The Strix strikes again, Asus' ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 7, 2016 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING, asus, GTX 1080, aerogel

ASUS has updated their GTX 1080 Strix with a few more features than the previous models in this family.  The aesthetics are a bit different but there is more to the card than that, hidden under the front edge of the card are two four pin fan headers which allow you to connect two case fans to the card which will react according to the heat load on the GPU.  The new DirectCU cooler has five copper heatpipes and the PCB has eight-plus-two power-phases.  There are two models, the ROG Strix-GTX1080-A8G-Gaming and the ROG Strix-GTX1080-O8G-Gaming, with core speeds of 1670/1809MHz and 1759/1898MHz respectively.  The Tech Report tested out the first of those two cards, see how it matches up to the competition here.

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"Asus' graphics cards are favorites of ours at TR, so we were excited when the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 landed in our labs. We put it to the test to see whether Asus gave Pascal a good set of wings."

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Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU-Z Screenshot

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, pascal, gtx 1050, geforce

I don't know why people insist on encoding screenshots from form-based windows in JPEG. You have very little color variation outside of text, which is typically thin and high-contrast from its surroundings. JPEG's Fourier Transform will cause rippling artifacts in the background, which should be solid color, and will almost definitely have a larger file size. Please, everyone, at least check to see how big a PNG will be before encoding it as JPEG. (In case you notice that I encoded it in JPEG too, that's because re-compressing JPEG artifacts makes PNG's file-size blow up, forcing me to actually need to use JPEG.)

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It also makes it a bit more difficult to tell whether a screenshot has been manipulated, because the hitches make everything look suspect. Regardless, BenchLife claims to have a leaked GPU-Z result for the GeForce GTX 1050. They claim that it will be using the GP107 die at 75W, although the screenshot claims neither of these. If true, this means that it will not be a further cut-down version of GP106, as seen in the two GTX 1060 parts, which would explain a little bit why they wanted both of them to remain in the 1060 level of branding. (Although why they didn't call the 6GB version the 1060 Ti is beyond me.)

What the screenshot does suggest, though, is that it will have 4GB of GDDR5 memory, on a 128-bit bus. It will have 768 shaders, the same as the GTX 950, although clocked about 15% higher (boost vs boost) and 15W lower, bringing it back into the range of PCIe bus power (75W). That doesn't mean that it will not have a six-pin external power connector, but that could be the case, like the 750 Ti.

This would give it about 2.1 TeraFLOPs of performance, which is on part with the GeForce GTX 660 from a few generations ago, as well as the RX 460, which is also 75W TDP.

Source: Benchlife

IFA 2016: AMD Announces Radeon ProRender

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 02:53 AM |
Tagged: radeon, firepro, amd

AMD is apparently interested in supporting open-source, professional graphics. For instance, the Blender Foundation is interviewing potential hires based on a potential deal with the CPU and graphics vendor. They have also open-sourced a bunch of technologies through their GPUOpen Initiative, such as the Radeon Rays (formerly FireRays) library.

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This time, at IFA 2016, they released the Radeon ProRender, which used to be called FireRender. This is a plug-in for multiple 3D applications to render high-quality, raytraced images. The open-source, third-party renderer is currently available for 3D Studio Max, in beta for Maya, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, and coming soon for Blender. While Cycles is pretty good, the potential for cross-pollination is interesting for the future of open 3D development.

We can't go wrong with more options.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Announces a Fallout 4 Mod

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, fallout 4, pc gaming

Vault 1080, which is a terrible pun by the way, is a free mod of Fallout 4 that is developed by NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios. It is designed to show off GameWorks technologies, such as volumetric lighting and HBAO+, more heavily than Bethesda did with the base game. They claim that the content lasts more than an hour, which is pretty decent for a free expansion.

It will launch on the first day of PAX West: September 2nd.

If you're wondering why NVIDIA has a game development studio, they are mostly responsible for bringing content from the PC to their Shield devices, such as Half-Life 2 and Portal. They also created NVIDIA's VR Funhouse demo, which was also release for free to show off GameWorks (such as NVIDIA Flow and VRWorks Audio) for the HTC Vive. Basically, they develop games (and now game content) to make NVIDIA's hardware more appealing.

Source: NVIDIA

If you don't Ottoman-tically update your drivers, Radeon 16.8.3 has just arrived

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: radeon 16.8.3, crimson, amd

Similar to the release yesterday from NVIDIA, AMD's Crimson 16.8.3 hotfix has been timed for release with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the Battlefield 1 Beta.  This particular update will add Crossfire profiles for both games and also fixes an unfortunate bug from the previous release which occasionally caused a static, albeit colourful screen over top of your game.  Unfortunately, the Gaming Evolved overlay launch problem still exists, as does the workaround. 

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If you do plan on submitting bug reports whilst trying out the new Battlefield, please do head on over and upgrade so the devs are not working on issues which are already resolved.

Source: AMD

Testing the community developed RADV driver against AMDGPU-PRO

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, open source, linux, RADV, graphics driver

As of yet, AMD has not delivered the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver originally slated to arrive early this year, instead relying on their current proprietary driver.  That has not stopped a team of plucky programmers from creating RADV, utilizing the existing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end and Intel's work with Mesa NIR intermediate representation to pass to LLVM IR.  You won't get Gallium3D support, ironically RADV is too close to the metal for that to work.

