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Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 19, 2014 - 08:26 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: live blog, gdc 14, dx12, DirectX 12, DirectX
UPDATE: If you are looking for the live blog information including commentary and photos, we have placed it in archive format right over here. Thanks!!
It is nearly time for Microsoft to reveal the secrets behind DirectX 12 and what it will offer PC gaming going forward. I will be in San Francisco for the session and will be live blogging from it as networking allows. We'll have a couple of other PC Perspective staffers chiming in as well, so it should be an interesting event for sure! We don't know how much detail Microsoft is going to get into, but we will all know soon.
Microsoft DirectX 12 Session Live Blog
Thursday, March 20th, 10am PDT
You can sign up for a reminder using the CoverItLive interface below or you can sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list. See you Thursday!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:03 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: WebCL, gdc 14, GDC
The Khronos Group has just ratified the standard for WebCL 1.0. The API is expected to provide a massive performance boost to web applications which are dominated by expensive functions which can be offloaded to parallel processors, such as GPUs and multi-core CPUs. Its definition also allows WebCL to communicate and share buffers between it and WebGL with an extension.
Frequent readers of the site might remember that I have a particular interest in WebCL. Based on OpenCL, it allows web apps to obtain a list of every available compute device and target it for workloads. I have personally executed tasks on an NVIDIA GeForce 670 discrete GPU and other jobs on my Intel HD 4000 iGPU, at the same time, using the WebCL prototype from Tomi Aarnio of Nokia Research. The same is true for users with multiple discrete GPUs installed in their system (even if they are not compatible with Crossfire, SLi, or are from different vendors altogether). This could be very useful for physics, AI, lighting, and other game middleware packages.
Still, browser adoption might be rocky for quite some time. Google, Mozilla, and Opera Software were each involved in the working draft. This leaves both Apple and Microsoft notably absent. Even then, I am not sure how much interest exists within Google, Mozilla, and Opera to take it from a specification to a working feature in their browsers. Some individuals have expressed more faith in WebGL compute shaders than WebCL.
Of course, that can change with just a single "killer app", library, or middleware.
I do expect some resistance from the platform holders, however. Even Google has been pushing back on OpenCL support in Android, in favor of their "Renderscript" abstraction. The performance of a graphics processor is also significant leverage for a native app. There is little, otherwise, that cannot be accomplished with Web standards except a web browser itself (and there is even some non-serious projects for that). If Microsoft can support WebGL, however, there is always hope.
The specification is available at the Khronos website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:02 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: OpenGL ES, opengl, opencl, gdc 14, GDC, EGL
The Khronos Group has also released their ratified specification for EGL 1.5. This API is at the center of data and event management between other Khronos APIs. This version increases security, interoperability between APIs, and support for many operating systems, including Android and 64-bit Linux.
The headline on the list of changes is the move that EGLImage objects makes, from the realm of extension into EGL 1.5's core functionality, giving developers a reliable method of transferring textures and renderbuffers between graphics contexts and APIs. Second on the list is the increased security around creating a graphics context, primarily designed for WebGL applications which any arbitrary website can become. Further down the list is the EGLSync object which allows further partnership between OpenGL (and OpenGL ES) and OpenCL. The GPU may not need CPU involvement when scheduling between tasks on both APIs.
During the call, the representative also wanted to mention that developers have asked them to bring EGL back to Windows. While it has not happened yet, they have announced that it is a current target.
The EGL 1.5 spec is available at the Khronos website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2014 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: SYCL, opencl, gdc 14, GDC
To gather community feedback, the provisional specification for SYCL 1.2 has been released by The Khronos Group. SYCL extends itself upon OpenCL with the C++11 standard. This technology is built on another Khronos platform, SPIR, which allows the OpenCL C programming language to be mapped onto LLVM, with its hundreds of compatible languages (and Khronos is careful to note that they intend for anyone to make their own compatible alternative langauge).
