PowerColor Launches Revised Factory Overclocked Radeon HD 7790 OC V2 Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 13, 2013 - 07:07 PM |
Tagged: radeon hd7790, powercolor, GCN, amd, 7790

PowerColor launched a new factory overclocked graphics card recently that is a revision of a previous model. The PowerColor HD7790 OC V2 is based on AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and measures a mere 180 x 150 x 38mm.

PowerColor Radeon HD7790 1GB GDDR5 OC V2 Graphics Card.jpg

The AMD Radeon HD 7790 GPU features 896 stream processors, 56 texture units, and 80 ROP units. The GPU is clocked at 1000 MHz base and 1030 MHz boost while the 1GB of GDDR5 memory is clocked at the 6Gbps reference speed. PowerColor has fitted the overclocked card with an aluminum heatsink cooled by a single 8mm copper heatpipe and 70mm fan.

The new card features two DL-DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video outputs. Its model number is AX7790-1GBD5-DHV2/OC. According to Guru3D, the new/revised card is priced at 120 pounds sterling. However, considering the currently available OC (non-V2) card is $150, the revised card is likely to come in around that price when it hits US retailers.

Also: If you have not already, read our latest Frame Rating article to see how the Radeon HD 7790 graphics card stacks up against the competition!

Source:

Refreshing the non-Ti GTX 660

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 8, 2013 - 04:33 PM |
Tagged: gk106, gtx660, asus, GTX 660 DirectCU II OC

Not everyone can afford to spend $400+ on a GPU in one shot but sometimes they can manage it if the purchase is split into two.  For those considering a multi-GPU setup, it has become obvious from Ryan's testing that NVIDIA is the way to go.  The 660 Ti is a favourite but even it might be too rich for some peoples wallets which is why it is nice to see the ASUS offer their GTX 660 DirectCU II OC for $215 after MIR.  [H]ard|OCP just put up a review of this card covering both the FPS performance of the card as it was when it arrived as well as after they pushed the base clock up almost as high as the original boost clock.  If you are on a limited GPU budget you should check out the full review.

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"ASUS has delivered a factory overclocked GeForce GTX 660 DirectCU II OC to our doorstep to run through the wringer. We match this ASUS video card up against AMD's Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7850 to see which will prevail in the battle of the mainstream cards. There are good values at this price point."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

(Not) The End of DirectX

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Mobile | April 7, 2013 - 07:21 PM |
Tagged: DirectX, DirectX 12

Microsoft DirectX is a series of interfaces for programmers to utilize typically when designing gaming or entertainment applications. Over time it became synonymous with Direct3D, the portion which mostly handles graphics processing by offloading those tasks to the video card. At one point, DirectX even handled networking through DirectPlay although that has been handled by Games for Windows Live or other APIs since Vista.

AMD Corporate Vice President Roy Taylor was recently interviewed by the German press, "c't magazin". When asked about the future of "Never Settle" bundles, Taylor claimed that games such as Crysis 3 and Bioshock: Infinite keep their consumers happy and also keep the industry innovating.

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Keep in mind, the article was translated from German so I might not be entirely accurate with my understanding of his argument.

In a slight tangent, he discussed how new versions of DirectX tends to spur demand for new graphics processors with more processing power and more RAM. He has not heard anything about DirectX 12 and, in fact, he does not believe there will be one. As such, he is turning to bundled games to keep the industry moving forward.

Neowin, upon seeing this interview, reached out to Microsoft who committed to future "innovation with DirectX".

This exchange has obviously sparked a lot of... polarized... online discussion. One claimed that Microsoft is abandoning the PC to gain a foothold in the mobile market which it has practically zero share of. That is why they are dropping DirectX.

Unfortunately this does not make sense: DirectX would be one of the main advantages which Microsoft has in the mobile market. Mobile devices have access to fairly decent GPUs which can use DirectX to draw web pages and applications much smoother and much more power efficiently than their CPU counterparts. If anything, DirectX would be increased in relevance if Microsoft was blindly making a play for mobile.

