Radeon Software 16.7.1 Adjustments
Last week we posted a story that looked at a problem found with the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card’s power consumption. The short version of the issue was that AMD’s new Polaris 10-based reference card was drawing more power than its stated 150 watt TDP and that it was drawing more power through the motherboard PCI Express slot that the connection was rated for. And sometimes that added power draw was significant, both at stock settings and overclocked. Seeing current draw over a connection rated at just 5.5A peaking over 7A at stock settings raised an alarm (validly) and our initial report detailed the problem very specifically.
AMD responded initially that “everything was fine here” but the company eventually saw the writing on the wall and started to work on potential solutions. The Radeon RX 480 is a very important product for the future of Radeon graphics and this was a launch that needs to be as perfect as it can be. Though the risk to users’ hardware with the higher than expected current draw is muted somewhat by motherboard-based over-current protection, it’s crazy to think that AMD actually believed that was the ideal scenario. Depending on the “circuit breaker” in any system to save you when standards exists for exactly that purpose is nuts.
Today AMD has released a new driver, version 16.7.1, that actually introduces a pair of fixes for the problem. One of them is hard coded into the software and adjusts power draw from the different +12V sources (PCI Express slot and 6-pin connector) while the other is an optional flag in the software that is disabled by default.
Reconfiguring the power phase controller
The Radeon RX 480 uses a very common power controller (IR3567B) on its PCB to cycle through the 6 power phases providing electricity to the GPU itself. Allyn did some simple multimeter trace work to tell us which phases were connected to which sources and the result is seen below.
The power controller is responsible for pacing the power coming in from the PCI Express slot and the 6-pin power connection to the GPU, in phases. Phases 1-3 come in from the power supply via the 6-pin connection, while phases 4-6 source power from the motherboard directly. At launch, the RX 480 drew nearly identical amounts of power from both the PEG slot and the 6-pin connection, essentially giving each of the 6 phases at work equal time.
That might seem okay, but it’s far from the standard of what we have seen in the past. In no other case have we measured a graphics card drawing equal power from the PEG slot as from an external power connector on the card. (Obviously for cards without external power connections, that’s a different discussion.) In general, with other AMD and NVIDIA based graphics cards, the motherboard slot would provide no more than 50-60 watts of power, while any above that would come from the 6/8-pin connections on the card. In many cases I saw that power draw through the PEG slot was as low as 20-30 watts if the external power connections provided a lot of overage for the target TDP of the product.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 02:50 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rx480, rx 480, Radeon RX 480, radeon, power draw, PCIe power, graphics drivers, driver, Crimson Edition 16.7.1, amd
As promised, AMD has released an updated driver for the RX 480 graphics card, and the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 promises a fix for the power consumption concerns we have been covering in-depth.
Note: We have published our full analysis of the new 16.7.1 driver, available here.
AMD lists these highlights for the new Crimson Edition 16.7.1 software:
"The Radeon RX 480’s power distribution has been improved for AMD reference boards, lowering the current drawn from the PCIe bus.
A new 'compatibility mode' UI toggle has been made available in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues. This toggle is 'off' by default.
Performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the 'compatibility' toggle."
You can go directly to AMD's page for this updated driver from this direct link: http://support.amd.com/en-us/download/desktop?os=Windows%2010%20-%2064
It’s probably not going to come as a surprise to anyone that reads the internet, but NVIDIA is officially taking the covers off its latest GeForce card in the Pascal family today, the GeForce GTX 1060. As the number scheme would suggest, this is a more budget-friendly version of NVIDIA’s latest architecture, lowering performance in line with expectations. The GP106-based GPU will still offer impressive specifications and capabilities and will probably push AMD’s new Radeon RX 480 to its limits.
Let’s take a quick look at the card’s details.
