Folding@Home on AMD GPUs takes a leap forward

Subject: General Tech | April 13, 2011 - 12:01 PM |
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The Folding@Home distributed computing program has long been able to run on GPUs, but the latest optimizations are for GPUs that support CUDA.  As CUDA is a relatively closed source architecture from NVIDIA, that leaves AMD GPU users in the cold; with long time users still using CAL/Direct3D to power their GPU Folding efforts.  According to a news story Hardware Canucks spotted, this is about to change as Stanford is working on optimizing F@H for OpenCL and the tests show almost a doubling of performance.  Do keep in mind that F@H results can change from day to day but this is definitely a good sign.

If you have not yet encountered Folding@Home or are unclear as to why people give their spare processing cycles to the project you should drop by this thread in our own Folding@Home Forum which describes many of the reasons people choose to fold.  If you feel the cause is worthy enough for you to join up, it would be a great idea to join the Folding Frogs, our own PC Perspective Folding@Home team.  You can learn all about the Folding Frogs and how to join in this thread, if you already fold and would like to jump aboard then we are Team 734.

"A few weeks ago, Stanford introduced the new Core 16 Project 11293 work units which are specifically tailored towards OpenCL-supporting AMD graphics cards. But do they bring the hoped-for increase in Folding@Home performance or is this yet another step towards disappointment?"

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More mid-ranged 6000 family GPUs coming from AMD

Subject: General Tech | April 12, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
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If you are in the market for a mid-range GPU and don't mind waiting a week, AMD will be releasing the 6670, 6570 and 6450 next Tuesday.  You will want to exercise some caution when purchasing the cards however as this is the level of card most popular with OEM system builders and they will be receiving DDR3 based cards not GDDR5 based cards.  If a particular model claims to have more memory that others without a change in price it will most likely be using DDR3 which will be slower, though not to a snails pace. 

Thanks to DigiTimes for the scoop.

"AMD is set launch three new graphics card under its Radeon HD 6000 series - 6670, 6570 and 6450 on April 19, targeting the entry-level and mid-range markets, according to sources from graphics card makers.

The sources pointed out that AMD's recently launched Radeon HD 6790 graphics card currently has a better market impression than Nvidia's GTX 550 Ti mainly because of its friendly price; therefore, AMD is set to launch more graphics cards with low price to gain market share.

Although AMD has already released the OEM version of the three new graphics cards, the new version will adopt GDDR5 memory, instead of DDR3 memory, which is used in the OEM versions.

With its Radeon HD 6000 series product lines fully filled, AMD is already in preparation for the next generation Radeon HD 7000 series (Southern Islands) GPUs and is set to mass produce the GPU in May this year."

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Source: Digitimes

The performance growth of AMD GPUs on Linux

Subject: General Tech | April 11, 2011 - 12:51 PM |
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Phoronix set out to benchmark the changes to Ubuntu and the Linux kernel as it relates to graphical performance using AMD GPUs, specifically the ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 128MB.  The review tracks the changes from Ubuntu 9.4 to 11.4 and the 2.6.28 to 2.6.38 kernels as well as a variety of graphics drivers, both MESA and Gallium 3D.    Check out what they found in the full article.

"The open-source ATI/AMD Radeon Linux driver stack has made a lot of improvements in recent times with their Gallium3D drivers becoming mature across all generations and support for new features (such as DRI2 page-flipping) landing in the mainline code and beginning to make its way to users. The time required to bring up support for new generations has also been reduced greatly and with the Radeon HD 8000 series there should be a turning point for their open-source strategy. In this article, we are providing an updated look at the course of the open-source driver's performance for the past two years."

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Source: Phoronix

Travel back in time 52 years on this date and you can prevent COBOL

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 06:24 PM |
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When PC Perspective Forum members get asked their opinions on powerful machines they tend to aim for the ultimate gaming machine.  That is not always the best choice for people looking at rendering machines and other tasks, as you can see here.  That type of machine belongs on a completely different battlefield and while the players will be familiar the particular needs can be very different and no less interesting than building a gaming machine.  Just ask the Folding Folks and the frogs in the BOINC forums about building servers, the Overclocking Forum is a place to go great info for the gamer; if you do take their advice you should drop by the Cases and Cooling forum as you will need some serious cooling. 