In short, SPIR allows many languages which can compile into LLVM to take advantage of OpenCL. SYCL is the specification for creating C++11 libraries and compilers through SPIR.
As stated earlier, Khronos wants anyone to make their own compatible language:
While SYCL is one possible solution for developers, the OpenCL group encourages innovation in programming models for heterogeneous systems, either by building on top of the SPIR™ low-level intermediate representation, leveraging C++ programming techniques through SYCL, using the open source CLU libraries for prototyping, or by developing their own techniques.
SYCL 1.2 supports OpenCL 1.2 and they intend to develop it alongside OpenCL. Future releases are expected to support the latest OpenCL 2.0 specification and keep up with future developments.
The SYCL 1.2 provisional spec is available at the Khronos website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 18, 2014 - 03:58 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, msi, just delivered, amd, 290x lightning, 290x
While Ryan may be en route to the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco right now, work must go on at the PC Perspective office. As it happens my arrival at the office today was greeted by a massively exciting graphics card, the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning.
While we first got our hands on a prerelease version of this card at CES earlier this year, we can now put the Lightning edition through its paces.
To go along with this massive graphics card comes a massive box. Just like the GTX 780 Lightning, MSI paid extra detail to the packaging to create a more premium-feeling experience than your standard reference design card.
Comparing the 290X Lightning to the AMD reference design, it is clear how much engineering went into this card - the heatpipe and fins alone are as thick as the entire reference card. This, combined with a redesigned PCB and improved power management should ensure that you never fall victim to the GPU clock variance issues of the reference design cards, and give you one of the best overclocking experiences possible from the Hawaii GPU.
While I haven't had a chance to start benchmarking yet, I put it on the testbed and figured I would give a little preview of what you can expect from this card out of the box.
Stay tuned for more coverage of the MSI Radeon R9 290X Lightning and our full review, coming soon on PC Perspective!
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 17, 2014 - 12:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tom petersen, titan x, nvidia, maxwell, live, gtx titan x, gtx, gm200, geforce
Hey, you found us!
This is the secret page on PC Perspective for live viewers of our Titan X live stream so they can enter for a chance to enter one! Just fill out the form below and you're entered. Good luck!
Note: we are making this an international giveaway, so good luck to all of our domestic and international friends!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 17, 2014 - 09:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: OpenGL ES, opengl, Khronos, gdc 14, GDC
Today, day one of Game Developers Conference 2014, the Khronos Group has officially released the 3.1 specification for OpenGL ES. The main new feature, brought over from OpenGL 4, is the addition of compute shaders. This opens GPGPU functionality to mobile and embedded devices for applications developed in OpenGL ES, especially if the developer does not want to add OpenCL.
The update is backward-compatible with OpenGL ES 2.0 and 3.0 applications, allowing developers to add features, as available, for their existing apps. On the device side, most functionality is expected to be a driver update (in the majority of cases).
OpenGL ES, standing for OpenGL for Embedded Systems but is rarely branded as such, delivers what they consider the most important features from the graphics library to the majority of devices. The Khronos Group has been working toward merging ES with the "full" graphics library over time. The last release, OpenGL ES 3.0, was focused on becoming a direct subset of OpenGL 4.3. This release expands upon the feature-space it occupies.
OpenGL ES also forms the basis for WebGL. The current draft of WebGL 2.0 uses OpenGL ES 3.0 although that was not discussed today. I have heard murmurs (not from Khronos) about some parties pushing for compute shaders in that specification, which this announcement puts us closer to.
The new specification also adds other features, such as the ability to issue a draw without CPU intervention. You could imagine a particle simulation, for instance, that wants to draw the result after its compute shader terminates. Shading is also less rigid, where vertex and fragment shaders do not need to be explicitly linked into a program before they are used. I inquired about the possibility that compute devices could be targetted (for devices with two GPUs) and possibly load balanced, in a similar method to WebCL but no confirmation or denial was provided (although he did mention that it would be interesting for apps that fall somewhere in the middle of OpenGL ES and OpenCL).
