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Subject: Graphics Cards | April 11, 2016 - 11:23 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: rtg, radeon technologies group, radeon, driver, crimson, amd
For longer than AMD would like to admit, Radeon drivers and software were often criticized for plaguing issues on performance, stability and features. As the graphics card market evolved and software became a critical part of the equation, that deficit affected AMD substantially.
In fact, despite the advantages that modern AMD Radeon parts typically have over GeForce options in terms of pure frame rate for your dollar, I recommended an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 980 and 980 Ti for our three different VR Build Guides last month ($900, $1500, $2500) in large part due to confidence in NVIDIA’s driver team to continue delivering updated drivers to provide excellent experiences for gamers.
But back in September of 2015 we started to see changes inside AMD. There was drastic reorganization of the company and those people in charge. AMD setup the Radeon Technologies Group, a new entity inside the organization that would have complete control over the graphics hardware and software directions. And it put one of the most respected people in the industry at its helm: Raja Koduri. On November 24th AMD launched Radeon Software Crimson, a totally new branding, style and implementation to control your Radeon GPU. I talked about it at the time, but the upgrade was noticeable; everything was faster, easier to find and…pretty.
Since then, AMD has rolled out several new drivers with key feature additions, improvements and of course, game performance increases. Thus far in 2016 the Radeon Technologies Group has released 7 new drivers, three of which have been WHQL certified. That is 100% more than they had during this same time last year when AMD released zero WHQL drivers and a big increase over the 1 TOTAL driver AMD released in Q1 of 2015.
Maybe most important of all, the team at Radeon Technologies Group claims to be putting a new emphasis on “day one” support for major PC titles. If implemented correctly, this gives enthusiasts and PC gamers that want to stay on the cutting edge of releases the ability to play optimized titles on the day of release. Getting updated drivers that fix bugs and improve performance weeks or months after release is great, but for gamers that may already be done with that game, the updates are worthless. AMD was guilty of this practice for years, having driver updates that would fix performance issues on Radeon hardware for reviewer testing but that missed the majority of the play time of early adopting consumers.
Thus far, AMD has only just started down this path. Newer games like Far Cry Primal, The Division, Hitman and Ashes of the Singularity all had drivers from AMD on or before release with performance improvements, CrossFire profiles or both. A few others were CLOSE to day one ready including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Plants vs Zombies 2 and Gears of War Ultimate Edition.
|Game||Release Date||First Driver Mention||Driver Date||Feature / Support|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||01-28-2016||16.1.1||02-05-2016||Performance and CrossFire Profile|
|Plants vs Zombies 2||02-23-2016||16.2.1||03-01-2016||Performance|
|Gears Ultimate Edition||03-01-2016||16.3||03-10-2016||Performance|
|Far Cry Primal||03-01-2016||16.2.1||03-01-2016||CrossFire Profile|
|The Division||03-08-2016||16.1||02-25-2016||CrossFire Profile|
|Hitman||03-11-2016||16.3||03-10-2016||Performance, CrossFire Profile|
|Need for Speed||03-15-2016||16.3.1||03-18-2016||Performance, CrossFire Profile|
|Ashes of the Singularity||03-31-2016||16.2||02-25-2016||Performance|
AMD claims that the push for this “day one” experience will continue going forward, pointing at a 35% boost in performance in Quantum Break between Radeon Crimson 16.3.2 and 16.4.1. There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks and months to test AMD (and NVIDIA) on this “day one” focus with PC titles that will have support for DX12, UWP and VR.
The software team at RTG has also added quite a few interesting features since the release of the first Radeon Crimson driver. Support for the Vulkan API and a DX12 capability called Quick Response Queue, along with new additions to the Radeon settings (Per-game display scaling, CrossFire status indicator, power efficiency toggle, etc.) are just a few.
Critical for consumers that were buying into VR, the Radeon Crimson drivers launched with support alongside the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Both of these new virtual reality systems are putting significant strain on the GPU of modern PCs and properly implementing support for techniques like timewarp is crucial to enabling a good user experience. Though Oculus and HTC / Valve were using NVIDIA based systems more or less exclusively during our time at the Game Developers Summit last month, AMD still has approved platforms and software from both vendors. In fact, in a recent change to the HTC Vive minimum specifications, Valve retroactively added the Radeon R9 280 to the list, giving a slight edge in component pricing to AMD.
AMD was also the first to enable full support for external graphics solutions like the Razer Core external enclosure in its drivers with XConnect. We wrote about that release in early March, and I’m eager to get my hands on a product combo to give it a shot. As of this writing and after talking with Razer, NVIDIA had still not fully implemented external GPU functionality for hot/live device removal.