|GTX 1060||RX 480||R9 390||R9 380||GTX 980||GTX 970||GTX 960||R9 Nano||GTX 1070|
|GPU||GP106||Polaris 10||Grenada||Tonga||GM204||GM204||GM206||Fiji XT||GP104|
|Rated Clock||1506 MHz||1120 MHz||1000 MHz||970 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1126 MHz||up to 1000 MHz||1506 MHz|
|Texture Units||80 (?)||144||160||112||128||104||64||256||120|
|ROP Units||48 (?)||32||64||32||64||56||32||64||64|
|Memory Clock||8000 MHz||7000 MHz
|6000 MHz||5700 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||500 MHz||8000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||192-bit||256-bit||512-bit||256-bit||256-bit||256-bit||128-bit||4096-bit (HBM)||256-bit|
|Memory Bandwidth||192 GB/s||224 GB/s
|384 GB/s||182.4 GB/s||224 GB/s||196 GB/s||112 GB/s||512 GB/s||256 GB/s|
|TDP||120 watts||150 watts||275 watts||190 watts||165 watts||145 watts||120 watts||275 watts||150 watts|
|Peak Compute||3.85 TFLOPS||5.1 TFLOPS||5.1 TFLOPS||3.48 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||3.4 TFLOPS||2.3 TFLOPS||8.19 TFLOPS||5.7 TFLOPS|
The GeForce GTX 1060 will sport 1280 CUDA cores with a GPU Boost clock speed rated at 1.7 GHz. Though the card will be available in only 6GB varieties, the reference / Founders Edition will ship with 6GB of GDDR5 memory running at 8.0 GHz / 8 Gbps. With 1280 CUDA cores, the GP106 GPU is essentially one half of a GP104 in terms of compute capability. NVIDIA decided not to cut the memory interface in half though, instead going with a 192-bit design compared to the GP104 and its 256-bit option.
The rated GPU clock speeds paint an interesting picture for peak performance of the new card. At the rated boost clock speed, the GeForce GTX 1070 produces 6.46 TFLOPS of performance. The GTX 1060 by comparison will hit 4.35 TFLOPS, a 48% difference. The GTX 1080 offers nearly the same delta of performance above the GTX 1070; clearly NVIDIA has set the scale Pascal and product deviation.
NVIDIA wants us to compare the new GeForce GTX 1060 to the GeForce GTX 980 in gaming performance, but the peak theoretical performance results don’t really match up. The GeForce GTX 980 is rated at 4.61 TFLOPS at BASE clock speed, while the GTX 1060 doesn’t hit that number at its Boost clock. Obviously Pascal improves on performance with memory compression advancements, but the 192-bit memory bus is only able to run at 192 GB/s, compared to the 224 GB/s of the GTX 980. Obviously we’ll have to wait for performance result from our own testing to be sure, but it seems possible that NVIDIA’s performance claims might depend on technology like Simultaneous Multi-Projection and VR gaming to be validated.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 11:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: titan, pascal, nvidia, gtx 1080 ti, gp102, GP100
Normally, I pose these sorts of rumors as “Well, here you go, and here's a grain of salt.” This one I'm fairly sure is bogus, at least to some extent. I could be wrong, but especially the GP100 aspects of it just doesn't make sense.
Before I get to that, the rumor is that NVIDIA will announce a GeForce GTX Titan P at Gamescom in Germany. The event occurs mid-August (17th - 21st) and it has been basically Europe's E3 in terms of gaming announcements. It also overlaps with Europe's Game Developers Conference (GDC), which occurs in March for us. The rumor says that it will use GP100 (!?!) with either 12GB of VRAM, 16GB of VRAM, or two variants as we've seen with the Tesla P100 accelerator.
The rumor also acknowledges the previously rumored GP102 die, claims that it will be for the GTX 1080 Ti, and suggests that it will have up to 3840 CUDA cores. This is the same number of CUDA cores as the GP100, which is where I get confused. This would mean that NVIDIA made a special die, which other rumors claim is ~450mm2, for just the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti.
I mean, it's possible that NVIDIA would split the GTX 1080 Ti and the next Titan by similar gaming performance, just with better half- and double-precision performance and faster memory for GPGPU developers. That would be a very weird to me, though, developing two different GPU dies for the consumer market with probably the same gaming performance.
And they would be announcing the Titan P first???
The harder to yield one???
When the Tesla version isn't even expected until Q4???
I can see it happening, but I seriously doubt it. Something may be announced, but I'd have to believe it will be at least slightly different from the rumors that we are hearing now.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 09:37 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, linux, graphics drivers, rx 480, Polaris
Linux support from AMD seems to be improving, as it has been on Windows. We'll be combining two separate, tiny stories into one, so bear with us. The first is from Fudzilla, and it states that AMD has AMDGPU-PRO 16.30 drivers for the RX 480 out on day one. It's nice to see that their Radeon driver initiative applies to Linux, too.
That brings us to the second story, this one from Phoronix. One Windows, the Crimson 16.7.1 drivers will include a fix for the RX 480 power issues (which we will obviously test of course). Michael Larabel was apparently talking with AMD's Linux team, and it seems likely that this update will roll into the Linux driver as well. They "are still investigating", of course, but it is apparently on their radar.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 08:11 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, graphics drivers, amd
In the next 24 hours or so, AMD will publish Radeon Software 16.7.1, which addresses the power distribution issues in the AMD Radeon RX 480. The driver makes two major changes. First, AMD claims that it will lower the draw from the PCIe bus. While they don't explicitly say how, it sounds like it will increase the load on the 6-pin PCIe cable, which is typically over-provisioned. In fact, many power supplies have 6-pin connectors that have the extra two pins of an 8-pin connector hanging off of it.
Second, seemingly for those who aren't comfortable with the extra load on the 6-pin PCIe connector, a UI control has been added to lower overall power. Being that the option's called “compatibility”, it sounds like it should put the RX 480 back into spec on both slot and the extra power connector. Again, AMD says that they believe it's not necessary, and it seems to be true, because that option is off by default.
Beyond these changes, the driver also adds a bunch of game optimizations. Allyn and Ryan have been working on this coverage, so expect more content from them in the very near future.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:32 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, Polaris, rx 460, rx 470, rx 480, RX 490, sapphire
Unfortunately, I don't have a Sapphire SSC ID, so I cannot verify these myself. That said, a Reddit user by the name of CBwardog found a few extra listings on the company's drop-down menu for products which really shouldn't exist yet. The product name doesn't really have much associated with it, but it does have video RAM and display outputs.
Image Credit: CBwardog on Reddit
According to Sapphire, the Radeon RX 460 will launch in 2GB and 4GB versions, each of which have one HDMI, one DVI, and one DisplayPort connector. The RX 470 will come in 4GB and 8GB versions. The 4GB version of the RX 470 will have HDMI and three DisplayPorts, while the 8GB version of the RX 470 will have two HDMI ports, one DVI port, and two DisplayPort connectors. Lastly, ignoring the RX 480 that we already know about, a “RADEON 490” (which an earlier leak by AMD called the RX 490) will be available in just an 8GB version, with one HDMI and three DisplayPorts.
As always, rumors should be taken with a grain of salt. Also, it is possible that port configuration could be specific to Sapphire, as we've seen AIB partners modify outputs before, but you would think that there would be at least one reference design per model, so, chances are, it should be fairly uniform across vendors.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 05:10 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: VR, Oculus, nvidia, graphics drivers, DiRT Rally
A Game Ready Driver has just launched for DiRT Rally VR. GeForce Drivers 368.69 WHQL increments upon the last release, obviously adding optimizations for DiRT Rally VR, but it also includes a few new SLI profiles (Armored Warfare, Dangerous Golf, iRacing: Motorsport Simulator, Lost Ark, and Tiger Knight) and probably other bug fixes.
The update doesn't yet have a release date, but it should be soon. According to NVIDIA's blog post, it sounds like it will come first to the Oculus Store, but arrive on Steam later this month. I haven't been following the game too heavily, but there doesn't seem to be any announcement about official HTC Vive support that I can find.
You can pick them up at NVIDIA's website or through GeForce Experience. Thankfully, the GeForce Experience 3 Beta seems to pick up on new drivers much quicker than the previous version.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:15 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, htc vive, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104
NVIDIA is working on a fix to allow the HTC Vive to be connected to the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 over DisplayPort. The HTC Vive apparently has the choice between HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, but the headset will not be identified when connected over that connection. Currently, the two workarounds are to connect the HTC Vive over HDMI, or use a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if your card's HDMI output is already occupied.
It has apparently been an open issue for over a month now. That said, NVIDIA's Manuel Guzman has acknowledged the issue. Other threads claim that there are other displays that have a similar issue, and, within the last 24 hours, some users have experienced luck with modifying their motherboard's settings. I'd expect that it's something the can fix in an upcoming driver, though. For now, I guess plan your monitor outputs accordingly if you were planning on getting the HTC Vive.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:01 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: rx 480, Polaris, amd
Apparently, some people think that AMD will be releasing an RX 490 based on Polaris 10 with an extra four compute units, bringing the total number of stream processors to 2560. I'm guessing that people expected it to be a nice, round number or something, but that's not the case. According to Evan Groenke, Senior Product Manager at AMD, the die has 36 compute units, and there is “nothing else hidden on the product that end users might be looking forward to unlocking”.
Really, this kind-of makes sense. AMD seems to have designed this chip around the performance target of VR, which the RX 480 hits. I don't think that it would really make sense to push about 11% more compute processors into the design, decreasing their yield per wafer for such a relatively small gain.
We are expecting an RX 490 card to land at some point though, thanks to a mistake in publishing on AMD's part. It won't be Polaris 10 or 11.