NVIDIA Faces Class Action Lawsuit for the GeForce GTX 970

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 23, 2015 - 04:12 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, geforce, GTX 970

So apparently NVIDIA and a single AIB partner, Gigabyte, are facing a class action lawsuit because of the GeForce GTX 970 4GB controversy. I am not sure why they singled out Gigabyte, but I guess that is the way things go in the legal world. Unlucky for them, and seemingly lucky for the rest.

nvidia-970-architecture.jpg

For those who are unaware, the controversy is based on NVIDIA claiming that the GeForce GTX 970 has 4GB of RAM, 64 ROPs, and 2048 KB of L2 Cache. In actuality, it has 56 ROPs and 1792KB of L2 Cache. The main talking point is that the RAM is segmented into two partitions, one that is 3.5GB and another that is 0.5GB. All 4GB are present on the card though, and accessible (unlike the disable L2 Cache and ROPs). Then again, I cannot see an instance in that class action lawsuit's exhibits which claim an incorrect number of ROPs or amount of L2 Cache.

Again, the benchmarks that you saw when the GeForce GTX 970 launched are still valid. Since the issue came up, Ryan has also tried various configurations of games in single- and multi-GPU systems to find conditions that would make the issue appear.

Source: Court Filing

Windows Update Installs GeForce 349.65 with WDDM 2.0

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 21, 2015 - 04:23 PM |
Tagged: wddm 2.0, nvidia, geforce 349.65, geforce, dx12

Update 2: Outside sources have confirmed to PC Perspective that this driver contains DirectX 12 as well as WDDM 2.0. They also claim that Intel and AMD have DirectX 12 drivers available through Windows Update as well. After enabling iGPU graphics on my i7-4790K, the Intel HD 4600 received a driver update, which also reports as WDDM 2.0 in DXDIAG. I do not have a compatible AMD GPU to test against (just a couple of old Windows 7 laptops) but the source is probably right and some AMD GPUs will be updated to DX12 too.

So it turns out that if your motherboard dies during a Windows Update reboot, then you are going to be spending several hours reinstalling software and patches, but that is not important. What is interesting is the installed version number for NVIDIA's GeForce Drivers when Windows Update was finished with its patching: 349.65. These are not available on NVIDIA's website, and the Driver Model reports WDDM 2.0.

nvidia-34965-driver.png

It looks like Microsoft pushed out NVIDIA's DirectX 12 drivers through Windows Update. Update 1 Pt. 1: The "Runtime" reporting 11.0 is confusing though, perhaps this is just DX11 with WDDM 2.0?

nvidia-34965-dxdiag.png

I am hearing online that these drivers support the GeForce 600 series and later GPUs, and that there are later, non-public drivers available (such as 349.72 whose release notes were leaked online). NVIDIA has already announced that DirectX 12 will be supported on GeForce 400-series and later graphics cards, so Fermi drivers will be coming at some point. For now, it's apparently Kepler-and-later, though.

So with OS support and, now, released graphics drivers, all that we are waiting on is software and an SDK (plus any NDAs that may still be in effect). With Game Developers Conference (GDC 2015) coming up in a little over a week, I expect that we will get each of these very soon.

Update 1 Pt. 2: I should note that the release notes for 349.72 specifically mention DirectX 12. As mentioned above, is possible that 349.65 contains just WDDM 2.0 and not DX12, but it contains at least WDDM 2.0.

GPU Market sees 20-point swing in 2014: NVIDIA gains, AMD falls

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 21, 2015 - 12:18 PM |
Tagged: radeon, nvidia, marketshare, market share, geforce, amd

One of the perennial firms that measures GPU market share, Jon Peddie Research, has come out with a report on Q4 of 2014 this weekend and the results are eye opening. According to the data, NVIDIA and AMD each took dramatic swings from Q4 of 2013 to Q4 of 2014.

  Q4 2014 Q3 2014 Q4 2013 Year-to-year Change
AMD 24.0% 28.4% 35.0% -11.0%
Matrox 0.00% 0.10% 0.10% -0.1%
NVIDIA 76.0% 71.5% 64.9% +11.1%
S3 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% +0.0%

Data source: Jon Peddie Research

Here is the JPR commentary to start us out:

JPR's AIB Report tracks computer add-in graphics boards, which carry discrete graphics chips. AIBs used in desktop PCs, workstations, servers, and other devices such as scientific instruments. They are sold directly to customers as aftermarket products, or are factory installed. In all cases, AIBs represent the higher end of the graphics industry using discrete chips and private high-speed memory, as compared to the integrated GPUs in CPUs that share slower system memory.

The news was encouraging and seasonally understandable, quarter-to-quarter, the market decreased -0.68% (compared to the desktop PC market, which decreased 3.53%).

