Samsung Mass Produces HBM2 Memory

Subject: Graphics Cards, Memory | January 20, 2016 - 04:01 AM |
Tagged: Samsung, HBM2, hbm

Samsung has just announced that they have begun mass production of 4GB HBM2 memory modules. When used on GPUs, four packages can provide 16GB of Video RAM with very high performance. They do this with a very wide data bus, which trade off frequency for transferring huge chunks. Samsung's offering is rated at 256 GB/s per package, which is twice what the Fury X could do with HBM1.

samsung-2016-4GB-HBM2-DRAM-structure_main.jpg

They also expect to mass produce 8GB HBM2 packages within this calendar year. I'm guessing that this means we'll see 32GB GPUs in the late-2016 or early-2017 time frame unless "within this year" means very, very soon (versus Q3/Q4). They will likely be for workstation or professional cards, but, in NVIDIA's case, those are usually based on architectures that are marketed to high-end gaming enthusiasts through some Titan offering. There's a lot of ways this could go, but a 32GB Titan seems like a bit much; I wouldn't expect that this affects the enthusiast gamer segment. It might mean that professionals looking to upgrade from the Kepler-based Tesla K-series might be waiting a little longer, maybe even GTC 2017. Alternatively, they might get new cards, just with a 16GB maximum until a refresh next year. There's not enough information to know one way or the other, but it's something to think about when more of it starts rolling in.

Samsung's HBM2 are compatible with ECC, although I believe that was also true for at least some HBM1 modules from SK Hynix.

Source: Samsung

Report: NVIDIA Preparing GeForce GTX 980MX and 970MX Mobile GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 19, 2016 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, nvidia, GTX 980MX, GTX 980M, GTX 970MX, GTX 970M, geforce

NVIDIA is reportedly preparing faster mobile GPUs based on Maxwell, with a GTX 980MX and 970MX on the way.

img-01.jpg

The new GTX 980MX would sit between the GTX 980M and the laptop version of the full GTX 980, with 1664 CUDA cores (compared to 1536 with the 980M), 104 Texture Units (up from the 980M's 96), a 1048 MHz core clock, and up to 8 GB of GDDR5. Memory speed and bandwidth will reportedly be identical to the GTX 980M at 5000 MHz and 160 GB/s respectively, with both GPUs using a 256-bit memory bus.

The GTX 970MX represents a similar upgrade over the existing GTX 970M, with CUDA Core count increased from 1280 to 1408, Texture Units up from 80 to 88, and 8 additional raster devices available (56 vs. 48). Both the 970M and 970MX use 192-bit GDDR5 clocked at 5000 MHz, and available with the same 3 GB or 6 GB of frame buffer.

WCCFtech prepared a chart to demonstrate the differences between NVIDIA's mobile offerings:

Model GeForce GTX 980 Laptop Version GeForce GTX 980MX

GeForce GTX 980M

GeForce GTX 970MX GeForce GTX 970M GeForce GTX 965M

GeForce GTX 960M

Architecture

Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell Maxwell
GPU GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM204 GM107
CUDA Cores 2048 1664 1536 1408 1280 1024 640
Texture Units 128 104 96 88 80 64 40
Raster Devices 64 64 64 56 48 32 16
Clock Speed 1218 MHz 1048 MHz 1038 MHz 941 MHz 924 MHz 950 MHz 1097 MHz
Memory Bus 256-bit 256-bit 256-bit 192-bit 192-bit 128-bit 128-bit
Frame Buffer 8 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 8/4 GB GDDR5 6/3 GB GDDR5 6/3 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5 4 GB GDDR5
Memory Frequency 7008 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz 5000 MHz
Memory Bandwidth 224 GB/s 160 GB/s 160 GB/s 120 GB/s 120 GB/s 80 GB/s 80 GB/s
TDP ~150W 125W 125W 100W 100W 90W 75W

These new GPUs will reportedly be based on the same Maxwell GM204 core, and TDPs are apparently unchanged at 125W for the GTX 980MX, and 100W for the 970MX.

We will await any official announcement.