When looking for some acceptance metric, AMD did point us to a survey they ran to measure the approval and satisfaction of Crimson. After 1700+ submission, the score customers gave them was a 4.4 out of 5.0 - pretty significant praise even coming from AMD customers. We don't exactly how the poll was run or in what location it was posted, but the Crimson driver release has definitely improved the perception that Radeon drivers have with many enthusiasts.
I’m not going to sit here and try to impart on everyone that AMD is absolved of past sins and we should immediately be converted into believers. What I can say is that the Radeon Technologies Group is moving in the right direction, down a path that shows a change in leadership and a change in mindset. I talked in September about the respect I had for Raja Koduri and interviewed him after AMD’s Capsaicin event at GDC; you can already start to see the changes he is making inside this division. He has put a priority on software, not just on making it look pretty, but promising to make good on proper multi-GPU support, improved timeliness of releases and innovative features. AMD and RTG still have a ways to go before they can unwind years of negativity, but the ground work is there.
The company and every team member has a sizeable task ahead of them as we approach the summer. The Radeon Technologies Group will depend on the Polaris architecture and its products to swing back the pendulum against NVIDIA, gaining market share, mind share and respect. From what we have seen, Polaris looks impressive and differentiates from Hawaii and Fiji fairly dramatically. But this product was already well baked before Raja got total control and we might have to see another generation pass before the portfolio of GPUs can change around the institution. NVIDIA isn’t sitting idle and the Pascal architecture also promises improved performance, while leaning on the work and investment in software and drivers that have gotten them to the dominant market leader position they are in today.
I’m looking forward to working with AMD throughout 2016 on what promises to be an exciting and market-shifting time period.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 10, 2016 - 09:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, vulkan, graphics drivers
This is not a main-line, WHQL driver. This is not even a mainstream beta driver. The beta GeForce 364.91 drivers (364.16 on Linux) are only available on the NVIDIA developer website, which, yes, is publicly accessible, but should probably not be installed unless you are intending to write software and every day counts. Also, some who have installed it claim that certain Vulkan demos stop working. I'm not sure whether that means the demo is out-of-date due to a rare conformance ambiguity, the driver has bugs, or the reports themselves are simply unreliable.
That said, if you are a software developer, and you don't mind rolling back if things go awry, you can check out the new version at NVIDIA's website. It updates Vulkan to 1.0.8, which is just documentation bugs and conformance tweaks. These things happen over time. In fact, the initial Vulkan release was actually Vulkan 1.0.3, if I remember correctly.
The driver also addresses issues with Vulkan and NVIDIA Optimus technologies, which is interesting. Optimus controls which GPU acts as primary in a laptop, switching between the discrete NVIDIA one and the Intel integrated one, depending on load and power. Vulkan and DirectX 12, however, expose all GPUs to the system. I'm curious how NVIDIA knows whether to sleep one or the other, and what that would look like to software that enumerates all compatible devices. Would it omit listing one of the GPUs? Or would it allow the software to wake the system out of Optimus should it want more performance?
Anywho, the driver is available now, but you probably should wait for official releases. The interesting thing is this seems to mean that NVIDIA will continue to release non-public Vulkan drivers. Hmm.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2016 - 07:23 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: small form factor, SFX-L, SFX, PSU, power supply, Lian Li
Lian Li has (rather unexpectedly) announced a pair of SFX-L power supplies, with the PE-550 and PE-750 small form-factor PSUs.
Lian Li PE-750 SFX-L power supply
SFX-L is the slightly longer (hence the "L") version of SFX, and permits more powerful designs and larger, quieter fans than standard SFX. Of the two new models from Lian Li the PE-550 is an 80 Plus Gold PSU rated at 550W, and the PE-750 is an 80 Plus Platinum model boasting a whopping 750W from this tiny form-factor.
Lian Li has doubtless contracted the manufacture of these PSUs, as the post on SFF Network has concluded: "The 550W at least is from Enhance according to the UL number and the possibly the 750W based on the heatsink design."
Lian Li PE-550 SFX-L power supply
The 750W model now bests SilverStone in the SFX power category, eclipsing their 700W SFX-L model shown at CES this year (and which is still not listed on their site). Just why anyone would need 750W for what would presumably be a mini-ITX system (limited as mITX motherboards are, with only one PCI Express x16 slot); but the benefits of SFX are certainly appreciated the moment one begins working inside of an enclosure such as the NCASE M1.