The major threat to DirectX is still quite off in the horizon. At some point we might begin to see C++Amp or OpenCL nibble away at what DirectX does best: offload highly-parallel tasks to specialized processing units.

Still, releases such as DirectX 11.1 are quite focused on back-end tweaks and adjustments. What do you think a DirectX 12 API would even do, that would not already be possible with DirectX 11?

Source: c't magazin

AMD and Adobe Show OpenCL Support for next version of Adobe Premiere Pro

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 5, 2013 - 08:48 AM |
Tagged: premiere pro, opencl, firepro, amd, Adobe

As we prepare for the NAB show (National Association of Broadcasters) this week, AMD and Adobe have released a fairly substantial news release concerning the future of Premiere Pro, Adobe's flagship professional video editing suite. 

Earlier today Adobe revealed some of its next generation professional video and audio products, including the next version of Adobe® Premiere Pro. Basically Adobe is giving users a sneak peek at the new features coming to the next versions of its software. And we’ve decided to give you a sneak peek too, providing a look at how the next version of Premiere Pro performs when accelerated by AMD FirePro™ 3D workstation graphics and OpenCL™ versus Nvidia Quadro workstation graphics and CUDA.

This will be the first time that OpenCL is used as the primary rendering engine for Premiere and is something that AMD has been hoping to see for many years.  Previous versions of the software integrated support for NVIDIA's CUDA GPGPU programming models and the revolution of the Mercury Playback Engine was truly industry changing for video production.  However, because it was using CUDA, AMD users were left out of these performance improvements in favor of the proprietary NVIDIA software solution.

Adobe's next version of Premiere Pro (though we aren't told when that will be released) switches from CUDA to OpenCL and the performance of the AMD GCN architecture is being shown off by AMD today. 

Adobe-Premiere-OpenCL-vs-Cuda.png

Using 4K TIFF 24-bit sequence content, Microsoft Windows® 7 64-bit, Intel Xeon E5530 @ 2.40 GHZ and 12GB system memory, AMD compared several FirePro graphics cards (using OpenCL) against NVIDIA Quadro options (using CUDA).  Idealy we would like to see some OpenCL NVIDIA benchmarks as well, but I assume we'll have to wait to test that here at PC Perspective.

Adobe-Premiere-GPU-Utilization.png

AMD also claims that by utilizing OpenCL rather than CUDA, the AMD FirePro GPUs are running at a lower utilization, opening up more graphics processing power for other applications and development work.

While this performance testing is conducted on a pre-release version of the next Adobe Premiere Pro, we’re really pleased with the results. As with all of the professional applications we support, we’ll continue to make driver optimizations for Adobe Premiere Pro that can only help to improve the overall user experience and application performance. So if you’re considering a GPU upgrade as part of your transition to the next version of Adobe Premiere Pro, definitely consider taking a look at AMD FirePro™ 3D workstation graphics cards.

You can continue on to read the full press release from AMD and Adobe on the collaboration or check out the complete blog post posted on AMD.com.

Source: AMD

Factory Overclocked ASUS GTX 660 Ti Dragon Pictured

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 3, 2013 - 08:24 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kepler, gtx 660 Ti, 660 ti

Two new photos recently popped up on Cowcotland, showing off an unreleased "Dragon Edition" GTX 660 Ti graphics card from ASUS. The new card boasts some impressive factory overclocks on both the GPU and memory as well as a beefy heatsink and a new blue and black color scheme.

ASUS-nvidia-gtx-660-ti-dragon.jpg

The ASUS GTX 660 Ti Dragon will feature a custom cooler with two fans and an aluminum heastink. The back of the card includes a metal backplate to secure the cooler and help dissipate a bit of heat itself. However, there is also a cutout in the backplate to allow for (likely) additional power management circuitry. The card also features the company's power phase technology, NVIDIA's 660 Ti GK-104 GPU, and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The graphics core is reportedly clocked at 1150MHz (no word on whether that is the base or boost figure) while the memory is overclocked to 6100MHz. For comparison, the reference GTX 660 Ti clocks are 915MHz base, 980MHz boost, and 6,000MHz memory. The new card will support DVI, DisplayPort, and HDMI video outputs.

asus-nvidia-gtx-660-ti-dragon-1.jpg

There is no word on pricing or availability, but the Dragon looks like it will be one of the fastest GTX 660 Ti cards available when (if?) it publicly released!