No matter what you use the computer for, an LCD three way is always sexy, just image our faces blown up that large as you watch the latest PC Perspective Podcast.

Roccat Alumic, an anodized aluminium ice rink for your mouse

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 01:42 PM |
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While there is something to be said for the style of a leather mouse pad, but with use the edges will begin to curl up and the relatively light weight means that the pad can move around the desk on occasion.  So how about a double sided, 331x272mm aluminium mouse rink with four non-slip rubber feet, one at each corner. It won't be sliding on your desk thanks to the weight and Hardware Heaven felt it was large enough that you don't need to worry about falling off.

"Every good mouse needs a good surface to achieve optimal performance and todays review product is Roccats attempt at creating an ideal companion for high performance mice. So lets take a look at what the Roccat Alumic has to offer..."

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Lucid's Virtu gets validated

Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2011 - 12:04 PM |
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We have been talking about Lucid for quite a while, first with the bridge chip that allowed mixed vendor multi-GPU SLIFire/CrosSLI setups to work and more recently about their Virtu software that would allow a PC with SandyBridge and a discreet GPU to switch between the two on the fly depending on which was best suited for the task.  Today they received some very good news, as their virtualization software has completed the validation process and has been deemed perfectly compatible with the Radeon HD6000 family.  Check The Inquirer for more.

 

"SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Lucid has announced that its Virtu GPU virtualisation software has been validated to run on Intel's Sandy Bridge chips and AMD's Radeon HD6000 series GPUs."

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Source: The Inquirer

MSI's 890FXA-GD65, a study in the proper way to make a budget board

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2011 - 05:32 PM |
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Many companies that aim to hit the sub-$150 market take a hacksaw to an existing board layout and pare off enough expensive components to keep the price down.  MSI took a different approach with the 890FXA-GD70, designing the board from scratch with the trimmed down features while still keeping important ones such as their Military Class components.  What they ended up with was not only a board Josh liked, it was one he could even afford to buy for himself!

"MSI has created a fine board. It certainly appears to have had a real teething process, but now the BIOS support has caught up and we are seeing a very fast and mature product on the marketplace. The current price makes this one of the more exciting AM3 motherboard out there, especially for the budget enthusiast. MSI has scored nicely with the 890FXA-GD65."

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Good news for Linux cheats, Gnome 3 is here

Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2011 - 12:10 PM |
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If you tend to use Linux through a GUI and only use the command line to supplement your usage and are pretty sure the web was not meant to be viewed in text only with Lynx then a brand new desktop for Linux is good news.  Gnome has hit version 3, with a few new features and some serious streamlining, some good and some strange.  For instance re-sizing windows with your scroll wheel is interesting, removing the minimize and maximize buttons are odd. 

Overall Ars Technica was impressed, liking it more than KDE in some cases.

 

"The developers behind the GNOME project have announced the official release of GNOME 3.0, a significant redesign of the open source desktop environment. The update introduces a new desktop shell that offers a streamlined window management workflow and a more modern look and feel. The new version also represents a major architectural overhaul, with many important enhancements to the GNOME platform's technical underpinnings."

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Source: Ars Technica

... but we didn't have early access to the game; Dragon Age II version

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2011 - 12:41 PM |
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When [H]ard|OCP first tested out NVIDIA's GPUs on Dragon Age II, they lost handily to the AMD Radeon equivalent irrespective of the price disparity.  NVIDIA has rolled out a beta driver that [H] got hold of to test and see if NVIDIA's claims that they couldn't perfect the performance because they didn't have access to early versions of the game.  While the driver did up performance noticeably; by 30% in some cases and often pushing a hair above the competition it did not help the pricing disparity.  For some though, an extra 6% performance is worth $25.

