GIGABYTE ANNOUNCES GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 9, 2016 - 01:45 AM |
Tagged:

That wasn't even capslock. That was pure shift key.

A little after Computex, GIGABYTE announced their GTX 1080 XTREME GAMING graphics card, which should be their flagship of the GeForce GTX 1080 line. It is a three-fan design, although the center fan overlaps with the two edge ones. It will also accept two, eight-pin PCIe power connectors, which gives a theoretical maximum draw of 375W.

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Also, taking a cue from EVGA's recent VR-Edition 980 Ti, GIGABYTE includes a I/O front panel for cases with an extra 5.25” bay. This contains two HDMI ports and two USB 3.0 ports to allow users to quickly connect VR headsets to and from their PC. When connected, it disables two DisplayPort outputs on the card, routing them to the front-panel's HDMI instead. I'm not exactly clear on why you would need two HDMI connections in the front, but okay.

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They are also releasing their own SLI HB connector, which they claim will support speeds up to 1080 MHz. The SLI HB standard, from NVIDIA, clocks up to 650 MHz. We assume that this is a typo on GIGABYTE's part (having 1080 on the brain for some reason...) but we've contacted NVIDIA to see what's up.

Currently no pricing or availability information. It comes with a three year warranty that can be upgraded to a four-year warranty by registering your product and signing up to their “XTREME GAMING Club”.

Source: GIGABYTE

GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 3-Way and 4-Way SLI will not be enabled for games

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 9, 2016 - 12:44 AM |
Tagged: sli, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, geforce, 4-way sli, 3-way sli

IMPORTANT UPDATE: After writing this story, but before publication, we went to NVIDIA for comment. As we were getting ready to publish, the company updated me with a shift in its stance on multi-GPU configurations. NVIDIA will no longer require an "enthusiast key" to enable SLI on more than two GPUs. However, NVIDIA will also only be enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for a select few applications. More details are at the bottom of the story!

You'll likely recall that during our initial review of the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card, we mentioned that NVIDIA was going to be moving people towards the idea that "only 2-Way SLI will be supported" and promoted. There would still be a path for users that wanted 3 and 4 GPU configurations anyway, and it would be called the Enthusiast Key.

As it turns out, after returning from an AMD event focused on its upcoming Polaris GPUs, I happen to have amassed a total of four GeForce GTX 1080 cards.

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Courtesy of some friends at EVGA and two readers that were awesome enough to let me open up their brand new hardware for a day or so, I was able to go through the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configuration process. Once all four were installed, and I must point out how great it is that each card only required a single 8-pin power connector, I installed the latest NVIDIA driver I had on hand, 368.19.

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Knowing about the need for the Enthusiast Key, and also knowing that I did not yet have one and that the website that was supposed to be live to enable me to get one is still not live, I thought I might have stumbled upon some magic. The driver appeared to let me enable SLI anyway. 

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Enthusiasts will note however that the green marker under the four GPUs with the "SLI" text is clearly only pointing at two of the GTX 1080s, leaving the remaining two...unused. Crap.

At this point, if you have purchased more than two GeForce GTX 1080 cards are simply out of luck and are waiting on NVIDIA to make good on it's promise to allow for 3-Way and 4-Way configurations via the Enthusiast Key. Or some other way. It's way too late now to simply say "we aren't supporting it at all." 

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While I wait...what is there for a gamer with four GeForce GTX 1080 cards to do? Well, you could run Ashes of the Singularity. It's multi-GPU mode uses MDA mode, which means the game engine itself accesses each GPU on its own, without the need for the driver to handle anything regarding GPU load balancing. Unfortunately, Ashes only supports two GPUs today.

Well...you could run an OpenCL based benchmark like LuxMark that access all the GPUs independently as well.

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I did so, and the result is an impressive score of 17,127!!

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How does that compare to some other products?

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The four GTX 1080 cards produce a score that is 2.57x the result provided by the AMD Radeon Pro Duo and 2.29x the score of SLI GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards. Nice!

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So there you go! We are just as eager to get our hands on the ability to test 3-Way and 4-Way SLI with new Pascal GPUs as some of the most extreme and dedicated enthusiasts out there are. With any luck, NVIDIA will finally figure out a way to allow it - no matter how it finally takes place.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Before going to press with this story I asked NVIDIA for comment directly: when was the community finally going to get the Enthusiast Key website to unlock 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for those people crazy enough to have purchased that many GTX 1080s? The answer was quite surprising: NVIDIA is backing away from the idea of an "Enthusiast Key" and will no longer require it for enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI. 