Source: Cowcotland

ASUS Finalizes Mini-ITX System Friendly GTX 670 DirectCU Mini Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 3, 2013 - 07:14 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, mini-itx, gtx 670, GK104, directcu mini, asus

ASUS has finalized the design for its Kepler-based DirectCU Mini graphics card. The new card combines NVIDIA's GTX 670 GPU and reference PCB with ASUS' own power management technology and a new, much smaller, air cooler. The new ASUS cooler has allowed the company to offer a card that is a mere 17cm long. Compared to traditional GTX 670 graphics cards with coolers at approximately 24cm, the DirectCU Mini is noticeably smaller.

ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU Mini Graphics Card (2).jpg

The DirectCU Mini features a GTX 670 GPU clocked at 928MHz base and 1,006MHz boost. It also has 2GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus. The card requires a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector. Video outputs include two DVI, one DisplayPort, and a single HDMI port. The ASUS cooler includes a copper vapor chamber and a single CoolTech fan. According to ASUS, the DirectCU Mini is up to 20% cooler and slightly quieter than previous GTX 670 cards despite the smaller form factor.

This new card will be a great addition to Mini-ITX-based systems where saving space anyway possible is key. It is nice to know that gamers will soon have the option of powering a small form factor LAN box with a GPU as fast as the GTX 670. Even better, water cooling enthusiasts will be happy to know that the card still uses a reference PCB, meaning it is compatible with existing water blocks made for the current crop of GTX 670 cards.

ASUS GeForce GTX 670 DirectCU Mini Graphics Card (1).jpg

Pricing and availability have not been announced, but the small form factor-friendly GPU is now official and should be coming sometime soon.

Read more about the GTX 670 and Mini-ITX at PC Perspective.

Source: Fudzilla

PCPer Live! Bioshock Infinite Game Stream - Win Games and Graphics Cards from AMD!

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 2, 2013 - 04:50 PM |
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle reloaded, live, crysis, bioshock infinite, amd

UPDATE: If you missed the live stream...sorry, better luck next time!  However, you can still view the on-demand version below to see the Bioshock Infinite game play!

On April 2nd on the PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some game action of Bioshock Infinite.  Easily the most well received and reviewed game of the year, I am probably more excited to play this game than other we have stream to date!

We will be teaming up with AMD once again to provide a fun and exciting PCPer Game Stream that includes game demonstrations and of course, prizes and game keys for those that watch the event LIVE! 

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Bioshock Infinite Game Stream

5pm PT / 8pm ET - April 2nd

PC Perspective Live! Page

Warning: this one will DEFINITELY have mature language and content!!

The stream will be sponsored by AMD and its Never Settle Reloaded game bundles which we previously told you about.  Depending on the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPU that you buy, you could get some amazing free games including:

  • Radeon HD 7900 Series
    • FREE Crysis 3
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
  • Radeon HD 7800 Series
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
    • FREE Tomb Raider
  • Radeon HD 7900 CrossFire Set
    • FREE Crysis 3
    • FREE Bioshock Infinite
    • FREE Tomb Raider
    • FREE Far Cry 3
    • FREE Hitman: Absolution
    • FREE Sleeping Dogs

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AMD's Robert Hallock (@Thracks on twitter) will be joining us via Skype to talk about the game's technology, performance considerations as well as helping me with some co-op gaming!

Of course, just to sweeten the deal a bit we have some prizes lined up for those of you that participate in our Bioshock Infinite Game Stream:

  • 1 x Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 OC 2GB card
  • 1 x MSI Radeon HD 7870 2GB card
  • 3 x Combo codes for both Tomb Raider AND Bioshock Infinite

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Pretty nice, huh?  All you have to do to win is be present on the PC Perspective Live! Page during the event as we will announce both the content/sweepstakes method AND the winners!

Stop in on April 2nd for some PC gaming fun!!

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GDC 2013: AMD Reveals Radeon Sky Specifications

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 31, 2013 - 12:06 AM |
Tagged: GDC 13, sky 900, sky 700, sky 500, RapidFire, radeon sky, GCN, cloud gaming, amd

Earlier this week, AMD announced a new series of Radeon-branded cards–called Radeon Sky–aimed at the cloud gaming market. At the time, details on the cards was scarce apart from the fact that the cards would use latency-reduction "secret sauce" tech called RapidFire, and the highest-end model would be the Radeon Sky 900. Thankfully, gamers will not have to wait until AFDS after all, as AMD has posted additional information and specifications to its website. At this point, pricing and the underlying details of RapidFire are the only aspects still unknown.

AMD Radeon Sky Lineup_AMD Slide.jpg

According to the AMD site, the company will release three Radeon Sky cards later this year, called Sky 500, Sky 700, and Sky 900. All three cards are passively cooled with aluminum fin heatsinks and are based on AMD's Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. At the high end is the Sky 900, which is a dual Tahiti graphics card clocked at 825 MHz. The Sky 900 features 1,792 stream processors per GPU for a total of 3,584. The card further features 3GB of GDDR5 RAM per GPU on a 384-bit interface for a total GPU bandwidth of 480GB/s. AMD claims this dual slot card draws up to 300W while under load. In many respects the Sky 900 is the Radeon-equivalent to the company's professional FirePro S10,000 graphics card. It has similar hardware specifications (including the 5.91TFLOPS of single precision performance potential), but a higher TDP. It is also $3,599, though whether AMD will price the gaming-oriented Sky 900 similarly is unknown.

The Sky 700 steps down to a single-GPU graphics card. This card features a single Tahiti GPU clocked at 900 MHz with 1792 stream processors and 6GB of GDDR5. The graphics card memory uses a 384-bit memory interface for a total memory bandwidth of 264GB/s. Although also a dual slot card like the Sky 900, the cooler is smaller and it draws only 225W under load.

Finally, the Sky 500 represents the low end of the company's cloud gaming hardware lineup. It is the Radeon Sky equivalent to the company's consumer-grade Radeon HD 7870. The Sky 500 features a single Pitcairn GPU clocked at 950 MHz with 1280 stream processors, 4GB of GDDR5 on a 256-bit memory bus, and a rated 150W power draw under load. It further features 154GB/s of memory bandwidth and is a single slot graphics card.

  Sky 900 Sky 700 Sky 500
GPU(s) Dual Tahiti Single Tahiti Single Pitcairn
GPU Clockspeed 825 MHz 900 MHz 950 MHz
Stream Processors 3584 (1792 per GPU) 1792 1280
Memory 6GB GDDR5 (3GB per GPU) 6GB GDDR5 4GB GDDR5
Memory Bus 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 480GB/s 264GB/s 154GB/s
TDP 300W 225W 150W
Card Profile dual-slot dual-slot single-slot

Additionally, the Radeon Sky cards all employ a technology called RapidFire that allegedly reduces latency immensely. As Ryan mentioned on the latest PC Perspective Podcast, the Radeon Sky cards are able to stream up to six games. RapidFire is still a mystery, but the company has indicated that one aspect of RapidFire is the use of AMD's Video Encoding Engine (VCE) to encode the video stream on the GPU itself to reduce game latency. The Sky cards will output at 720p resolutions, and the Sky 700 can support either three games at 60 FPS or six games at 30 FPS.

In addition to working with cloud gaming companies Ubitus, G-Cluster, CiiNow, and Otoy, AMD has announced a partnership with VMWare and Citrix. AMD is reportedly working to allow VMWare ESX/ESXi and Citrix XenServer virtual machines to access the GPU hardware directly, which opens up the possibility of using Sky cards to run workstation applications or remote desktops with 3D support much like NVIDIA's VCA and GRID technology (which the company showed off at GTC last week). Personally, I think the Sky cards may be late to the party but is a step in the right direction. Even if cloud gaming doesn't take off, the cards could still be used to great success by enterprise customers if they are able to allow direct access to the full graphics card hardware from within virtual machines!