The OpenGL ES 3.1 spec is available at the Khronos website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2014 - 10:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, r9 290, r9 280x, r9 280, amd
While sitting on the couch watching some college basketball I decided to start browsing Amazon.com and Newegg.com for some Radeon R9 graphics cards. With all of the stock and availability issues AMD has had recently, this is a more frequent occurrence for me than I would like to admit. Somewhat surprisingly, things appear to be improving for AMD at the high end of the product stack. Take a look at what I found.
|ASUS Radeon R9 290X DirectCU II||$599||-|
|Visiontek R9 290X||$599||-|
|XFX R9 290X Double D||$619||-|
|ASUS R9 290 DirectCU II||$499||-|
|XFX R9 290 Double D||$499||-|
|MSI R9 290 Gaming||$465||$469|
|PowerColor TurboDuo AXR9 280X||-||$329|
|Visiontek R9 280X||$370||$349|
|XFX R9 280 Double D||-||$289|
|Sapphire Dual-X R9 280||-||$299|
|Sapphire R7 265||$184||$149|
It's not perfect, but it's better. I was able to find two R9 290X cards at $599, which is just $50 over the expected selling price of $549. The XFX Double D R9 290X at $619 is pretty close as well. The least expensive R9 290 I found was $469 but others remain about $100 over the suggested price. In reality, having the R9 290 and R9 290X only $100 apart, as opposed to the $150 that AMD would like you to believe, is more realistic based on the proximity of performance between the two SKUs.
Stepping a bit lower, the R9 280X (which is essentially the same as the HD 7970 GHz Edition) can be found for $329 and $349 on Newegg. Those prices are just $30-50 more than the suggested pricing! The brand new R9 280, similar in specs to the HD 7950, is starting to show up for $289 and $299; $10 over what AMD told us to expect.
Finally, though not really a high end card, I did see that the R7 265 was showing up at both Amazon.com and Newegg.com for the second time since its announcement in February. For budget 1080p gamers, if you can find it, this could be the best card you can pick up.
What deals are you finding online? If you guys have one worth adding here, let me know! Is the lack of availability and high prices on AMD GPUs finally behind us??
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 13, 2014 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, amd
This morning I had an interesting delivery on my door step.
The only thing inside it was an envelope stamped TOP SECRET and this photo. Coming from AMD's PR department, the hashtag #2betterthan1 adorned the back of the picture.
This original photo is from like....2004. Nice, very nice AMD.
With all the rumors circling around the release of a new dual-GPU graphics card based on Hawaii, it seems that AMD is stepping up the viral marketing campaign a bit early. Code named 'Vesuvius', the idea of a dual R9 290X single card seems crazy due to high power consumption but maybe AMD has been holding back the best, most power efficient GPUs for such a release.
What do you think? Can AMD make a dual-GPU Hawaii card happen? How will this affect or be affected by the GPU shortages and price hikes still plaguing the R9 290 and R9 290X? How much would you be willing to PAY for something like this?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 11, 2014 - 09:06 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, gtx 750 ti, giveaway, geforce, contest
UPDATE: We have our winners! Congrats to the following users that submitted upgrade worthy PCs that will be shipped a free GeForce GTX 750 Ti courtesy of NVIDIA!
- D. Todorov
- C. Fogg
- K. Rowe
- K. Froehlich
- D. Aarssen
When NVIDIA launched the GeForce GTX 750 Ti this month it convinced us to give this highly efficient graphics card a chance to upgrade some off-the-shelf, under powered PCs. In a story that we published just a week ago, we were able to convert three pretty basic and pretty boring computers into impressive gaming PCs by adding in the $150 Maxwell-based graphics card.
If you missed the video we did on the upgrade process and results, check it out here.
Now we are going to give our readers the chance to do the same thing to their PCs. Do you have a computer in your home that is just not up to the task of playing the latest PC games? Then this contest is right up your alley.
Prizes: 1 of 5 GeForce GTX 750 Ti Graphics Cards
Your Task: You are going to have to do a couple of things to win one of these cards in our "Upgrade Story Giveaway." We want to make sure these cards are going to those of you that can really use it so here is what we are asking for (you can find the form to fill out right here):
- Show us your PC that is in need of an upgrade! Take a picture of your machine with this contest page on the screen or something similar and share it with us. You can use Imgur.com to upload your photo if you need some place to put it. An inside shot would be good as well. Place the URL for your image in the appropriate field in the form below.
- Show us your processor and integrated graphics that need some help! That means you can use a program like CPU-Z to view the processor in your system and then GPU-Z to show us the graphics setup. Take a screenshot of both of these programs so we can see what hardware you have that needs more power for PC gaming! Place the URL for that image in the correct field below.
- Give us your name and email address so we can contact you for more information if you win!
- Leave us a comment below to let me know why you think you should win!!
- Subscribing to our PCPer Live! mailing list or even our PCPer YouTube channel wouldn't hurt either...
That's pretty much it! We'll run this promotion for 2 weeks with a conclusion date of March 13th. That should give you plenty of time to get your entry in.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | March 5, 2014 - 08:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: qualcomm, nvidia, microsoft, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, amd
The announcement of DirectX 12 has been given a date and time via a blog post on the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) blogs. On March 20th at 10:00am (I assume PDT), a few days into the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California, the upcoming specification should be detailed for attendees. Apparently, four GPU manufacturers will also be involved with the announcement: AMD, Intel, NVIDIA, and Qualcomm.
As we reported last week, DirectX 12 is expected to target increased hardware control and decreased CPU overhead for added performance in "cutting-edge 3D graphics" applications. Really, this is the best time for it. Graphics processors are mostly settled into highly-efficient co-processors of parallel data, with some specialized logic for geometry and video tasks. A new specification can relax the needs of video drivers and thus keep the GPU (or GPUs, in Mantle's case) loaded and utilized.
But, to me, the most interesting part of this announcement is the nod to Qualcomm. Microsoft values DirectX as leverage over other x86 and ARM-based operating systems. With Qualcomm, clearly Microsoft believes that either Windows RT or Windows Phone will benefit from the API's next version. While it will probably make PC gamers nervous, mobile platforms will benefit most from reducing CPU overhead, especially if it can be spread out over multiple cores.
Honestly, that is fine by me. As long as Microsoft returns to treating the PC as a first-class citizen, I do not mind them helping mobile, too. We will definitely keep you up to date as we know more.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2014 - 03:38 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, hawaii, amd, 290x
Yes, I know it is only one card. And yes I know that this could sell out in the next 10 minutes and be nothing, but I was so interested, excited and curious about this that I wanted to put together a news post. I just found a Radeon R9 290X card selling for $549 on Newegg.com. That is the normal, regular, non-inflated, expected retail price.
You can get a Powercolor AXR9 290X with 4GB of memory for $549 right now, likely only if you hurry. That same GPU on Amazon.com will cost you $676. This same card at Newegg.com has been as high as $699:
Again - this is only one card on one site, but the implications are positive. This is also a reference design card, rather than one of the superior offerings with a custom cooler. After that single card, the next lowest price is $629, followed by a couple at $649 and then more at $699. We are still waiting to hear from AMD on the issue, what its response is and if it can actually even do anything to fix it. It seems plausible, but maybe not likely, that the draw of coin mining is reached a peak (and who can blame them) and the pricing of AMD GPUs could stabilize. Maybe. It's classified.
But for now, if you want an R9 290X, Newegg.com has at least one option that makes sense.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 4, 2014 - 08:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, r9 280, R9, hd 7950, amd
AMD continues to churn out its Radeon graphics card line. Out today, or so we are told, is the brand new Radeon R9 280! That's right kids, it's kind of like the R9 280X, but without the letter at the end. In fact, do you know what it happens to be very similar to? The Radeon HD 7950. Check out the testing card we got in.