On a year-to-year basis, we found that total AIB shipments during the quarter fell -17.52% , which is more than desktop PCs, which fell -0.72%.

However, in spite of the overall decline, somewhat due to tablets and embedded graphics, the PC gaming momentum continues to build and is the bright spot in the AIB market.

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NVIDIA's Maxwell GPU

The overall PC desktop market increased quarter-to-quarter including double-attach-the adding of a second (or third) AIB to a system with integrated processor graphics-and to a lesser extent, dual AIBs in performance desktop machines using either AMD's Crossfire or Nvidia's SLI technology.

The attach rate of AIBs to desktop PCs has declined from a high of 63% in Q1 2008 to 36% this quarter.

The year to year change that JPR is reporting is substantial and shows a 20+ point change in market share in favor of NVIDIA over AMD. According to this data, AMD's market share has now dropped from 35% at the end of 2013 to just 24% at the end of 2014. Meanwhile, NVIDIA continues to truck forward, going from 64.9% at the end of 2013 to 76% at the end of 2014.

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The Radeon R9 285 release didn't have the impact AMD had hoped

Clearly the release of NVIDIA's Maxwell GPUs, the GeForce GTX 750 Ti, GTX 970 and GTX 980 have impacted the market even more than we initially expected. In recent weeks the GTX 970 has been getting a lot of negative press with the memory issue and I will be curious to see what effect this has on sales in the near future. But the 12 month swing that you see in the table above is the likely cause for the sudden departure of John Byrne, Collette LaForce and Raj Naik.

AMD has good products, even better pricing and a team of PR and marketing folks that are talented and aggressive. So how can the company recover from this? Products, people; new products. Will the rumors circling around the Radeon R9 390X develop into such a product?

Hopefully 2015 will provide it.

EVGA would like to give you a GTX 960 SSC and a Z97 FTW motherboard

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | February 20, 2015 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: z97, gtx 960, giveaway, evga, contest

I know, the nerve of some people. Jacob from EVGA emails me this week, complaining about how he has this graphics card and motherboard just sitting in his cubicle taking up space and "why won't I just give it away already!?"

Fine. I'll do it. For science.

So let's make this simple shall we? EVGA wants to get rid of some kick-ass gaming hardware and you want to win it. Why muddle up a good thing?

The Prizes

  • EVGA GeForce GTX 960 SSC
     
    • The EVGA GeForce GTX 960 delivers incredible performance, power efficiency, and gaming technologies that only NVIDIA Maxwell technology can offer. This is the perfect upgrade, offering 60% faster performance and twice the power efficiency of previous-generation cards*. Plus, it features VXGI for realistic lighting, support for smooth, tear-free NVIDIA G-SYNC technology, and Dynamic Super Resolution for 4K-quality gaming on 1080P displays.
       
    • The new EVGA ACX 2.0+ cooler brings new features to the award winning EVGA ACX 2.0 cooling technology. A Memory MOSFET Cooling Plate (MMCP) reduces MOSFET temperatures up to 11°C, and optimized Straight Heat Pipes (SHP) reduce GPU temperature by an additional 5°C. ACX 2.0+ coolers also feature optimized Swept fan blades, double ball bearings and an extreme low power motor, delivering more air flow with less power, unlocking additional power for the GPU.

evgacontest1.jpg

  • EVGA Z97 FTW Motherboard
     
    • Welcome to a new class of high performance motherboards with the EVGA Z97 lineup. These platforms offer a return to greatness with a new GUI BIOS interface, reimagined power VRM that focuses on efficiency, and are loaded with features such as Intel® Gigabit LAN, Native SATA 6G/USB 3.0 and more.
       
    • Engineered for the performance users with excellent overclocking features. Includes a GUI BIOS that is focused on functionality, new software interface for overclocking in the O.S., high quality components, M.2 storage option and more.

evgacontest2.jpg

The Process (aka how do you win?)

So even though I'm doing all the work getting this hardware out of Jacob's busy hands and to our readers...you do have to do a couple of things to win the hardware as well. 

  1. Fill out the questionnaire below.
     
  2. Enter the "secret phrase" from tonight's 337th episode of the PC Perspective Podcast. We'll be live streaming at 10pm ET / 7pm PT or you can wait for the downloadable version at http://www.pcper.com/podcast or the video version on our PC Perspective YouTube channel

The contest will run for one week so you will have more than enough time to listen to or watch the podcast and get the super-secret answer. We'll ship to anywhere in the world and one person will win both fantastic prizes! Once the contest closes (Wednesday, February 25th at 12pm ET) we'll randomly draw a winner from the form below that got the correct answer!

