Steam Machine Specifications Revealed...?

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling, Systems | October 4, 2013 - 07:19 PM |
Tagged: valve, Steam Machine

Well, that did not take long.

Valve announced the Steam Machines barely over a week ago and could not provide hardware specifications. While none of these will be available for purchase, the honor of taking money reserved for system builders and OEMs, Valve has announced hardware specifications for their beta device.

Rather, they announced a few of them?

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The raw specifications, or range of them, are:

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce Titan through GeForce GTX660 (780 and 760 possible)
  • CPU: Intel i7-4770 or i5-4570, or i3-something
  • RAM: 16GB DDR3-1600 (CPU), 3GB GDDR5 (GPU)
  • Storage: 1TB/8GB Hybrid SSHD
  • Power Supply: 450W
  • Dimensions: approx. 12" x 12.4" x 2.9"

Really the only reason I could see for the spread of performance is to not pressure developers into targeting a single reference design. This is odd, since every reference design contains an NVIDIA GPU which (you would expect) a company who wants to encourage an open mind would not have such a glaring omission. I could speculate about driver compatibility with SteamOS and media streaming but even that feels far-fetched.

On the geeky side of things: the potential for a GeForce Titan is fairly awesome and, along with the minimum GeForce 660, is the first sign that I might be wrong about this whole media center extender thing. My expectation was that Valve would acknowledge some developers might want a streaming-focused device.

Above all, I somewhat hope Valve is a bit more clear to consumers with their intent... especially if their intent is to be unclear with OEMs for some reason.

AMD Published GPU Guides for Open Source Community

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 2, 2013 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: amd, linux

Last week, NVIDIA published documentation for Nouveau to heal wounds with the open source community. AMD had a better reputation and intends to maintain it. On Tuesday, Alex Deucher published 9 PDF documents, 1178 pages of register and acceleration documentation along with 18 pages of HDA GPU audio programming details, compared to the 42 pages NVIDIA published.

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Sure, a page to page comparison is meaningless, but it is clear AMD did not want to be outdone. This is especially true when you consider that some of these documents date back to early 2009. Still, reactionary or not, the open source community should accept the assistance with open arms... and open x86s?

I should note that these documents do not cover Volcanic Islands; they are for everything between Evergreen and Sea Islands.

Source: AMD

ARMA III is designed solely for the PC and it shows

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | October 2, 2013 - 02:20 PM |
Tagged: gaming, ARMA III

Forget Crysis, if you want to hammer your PC pick up ARMA III and try turning up the settings!  Even an i7-3770K @ 4.8GHz and GTX 780's in SLI struggle to render this game with all the graphical bells and whistles turned on.  The close up landscapes and objects are gorgeous with high quality textures but to truly get into the feel of the game you need to be able to turn up the veiw distance and number of displayed objects as you can see from [H]ard|OCP's screenshots below.  [H] spent ia bit of time breaking down the best playable settings for numerous GPUs from NVIDIA and AMD as well as showing you the impact that MSAA and PPAA has on the visual quality as well as your PCs performance.  If you want to show off the superiority of a high end gaming machine then this is the game for you.

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"ARMA III is our focus point for today. It features a large open world environment designed on a massive continent measuring 270 square kilometers. To go along side this massive continent is a max visibility range of 20km. Combine this with ARMA III's impressive looking graphics and we have a game that demands performance."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP
Manufacturer: Scott Michaud

A new generation of Software Rendering Engines.

We have been busy with side projects, here at PC Perspective, over the last year. Ryan has nearly broken his back rating the frames. Ken, along with running the video equipment and "getting an education", developed a hardware switching device for Wirecase and XSplit.

My project, "Perpetual Motion Engine", has been researching and developing a GPU-accelerated software rendering engine. Now, to be clear, this is just in very early development for the moment. The point is not to draw beautiful scenes. Not yet. The point is to show what OpenGL and DirectX does and what limits are removed when you do the math directly.

Errata: BioShock uses a modified Unreal Engine 2.5, not 3.

In the above video:

  • I show the problems with graphics APIs such as DirectX and OpenGL.
  • I talk about what those APIs attempt to solve, finding color values for your monitor.
  • I discuss the advantages of boiling graphics problems down to general mathematics.
  • Finally, I prove the advantages of boiling graphics problems down to general mathematics.

I would recommend watching the video, first, before moving forward with the rest of the editorial. A few parts need to be seen for better understanding.

Click here, after you watch the video, to read more about GPU-accelerated Software Rendering.

AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta V2 has been released for Windows and Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 30, 2013 - 06:30 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, catalyst 13.10, beta, windows, linux

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AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta V2 for Windows:

  • Includes 32-bit single GPU and CrossFire game profile for Battlefield 4
  • Total War: Rome 2 CrossFire profile update
  • CrossFire frame pacing improvements for CPU-bound applications
  • Resolves image corruption seen in Autodesk Investor 2014
  • Resolves intermittent black screen when resuming from a S3/S4 sleep state if the display is unplugged during the sleep state on systems supporting AMD Enduro Technology
  • Updated AMD Enduro Technology application profiles

o Profile highlights:

  • Total War: Rome 2
  • Battlefield 4
  • Saints Row 4
  • Splinter Cell Blacklist
  • FIFA 14

AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta for Linux:

Resolved issue highlights:

  • System hang up when startx after setting up an Eyefinity desktop.
  • Permission issue with procfs on kernel 3.10
  • System hang observed while running disaster stress test on Ubuntu 12.10
  • Hang is observed when running Unigine on Linux
  • AC/DC switching is not automatically detected
  • Laptop backlight adjustment is broken
  • Glxtest failures observed in log file with forcing on Anti-Aliasing
  • Cairo-dock is broken
  • Severe desktop corruption is observed when enabled compiz in certain cases 
  • glClientWaitSync is waiting even when timeout is 0
  • C4Engine get corruption with GL_ARB_texture_array enabled

Source: AMD

TechReport: AMD Plans Frame Pacing Driver for CrossFire, Eyefinity, and 4K... This Autumn

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 26, 2013 - 03:35 AM |
Tagged: frame rating, frame pacing, amd

Scott Wasson of The Tech Report just received an interview with Raja Koduri, head of Graphics Hardware and Software Development at AMD, a few hours ago. Part of the interview discussed frame the frame pacing issues we, as well as The Tech Report, published over the last year. In short, the news seems good for owners of Radeon graphics cards, future and even current.

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The "Hawaii" powered Radeon R9 290 and R9 290X graphics cards are expected to handle CrossFire pacing acceptably at launch. Clearly, if there is ever a time to fix the problem, it would be in new hardware. Still, this is good news for interested customers; if all goes to plan, you are likely going to have a good experience out of the box.

Current owners of GCN-based video cards, along with potential buyers of the R9 280X and lower upcoming cards, will apparently need to wait for AMD to release a driver to fix these issues. However, this driver is not far off: Koduri, unclear whether on or off the record, intends for an autumn release. This driver is expected to cover frame pacing issues for CrossFire, Eyefinity, and 4K.

Koduri does believe the CrossFire issues were unfortunate and expresses a desire to fix the issue for his customers.

Keep checking PC Perspective for more information as it comes out!

Editor's Note: I just spoke with Raja Koduri as well and he basically reiterated everything that Scott noted in his story on The Tech Report as well.  The upcoming 290X will have frame pacing at Eyefinity and 4K resolution at launch while the cards below that in the R9 series, and users of Radeon HD 7000 cards (and likely beyond) will need some more time before the driver is ready.  I'll be able to talk quite a bit more about the changes to BOTH architectures very shortly so stay tuned for that.

Source: Tech Report
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

Earth Shattering?

AMD is up to some interesting things.  Today at AMD’s tech day, we discovered a veritable cornucopia of information.  Some of it was pretty interesting (audio), some was discussed ad-naseum (audio, audio, and more audio), and one thing in particular was quite shocking.  Mantle was the final, big subject that AMD was willing to discuss.  Many assumed that the R9 290X would be the primary focus of this talk, but in fact it very much was an aside that was not discussed at any length.  AMD basically said, “Yes, the card exists, and it has some new features that we are not going to really go over at this time.”  Mantle, as a technology, is at the same time a logical step as well as an unforeseen one.  So what all does Mantle mean for users?

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Looking back through the mists of time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the individual 3D chip makers all implemented low level APIs that allowed programmers to get closer to the silicon than what other APIs such as Direct3D and OpenGL would allow.  This was a very efficient way of doing things in terms of graphics performance.  It was an inefficient way to do things for a developer writing code for multiple APIs.  Microsoft and the Kronos Group had solutions with Direct3D and OpenGL that allowed these programmers to develop for these high level APIs very simply (comparatively so).  The developers could write code that would run D3D/OpenGL, and the graphics chip manufacturers would write drivers that would interface with Direct3D/OpenGL, which then go through a hardware abstraction layer to communicate with the hardware.  The onus was then on the graphics people to create solid, high performance drivers that would work well with DirectX or OpenGL, so the game developer would not have to code directly for a multitude of current and older graphics cards.

