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Subject: Graphics Cards | February 27, 2013 - 09:42 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: workstations, virtualization, Teradici, remote management, R5000, pitcairn, PCoIP, firepro, amd
A few days back AMD released one of their latest FIREPRO workstation graphics cards. For most users out there this will be received with a bit of a shrug. This release is a bit different though, and it reflects a change in direction in the PC market. The original PC freed users from mainframes and made computing affordable for most people. Today we are seemingly heading back to the mainframe/thin client setup of yore, but with hardware and connectivity that obviously was not present in the late 70s. The FIREPRO R5000 is hoping to redefine remote graphics.
Today’s corporate environment is chaotic when it comes to IT systems. The amount of malware, poor user decisions, and variability in software and hardware configurations is a constant headache to IT workers. A big push it to make computing more centralized in the company with easy oversight from IT workers. Servers with multiple remote users can be more easily updated and upgraded than going to individual PCs around the offices to do the same work. This is good for a lot of basic users, but it does not address the performance needs of power users who typically run traditional workstations.
AMD hopes to change that thinking with the R5000. This is a Pitcairn based product (7800 series on the desktop) that is built to workstation standards. It also features a secret weapon; the Teradici TERA2240 host processor. Teradici is a leader in PCoIP technology. PCoIP is simply “PC over IP”. Instead of a traditional remote host which limits performance and desktop space, Teradici developed PCoIP to more adequately send large amounts of pixel data over a network. The user essentially is able to leverage the power of a modern GPU rather than rely on the more software based rendering of remote sessions. The user has a thin client provided by a variety of OEMs to choose from and they connect directly over IP.
The advantages here is that the GPU is again used to its full potential, which is key for those doing heavy video editing work, 3D visualization, and CADD type workloads. The latest R5000 can support resolutions up to 2560x1600 up to two displays. The same card can support 1920x1200 on four displays. It supports upwards of 60 fps in applications. The TERA2240 essentially encodes the output and streams it over IP. The thin client re-encodes the stream and displays the results. This promises very low latency over smaller networks, and very manageable latency over large or wide area networks.
The downside here is that one client at a time can connect to the card. The card cannot be virtualized as such so that multiple users can access the resources of the GPU. The card CAN run in a virtualized environment, but it is again limited to one client per card. Multiple cards can be placed in each server and the hardware is then placed in its own VM. While this makes management of hardware a bit easier, it still is an expensive solution when it comes to a per user basis. Where efficiency may be regained is when it is placed in an environment where shift work takes place. Or another setting is a University where these cards are housed in high powered servers away from classrooms so cooling and sound are not issues impeding learning.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 26, 2013 - 10:04 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, tressfx, lara croft, tomb raider, crystal dynamics
Last week we got an email from AMD teasing an upcoming technology called TressFX that had something to do with hair and something to do with graphics. It should come as no surprise today that AMD has announced that TressFX is a hair modeling technology that utilized DirectCompute for simulation. The proper rendering of hair has been a thorn in the side of game developers for decades now and it seems that with every generation of GPU released by either NVIDIA or AMD/ATI we would see a tech demo about how hair modeling "has been changed forever."
This time though, we are seeing the technology in a AAA gaming title.
TressFX Hair revolutionizes Lara Croft’s locks by using the DirectCompute programming language to unlock the massively-parallel processing capabilities of the Graphics Core Next architecture, enabling image quality previously restricted to pre-rendered images. Building on AMD’s previous work on Order Independent Transparency (OIT), this method makes use of Per-Pixel Linked-List (PPLL) data structures to manage rendering complexity and memory usage.
DirectCompute is additionally utilized to perform the real-time physics simulations for TressFX Hair. This physics system treats each strand of hair as a chain with dozens of links, permitting for forces like gravity, wind and movement of the head to move and curl Lara’s hair in a realistic fashion. Further, collision detection is performed to ensure that strands do not pass through one another, or other solid surfaces such as Lara’s head, clothing and body. Finally, hair styles are simulated by gradually pulling the strands back towards their original shape after they have moved in response to an external force.
It's a lot of technology for a little bit of rendering - but realistic hair presents a very unique problem and I am very interested to see this in action when Tomb Raider releases on March 5th.
I asked AMD a couple of questions including if this was going to be a technology that NVIDIA users would be missing out on. Their response? "We don't create features that lock out other vendors." That doesn't mean GTX 600-series card users will have access to this accelerated hair technology or that it will perform similarly if they do, but I'll take a look when I get my hands on the game.
We are hoping to get some video to go along with our screenshots as I think that will have a stronger impact. You can find more details on AMD's TressFX landing page.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 25, 2013 - 08:01 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: nvidia, tegra, tegra 4, Tegra 4i, pixel, vertex, PowerVR, mali, adreno, geforce
When Tegra 4 was introduced at CES there was precious little information about the setup of the integrated GPU. We all knew that it would be a much more powerful GPU, but we were not entirely sure how it was set up. Now NVIDIA has finally released a slew of whitepapers that deal with not only the GPU portion of Tegra 4, but also some of the low level features of the Cortex A15 processor. For this little number I am just going over the graphics portion.
This robust looking fellow is the Tegra 4. Note the four pixel "pipelines" that can output 4 pixels per clock.
The graphics units on the Tegra 4 and Tegra 4i are identical in overall architecture, just that the 4i has fewer units and they are arranged slightly differently. Tegra 4 is comprised of 72 units, 48 of which are pixel shaders. These pixel shaders are VLIW based VEC4 units. The other 24 units are vertex shaders. The Tegra 4i is comprised of 60 units, 48 of which are pixel shaders and 12 are vertex shaders. We knew at CES that it was not a unified shader design, but we were still unsure of the overall makeup of the part. There are some very good reasons why NVIDIA went this route, as we will soon explore.
If NVIDIA were to transition to unified shaders, it would increase the overall complexity and power consumption of the part. Each shader unit would have to be able to handle both vertex and pixel workloads, which means more transistors are needed to handle it. Simpler shaders focused on either pixel or vertex operations are more efficient at what they do, both in terms of transistors used and power consumption. This is the same train of thought when using fixed function units vs. fully programmable. Yes, the programmability will give more flexibility, but the fixed function unit is again smaller, faster, and more efficient at its workload.
On the other hand here we have the Tegra 4i, which gives up half the pixel pipelines and vertex shaders, but keeps all 48 pixel shaders.
If there was one surprise here, it would be that the part is not completely OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant. It is lacking in one major function that is required for certification. This particular part cannot render at FP32 levels. It has been quite a few years since we have heard of anything not being able to do FP32 in the PC market, but it is quite common to not support it in the power and transistor conscious mobile market. NVIDIA decided to go with a FP 20 partial precision setup. They claim that for all intents and purposes, it will not be noticeable to the human eye. Colors will still be rendered properly and artifacts will be few and far between. Remember back in the day when NVIDIA supported FP16 and FP32 while they chastised ATI for choosing FP24 with the Radeon 9700 Pro? Times have changed a bit. Going with FP20 is again a power and transistor saving decision. It still supports DX9.3 and OpenGL ES 2.0, but it is not fully OpenGL ES 3.0 compliant. This is not to say that it does not support any 3.0 features. It in fact does support quite a bit of the functionality required by 3.0, but it is still not fully compliant.
This will be an interesting decision to watch over the next few years. The latest Mali 600 series, PowerVR 6 series, and Adreno 300 series solutions all support OpenGL ES 3.0. Tegra 4 is the odd man out. While most developers have no plans to go to 3.0 anytime in the near future, it will eventually be implemented in software. When that point comes, then the Tegra 4 based devices will be left a bit behind. By then NVIDIA will have a fully compliant solution, but that is little comfort for those buying phones and tablets in the near future that will be saddled with non-compliance once applications hit.
The list of OpenGL ES 3.0 features that are actually present in Tegra 4, but the lack of FP32 relegates it to 2.0 compliant status.
The core speed is increased to 672 MHz, well up from the 520 MHz in Tegra 3 (8 pixel and 4 vertex shaders). The GPU can output four pixels per clock, double that of Tegra 3. Once we consider the extra clock speed and pixel pipelines, the Tegra 4 increases pixel fillrate by 2.6x. Pixel and vertex shading will get a huge boost in performance due to the dramatic increase of units and clockspeed. Overall this is a very significant improvement over the previous generation of parts.
The Tegra 4 can output to a 4K display natively, and that is not the only new feature for this part. Here is a quick list:
2x/4x Multisample Antialiasing (MSAA)
24-bit Z (versus 20-bit Z in the Tegra 3 processor) and 8-bit Stencil
4K x 4K texture size incl. Non-Power of Two textures (versus 2K x 2K in the Tegra 3 processor) – for higher quality textures, and easier to port full resolution textures from console and PC games to Tegra 4 processor. Good for high resolution displays.
16:1 Depth (Z) Compression and 4:1 Color Compression (versus none in Tegra 3 processor) – this is lossless compression and is useful for reducing bandwidth to/from the frame buffer, and especially effective in antialiasing processing when processing multiple samples per pixel
Percentage Closer Filtering for Shadow Texture Mapping and Soft Shadows
Texture border color eliminate coarse MIP-level bleeding
sRGB for Texture Filtering, Render Surfaces and MSAA down-filter
1 - CSAA is no longer supported in Tegra 4 processors
This is a big generational jump, and now we only have to see how it performs against the other top end parts from Qualcomm, Samsung, and others utilizing IP from Imagination and ARM.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 25, 2013 - 01:32 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: jon peddie, graphics, market share
If last weeks report from Jon Peddie Research on sales for all add in and integrated graphics had you worried, the news this week is not gong to help boost your confidence. This week the report focuses solely on add in boards and the drop is dramatic; Q4 2012 sales plummeted just short of 20% compared to Q3 2012. When you look at the entire year, sales dropped 10% overall as AMD's APUs are making serious inroads into the mobile market, as are Intel's, with many notebooks being sold without a discrete GPU. The losses are coming from the mainstream market, enthusiast level GPUs actually saw a slight increase in sales but the small volume is utterly drowned by the mainstream market. You can check out the full press release here.
"JPR found that AIB shipments during Q4 2012 behaved according to past years with regard to seasonality, but the drop was considerably more dramatic. AIB shipments decreased 17.3% from the last quarter (the 10 year average is just -0.68%). On a year-to-year comparison, shipments were down 10%."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- 3DMark Review @ OCC
- Trendnet N300 Easy-N-Range Extender @ Rbmods
- NETGEAR ProSafe GS110T Gigabit SmartSwitch @ Benchmark Reviews
- Quantum computer one step closer after ‘true’ quantum calculation @ The Register
- Microsoft brings Azure back online @ The Register
- Understanding Camera Optics & Smartphone Camera Trends, A Presentation by Brian Klug @ AnandTech
- MWC Sunday roundup: HP Slate, Ascend P2 and Firefox phones @ The Inquirer
- AMD releases Firepro R5000 with remote display technology @ The Inquirer
- The TR Podcast 129: PlayStation 4, Titan, and more
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 22, 2013 - 05:29 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tressfx, amd
I got an odd email just now that I thought I would share with you. From AMD's Gaming Evolved account I got this:
You're at the top of your game. Why isn't your hair? TressFX is specially formulated with dynamic compounds like PPLL to re-energize your tired locks with vitality and luster.
An odd campaign for sure, but it appears that on Tuesday AMD is going to discuss a technology that will bring realistic hair to gaming. Finally some use for all that GPGPU horsepower on the Southern Islands graphics cards?
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 21, 2013 - 01:12 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, titan, nvidia, live review, live, kepler, geforce titan, geforce
Missed the live event? Here is the full replay feature me and Tom Petersen!
Hopefully by now you have read our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB graphics card that was just released. This is definitely a product release that highlights a generations of GPUs and I would really encourage you to read the article and offer your feedback.
However, we have another event to promote right now: NVIDIA's Tom Petersen will be joining me on PCPer Live! at 11am PT / 2pm ET to talk about the GeForce GTX TITAN and its performance, features, pricing and more!
GeForce GTX TITAN Live Review Stream
11am PT / 2pm ET - February 21st
If you have questions for Tom or me, you can leave them in the comments below (no registration required)!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 21, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: titan, nvidia, kepler, gtx titan, gk110, geforce
Before getting into the performance of the $1000 NVIDIA TITAN it is worth looking at the improvements NVIDIA has added to this GK110 beast. At 10.5" long it is a half inch longer than a 680 and a full 1.5" shorter than a 690, which allows it to fit in a wider variety of cases and the vastly improved thermals allow the usage of much smaller cases than other high end GPUs can manage without exotic cooling solutions. There is also a reduction in noise generated, to the point where SLI'd TITANs run quieter than some single card solutions, not to mention much faster. To take a look at just how much faster you can see [H]ard|OCP's results which you can compare to Ryan's results.
"NVIDIA is launching a TITAN today, literally, the new GeForce GTX TITAN video card is here, and we have a lot to talk about. We test single-GPU and 2-way SLI today, with more to follow later. We will find out if this TITAN of a video card really is worth it, and just who this video card is designed for. Be prepared to face the fastest single-GPU video card."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan @ The Tech Report
- NVIDIA GTX TITAN @ Overclockers.com
- NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX Titan Review, Part 2: Titan's Performance Unveiled @ AnandTech
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Gaming Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6GB Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN 6 GB @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN SLI & Tri-SLI @ techPowerUp
- MSI GTX 670 Twin Frozr Power Edition OC 2GB @ Tweaktown
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- HIS Radeon HD 7850 iPower IceQ Turbo 4GB Crossfire @ Legion Hardware
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 20, 2013 - 12:49 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: lucid, virtu MVP, virtu, hyperformance
As promised at CES, Lucidlogix has released their Virtu MVP 2.0 for purchase to anyone who wants to buy it. Their GPU Virtualization software for SandyBridge and IvyBridge based systems with a discrete card allows you to jump back a forth between the embedded GPU on your processor and the graphics card without needing to move monitor cables or reboot. That allows you to save your laptops battery life when the discrete GPU is not needed but to instantly enable it the second you fire up a compatible game, the list of which has grown since the release of their original Virtu MVP. They have also improved their Virtual VSync and Hyperformance features which we reviewed last summer on an Origin laptop.
The move to selling the product directly to consumers is beneficial as previously you could only get the software and updates from the manufacturer of your motherboard or your laptop. As anyone who has dealt with the infrequency graphics driver updates from manufacturers is well aware, the updates are few and far between. It is much better to be able to acquire the software from the vendor who creates it in the first place. Head over to Lucidlogix to read more and perhaps buy one of the three versions available.
"The optimal system specifications Virtu MVP 2.0 include an Intel® Core™ i5 (Sandy Bridge) on an Intel Sandy Bridge or Ivy Bridge motherboard with an NVIDIA® Geforce 460GTX or similar or better AIB and 2GB or more memory running Windows® 7 or Windows 8 in either 32-bit or 64-bit modes.
With special launch prices, Virtu MVP 2.0 is now available in three models: Basic with GPU virtualization for $34.99 (USD), Standard with Virtual Vsync for $44.99 and Pro with Hyperformance and Virtual Vsync for $54.99."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Tilera etches '*ss-kicking' 72-core system-on-chip for network gear @ The Register
- Samsung develops a programmable mobile GPU @ The Inquirer
- Canon PIxma MG6320 Review @ TechReviewSource
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 19, 2013 - 08:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tahiti, radeon, never settle reloaded, live, Crysis 3, crysis, amd
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream you can still catch the YouTube replay right here!!
On February 19th on the PC Perspective Live! page we will be streaming some single player game action of the new Crysis 3. If there has ever been a game that defined the world of PC gaming graphics and technology, it is the Crysis series.
"Sure, but can it play Crysis?"
There is probably no more famous line of dialogue that pigeon hole's new hardware releases.
With the release of the latest version of Crysis 3 on February 19th, 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!
Crysis 3 Game Stream
5pm PT / 8pm ET - February 19th
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
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 Crysis 3 Game Stream:
- 2 x Radeon HD 7970 3GB graphics cards
- 4 x Combo codes for both Crysis 3 AND Bioshock Infinite
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 February 19th for some PC gaming fun!!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 19, 2013 - 06:09 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, catalyst, 2012
Today might be Titan Preview Day as you can see from the links below as well as Ryan's article here, but [H]ard|OCP would like to offer you solid performance numbers instead. They took a look back at the Catalyst 12.x series of drivers that AMD GPU owners have been using over the past year. With the HD 7970 and HD 7950 they tested 7 of AMD's past drivers for performance on four popular games. The findings are fairly clear, after a poor start to the year AMD's drivers showed improved performance as the year went on, with leaps after games were released and the driver could be optimized for speed. The HD7970 did improve over the year but it was the 7950 that proved to receive the biggest gains.
"We continuing our look at driver performance improvements over time by evaluating AMD’s 2012 driver performances on both the AMD Radeon HD 7970 and HD 7950 video cards. We will see how drivers from the beginning of the year to the end of year have impacted real world gameplay performance . "
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA's GeForce GTX Titan, Part 1: Titan For Gaming, Titan For Compute @ AnandTech
- Nvidia GeForce GTX Titan Video Card Preview @ Ninjalane
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Video Card Preview @ Legit Reviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN; GK110’s Opening Act @ Hardware Canucks
- aming and Supercomputing Collide: NVIDIA Announces GeForce Titan @ Techgage
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Review @ OCC
- Asus GTX 660Ti DirectCU II TOP @ eTeknix
- EVGA GTX 650 Ti SSC 2 GB @ techPowerUp
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 19, 2013 - 01:50 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce, 314.07
Just in time for the arrival of the Titan previews comes the new WHQL 314.07 Geforce driver from NVIDIA. Instead of offering a list of blanket improvements and average frame rate increased, NVIDIA has assembled a list of charts showing performance differences between this driver and the previous one for their four top GPUs in both SLI and single card setups. As well they attempt to answer the question "Will it play Crysis 3?" with the chart below, showing the performance you can expect with Very High settings at 1080p resolution and 4x AA. They also provide a link to their GeForce Experience tool which will optimize your Crysis 3 settings to whatever NVIDIA card(s) you happen to be using. Upgrade now as the new driver seems to offer improvements across the board.
The new GeForce 314.07 WHQL driver is now available to download. An essential update for gamers jumping into Crysis 3 this week, 314.07 WHQL improves single-GPU and multi-GPU performance in Crytek’s sci-fi shooter by up to 65%.
Other highlights include sizeable SLI and single-GPU performance gains of up to 27% in Assassin’s Creed III, 19% in Civilization V, 14% in Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, 14% in DiRT 3, 11% in Just Cause 2, 10% in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, 10% in F1 2012, and 10% in Far Cry 3.
Rounding out the release is a ‘Excellent’ 3D Vision profile for Crysis 3, a SLI profile for Ninja Theory’s DmC: Devil May Cry, and an updated SLI profile for the free-to-play, third-person co-op shooter, Warframe.
You can download the GeForce 314.07 WHQL drivers with one click from the GeForce.com homepage; Windows XP, Windows 7 and Windows 8 packages are available for desktop systems, and for notebooks there are Windows 7 and Windows 8 downloads that cover all non-legacy products.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 19, 2013 - 01:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Q4 2012, NVIDA, jon peddie, Intel, amd
Jon Peddie Research have released their findings on the state of the discrete and integrated graphics market, not counting servers, smartphone nor ARM based systems. While the overall PC market showed a negligible gain of 2.8% over the final quarter of 2012, discrete graphics sales saw a decline of 8.2%, which JPR attributes to a noticeable increase of purchases of systems with only an Intel or AMD embedded GPU. When you break the quarter down by manufacturer the news is not good. For AMD the last quarter did see an increase of less than 1% on desktop CPUs but declines of 19% in laptop CPU sales and 13.6% in discrete GPU sales. Intel saw desktop CPU sales up 3% but lost over 6% on laptop sales with their overall decline compared to last quarter sitting at about 3%. NVIDIA was hit the hardest at the end of 2012 with only their discrete GPU sales applying to this survey, a loss of 15% on the desktop and a loss of 18% on mobile GPUs lead to an overall decline of 16%.
Compared to the final quarter of 2011, AMD lost 29.4%, Intel 5% and NVIDIA 4.6%, reflecting the difficulty of making sales in the past year; the total discrete GPU market dropped almost 10% or about 3 million units. Even with the companies making profits, in some cases significant profits, the entire GPU market is depressed with ARM based devices and smartphones starting to erode the market that is already shrinking thanks to Intel and AMD shipping CPUs with embedded GPUs that are good enough for many users needs.
"The news was disappointing for every one of the major players. AMD dropped 13.6%, Intel slipped the least, just 2.9%, and Nvidia declined the most with 16.7% quarter-to-quarter change, this coming on the heels of a spectacular third quarter. The overall PC market actually grew 2.8% quarter-to-quarter while the graphics market declined 8.2% reflecting a decline in double-attach. That may be attributed to Intel's improved embedded graphics, finally making "good enough" a true statement."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Ubuntu? Fedora? Mint? Debian? We'll find you the right Linux to swallow @ The Register
- HDMI breakout lets you sniff HDCP crypto keys @ Hack a Day
- Nvidia announces Tegra 4i : Tegra 4's smaller sibling @ Hardware.info
- AMD: Star Trek holodecks within reach @ The Register
- Kingston Joint Giveaway @ NikKTech
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 15, 2013 - 01:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: southern islands, Solar System, Sea Islands, radeon, oland, mars, holycrapiamtotallyconfused, amd
Remember that story we posted last week and then discussed on the podcast about AMD not releasing any new GPUs in 2013? Today we had a call with AMD that attempted to answer some questions, clear up some confusion and give us some insight to the company's direction. I say 'attempted' because after a 53 minute discussion, we have some answers, but we also have some interesting questions that remain.
First, some definitions. If you have heard about code names like "Solar System" and "Sea Islands" you might not know what they refer to. Sea Islands is a new line that will fall into the 8000-series of products and will be a refresh, slightly different architecture based heavily on the Southern Islands parts you've come to love in the Radeon HD 7000 parts. Solar System is the name AMD has given to the sub-category of Sea Islands directly related to mobile products, the 8000M.
The slide that started this confusion - and our questions.
What might make things even more confusing is that there are some 8000-series parts that are already shipping in OEM desktops and notebooks that use verbatim HD 7000 GPU specs. So what you have is a combination series with Radeon HD 8000 that is made up of some rebrands and at least a couple of "new" chips thus far. Those two new GPUs, Mars and Oland (Radeon HD 8650 and HD 8670) depending on the mobile or desktop target, are already out and you can find them if you look hard. They are NOT available in the channel or for DIY PC users.
Our readers might be disappointed to learn that Sea Islands is heavily focused on the notebook and mobile markets though AMD did indicate that there some good things coming for the channel users in the future in 2013.
We also learned that the HD 7900-series will remain the company's high end parts through the end of 2013 but AMD said that there are new SKUs set to be released in this series sometime this year as well. Will that be the elusive HD 7990 dual-GPU product or maybe just something in the mainstream 7800 segments? They wouldn't tell us but we are definitely hoping for higher performance parts. You might also expect to see these new 7000-series parts to use Sea Islands silicon...
The Radeon HD 7970 looks like it will stay a focus for AMD throughout 2013.
Many readers might be wondering why AMD is breaking its standard cadence of near-yearly GPU releases. The answer came from AMD's Roy Taylor, VP of Channel Sales, who said that "7000 series parts are continuing to ramp UP, sales are increasing" so it is premature for AMD, as a company intending to make money, to introduce a new series or architecture.
In fact Roy was very emphatic about relieving us of potential ambiguity.
We have products, we have a road map. We are not announcing them now because we want to reposition the ones we have now. We are not sitting still, we do not lack resources, we do not lack imagination.
So what can you expect for the future? Sea Islands chips will continue to be released and eventually in the desktop, channel market and some of them will be branded as 7000-series parts and some of them will be branded as 8000-series parts. They wouldn't give us information on whether or not you'll see BIGGER chips (which we would assume would be faster) than the current HD 7900 cards or if they would all be in the mainstream segment.
AMD thinks its partnerships with key games like Crysis 3 will help keep momentum in 2013.
The residual message from this call was that AMD wants everyone to know that they have the best products on the market today and to maintain that momentum, AMD will enhance drivers, establish big partnerships with gaming companies and developers and release SOME new GPUs.
AMD was cagey again when asked about the possibility of a new architecture by the end of 2013 but based on the reactions of AMD reps I tend to believe we will see it, though probably very very close to the end of that time. (Update: AMD did in fact say that an entire new product stack would be releaed by the end of 2013.)
That all clear now?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 15, 2013 - 01:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: UNIGINE, valley benchmark
Move over Heaven, there is an uncanny new benchmark in town from UNIGINE called Valley, which takes your GPU on a journey to Siberia and forces it to labour on wide open spaces with full DX11 scenery.
Valley Benchmark is a new GPU stress-testing tool from the developers of the very popular and highly acclaimed Heaven Benchmark. The forest-covered valley surrounded by vast mountains amazes with its scale from a bird's-eye view and is extremely detailed down to every leaf and flower petal. This non-synthetic benchmark powered by the state-of-the art UNIGINE Engine showcases a comprehensive set of cutting-edge graphics technologies with a dynamic environment and fully interactive modes available to the end user.
Editions of Valley Benchmark
Alongside a completely free Basic edition, Valley Benchmark provides in-depth performance reviews in the Advanced and Pro editions for hardware manufacturers, graphics driver developers, industry professionals and all individuals involved with video card stability testing.
Targeted mainly towards overclockers and hardware reviewers, the Advanced Edition allows for stress-testing under different conditions and thorough reports outputted into a flexible format.
The Advanced Edition exclusive features:
- Command line automation for full control over run tests S
- tress testing mode (benchmark looping)
- Highly customizable reports in CSV format
The Professional Edition is a comprehensive benchmarking tool for hardware manufacturers and graphics driver developers as it is bestowed with the complexity of top-level gaming technology.
The Professional Edition exclusive features include:
- Licensed for commercial use (for one PC, site licensing option is available on request)
- Command line automation for full control over run tests Stress testing mode (benchmark looping)
- Highly customizable reports in CSV format Per-frame deep analysis
- Rendering of a specified frame Software rendering mode in DirectX 11 for reference purposes Technical support
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 12, 2013 - 05:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: galaxy, GTX 660 GC, factory overclocked, nvidia
For those unable or unwilling to spend over $200 on a GPU, the non-Ti Galaxy GTX 660 GC comes with a nice factory overclock of 6GHz on its 2GB of RAM and a core of 1006MHz with a boost of 1074MHz as well as a custom dual fan cooler. You are not going to be maxing out Crysis 3 with it, at this level of power perhaps online gaming is the way to go in which case NVIDIA's new bundle of in game currency might make a lot of sense for you. [H]ard|OCP tested it against the similarly priced HD7850 as well as the slightly more expensive HD7870. In the tests the 660 GC beat the HD7850 by enough that it is not really worth your consideration and traded wins with the slightly more expensive HD7870. In this particular case it might be the bundle that decides you, do you want in game currency or free full games?
"GALAXY has a factory overclocked NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 complete with a custom cooler. Today, we have it on our test bench to run against an AMD Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and an AMD Radeon HD 7850 to see which is the go-to card at the $200 price point now in the latest games with the latest drivers."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- GeForce GTX 660 Graphics Cards Roundup @ X-bit Labs
- Inno3D GeForce GTX 670 iChill, Inno3D GeForce GTX 660 Ti Graphics Cards @ iXBT Labs
- Arctic Accelero Hybrid VGA Cooler Review @ Hi Tech Legion
- 3DMark 2013 review: 52 graphic cards tested with the new benchmarks @ Hardware.info
- AMD Radeon Gallium3D Starting To Out-Run Catalyst In Some Cases @ Phoronix
- Workstation Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- A Trio from HIS: 7970 IceQ X² GHz Edition, 7950 IceQ X² Boost Clock and 7850 IceQ Turbo X Graphics Cards @ X-bit Labs
- Club 3D Radeon HD 7990 6GB @ Hardware.info
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 11, 2013 - 12:33 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: world of tanks, planetside 2, nvidia, Hawken, gtx, geforce, bundle
AMD has definitely been winning the "game" of game bundles and bonus content with graphics cards purchases, as is evident from the recent Never Settle Reloaded campaign that includes titles like Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider. I made comments that NVIDIA was falling behind and may even start to look like they have moved away from a focus on PC gamers since they hadn't made any reply over the last year...
After losing a bidding war with AMD over Crysis 3, today NVIDIA is unveiling a bundle campaign that attack at a different angle; rather than including in bundled games NVIDIA is working free-to-play titles. How do you give gamers bonuses by including free to play games? Credits! Cold hard cash!
Starting today if you pick up any GeForce GTX graphics card you'll be eligible to get free in-game credit to use in one of the three free-to-play titles partnering with NVIDIA. A GTX 650 or GTX 650 Ti will net you $25 in each for a total bonus of $75 while buying a GTX 660 or higher, all the way up to the GTX 690 results in $50 per game for a total of $150.
Also, after asking NVIDIA about it, this is a PER CARD bundle so if you get an SLI pair of anything, you'll get double the credit. A pair of GeForce GTX 660s for an SLI rig results in $100 per game, $300 total!
This is a very interesting approach that NVIDIA has decided to take and I am eager to get feedback from our readers on the differences between AMD's and NVIDIA's bundles. I have played quite a bit of Planetside 2 and definitely enjoyed it; it is a graphics showcase as well with huge and expansive levels and hundreds of people per server. World of Tanks and Hawken I am less familiar with but they also are extremely popular.
Leave us your comments below! Do you think NVIDIA's new GeForce GTX gaming bundle for free-to-play game credits can be successful!
If you are looking for a new GeForce GTX card today and this bundle convinced you to buy, feel free to use the links below.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 8, 2013 - 10:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon
In a report first spotted by Rage3D from source website 4gamer.net, news is filtering out that AMD may in fact have no new discrete graphics card releases for the remainder of 2013! While talking with the APAC media about the fantastic Never Settle Reloaded game bundle, they showed THIS slide.
That seems to indicate that at the very least through the 3rd quarter of 2013, AMD has no plans to update or add to its discrete graphics card roadmap. We had heard whispers of this fact while at CES in January but this pretty much puts a cap on it. And with the wording of "throughout 2013" it could indicate we won't see new product until 2014.
Also shown, this product comparison between AMD and NVIDIA, put together by AMD, is a bit lopsided and less than 100% accurate in my eyes. With the release of the new 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark AMD has a distinct advantage and it seems the slide here is based completely on that....blech.
Regardless, what does it mean if AMD actually has no new discrete, enthusiast class cards for 2013? We know the rumors are swirling about the NVIDIA GeForce Titan based on the GK110 and sporting 2688 CUDA cores and it will likely take the place as the fastest single GPU card on the market. AMD has been depending on its partners to build multi-GPU options based on Southern Islands like the ASUS ARES II and Powercolor Devil 13 but they have been pretty low volume. Our original review of the HD 7970 launched in December 2011....this could be quite a drought.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 4, 2013 - 06:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: msi, 3dmark
Do you have a beastly system with MSI parts, intense overclocking knowledge, and a desire for even more high-end parts? In honor of the new 3DMark's release, the motherboard and graphics card manufacturer is letting users of their parts enter in a contest for the highest 3DMark scores.
In a partnership with the benchmarking leaderboard site, HWBot, MSI wants to see top scores for the Fire Strike test on the newly released 3DMark. The contest will run until March 3rd for entries looking to post top ranks. Beyond that, anyone with an MSI Z77 motherboard who enters before February 10th will be entered in a “Lucky Draw” for the MSI Z77A-GD55 Motherboard.
Winners of the leader contest will receive the MSI R7970 Lightning Boost Edition card for first place and an MSI Z77A-GD80 for second place. Note that we are not affiliated with this contest, we just think that our readers might like to know.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 2, 2013 - 02:30 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: tomb raider, never settle reloaded, never settle, Crysis 3, bundle, bioshock infinite, bioshock, amd
You might remember over the holiday season of 2012 that AMD had a simply amazing bundle of games to entice PC gamers to choose purchasing Radeon graphics cards instead of GeForce. That bundle included Medal of Honor, Sleeping Dogs, Hitman: Absolution and Far Cry 3. We were stoked to see that kind of comittment to the gamer and even did a set of three game streams with AMD on each games' release.
Well after a behind-the-scenes battle that was finally decided just about two weeks ago, AMD is ready to announce the "Never Settle Reloaded" bundle that might actually be MORE impressive based on the games included.
First up is the reboot of Tomb Raider, a fresh look at the Lara Croft character that I got to get hands on at an event in Toronto last year. Due out on March 5th, the visuals in this game are damn good.
Bioshock infinite is the third game in the acclaimed series and has a few DirectCompute additions to the game engine code. Release is set on March 26th.
DMC Devil May Cry is included for the APAC region (instead of Tomb Raider).
And the biggest name in the bundle is no doubt Crysis 3 - a game that many PC gamers have been looking forward to and one that promises to push gaming performance on high-end GPUs to their limits. I was playing this on a GTX 680 recently (the MP beta) and couldn't get more than 40 FPS at 1080p and Ultra settings.
So how doese the bundle break down?
If you buy a single Radeon HD 7970 or HD 7950 you'll be able to get keys for both Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite, completely free! HD 7800 series buyers will get both Bioshock Infinite and Tomb Raider.
Just to make things MORE interesting, if you invest in a set of HD 7900 cards for CrossFire, or even a dual-GPU HD 7900 card like the Devil 13, you'll get Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Hitman: Absolution and Sleeping Dogs. That is 6 full PC games worth at least $300 that you'll get keys for just for picking AMD's Radeon cards over NVIDIA's GeForce.
A not-so-subtle jab at the competition...
So there you have it, the Never Settle Reloaded bundle. This iteration doesn't include anything for HD 7700 series cards but I think most enthusiasts are going to stay in the HD 7850 and above range of options anyway.
NVIDIA has definitely fallen behind when it comes to these kinds of deals for PC gamers and I want to know what YOU think - do these bundles affect your purchasing decision? We heard from AMD that at least one major reseller of PC hardware saw an "order of magnitude" increase in sales during the holiday season with the original Never Settle bundle and they even won a Newegg award for best marketing campaign.
Get ready for game streams again as well - we'll be hosting a few of them in February and March with more hardware and game keys to give away!
UPDATE: These deals are live right now! You can find a list of the HD 7970 cards at Newegg.com, starting at just $379 and even the HD 7950 cards starting at $295 that come with Crysis 3 and Bioshock Infinite keys! If you are looking more in the HD 7800 series range, you can find HD 7870s starting at just $209 with Bioshock and Tomb Raider keys!
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 2, 2013 - 03:29 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: gpus, gaming, Futuremark, benchmarking, 3dmark
Futuremark, developers of the popular 3DMark and PCMark computer hardware benchmarks has announced an official release date for the next version of 3DMark. The company has teased gamers and reviewers with screenshots as well as hinted that the name would no longer have the release year tacked onto the end of the name, but now the benchmark is finally official.
The new 3DMark will come in several different flavors aimed at Windows PCs, iOS, Android, and Windows RT devices. It will continue the trend of offline benchmarking and scoring paired with a web interface where users can see detailed benchmark run analysis.
The new 3DMark benchmark will include feature tests, a DX10 benchmark called Cloud Gate, and a DX11 benchmark called Fire Strike. Once the benchmark has completed, users will be able to dig into the web interface to access charts and graphs that cover the benchmarking runs from beginning to end. The graphs will track CPU clockspeed and utilization as well as temperatures for both the processor and graphics card(s).
On the mobile side of things, 3DMark will use a graphics test called Ice Storm that is more suited to ARM SoCs with integrated graphics processors. No DX11 goodness here, obviously.
The PC version of 3DMark will be available for download on February 4, 2013 at 18:00 UTC. Unfortunately, there is no official release dates for the mobile versions. Futuremark has indicated that they will be released over the next few weeks as they are finalized.
You can find more information on the next 3DMark benchmark on the Futuremark website.