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?
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.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | September 25, 2013 - 05:23 PM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 25, 2013 - 03:08 PM | Ryan Shrout
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!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 25, 2013 - 02:59 AM | Scott Michaud
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.
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.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 21, 2013 - 11:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, leak, hawaii, amd
What better way to spend your weekend than to comb over photos and graphs to try and figure out everything you can about the upcoming AMD Hawaii GPU just days before they announce it during a live stream? A collection of leaks including pictures and benchmarks made their way onto the web (they have a way of doing that) from our friends in China. I spotted a post from our buddy Hassan at WCCFTech that detailed much of the information available so far.
The first picture was actually posted by Johan Andersson, lead developer at DICE over Twitter with a not-too-vague comment about Hawaii and Volcanic Islands.
— Johan Andersson (@repi) September 21, 2013
A website with the convenient name of udteam.tistory.com posted images with quite a bit more detail including some with the cooler removed.
The GPU here is apparently going to be called the AMD Radeon R9-290X as AMD shifts to a completely new naming scheme with this generation. We already discussed an interview with AMD's Matt Skynner in which he said the die of Hawaii was 30% smaller than NVIDIA's GTX TITAN and would be more efficient per die area than the GeForce option.
Other specifications that have been compiled (that are still rumors really at this point) include a 512-bit memory interface (quad 128-bit controllers more than likely based on the memory layout), 4GB of GDDR5, 5+1 phase power and 8+6 pin power connections (very reasonable for a flagship). The die size is being estimated at 424 mm2 (larger than Radeon HD 7970 but smaller than TITAN) and price estimates are sitting at $599.
We even found a couple of benchmarks claiming to have performance results of this new beast of a GPU. Though the name of the card on the result is blocked out we are supposed to believe these are results from the AMD R9-290X and they are impressive if true. In both of the graphs here the new Hawaii GPU is faster than the $999 GeForce GTX TITAN at a significantly lower price!
All signs are pointing to AMD's next 28nm GPU to be a high end gamer's dream graphics card. That is, IF all these rumors and leaks turns out to be accurate. We still don't know the key data points like stream processor count, but we'll know it all in due time. (Maybe next week?) We still have concerns about the status of AMD's multi-GPU fixes but if the company can get that worked out in time for this relesae, I expect AMD to make a big splash this fall with a revamped Radeon brand.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 19, 2013 - 05:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, msi, 650ti boost, Twin Frozr
To give you the full name, the MSI N650 Titanium TwinFrozr 2GD5/OC Boost Edition is $170 after MIR, whereas you can pick up the HD 7850 that [H]ard|OCP chose to contrast against for a mere $130 after rebate. That price difference means that NVIDIA really has to perform quite a bit better than the AMD card to beat it in a performance per price perspective. From the numbers in the review you can clearly see that the 650Ti is the better performing card, especially with the respectable overclock that [H] managed which does make it the best card under $200; on the other hand if your budget is tight the performance gap is not as big as the price gap which might make that HD 7850 a better choice.
By the way, that NVIDIA card has a Boost clock which means that it might steal some of your megahertz away when it gets too hot, which is apparently a horrible experience and if you somehow disable that feature and cook your GPU ... obviously that is not your fault.
"Today we evaluate MSI's high-end GeForce GTX 650 Ti BOOST line with the flagship overclocked Gaming Edition MSI N650Ti TF 2GD5/OC BE. With falling prices on AMD Radeon video cards we will compare it to the AMD Radeon HD 7850 to see which will emerge as the victor in the sub-$200 price price range."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- MSI GTX 660 Gaming Video Card Review @ Ninjalane
- MSI GTX 660 N660 Gaming 2GD5/OC Video Card Review @HiTech Legion
- MSI GTX780 Lightning 3GB @ Kitguru
- Budget video cards: AMD Radeon HD 7730 vs. Nvidia GeForce GT 640 GK208 @ Hardware.info
- ASUS GTX 760 DirectCU Mini 2 GB @ techPowerUp
- MSI GTX 780 Lightning Review @ Hardware Canucks
- ASUS GTX 670 DirectCU II Mini @ Bjorn3D
- Palit GTX760, GTX770 and GTX780 Super JetStream @ Kitguru
- MSI GeForce GTX 760 Twin Frozr Gaming OC Edition 2GB @ eTeknix
- ASUS GTX 780 DirectCU II OC @ Bjorn3D
- Palit GTX 780 Super JetStream 3 GB @ techPowerUp
- Gainward GTX 760 Phantom 2GB @ eTeknix
- EVGA GTX 770 4GB Dual Classified w/ ACX Cooler Review @Hi Tech Legion
- XFX FX7850 Double Dissipation HD 7850 2GB @ eTeknix
- PowerColor Radeon HD 7730 1GB @ eTeknix
- Gigabyte Radeon HD 7870 2GB GHz Edition Video Card Review @ Legit Reviews
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 19, 2013 - 12:57 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd, catalyst 13.9
FEATURE HIGHLIGHTS OF AMD CATALYST™ 13.9
The AMD Catalyst 13.9 WHQL is AMD’s first logo certified driver for Windows 8.1. It does not include support for Frame Pacing or the very latest AMD CrossFire™ optimizations. AMD Catalyst 13.10 Beta includes additional performance improvements and fixes not found in AMD Catalyst 13.9 WHQL.