 

"After the disappointing showing in our Dragon Age 2 Gameplay Performance Review, NVIDIA has responded with a new BETA driver that claims to alleviate the game-crippling performance problems that its customers were experiencing. We evaluate performance improvements and again compare to AMD's."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

10 cores soon behind your server room door, the new Xeons are coming

Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2011 - 11:35 AM |
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Not exciting news to most enthusiasts except when they are at their day jobs, Intel has announced the new Xeon family of processors.  This is a big family with lots of 32nm cousins, the branches being the E7-8800 E7-4800 and the E7-2800.  The most powerful members of the family will be the the 10 10-core E7-8800 series, of which the top three models all top out at 2.4GHz with a TDP of 130 watts.  That series has cousins like the 10-core low-voltage E7-8867L at 2.13GHz with a TDP of 105 watts, or an octo-core E7-8837 that hits 2.67GHz with a TDP of 130 watts.  You will also see Xeon E3-1200 family aimed for low cost server builders but with many advantages over the previous generation.   DigiTimes even has information on the pricing, "The Xeon processor E7-8800/4800/2800 families range in price from US$774 to US$4,616 in quantities of 1,000. The Xeon processor E3-1200 family ranges in price from US$189 to US$612 in quantities of 1,000."

"Based on Intel's leading 32nm process technology, the new Intel Xeon processors have up to 10 cores with Intel Hyper-Threading Technology, and deliver up to 40% greater performance than the Intel Xeon 7500 series processor. Concurrently, a new energy-saving feature reduces the power draw of idle portions of the chip. Beginning today, more than 35 systems based on the Intel Xeon processor E7 family are expected to ship from manufacturers around the world."

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Source: Digitimes

Why would Google buy a defunct Canadian phone system maker?

Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2011 - 11:43 AM |
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It's the patents ...

Nortel was a major player in the telecommunications market, especially in researching new products and standards.  Even if you don't recognize the name you have seen a NorStar Meridian phone in person or on TV, but you don't see too much of them anymore.  After taking a big hit during the dot bomb and another after some accounting malpractices were discovered, Nortel took a dive that it, and many Canadian's pension plans, never recovered from. 

So why is Google offering $900 million for it's decaying corpse?  That particular body owns in the neighbourhood of 6,000 patents and patent applications covering basic parts of wired and wireless data and voice networking, as well as internet, service provider, and semiconductor technologies.  The Register is quick to point out that the 37 current lawsuits against Android have made Google wise to the idea that patent holders don't tend to sue themselves.

"Google has bid $900m for Nortel's patent portfolio, saying it hopes to use the portfolio to deter lawsuits against not only Google but also partners and open-source developers working on projects such as Android and Chrome."

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Source: The Register

Aperion Verus Forte; for those who still appreciate a wall of sound

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2011 - 01:28 PM |
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If you are a fan of tiny speakers that unobtrusively fill the room with audio then the Aperion Verus Forte series of speakers is probably not for you.  If on the other hand you prefer a miniature wall of sound with speakers that are unashamed to make their presence known visually and aurally then click on over to Digital Trends.  With five parts, a pair of 30 lbs towers at 35" x 6" x 8.25, a single centre channel of 6.2" x 19" x 8" weighing in at 15 lbs and a pair of satellites of 9" x 5 x 5.7" and a relatively small 6.5 lbs.  If those aren't big enough Aperion also sells a Grand series.

"A few months ago internet-direct speaker maker Aperion Audio announced a new family of products dubbed Verus. The Verus line-up features higher quality drivers, more elegantly styled cabinets and more advanced engineering than their Intimus series cousins and, according to Aperion, a more authentic and true-to-life sound experience. Currently, the Verus offerings are comprised of the larger, full-sized “Grand” speakers along with the more recently released, and compact, Forte series. In this review, we take a listen to the Verus Forte towers, center channel and satellites and consider their value in contrast with their competition as well as Aperion’s own Intimus line."

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Do GTX590s really explode?