Read the entire article here.

AMD GPU Lineup Announced: R9 and R7 Series

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | September 25, 2013 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, R7, GPU14, amd

The next generation of AMD graphics processors are being announced this afternoon. They carefully mentioned this event is not a launch. We do not yet know, although I hope we will learn today, when you can give them your money.

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When you can, you will have five products to choose from:

  • R7 250
  • R7 260X
  • R9 270X
  • R9 280X
  • R9 290X

AMD only provides 3D Mark Fire Strike scores for performance. I assume they are using the final score, and not the "graphics score" although they were unclear.

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The R7 250 is the low end card of the group with 1GB of GDDR5. Performance, according to 3DMark scores (>2000 on Fire Strike), is expected to be about two-thirds of what an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti can deliver. Then again, that card retails for about ~$130 USD. The R7 250 has an expected retail value of less than < $89 USD. This is a pretty decent offering which can probably play Battlefield 3 at 1080p if you play with the graphics quality settings somewhere around "medium". This is just my estimate, of course.

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The R7 260X is the next level up. The RAM has been double over the R7 250 to 2GB of GDDR5 and its 3DMark score almost doubled, too (> 3700 on Fire Strike). This puts it almost smack dab atop the Radeon HD 6970. The R7 260X is about $20-30 USD cheaper than the HD 6970. The R7 is expected to retail for $139. Good price cut while keeping up to date on architecture.

amd-gpu14-04.png

The R9 270X is the low end of the high end parts. With 2GB of GDDR5 and a 3DMark Fire Strike score of >5500, this is aimed at the GeForce 670. The R7 270X will retail for around ~$199 which is about $120 USD cheaper than NVIDIA's offering.

amd-gpu14-05.png

The R9 280X should be pretty close to the 7970 GHz Edition. It will be about ~$90 cheaper with an expected retail value of $299. It also has a bump in frame buffer over the lower-tier R9 270X, containing 3GB of GDDR5.

amd-gpu14-06.png

Not a lot is known about the top end, R9 290X, except that it will be the first gaming GPU to cross 5 TeraFLOPs of compute performance. To put that into comparison, the GeForce Titan has a theoretical maximum of 4.5 TeraFLOPs.

amd-gpu14-07.png

If you are interested in the R9 290X and Battlefield 4, you will be able to pre-order a limited edition package containing both products. Pre-orders open "from select partners" October 3rd. For how much? Who knows.

We will keep you informed as we are informed. Also, the announcement is still going on, so tune in!

Source: AMD

AMD GPU14 Event Live Stream and Live Blog

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 25, 2013 - 03:08 PM |
Tagged: live, hawaii, amd

In case you didn't know, AMD is hosting a live stream to talk about the new AMD Hawaii series of GPUs.  You should definitely be on our PC Perspective Live! page right now to participate and watch!

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NVIDIA Mends Open Sores? Documentation for Nouveau.

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 25, 2013 - 02:59 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, Nouveau, linux

AMD commit numerous updates to the open source driver community, three months ago, and has otherwise assisted the Linux community in the past. The same has not been true for NVIDIA. Despite a respectable (albeit lacking compared to Windows) proprietary driver for Linux, this GPU vendor was not adored by the community. They have not been accused of malice, it would just seem to be control over both the end-user experience and, of course, their secret sauce.

Well, NVIDIA is being more cooperative.

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I, obviously, do not have a crystal ball of fortune telling (the journalist house of auction ran out and the gift shop is just too expensive) so it is anyone's guess the future extent of NVIDIA's involvement. For now, their assistance included 42 pages of Device Control Block documentation and proprietary developers answering questions on the Nouveau mailing list.

Many, from Ars Technica to our staff discussions at PC Perspective, note how the change of heart aligns with the SteamOS announcement. I do not really believe these events are related if only because I doubt NVIDIA would wait to contact developers until Valve spoke up. I would have to expect that SteamOS would not be a surprise to NVIDIA especially after Gabe Newell discussed Maxwell virtualization all the way back at CES.

You would think they would have come about while working with NVIDIA on the game streaming technology. You know, allow a single desktop to utilize multiple games across multiple devices. Even still, you would think NVIDIA would just put even more effort into their proprietary driver rather than help Nouveau.

Either way, we will keep an ear out for NVIDIA involvement with the open source community.