AMD’s first logo certified driver for Windows 8.1
Includes WDDM 1.3 support for:
- AMD Accelerated Processors (“Kabini” & “Temash”) for Desktop, Notebook or Tablet PCs, including: A4-1200, A4-1250, A4-5000, A4-5100, A4-5150, A6-1450, A6-5200, A6-5250, A6-5350, E1-2100, E1-2200. E1-2500, E1-2600, E1-2650, E2-3000, E2-3100
- AMD Accelerated Processors (“Richland”) for Desktop or Notebook PCs, including: A10-5700, A10-5745M, A10-5750M, A10-5757M, A10-5800B, A10-5800K, A8-5500, A8-5500B, A8-5545M, A8-5550M, A8-5557M, A8-5600K, A6-5345M, A6-5350M, A6-5357M, A6-5400B, A6-5400K, A4-5145M, A4-5150, A4-5300, A4-5300B
- AMD Accelerated Processors (“Trinity”) for Desktop or Notebook PCs, including: A10-4600M, A10-4655M, A10-4677M, A10-5700, A10-5800B, A10-5800K, A8-4500M, A8-4555M, A8-4557M, A6-4400M, A6-4455M, A6-5400B, A6-5400K, A4-4300M, A4-4355M, A4-5300, A4-5300B
- AMD Radeon HD 8000 Series
- AMD Radeon HD 7000 Series
- AMD Radeon HD 6000 Series
- AMD Radeon HD 5000 Series
Support for AMD Features:
- AMD Eyefinity
- AMD Dual Graphics/AMD CrossFire Technology
- AMD Overdrive
- AMD Catalyst Control Center/Vision Engine Control Center
OpenGL support for User Profiles and Catalyst Application Profiles Users can now create, per application, 3D setting profiles for OpenGL applications. OpenGL applications are now supported through Catalyst Application Profile updates (for single GPU and AMD CrossFire configurations).
AMD Enduro™ Technology enhancements: The AMD Catalyst Control Center now shows which applications are active on the Performance GPU and the Power saving GPU.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 17, 2013 - 10:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon, hawaii
As we get closer and closer to the reveal of AMD's next generation graphics chip code named Hawaii, details will find their way out.
Tonight I came across an interview with AMD's Matt Skynner on Forbes.com that offered up one confirmation that we all suspected: AMD's Hawaii GPU will keep the same 28nm process technology utilized with the Radeon HD 7000 parts.
Another thing I can tell you is about the process node: this GPU is in 28nm. Some have speculated that it was 20nm and it’s not for a specific reason: At 28nm for an enthusiast GPU, we can achieve higher clock speeds and higher absolute performance.
Straight from the horses mouth. Based on those comments we can also assume that clock speeds will be higher than 1.0 - 1.1 GHz we are seeing today with the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition so performance increases will not be the sole result of shader count changes and increases.
Skynner also assures gamers they are not targeting the $999 price range, at least not initially.
They’re coming in Q4. I can’t reveal a pricepoint but we’re looking at more traditional enthusiast GPU pricepoints. We’re not targeting a $999 single GPU solution like our competition because we believe not a lot of people have that $999. We normally address what we call the ultra-enthusiast segment with a dual-GPU offering like the 7990. So this next-generation line is targeting more of the enthusiast market versus the ultra-enthusiast one.
AMD is targeting a much smaller die size that NVIDIA has with GK110, the latest iteration of NVIDIA's massive GPU offerings.
It’s also extremely efficient. [Nvidia's Kepler] GK110 is nearly 30% bigger from a die size point of view. We believe we have the best performance for the die size for the enthusiast GPU.
The rest of the interview is a little cookie-cutter though he does briefly reference some of the issues that have caught the Radeon HD 7990 by surprise.
Sorry, still no details on if/when Battlefield 4 will hit the Never Settle bundles!
Summary of Events
In January of 2013 I revealed a new testing methodology for graphics cards that I dubbed Frame Rating. At the time I was only able to talk about the process, using capture hardware to record the output directly from the DVI connections on graphics cards, but over the course of a few months started to release data and information using this technology. I followed up the story in January with a collection of videos that displayed some of the capture video and what kind of performance issues and anomalies we were able to easily find.
My first full test results were published in February to quite a bit of stir and then finally in late March released Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing which dramatically changed the way graphics cards and gaming performance was discussed and evaluated forever.
Our testing proved that AMD CrossFire was not improving gaming experiences in the same way that NVIDIA SLI was. Also, we showed that other testing tools like FRAPS were inadequate in showcasing this problem. If you are at all unfamiliar with this testing process or the results it showed, please check out the Frame Rating Dissected story above.
At the time, we tested 5760x1080 resolution using AMD Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround but found there were too many issues and problems with our scripts and the results they were presenting to give reasonably assured performance metrics. Running AMD + Eyefinity was obviously causing some problems but I wasn’t quite able to pinpoint what they were and how severe it might have been. Instead I posted graphs like this:
We were able to show NVIDIA GTX 680 performance and scaling in SLI at 5760x1080 but we only were giving results for the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition in a single GPU configuration.
Since those stories were released, AMD has been very active. At first they were hesitant to believe our results and called into question our processes and the ability for gamers to really see the frame rate issues we were describing. However, after months of work and pressure from quite a few press outlets, AMD released a 13.8 beta driver that offered a Frame Pacing option in the 3D controls that enables the ability to evenly space out frames in multi-GPU configurations producing a smoother gaming experience.
The results were great! The new AMD driver produced very consistent frame times and put CrossFire on a similar playing field to NVIDIA’s SLI technology. There were limitation though: the driver only fixed DX10/11 games and only addressed resolutions of 2560x1440 and below.
But the story won’t end there. CrossFire and Eyefinity are still very important in a lot of gamers minds and with the constant price drops in 1920x1080 panels, more and more gamers are taking (or thinking of taking) the plunge to the world of Eyefinity and Surround. As it turns out though, there are some more problems and complications with Eyefinity and high-resolution gaming (multi-head 4K) that are cropping up and deserve discussion.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems | September 10, 2013 - 12:51 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, never settle forever, never settle, Saints Row IV
A month after the launch of the choose your own adventures, "Never Settle Forever", we get another entry for the gold tier: Saint's Row IV.
Yet another territory they claim.
Two Radeon cards, the HD 7950 and the HD 7970 (with or without GHz edition), qualify for this tier in AMD's promotion. Desktop PCs built with a Radeon HD 8900 installed also count toward this promotion. When you go for the gold, so to speak, you can choose three of the following (now) eleven games to enjoy your new hardware with:
- Saint's Row IV
- Tomb Raider
- Hitman: Absolution
- Sleeping Dogs
- Far Cry 3
- Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution
- DiRT 3
- DiRT: Showdown
- Sniper Elite V2
AMD prepared a statement about their partnership with Saint's Row IV publisher, Deep Silver:
“AMD and Deep Silver have a long and successful history of collaboration across their many excellent games, and Saints Row IV is another example of their outstanding development talent. We are very proud to have their partnership in the AMD Gaming Evolved program and Never Settle Forever bundle,” said Ritche Corpus, director of developer relations and alliances team, Graphics Business Unit, AMD. “As a result, PC gamers with AMD Radeon™ graphics cards can fire up their copy of Saints Row IV knowing that they are receiving the best possible experience. And as the exclusive hardware partner for Saints Row IV, the AMD Gaming Evolved program continues to demonstrate its relentless commitment to ensuring the world’s most exciting games are exclusively optimized for AMD Radeon™ hardware.”
AMD is not finished with Never Settle and claims more will arrive in the coming months. I would expect the switch to choose-your-bundle gives the company slightly more freedom to add extra titles without ballooning costs or removing popular entries. I hope we will see titles available in other tiers, except for the HD 7990 which should keep its 8 game promotion, along with more gold entries.
Either way, we will keep you updated as we hear more.
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