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2011 - 11:50 AM |
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There are times when being a hardware reviewer offers some odd ways to enjoy yourself, such as the chance to pick up a brand new $800 GTX590 and try to make it explode.  That was how [H]ard|OCP spent a bit of time recently, fully investigating the claims that the NVIDIA Forceware 267.52 had faulty power management programming that would let the voltage on an overclocked card hit 1.2V or so and release the magic smoke from various parts of the graphics card.  Not only is this true, it is important because that driver version is on many retail disks, so those overclocking their cards with the disk provided by their manufacturer could end up with dead cards.  The good news is that you do not have to worry about that if you use up to date drivers and [H]ard|OCP shows in the review that there really is not much performance benefit to overvolting the GTX590 anyways.

 

"We take the new ASUS GeForce GTX 590 and overclock the crap out of it! What are all these exploding GTX 590 cards about? We will find out just what happens when you crank it up with proper power management working on the GTX 590. We compare performance at stock clocks, overclocked, and against a 6990."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Much ado about nothing: AMD and Global Foundries supposed tiff

Subject: General Tech | April 4, 2011 - 11:29 AM |
Tagged: TSMC, global foundries, amd

Over the weekend conspiracy theorists perked their ears about an announced change in the way AMD will purchase 32nm chips from Global Foundries.  What seemed to be odd was the inclusion of the term "paying per good chip", something that is not done in the industry, even with horrible yields such as we saw with TSMC's 40nm process.  A call this morning filled in the missing details and SemiAccurate was there to report on it.  The long and short of it has nothing to do with yields, as they are still looking good.  Instead it seems like a way for AMD to ensure they have good supply of 32nm chips no matter how the actual production lays out and are not stuck paying for unusable chips while at the same time giving Global Foundries a way to get some money out of AMD if yields and sales are high.  This is very good news for companies like ATIC and Mubadala which have a stake in both AMD and Global Foundries.

"The AMD (AMD) and Global Foundries Wafer Purchase Agreement (WPA) that was released yesterday made little to no sense. On a conference call today, AMD’s Interim CEO Thomas Seifert filled in the missing pieces, it all makes sense now.

Few things are more beloved by journalists than a 5:30am PST financial conference call, but this one was worth it, especially in light of the questions left hanging by yesterday’s announcement. We stated that on the surface, it sure sounded like AMD was tearing Global Foundries a new reticle for use in debugging their 32nm process. That however contradicted the facts we had heard on the ground, as of late last year, there simply were not 32nm yield problems. So why was the press release written the way it was, and is really going on?"

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Source: SemiAccurate

Happy (Inter)National Cleavage Day

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2011 - 06:25 PM |
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Seriously!

Some of the more Perceptive of the PCPer's have probably realized just what this particular thread implies for the near future, but if you haven't checked it out you probably should, to avoid any future shock you could encounter otherwise.  If you've already played with the beta site, there is some discussion on system specification freeware which might be of use to those offering support to those who refer to the big case under their desk as their CPU.  Those looking to set up multiple OSes might garner some good information from this thread, while overclockers might smile at this success story.

Linux users will find quite a few active threads on Ubuntu 10.04 in this forum and those looking for a good argument can hit The Lightning Round ... who found a new victim to help moderate the most immoderate forum at PC Perspective.  If you are more into the physical, check out both the Hot Deals forum and The Trading Post, you are unlikely to walk away unhappy.

Lastly, you can grab all the old Podcasts from Youtube, iTunes or our page so c'mon people, get with the Podcast ... or in this week's case the Fireside Q&A brought to you by a certain inept Canadian ISP.

Logitech's solar powered K750 Wireless keyboard

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2011 - 12:49 PM |
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Skip out on the batteries with Logitech's new solar powered keyboard which sports an inch tall strip of solar cells at the top of the keyboard.  It won't help you much if you are a basement dweller but for those who can withstand a bit of natural sunlight will benefit from a wireless keyboard that never needs charging or new batteries.  As far as the usage, it has chiclet style keys and a complete lack of indicators such as a Caps Lock light.