Here is the official NVIDIA statement given to PC Perspective on the subject:

With the GeForce 10-series we’re investing heavily in 2-way SLI with our new High Bandwidth bridge (which doubles the SLI bandwidth for faster, smoother gaming at ultra-high resolutions and refresh rates) and NVIDIA Game Ready Driver SLI profiles.  To ensure the best possible gaming experience on our GeForce 10-series GPUs, we’re focusing our efforts on 2-way SLI only and will continue to include 2-way SLI profiles in our Game Ready Drivers.
 
DX12 and NVIDIA VR Works SLI technology also allows developers to directly implement and control multi-GPU support within their games.  If a developer chooses to use these technologies then their game will not need SLI profiles.  Some developers may also decide to support more than 2 GPUs in their games. We continue to work with all developers creating games and VR applications that take advantage of 2 or more GPUs to make sure they’ll work great on GeForce 10-series GPUs.
 
For our overclocking community, our Game Ready Drivers will also include SLI profiles for 3- and 4-way configurations for specific OC applications only, including Fire Strike, Unigine and Catzilla.

NVIDIA clearly wants to reiterate that only 2-Way SLI will get the attention that we have come to expect from the GeForce driver dev team. As DX12 and Vulkan next-generation APIs become more prolific, the game developers will still have the ability to directly access more than two GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs, though I expect that be a very narrow window of games simply due to development costs and time.

NVIDIA will enable support for three and four card configurations in future drivers (without a key) for specific overclocking/benchmarking tools only, as a way to make sure the GeForce brand doesn't fall off the 3DMark charts. Only those specific applications will be able operate in the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configurations that you have come to know. There are no profiles to change manually and even the rare games that might have "just worked" with three or four GPUs will not take advantage of more than two GTX 10-series cards. It's fair to say at this point that except for the benchmarking crowd, NVIDIA 3-Way and 4-Way SLI is over.

We expect the "benchmark only" mode of 3-Way and 4-Way SLI to be ready for consumers with the next "Game Ready" driver release. If you happened to get your hands on more than two GTX 1080s but aren't into benchmarking, then find those receipts and send a couple back.

So there you have it. Honestly, this is what I was expecting from NVIDIA with the initial launch of Pascal and the GeForce GTX 1080/1070 and I was surprised when I first heard about the idea of the "enthusiast key." It took a bit longer than expected, and NVIDIA will get more flak for the iterated dismissal of this very niche, but still pretty cool, technology. In the end, this won't have much impact on the company's bottom line as the quantity of users that were buying 3+ GTX GPUs for a single system was understandably small.

NVIDIA Announces an E3 #GameReady Giveaway

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 10:26 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, giveaway, e3 2016, E3

Update, June 8th @ 8:15pm: Just to clarify, this giveaway is not affiliated with PC Perspective. We just found it on Twitter and thought that our readers might like to have a chance at free hardware.

Fairly simple bit of news for this one. NVIDIA has announced that they will be giving away $100,000 of prizes to people who message @NVIDIA and use the #GameReady hashtag, on either Twitter or Instagram, during one of five E3 keynotes.

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Sunday (June 12th, 2016):

  • EA at 1PM PDT / 4PM EDT / 8PM GMT
  • Bethesda at 7PM PDT / 10PM EDT / 2AM GMT (Monday)

Monday (June 13th, 2016):

  • Microsoft at 9:30AM PDT / 12:30PM EDT / 4:30PM GMT
  • PC Gaming Show at 12PM PDT / 3PM EDT / 7PM GMT
  • Ubisoft at 1PM PDT / 4PM EDT / 8PM GMT

Interestingly, Sony was not listed on their rundown. Sure, they rarely have anything relevant to PC gamers, but it's still an amusing omission none-the-less.

According to their Terms and Conditions, the sweepstakes is open to a large portion of the world. They will be giving away fifty GTX 1080s, “up to” thirty $500 Steam Gift Cards, and “an ultimate PC battlestation”??? I'm not sure what that is, but it sounds like Mark Hamill will be trying to destroy it a few times.

E3 starts this weekend! Stay tuned for coverage. (You can also sleep, eat, and do laundry, though.)

