The custom GTX 1080's are starting to appear, here's the ASUS ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 4, 2016 - 03:27 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING, GTX 1080, factory overclocked

It is rather difficult to rate the cost to performance ratio of GTX 1080's as the prices and availability are in a constant state of flux but we can certainly peg the overall performance of the cards.  [H]ard|OCP recently strapped the new ASUS ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING GPU to their testbed to see how it performs.  Right out of the box the cards base clock is 1759MHz with a boost clock of 1898MHz and 10GHz GDDR5X, which [H] successfully raised to 1836MHz base, 1973MHz boost with in game frequencies reaching 2139 MHz and the GDDR5 running at 11.3GHz.  This had an effect on performance.

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"Today we review in full detail our first custom GeForce GTX 1080 video card. ASUS has decked the ROG GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING out with a factory overclock, the STRIX cooling system, and a fully customizable lighting system. Let's see this beast overclock and compare it to the previous gen's GTX 980 Ti and Radeon R9 Fury X."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Announces GeForce Experience 3.0 Beta

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 2, 2016 - 01:25 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, geforce experience

GeForce Experience will be getting an updated UI soon, and a beta release is available now. It has basically been fully redesigned, although the NVIDIA Control Panel is the same as it has been. That said, even though it is newer, GeForce Experience could benefit from a good overhaul, especially in terms of start-up delay. NVIDIA says it uses 2X less memory and loads 3X faster. It still has a slightly loading bar, but less than a second.

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Interestingly, I noticed that, even though I skipped over Sharing Settings on first launch, Instant Replay was set to On by default. This could have been carried over from my previous instance of GeForce Experience, although I'm pretty sure I left it off. Privacy-conscious folks might want to verify that ShadowPlay isn't running, just in case.

nvidia-2016-gfe3-02.png

One downside for some of our users is that you now require an NVIDIA account (or connect your Google Account to NVIDIA) to access it. Previously, you could use features, like ShadowPlay, while logged out, but that doesn't appear to be the case anymore. This will no-doubt upset some of our audience, but it's not entirely unexpected, given NVIDIA's previous statements about requiring an NVIDIA account for Beta drivers. The rest of GeForce Experience isn't too surprising considering that.

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We'll now end where we began: installation. For testing (and hopefully providing feedback) during the beta, NVIDIA will be giving away GTX 1080s on a weekly basis. To enter, you apparently just need to install the Beta and log in with your NVIDIA (or Google) account.

Source: NVIDIA

AMD RX 480 (and NVIDIA GTX 1080) Launch Demand

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 30, 2016 - 07:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, FinFET, Polaris, polaris 10, pascal

If you're trying to purchase a Pascal or Polaris-based GPU, then you are probably well aware that patience is a required virtue. The problem is that, as a hardware website, we don't really know whether the issue is high demand or low supply. Both are manufactured on a new process node, which could mean that yield is a problem. On the other hand, it's been about four years since the last fabrication node, which means that chips got much smaller for the same performance.

amd-2016-rx480-candid.jpg

Over time, manufacturing processes will mature, and yield will increase. But what about right now? AMD made a very small chip that produces ~GTX 970-level performance. NVIDIA is sticking with their typical, 3XXmm2 chip, which ended up producing higher than Titan X levels of performance.

It turns out that, according to online retailer, Overclockers UK, via Fudzilla, both the RX480 and GTX 1080 have sold over a thousand units at that location alone. That's quite a bit, especially when you consider that it only considers one (large) online retailer from Europe. It's difficult to say how much stock other stores (and regions) received compared to them, but it's still a thousand units in a day.

It's sounding like, for both vendors, pent-up demand might be the dominant factor.

Source: Fudzilla

Get your RX 480 reviews while they're hot!

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 05:26 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, radeon, Polaris, amd, 8gb

Having already read through Ryan's review of the RX 480 while listening to Raja on the live stream you might be curious what others thought of the card.  Perhaps there was one of your preferred configurations or games we did not cover or maybe you just love to read.  Do not worry as there are plenty of reviews to test out.  You could start over at [H]ard|OCP, who test power usage and performance with a different technique, before moving on to other hardware sites.

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"AMD's next generation GCN GPU is here! We review the AMD Radeon RX 480 and find out what kind of gaming experience it provides at 1080p and 1440p. We compare apples-to-apples with four other video cards to find out how it compares at both resolutions. We even find out how high it will overclock! Waited for benchmarks, right?"

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

PCPer Live! Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 12:03 PM |
Tagged: video, rx 480, raja koduri, radeon, Polaris, live, giveaway, amd

When it comes to GPU releases, we at PC Perspective take things up a level in the kind of content we produce as well as the amount of information we provide to the community. Part of that commitment is our drive to bring in the very best people from around the industry to talk directly to the consumers, providing interesting and honest views on where their technology is going. 

With the pending release of the Radeon RX 480 based on AMD's latest Polaris architecture on Wednesday, June 29th, I am excited to announce that Raja Koduri, SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group will be joining us in studio to talk about the RX 480 and AMD's plans moving forward.

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The AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card

There is much to discuss. AMD and the RTG have promised that the RX 480 will be a revolutionary product, improving on performance per watt and performance per dollar in a way that no other AMD architecture has done. And the drive to include dramatically more gamers in the rising world of VR gaming will be an impressive feat as well, if they can pull it off. Topics like architectural improvements, asynchronous compute, multi-GPU and more are on the docket. You definitely won't want to miss it.

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Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri and Ryan Shrout

10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - June 29th

PC Perspective Live! Page

Need a reminder? Join our live stream notification list!

The event will take place Wednesday, June 29th at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Raja to answer live. 

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Raja is one of the more open and honest people in this highly competitive landscape and every time we have had the ability to do an interview he has provided insightful, and sometimes very new, information. 

As a price for hosting AMD in the offices, we demanded a sacrifice: in the form of hardware to giveaway to our viewers! We'll have at least two Radeon RX 480s to giveaway during the live stream but I am pushing  to get a bump in that count; we'll see if I am persuasive enough. All you have to do to win on the 29th is watch the live stream!

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Some Radeon RX 480s will be up for grabs!!

If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Raja or me?

So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Wednesday at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live notification list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!

AMD Lists Radeon RX 490 Graphics Card, New APUs in Gaming Promo

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 29, 2016 - 07:27 AM |
Tagged: RX 490, radeon, processors, Polaris, graphics card, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd, A12-9800

AMD's current "We're in the Game" promotion offers a glimpse at upcoming product names, including the Radeon RX 490 graphics card, and the new Bristol Ridge APUs.

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Visit AMD's gaming promo page and click the link to "check eligibility" to see the following list of products, which includes the new product names:

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It seems safe to assume that the new products listed - including the Radeon RX 490 - are close to release, though details on the high-end Polaris GPU are not mentioned. We do have details on the upcoming Bristol Ridge products, with this in-depth preview from Josh published back in April. The A12-9800 and A12-9800E are said to be the flagship products in this new 7th-gen lineup, so there will be new desktop parts with improved graphics soon.

Report: Image of Reference Design NVIDIA GTX 1060 Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 28, 2016 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce GTX 1060, GTX1060, rumor, report, leak, pascal, graphics card, video card

A report from VideoCardz.com shows what appears to be an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with a cooler similar to the "Founders Edition" GTX 1080/1070 design.

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Is this the GTX 1060 reference design? (Image via VideoCardz.com)

The image comes via Reddit (original source links in the VideoCardz post), and we cannot verify the validity of the image - though it certainly looks convincing to this writer.

So what does VideoCardz offer as to the specifications of this GTX 1060 card? Quoting from the post:

"NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 will most likely use GP106 GPU with at least 1280 CUDA cores. Earlier rumors suggested that GTX 1060 might get 6 GB GDDR5 memory and 192-bit memory bus."

We await official word on the GTX 1060 from NVIDIA, which VideoCardz surmises "is expected to hit the market shortly after Radeon RX 480".

Source: VideoCardz

Frame Time Monday; this time with the GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 27, 2016 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx, GP104, geforce, founders edition

You have already seen our delve into the frame times provided by the GTX 1080 but perhaps you would like another opinion.  The Tech Report also uses the FCAT process which we depend upon to bring you frame time data, however they present the data in a slightly different way which might help you to comprehend the data.  They also included Crysis 3 to ensure that the card can indeed play it.  Check out their full review here.

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"Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 is the company's first consumer graphics card to feature its new Pascal architecture, fabricated on a next-generation 16-nm process. We dig deep into the GTX 1080 to see what the confluence of these advances means for the high-end graphics market."

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

Graphics Cards

Several more RX 480's appear

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2016 - 04:18 PM |
Tagged: xfx, sapphire, Radeon RX 480, powercolor, gigabyte, asus, amd

An astute reader spotted several more RX 480's on Newegg, lacking clock speeds but providing physical dimensions, albeit with what looks to be a stock image.  All three cards seem to be dual slot designs, XFX's card measuring 10" x 5", ASUS' at 11.8" x 5.4" and Sapphire's a wide bodied 11.8" x 6.5". This could indicate a custom cooler or merely that the cards have rough dimensions listed as opposed to the exact size.

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Unfortunately the comparison and details page is unavailable so we don't have a way to see the listed clock speeds but we can be sure that they will have three DP 1.2 ports and an HDMI out.  We will keep an eye out for any more leaks we can share with you.

 

Source: Newegg

EVGA Shows Off New High Bandwidth "Pro SLI Bridge HB" Bridges

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2016 - 02:40 AM |
Tagged: SLI HB, nvidia, EVGA SLI HB

Earlier this month we reported that EVGA would be producing its own version of Nvidia's SLI High Bandwidth bridges (aka SLI HB). Today, the company unveiled all the details on its new bridges that we did not know previously, particularly pricing and what the connectors look like.

EVGA is calling the new SLI HB bridges the EVGA Pro SLI HB Bridge and it will be available in several sizes to accommodate your particular card spacing. Note that the 0 slot, 1 slot, 2 slot, and 4 slot spacing bridges are all for two graphics card setups; you will not be able to use these bridges for Tri SLI or Quad SLI setups. While Nvidia did not show the underside of the HB bridges when it first announced them alongside the GTX 1080 graphics card, thanks to EVGA you can finally see what the connectors look like.

EVGA Pro SLI HB Bridge.jpg

As many surmised, the new high bandwidth bridges use both fingers of the SLI connectors on each card to connect the two cards together. Previously (using the old-style SLI bridges), it was possible to connect card A to card B using one set of connectors and Card B to Card C using the second set of connectors for example. Now, you are limited to two card multi-GPU setups. That is the downside; however, the upside is that the HB bridges promise to deliver all of the necessary bandwidth to allow for high speed 4K and NVIDIA Surround display setups. While you will not necessarily see higher frame rates, the HB bridges should allow for improved frame times which will mean smoother gameplay on those very high resolution monitors!

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The new SLI bridges are all black with an EVGA logo in the middle that is backlit by an LED. Users are able to use a switch along the bottom edge of the pcb to select from red, green, blue, and white LED colors. In my opinion these bridges look a lot better than the Nvidia SLI HB bridge renders from our computex story (hehe).

Now, as for pricing: EVGA is pricing its SLI HB bridges at $39.99 with the 2 slot spacing and 4 slot spacing bridges available now and the 0 slot and 1 slot spaced bridges set to be available soon (you can sign up to be notified when they are available for purchase). Hopefully reviews will be updated shortly around the net with the new bridges to see what impact they really have on multi-GPU gaming performance (or if they will just be better looking alternatives to the older LED bridges or ribbon bridges)!

Also read: 

Source: EVGA

Whoops! AMD Radeon RX 480 Specifications on Newegg

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 21, 2016 - 08:49 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, Radeon RX 480, polaris 10, Polaris, amd

The AMD Radeon RX 480 is set to launch on June 29th, but a VisionTek model was published a little early (now unpublished -- thanks to our long-time reader, Arbiter, for the heads up). Basically all specifications were already shared, and Ryan wrote about them on June 1st, but the final clock rates were unknown. The VisionTek one, on the other hand, has it listed as 1120 MHz (5.16 TFLOPs) with a boost of 1266 MHz (5.83 TFLOPs).

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Granted, it's possible that the VisionTek model could be overclocked, even though the box and product page doesn't mark it as a factory-overclocked SKU. Also, 5.16 TFLOPs and 5.83 TFLOPs align pretty close to AMD's “>5 TFLOPs” rating, so it's unlikely that the canonical specifications slide underneath this one. Also, TFLOP ratings are basically a theoretical maximum performance, so real-world benchmarks need to be considered for a true measure of performance. That said, this would put the stock RX 480 in the range of a GTX 980 (somewhere above its listed boost clock, and slightly below its expected TFLOP rating when overclocked).

There is no price listed for the 8GB model, but the 4GB version will be $199 USD.

Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal Comparison Benchmarks

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 21, 2016 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, fermi, kepler, maxwell, pascal, gf100, gf110, GK104, gk110, GM204, gm200, GP104

Techspot published an article that compared eight GPUs across six, high-end dies in NVIDIA's last four architectures: Fermi to Pascal. Average frame rates were listed across nine games, each measured at three resolutions:1366x768 (~720p HD), 1920x1080 (1080p FHD), and 2560x1600 (~1440p QHD).

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The results are interesting. Comparing GP104 to GF100, mainstream Pascal is typically on the order of four times faster than big Fermi. Over that time, we've had three full generational leaps in fabrication technology, leading to over twice the number of transistors packed into a die that is almost half the size. It does, however, show that prices have remained relatively constant, except that the GTX 1080 is sort-of priced in the x80 Ti category despite the die size placing it in the non-Ti class. (They list the 1080 at $600, but you can't really find anything outside the $650-700 USD range).

It would be interesting to see this data set compared against AMD. It's informative for an NVIDIA-only article, though.

Source: Techspot

Windows 10 versus Ubuntu 16.04 versus NVIDIA versus AMD

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 04:11 PM |
Tagged: windows 10, ubuntu, R9 Fury, nvidia, linux, GTX1070, amd

Phoronix wanted to test out how the new GTX 1070 and the R9 Fury compare on Ubuntu with new drivers and patches, as well as contrasting how they perform on Windows 10.  There are two separate articles as the focus is not old silicon versus new but the performance comparison between the two operating systems.  AMD was tested with the Crimson Edition 16.6.1 driver, AMDGPU-PRO Beta 2 (16.20.3) driver as well as Mesa 12.1-dev.  There were interesting differences between the tested games as some would only support one of the two Linux drivers.  The performance also varies based on the game engine, with some coming out in ties, others seeing Windows 10 pull ahead and even some cases where your performance on Linux was significantly better.

NVIDIA's GTX 1080 and 1070 were tested using the 368.39 driver release for Windows and the 367.27 driver for Ubuntu.  Again we see mixed results, depending on the game Linux performance might actually beat out Windows, especially if OpenGL is an option. 

Check out both reviews to see what performance you can expect from your GPU when gaming under Linux.

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"Yesterday I published some Windows 10 vs. Ubuntu 16.04 Linux gaming benchmarks using the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 graphics cards. Those numbers were interesting with the NVIDIA proprietary driver but for benchmarking this weekend are Windows 10 results with Radeon Software compared to Ubuntu 16.04 running the new AMDGPU-PRO hybrid driver as well as the latest Git code for a pure open-source driver stack."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA Announces PCIe Versions of Tesla P100

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: tesla, pascal, nvidia, GP100

GP100, the “Big Pascal” chip that was announced at GTC, will be coming to PCIe for enterprise and supercomputer customers in Q4 2016. Previously, it was only announced using NVIDIA's proprietary connection. In fact, they also gave themselves some lead time with their first-party DGX-1 system, which retails for $129,000 USD, although we expect that was more for yield reasons. Josh calculated that each GPU in that system is worth more than the full wafer that its die was manufactured on.

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This brings us to the PCIe versions. Interestingly, they have been down-binned from the NVLink version. The boost clock has been dropped to 1300 MHz, from 1480 MHz, although that is matched with a slightly lower TDP (250W versus the NVLink's 300W). This lowers the FP16 performance to 18.7 TFLOPs, down from 21.2, FP32 performance to 9.3 TFLOPs, down from 10.6, and FP64 performance to 4.7 TFLOPs, down from 5.3. This is where we get to the question: did NVIDIA reduce the clocks to hit a 250W TDP and be compatible with the passive cooling technology that previous Tesla cards utilize, or were the clocks dropped to increase yield?

They are also providing a 12GB version of the PCIe Tesla P100. I didn't realize that GPU vendors could selectively disable HBM2 stacks, but NVIDIA disabled 4GB of memory, which also dropped the bus width to 3072-bit. You would think that the simplicity of the circuit would want to divide work in a power-of-two fashion, but, knowing that they can, it makes me wonder why they did. Again, my first reaction is to question GP100 yield, but you wouldn't think that HBM, being such a small part of the die, is something that they can reclaim a lot of chips by disabling a chunk, right? That is, unless the HBM2 stacks themselves have yield issues -- which would be interesting.

There is also still no word on a 32GB version. Samsung claimed the memory technology, 8GB stacks of HBM2, would be ready for products in Q4 2016 or early 2017. We'll need to wait and see where, when, and why it will appear.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Releases 368.51 Hotfix Driver

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 18, 2016 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

GeForce Hotfix 368.51 drivers have been released by NVIDIA through their support website. This version only officially addresses flickering at high refresh rates, although its number has been incremented quite a bit since the last official release (368.39) so it's possible that it rolls in other changes, too. That said, I haven't heard too many specific issues with 368.39, so I'm not quite sure what that would be.

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As always with a hotfix driver, NVIDIA pushed it out with minimal testing. It should pretty much only be installed if you have a specific issue (particularly the listed one(s)) and you don't want to wait until one is released that both NVIDIA and Microsoft looked over (although Microsoft's WHQL certification has been pretty lax since Windows 10).

Oddly enough, they only seem to list 64-bit links for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. I'm not sure whether this issue doesn't affect Windows 7 and 32-bit versions of 8.1 and 10, or if they just didn't want to push the hotfix out to them for some reason.

Source: NVIDIA

How far can a GTX 1070 Founders Edition go?

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 14, 2016 - 01:46 PM |
Tagged: GTX1070, nvidia, overclocking

Overclocking the new Pascal GPUs can be accomplished with the EVGA Precision X tool as it allows you to bump up the power, temperature target and fan speed as well as the frequencies for the GPU and memory easily and effectively.  [H]ard|OCP set out to push the 1070 as far as it would go with this software in a recent review.  The power target can only be increased to 112%, which they implemented along with setting the fan to 100% as this is about the maximum performance, not about peace and quiet.  After quite a bit of testing they settled on 2062MHz GPU and 4252MHz RAM clocks as the highest stable frequency this particular card could manage.  The results show a card which leaves the TITAN X in the dirt and this card does not even have a custom cooler; we anxiously await the non-Founders Edition releases to see what they can accomplish.

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"In our overclocking review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition we will see how far we can overclock the GPU and memory and then compare performance with GeForce GTX TITAN X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti. How high will she go? Can the $449 GTX 1070 outperform a $1000 GTX TITAN X? The answer is exciting."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD "Sneak Peek" at RX Series (RX 480, RX 470, RX 460)

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 13, 2016 - 03:51 PM |
Tagged: amd, Polaris, Zen, Summit Ridge, rx 480, rx 470, rx 460

AMD has just unveiled their entire RX line of graphics cards at E3 2016's PC Gaming Show. It was a fairly short segment, but it had a few interesting points in it. At the end, they also gave another teaser of Summit Ridge, which uses the Zen architecture.

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First, Polaris. As we know, the RX 480 was going to bring >5 TFLOPs at a $199 price point. They elaborated that this will apply to the 4GB version, which likely means that another version with more VRAM will be available, and that implies 8GB. Beyond the RX 480, AMD has also announced the RX 470 and RX 460. Little is known about the 470, but they mentioned that the 460 will have a <75W TDP. This is interesting because the PCIe bus provides 75W of power. This implies that it will not require any external power, and thus could be a cheap and powerful (in terms of esports titles) addition to an existing desktop. This is an interesting way to use the power savings of the die shrink to 14nm!

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They also showed off a backpack VR rig. They didn't really elaborate, but it's here.

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As for Zen? AMD showed the new architecture running DOOM, and added the circle-with-Zen branding to a 3D model of a CPU. Zen will be coming first to the enthusiast category with (up to?) eight cores, two threads per core (16 threads total).

amd-2016-e3-zenlogo.png

The AMD Radeon RX 480 will launch on June 29th for $199 USD (4GB). None of the other products have a specific release date.

Source: AMD

GIGABYTE ANNOUNCES GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 09:45 PM |
Tagged:

That wasn't even capslock. That was pure shift key.

A little after Computex, GIGABYTE announced their GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING graphics card, which should be their flagship of the GeForce GTX 1080 line. It is a three-fan design, although the center fan overlaps with the two edge ones. It will also accept two, eight-pin PCIe power connectors, which gives a theoretical maximum draw of 375W.

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Also, taking a cue from EVGA's recent VR-Edition 980 Ti, GIGABYTE includes a I/O front panel for cases with an extra 5.25” bay. This contains two HDMI ports and two USB 3.0 ports to allow users to quickly connect VR headsets to and from their PC. When connected, it disables two DisplayPort outputs on the card, routing them to the front-panel's HDMI instead. I'm not exactly clear on why you would need two HDMI connections in the front, but okay.

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They are also releasing their own SLI HB connector, which they claim will support speeds up to 1080 MHz. The SLI HB standard, from NVIDIA, clocks up to 650 MHz. We assume that this is a typo on GIGABYTE's part (having 1080 on the brain for some reason...) but we've contacted NVIDIA to see what's up.

Currently no pricing or availability information. It comes with a three year warranty that can be upgraded to a four-year warranty by registering your product and signing up to their “XTREME GAMING Club”.

Source: GIGABYTE

GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 3-Way and 4-Way SLI will not be enabled for games

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: sli, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, geforce, 4-way sli, 3-way sli

IMPORTANT UPDATE: After writing this story, but before publication, we went to NVIDIA for comment. As we were getting ready to publish, the company updated me with a shift in its stance on multi-GPU configurations. NVIDIA will no longer require an "enthusiast key" to enable SLI on more than two GPUs. However, NVIDIA will also only be enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for a select few applications. More details are at the bottom of the story!

You'll likely recall that during our initial review of the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card, we mentioned that NVIDIA was going to be moving people towards the idea that "only 2-Way SLI will be supported" and promoted. There would still be a path for users that wanted 3 and 4 GPU configurations anyway, and it would be called the Enthusiast Key.

As it turns out, after returning from an AMD event focused on its upcoming Polaris GPUs, I happen to have amassed a total of four GeForce GTX 1080 cards.

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Courtesy of some friends at EVGA and two readers that were awesome enough to let me open up their brand new hardware for a day or so, I was able to go through the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configuration process. Once all four were installed, and I must point out how great it is that each card only required a single 8-pin power connector, I installed the latest NVIDIA driver I had on hand, 368.19.

driver2.jpg

Knowing about the need for the Enthusiast Key, and also knowing that I did not yet have one and that the website that was supposed to be live to enable me to get one is still not live, I thought I might have stumbled upon some magic. The driver appeared to let me enable SLI anyway. 

driver1.jpg

Enthusiasts will note however that the green marker under the four GPUs with the "SLI" text is clearly only pointing at two of the GTX 1080s, leaving the remaining two...unused. Crap.

At this point, if you have purchased more than two GeForce GTX 1080 cards are simply out of luck and are waiting on NVIDIA to make good on it's promise to allow for 3-Way and 4-Way configurations via the Enthusiast Key. Or some other way. It's way too late now to simply say "we aren't supporting it at all." 

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While I wait...what is there for a gamer with four GeForce GTX 1080 cards to do? Well, you could run Ashes of the Singularity. It's multi-GPU mode uses MDA mode, which means the game engine itself accesses each GPU on its own, without the need for the driver to handle anything regarding GPU load balancing. Unfortunately, Ashes only supports two GPUs today.

Well...you could run an OpenCL based benchmark like LuxMark that access all the GPUs independently as well.

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I did so, and the result is an impressive score of 17,127!!

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How does that compare to some other products?

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The four GTX 1080 cards produce a score that is 2.57x the result provided by the AMD Radeon Pro Duo and 2.29x the score of SLI GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards. Nice!

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So there you go! We are just as eager to get our hands on the ability to test 3-Way and 4-Way SLI with new Pascal GPUs as some of the most extreme and dedicated enthusiasts out there are. With any luck, NVIDIA will finally figure out a way to allow it - no matter how it finally takes place.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Before going to press with this story I asked NVIDIA for comment directly: when was the community finally going to get the Enthusiast Key website to unlock 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for those people crazy enough to have purchased that many GTX 1080s? The answer was quite surprising: NVIDIA is backing away from the idea of an "Enthusiast Key" and will no longer require it for enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI. 

Here is the official NVIDIA statement given to PC Perspective on the subject:

With the GeForce 10-series we’re investing heavily in 2-way SLI with our new High Bandwidth bridge (which doubles the SLI bandwidth for faster, smoother gaming at ultra-high resolutions and refresh rates) and NVIDIA Game Ready Driver SLI profiles.  To ensure the best possible gaming experience on our GeForce 10-series GPUs, we’re focusing our efforts on 2-way SLI only and will continue to include 2-way SLI profiles in our Game Ready Drivers.
 
DX12 and NVIDIA VR Works SLI technology also allows developers to directly implement and control multi-GPU support within their games.  If a developer chooses to use these technologies then their game will not need SLI profiles.  Some developers may also decide to support more than 2 GPUs in their games. We continue to work with all developers creating games and VR applications that take advantage of 2 or more GPUs to make sure they’ll work great on GeForce 10-series GPUs.
 
For our overclocking community, our Game Ready Drivers will also include SLI profiles for 3- and 4-way configurations for specific OC applications only, including Fire Strike, Unigine and Catzilla.

NVIDIA clearly wants to reiterate that only 2-Way SLI will get the attention that we have come to expect from the GeForce driver dev team. As DX12 and Vulkan next-generation APIs become more prolific, the game developers will still have the ability to directly access more than two GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs, though I expect that be a very narrow window of games simply due to development costs and time.

NVIDIA will enable support for three and four card configurations in future drivers (without a key) for specific overclocking/benchmarking tools only, as a way to make sure the GeForce brand doesn't fall off the 3DMark charts. Only those specific applications will be able operate in the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configurations that you have come to know. There are no profiles to change manually and even the rare games that might have "just worked" with three or four GPUs will not take advantage of more than two GTX 10-series cards. It's fair to say at this point that except for the benchmarking crowd, NVIDIA 3-Way and 4-Way SLI is over.

We expect the "benchmark only" mode of 3-Way and 4-Way SLI to be ready for consumers with the next "Game Ready" driver release. If you happened to get your hands on more than two GTX 1080s but aren't into benchmarking, then find those receipts and send a couple back.

So there you have it. Honestly, this is what I was expecting from NVIDIA with the initial launch of Pascal and the GeForce GTX 1080/1070 and I was surprised when I first heard about the idea of the "enthusiast key." It took a bit longer than expected, and NVIDIA will get more flak for the iterated dismissal of this very niche, but still pretty cool, technology. In the end, this won't have much impact on the company's bottom line as the quantity of users that were buying 3+ GTX GPUs for a single system was understandably small.

NVIDIA Announces an E3 #GameReady Giveaway

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, giveaway, e3 2016, E3

Update, June 8th @ 8:15pm: Just to clarify, this giveaway is not affiliated with PC Perspective. We just found it on Twitter and thought that our readers might like to have a chance at free hardware.

Fairly simple bit of news for this one. NVIDIA has announced that they will be giving away $100,000 of prizes to people who message @NVIDIA and use the #GameReady hashtag, on either Twitter or Instagram, during one of five E3 keynotes.

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Sunday (June 12th, 2016):

  • EA at 1PM PDT / 4PM EDT / 8PM GMT
  • Bethesda at 7PM PDT / 10PM EDT / 2AM GMT (Monday)

Monday (June 13th, 2016):

  • Microsoft at 9:30AM PDT / 12:30PM EDT / 4:30PM GMT
  • PC Gaming Show at 12PM PDT / 3PM EDT / 7PM GMT
  • Ubisoft at 1PM PDT / 4PM EDT / 8PM GMT

Interestingly, Sony was not listed on their rundown. Sure, they rarely have anything relevant to PC gamers, but it's still an amusing omission none-the-less.

According to their Terms and Conditions, the sweepstakes is open to a large portion of the world. They will be giving away fifty GTX 1080s, “up to” thirty $500 Steam Gift Cards, and “an ultimate PC battlestation”??? I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds like Mark Hamill will be trying to destroy it a few times.

E3 starts this weekend! Stay tuned for coverage. (You can also sleep, eat, and do laundry, though.)

Source: NVIDIA