Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

DisplayPort to Save the Day?

During an impromptu meeting with AMD this week, the company's Corporate Vice President for Visual Computing, Raja Koduri, presented me with an interesting demonstration of a technology that allowed the refresh rate of a display on a Toshiba notebook to perfectly match with the render rate of the game demo being shown.  The result was an image that was smooth and with no tearing effects.  If that sounds familiar, it should.  NVIDIA's G-Sync was announced in November of last year and does just that for desktop systems and PC gamers.

Since that November unveiling, I knew that AMD would need to respond in some way.  The company had basically been silent since learning of NVIDIA's release but that changed for me today and the information discussed is quite extraordinary.  AMD is jokingly calling the technology demonstration "FreeSync".

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Variable refresh rates as discussed by NVIDIA.

During the demonstration AMD's Koduri had two identical systems side by side based on a Kabini APU . Both were running a basic graphics demo of a rotating windmill.  One was a standard software configuration while the other model had a modified driver that communicated with the panel to enable variable refresh rates.  As you likely know from our various discussions about variable refresh rates an G-Sync technology from NVIDIA, this setup results in a much better gaming experience as it produces smoother animation on the screen without the horizontal tearing associated with v-sync disabled.  

Obviously AMD wasn't using the same controller module that NVIDIA is using on its current G-Sync displays, several of which were announced this week at CES.  Instead, the internal connection on the Toshiba notebook was the key factor: Embedded Display Port (eDP) apparently has a feature to support variable refresh rates on LCD panels.  This feature was included for power savings on mobile and integrated devices as refreshing the screen without new content can be a waste of valuable battery resources.  But, for performance and gaming considerations, this feature can be used to initiate a variable refresh rate meant to smooth out game play, as AMD's Koduri said.

Continue reading our thoughts on AMD's initial "FreeSync" variable refresh rate demonstration!!

ASUS ROG Poseidon Series Liquid Cooled Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | January 6, 2014 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, ROG, nvidia, gtx 780, gtx 770, CES 2014, CES, asus

In keeping with their tradition of pushing the innovation and performance boundaries through their ROG product line, ASUS today released NVIDIA-based 7-seried video cards featuring as part of their Poseidon series of liquid cooled products. ASUS released both a GTX 780 and GTX 770-based product with the hybrid Poseidon cooling solution.

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Courtesy of ASUS

All Poseidon series graphics cards come with a hybrid cooling solution, using a combination of fan-based and water-based cooling to propel these cards to new performance heights. The card's GPU is cooled with the DirectCU H20 cooler with water pathed through the integrated barbs to the copper-based cooler. The water inlets are threaded, accepting G1/4" sized male fittings. The memory and VRM components are cooled by a massive dual-fan heat pipe, exhausting air through the rear panel port. Both cards feature the red and black ROG coloration with the Poseidon series name displayed prominently along the right front edge of the card.

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Courtesy of ASUS

Both Poseidon series graphics cards, the ROG Poseidon GTX 770 and ROG Poseidon GTX 780, include ASUS' DIGI+ VRM and Super Allow Power power circuitry to ensure stability and component life under the most grueling conditions. When paired with the Poseidon cooling, the GPU ran 20% cooler and 3 times quieter than a comparable reference card with card operating temperatures 16 C lower than the same reference solution.

More after the break.

Coverage of CES 2014 is brought to you by AMD!

PC Perspective's CES 2014 coverage is sponsored by AMD.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: ASUS
Manufacturer: NVIDIA G-SYNC

Introduction and Unboxing

Introduction:

We've been covering NVIDIA's new G-Sync tech for quite some time now, and displays so equipped are finally shipping. With all of the excitement going on, I became increasingly interested in the technology, especially since I'm one of those guys who is extremely sensitive to input lag and the inevitable image tearing that results from vsync-off gaming. Increased discussion on our weekly podcast, coupled with the inherent difficulty of demonstrating the effects without seeing G-Sync in action in-person, led me to pick up my own ASUS VG248QE panel for the purpose of this evaluation and review. We've generated plenty of other content revolving around the G-Sync tech itself, so lets get straight into what we're after today - evaluating the out of box installation process of the G-Sync installation kit.

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Unboxing:

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All items are well packed and protected.

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Included are installation instructions, a hard plastic spudger for opening the panel, a couple of stickers, and all necessary hardware bits to make the conversion.

Read on for the full review!

5,000 Pages of Intel Haswell Documentation for Linux

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 31, 2013 - 05:46 PM |
Tagged: linux, iris pro, iris, Intel, haswell

'Tis the season to be sharing and giving (unless you are Disney).

According to Phoronix, Intel has shipped (heh heh heh, "boatload") over 5,000 pages of documentation and technical specs for their Haswell iGPUs including the HD, Iris, and Iris Pro product lines. The intricacies of the 3D engine, GPGPU computation, and video acceleration are laid bare for the open source community. Video acceleration is something that is oft omit from the manuals of other companies.

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Phoronix believes that Intel is, and has been, the best GPU vendor for open-source drivers. AMD obviously supports their open-source community but Intel edges them out on speed. The Radeon HD 7000 series is just beginning to mature, according to their metric, and Hawaii is far behind that. For NVIDIA, the Nouveau driver is still developed primarily by reverse-engineering. That said, documentation was released a few months ago.

Of course all of these comparisons are only considering the open-source drivers.

NVIDIA prides itself on their proprietary driver offering and AMD pretty much offers both up for the user to chose between. Phoronix claims that Intel employs over two-dozen open-source Linux graphics developers but, of course, that is their only graphics driver for Linux. That is not a bad thing, of course, because a launch open-source GPU driver is really identical to what they would launch for a proprietary driver just without slapping the wrists of anyone who tries to tweak it. It does make sense for Intel, however, because community support will certainly do nothing but help their adoption.

If you would like to check out the documentation, it is available at Intel's 01.org.

Source: Phoronix
Author:
Manufacturer: Sapphire

Sapphire Triple Fan Hawaii

It was mid-December when the very first custom cooled AMD Radeon R9 290X card hit our offices in the form of the ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II.  It was cooler, quieter, and faster than the reference model; this is a combination that is hard to pass up (if you could buy it yet).  More and more of these custom models, both in the R9 290 and R9 290X flavor, are filtering their way into PC Perspective. Next on the chopping block is the Sapphire Tri-X model of the R9 290X.  

Sapphire's triple fan cooler already made quite an impression on me when we tested a version of it on the R9 280X retail round up from October.  It kept the GPU cool but it was also the loudest of the retail cards tested at the time.  For the R9 290X model, Sapphire has made some tweaks to the fan speeds and the design of the cooler which makes it a better overall solution as you will soon see.

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The key tenets for any AMD R9 290/290X custom cooled card is to beat AMD's reference cooler in performance, noise, and variable clock rates.  Does Sapphire meet these goals?

The Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X 4GB

While the ASUS DirectCU II card was taller and more menacing than the reference design, the Sapphire Tri-X cooler is longer and appears to be more sleek than the competition thus far.  The bright yellow and black color scheme is both attractive and unique though it does lack the LED light that the 280X showcased.  

Sapphire has overclocked this model slightly, to 1040 MHz on the GPU clock, which puts it in good company.

  AMD Radeon R9 290X ASUS R9 290X DirectCU II Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X
GPU Cores 2816 2816 2816
Rated Clock 1000 MHz 1050 MHz 1040 MHz
Texture Units 176 176 176
ROP Units 64 64 64
Memory 4GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 5000 MHz 5400 MHz 5200 MHz
Memory Interface 512-bit 512-bit 512-bit
TDP ~300 watts ~300 watts ~300 watts
Peak Compute 5.6 TFLOPS 5.6+ TFLOPS 5.6T TFLOPS
MSRP Price $549 $569 $599

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There are three fans on the Tri-X design, as the name would imply, but each are the same size unlike the smaller central fan design of the R9 280X.

Read our review of the Sapphire R9 290X Tri-X 4GB Graphics Card!!

Custom cooled 280X's are great; custom priced ones not so much

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 31, 2013 - 03:13 PM |
Tagged: amd, asus, ASUS ROG, MATRIX PLATINUM R9 280X

There is a lot to love about the ASUS ROG Matrix Platinum R9 280X, from its looks and faster and quieter performance when compared to the reference model.  Still, [H]ard|OCP doesn't recommend running the fan at 100% except in brief moments when you need to dump heat quickly as it is quite loud but 50-60% will keep you below 90C and is not very noticeable.  It overclocks very well, they hit 1270MHz core and 6.6GHz VRAM easily and noticed performance improvements when they did so, pushing past the GTX 770 occasionally.  There is one major disappointment with this card, the price is currently over 50% higher than the base 280X MSRP so you might want to hold off for a while before thinking of purchasing this card.

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"Today we take ASUS' elite R9 280X product, the ASUS ROG MATRIX PLATINUM R9 280X video card, and put its advanced power phasing and board components to the test as we harshly overclock it. We compare it to an ASUS GeForce GTX 770 DirectCU II. Then we will put it head to head against the overclocked SAPPHIRE TOXIC R9 280X."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Mantle for Battlefield 4 Delayed into the New Year

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 30, 2013 - 02:32 PM |
Tagged: amd, Mantle, hawaii, BF4, battlefield 4

If you have been following the mess than has been Battlefield 4 since its release, what with the crashing on both PCs and consoles, you know that EA and DICE have decided that fixing the broken game is the number 1 priority.  Gee, thanks.  

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While they work on that though, there is another casualty of development other than the pending DLC packs: AMD's Mantle version of the game.  If you remember way back in September of 2013, along with the announcement of AMD's Hawaii GPUs, AMD and DICE promised a version of the BF4 game running on Mantle as a free update in December.  If you are counting, that is just 1 more day away from being late.

Today we got this official statement from AMD:

After much consideration, the decision was made to delay the Mantle patch for Battlefield 4. AMD continues to support DICE on the public introduction of Mantle, and we are tremendously excited about the coming release for Battlefield 4! We are now targeting a January release and will have more information to share in the New Year.

Well, it's not a surprise but it sure is a bummer.  One of the killer new features for AMD's GPUs was supposed to be the ability to use this new low-level API to enhance performance for PC games.  As Josh stated in our initial article on the subject, "It bypasses DirectX (and possibly the hardware abstraction layer) and developers can program very close to the metal with very little overhead from software.  This lowers memory and CPU usage, it decreases latency, and because there are fewer “moving parts” AMD claims that they can do 9x the draw calls with Mantle as compared to DirectX.  This is a significant boost in overall efficiency."

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It seems that buyers of the AMD R9 series of graphics need to wait at least another month to really see what the promise of Mantle is really all about. Will the wait be worth it?

Source: AMD

Another Custom Hawaii: MSI R9 290 & 290X GAMING 4G

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 24, 2013 - 04:15 AM |
Tagged: R9 290X, r9 290, msi

MSI just announced their two customized Hawaii GPUs. One of the two new boards will be based on the R9 290 and the other based on the R9 290X. The design is based around the Twin Frozr IV Advanced two-fan model found on previous cards.

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The specifications of the 290X version include three different modes: OC, Gaming and Silent.  The Silent mode will run at 1000 MHz which is the same clock speed as the reference models were set at.  In Gaming mode the card will run at 1030 MHz and in OC mode it will clock at 1040 MHz.  Obviously there will be some slight noise level variances between them but I am pretty sure that the difference between Gaming and OC mode is going to be negligible.  

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The R9 290 version has the same three settings, but the clock speeds are 947 MHz, 977 MHz and 1007 MHz respectively.  

As a final note: MSI's press release claims, "Available Now". It does not appear to be available on either Amazon or Newegg but NCIX claims that it is estimated to arrive February 26th, 2014 for $700. I seriously hope that there are a few typoes... maybe they meant December 26? Maybe they meant not a more-than-$100 premium?

It is, unfortunately, still a wait and see game with these custom AIBs.

Source: MSI

Some Strong AMD FirePro Results in SPECviewperf 12

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 19, 2013 - 07:23 PM |
Tagged: amd, firepro, SPECviewperf

SPECviewperf 12 is a benchmark for workstation components that attempts to measure performance expected for professional applications. It is basically synthetic but is designed to quantify how your system can handle Maya, for instance. AMD provided us with a press deck of some benchmarks they ran leading to many strong FirePro results in the entry to mid-range levels.

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They did not include high-end results which they justify with the quote, "[The] Vast majority of CAD and CAE users purchase entry and mid-range Professional graphics boards". That slide, itself, was titled, "Focusing Where It Matters Most". I will accept that but I assume they did the benchmarks and wonder if it would have just been better to include them.

The cards AMD compared are:

  • Quadro 410 ($105) vs FirePro V3900 ($105)
  • Quadro K600 ($160) vs FirePro V4900 ($150)
  • Quadro K2000 ($425) vs FirePro W5000 ($425)
  • Quadro K4000 ($763) vs FirePro W7000 ($750)

In each of the pairings, about as equally-priced as possible, AMD held decent lead throughout eight tests included in SPECviewperf 12. You could see the performance gap leveling off as prices begun to rise, however.

Obviously a single benchmark suite should be just one data-point when comparing two products. Still, these are pretty healthy performance numbers.

Source: AMD

Hardcoreware Reviews Intel Core i3-4340

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | December 19, 2013 - 04:05 AM |
Tagged: Intel, haswell

In another review from around the net, Carl Nelson over at Hardcoreware tested the dual-core (4 threads) Intel Core i3-4340 based on the Haswell architecture. This processor slides into the $157 retail price point with a maximum frequency of 3.6GHz and an Intel HD 4600 iGPU clocked at 1150MHz. Obviously this is not intended as top-end performance but, of course, not everyone wants that.

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Image Credit: Hardcoreware

One page which I found particularly interesting was the one which benchmarked Battlefield 4 rendering on the iGPU. The AMD A10 6790K (~$130) had slightly lower 99th percentile frame time (characteristic of higher performance) but slightly lower average frames per second (characteristic of lower performance). The graph of frame times shows that AMD is much more consistent than Intel. Perhaps the big blue needs a little Fame Rating? I would be curious to see what is causing the pretty noticeable (in the graph, at least) stutter. AMD's frame pacing seems to be very consistent albeit this is obviously not a Crossfire scenario.

If you are in the low-to-mid $100 price point be sure to check out his review. Also, of course, Kaveri should be coming next month so that is something to look out for.

Source: Hardcoreware