The PSUs are fully modular with flat, ribbon style cables (PE-750 pictured)
Subject: Motherboards | April 8, 2016 - 05:27 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gigabyte, Z170X Gaming 6, Intel, Z170
At this moment the Gigabyte Z170X Gaming 6 costs $170 on Amazon, which gets you support for dual SLI or triple Crossfire, a Killer NIC E2200, a pair of M.2 slots, three SEx ports and even a Type-C USB 3.1 port in amongst other USB, A/V out and SATA connections. [H]ard|OCP tested the performance of this board and found the overclocking potential to be somewhat disappointing, although possible with some effort. After dealing with BIOS issues and some very warm MOSFETs one reviewer settled on running an i7 6700 @ 4.6GHz (100x46) and DDR4 set at 2666MHz. In the end this board is a good value for someone who wants a wide variety of features and is either disinclined to overclock or who is willing to put effort into tweaking the UEFI to acheive a decent overclock.
"GIGABYTE is back with its $165 Z170X Gaming 6 motherboard today. It’s a full featured motherboard that won’t break the bank and has a lot to offer. While many enthusiasts need what is considered high end, there are a lot of enthusiasts just looking for something that will get the job done with a few extra bells and whistles."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z170A SLI Plus @ Kitguru
- ASUS Sabertooth Z170 S @ eTeknix
- MSI Z170A Gaming Pro Carbon @ Modders-Inc
- ASRock Z170 Extreme4+ @ Hardware Canucks
- Gigabyte Z170-Gaming K3 @ eTeknix
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2016 - 03:09 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: mid-tower, enclosure, corsair, case, Carbide SPEC-ALPHA, atx case
Corsair has officially released the Carbide SPEC-ALPHA case they were showing off at CES 2016, and this mid-tower is a striking design that offers an alternative to more traditional look of the company's recent Carbide offerings.
The White/Red SPEC-ALPHA at CES
"With its modern, angular appearance, the SPEC-ALPHA really stands out in a crowd. But its looks aren’t all that are modern – the SPEC-ALPHA features native USB 3.0 support, room for up to four SSDs, and a three-speed fan controller for the three included 120mm fans. A large window shows off internal components and the Direct Airflow Path layout, which provides superior cooling by getting rid of unnecessary drive bays."
The inclusion of a 3-speed fan control is definately welcome at this price, which is an attractive $79.99 MSRP. We'll have to wait until we get one in to test to see how it performs, but at first glance it looks promising. Doubtless the look won't be for everyone, but if you look at a lot of enclosures (like someone I know) unusual designs are always welcome!
Inside the Black/Red version
Technical specifications from Corsair:
- Expansion Slots: 7
- 5.25” Drive bays: N/A
- 3.5” Hard Drive Bays: 3
- 2.5” Drive Bays: 4
- Cooling Layout:
- Front: 2 x 120mm (2 x 120mm LED included)
- Top: 2 x 120mm
- Rear: 1 x 120mm (included)
- Radiator Compatibility:
- 240mm: Front only
- 120mm: Front, or Rear
- Integrated dust filters for front and bottom intakes
- Front I/O Panel includes:
- USB 3.0 port (x2)
- Three-Speed Fan Controller
- Headphone and Microphone jacks
- Power on and Reset buttons
- Dimensions (LxWxH) 518 x 220 x 474 mm (20.39 x 8.66 x 18.66 inches)
- Maximum GPU Length: 380 mm
- Maximum CPU Cooler Height: 156 mm
- Maximum PSU Length: 190 mm
- 2 Year Warranty
(Image credit: Corsair)
As stated above the Carbide SPEC-ALPHA retails for $79.99 and is available now.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 8, 2016 - 02:12 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Warranty, PSU, corsair
If you are using a Corsair AXi, HXi, RMi Series or RMx Series PSU they have some great news for you today. The 7 year warranty that you used to have has now been increased to a full decade of protection against product defects the in materials or workmanship. It still won't help you if a snake decides to make a home in your PSU but for any failures caused because of design problems will be covered. You can see the full details of the warranty over at Corsair's site.
Subject: General Tech | April 8, 2016 - 01:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: flash, microsoft, edge, windows 10
The new insider build of Windows 10 includes a new feature on Edge, similar to the one already found on Chrome, it will pause Flash assets on webpages which are not the main content. This should mean far less annoying advertisements blaring from your speakers if you happen to visit an uncouth website which features that type of advertisement. It is also a step in the right direction for security, considering Adobe has posted yet another critical update for a gaping security hole in Flash. You can follow the links from Slashdot to grab the update if you wish, or delve into the morass of comments about this update.