A HUGE thanks goes to our friends at EVGA for supplying the hardware for our giveaway. Good luck!

Source: EVGA

You have to pay to play, Gigabyte's overclockable GTX 980 G1 GAMING

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 20, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, nvidia, GTX 980 G1 GAMING, windforce, maxwell, factory overclocked

If you want the same amount of Maxwell Streaming Multiprocessors and ROP units as a GTX 980 as well as that last 500MB of RAM to run at full speed then you will need to pay for a GTX 980.  One choice is Gigabyte's GTX 980 G1 Gaming which will cost you $580, around $240 more than a GTX 970 but the premium can be worth it if you need the power.  [H]ard|OCP took the already overclocked card from a boost GPU frequency of 1329MHz and RAM of 7GHz all the way to a boost of 1513MHz with RAM topping out at 8.11GHz.  That overclock had a noticeable effect on performance and helped the card garner an Editors Choice award.  See it in action here.

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"Today we have the GIGABYTE GTX 980 G1 GAMING, which features the WINDFORCE 600W cooling system and a high factory overclock. We will make comparisons to the competition, find out how fast it is compared to a GTX 980, and you won't believe the overclock we achieved! We will make both performance and price comparisons."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Recants: Overclocking Returning to Mobile GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards, Mobile | February 19, 2015 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, mobile, gpu

After a week or so of debate circling NVIDIA's decsision to disable overclocking on mobility GPUs, we have word that the company has reconsidered and will be re-enabling the feature in next month's driver release:

As you know, we are constantly tuning and optimizing the performance of your GeForce PC.

We obsess over every possible optimization so that you can enjoy a perfectly stable machine that balances game, thermal, power, and acoustic performance.

Still, many of you enjoy pushing the system even further with overclocking.

Our recent driver update disabled overclocking on some GTX notebooks. We heard from many of you that you would like this feature enabled again. So, we will again be enabling overclocking in our upcoming driver release next month for those affected notebooks. 

If you are eager to regain this capability right away, you can also revert back to 344.75.

Now, I don't want to brag here, but we did just rail NVIDIA for this decision on last night's podcast...and then the decision was posted on NVIDIA's forums just four hours ago... I'm not saying, but I'm just saying!

nvidia-logo.jpg

All kidding aside, this is great news! And NVIDIA desperately needs to be paying attention to what consumers are asking for in order to make up for some poor decisions made in the last several months. Now (or at least soon), you will be able to return to your mobile GPU overclocking!

Amazon, Newegg and others offering partial refunds on GTX 970 purchases

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 19, 2015 - 01:51 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, memory issue, GTX 970, geforce

It looks like some online retailers are offering up either partial refunds or full refunds (with return) for those users that complain about the implications of the GeForce GTX 970 memory issue. On January 25th NVIDIA came clean about the true memory architecture of the GTX 970 which included changes to specifications around L2 cache and ROP count in addition to the division of the 4GB of memory into two distinct memory pools. Some users have complained about performance issues in heavy memory-depedent gaming scenarios even though my own testing has been less than conclusive

GM204_arch.jpg

Initially there was a demand for a recall or some kind of compensation from NVIDIA regarding the issue but that has fallen flat. What appears to be working (for some people) is going to the retailer directly. A thread on reddit.com's Hardware sub-reddit shows quite a few users were able to convince Amazon to issue 20-30% price refunds for their trouble. Even Newegg has been spotted offering either a full refund with return after the typical return window or a 20% credit through gift cards. 

gtx970refund.jpg

To be fair, some users are seeing their requests denied:

"After going back and forth for the past hour I manage to escalated my partial refund to a supervisor who promptly declined it."

"Are you serious? NewEgg told me to go complain to the vendor."

So, while we can debate the necessity or vadidity of these types of full or partial refunds from a moral ground, the truth is that this is happening. I'm very curious to hear what NVIDIA's internal thinking is on this matter and if it will impact relationships between NVIDIA, it's add-in card partners and the online retailers themselves. Who ends up paying the final costs is still up in the air I would bet.

Our discussion on the original GTX 970 Issue - Subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more!

What do you think? Is this just some buyers taking advantage of the situation for their own gain? Warranted requests from gamers that were taken advantage of? Leave me your thoughts in the comments!

