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SLI and CrossFire

Last week I sat down with a set of three AMD Radeon R9 Fury X cards, our sampled review card as well as two retail cards purchased from Newegg, to see how the reports of the pump whine noise from the cards was shaping up. I'm not going to dive into that debate again here in this story as I think we have covered it pretty well thus far in that story as well as on our various podcasts, but rest assured we are continuing to look into the revisions of the Fury X to see if AMD and Cooler Master were actually able to fix the issue.

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What we have to cover today is something very different, and likely much more interesting for a wider range of users. When you have three AMD Fury X cards in your hands, you of course have to do some multi-GPU testing with them. With our set I was able to run both 2-Way and 3-Way CrossFire with the new AMD flagship card and compare them directly to the comparable NVIDIA offering, the GeForce GTX 980 Ti.

There isn't much else I need to do to build up this story, is there? If you are curious how well the new AMD Fury X scales in CrossFire with two and even three GPUs, this is where you'll find your answers.

Continue reading our results testing the AMD Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti in 3-Way GPU configurations!!

AMD Releases New WHQL Catalyst 15.7 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 8, 2015 - 05:52 PM |
Tagged: Win 10, whql, drivers, catalyst, amd, 15.7, 15.20

Sadly, it is not every month that we see a new AMD WHQL driver release.  Several years back AMD made the promise that they would release WHQL drivers on a monthly basis, and for quite a while they kept to that promise.  Engineering cuts, new architectures, and more challenges than ever with new technologies have essentially ended the monthly model.  AMD does their best by putting out beta drivers when major titles are released, but it has been quite some time since we last saw a full WHQL.

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Today we finally see the release of the very latest branch of the Catalyst drivers.  Last month we saw the 15.15 drivers that were released with the AMD FuryX.  We also had a fair share of beta drivers to keep users updated on the latest game profiles.  The version that has been released today is based on the 15.20 code path and is officially known as Catalyst 15.7.

There are a lot of new features and support in this driver, which makes it a pretty big deal.  I am guessing that it seems like such a big deal because major updates have been few and far between.  This is AMD's first driver to support the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

The next set of features is very exciting for anyone who has any GCN based card, no matter the age.  Virtual Super Resolution is enabled for all GCN 1.0 cards and above.  The same goes for Frame Rate Target Control.  AMD has included new CrossFire Profile Enhancements for many of the latest games and top sellers.  The only new feature that does not support all GCN cards is that of AMD FreeSync with CrossFire support.  As readers may remember, FreeSync did not previously work in a CrossFire solution.  FreeSync itself is relegated to the newer members of the GCN family.  The only other potential disappointment (and not new news at all) is still the lack of CrossFire support (much less FreeSync with CrossFire support) in DX9 titles.

AMD promises performance improvements as compared to the previous Omega drivers released last year.  This is fairly typical, but people are already reporting some better performance and CPU usage in WinX previews based on the latest build.  It is great to see AMD releasing a new set of drivers, but just like any addict... we can't wait for our next hit and what new features and performance they may bring.

You can find the drivers here.

Source: AMD

Report: AMD Radeon Fury Specs and Photos Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2015 - 11:59 AM |
Tagged: Radeon Fury, radeon, HBM1, amd

As reported by VideoCardz.com the upcoming Radeon Fury card specs have been leaked (and confirmed, according to the report), and the air-cooled card is said to have 8 fewer compute units enabled and a slightly slower core clock.

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The report pictures a pair of Sapphire cards, both using the Tri-X triple-fan air cooler. The first is a reference-clocked version which will be 1000 MHz (50 Hz slower than the Fury X), and an overclocked version at 1040 MHz. And what of the rest of the specs? VideoCardz has created this table:

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The total number of compute units is 56 (8 fewer than the Fury X), which at 64 stream cores per unit results in 3584 for the non-X GPU. TMU count drops to 224, and HBM1 memory speed is unchanged at 1000 MHz effective. VideoCardz is listing the ROP count at an unchanged 64, but this (along with the rest of the report, of course) has not been officially announced.

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The board will apparently be identical to the reference Fury X

Retail price on this card had been announced by AMD as $549, and with the modest reduction in specs (and hopefully some overclocking headroom) this could be an attractive option to compete with the GTX 980, though it will probably need to beat the 980's performance or at least match its $500 price to be relevant in the current market. With these specs it looks like it will only be slightly behind the Fury X so pricing shouldn't be much of an issue for AMD just yet.

AMD Projects Decreased Revenue by 8% for Q2 2015

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | July 7, 2015 - 08:00 AM |
Tagged: earnings, amd

The projections for AMD's second fiscal quarter had revenue somewhere between flat and down 6%. The actual estimate, as of July 6th, is actually below the entire range. They expect that revenue is down 8% from the previous quarter, rather than the aforementioned 0 to 6%. This is attributed to weaker APU sales in OEM devices, but they also claim that channel sales are in line with projections.

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This is disappointing news for fans of AMD, of course. The next two quarters will be more telling though. Q3 will count two of the launch months for Windows 10, which will likely include a bunch of new and interesting devices and aligns well with back to school season. We then get one more chance at a pleasant surprise in the fourth quarter and its holiday season, too. My intuition is that it won't be too much better than however Q3 ends up.

One extra note: AMD has also announced a “one-time charge” of $33 million USD related to a change in product roadmap. Rather than releasing designs at 20nm, they have scrapped those plans and will architect them for “the leading-edge FinFET node”. This might be a small expense compared to how much smaller the process technology will become. Intel is at 14nm and will likely be there for some time. Now AMD doesn't need to wait around at 20nm in the same duration.

Source: AMD

Overclocking the R9 390X

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2015 - 01:58 PM |
Tagged: amd, r9 390x, overclocking

Now that [H]ard|OCP has had more time to spend with the new R9 390X they have managed to find the overclocks that they are most comfortable running on the card they used to test.  They used MSI Afterburner 4.1.1 and first overclocked the card without changing voltages at all, which netted them 1150MHz core and 6.6GHz effective on the RAM.  From there they started to raise to Core Voltage, eventually settling on +50 as settings higher than that resulted in lower maximum observed voltages due to the TDP being reached and the card throttling back.  With that voltage setting they could get the card to run at 1180MHz, with the memory speed remaining at 6.6GHz as it is not effected by the core voltage settings, with the fan speed set 80% they saw a consistent 67C GPU temperature.  How much impact did that have on performance and could it push the card's performance beyond an overclocked GTX 980?  Read the full review to find out in detail.

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"We take the new MSI Radeon R9 390X GAMING 8G video card and overclock it to it fullest and compare it with an overclocked GeForce GTX 980 at 1440p and 4K in today's latest games. Find out how much overclocking the R9 390X improves performance, and which video card is best performing. Can R9 390X overclock better than R9 290X?"

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Zotac's GTX 980Ti AMP! Extreme Is A Factory Overclocked Monster

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 4, 2015 - 02:39 PM |
Tagged: zotac, maxwell, gtx 980ti, factory overclocked

Zotac recently unleashed a monstrous new GTX 980Ti AMP! Extreme graphics card featuring a giant triple slot cooler and a very respectable factory overclock.

Specifically, the Zotac ZT-90505-10P card is a custom card with a factory overclocked NVIDIA GTX 980Ti GPU and GDDR5 memory. The card is a triple slot design that uses a dual fin stack IceStorm heatsink with three 90mm temperature controlled EKO fans. The cooler wraps the fans and HSF in a shroud and also uses a backplate on the bottom of the card. The card is powered by two 8-pin PCI-E power connectors and display outputs include three DisplayPort, one HDMI, and one DL-DVI.

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Zotac was able to push the Maxwell GPU with its 2,816 CUDA cores to 1,253 MHz base and 1,355 MHz boost. Further, the 6GB GDDR5 memory also has a factory overclock of 7,220 MHz. These clockspeeds are a decent bump over the reference speeds of 1,000 MHz GPU base, 1,076 MHz GPU boost, and 7,012 MHz memory.

We’ll have to wait for reviews to know for sure, but on paper this card looks to be a nice card that should run fast and cool thanks to that triple fan cooler. The ZT-90505-10P will be available shortly with an MSRP of $700 and a 2 year warranty.