Phoronix just wrapped up testing of the new driver, looking at performance for The Talos Principal and DOTA 2, contrasting the open source driver with the closed source AMDGPU-PRO.  RADV is not quite 4k ready but at lower resolutions it proves very competitive.

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"With word coming out last week that the RADV open-source Vulkan driver can now render Dota 2 correctly, I've been running some tests the past few days of this RADV Vulkan driver compared to AMD's official (but currently closed-source) Vulkan driver bundled with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver."

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Source: Phoronix

Battlefield 1 Beta is out, as is the GeForce 372.70 driver

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 30, 2016 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce 372.70, driver

NVIDIA continues with their Game Ready driver program, releasing the GeForce 372.70 driver, hand crafted in the new world by artisanal engineers to bring enhanced support to World of Warcraft: Legion, Battlefield 1: Open Beta, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Quantum Break.  There is not much to see in the release notes, although you can now enjoy Deus Ex in glorious 3D vision assuming you have the monitor and glasses.

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If you are testing the new Battlefield you should consider updating, one would suppose the bug reports submitted using this driver will be more beneficial to the developers than an older release.  You know the drill, grab them from GeForce.com or NVIDIA.com.

Source: NVIDIA

PCIe 4.0 Will Still Deliver 75W of Slot Power

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | August 29, 2016 - 01:20 AM |
Tagged: pcie, PCI SIG

Last week, various outlets were reporting (incorrectly) that PCIe 4.0 would provide “at least 300W” through the slot. This would have been roughly equal to the power draw that a PCIe 3.0 GPU could provide with an extra six-pin and an extra eight-pin power connector, but do so all through the slot.

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Later, the PCI-SIG contacted Tom's Hardware (and likely others) to say that this is not the case. The slot will still only provide 75W of power; any other power will still need to come from external connectors. The main advantage of the standard will be extra bandwidth, about double that of PCIe 3.0, not easing cable management or making it easier to design a graphics card (by making it harder to design a motherboard).

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Manufacturer: ASUS

Specifications and Card Breakdown

The flurry of retail built cards based on NVIDIA's new Pascal GPUs has been hitting us hard at PC Perspective. So much in fact that, coupled with new gaming notebooks, new monitors, new storage and a new church (you should listen to our podcast, really) output has slowed dramatically. How do you write reviews for all of these graphics cards when you don't even know where to start? My answer: blindly pick one and start typing away.

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Just after launch day of the GeForce GTX 1060, ASUS sent over the GTX 1060 Turbo 6GB card. Despite the name, the ASUS Turbo line of GTX 10-series graphics cards is the company's most basic, most stock iteration of graphics cards. That isn't necessarily a drawback though - you get reference level performance at the lowest available price and you still get the promises of quality and warranty from ASUS.

With a target MSRP of just $249, does the ASUS GTX 1060 Turbo make the cut for users looking for that perfect mainstream 1080p gaming graphics card? Let's find out.

Continue reading our review of the ASUS GeForce GTX 1060 Turbo 6GB!

AMD Gains Significant Market Share in Q2 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 24, 2016 - 10:34 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, market share, jpr, jon peddie, amd

As reported by both Mercury Research and now by Jon Peddie Research, in a graphics add-in card market that dropped dramatically in Q2 2016 in terms of total units shipped, AMD has gained significant market share against NVIDIA.

GPU Supplier Market share this QTR Market share last QTR Market share last year
AMD 29.9% 22.8% 18.0%
NVIDIA 70.0% 77.2% 81.9%
Total 100% 100% 100%

Source: Jon Peddie Research

Last year at this time, AMD was sitting at 18% market share in terms of units sold, an absolutely dismal result compared to NVIDIA's dominating 81.9%. Over the last couple of quarters we have seen AMD gain in this space, and keeping in mind that Q2 2016 does not include sales of AMD's new Polaris-based graphics cards like the Radeon RX 480, the jump to 29.9% is a big move for the company. As a result, NVIDIA falls back to 70% market share for the quarter, which is still a significant lead over the AMD.

Numbers like that shouldn't be taken lightly - for AMD to gain 7 points of market share in a single quarter indicates a substantial shift in the market. This includes all add-in cards: budget, mainstream, enthusiast and even workstation class products. One report I am received says that NVIDIA card sales specifically dropped off in Q2, though the exact reason why isn't known, and as a kind of defacto result, AMD gained sales share.

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There are several other factors to watch with this data however. First, the quarterly drop in graphics card sales was -20% in Q2 when compared to Q1. That is well above the average seasonal Q1-Q2 drop, which JPR claims to be -9.7%. Much of this sell through decrease is likely due to consumers expecting releases of both NVIDIA Pascal GPUs and AMD Polaris GPUs, stalling sales as consumers delay their purchases. 

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 launched on May 17th and the GTX 1070 on May 29th. The company has made very bold claims about product sales of Pascal parts so I am honestly very surprised that the overall market would drop the way it did in Q2 and that NVIDIA would fall behind AMD as much as it has. Q3 2016 may be the defining time for both GPU vendors however as it will show the results of the work put into both new architectures and both new product lines. NVIDIA reported record profits recently so it will be interesting to see how that matches up to unit sales.