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 368.39 Drivers for Mirror's Edge

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 06:11 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

NVIDIA has released a new graphics driver, in line with EA's new title, Mirror's Edge: Catalyst. Version 368.39 is another of their WHQL-certified, Game Ready-branded drivers that integrates all of their tweaks to improve the game's performance, including an updated SLI profile. It also includes performance tweaks for Insomniac's Oculus-exclusive VR title, Edge of Nowhere, which released on June 6th.

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Beyond performance enhancements for specific titles, the driver also includes new features and fixes to known bugs. On the feature side of things, a handful of OpenGL extensions were added to support new features in Pascal. Extensions allow hardware vendors to add features without the Khronos Group needing to officially support it in the standard (although many turn multi-vendor and eventually end up in a later core specification). In this case, NVIDIA has added Single Pass Stereo to increase VR performance, Lens Matched Shading to also increase VR performance, Improved Conservative Rasterization to reduce the chance that a pixel fragment will be missed during rasterization of degenerate or otherwise odd geometry, and Double Precision Atomic Operations to increase reliability when doing GPU-compute on 64-bit, double-precision values in OpenGL.

On Windows 10, seven bugs were fixed in 368.39, and two of those were fairly high profile. First, the GTX 1080 Founders Edition fan speed revving issue has been fixed, as NVIDIA mentioned a few days ago. Second, performance issues (stuttering) in Total War: WARHAMMER were fixed. They also fixed an issue where Metal Gear Solid V would fail to launch (white screen).

The new drivers are available on GeForce Experience or their website.

Source: NVIDIA

GeForce GTX 1080s Are Available at Newegg Canada

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 12:07 AM |
Tagged: zotac, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, asus

Update @ 10:30pm, June 7th: Annnnnnnnd it's gone.

Update @ 9:45pm, June 7th: ASUS is now out-of-stock, so I crossed out the relevant links. ZOTAC is still around for now.

Update @ 8:45pm, June 7th: Turns out that it's also available on Newegg US. In fact, it's possible that both sites share from the same stock pool, at least for the US ASUS and US ZOTAC cards, given that Newegg Canada says it ships them from the US.

A couple of GeForce GTX 1080s are available at Newegg Canada at the moment. Both models, one from ASUS and one from ZOTAC, are listed at $909. This seems high, but it's actually the current US-to-Canada exchange rate from the $699 MSRP. If you were interested in the Founders Edition cards, then you have a brief moment to pick one up.

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That said, it's looking like the custom-cooled versions might be a better bet. The EVGA dual-fan GAMING SC ACX 3.0 version is listed at $824.99 CDN (~$635 USD) and, from what we've seen so far, seems to be quite a bit cooler than the Founders Edition (albeit we haven't tested sound levels yet). Those should be coming out fairly soon, and will apparently lean on the cheaper side of the Founders Edition fence.

But, if you don't care, go go go go go.

The frequency of Pascal reviews is still increasing

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: geforce, GP104, gtx 1070, nvidia, pascal

With Computex behind us it is time to catch up on all the reviews which were launched during the show, including [H]ard|OCP's review of the GTX 1070 Founders Edition.  Their testing was done using an NVIDIA provided driver, GeForce 368.19 the same one which Ryan used in his review.  They did not have a chance to delve into overclocking or utilizing the new power settings.  From their testing they concluded the GTX 1070 is a great upgrade for those using a vanilla GTX 980 or R9 390X, while the card performs faster than a R9 Fury X or GTX 980 Ti the jump is not quite enough to recommend dumping it for anything less than a GTX1080.

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"In our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition video card we will explore the price competitive performance and find out what kind of gameplay advantage the new GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition offers over the previous generation cards. We compare both the GTX 980 and Radeon R9 Fury GPUs to the new GTX 1070"

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Release 16.6.1 Crimson Edition for Mirror's Edge: Catalyst

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 12:02 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

Over the last few months, AMD has been fighting their reputation for being slow and unreliable with driver updates. Ryan wrote a piece about it after AMD discussed the issue with him. He noted that, while the increase is noticeable and great, it takes time and consistency to trust that a company will provide their products with a certain level of support.

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Since then, AMD has released two drivers in April, three in May, and now, already, one in June. Each of these provide enhancements for individual games, right in line with their release dates, as well as fix several issues along the way. Crimson Edition 16.6.1 aligns with Mirror's Edge: Catalyst, which makes this post surprisingly difficult to type. It also includes enhancements for Paragon and a Crossfire profile for Dark Souls III. If users were experiencing flickering and corruption with videos in a web browser, AMD claims that was also fixed in this version.

Of course, users are not required to install every version, but it's available for those who want it.

Source: AMD

Motherboard by Colorful Includes GTX 1070 Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | June 6, 2016 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, motherboard, gtx 1070, GP104, colorful

So here's an interesting bit of news from Colorful, via Videocardz and LG Nilsson. Remember when on-board graphics was a pejorative? Since the GPUs that are attached to many CPUs tend to sufficiently cover everything below a discrete graphics add-in board, there is not a whole lot of mind-share for discrete, on-board GPUs. You get the occasional desktop-style device with a mobile add-in module, but that's about it.

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Image Credit: LG Nilsson (via Videocardz)

In this case, it looks like Colorful, the Chinese PC hardware manufacturer, integrated the required components from a GTX 1070 directly onto a motherboard's PCB. We've heard rumors that GP104 would be available in mobile form-factors in a few months, so it's possible that this draws from some laptop initiatives, but it's interesting to see others consider it too. As Videocardz pointed out, this is not an ATX-standard board, so it's possible that Colorful is planning on getting into (or supporting someone getting into) small form factor desktops or is building hardware for all-in-one PCs.

So what's next? A vendor like ASUS making a VRWorks Audio sound card with integrated Pascal?

Source: VideoCardz

HSA 1.1 Released

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2016 - 11:11 AM |
Tagged: hsa 1.1, hsa

The HSA Foundation released version 1.1 of their specification, which focuses on “multi-vendor” compatibility. In this case, multi-vendor doesn't refer to companies that refused to join the HSA Foundation, namely Intel and NVIDIA, but rather multiple types of vendors. Rather than aligning with AMD's focus on CPU-GPU interactions, HSA 1.1 includes digital signal processors (DSPs), field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), and other accelerators. I can see this being useful in several places, especially on mobile, where cameras, sound processors, and CPU cores, and a GPU regularly share video buffers.

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That said, the specification also mentions “more efficient interoperation with non-HSA compliant devices”. I'm not quite sure what that specifically refers to, but it could be important to keep an eye on for future details -- whether it is relevant for Intel and NVIDIA hardware (and so forth).

Charlie, down at SemiAccurate, notes that HSA 1.1 will run on all HSA 1.0-compliant hardware. This makes sense, but I can't see where this is explicitly mentioned in their press release. I'm guessing that Charlie was given some time on a conference call (or face-to-face) regarding this, but it's also possible that he may be mistaken. It's also possible that it is explicitly mentioned in the HSA Foundation's press blast and I just fail at reading comprehension.

If so, I'm sure that our comments will highlight my error.

Computex 2016: Gigabyte Grants Sneak Peek at GPU Dock

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 5, 2016 - 06:02 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, external gpu

External GPUs can be a good idea. If it is affordable, easy, and not too big, users can augment their laptop CPU, which is probably good enough to at least run most tasks, with a high-end GPU. While GPUs are more efficient that CPUs, the tasks that they are expected to do are so much larger that a decent graphics chip is difficult to cram into laptop form factor... for the most part.

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Image Credit: Tom's Hardware

Preamble aside, it's been tried and dropped numerous times over the last decade, but the last generation seems to be getting a little traction. Razer added the feature to their relatively popular Blade line of laptops, and AMD, who was one of the companies to try it several years ago, is pushing it now with their XConnect technology. Even Microsoft sort-of does this with their Surface Book, and it's been a small source of problems for them.

Now Gigabyte, at Computex, announced that they are investigating prototypes. According to Tom's Hardware, their current attempt stands upright, which is likely to take up less desk space. Looking at it, I could see it hiding in the space between my monitors and the corner of the room (because my desk slides into the corner). Of course, in my case, I have a desktop PC, so I'm not the target demographic, but who knows? It's possible that a laptop user might have a similar setup to me. It's still pretty big, though.

Currently, Gigabyte limits the power supply to 250W, which drops GPU support to under 175W TDP. In other words? Too small for a GeForce GTX 1080. The company did tell Tom's Hardware that they are considering upping that to 350W, which would allow 260W of load, which allows all 1x PCIe 8-pin graphics cards, and thus many (but not all) GTX 1080s.

No pricing or availability yet, of course. It's just a prototype.