"Microsoft Edge will "intelligently auto-pause" Flash content that is "not central to the webpage." If you want to try this out now, you can take the feature for a spin with Windows 10 build 14316, which was recently made available to Windows Insiders"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Adobe issues another Flash patch following Windows 10 ransomware threat @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft rethinks the Windows application platform one more time @ The Register
- What to Know before Using Windows 10’s New Linux System @ Linux.com
- Asustek reduces demand for Intel-developed smartphone platforms @ DigiTimes
- OPPO F1 Plus Smartphone First Look @ TechARP
- Mumblehard spam-spewing botnet floored @ The Register
- Managing infrastructure, a newbie's guide: Simple stuff you need to know @ The Register
Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 05:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Little Tikes, kidBoard, input
Look at that colour scheme, LEDs would just ruin the beautiful clash of blue, red and purple on the yellow background. Clicky keys? You bet this thing clicks, so much better than any mere Cherry MX keyboard. It is also ruggedized, you could keep typing even when falling down stairs, you might feel bad by the time you hit the ground floor but this keyboard won't care. It may not survive a jamming though, so keep your milk and cookies or PBJ to the side when composing on this keyboard. Drop Modders Inc a note to let them know they've done a top notch job with this review as well as with their sense of humour.
"The Little Tikes kidBoard: the name says it all. An undisputed titan of computer peripherals, the engineers at Little Tikes have set the bar higher than ever with their newest release. The kidBoard incorporates an incredible combination of bleeding-edge software, phonics integration, and hardware mastery to create the next generation of gaming keyboards."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Corsair Strafe RGB Silent Mechanical Keyboard Review @ Techgage
- Speedlink Parthica Core @ Kitguru
- Bloody B740A Light Strike Keyboard @ Benchmark Reviews
- Fnatic Flick Mouse & Rush Keyboard Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Corsair M65 Pro RGB Gaming Mouse Review @ Neoseeker
- Corsair Gaming Sabre RGB 10k DPI Optical Mouse @ eTeknix
- GAMDIAS ZEUS Laser Gaming Mouse Review @ Techgage
Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 03:43 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, IBM, power9
IBM's Power9 processor is scheduled to appear on the scene just over a year from now and finally we have some details about what it will be. Firstly the core count is to be two higher than Intel, 24 cores and is optimized for use in two socket servers. The chips are 14nm FinFETs fabbed by GLOBALFOUNDRIES which will be compatible with modern industry standards including DDR4, PCIe 4.0 and NVLink 2.0 so you can even take advantage of Jen-Hsun's latest products.
The list of customers is quite impressive, Google has moved to Power8 already and described changing to the infrastructure as simple as flipping a switch, the US Department of Energy will build their next HPCs using Power9 and Rackspace is currently working with Google to develop Power9 server blueprints for the Open Compute Project.
Several Chinese companies will take advantage of those OpenPower blueprints to develop their own 'partner chips', Power8 and 9 architecture which will be using 10nm gates in 2018 to 2020. This is somewhat amusing considering the shipping of Xeon processors to China has been banned by the US Government. Check out more of the slides from IBM's presentation at The Register.
"IBM's Power9 processor, due to arrive in the second half of next year, will have 24 cores, double that of today's Power8 chips, it emerged today.
Meanwhile, Google has gone public with its Power work – confirming it has ported many of its big-name web services to the architecture, and that rebuilding its stack for non-Intel gear is a simple switch flip."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel restructures financial reporting to 'provide visibility' @ The Register
- Torvalds Hasn't Given Up On Linux Desktop Domination, Will 'Wear Them Down' @ Slashdot
- Dude makes Raspberry Pi Zero Nintendo Game Boy emulator @ The Inquirer
- FBI Telling Congress How It Hacked iPhone @ Slashdot
- Windows 10: first Insider Build with Bash for Linux arrives @ The Inquirer
- Error Correction of 3D Printers @ Hack a Day
Subject: General Tech | April 7, 2016 - 02:47 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: VR, vive, video, tesla p100, steamvr, Spectre 13.3, rift, podcast, perfmon, pascal, Oculus, nvidia, htc, hp, GP100, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #394 - 04/07/2016
Join us this week as we discuss measuring VR Performance, NVIDIA's Pascal GP100, Bristol Ridge APUs and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader (audio only)
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath and Allyn Malventano
Program length: 1:32:19
Week in Review:
0:46:25 This week’s podcast is brought to you by Casper. Use code PCPER at checkout for $50 towards your order!
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2016 - 01:20 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: gaming, ashes of the singularity, dx12
Ashes of the Singularity comes with a canned benchmark which makes it easier to compare the performance delta between DX11 and DX12, though actual gameplay may differ in performance it does make things much easier. [H]ard|OCP set the graphics to Crazy and tried out the two top cards from NVIDIA and AMD in both APIs and found some very interesting results. The AMD cards performed well above expectation, the Fury X happily sitting at the top of the pack but the 390X was more impressive, matching the performance of the 980 Ti. The AMD cards also increased in performed when running underDX12 compared to DX11, a feat the NVIDIA cards were not able to replicate.