It's okay AMD, it's just a bit of humor...
Okay, let's put the jokes aside and talk about what we are really seeing here.
The new Radeon R9 280 is the latest in the line of rebranding and reorganizing steps made by AMD with the move from the "HD" moniker to "R9/R7". As the image above would indicate, the specifications of the R9 280 are nearly 1:1 with that of the Radeon HD 7950 released in August of 2012 with Boost. We built a specification table below.
|Radeon R9 280X||Radeon R9 280||Radeon R9 270X||Radeon R9 270||Radeon R7 265|
|GPU Code name||Tahiti||Tahiti||Pitcairn||Pitcairn||Pitcairn|
|Rated Clock||1000 MHz||933 MHz||1050 MHz||925 MHz||925 MHz|
|Memory Clock||6000 MHz||6000 MHz||5600 MHz||5600 MHz||5600 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||288 GB/s||288 GB/s||179 GB/s||179 GB/s||179 GB/s|
|TDP||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||150 watts||150 watts|
|Peak Compute||4.10 TFLOPS||3.34 TFLOPS||2.69 TFLOPS||2.37 TFLOPS||1.89 TFLOPS|
|Current Pricing||$420 - Amazon||???||$259 - Amazon||$229 - Amazon||???|
If you are keeping track, AMD should just about be out of cards to drag over to the new naming scheme. The R9 280 has a slightly higher top boost clock than the Radeon HD 7950 did (933 MHz vs. 925 MHz) but otherwise looks very similar. Oh, and apparently the R9 280 will require a 6+8 pin PCIe power combination while the HD 7950 was only 6+6 pin. Despite that change, it is still built on the same Tahiti GPU that has been chugging long for years now.
The Radeon R9 280 continues to support an assortment of AMD's graphics technologies including Mantle, PowerTune, CrossFire, Eyefinity, and included support for DX11.2. Note that because we are looking at an ASIC that has been around for a while, you will not find XDMA or TrueAudio support.
The estimated MSRP of $279 is only $20 lower than the MSRP of the R9 280X, but you should take all pricing estimates from AMD with a grain of salt. The prices listed in the table above from Amazon.com were current as of March 3rd, and of course, we did see Newegg attempt get people to buy R9 290X cards for $900 recently. AMD did use some interesting language on the availability of the R9 280 in its emails to me.
The AMD Radeon R9 280 will become available at a starting SEP of $279USD the first week of March, with wider availability the second week of March. Following the exceptional demand for the entire R9 Series, we believe the introduction of the R9 280 will help ensure that every gamer who plans to purchase an R9 Series graphics card has an opportunity to do so.
I like what the intent is from AMD with this release - get more physical product in the channel to hopefully lower prices and enable more gamers to purchase the Radeon card they really want. However, until I see a swarm of parts on Newegg.com or Amazon.com at, or very close to, the MSRPs listed on the table above for an extended period, I think the effects of coin mining (and the rumors of GPU shortages) will continue to plague us. No one wants to see competition in the market and great options at reasonable prices for gamers more than us!
AMD hasn't sent out any samples of the R9 280 as far as I know (at least we didn't get any) but the performance should be predictable based on its specifications relative to the R9 280X and the HD 7950 before it.
Do you think the R9 280 will fix the pricing predicament that AMD finds itself in today, and if it does, are you going to buy one?
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 3, 2014 - 10:33 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: nvidia, maxwell, gtx 750, evga
EVGA recently launched two new GTX 750 graphics cards with 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The new cards include a reference clocked GTX 750 2GB and a factory overclocked GTX 750 2GB SC (Super Clocked).
