Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 08:02 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Motherboards | June 6, 2016 - 05:14 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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?
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | June 6, 2016 - 07:11 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 5, 2016 - 02:02 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | June 4, 2016 - 04:28 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, pascal
Normally, when a GPU developer creates a laptop SKU, they re-use the desktop branding, add an M at the end, but release a very different, significantly slower part. This changed with the GTX 980, as NVIDIA cherry-picked the heck out of their production to find chips that could operate full-speed at a lower-than-usual TDP. With less power (and cooling) to consider, they were sent to laptop manufacturers and integrated into high-end designs.
They still had the lower-performance 980M, though, which was confusing for potential customers. You needed to know to avoid the M, and trust the product page to correctly add the M as applicable. This is where PCGamer's scoop comes into play. Apparently, NVIDIA will stop “producing separate M versions of its desktop GPUs”. Also, they are expected to release their 10-series desktop GPUs to their laptop partners by late-summer.
Last time, NVIDIA took almost a year to bin enough GPUs for laptops. While we don't know how long they've been stockpiling GP104 GPUs, this, if the rumors are true, would just be about three months of lead-time for the desktop SKUs. Granted, Pascal is significantly more efficient than Maxwell. Maxwell tried to squeeze extra performance out of an existing fabrication node, while Pascal is a relatively smaller chip, benefiting from the industry's double-shrink in process technology. It's possible that they didn't need to drop the TDP threshold that far below what they accept for desktop.
For us desktop users, this also suggests that NVIDIA is not having too many issues with yield in general. I mean, if they were expecting GPU shortages to persist for months, you wouldn't expect that they would cut their supply further with a new product segment, particularly one that should require both decent volume and well-binned chips. This, again, might mean that we'll see desktop GPUs restock soon. Either that, or NVIDIA significantly miscalculated demand for new GPUs, and they needed to fulfill partner obligations that they made before reality struck.
Call it wishful thinking, but I don't think it's the latter.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 4, 2016 - 02:51 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 1080, zotac
(Most of) NVIDIA's AIB partners have been flooding out announcements of custom GTX 1080 designs. Looking over them, it seems like they fall into two camps: one believes 1x eight-pin PCIe power is sufficient for the GP104, and the other thinks that 1x eight-pin + 1x six-pin PCIe could be useful.
ZOTAC, on the other hand, seems to believe that both are underestimating. Excluding the Founders Edition, both of their GTX 1080 designs utilize 2x eight-pin PCIe connectors. This gives their cards a theoretical maximum of 375W, versus 225W of the Founders Edition. At this point, considering the Founders Edition can reach 2.1 GHz with good enough binning, I'm guessing that it's either there simply because they can, or they just didn't want to alter their existing design. Not that, if you only have 6-pin PCIe connectors on your power supply, ZOTAC provides the dual-six-to-eight-pin adapters in the box.
The two SKUs that they are releasing, again, apart from the Founders Edition, vary by their heatsink. The ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 AMP has a dual-fan IceStorm cooler, while the ZOTAC GeForce GTX 1080 AMP Extreme has a triple-fan IceStorm cooler. (IceStorm is the brand name of ZOTAC's custom cooler.) Other than the 2x 8-pin PCIe connector, there's not much else to mention. ZOTAC has not settled on a default base, boost, or memory clock, and you will probably be overclocking it yourself (either manually or by using an automatic overclocker) anyway. Both cards have a back plate, if that's something you're interested in.
Once again, no pricing or availability. It shouldn't be too long, though.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 4, 2016 - 01:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, msi, hydro gfx, GTX 1080, corsair
Last week, we wrote about the MSI GeForce GTX 1080 SEA HAWK. This design took their AERO cooler and integrated a Corsair self-contained water cooler into it. In response, Corsair, not to be outdone by MSI's Corsair partnership, partnered with MSI to release their own graphics card, the GeForce GTX 1080 version of the Corsair Hydro GFX.