Source: WCCFtech

AMD High-End Polaris Expected for 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 19, 2016 - 02:44 AM |
Tagged: Polaris, amd

When AMD announced their Polaris architecture at CES, it was focused on mid-range applications. Their example was an add-in board that could compete against an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, 1080p60 medium settings in Battlefront, but do so at 39% less wattage than this 28nm, Maxwell chip. These Polaris chips are planned for a “mid 2016” launch.

amd-2016-polaris-blocks.jpg

Raja Koduri, Chief Architect for the Radeon Technologies Group, spoke with VentureBeat at the show. In his conversation, he mentioned two architectures, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11, in the context of a question about their 2016 product generation. In the “high level” space, they are seeing “the most revolutionary jump in performance so far.” This doesn't explicitly state that the high-end Polaris video card will launch in 2016. That said, when combined with the November announcement, covered by us as “AMD Plans Two GPUs in 2016,” it further supports this interpretation.

We still don't know much about what the actual performance of this high-end GPU will be, though. AMD was able to push 8 TeraFLOPs of compute throughput by creating a giant 28nm die and converting the memory subsystem to HBM, which supposedly requires less die complexity than a GDDR5 memory controller (according to a conference call last year that preceded Fury X). The two-generation jump will give them more complexity to work with, but that could be partially offset by a smaller die because of the potential differences in yields (and so forth).

Also, while the performance of the 8 TeraFLOP Fury X was roughly equivalent to NVIDIA's 5.6 TeraFLOP GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we still don't know why. AMD has redesigned a lot of their IP blocks with Polaris; you would expect that, if something unexpected was bottlenecking Fury X, the graphics manufacturer wouldn't overlook it the next chance that they are able to tweak it. This could have been graphics processing or something much more mundane. Either way, upcoming benchmarks will be interesting.

And it seems like that may be this year.

Source: VentureBeat

Catalyst Crimson Edition 16.1 Hotfix Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 14, 2016 - 12:42 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

AMD's recent “Hotfix” drivers don't seem to mean what NVIDIA's does. In the Green Team's case, they usually fix one or two issues that slipped past QA. While they likely won't break anything, they are probably a bad idea to install if you're not experiencing the listed problems. The changelog on AMD's drivers are significantly longer with a list of known issues that is roughly the same size.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

So should you install it? That depends. It's a little less cut-and-dry than NVIDIA's hotfixes, which are only useful for a handful of people. It sounds like the worst known issue is “Game stuttering may be experienced when running two Radeon R9 295X2 graphics cards in CrossFire mode” and “Display corruption may occur on multiple display systems when it has been running idle for some time.” The latter would affect me greatly, because I run four displays and basically never sleep or shutdown (except for updates). On the other hand, it fixes a variety of crash, hang, and flicker issues.

Check it out. If it sounds good, then pick it up. Otherwise, wait for the next Beta or WHQL driver.

Source: AMD

GeForce Hotfix Driver 361.60 Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 13, 2016 - 01:11 AM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, graphics driver, nvidia

NVIDIA has been pushing for WHQL certification for their drivers, but sometimes issues slip through QA, both at Microsoft and their own, internal team(s). Sometimes these issues will be fixed in a future release, but sometimes they push out a “HotFix” driver immediately. This is often great for people who experience the problems, but they should not be installed otherwise.

nvidia-2015-bandaid.png

In this case, GeForce Hotfix driver 361.60 fixes two issues. One is listed as “install & clocking related issues,” which refers to the GPU memory clock. According to Manuel Guzman of NVIDIA, some games and software was not causing the driver to fully wake the memory clock to a high-performance state. The other issue is “Crashes in Photoshop & Illustrator,” which fixes blue screen issues in both software, and possibly other programs that use the GPU in similar ways. I've never seen GeForce Driver 361.43 cause a BSOD in Photoshop, but I am a few versions behind with CS5.5.

Download links are available at NVIDIA Support, but unaffected users should just wait for an official driver in case the patch causes other issues, due to its minimal QA.

