Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 18, 2013 - 01:21 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce GTX 780 Ti
So the really interesting news today was G-Sync but that did not stop NVIDIA from sneaking in a new high-end graphics card. The GeForce GTX 780 Ti follows the company's old method of releasing successful products:
- Attach a seemingly arbitrary suffix to a number
In all seriousness, we know basically nothing about this card. It is entirely possible that its architecture might not even be based on GK110. We do know it will be faster than a GeForce 780 but we have no frame of reference in regards to the GeForce Titan. The two cards were already so close in performance that Ryan struggled to validate the 780's existence. Imagine how difficult it would be for NVIDIA to wedge yet another product in that gap.
And if it does outperform the Titan, what is its purpose? Sure, Titan is a GPGPU powerhouse if you want double-precision performance without purchasing a Tesla or a Quadro, but that is not really relevant for gamers yet.
We shall see, soon, when we get review samples in. You, on the other hand, will likely see more when the card launches mid-November. No word on pricing.
Our Legacys Influence
We are often creatures of habit. Change is hard. And often times legacy systems that have been in place for a very long time can shift and determine the angle at which we attack new problems. This happens in the world of computer technology but also outside the walls of silicon and the results can be dangerous inefficiencies that threaten to limit our advancement in those areas. Often our need to adapt new technologies to existing infrastructure can be blamed for stagnant development.
Take the development of the phone as an example. The pulse based phone system and the rotary dial slowed the implementation of touch dial phones and forced manufacturers to include switches to select between pulse and tone based dialing options on phones for decades.
Perhaps a more substantial example is that of the railroad system that has based the track gauge (width between the rails) on the transportation methods that existed before the birth of Christ. Horse drawn carriages pulled by two horses had an axle gap of 4 feet 8 inches in the 1800s and thus the first railroads in the US were built with a track gauge of 4 feet 8 inches. Today, the standard rail track gauge remains 4 feet 8 inches despite the fact that a wider gauge would allow for more stability of larger cargo loads and allow for higher speed vehicles. But the cost of updating the existing infrastructure around the world would be so cost prohibitive that it is likely we will remain with that outdated standard.
What does this have to do with PC hardware and why am I giving you an abbreviated history lesson? There are clearly some examples of legacy infrastructure limiting our advancement in hardware development. Solid state drives are held back by the current SATA based storage interface though we are seeing movements to faster interconnects like PCI Express to alleviate this. Some compute tasks are limited by the “infrastructure” of standard x86 processor cores and the move to GPU compute has changed the direction of these workloads dramatically.
There is another area of technology that could be improved if we could just move past an existing way of doing things. Displays.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 18, 2013 - 10:52 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: variable refresh rate, refresh rate, nvidia, gsync, geforce, g-sync
UPDATE: I have posted a more in-depth analysis of the new NVIDIA G-Sync technology: NVIDIA G-Sync: Death of the Refres Rate. Thanks for reading!!
UPDATE 2: ASUS has announced the G-Sync enabled version of the VG248QE will be priced at $399.
During a gaming event being held in Montreal, NVIDIA unveield a new technology for GeForce gamers that the company is hoping will revolutionize the PC and displays. Called NVIDIA G-Sync, this new feature will combine changes to the graphics driver as well as change to the monitor to alter the way refresh rates and Vsync have worked for decades.
With standard LCD monitors gamers are forced to choose between a tear-free experience by enabling Vsync or playing a game with the substantial visual anomolies in order to get the best and most efficient frame rates. G-Sync changes that by allowing a monitor to display refresh rates other than 60 Hz, 120 Hz or 144 Hz, etc. without the horizontal tearing normally associated with turning off Vsync. Essentially, G-Sync allows a properly equiped monitor to run at a variable refresh rate which will improve the experience of gaming in interesting ways.