Definitely not a bad price compared to other GTX 980Ti cards on the market.

Source: Zotac

Report: ASUS STRIX AMD Radeon Fury (Non-X) Card Listings Found

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 3, 2015 - 08:45 PM |
Tagged: strix, rumor, report, Radeon Fury, asus, amd

A report from VideoCardz.com shows three listings for an unreleased ASUS STRIX version of the AMD Radeon Fury (non-X).

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Image credit: VideoCardz

The listings are from European sites, and all three list the same model name: ASUS-STRIX R9FURY-DC3-4G-GAMING. You can find the listing from the above photo here at the German site Computer-PC-Shop.

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Image credit: VideoCardz

We can probably safely assume that this upcoming air-cooled card will make use of the new DirectCU III cooler introduced with the new STRIX GTX 980 Ti and STRIX R9 390X, and this massive triple-fan cooler should provide an interesting look at what Fury can do without the AIO liquid cooler from the Fury X. Air cooling will of course negate the issue of pump whine that many have complained about with certain Fury X units.

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The ASUS STRIX R9 390X Gaming card with DirectCU III cooler

We await offical word on this new GPU, and what price we might expect this particular version to sell for here in the U.S.A.

Source: VideoCardz

Introduction and Technical Specifications

Introduction

In our previous article here, we demonstrated how to mod the EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 video card to get higher performance and significantly lower running temps. Now we decided to take two of these custom modded EVGA GTX 970 cards to see how well they perform in an SLI configuration. ASUS was kind enough to supply us with one of their newly introduced ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridges for our experiments.

ASUS ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge

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Courtesy of ASUS

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Courtesy of ASUS

For the purposes of running the two EVGA GTX 970 SC ACX 2.0 video cards in SLI, we chose to use the 3-way variant of ASUS' ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge so that we could run the tests with full 16x bandwidth across both cards (with the cards in PCIe 3.0 x16 slots 1 and 3 in our test board). This customized SLI adapter features a powered red-colored ROG logo embedded in its brushed aluminum upper surface. The adapter supports 2-way and 3-way SLI in a variety of board configurations.

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Courtesy of ASUS

ASUS offers their ROG Enthusiast SLI Bridge in 3 sizes for various variations on 2-way, 3-way, and 4-way SLI configurations. All bridges feature the top brushed-aluminum cap with embedded glowing ROG logo.

Continue reading our article on Modding the EVGA GTX 970 SC Graphics Card!

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Courtesy of ASUS

The smallest bridge supports 2-way SLI configurations with either a two or three slot separation. The middle sized bridge supports up to a 3-way SLI configuration with a two slot separation required between each card. The largest bridge support up to a 4-way SLI configuration, also requiring a two slot separation between each card used.

Technical Specifications (taken from the ASUS website)

Dimensions 2-WAY: 97 x 43 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
3-WAY: 108 x 53 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
4-WAY: 140 x 53 x 21 (L x W x H mm)
Weight 70 g (2-WAY)
91 g (3-WAY)
123 g(4-WAY)
Compatible GPU set-ups 2-WAY: 2-WAY-S & 2-WAY-M
3-WAY: 2-WAY-L & 3-WAY
4-WAY: 4-WAY
Contents 2-WAY: 1 x optional power cable & 2 PCBs included for varying configurations
3-WAY: 1 x optional power cable
4-WAY: 1 x optional power cable

Continue reading our story!!

New AMD Fury X Pumps May Reduce Noise Levels

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 2, 2015 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, fury x, pump whine

According to a couple of users from the Anandtech forums and others, there is another wave of AMD Fury X cards making their way out into the world. Opening up the top of the Fury X card to reveal the Cooler Master built water cooler pump, there are two different configurations in circulation. One has a teal and white Cooler Master sticker, the second one has a shiny CM logo embossed on it.

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This is apparently a different pump implementation than we have seen thus far.

You might have read our recent story looking at the review sample as well as two retail purchased Fury X cards where we discovered that the initial pump whine and noise that AMD claimed would be gone, in fact remained to pester gamers. As it turns out, all three of our cards have the teal/white CM logo.

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Our three Fury X cards have the same sticker on them.

Based on at least a couple of user reports, this different pump variation does not have the same level of pump whine that we have seen to date. If that's the case, it's great news - AMD has started pushing out Fury X cards to the retail market that don't whine and squeal!

If this sticker/label difference is in fact the indicator for a newer, quieter pump, it does leave us with a few questions. Do current Fury X owners with louder coolers get to exchange them through RMA? Is it possible that these new pump decals are not indicative of a total pump change over and this is just chance? I have asked AMD for details on this new information already, and in fact have been asking for AMD's input on the issue since the day of retail release. So far, no one has wanted to comment on it publicly or offer me any direction as to what is changing and when.

I hope for the gamers' sake that this new pump sticker somehow will be the tell-tale sign that you have a changed cooler implementation. Unfortunately for now, the only way to know if you are buying one of these is to install it in your system and listen or to wait for it to arrive and take the lid off the Fury X. (It's a Hex 1.5 screw by the way.)

Though our budget is more than slightly stretched, I'm keeping an eye out for more Fury X cards to show up for sale to get some more random samples in-house!

Source: Fudzilla

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tock

A few websites have been re-reporting on a leak from BenchLife.info about Kaby Lake, which is supposedly a second 14nm redesign (“Tock”) to be injected between Skylake and Cannonlake.

UPDATE (July 2nd, 3:20pm ET): It has been pointed out that many hoaxes have come out of the same source, and that I should be more clear in my disclaimer. This is an unconfirmed, relatively easy to fake leak that does not have a second, independent source. I reported on it because (apart from being interesting enough) some details were listed on the images, but not highlighted in the leak, such as "GT0" and a lack of Iris Pro on -K. That suggests that the leaker got the images from somewhere, but didn't notice those details, which implies that the original source was hoaxed by an anonymous source, who only seeded the hoax to a single media outlet, or that it was an actual leak.

Either way, enjoy my analysis but realize that this is a single, unconfirmed source who allegedly published hoaxes in the past.

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Image Credit: BenchLife.info

If true, this would be a major shift in both Intel's current roadmap as well as how they justify their research strategies. It also includes a rough stack of product categories, from 4.5W up to 91W TDPs, including their planned integrated graphics configurations. This leads to a pair of interesting stories:

How Kaby Lake could affect Intel's processors going forward. Since 2006, Intel has only budgeted a single CPU architecture redesign for any given fabrication process node. Taking two attempts on the 14nm process buys time for 10nm to become viable, but it could also give them more time to build up a better library of circuit elements, allowing them to assemble better processors in the future.

What type of user will be given Iris Pro? Also, will graphics-free options be available in the sub-Enthusiast class? When buying a processor from Intel, the high-end mainstream processors tend to have GT2-class graphics, such as the Intel HD 4600. Enthusiast architectures, such as Haswell-E, cannot be used without discrete graphics -- the extra space is used for more cores, I/O lanes, or other features. As we will discuss later, Broadwell took a step into changing the availability of Iris Pro in the high-end mainstream, but it doesn't seem like Kaby Lake will make any more progress. Also, if I am interpreting the table correctly, Kaby Lake might bring iGPU-less CPUs to LGA 1151.

Keeping Your Core Regular

To the first point, Intel has been on a steady tick-tock cycle since the Pentium 4 architecture reached the 65nm process node, which was a “tick”. The “tock” came from the Conroe/Merom architecture that was branded “Core 2”. This new architecture was a severe departure from the high clock, relatively low IPC design that Netburst was built around, which instantaneously changed the processor landscape from a dominant AMD to an Intel runaway lead.

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After 65nm and Core 2 started the cycle, every new architecture alternated between shrinking the existing architecture to smaller transistors (tick) and creating a new design on the same fabrication process (tock). Even though Intel has been steadily increasing their R&D budget over time, which is now in the range of $10 to $12 billion USD each year, creating smaller, more intricate designs with new process nodes has been getting harder. For comparison, AMD's total revenue (not just profits) for 2014 was $5.51 billion USD.

Read on to see more about what Kaby Lake could mean for Intel and us.