It is still early days for the new DirectX and we should expect to see performance changes as drivers and game engines are refined but for now if you are looking to play this new RTS AMD is the way to go. Check out the full performance details as well as VRAM usage in [H]'s full review.
"The new Ashes of the Singularity game has finally been released on the PC. This game supports DX11 and the new DX12 API with advanced features. In this Day 1 Benchmark Preview we will run a few cards through the in-game canned benchmark comparing DX11 versus DX12 performance and NVIDIA versus AMD performance."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
Subject: General Tech | April 6, 2016 - 12:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: microsoft, surface phone
For those masochists who like to run Windows phones there is good news on the horizon, three Surface phones are due to arrive some time in 2017. The market segmentation is different from the competition, instead of offering curved screens or a different size they will sell consumer, business and enthusiast models. That is an interesting way to separate your products and with the amount that usual phone usage has changed an Enthusiast model actually makes sense for those who spend more time gaming and watching HD content on their phones than on their laptops.
The Inquirer has heard rumours that the phones will have a 5.5" QHD AMOLED screen, an Intel Atom CPU, 4GB of RAM and 64GB or 128GB of local storage, though one hopes the enthusiast model gets a little boost in specs.
"MICROSOFT'S RUMOURED Surface Phone reportedly won't see the light of day until next year, but will arrive in three versions when it does."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Seagate joins hands with Intel, adds tasty IEEL to its pie and mash @ The Register
- NVIDIA GTC 2016 Recap – Pascal GPUs, Iray VR, AI and Autonomous Racing @ Techgage
- Samsung kind of cracks the 10nm barrier with new 8GB DDR4 slabs @ The Register
- Quanta LTE Router May Be Most Unsecure Router Ever Made @ Slashdot
- Huawei P9 and P9 Plus arrive with dual Leica-certified cameras @ The Inquirer
- Windows 7's grip on the enterprise desktop is loosening @ The Register
Subject: Systems, Mobile | April 6, 2016 - 10:01 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: ultrabook, thinnest laptop, Spectre 13.3, notebook, laptop, Intel Core i7, Intel Core i5, hp
HP announced their thinnest notebook ever - and "the world's thinnest laptop" period, according to HP - yesterday with the new Spectre 13.3.
The 10.4 mm thick HP Spectre 13.3 (Image credit: Engadget)
It's an astonishingly thin design, with a "CNC machined aluminum chassis as thin as an AAA-battery at just 10.4 mm", and yet it manages to avoid using Core M (or even mobile SoC) parts, opting instead for full Intel Core i5 and Core i7 mobile processors.
(Image credit: Anandtech)
Here's a list of the Spectre 13.3's features from HP:
- A carbon fiber bottom creates a thin profile that is both durable and lightweight, keeping the total weight of the notebook at just 2.45 pounds
- High gloss copper accents reflect a hand-polished, jewelry-like finish and an innovative hidden piston hinge creates the illusion of a hinge-less design to offer an unmatched premium look-and-feel
- An innovative hybrid battery split into two thinner pieces delivers the same wattage as a single battery for up to 9 and half hours of battery life while enabling the world's thinnest laptop
- Full HD IPS edge-to-edge display featuring Corning Gorilla delivers a superb viewing experience for editing photos, perfecting a presentation, or watching a movie.
- 6th generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors and a lightning fast PCIe SSD with storage up to 512 GB with up to 8 GB of memory for maximum performance. Integration of Intel hyperbaric cooling system keeps the machine running cool even with powerful processors in a small package
- Stereo speakers by Bang & Olufsen with HP Audio Boost technology, a combination of hardware and software to give customers the depth they want.
- Three full function USB Type-C connectors, including two of which support Thunderbolt, to provide a fast, versatile I/O connection.
The hyperbaric cooling system (Image credit: Anandtech)
Note the mention of "Integration of Intel hyperbaric cooling system..." in the above list. We first saw hyperbaric cooling back in 2010 with products like the Dell Vostro V130, and the system is based on pulling cool air from outside of the enclosure, rather than simply pushing it out.
A look inside the Spectre 13.3 (Image credit: PC World)
With the use of regular laptop processors inside an enclosure as thin as this new Spectre 13.3 cooling will be crucial, though (as speculated by Anandtech in their post) actual clock speeds for the processors may have been lowered significantly due on thermal restrictions.
What exactly are the specifications for the Spectre 13.3? Here's what we know (via Anandtech):
- CPU: Intel Core i5-6200U or Intel Core i7-6500U
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
- RAM: 8 GB
- Storage: 256 GB or 512 GB PCIe SSD
- I/O: 3x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x Thunderbolt, audio jack
- Thickness: 10.4 mm (0.41 inches)
- Weight: 1.10 kg (2.45 lbs)
- Pricing (256 GB SSD): Core i5, $1170; Core i7, $1250
Exact specs on memory standard/speed, Wi-Fi, etc. were not available, and availability has not been announced.
Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 05:35 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: audio, Abyss 1266, Cavalli Liquid Gold, Hi-Fi HE1000, Luxman P700u, Audeze LCD 4, Chord Hugo TT, Stax 009, Blue Hawaii SE, headphone, amp
The least expensive pairing in this review will run you £5,194 and the most expensive doubles that, not the audio source and cables whose prices leave Monster green with envy. Kitguru has taken on the high end of headphones and amps, leaving even those $1000 studio headsets far behind. Each has their own usage, when you are spending this much on equipment they tend to be very specialized; usable in all scenarios but best served for what they were designed for. Check out the review to laugh, cry or in some cases feel jealous of equipment you might actually want for some reason.
"This article today is focused around the synergy between amplifier and headphone and the four setups I have chosen for this article are to my mind some of the best that money can buy. There is about £70,000 of equipment on test today."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- SteelSeries Siberia 650 Gaming Headset Review @ NikKTech
- MP4Nation Brainwavz BLU-200 Bluetooth In-ears @ techPowerUp
- Jabra STEALTH Bluetooth Headset Review @ NikKTech
- SuperTooth FREEDOM Wireless Bluetooth Headset Review @ NikKTech
Subject: Systems | April 5, 2016 - 01:25 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: compulab, airtop, passive cooling, linux, SFF
Phoronix has spent a bit of time with the CompuLab Airtop PC, a SFF machine with passive cooling and no moving parts. It sports decent components, an i7-5775C Broadwell processor, 16GB of RAM, 256GB ADATA SSD, and a GeForce GTX 950, with Linux Mint installed and support for just about any other flavour of that OS you might prefer. It also has a very impressive array of outputs on the back including dual LAN ports and antennae for wireless connectivity, two power connectors for redundancy and a plethora of USB 3.0, HDMI, DisplayPort and other ports. Check out this overview of the construction and a quick peek at the performance of this passively cooled machine.
"At the end of February I posted my initial hands-on with the passively-cooled Airtop PC that's been exciting many readers over its unique design and being Linux-friendly. As I hadn't written anymore about it in the past few weeks, some Phoronix readers had emailed me and tweeted, curious what the deal was and if it wasn't living up to expectations. That's not the case at all and the Airtop PC continues to exhibit great potential and is yet another solid offering from CompuLab."
Here are some more Systems articles from around the web:
- MSI Gaming 24 6QE AIO System @ Kitguru
- Raspberry Pi 3 Benchmarks vs. Eight Other ARM Linux Boards @ Phoronix
- Overclockers UK Titan Dark Zone Gaming PC @ eTeknix
- Initial Hands-On With The Passively-Cooled Airtop PC Boasting A Core i7 & GTX 950 @ Phoronix
- MSI Nightblade MI2 @ Kitguru
Subject: General Tech | April 5, 2016 - 12:47 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: NVMe, SAS, sata, PCIe SSD, low latency
The Register have put together a nice graphic and table displaying current storage technologies and how they relate to each other. They constructed the graph to demonstrate the major boundaries in storage, between cache/memory, local storage and external storage and how these are going to move thanks to new technology. NVMe-over-fabric will enable companies to utilize external storage at latencies lower than internal storage that still uses SATA or SAS, with only pure PCIe local storage outpacing its potential. X-Point, assuming it lives up to the hype, will blur the line between local storage and memory/cache storage, offering latency previously only seen in system memory or on-die cache.
They also provide a table to give you some rough ideas how this translates between storage media, normalizing it a theoretical task which would take L1 cache 1 second to access, this can make it somewhat easier to comprehend for some than nanoseconds.
"Two technology changes are starting to be applied and both could have massive latency reduction effects at the two main storage boundary points: between memory and storage on the one hand, and between internal and external, networked storage on the other."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Alphabet's Nest To Deliberately Brick Revolv Hubs @ Slashdot
- Meet Jide's Remix OS: Android on the desktop done right @ The Inquirer
- Google pushes April Android security update to Nexus devices @ The Inquirer
- FreeBSD 10.3 lands @ The Register
- Quinones and graphite make green battery @ Nanotechweb
- A One Year Redux On The Basement Computer Room For Benchmarking 50+ Systems Daily @ Phoronix
- AMD Details Bristol Ridge AM4 Performance @ Hardware Canucks
- Samsung starts mass producing 10nm-class NAND chips @ The Inquirer
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 5, 2016 - 11:57 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: PCIe power, nvidia, low-power, GTX950, GTX 950 Low Power, graphics card, gpu, GeForce GTX 950, evga
EVGA has announced new low-power versions of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, some of which do not require any PCIe power connection to work.
"The EVGA GeForce GTX 950 is now available in special low power models, but still retains all the performance intact. In fact, several of these models do not even have a 6-Pin power connector!"
With or without power, all of these cards are full-on GTX 950's, with 768 CUDA cores and 2GB of GDDR5 memory. The primary difference will be with clock speeds, and EVGA provides a chart to illustrate which models still require PCIe power, as well as how they compare in performance.
It looks like the links to the 75W (no PCIe power required) models aren't working just yet on EVGA's site. Doubtless we will soon have active listings for pricing and availability info.
Subject: Processors | April 5, 2016 - 06:30 AM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: mobile, hp, GCN, envy, ddr4, carrizo, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd, AM4
Today AMD is “pre-announcing” their latest 7th generation APU. Codenamed “Bristol Ridge”, this new SOC is based off of the Excavator architecture featured in the previous Carrizo series of products. AMD provided very few hints as to what was new and different in Bristol Ridge as compared to Carrizo, but they have provided a few nice hints.
They were able to provide a die shot of the new Bristol Ridge APU and there are some interesting differences between it and the previous Carrizo. Unfortunately, there really are no changes that we can see from this shot. Those new functional units that you are tempted to speculate about? For some reason AMD decided to widen out the shot of this die. Those extra units around the border? They are the adjacent dies on the wafer. I was bamboozled at first, but happily Marc Sauter pointed it out to me. No new functional units for you!
This is the Carrizo shot. It is functionally identical to what we see with Bristol Ridge.
AMD appears to be using the same 28 nm HKMG process from GLOBALFOUNDRIES. This is not going to give AMD much of a jump, but from information in the industry GLOBALFOUNDRIES and others have put an impressive amount of work into several generations of 28 nm products. TSMC is on their third iteration which has improved power and clock capabilities on that node. GLOBALFOUNDRIES has continued to improve their particular process and likely Bristol Ridge is going to be the last APU built on that node.
All of the competing chips are rated at 15 watts TDP. Intel has the compute advantage, but AMD is cleaning up when it comes to graphics.
The company has also continued to improve upon their power gating and clocking technologies to keep TDPs low, yet performance high. AMD recently released the Godavari APUs to the market which exhibit better clocking and power characteristics from the previous Kaveri. Little was done on the actual design, rather it was improved process tech as well as better clock control algorithms that achieved these advances. It appears as though AMD has continued this trend with Bristol Ridge.
We likely are not seeing per clock increases, but rather higher and longer sustained clockspeeds providing the performance boost that we are seeing between Carrizo and Bristol Ridge. In these benchmarks AMD is using 15 watt TDP products. These are mobile chips and any power improvements will show off significant gains in overall performance. Bristol Ridge is still a native quad core part with what looks to be an 8 module GCN unit.
Again with all three products at a 15 watt TDP we can see that AMD is squeezing every bit of performance it can with the 28 nm process and their Excavator based design.
The basic core and GPU design look relatively unchanged, but obviously there were a lot of tweaks applied to give the better performance at comparable TDPs.
AMD is announcing this along with the first product that will feature this APU. The HP Envy X360. This convertible tablet offers some very nice features and looks to be one of the better implementations that AMD has seen using its latest APUs. Carrizo had some wins, but taking marketshare back from Intel in the mobile space has been tortuous at best. AMD obviously hopes that Bristol Ridge in the sub-35 watt range will continue to show fight for the company in this important market. Perhaps one of the more interesting features is the option for the PCIe SSD. Hopefully AMD will send out a few samples so we can see what a more “premium” type convertible can do with the AMD silicon.
The HP Envy X360 convertible in all of its glory.
Bristol Ridge will be coming to the AM4 socket infrastructure in what appears to be a Computex timeframe. These parts will of course feature higher TDPs than what we are seeing here with the 15 watt unit that was tested. It seems at that time AMD will announce the full lineup from top to bottom and start seeding the market with AM4 boards that will eventually house the “Zen” CPUs that will show up in late 2016.
Subject: Graphics Cards | April 5, 2016 - 02:13 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: HPC, hbm, gpgpu, firepro s9300x2, firepro, dual fiji, deep learning, big data, amd
Earlier this month AMD launched a dual Fiji powerhouse for VR gamers it is calling the Radeon Pro Duo. Now, AMD is bringing its latest GCN architecture and HBM memory to servers with the dual GPU FirePro S9300 x2.
The new server-bound professional graphics card packs an impressive amount of computing hardware into a dual-slot card with passive cooling. The FirePro S9300 x2 combines two full Fiji GPUs clocked at 850 MHz for a total of 8,192 cores, 512 TUs, and 128 ROPs. Each GPU is paired with 4GB of non-ECC HBM memory on package with 512GB/s of memory bandwidth which AMD combines to advertise this as the first professional graphics card with 1TB/s of memory bandwidth.
Due to lower clockspeeds the S9300 x2 has less peak single precision compute performance versus the consumer Radeon Pro Duo at 13.9 TFLOPS versus 16 TFLOPs on the desktop card. Businesses will be able to cram more cards into their rack mounted servers though since they do not need to worry about mounting locations for the sealed loop water cooling of the Radeon card.
|FirePro S9300 x2||Radeon Pro Duo||R9 Fury X||FirePro S9170|
|GPU||Dual Fiji||Dual Fiji||Fiji||Hawaii|
|GPU Cores||8192 (2 x 4096)||8192 (2 x 4096)||4096||2816|
|Rated Clock||850 MHz||1050 MHz||1050 MHz||930 MHz|
|Texture Units||2 x 256||2 x 256||256||176|
|ROP Units||2 x 64||2 x 64||64||64|
|Memory||8GB (2 x 4GB)||8GB (2 x 4GB)||4GB||32GB ECC|
|Memory Clock||500 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz||5000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||4096-bit (HBM) per GPU||4096-bit (HBM) per GPU||4096-bit (HBM)||512-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||1TB/s (2 x 512GB/s)||1TB/s (2 x 512GB/s)||512 GB/s||320 GB/s|
|TDP||300 watts||?||275 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||13.9 TFLOPS||16 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||5.24 TFLOPS|
AMD is aiming this card at datacenter and HPC users working on "big data" tasks that do not require the accuracy of double precision floating point calculations. Deep learning tasks, seismic processing, and data analytics are all examples AMD says the dual GPU card will excel at. These are all tasks that can be greatly accelerated by the massive parallel nature of a GPU but do not need to be as precise as stricter mathematics, modeling, and simulation work that depend on FP64 performance. In that respect, the FirePro S9300 x2 has only 870 GLFOPS of double precision compute performance.
Further, this card supports a GPGPU optimized Linux driver stack called GPUOpen and developers can program for it using either OpenCL (it supports OpenCL 1.2) or C++. AMD PowerTune, and the return of FP16 support are also features. AMD claims that its new dual GPU card is twice as fast as the NVIDIA Tesla M40 (1.6x the K80) and 12 times as fast as the latest Intel Xeon E5 in peak single precision floating point performance.
The double slot card is powered by two PCI-E power connectors and is rated at 300 watts. This is a bit more palatable than the triple 8-pin needed for the Radeon Pro Duo!
The FirePro S9300 x2 comes with a 3 year warranty and will be available in the second half of this year for $6000 USD. You are definitely paying a premium for the professional certifications and support. Here's hoping developers come up with some cool uses for the dual 8.9 Billion transistor GPUs and their included HBM memory!
Subject: Cases and Cooling | April 4, 2016 - 06:14 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: DQ550ST, Deepcool, 550W
The Deepcool DQ550ST 550W PSU is not even slightly modular, however it does ship with flat cables to make cable management much more effective for you. This also helps with the pricing, you should be able to find the unit for ~$50 which beats out the competition. This was [H]ard|OCP's first Deepcool PSU but that didn't deter them from strapping it into their torture chamber for some serious testing. The PSU passed all of their tests and showed itself to be a well build PSU which would be a good basis for a mid-range system. It did not come off with a reward, something to blame the marketers on as when you advertise a product as "one of the greatest PSU of DEEPCOOL" you raise expectations to a level beyond a mere pass. Check out the full review if you are in the market for a ~500W PSU that will give you good value for your money, even if it is not quite the greatest.
"DEEPCOOL is not the first brand that comes to mind when you think about PSUs. But when a company gives you a feature set like this, "120mm FDB Bearing PWM fan with specially designed fan-blade, enjoys higher wind-pressure, super silent and excellent performance," we have to take a look. I loves me some wind-pressure."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Corsair SF 450 and SF 600 @ Kitguru
- be quiet! Pure Power 9 600W @ Kitguru
- Cooler Master V Series 650 W @ techPowerUp
- be quiet! Pure Power 9 700W @ eTeknix
- Sama Forza Titanium 800 W @ techPowerUp