The new graphics cards are based around NVIDIA’s GTX 750 GPU with 512 Maxwell architecture CUDA cores. The GTX 750 is the little brother to the GTX 750 Ti we recently reviewed which has 640 cores. EVGA has clocked the GTX 750 2GB card’s GPU at reference clockspeeds of 1020 MHz base and 1085 MHz boost and memory at a reference speed of 1253 MHz. The “Super Clocked” GTX 750 2GB SC card keeps the memory at reference speeds but overclocks the GPU quite a bit to 1215 MHz base and 1294 MHz boost.
|EVGA GTX 750 2GB||EVGA GTX 750 2GB Super Clocked|
|GPU||512 CUDA Cores (Maxwell)||512 CUDA Cores (Maxwell)|
|- GPU Base||1020 MHz||1215 MHz|
|- GPU Boost||1085 MHz||1294 MHz|
|Memory||2 GB GDDR5 @ 1253 MHz on 128-bit bus|
1 x DVI, 1 x HDMI, 1 x DP
Both cards have a 55W TDP sans any PCI-E power connector and utilize a single shrouded fan heatsink. The cards are short but occupy two PCI slots. The rear panel hosts one DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort video output along with ventilation slots for the HSF. Further, the cards both support NVIDIA’s G-Sync technology.
The reference clocked GTX 750 2GB is $129.99 while the factory overclocked model is $139.99. Both cards are similar to their respective predecessors except for the additional 1GB of GDDR5 memory which comes at a $10 premium and should will help a bit at high resolutions.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 05:20 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: passive cooling, maxwell, gtx 750 ti
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti is fast but also power efficient, enough-so that Ryan found it a worthwhile upgrade for cheap desktops with cheap power supplies that were never intended for discrete graphics. Of course, this recommendation is about making the best of what you got; better options probably exist if you are building a PC (or getting one built by a friend or a computer store).
Image Credit: Tom's Hardware
Tom's Hardware went another route: make it fanless.
After wrecking a passively-cooled Radeon HD 7750, which is probably a crime in Texas, they clamped it on to the Maxwell-based GTX 750 Ti. While the cooler was designed for good airflow, they decided to leave it in a completely-enclosed case without fans. Under load, the card reached 80 C within about twenty minutes. The driver backed off performance slightly, 1-3% depending on your frame of reference, but was able to maintain that target temperature.
Now, if only it accepted SLi, this person might be happy.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 2, 2014 - 03:14 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, R7 240, htpc, SFF, low profile, steam os
Sapphire is preparing a new low profile Radeon R7 240 graphics card for home theater PCs and small form factor desktop builds. The new graphics card is a single slot design that uses a small heatsink with fan cooler that is shorter than the low profile PCI bracket for assured compatibility with even extremely cramped cases.
The Sapphire R7 240 card pairs a 28nm AMD GCN-based GPU with 2GB of DDR3 memory. There are two HDMI 1.4a display outputs that each support 4K 4096 x 2160 resolutions. Specifically, this particular iteration of the Radeon R7 240 has 320 stream processors clocked at 730 MHz base and 780 MHz boost along with 2GB DDR3 memory clocked at 900 MHz on a 128-bit bus. The card further has 20 TMUs and 8 ROPs. The card has a power sipping 30W TDP.
This low profile R7 240 is a sub-$100 part that can easily power a home theater PC or Steam OS streaming endpoint. Actually, the R7 240 itself can deliver playable gaming frame rates with low quality settings and lowered resolutions delivering at least 30 average FPS in modern titles like Bioshock Infinite and BF4 according to this review. Another use case would be to add the card to an existing AMD APU-based system in Hybrid CrossFire (which has seen Frame Pacing fixes!) for a bit more gaming horsepower under a strict budget.
The card occupies a tight space where it is only viable in specific situations constrained by a tight budget, physical size, and the requirement to buy a card new and not an older (single and faster, not Hybrid CrossFire) generation card on the used market. Still, it is nice to have options and this will be one such new budget alternative. Exact pricing is not yet available, but it should be hitting store shelves soon. For an idea on pricing, the full height Sapphire R7 240 retails for around $70, so expect the new low profile variant to be around that price if at a slight premium.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | February 26, 2014 - 07:18 PM | Ryan Shrout
Overclocking the memory and GPU clock speeds on an AMD APU can greatly improve gaming performance - it is known. With the new AMD A10-7850K in hand I decided to do a quick test and see how much we could improve average frame rates for mainstream gamers with only some minor tweaking of the motherboard BIOS.
Using some high-end G.Skill RipJaws DDR3-2400 memory, we were able to push memory speeds on the Kaveri APU up to 2400 MHz, a 50% increase over the stock 1600 MHz rate. We also increased the clock speed on the GPU portion of the A10-7850K from 720 MHz to 1028 MHz, a 42% boost. Interestingly, as you'll see in the video below, the memory speed had a MUCH more dramatic impact on our average frame rates in-game.
In the three games we tested for this video, GRID 2, Bioshock Infinite and Battlefield 4, total performance gain ranged from 26% to 38%. Clearly that can make the AMD Kaveri APU an even more potent gaming platform if you are willing to shell out for the high speed memory.
|Stock||GPU OC||Memory OC||Total OC||Avg FPS Change|
|22.4 FPS||23.7 FPS||28.2 FPS||29.1 FPS||+29%|
High + 2xAA
|33.5 FPS||36.3 FPS||41.1 FPS||42.3 FPS||+26%|
|30.1 FPS||30.9 FPS||40.2 FPS||41.8 FPS||+38%|
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 26, 2014 - 06:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, Mantle, gdc 14, GDC, DirectX 12, DirectX, amd
UPDATE (2/27/14): AMD sent over a statement today after seeing our story.
AMD would like you to know that it supports and celebrates a direction for game development that is aligned with AMD’s vision of lower-level, ‘closer to the metal’ graphics APIs for PC gaming. While industry experts expect this to take some time, developers can immediately leverage efficient API design using Mantle, and AMD is very excited to share the future of our own API with developers at this year’s Game Developers Conference.
Credit over to Scott and his reader at The Tech Report for spotting this interesting news today!!
It appears that DirectX and OpenGL are going to be announcing some changes at next month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. According to some information found in the session details, both APIs are trying to steal some of the thunder from AMD's Mantle, recently released with the Battlefield 4 patch. Mantle is na API was built by AMD to enable more direct access (lower level) to its GCN graphics hardware allowing developers to code games that are more efficient, providing better performance for the PC gamer.
From the session titled DirectX: Evolving Microsoft's Graphics Platform we find this description (emphasis mine):
For nearly 20 years, DirectX has been the platform used by game developers to create the fastest, most visually impressive games on the planet.
However, you asked us to do more. You asked us to bring you even closer to the metal and to do so on an unparalleled assortment of hardware. You also asked us for better tools so that you can squeeze every last drop of performance out of your PC, tablet, phone and console.
Come learn our plans to deliver.
Another DirectX session hosted by Microsoft is titled DirectX: Direct3D Futures (emphasis mine):
Come learn how future changes to Direct3D will enable next generation games to run faster than ever before!
In this session we will discuss future improvements in Direct3D that will allow developers an unprecedented level of hardware control and reduced CPU rendering overhead across a broad ecosystem of hardware.
If you use cutting-edge 3D graphics in your games, middleware, or engines and want to efficiently build rich and immersive visuals, you don't want to miss this talk.
Now look at a line from our initial article on AMD Mantle when announced at its Hawaii tech day event:
It bypasses DirectX (and possibly the hardware abstraction layer) and developers can program very close to the metal with very little overhead from software.
This is all sounding very familiar. It would appear that Microsoft has finally been listening to the development community and is working on the performance aspects of DirectX. Likely due in no small part to the push of AMD and Mantle's development, an updated DirectX 12 that includes a similar feature set and similar performance changes would shift the market in a few key ways.
Is it time again for innovation with DirectX?
First and foremost, what does this do for AMD's Mantle in the near or distant future? For now, BF4 will still include Mantle support as will games like Thief (update pending) but going forward, if these DX12 changes are as specific as I am being led to believe, then it would be hard to see anyone really sticking with the AMD-only route. Of course, if DX12 doesn't really address the performance and overhead issues in the same way that Mantle does then all bets are off and we are back to square one.
Interestingly, OpenGL might also be getting into the ring with the session Approaching Zero Driver Overhead in OpenGL:
Driver overhead has been a frustrating reality for game developers for the entire life of the PC game industry. On desktop systems, driver overhead can decrease frame rate, while on mobile devices driver overhead is more insidious--robbing both battery life and frame rate. In this unprecedented sponsored session, Graham Sellers (AMD), Tim Foley (Intel), Cass Everitt (NVIDIA) and John McDonald (NVIDIA) will present high-level concepts available in today's OpenGL implementations that radically reduce driver overhead--by up to 10x or more. The techniques presented will apply to all major vendors and are suitable for use across multiple platforms. Additionally, they will demonstrate practical demos of the techniques in action in an extensible, open source comparison framework.
This description seems to indicate more about new or lesser known programming methods that can be used with OpenGL to lower overhead without the need for custom APIs or even DX12. This could be new modules from vendors or possibly a new revision to OpenGL - we'll find out next month.
All of this leaves us with a lot of questions that will hopefully be answered when we get to GDC in mid-March. Will this new version of DirectX be enough to reduce API overhead to appease even the stingiest of game developers? How will AMD react to this new competitor to Mantle (or was Mantle really only created to push this process along)? What time frame does Microsoft have on DX12? Does this save NVIDIA from any more pressure to build its own custom API?
Gaming continues to be the driving factor of excitement and innovation for the PC! Stay tuned for an exciting spring!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 25, 2014 - 02:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Mantle, TrueAudio, Thief 4, thief
AMD released their Catalyst 14.2 Beta V1.3 graphics drivers today, coinciding with the launch of Thief. The game, developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, is another entry in "Gaming Evolved" and their "Never Settle" promotion. Soon, it will also support Mantle and TrueAudio.
Being Theif's launch driver, it provides optimizations for both single-GPU and Crossfire customers in that title. It also provides fixes for other titles, especially Battlefield 4 which can now run Mantle with up-to four GPUs. Battlefield 3 and 4 also supports Frame Pacing on very high (greater than 2560x1600) resolution monitors in dual-card Crossfire. It also fixes a couple of bugs in using Crossfire with DirectX 9 games, missing textures Minecraft, and corruption in X-Plane.
Catalyst 14.2 Beta V1.3 driver is available now at AMD's website.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | February 25, 2014 - 01:33 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Ivy Bridge, Intel, iGPU, haswell
Recently, Intel released the 126.96.36.19912 (188.8.131.52.3412 for 64-bit) drivers for their Ivy Bridge and Haswell integrated graphics. The download was apparently published on January 29th while its patch notes are dated February 22nd. It features expanded support for Intel Quick Sync Video Technology, allowing certain Pentium and Celeron-class processors to access the feature, as well as an alleged increase in OpenGL-based games. Probably the most famous OpenGL title of our time is Minecraft, although I do not know if that specific game will see improvements (and if so, how much).
The new driver enables Quick Sync Video for the following processors:
- Pentium 3558U
- Pentium 3561Y
- Pentium G3220(Unsuffixed/T/TE)
- Pentium G3420(Unsuffixed/T)
- Pentium G3430
- Celeron 2957U
- Celeron 2961Y
- Celeron 2981U
- Celeron G1820(Unsuffixed/T/TE)
- Celeron G1830
Besides the addition for these processors and the OpenGL performance improvements, the driver obviously fixes several bugs in each of its supported OSes. You can download the appropriate drivers from the Intel Download Center.