This technology will be available soon on Kepler-based GeForce graphics cards but will require a monitor with support for G-Sync; not just any display will work. The first launch monitor is a variation on the very popular 144 Hz ASUS VG248QE 1920x1080 display and as we saw with 3D Vision, supporting G-Sync will require licensing and hardware changes. In fact, NVIDIA claims that the new logic inside the panels controller is NVIDIA's own design - so you can obviously expect this to only function with NVIDIA GPUs.
DisplayPort is the only input option currently supported.
It turns out NVIDIA will actually be offering retrofitting kits for current users of the VG248QE at some yet to be disclosed cost. The first retail sales of G-Sync will ship as a monitor + retrofit kit as production was just a bit behind.
Using a monitor with a variable refresh rates allows the game to display 55 FPS on the panel at 55 Hz without any horizontal tearing. It can also display 133 FPS at 133 Hz without tearing. Anything below the 144 Hz maximum refresh rate of this monitor will be running at full speed without the tearing associated with the lack of vertical sync.
The technology that NVIDIA is showing here is impressive when seen in person; and that is really the only way to understand the difference. High speed cameras and captures will help but much like 3D Vision was, this is a feature that needs to be seen to be appreciated. How users will react to that road block will have to be seen.
Features like G-Sync show the gaming world that without the restrictions of console there is quite a bit of revolutionary steps that can be made to maintain the PC gaming advantage well into the future. 4K displays were a recent example and now NVIDIA G-Sync adds to the list.
Be sure to stop back at PC Perspective on Monday, November 21st at 2pm ET / 11am PT as we will be joined in-studio by NVIDIA's Tom Petersen to discuss G-Sync, how it was developed and the various ramifications the technology will have in PC gaming. You'll find it all on our PC Perspective Live! page on Monday but you can sign up for our "live stream mailing list" as well to get notified in advance!
NVIDIA G-Sync Live Stream
11am PT / 2pm ET - October 21st
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 17, 2013 - 06:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 760 OEM
A pair of new graphics cards have been announced during the first day of "The Way It's Meant To Be Played Montreal 2013" both of which intended for system builders to integrate into their products. Both cards fall under the GeForce GTX 760 branding with the names: "GeForce GTX 760 Ti (OEM)" and "GeForce GTX 760 192-bit (OEM)".
I will place the main specifications of both cards side-by-side-side with the default GeForce 760 for a little bit of reference. Be sure to check out its benchmark.
|GTX 760||GTX 760 192-bit (OEM)||GTX 760 Ti (OEM)|
|Base Clock||980 MHz||823 MHz||915 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1033 MHz||888 MHz||980 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||6.0 GT/s||5.8 GT/s||6.0 GT/s|
|vRAM (capacity)||2 GB||1.5 or 3 GB||2 GB|
The GeForce 760 is no slouch and, especially the GTX 760 Ti, seems to be pretty close in performance to the retail product. I could see this being a respectible addition to a Steam Machine. I still cannot understand why, like the gaming bundle, these cards were not announced during the keynote speech.
Or, for that matter, why no-one seems to be reporting on them.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 17, 2013 - 05:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: shield, nvidia, bundle
The live stream from NVIDIA, this morning, was full of technologies focused around the PC gaming ecosystem including mobile (but still PC-like) platforms. Today they also announced a holiday gaming bundle for their GeForce cards although that missed the stream for some reason.
If you purchase a GeForce GTX 770, 780, or Titan from a participating retailer (including online), you will receive Splinter Cell: Black List, Batman: Arkham Origins, and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag along with a $100-off coupon for an NVIDIA SHIELD.
If, on the other hand, you purchase a GTX 760, 680, 670, 660 Ti, or 660 from a participating retailer (again, including online), you will receive Splinter Cell: Black List and Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag along with a $50-off coupon for the NVIDIA SHIELD.
The current price at Newegg for an NVIDIA SHIELD is $299 USD. With a $100 discount, this pushes the price point to $199. The $200 price point is a barrier, for videogame systems, under which customers tend to jump at. Reaching the sub-$200 price point could be a big deal even for customers not on the fence especially when you consider PC streaming. Could be.
Assume you were already planning on upgrading your GPU. Would you be interested in adding in an NVIDIA SHIELD for an extra $199?
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 17, 2013 - 04:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, amd
The NDA on AMD R9 290X benchmarks has not yet lifted but AMD was in Montreal to provide two previews: BioShock Infinite and Tomb Raider, both at 4K (3840 x 2160). Keep in mind, these scores are provided by AMD and definitely does not represent results from our monitor-capture solution. Expect more detailed results from us, later, as we do some Frame Rating.
The test machine used in both setups contains:
- Intel Core i7-3960X at 3.3 GHz
- MSI X79A-GD65
- 16GB of DDR3-1600
- Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 (331.40 drivers) / AMD Radeon R9 290X (13.11 beta drivers)
The R9 290X is configured in its "Quiet Mode" during both benchmarks. This is particularly interesting, to me, as I was unaware of such feature (it has been a while since I last used a desktop AMD/ATi card). I would assume this is a fan and power profile to keep noise levels as silent as possible for some period of time. A quick Google search suggests this feature is new with the Radeon Rx200-series cards.
BioShock Infinite is quite demanding at 4K with ultra quality settings. Both cards maintain an average framerate above 30FPS.
AMD R9 290X "Quiet Mode": 44.25 FPS
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780: 37.67 FPS
(Update 1: 4:44pm EST) AMD confirmed TressFX is disabled in these benchmark scores. It, however, is enabled if you are present in Montreal to see the booth. (end of update 1)
Tomb Raider is also a little harsh at those resolutions. Unfortunately, the results are ambiguous whether or not TressFX has been enabled throughout the benchmarks. The summary explicitly claims TressFX is enabled, while the string of settings contains "Tressfx=off". Clearly, one of the two entries is a typo. We are currently trying to get clarification. In the mean time:
AMD R9 290X "Quiet Mode": 40.2 FPS
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780: 34.5 FPS
Notice how both of these results are not compared to a GeForce Titan. Recent leaks suggest a retail price for AMD's flagship card in the low-$700 market. The GeForce 780, on the other hand, resides in the $650-700 USD price point.
It seems pretty clear, to me, that cost drove this comparison rather than performance.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 17, 2013 - 03:46 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, radeon
In summary, "We don't know yet".
We do know of a story posted by Fudzilla which cited Roy Taylor, VP of Global Channel Sales, as a source confirming the reintroduction of Never Settle for the new "Rx200" Radeon cards. Adding credibility, Roy Taylor retweeted the story via his official account. This tweet is still there as I write this post.
The Tech Report, after publishing the story, was contacted by Robert Hallock of AMD Gaming and Graphics. The official word, now, is that AMD does not have any announcements regarding bundles for new products. He is also quoted, "We continue to consider Never Settle bundles as a core component of AMD Gaming Evolved program and intend to do them again in the future".
So, I (personally) see promise in that we will see a new Never Settle bundle. For the moment, AMD is officially silent on the matter. Also, we do not know (and, it is possible, neither does AMD at this time) which games will be included and how many users can claim if there will even be a choice at all.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 17, 2013 - 01:45 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, nvidia, live blog, live
Last month it was AMD hosting the media out in sunny Hawaii for a #GPU14 press event. This week NVIDIA is hosting a group of media in Montreal for a two-day event built around "The Way It's Meant to be Played".
NVIDIA promises some very impressive software and technology demonstrations on hand and you can take it all in with our live blog and (hopefully) live stream on our PC Perspective Live! page!
It starts at 10am ET / 7am PT so join us bright and early!! And don't forget to stop by tomorrow for an even more exciting Day 2!!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 16, 2013 - 10:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: FPGA, Altera
(Update 10/17/2013, 6:13 PM) Apparently I messed up inputing this into the website last night. To compare FPGAs with current hardware, the Altera Stratix 10 is rated at more than 10 TeraFLOPs compared to the Tesla K20X at ~4 TeraFLOPs or the GeForce Titan at ~4.5 TeraFLOPs. All figures are single precision. (end of update)
Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs) are not general purpose processors; they are not designed to perform any random instruction at any random time. If you have a specific set of instructions that you want performed efficiently, you can spend a couple of hours compiling your function(s) to an FPGA which will then be the hardware embodiment of your code.
This is similar to an Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) except that, for an ASIC, it is the factory who bakes your application into the hardware. Many (actually, to my knowledge, almost every) FPGAs can even be reprogrammed if you can spare those few hours to configure it again.
Altera is a manufacturer of FPGAs. They are one of the few companies who were allowed access to Intel's 14nm fabrication facilities. Rahul Garg of Anandtech recently published a story which discussed compiling OpenCL kernels to FPGAs using Altera's compiler.
Now this is pretty interesting.
The design of OpenCL splits work between "host" and "kernel". The host application is written in some arbitrary language and follows typical programming techniques. Occasionally, the application will run across a large batch of instructions. A particle simulation, for instance, will require position information to be computed. Rather than having the host code loop through every particle and perform some complex calculation, what happens to each particle could be "a kernel" which the host adds to the queue of some accelerator hardware. Normally, this is a GPU with its thousands of cores chunked into groups of usually 32 or 64 (vendor-specific).
An FPGA, on the other hand, can lock itself to the specific set of instructions. It can decide to, within a few hours, configure some arbitrary number of compute paths and just churn through each kernel call until it is finished. The compiler knows exactly the application it will need to perform while the host code runs on the CPU.
This is obviously designed for enterprise applications, at least as far into the future as we can see. Current models are apparently priced in the thousands of dollars but, as the article points out, has the potential to out-perform a 200W GPU at just a tenth of the power. This could be very interesting for companies, perhaps a film production house, who wants to install accelerator cards for sub-d surfaces or ray tracing but would like to develop the software in-house and occasionally update their code after business hours.
Regardless of the potential market, a FPGA-based add-in card simply makes sense for OpenCL and its architecture.
Subject: Graphics Cards | October 14, 2013 - 08:52 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: xbox one, microsot, Mantle, dx11, amd
Microsoft posted a new blog on its Windows site that discusses some of the new features of the latest DirectX on Windows 8.1 and the upcoming Xbox One. Of particular interest was a line that confirms what I have said all along about the much-hyped AMD Mantle low-level API: it is not compatible with Xbox One.
We are very excited that with the launch of Xbox One, we can now bring the latest generation of Direct3D 11 to console. The Xbox One graphics API is “Direct3D 11.x” and the Xbox One hardware provides a superset of Direct3D 11.2 functionality. Other graphics APIs such as OpenGL and AMD’s Mantle are not available on Xbox One.
What does this mean for AMD? Nothing really changes except some of the common online discussion about how easy it would now be for developers to convert games built for the console to the AMD-specific Mantle API. AMD claims that Mantle offers a significant performance advantage over DirectX and OpenGL by giving developers that choose to implement support for it closer access to the hardware without much of the software overhead found in other APIs.
This is what Mantle does. 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. Before everyone gets too excited, we will not see a 9x improvement in overall performance with every application. A single HD 7790 running in Mantle is not going to power 3 x 1080P monitors in Eyefinity faster than a HD 7970 or GTX 780 (in Surround) running in DirectX. Mantle shifts the bottleneck elsewhere.
I still believe that AMD Mantle could bring interesting benefits to the AMD Radeon graphics cards on the PC but I think this official statement from Microsoft will dampen some of the over excitement.
Also worth noting is this comment about the DX11 implementation on the Xbox One:
With Xbox One we have also made significant enhancements to the implementation of Direct3D 11, especially in the area of runtime overhead. The result is a very streamlined, “close to metal” level of runtime performance. In conjunction with the third generation PIX performance tool for Xbox One, developers can use Direct3D 11 to unlock the full performance potential of the console.
So while Windows and the upcoming Xbox One will share an API there will still be performance advantages for games on the console thanks to the nature of a static hardware configuration.
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