Source: NVIDIA

Report: NVIDIA Pascal GP104 Discovered, May Not Use HBM

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 11, 2016 - 11:05 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, pascal, nvidia, HBM2, hbm, GP104

A delivery of GPUs and related test equipment from Taiwan to Banglore has led to speculation about NVIDIA's upcoming GP104 Pascal GPU.

GP104_delivery.png

Image via Zauba.com

How much information can be gleaned from an import shipping manifest (linked here)? The data indicates a chip with a 37.5 x 37.5 mm package and 2152 pins, which is being attributed to the GP104 based on knowledge of “earlier, similar deliveries” (or possible inside information). This has prompted members of the 3dcenter.org forums (German language) to speculate on the use of GDDR5 or GDDR5X memory based on the likelihood of HBM being implemented on a die of this size. 

Of course, NVIDIA has stated that Pascal will implement 3D memory, and the upcoming GP100 will reportedly be on a 55 x 55 mm package using HBM2. Could this be a new, lower-cost part using the existing GDDR5 standard or the faster GDDR5X instead? VideoCardz and WCCFtech have posted stories based on the 3DCenter report, and to quote directly from the VideoCardz post on the subject:

"3DCenter has a theory that GP104 could actually not use HBM, but GDDR5(X) instead. This would rather be a very strange decision, but could NVIDIA possibly make smaller GPU (than GM204) and still accommodate 4 HBM modules? This theory is not taken from the thin air. The GP100 aka the Big Pascal, would supposedly come in 55x55mm BGA package. That’s 10mm more than GM200, which were probably required for additional HBM modules. Of course those numbers are for the whole package (with interposer), not just the GPU."

All of this is a lot to take from a shipping record that might not even be related to an NVIDIA product, but the report has made the rounds at this point so now we’ll just have to wait for new information.

Source: 3DCenter.org

AMD Announces Radeon R9 Nano Price Cut

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 11, 2016 - 01:32 PM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, R9 Fury X, price cut, press release, amd

AMD has announced a price cut for the Radeon R9 Nano, which will now have a suggested price of $499, a $150 drop from the original $649 MSRP.

R9_Nano_PCPer.jpg

VideoCardz had the story this morning, quoting the official press release from AMD:

"This past September, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card launched to rave reviews, claiming the title of the world’s fastest and most power efficient Mini ITX gaming card, powered by the world’s most advanced and innovative GPU with on-chip High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for incredible 4K gaming performance. There was nothing like it ever seen before, and today, it remains in a class of its own, delivering smooth, true-to-life, premium 4K and VR gaming in a small form factor PC.

At a peak power of 175W and in a 6-inch form factor, it drives levels of performance that are on par with larger, more power-hungry GPUs from competitors, and blows away Mini ITX competitors with up to 30 percent better performance than the GTX 970 Mini ITX.

As of today, 11 January, this small card will have an even bigger impact on gamers around the world as AMD announces a change in the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card’s SEP from $649 to $499. At the new price, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card will be more accessible than ever before, delivering incredible performance and leading technologies, with unbelievable efficiency in an astoundingly small form factor that puts it in a class all of its own."

The R9 Nano (reviewed here) had been the most interesting GPU released in 2015 to the team at PC Perspective. It was a compelling product for its tiny size, great performance, and high power efficiency, but the dialogue here probably mirrored that of a lot of potential buyers; for the price of a Fury X, did it make sense to buy the Nano? It was all going to depend on need, but very few enclosures on the market do not support a full-length GPU, as we discovered when testing out small R9 Nano builds.

Now that the price will move down $150 it becomes an easier choice: $499 will buy you a full R9 Fury X core for $150 less. The performance of a Fury X is only a few percentage points higher than the slighly lower-clocked Nano, so you're now getting most of the way there for much less. We have seen some R9 Fury X cards selling for $599, but even at $100 more would you buy the Fury X over a Nano? If nothing else the lower price makes the conversation a lot more interesting.

Source: VideoCardz

Far Cry Primal System Requirements Slightly Lower than 4?