The MSI SEA HAWK
Basically, like we saw with their previous Hydro GFX card, Corsair and MSI are each selling basically the same graphics card, just with their own branding. It sounds like the two cards, MSI's SEA HAWK and Corsair's Hydro GFX, differ slightly in terms of LED lighting, but it might just be a mismatch between Tom's Hardware's Computex coverage and MSI's product page. Otherwise, I would guess that the choice between these SKUs comes down to the company that you trust most for support, which I believe both Corsair and MSI hold a good reputation for, and the current price at the specific retailer you choose. Maybe some slight variation in clock rate?
The Corsair Hydro GFX at Computex
(Image Credit: Tom's Hardware)
For the record, both cards use a single, eight-pin PCIe power connector, rather than an eight-pin and a six-pin as we've seen a few, high-end boards opt for.
No idea about pricing or availability. Corsair's page still refers to the GTX 980 Ti model.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 4, 2016 - 12:35 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: revving, report, nvidia, GTX 1080, gpu cooler, founders edition, fan speed, fan issue
“NVIDIA has reportedly found the solution and the problem should will be fixed with the next driver release. NVIDIA rep confirmed that software team was able to reproduce this problem, and their fix has already passed internal testing.”
Image credit: PC Games Hardware
On the NVIDIA forums customer care representative Manuel Guzman has posted about the issue, and now it seems a fix will be provided with the next driver release:
“This thread is to keep users up to date on the status of the fan randomly spinning up and down rapidly that some users are reporting with their GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition card. Thank you for your patience.
Updates Sticky Post
Update 6/1/16 - We are testing a driver fix to address the random spin up/down fan issue.
Update 6/2/16 - Driver fix so far has passed internal testing. Fix will be part of our next driver release.”
For those who have experienced the “revving” issue, described as a rapid rise and fall from 2000 RPM to 3000 RPM in the post, this will doubtless come as welcome news. We will have to see how these cards perform once the updated driver has been released and is in user hands.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 4, 2016 - 02:39 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: evga, sli, SLI HB, GTX 1080, nvidia, gtx 1070
Still no idea when these are coming out, or how much they'll cost, but EVGA will introduce their own custom SLI High-Bandwidth (HB) bridges. These are designed for the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 cards in two-way SLI mode to share frames in high-speed 1440p, 4K, 5K, and Surround configurations. As TAP mentioned on our live stream, if the bridge was overloaded, it would fall back to communicating PCIe, which should be doing other things at the time.
NVIDIA's SLI HB connector.
We didn't have a presence at Computex, so you'll need to check out Fudzilla's photo for EVGA's.
As for EVGA's model? Without pricing and availability, all we can say is that they have a different aesthetic from NVIDIA's. They also, unlike NVIDIA's version, have RGB LEDs on them to add a splash (or another splash) of colored light inside your case. Three versions will be offered, varying with the distances between your cards, but, as the SLI HB spec demands, each of them only supports two at a time.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 3, 2016 - 11:15 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: linux, graphics drivers, AMDGPU, amd
On Windows, we really only have one graphics driver per GPU. On Linux, however, there is a choice between open drivers and closed, binary-only blobs. Open drivers allow users to perpetuate support, for either really old hardware or pre-release software, without needing the GPU vendor to step in. It can also be better for security, because open-source software can be audited, which is better (albeit how much better is up for debate) than just having a few eyes on it... if any at all.
As we reported a few months ago, AMD has been shifting their structure. Rather than two completely different code-bases, AMDGPU is an open-source driver, officially supported by AMD, that communicates with the Linux kernel. This chunk is compliant with the GPL, so it can be bundled with the operating system. Above this, a user space driver adds the various APIs, game-specific optimizations, and so forth. AMD calls this plug-in component AMD GPU-PRO.
This component has now been released for Ubuntu 16.04, which includes OpenGL 4.5, OpenCL 1.2, and Vulkan 1.0.
Open-source developers can create their own components, using the same AMDGPU hooks that AMD uses, and release those on their own. This is not a perfect solution, though. If, at any point, AMD disagrees with a necessary, proposed change, then the only way forward could be to fork the project, which AMD wouldn't support with their closed-source blob, leading to the previous situation. That said, AMD is putting a lot of effort into this, so it would stand to reason that they aren't intending to throw all of that away over a pull request.
Either way, you can get AMD GPU-PRO Beta from AMD's page for Ubuntu 16.04. SteamOS added AMD GPU-PRO with their 2.80 update last week.