we have heard of anything not being able to do FP32 in the PC market, but it is quite common to not support it in the power and transistor conscious mobile market.  NVIDIA decided to go with a FP 20 partial precision setup.  They claim that for all intents and purposes, it will not be noticeable to the human eye.  Colors will still be rendered properly and artifacts will be few and far between.  Remember back in the day when NVIDIA supported FP16 and FP32 while they chastised ATI for choosing FP24 with the Radeon 9700 Pro?  Times have changed a bit.  Going with FP20 is again a power and transistor saving decision.  It still supports DX9.3 and OpenGL ES 2.0, but it is not fully OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant.  This is not to say that it does not support any 3.0 features.  It in fact does support quite a bit of the functionality required by 3.0, but it is still not fully compliant.

This will be an interesting decision to watch over the next few years.  The latest Mali 600 series, PowerVR 6 series, and Adreno 300 series solutions all support OpenGL ES 3.0.  Tegra 4 is the odd man out.  While most developers have no plans to go to 3.0 anytime in the near future, it will eventually be implemented in software.  When that point comes, then the Tegra 4 based devices will be left a bit behind.  By then NVIDIA will have a fully compliant solution, but that is little comfort for those buying phones and tablets in the near future that will be saddled with non-compliance once applications hit.

ogles_feat.jpg

The list of OpenGL ES 3.0 features that are actually present in Tegra 4, but the lack of FP32 relegates it to 2.0 compliant status.

The core speed is increased to 672 MHz, well up from the 520 MHz in Tegra 3 (8 pixel and 4 vertex shaders).  The GPU can output four pixels per clock, double that of Tegra 3.  Once we consider the extra clock speed and pixel pipelines, the Tegra 4 increases pixel fillrate by 2.6x.  Pixel and vertex shading will get a huge boost in performance due to the dramatic increase of units and clockspeed.  Overall this is a very significant improvement over the previous generation of parts.

The Tegra 4 can output to a 4K display natively, and that is not the only new feature for this part.  Here is a quick list:

2x/4x Multisample Antialiasing (MSAA)

24-bit Z (versus 20-bit Z in the Tegra 3 processor) and 8-bit Stencil

4K x 4K texture size incl. Non-Power of Two textures (versus 2K x 2K in the Tegra 3 processor) – for higher quality textures, and easier to port full resolution textures from  console and PC games to Tegra 4 processor.  Good for high resolution displays.

16:1 Depth (Z) Compression and 4:1 Color Compression (versus none in Tegra 3 processor) – this is lossless compression and is useful for reducing bandwidth to/from the frame buffer, and especially effective in antialiasing processing when processing multiple samples per pixel

Depth Textures

Percentage Closer Filtering for Shadow Texture Mapping and Soft Shadows

Texture border color eliminate coarse MIP-level bleeding

sRGB for Texture Filtering, Render Surfaces and MSAA down-filter

1 - CSAA is no longer supported in Tegra 4 processors

This is a big generational jump, and now we only have to see how it performs against the other top end parts from Qualcomm, Samsung, and others utilizing IP from Imagination and ARM.

Source: NVIDIA

Remember the OCZ Vertex 4? The 256GB model is less than $1/GB!

Subject: Storage | July 4, 2012 - 03:53 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, vertex, ocz, Indilinx, ssd

It has been a while since Allan first reviewed the Indilinx Everest 2 powered OCZ Vertex 4 so it seems like a good time to refresh your memory.  That is not just because newer firmware is increasing the performance of this drive but also because the 256GB model can be had for under $1/GB!   You can see the performance against over a dozen other SSDs of varying prices at TechSpot, where it might not hold the top spot for overall performance it fares very well when you consider the price to performance ratio.  That is not to say it is the least expensive drive available but it deserves to be in your list when you are considering a new SSD for your system.

TS_V4.jpg

"Although SandForce controllers have powered much of OCZ's solid-state lineup, the company is shifting to its own solutions after purchasing Indilinx early last year. The "Octane" flash drives were the first to use the Indilinx Everest controller last holiday season and now that its SF-2281-based drives are over a year old, OCZ has begun phasing Everest into the rest of its offerings, including the Vertex series.

The Vertex 4 series is aimed at performance buffs, with initial Indilinx Everest 2 based models offering capacities of 64GB, 128GB, 256GB and 512GB. Performance is the name of the game here and OCZ doesn't disappoint."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

Source: TechSpot

OCZ returns to Indilinx for the Vertex 4

Subject: Storage | June 21, 2012 - 06:37 PM |
Tagged: Vertex 4, vertex, ocz, Indilinx

Just in case you didn't believe Al's review of the new OCZ Vertex 4 or because you want to see the difference between the 512GB version he reviewed and the 128GB version that costs a lot less, you can check out what OCIA thinks right here.  AS you would expect, the lower capacity results in lower performance thanks to the reduction in the amount of channels but at a tested 511.51MB on Sandra and an IOPS score of 99514 slow is a relative term.  If you are going to pick up this drive update to the newest firmware, OCIA tested with 1.4.1.3 and saw a big performance difference from the previous firmware version.

OCIA_710_11_full.jpg

“The Everest 2 platform comes as a result of OCZ’s acquisition of Indilinx in early 2011 but it isn’t the first time we have seen the Indilinx brand stamped on a Vertex drive. The company launched the original Vertex SSD as one of the pioneering flash storage solutions for mainstream users with an Indilinx controller under the hood. OCZ jumped on the SandForce bandwagon with the Vertex 2 and Vertex 3 but have come full circle back to an Indilinx solution with the Vertex 4... well, sort of. But we’ll get to that in just a bit.”

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Source: OCIA

OCZ's brand new Vertex 4 arrives

Subject: Storage | April 4, 2012 - 03:37 PM |
Tagged: ocz, ssd, sata 6Gbs, Vertex 4, Indilinx, vertex

There are quite a few changes in the 4th version of OCZ's Vertex SSDs, not only the new Indilinx controller but the positioning of it right in the centre of the PCB.  You will also notice what looks like an mSATA interface, but The Tech Report is sad to say that it is only a connector for OCZ's internal testing machinery and is not a standard connector.  Of course, we may have to see what the modders do with it.  The performance is as good as you would expect in most circumstances though there were some tests the new prefetch mechanism had troubles with.  OCZ claims that the drive was intended to be partitioned and doing so could help the performance.  Also worth applauding is the move to a 5 year warranty, signalling OCZ's increased faith in reliability.

Our own Al Malventano took a look at not only the drive but also the difference between the 1.30 and 1.52 firmware revisions.

TR_board.jpg

"Just a few months after its Indilinx Everest controller debuted in the OCZ Octane, a second-generation Everest chip has taken root in the Vertex 4 SSD. We take a closer look at the latest Vertex to see what's changed and how its performance measures up."

Here are some more Storage reviews from around the web:

Storage

 

Subject: Storage
Manufacturer: OCZ Technology

Introduction, Specifications, and Packaging

Introduction

OCZ has been in the SSD game for quite some time now. Their first contender was the OCZ Vertex, which we reviewed back in Febuary of 2009. While the original Vertex was powered by an Indilinx BareFoot controller, the Vertex line switched over to SandForce for the second and third generations. The fourth generation brings Indilinx back to the Vertex, this time with the Everest 2. You may recall Everest made its first appearance in the OCZ Octane, which has already proven itself to be a solid contender in the market.

DSC02737.JPG

Before we get into the meat and portatoes, we'll kick this off by saying this will not be a typical Vertex 4 review. We had benches run on 512GB and 256GB Vertex 4 samples, but the numbers we were seeing seemed 'off', so OCZ provided me with an alpha/engineering level firmware late last night. I suspect most other reviews you read today will include results from the 1.30 initial shipping firmware, or perhaps from the 1.31 bugfix firmware (which corrected an issue with secure erasure), but this piece will cover both 1.30 and a newer 1.52 interim build. Sometimes it's necessary to burn the midnight oil in the interest of presenting the full picture (or one as complete as possible) to our readers, and this was one of those pieces. We will revisit the Vertex 4 again very soon in the form of a more final product review, but for now we'll go with what we've got.

Read on for the full review!

PCPer v4.0 Giveaway: Another OCZ Technology Vertex 2 120GB SSD!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Storage | April 27, 2011 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: contest, giveaway, ocz, ssd, vertex

As you can no doubt tell, PC Perspective got a HUGE and much needed facelift recently to what we are internally calling "PC Perspective v4.0".  I know there are still some kinks to work out and we are actively addressing any feedback from our readers in this comment thread.  

But we want to celebrate the launch of the new site in style!!  Some of our site sponsors have very generously offered up some prizes for us to give out throughout the coming days...

The seventh (!!) prize is another 120GB OCZ Technology Vertex 2 SSD!!

vertex2_new_angle_1.jpg

What do you have to do to win this wonderful piece of hardware?

Couldn't be easier: post a comment in this post thanking OCZ for its sponsorship of PC Perspective and maybe include a thought or two on the new site design (compliments, constructive criticism, hate filled monologues, whatever).  You should probably have a registered account or at least be sure you include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you!

Source: OCZ

PCPer v4.0 Giveaway: OCZ Technology Vertex 2 120GB SSD!

Subject: Editorial, General Tech | April 18, 2011 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: vertex, ssd, ocz, giveaway, contest

As you can no doubt tell, PC Perspective got a HUGE and much needed facelift over the weekend to what we are internally calling "PC Perspective v4.0".  I know there are still some kinks to work out and we are actively addressing any feedback from our readers in this comment thread.  

But we want to celebrate the launch of the new site in style!!  Some of our site sponsors have very generously offered up some prizes for us to give out throughout the coming days...

The first prize: a 120GB OCZ Technology Vertex 2 SSD!!

vertex2_new_angle_1.jpg

What do you have to do to win this wonderful piece of hardware?

Couldn't be easier: post a comment in this post thanking OCZ for its sponsorship of PC Perspective and maybe include a thought or two on the new site design (compliments, constructive criticism, hate filled monologues, whatever).  You should probably have a registered account or at least be sure you include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you!

We will pick a winner tomorrow and move on to the next hardware that finds its way to PC Perspective offices.  Good luck and thanks for reading!!