Head over to Digital Trends for a look at Logitech's greenest keyboard yet.

"When you have companies slapping solar cells on everything from cell phones to backpacks so they can tie on recycled-cardboard tags with hemp cord, call them green, and charge twice the price, it's easy to get jaded and dismiss solar gadgets as gimmicks. Until about the third time you have to replace or recharge the batteries in your wireless keyboard, and realize a solar panel would eliminate that need forever. Like calculators and watches, Logitech's K750 proves that wireless keyboards make ideal candidates for solar-panel transplants, giving users both convenience and a clear conscience."

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Talking with NVIDIA about Tegra 2

Subject: General Tech | April 1, 2011 - 12:38 PM |
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Nick Stam, the NVIDIA technical marketing director and Bruce Chan, the senior PR manager of Tegra 2 had a discussion with Hi Tech Legion about Tegra 2.  The audio interview was uploaded as opposed to offering a textual interview so you can amuse your eyes with other content while learning about what Tegra 2 will bring to tablets and cell phones.

"Paul at HiTech Legion chats with Nick Stam, NVIDIA technical marketing director and Bruce Chan, senior PR manager of Tegra 2 to discuss the past, present and future of Tegra. With the announced Tegra roadmap outlining the creation of powerful ARM-based, multi-core, ultra low- power processors that are significantly faster than anything the tech industry could have imagined, how much will the lines be blurred between desktop and mobile computers in the future? How far is NVIDIA willing to push the performance envelope of sub-1W computing?"

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AMD's Bulldozer boards will support SLI

Subject: General Tech | March 31, 2011 - 12:01 PM |
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According to slide over at VR-Zone, the new 990FX and 990X chipsets will support NVIDIA's SLI multi-GPU technology.  That announcement does come with caveats, 7 and 8 series boards will not support SLI and there will be absolutely no support for the NF200 bridge chip.  Even still any time the consumer is given more choices it is a good thing.

"For so long, AMD enthusiasts have to resort to unofficial patches to make SLI work on their boards but not anymore. NVIDIA has finally agreed to make their SLI technology available for AMD 9-series chipsets boards supporting the Zambezi processors based on Bulldozer architecture."

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Source: VR-Zone

Examining Dragon Age II's hardware requirements

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2011 - 12:36 PM |
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Dropping by [H]ard|OCP will give you a chance to see what kind of power you need to get the most out of the second iteration of Dragon Age.  Unlike some other games, this one supports DX11 so the first requirement to get every possible effect is to pick up a DX11 GPU.   For their tests they chose the GeForce GTX 580, 570, and 560 Ti as well as the Radeon HD 6970, 6950, and HD 6870 and used the High-Resolution Texture Pack.Drop by and see how your rig will fare.

"Dragon Age 2 is here in the hopes to provide your fantasy-action-adventure-role-playing fix. Its graphics are upgraded from the first game with advanced DirectX 11 features. Is it going to make mince-meat of your video card, or is it a kinder and gentler sort of bloodbath? We've got game performance on six video cards!"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

What could possibly go wrong? Hotmail enables Javascript in emails

Subject: General Tech | March 30, 2011 - 11:53 AM |
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Maybe you are not quite so paranoid as to stick strictly to text only emails but you probably raise an eyebrow when an email wants to download content such as pictures from an external site.  Such practices are a great way for spammers to verify that an email is active but for now are not really a security risk.  Hotmail, in an attempt to keep users, will now be enabling javascript code to pull in live multimedia content directly to your emails and straight into your temp folders.  Good thing there aren't any known security risks for doing so.   Check out the full scoop at The Inquirer.

 

"EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER Microsoft will allow companies to run Javascript code within Hotmail users' mailboxes.

Microsoft has said that its Hotmail service will analyse email and present certain forms of content in a way that it believes is the "most common things people do when they receive the email". This means that groups of images will automatically be put into a slideshow or videos will be embedded directly in emails from simple Youtube links."

 

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Source: The Inquirer