More information on the Radeon Sky cards can be found on the AMD website.

Source: AMD

GDC 2013: AMD Announces Sky Graphics Cards to Accelerate Cloud Gaming

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 27, 2013 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: sky graphics, sky 900, RapidFire, radeon sky, pc gaming, GDC, cloud gaming, ciinow, amd

AMD is making a new push into cloud gaming with a new series of Radeon graphics cards called Sky. The new cards feature a (mysterious) technology called "RapidFire" that allegedly provides "highly efficient and responsive game streaming" from servers to your various computing devices (tablets, PCs, Smart TVs) over the Internet. At this year's Games Developers Conference (GDC), the company announced that it is working with a number of existing cloud gaming companies to provide hardware and drivers to reduce latency.

AMD Sky Graphics In The Cloud.jpg

AMD is working with Otoy, G-Cluster, Ubitus, and CiiNow. CiiNow in particular was heavily discussed by AMD, and can reportedly provide lower latency than cloud gaming competitor Gaikai. AMD Sky is, in many ways, similar in scope to NVIDIA's GRID technology which was announced last year and shown off at GTC last week. Obviously, that has given NVIDIA a head start, but it is difficult to say how AMD's technology will stack up as the company is not yet providing any specifics. Joystiq was able to obtain information on the high-end Radeon Sky graphics card, however (that's something at least...). The Sky 900 reportedly features 3,584 stream processors, 6GB of GDDR5 RAM, and 480 GB/s of bandwidth. Further, AMD has indicated that the new Radeon Sky cards will be based on the company's Graphics Core Next architecture.

  Sky 900 Radeon 7970
Stream Processors 3,584 2,048
Memory 6GB 3GB
Memory Bandwidth 480GB/s 264GB/s

I think it is safe to assume that the Sky cards will be sold to other cloud gaming companies. They will not be consumer cards, and AMD is not going to get into the cloud gaming business itself. Beyond that, AMD's Sky cloud gaming initiative is still a mystery. Hopefully more details will filter out between now and the AMD Fusion Developer Summit this summer.

Source: Joystiq

NVIDIA Boosts the Sub-$200 market with the GTX 650 Ti Boost

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 26, 2013 - 04:41 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, hd 7790, gtx 650 ti boost, gtx 650 Ti, gpu boost, gk106

Why Boost you may ask?  If you guessed that NVIDIA added their new Boost Clock feature to the card you should win a prize as that is exactly what makes the GTX 650Ti special.  With a core GPU speed of 980MHz, boosting to 1033MHz and beyond this card is actually aimed to compete with AMD's HD7850, not the newly released HD7790, at least the 2GB model is.  Along with the boost in clock comes a wider memory pipeline and a corresponding increase in ROPs.  The 2GB model should be about $170, right on the cusp between value and mid-range but is the price worth admission?  Get a look at the performance at [H]ard|OCP.

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"NVIDIA is launching the GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost today. This video card is priced in the $149-$169 price range, and should give the $150 price segment another shakedown. Does it compare to the Radeon HD 7790, or is it on the level of the more expensive Radeon HD 7850? We will find out in today's latest games, you may be surprised."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Gaming for $150 with the Radeon HD 7790

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 22, 2013 - 10:56 AM |
Tagged: hd 7790, graphics core next, GCN, ea Islands, bonaire, amd

AMD is trying to fill a gap in their product line between the less than $200 HD 7850 and the ~$120 HD 7770 with a $150 card, the HD 7790.  The naming scheme implies two GPUs but this is not the case, it is a single Bonaire GCN chip with 896 stream processors, 56 texture units and an impressive fill rate of up to 1.79 TFLOPS thanks to some optimization of the GCN architecture.  It has 1GB of GDDR5 at 6GHz effective and a CPU speed dependent on the model, in [H]ard|OCP's case the ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC runs at 1.075GHz.  [H] passed it a Silver Award for being a vast improvement over the 7770 and good competition for the GTX 650 Ti but feel the card does need to be faster.

This card also makes an appearance on our front page, with a lot of Frame Rating charts so you can see not only the raw FPS data you are used to, but also an indept look at how the game is going to 'feel' while you play.

H_7790s.gif

"AMD is launching the Radeon HD 7790 today. This new video card should give the sub-$200 video card segment a kick in the pants. Will it provide enough performance for today's latest games at $149? We will find out, testing the new ASUS Radeon HD 7790 DirectCU II OC with no less than six of today's hottest games."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

GTC 2013: Cortexica Vision Systems Talks About the Future of Image Recognition During the Emerging Companies Summit

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 20, 2013 - 06:44 PM |
Tagged: video fingerprinting, image recognition, GTC 2013, gpgpu, cortexica, cloud computing

The Emerging Companies Summit is an series of sessions at NVIDIA's GPU Technology Conference (GTC) that gives the floor to CEOs from several up-and-coming technology startups. Earlier today, the CEO of Cortexica Vision Systems took the stage to talk briefly about the company's products and future direction, and to answer questions from a panel of industry experts.

If you tuned into NVIDIA's keynote presentation yesterday, you may have noticed the company showing off a new image recognition technology. That technology is being developed by a company called Cortexica Vision Systems. While it cannot perform facial recognition, it is capable of identifying everything else, according the company's CEO Ian McCready. Currently, Cortexica is employing a cluster of approximately 70 NVIDIA graphics cards, but it is capable of scaling beyond that. Mcready estimates that about 100 GPUs and a CPU would be required by a company like eBay, should they want to implement Cortexica's image recognition technology in-house.

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The Cortexica technology uses images captured by a camera (such as the one in your smartphone), which is then sent to Cortexica's servers for processing. The GPUs in the Cortexica cluster handle the fingerprint creation task while the CPU does the actual lookup in the database of known fingerprints to either find an exact match, or return similar image results. According to Cortexica, the fingerprint creation takes only 100ms, though as more powerful GPUs make it into mobile devices, it may be possible to do the fingerprint creation on the device itself, reducing the time between taking a photo and getting relevant results back.

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The image recognition technology is currently being used by Ebay Motors in the US, UK, and Germany. Cortexica hopes to find a home with many of the fashion companies that would use the technology to allow people to identify and ultimately purchase clothing they take photos of on television or in public. The technology can also perform 360-degree object recognition, identify logos that are as small as .4% of the screen, and identify videos. In the future Cortexica hopes to reduce latency, improve recognition accuracy, and add more search categories. Cortexica is also working on enabling an "always on" mobile device that will constantly be indentifying everything around it, which is both cool and a bit creepy. With mobile chips like Logan and Parker coming in the future, Cortexica hopes to be able to do on-device image recognition, which would greatly reduce latency and allow the use of the recognition technology while not connected to the internet.

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The number of photos taken is growing rapidly, where as many as 10% of all photos stored "in the cloud" were taken last year alone. Even Facebook, with it's massive data centers is moving to a cold-storage approach to save money on electricity costs of storing and serving up those photos. And while some of these photos have relevant meta data, the majority of photos taken do not, and Cortexica claims that its technology can be used to get around that issue, but identifying photos as well as finding similar photos using its algorithms.

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Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more GTC coverage!

Additional slides are available after the break:

GTC 2013: Pedraforca Is A Power Efficient ARM + GPU Cluster For Homogeneous (GPU) Workloads

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 20, 2013 - 10:47 AM |
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).

DSCF2421.JPG

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!

DSCF2413.JPG

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!

 

GTC 2013: TYAN Launches New HPC Servers Powered by Kepler-based Tesla Cards

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2013 - 03:52 PM |
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.

FT48_B7055_3D_2_Rev2_S.jpg

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).

FT77A-B7059_3D_S.jpg

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!

GTC 2013: Jen-Hsun Huang Takes the Stage to Discuss NVIDIA's Future, New Hardware

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2013 - 11:55 AM |
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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

GTC 2013: Prepare for Graphics Overload

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 18, 2013 - 06:10 PM |
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.

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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?

ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II versus a dual linked Dell 3007WFP

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2013 - 12:17 PM |
Tagged: 2560x1600, amd, hd7970 direct cu 2, asus, dell, 3007WFP

[H]ard|OCP has wanted to publish their review of the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II for a while but ran into a compatibility issue during their testing and ended up being a perfect example of what sometimes happens to review sites and enthusiasts on the bleeding edge.  [H] uses a Dell 3007WFP with a resolution of 2560x1600 which necessitates the use of a dual link DVI connection, which cause the issue you can see below.  No other setup seemed to reproduce this problem, even the same monitor on a single link DVI at 1920x1080 or at the higher resolution on Display Port would not display the issue.  So what began as a review of an HD 7970 with some nice extra features from ASUS became a long session of troubleshooting.  Take a read through the review as these cards should be back in stock over the next few months, very likely with a solution to this problem already incorporated.

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"Today we have the ASUS HD 7970 DirectCU II strapped to our test bench for your reading pleasure. We will compare it to the AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 to determine whether the custom VRMs and DirectCU II cooling solution are the droids you are looking for in your next graphics card purchase."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Allegedly Launching Quadro K6000 GK110 GPU For Professionals

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 8, 2013 - 06:17 AM |
Tagged: quadro, nvidia, kepler, k6000, gk110

Earlier this week, NVIDIA updated its Quadro line of workstation cards with new GPUs with GK104 “Kepler” cores. The updated line introduced four new Kepler cards, but the Quadro 6000 successor was notably absent from the NVIDIA announcement. If rumors hold true, professionals may get access to a K6000 Quadro card after all, and one that is powered by GK110 as well.

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According to rumors around the Internet, NVIDIA has reserved its top-end Quadro slot for a GK110-based graphics card. Dubbed the K6000 (and in line with the existing Kepler Quadro cards), the high-end workstation card will feature 13 SMX units, 2,496 CUDA cores, 192 Texture Manipulation Units, 40 Raster Operations Pipeline units, and a 320-bit memory bus. The K6000 card will likely have 5GB of GDDR5 memory, like its Tesla K20 counterpart. Interestingly, this Quadro K6000 graphics card has one less SMX unit than NVIDIA’s Tesla K20X and even NVIDIA’s consumer-grade GTX Titan GPU. A comparison between the rumored K6000 card, the Quadro K5000 (GK104), and other existing GK110 cards is available in the table below. Also, note that the (rumored) K6000 specs put it more in like with the Tesla K20 than the K20X, but as it is the flagship Quadro card I felt it was still fair to compare it to the flagship Telsa and GeForce cards.

  Quadro K6000 Tesla K20X GTX Titan GK110 Full   (Not available yet) Quadro K5000
SMX Units 13 14 14 15 8
CUDA Cores 2,496 2,688 2,688 2,880 1536
TMUs 192 224 224 256 128
ROPs 40 48 48 48 32
Memory Bus 320-bit 384-bit 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit
DP TFLOPS ~1.17 TFLOPS 1.31 TFLOPS 1.31 TFLOPS ~1.4 TFLOPS .09 TFLOPS
Core GK110 GK110 GK110 GK110 GK104

The Quadro cards are in an odd situation when it comes to double precision floating point performance. The Quadro K5000 which uses GK104 brings an abysmal 90 GFLOPS of double precision. The rumored GK110-powered Quadro K6000 brings double precision performance up to approximately 1 TFLOPS, which is quite the jump and shows that GK104 really was cut down to focus on gaming performance! Further, the card that the K6000 is replacing in name, the Quadro 6000 (no prefixed K), is based on NVIDIA’s previous-generation Fermi architecture and offers .5152 TFLOPS (515.2 GFLOPS) of double precision performance. On the plus side, users can expect around 3.5 TFLOPS of single precision horsepower, which is a substantial upgrade over Quadro 6000's 1.03 TFLOPS of single precision floating point. For comparison, the GK104-based Quadro K5000 offers 2.1 TFLOPS of single precision. Although it's no full GK110, it looks to be the Quadro card to beat for the intended usage.