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 9, 2016 - 12:00 PM |
Tagged: ubisoft, quad-core, pc gaming, far cry primal, dual-core

If you remember back when Far Cry 4 launched, it required a quad-core processor. It would block your attempts to launch the game unless it detected four CPU threads, either native quad-core or dual-core with two SMT threads per core. This has naturally been hacked around by the PC gaming community, but it is not supported by Ubisoft. It's also, apparently, a bad experience.

ubisoft-2015-farcryprimal.jpg

The follow-up, Far Cry Primal, will be released in late February. Oddly enough, it has similar, but maybe slightly lower, system requirements. I'll list them, and highlight the differences.

Minimum:

  • 64-bit Windows 7, 8.1, or 10 (basically unchanged from 4)
  • Intel Core i3-550 (down from i5-750)
    • or AMD Phenom II X4 955 (unchanged from 4)
  • 4GB RAM (unchanged from 4)
  • 1GB NVIDIA GTX 460 (unchanged from 4)
    • or 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5770 (down from HD 5850)
  • 20GB HDD Space (down from 30GB)

Recommended:

  • Intel Core i7-2600K (up from i5-2400S)
    • or AMD FX-8350 (unchanged from 4)
  • 8GB of RAM (unchanged from 4)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 (up from GTX 680)
    • or AMD Radeon R9 280X (down from R9 290X)

While the CPU is interesting, the opposing directions of the recommended GPU is fascinating. Either the parts are within Ubisoft's QA margin of error, or they increased the GPU load, but were able to optimize AMD better than Far Cry 4, which was a net gain in performance (and explains the slight bump in CPU power required to feed the extra content). Of course, either way is just a guess.

Back on the CPU topic though, I would be interested to see the performance of Pentium Anniversary Edition parts. I wonder whether they removed the two-thread lock, and, especially if hacks are still required, whether it is playable anyway.

That is, in a month and a half.

Source: Ubisoft

CES 2016: AMD Shows Polaris Architecture and HDMI FreeSync Displays

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2016 - 07:56 PM |
Tagged: video, Polaris, hdmi, freesync, CES 2016, CES, amd

At its suite at CES this year, AMD was showing off a couple of new technologies. First, we got to see the upcoming Polaris GPU architecture in action running Star Wars Battlefront with some power meters hooked up. This is a similar demo to what I saw in Sonoma back in December, and it compares an upcoming Polaris GPU against the NVIDIA GTX 950. The result: total system power of just 86 watts on the AMD GPU and over 150 watts on the NVIDIA GPU.

Another new development from AMD on the FreeSync side of things was HDMI integration. The company took time at CES to showcase a pair of new HDMI-enabled monitors working with FreeSync variable refresh rate technology. 

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: AMD

Intel Pushes Device IDs of Kaby Lake GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | January 8, 2016 - 07:38 AM |
Tagged: Intel, kaby lake, linux, mesa

Quick post about something that came to light over at Phoronix. Someone noticed that Intel published a handful of PCI device IDs for graphics processors to Mesa and libdrm. It will take a few months for graphics drivers to catch up, although this suggests that Kaby Lake will be releasing relatively soon.

intel-2015-linux-driver-mesa.png

It also gives us hints about what Kaby Lake will be. Of the published batch, there will be six tiers of performance: GT1 has five IDs, GT1.5 has three IDs, GT2 has six IDs, GT2F has one ID, GT3 has three IDs, and GT4 has four IDs. Adding them up, we see that Intel plans 22 GPU devices. The Phoronix post lists what those device IDs are, but that is probably not interesting for our readers. Whether some of those devices overlap in performance or numbering is unclear, but it would make sense given how few SKUs Intel usually provides. I have zero experience in GPU driver development.

Source: Phoronix

AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.1 Hotfix arrives

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 7, 2016 - 11:55 PM |
Tagged: crimson, amd

That's right ladies and germs, not even a full week into 2016 and AMD has a new driver for you, or at least a hotfix version of Crimson 16.1.  If you are playing Elite:Dangerous, Fallout 4 or Just Cause 3 there are a number of fixes to known issues from the original 12.1 which will make it worth picking up as soon as you can.  So far in testing, game profiles do seem to last through an update so if you did take advantage of the game specific overclocking settings you should not lose all your hard work.

amd-radeon-crimson-graphics-driver-15-12-is-up-for-grabs-get-it-now-497817-2.jpg

They have also included fixes specific to VSR, odd HDMI setups and flickering in Freesync displays.  As always there are a few bugs still to be ironed out, which is why you should fill in the bug reporting tool at the bottom of the driver page instead of just throwing things at random passersby ... as fun and entertaining as that may be.