Further reading on this issue:

Source: Reddit.com

ASUS Announces GTX 960 Mini - A New Small Form-Factor Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 16, 2015 - 11:04 AM |
Tagged: SFF, nvidia, mini-ITX GPU, mini-itx, gtx 960, graphics, gpu, geforce, asus

ASUS returns to the mini-ITX friendly form-factor with the GTX 960 Mini (officially named GTX960-MOC-2GD5 for maximum convenience), their newest NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 graphics card.

image.jpg

Other than the smaller size to allow compatibility with a wider array of small enclosures, the GTX 960 Mini also features an overclocked core and promises "20% cooler and vastly quieter" performance from its custom heatsink and CoolTech fan. Here's a quick rundown of key specs:

  • 1190 MHz Base Clock / 1253 MHz Boost Clock
  • 1024 CUDA cores
  • 2GB 128-bit GDDR5 @ 7010 MHz
  • 3x DisplayPort, 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x DVI output

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​No word on the pricing or availability of the card just yet. The other mini-ITX version of the GTX 960 on the market from Gigabyte has been selling for $199.99, so expect this to run somewhere between $200-$220 at launch.

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ASUS has reused this image from the GTX 970 Mini launch, and so have I

The product page is up on the ASUS website so availability seems imminent.

Source: ASUS

Ubisoft Discusses Assassin's Creed: Unity with Investors

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | February 15, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: ubisoft, DirectX 12, directx 11, assassins creed, assassin's creed, assasins creed unity

During a conference call with investors, analysts, and press, Yves Guillemot, CEO of Ubisoft, highlighted the issues with Assassin's Creed: Unity with an emphasis on the positive outcomes going forward. Their quarter itself was good, beating expectations and allowing them to raise full-year projections. As expected, they announced that a new Assassin's Creed game would be released at the end of the year based on the technology they created for Unity, with “lessons learned”.

ubisoft-assassins-creed-unity-scene.jpg

Before optimization, every material on every object is at least one draw call.

Of course, there are many ways to optimize... but that effort works against future titles.

After their speech, the question period revisited the topic of Assassin's Creed: Unity and how it affected current sales, how it would affect the franchise going forward, and how should they respond to that foresight (Audio Recording - The question starts at 25:20). Yves responded that they redid “100% of the engine”, which was a tremendous undertaking. “When you do that, it's painful for all the group, and everything has to be recalibrated.” He continues: “[...] but the engine has been created, and it is going to help that brand to shine in the future. It's steps that we need to take regularly so that we can constantly innovated. Those steps are sometimes painful, but they allow us to improve the overall quality of the brand, so we think this will help the brand in the long term.”

This makes a lot of sense to me. When the issues first arose, it was speculated that the engine was pushing way too many draw calls, especially for DirectX 11 PCs. At the time, I figured that Ubisoft chose Assassin's Creed: Unity to be the first title to use their new development pipeline, focused on many simple assets rather than batching things together to minimize host-to-GPU and GPU-to-host interactions. Tens of thousands of individual tasks being sent to the GPU will choke a PC, and getting it to run at all on DirectX 11 might have diverted resources from, or even caused, many of the glitches. Currently, a few thousand is ideal although “amazing developers” can raise the ceiling to about ten thousand.

This also means that I expect the next Assassin's Creed title to support DirectX 12, possibly even in the graphics API's launch window. If I am correct, Ubisoft has been preparing for it for a long time. Of course, it is possible that I am simply wrong, but it would align with Microsoft's Holiday 2015 expectation for the first, big-budget titles to use the new interface and it would be silly to have done their big overhaul without planning on switching to DX12 ASAP.

Then there is the last concern: If I am correct, what should Ubisoft have done? Is it right for them to charge full price for a title that they know will have necessary birth pains? Do they delay it and risk (or even accept) that it will be non-profitable, and upset fans that way? There does not seem to be a clear answer, with all outcomes being some flavor of damage control.

Source: GamaSutra

Maxwell keeps on overclocking

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 12, 2015 - 01:41 PM |
Tagged: overclocking, nvidia, msi, gtx 960, GM206, maxwell

While Ryan was slaving over a baker's dozen of NVIDIA's GTX 960s, [H]ard|OCP focused on overclocking the MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING 2G that they recently reviewed.  Out of the box this GPU will hit 1366MHz in game, with memory frequency unchanged at 7GHz effective.  As users have discovered, overclocking cards with thermal protection that automatically downclocks the GPU when a certain TDP threshold has been reached is a little more tricky as simply upping the power provided to the card can raise the temperature enough that you end up with a lesser frequency that before you overvolted.  After quite a bit of experimentation, [H] managed to boost the memory to a full 8GHz and the in game GPU was hitting 1557MHz which is at the higher end of what Ryan saw.  The trick was to increase the Power Limit and turn the clock speed up but leave the voltage alone.

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"We push the new MSI GeForce GTX 960 GAMING video card to its limits of performance by overclocking to its limits. This NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960 GPU based video card has a lot of potential for hardware enthusiasts and gamers wanting more performance. We compare it with other overclocked cards to see if the GTX 960 can keep up."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP