AMD FirePro W9100 Announced: Doing Work in Hawaii.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 26, 2014 - 05:43 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, W9100

The AMD FirePro W9100 has been announced, bringing the Hawaii architecture to non-gaming markets. First seen in the Radeon R9 series of graphics cards, it has the capacity for 5 TeraFLOPs of single-precision (32-bit) performance and 2 TeraFLOPs of double-precision (64-bit). The card also has 16GB of GDDR5 memory to support it. From the raw numbers, this is slightly more capacity than either the Titan Black or Quadro K6000 in all categories. It will also support six 4K monitors (or three at 60Hz), per card. AMD supports up to four W9100 cards in a single system.

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Professional users can be looking for several things in their graphics cards: compute performance (either directly or through licensed software such as Photoshop, Premiere, Blender, Maya, and so forth), several high-resolution monitors (or digital signage units), and/or a lot of graphics performance. The W9100 is basically the top of the stack which covers all three of these requirements.

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AMD also announced a system branding initiative called, "AMD FirePro Ultra Workstation". They currently have five launch partners, Supermicro, Boxx, Tarox, Silverdraft, and Versatile Distribution Services, which will have workstations available under this program. The list of components for a "Recommend" certification is: two eight-core 2.6 GHz CPUs, 32GB of RAM, four PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, a 1500W Platinum PSU, and a case with nine expansion slots (to allow four W9100 GPUs along with one SSD or SDI interface card).

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Also, while the company has heavily discussed OpenCL in their slide deck, they have not mentioned specific versions. As such, I will assume that the FirePro W9100 supports OpenCL 1.2, like the R9-series, and not OpenCL 2.0 which was ratified back in November. This is still a higher conformance level than NVIDIA, which is at OpenCL 1.1.

Currently no word about pricing or availability.

Source: AMD

The Rift between Oculus, Kickstarter and you

Subject: General Tech | March 26, 2014 - 02:48 PM |
Tagged: oculus rift, Kickstarter, john carmack, facebook

You've heard by now that Facebook has purchased Oculus and you likely have an opinion on the matter.  There are quite a few issues this sale raises for the technologically inclined.  For the Kickstarter backers, the question of the propriety of Vulture Capitalists benefiting monetarily from a project which began in part because of their donation made on Kickstarter; which still did net them a device.  For those hoping that Oculus was going to be a project designed and lead by Palmer Luckey and involving John Carmack with little oversight or pressure from a company that wants an immediate return on their investment.  For some the simple involvment of Facebook is enough to sour the entire deal regardless of any other factors.

KitGuru offers some possible benefits that could come of this deal; Facebook cannot afford to slow development as competitors such as castAR will soon arrive, nor can they really push Carmack around without risking his involvement.  Before you start screaming take a moment to think about everything this deal involves and then express your opinion ... after all you don't get reality that is much more virtual than Facebook.

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"I know guys. I know. I’m mad too. I’m sad, disappointed, even betrayed, but these are all things I’m feeling and I bet you are too. We’re having an emotional reaction to two companies worth multiple billions of dollars doing a business deal and though I can’t help but wish it hadn’t happened, I know that if I look at it logically, it makes sense for everyone."

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Source: KitGuru

NVIDIA Launches Jetson TK1 Mobile CUDA Development Platform

Subject: General Tech, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 09:34 PM |
Tagged: GTC 2014, tegra k1, nvidia, CUDA, kepler, jetson tk1, development

NVIDIA recently unified its desktop and mobile GPU lineups by moving to a Kepler-based GPU in its latest Tegra K1 mobile SoC. The move to the Kepler architecture has simplified development and enabled the CUDA programming model to run on mobile devices. One of the main points of the opening keynote earlier today was ‘CUDA everywhere,’ and NVIDIA has officially accomplished that goal by having CUDA compatible hardware from servers to desktops to tablets and embedded devices.

Speaking of embedded devices, NVIDIA showed off a new development board called the Jetson TK1. This tiny new board features a NVIDIA Tegra K1 SoC at its heart along with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC storage. The Jetson TK1 supports a plethora of IO options including an internal expansion port (GPIO compatible), SATA, one half-mini PCI-e slot, serial, USB 3.0, micro USB, Gigabit Ethernet, analog audio, and HDMI video outputs.

NVIDIA Jetson TK1 Mobile CUDA Development Board.jpg

Of course the Tegra K1 part is a quad core (4+1) ARM CPU and a Kepler-based GPU with 192 CUDA cores. The SoC is rated at 326 GFLOPS which enables some interesting compute workloads including machine vision.

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In fact, Audi has been utilizing the Jetson TK1 development board to power its self-driving prototype car (more on that soon). Other intended uses for the new development board include robotics, medical devices, security systems, and perhaps low power compute clusters (such as an improved Pedraforca system).It can also be used as a simple desktop platform for testing and developing mobile applications for other Tegra K1 powered devices, of course.

NVIDIA VisionWorks GTC 2014.jpg

Beyond the hardware, the Jetson TK1 comes with the CUDA toolkit, OpenGL 4.4 driver, and NVIDIA VisionWorks SDK which includes programming libraries and sample code for getting machine vision applications running on the Tegra K1 SoC.

The Jetson TK1 is available for pre-order now at $192 and is slated to begin shipping in April. Interested developers can find more information on the NVIDIA developer website.

 

GTC 2014: NVIDIA Shows Off New Dual GK110 GPU GTX TITAN Z Graphics Card

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: gtx titan z, gtx titan, GTC 2014, CUDA

During the opening keynote, NVIDIA showed off several pieces of hardware that will be available soon. On the desktop and workstation side of things, researchers (and consumers chasing the ultra high end) have the new GTX Titan Z to look forward to. This new graphics card is a dual GK110 GPU monster that offers up 8 TeraFLOPS of number crunching performance for an equally impressive $2,999 price tag.

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Specifically, the GTX TITAN Z is a triple slot graphics card that marries two full GK110 (big Kepler) GPUs for a total of 5,760 CUDA cores, 448 TMUs, and 96 ROPs with 12GB of GDDR5 memory on a 384-bit bus (6GB on a 384-bit bus per GPU). NVIDIA has yet to release clockspeeds, but the two GPUs will run at the same clocks with a dynamic power balancing feature. Four the truly adventurous, it appears possible to SLI two GTX Titan Z cards using the single SLI connector. Display outputs include two DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connector.

NVIDIA is cooling the card using a single fan and two vapor chambers. Air is drawn inwards and exhausted out of the front exhaust vents.

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In short, the GTX Titan Z is NVIDIA's new number crunching king and should find its way into servers and workstations running big data analytics and simulations. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing someone slap two of them into a gaming PC and watching the screen catch on fire (not really).

What do you think about the newest dual GPU flagship?

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for further GTC 2014 coverage!

NVIDIA SHIELD: New Features and Promotional Price Cut

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Mobile | March 25, 2014 - 03:01 PM |
Tagged: shield, nvidia

The SHIELD from NVIDIA is getting a software update which advances GameStream, TegraZone, and the Android OS, itself, to KitKat. Personally, the GameStream enhancements seem most notable as it now allows users to access their home PC's gaming content outside of the home, as if it were a cloud server (but some other parts were interesting, too). Also, from now until the end of April, NVIDIA has temporarily cut the price down to $199.

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Going into more detail: GameStream, now out of Beta, will stream games which are rendered on your gaming PC to your SHIELD. Typically, we have seen this through "cloud" services, such as OnLive and GaiKai, which allow access to a set of games that run on their servers (with varying license models). The fear with these services is the lack of ownership, but the advantage is that the slave device just needs enough power to decode an HD video stream.

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In NVIDIA's case, the user owns both server (their standard NVIDIA-powered gaming PC, which can now be a laptop) and target device (the SHIELD). This technology was once limited to your own network (which definitely has its uses, especially for the SHIELD as a home theater device) but now can also be exposed over the internet. For this technology, NVIDIA recommends 5 megabit upload and download speeds - which is still a lot of upload bandwidth, even for 2014. In terms of performance, NVIDIA believes that it should live up to expectations set by their GRID. I do not have any experience with this, but others on the conference call took it as good news.

As for content, NVIDIA has expanded the number of supported titles to over a hundred, including new entries: Assassin's Creed IV, Batman: Arkham Origins, Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Daylight, Titanfall, and Dark Souls II. They also claim that users can add other apps which are not officially supported, Halo 2: Vista was mentioned as an example, for streaming. FPS and Bitrate can now be set by the user. A bluetooth mouse and keyboard can also be paired to SHIELD for that input type through GameStream.

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Yeah, I don't like checkbox comparisons either. It's just a summary.

A new TegraZone was also briefly mentioned. Its main upgrade was apparently its library interface. There has also been a number of PC titles ported to Android recently, such as Mount and Blade: Warband.

The update is available now and the $199 promotion will last until the end of April.

Source: NVIDIA

Valve Ports Portal To NVIDIA Shield Gaming Handheld

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 02:33 PM |
Tagged: undefined

During the opening keynote of NVIDIA's GTC 2014 conference, company CEO Jen-Hsun Huang announced that Valve had ported the ever-popular "Portal" game to the NVIDIA SHIELD handheld gaming platform.

The game appeared to run smoothly on the portable device, and is a worthy addition to the catalog of local games that can be run on the SHIELD.

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Additionally, while the cake may still be a lie, portable gaming systems apparently are not as Jen-Hsun Huang revealed that all GTC attendees will be getting a free SHIELD.

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information on all the opening keynote announcements and their implications for the future of computing!

GPU Technology Conference 2014 resources:

Keep up with GTC 2014 throughout the week by following the NVIDIA blog (blogs.nvidia.com) and the GTC tag on PC Perspective!

Ruinous Text Format; watch those attachments!

Subject: General Tech | March 25, 2014 - 12:59 PM |
Tagged: rtf, microsoft, outlook, word, fud

Users of Microsoft Word 2003 to the current version on PC or the 2011 version for Mac, which means any version of Outlook or other Microsoft application in which Word is the default text editor may want to avoid RTF attachments for the next while.  There is an exploit in the wild which could allow a nefariously modified RTF file to give an attacker access to the machine which it was opened on at the same level as the user.  This does mean that those who follow the advice of most Windows admins and do not log in to an administrator level account for day to day work need not worry overly but those who ignore the advice may find themselves compromised.  As The Register points out, just previewing the attachment in Outlook is enough to trigger a possible infection.

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"Microsoft has warned its Word software is vulnerable to a newly discovered dangerous bug – which is being exploited right now in "limited, targeted attacks" in the wild. There is no patch available at this time."

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Source: The Register

For when you need a keyboard that stands out

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 01:22 PM |
Tagged: input, ducky, Cherry MX

If you are not satisfied with a plain keyboard that doesn't stand out in a crowd and also care about the quality of the board then the Ducky Shine 3 is a keyboard you should be aware of.  Your choice of Cherry MX switches to ensure a proper mechanical feel to your key presses and an array of LED lights will make this keyboard stand out from across the room.  As you can see from the picture, this isn't just backlit keys, a glowing snake on the space bar and lights on every key make this board rather unique.  If flashy keyboards are your thing, check out Benchmark Reviews article here.

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"The Ducky Shine Series, arguably one of the best mechanical keyboards on the market, has released the Ducky Shine 3 DK9008S3. Often referred to as the YOTS or “Year of the Snake”, the 2013 Shine 3 is the offshoot descendant of the 2012 Year of the Dragon Shine 2 DK9087 (a tenkeyless version in the shine series). This model, like it’s predecessor, comes with a wide array of switch options including Cherry MX Black, Blue, Brown, and Red, and a wide array of LED color options including: Blue, Red, Green, White, Magenta, and Orange."

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GDC wasn't just about DirectX; OpenGL was also a hot topic

Subject: General Tech | March 24, 2014 - 12:26 PM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, gdc 14, GDC, amd, Intel

DX12 and its Mantle-like qualities garnered the most interest from gamers at GDC but an odd trio of companies were also pushing a different API.  OpenGL has been around for over 20 years and has waged a long war against Direct3D, a war which may be intensifying again.  Representatives from Intel, AMD and NVIDIA all took to the stage to praise the new OpenGL standard, suggesting that with a tweaked implementation of OpenGL developers could expect to see performance increases between 7 to 15 times.  The Inquirer has embedded an hour long video in their story, check it out to learn more.

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"CHIP DESIGNERS AMD, Intel and Nvidia teamed up to tout the advantages of the OpenGL multi-platform application programming interface (API) at this year's Game Developers Conference (GDC)."

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Source: The Inquirer

GDC 14: NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel Discuss OpenGL Speed-ups

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | March 22, 2014 - 01:41 AM |
Tagged: opengl, nvidia, Intel, gdc 14, GDC, amd

So, for all the discussion about DirectX 12, the three main desktop GPU vendors, NVIDIA, AMD, and Intel, want to tell OpenGL developers how to tune their applications. Using OpenGL 4.2 and a few cross-vendor extensions, because OpenGL is all about its extensions, a handful of known tricks can reduce driver overhead up to ten-fold and increase performance up to fifteen-fold. The talk is very graphics developer-centric, but it basically describes a series of tricks known to accomplish feats similar to what Mantle and DirectX 12 suggest.

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The 130-slide presentation is broken into a few sections, each GPU vendor getting a decent chunk of time. On occasion, they would mention which implementation fairs better with one function call. The main point that they wanted to drive home (since they clearly repeated the slide three times with three different fonts) is that none of this requires a new API. Everything exists and can be implemented right now. The real trick is to know how to not poke the graphics library in the wrong way.

The page also hosts a keynote from the recent Steam Dev Days.

That said, an advantage that I expect from DirectX 12 and Mantle is reduced driver complexity. Since the processors have settled into standards, I expect that drivers will not need to do as much unless the library demands it for legacy reasons. I am not sure how extending OpenGL will affect that benefit, as opposed to just isolating the legacy and building on a solid foundation, but I wonder if these extensions could be just as easy to maintain and optimize. Maybe it is.

Either way, the performance figures do not lie.

Source: NVIDIA