Source: AMD

At just over $200, can the XFX R9 380X Double Dissipation XXX OC 4GB unseat a GTX 960?

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 7, 2016 - 07:36 PM |
Tagged: XFX R9 380X Double Dissipation XXX OC 4GB, xfx, amd, 380x

Take a quick break from reading about the soon to be released technology at CES for a look at a GPU you can buy right now.  The XFX DD XXX series has been around for a few generations and the XFX R9 380X Double Dissipation XXX OC 4GB sports the same custom DD cooler you would expect.  The factory overclock is quite modest, 20MHz on the GPU taking it to 990MHz and retaining the default 5.7GHz memory clock.  Of course [H]ard|OCP were not going to leave that as is, they hit a 1040MHz core and 6.1GHz memory clock thanks to the custom cooling on the card, although with no way to adjust voltage they felt this card could be capable of more if that feature was added to the card.  Read on to see how this card compares against the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DCU II OC in this ~$220 GPU showdown.

1451965220DbOIiYuZnI_1_1.jpg

"On our test bench today is the XFX R9 380X Double Dissipation XXX OC 4GB video card. It features the latest Ghost Thermal 3.0 cooling technology from XFX and a factory overclock. We will compare it to the ASUS STRIX GTX 960 DCU II OC 4GB in a battle of the $229 price point video cards to determine the better overall value."

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

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

CES 2016: Rise of the Tomb Raider NVIDIA Bundle

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 7, 2016 - 07:03 PM |
Tagged: square enix, nvidia, CES 2016, CES

NVIDIA has just announced a new game bundle. If you purchase an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, GTX 980 desktop or mobile, GTX 980 Ti, GTX 980M, or GTX 970M, then you will receive a free copy of Rise of the Tomb Raider. As always, make sure the retailer is selling the participating card. If the product has a download code, it will be specially marked. NVIDIA will not upgrade non-participating stock to the bundle.

nvidia-2016-tombraider-glp-header.jpg

Rise of the Tomb Raider will go live on January 29th. It was originally released in November as an Xbox One timed exclusive. It will also arrive on the PlayStation 4, but not until “holiday,” which is probably around Q4 (or maybe late Q3).

If you purchase the bundle, then you graphics card will obviously be powerful enough to run the game. At a minimum, you will require a GeForce GTX 650 (2GB) or an AMD HD 7770 (2GB). The CPU needs are light too, requiring just a Sandy Bridge Core i3 (Intel Core i3-2100) or AMD's equivalent. Probably the only concern would be the minimum of 6GB system RAM, which also requires a 64-bit operating system. Now that the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 have been deprecated, 32-bit gaming will be increasingly rare for “AAA” titles. That said, we've been ramping up to 64-bit for the last decade. one of the first games that supported x86-64 was Unreal Tournament 2004.

The Rise of the Tomb Raider NVIDIA bundle starts today.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: NVIDIA talks SHIELD Updates and VR-Ready Systems

Subject: Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | January 6, 2016 - 02:39 AM |
Tagged: vr ready, VR, virtual reality, video, Oculus, nvidia, htc, geforce, CES 2016, CES

Other than the in-depth discussion from NVIDIA on the Drive PX 2 and its push into autonomous driving, NVIDIA didn't have much other news to report. We stopped by the suite and got a few updates on SHIELD and the company's VR Ready program to certify systems that meet minimum recommended specifications for a solid VR experience.

For the SHIELD,  NVIDIA is bringing Android 6.0 Marshmallow to the device, with new features like shared storage and the ability to customize the home screen of the Android TV interface. Nothing earth shattering and all of it is part of the 6.0 rollout. 

The VR Ready program from NVIDIA will validate notebooks, systems and graphics cards that have the amount of horsepower to meet the minimum performance levels for a good VR experience. At this point, the specs essentially match up with what Oculus has put forth: a GTX 970 or better on the desktop and a GTX 980 (full, not 980M) on mobile. 

Other than that, Ken and I took in some of the more recent VR demos including Epic's Bullet Train on the final Oculus Rift and Google's Tilt Brush on the latest iteration of the HTC Vive. Those were both incredibly impressive though the Everest demo that simulates a portion of the mountain climb was the one that really made me feel like I was somewhere else.

Check out the video above for more impressions!

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2016: ASUS Announces XG Station 2 External Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile, Shows and Expos | January 5, 2016 - 09:47 PM |
Tagged: external graphics, CES 2016, CES, asus

While external graphics has been a thing for quite some time, it was rarely an available thing. Several companies, such as AMD, Lucid, and others, announced products that were never sold. ASUS had their XG Station for Windows Vista that allowed laptops to plug into a GeForce 8600 GT, which was only available in Australia. Only now are we beginning to see options from Alienware, MSI, and even Microsoft that are widely available.

asus-2016-ROG XG2_front.jpg

ASUS is jumping back in, too. Not much is known about the XG Station 2, except that it is “specially designed for ASUS laptops and graphics cards.” This sounds like it is using a proprietary connector, similar to Alienware and MSI, to connect to ASUS laptops. Also saying it's specifically for ASUS graphics cards is a bit confusing, though. If it is an open PCIe slot, I'm not sure why or how it would be limited to ASUS cards. If the graphics cards are pre-installed, then we don't know the list of potential GPUs.

Either way, ASUS states that the dock can be disconnected without shutting down the PC. I'm interested to see how the GPU is supposed to be unplugged, as Alienware's option can only be done when the system is off, and Microsoft's Surface Book has a software detach with a hardware latch. The connector will also charge the laptop, which is an interesting add-in.

Pricing and availability varies, like the other ASUS announcements, by region.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS

Rumor: Polaris Is the next AMD Radeon Core Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 31, 2015 - 06:41 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, radeon, Polaris, graphics card, gpu, GCN, amd

A report claims that Polaris will succeed GCN (Graphics Core Next) as the next AMD Radeon GPU core, which will power the 400-series graphics cards.

AMD-Polaris.jpg

Image via VideoCardz.com

As these rumors go, this is about as convoluted as it gets. VideoCardz has published the story, sourced from WCCFtech, who was reporting on a post with supposedly leaked slides at HardwareBattle. The primary slide in question has since been pulled, and appears below:

slide.png

Image via HWBattle.com

Of course the name does nothing to provide architectural information on this presumptive GCN replacement, and a new core for the 400-series GPUs was expected anyway after the 300-series was largely a rebranded 200-series (that's a lot of series). Let's hope actual details emerge soon, but for now we can speculate on mysterious tweets from certain interested parties:

 

Source: VideoCardz

Tessellation Support Expands for Intel's Open Linux Driver

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 29, 2015 - 12:05 PM |
Tagged: opengl, mesa, linux, Intel

The open-source driver for Intel is known to be a little behind on Linux. Because Intel does not provide as much support as they should, the driver still does not support OpenGL 4.0, although that is changing. One large chunk of that API is support for tessellation, which comes from DirectX 11, and recent patches are adding it for supported hardware. Proprietary drivers exist, at least for some platforms, but they have their own issues.

intel-2015-linux-driver-mesa.png

According to the Phoronix article, once the driver succeeds in supporting OpenGL 4.0, it will not be too long to open the path to 4.2. Tessellation is a huge hurdle, partially because it involves adding two whole shading stages to the rendering pipeline. Broadwell GPUs were recently added, but a patch that was committed yesterday will expand that to Ivy Bridge and Haswell. On Windows, Intel is far ahead -- pushing OpenGL 4.4 for Skylake-based graphics, although that platform only has proprietary drivers. AMD and NVIDIA are up to OpenGL 4.5, which is the latest version.

While all of this is happening, Valve is working on an open-source Vulkan driver for Intel on Linux. This API will be released adjacent to OpenGL, and is built for high-performance graphics and compute. (Note that OpenCL is more sophisticated than Vulkan "1.0" will be on the compute side of things.) As nice as it would be to get high-end OpenGL support, especially for developers who want a more simplified structure to communicate to GPUs with, Vulkan will probably be the API that matters most for high-end video games. But again, that only applies to games that are developed for it.

Source: Phoronix

NVIDIA GameWorks VR 1.1 arrives with support for OpenGL VR SLI support and the Oculus SDK

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 21, 2015 - 06:04 PM |
Tagged: GameWorks VR 1.1, nvidia, Oculus, opengl, vive

If you are blessed with the good fortune of already having a VR headset and happen to be running an NVIDIA GPU then there is a new driver you want to grab as soon as you can.  The driver includes a new OpenGL extension that enables NVIDIA SLI support for OpenGL apps that display on an Oculus or Vive.  NVIDIA's PR suggests you can expect your performance to improve 1.7 times, not quite doubling but certainly offering a noticeable performance improvement.  The update is for both GeForce and Quadro cards.

vrlock.jpg

They describe how the update will generate images in their blog post here.  They imply that the changes to your code in order to benefit from this update will be minimal and it will also reduce the CPU overhead required to display the images for the right and left eye.  Read on if you are interested in the developer side of this update, otherwise download your new driver and keep an eye out for application updates that enable support for SLI in VR.

Source: NVIDIA

Vulkan API Slips to 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 21, 2015 - 12:25 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, Mantle, Khronos, dx12, DirectX 12

The Khronos Group announced on Friday that the Vulkan API will not ship until next year. The standards body was expecting to launch it at some point in 2015. In fact, when I was first briefed on it, they specifically said that 2015 was an “under-promise and over-deliver” estimate. Vulkan is an open graphics and compute standard that was derived from AMD's Mantle. It, like OpenCL 2.1, uses the SPIR-V language for compute and shading though, which can be compiled from subsets of a variety of languages.

khronos-vulkan-logo.png

I know that most people will be quick to blame The Khronos Group for this, because industry bodies moving slowly is a stereotype, but I don't think it applies. When AMD created Mantle, it bore some significant delays at all levels. Its drivers and software were held back, and the public release of its SDK was delayed out of existence. Again, it would be easy to blame AMD for this, but hold on. We now get to Microsoft. DirectX 12, which is maybe even closer to Mantle than Vulkan is due to its shading language, didn't roll out as aggressively as Microsoft expected, either. Software is still pretty much non-existent when they claimed, at GDC 2014, that about 50% of PC games would be DX12-compatible by Holiday 2015. We currently have... ... zero (excluding pre-release).

Say what you like about the three examples individually, but when all three show problems, then there might just be a few issues that took longer than expected to solve. Again, this is a completely different metaphor of translating voltages coming through a PCI Express bus into fancy graphics and GPU compute, and create all of the supporting ecosystems, too.

Speaking of ecosystems, The Khronos Group has also announced that Google has upgraded their membership to “Promoter” to get more involved with Vulkan development. Google has been sort-of hostile towards certain standards from The Khronos Group on Android in the past, such as disabling OpenCL on Nexus devices, and trying to steer developers into using Android Extension Pack and Renderscript. They seem to want to use Vulkan proper this time, which is always healthy for the API.

I guess look forward to Vulkan in 2016... hopefully early.

Thought you wouldn't see a new Radeon Crimson driver before the New Year, eh?

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 17, 2015 - 10:49 PM |
Tagged: radeon, crimson, amd

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That's right folks, the official AMD Radeon Software Crimson Edition 15.12 has just launched for you to install.  This includes the fixes for fan speeds when you are using AMD Overdrive, your settings will stick and the fans will revert to normal after you go back to the desktop from an intense gaming session.  There are multiple fixes for Star Wars Battlefront, Fallout 4 and several GUI fixes within the software itself.  As always there are still a few kinks being worked out but overall it is worth popping over to AMD to grab the new driver.  You should also have less issues upgrading from within Crimson after this update as well.

Source: AMD