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Of course, Quadro is more about stable drivers, beefy memory, and single precision than double precision, but it would be nice to see the expensive Quadro workstation cards have the ability to pull double duty, as it were. NVIDIA’s Tesla line is where DP floating point is key. It is just a rather wide gap between the two lineups that the K6000 somewhat closes, fortunately. I would have really liked to see the K6000 have at least 14 SMX units, to match consumer Titan and the Tesla K20X, but rumors are not looking positive in that regard. Professionals should expect to see quite the premium with the K6000 versus the Titan, despite the hardware differences. It will likely be sold for around $3,000.

No word on availability, but the card will likely be released soon in order to complete the Kepler Quadro lineup update. 

NVIDIA Refreshes Quadro with Kepler

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 6, 2013 - 05:02 PM |
Tagged: quadro, nvidia

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Be polite, be efficient, have a plan to Kepler every card that you meet.

The professional graphics market is not designed for gamers although that should have been fairly clear. These GPUs are designed to effectively handle complex video, 3D, and high resolution display environments found in certain specialized workspaces.

This is the class of cards which allow a 3D animator to edit their creations with stereoscopic 3D glasses, for instance.

NVIDIA's branding will remain consistent with the scheme developed for the prior generation. Previously, if you were in the market for a Fermi-based Quadro solution, you would have the choice between: the Quadro 600, the 2000, the 4000, the 5000, and the 6000. Now that the world revolves around Kepler... heh heh heh... each entry has been prefixed with a K with the exception of the highest-end 6000 card. These entries are therefore:

  • Quadro K600, 192 CUDA Cores, 1GB, $199 MSRP
  • Quadro K2000, 384 CUDA Cores, 2GB, $599 MSRP
  • Quadro K4000, 768 CUDA Cores, 3GB, $1,269 MSRP
  • Quadro K5000, 1536 CUDA Cores, 4GB + ECC, $2,249 MSRP

This product line is demonstrated graphically by the NVIDIA slide below.

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Clicking the image while viewing the article will enlargen it.

It should be noted that each of the above products have been developed on the series of GK10X architectures and not the more computationally-intensive GK110 products. As the above slide alludes: while these Quadro cards are designed to handle the graphically-intensive applications, they are designed to be paired with GK110-based Tesla K20 cards to offload the GPGPU muscle.

Should you need the extra GPGPU performance, particularly when it comes to double precision mathematics, those cards can be found online for somewhere in the ballpark of $3,300 and $3,500.

The new Quadro products were available starting yesterday, March 5th, from “leading OEM and Channel Partners.”

Source: NVIDIA

A year of GeForce drivers reviewed

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 5, 2013 - 11:28 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, graphics drivers

After evaluating the evolution of AMD's drivers over 2012, [H]ard|OCP has now finalized their look at NVIDIA's offerings over the past year.  They chose a half dozen drivers spanning March to December, tested on both the GTX680 and GTX 670.  As you can see throughout the review, NVIDIA's performance was mostly stable apart from the final driver of 2012 which provided noticeably improved performance in several games.  [H] compared the frame rates from both companies on the same chart and it makes the steady improvement of AMD's drivers over the year even more obvious.  That does imply that AMD's initial drivers for this year needed improvement and that perhaps the driver team at AMD has a lot of work cut out for them in 2013 if they want to reach a high level of performance across the board, with game specific improvements offering the only deviation in performance.

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"We have evaluated AMD and NVIDIA's 2012 video card driver performances separately. Today we will be combining these two evaluations to show each companies full body of work in 2012. We will also be looking at some unique graphs that show how each video cards driver improved or worsened performance in each game throughout the year."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP