Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 31, 2013 - 04:30 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: geforce, F2P, bundle
If you read Jeremy's post, yesterday, and actually were a fan of in game currency then how about a new bundle? If you pick up a GeForce GTX 650 or participating GTX 700M-based notebooks, you will receive a total $75 split between three Free-to-Play (F2P) titles. One of the titles, Warframe, is also optimized for NVIDIA hardware with the inclusion of PhysX support primarily for particle effects, it would seem.
The bundle includes:
- Warframe - 465 Platinum (Normally $25)
- Dungeons and Dragons: NeverWinter - 1,000,000 Astral Diamonds (Normally $25)
- Marvel Heroes - 2600 Gold (Normally $25)
NVIDIA stresses that you must make your purchase (be it a system containing a GTX 650, a discrete add-in GTX 650, or a laptop containing a GTX 700M) from one of the participating merchants. Codes will not be provided if the retailer, or 'e-tailer', is not a partner for this program.
A New TriFrozr Cooler
Graphics cards are by far the most interesting topic we cover at PC Perspective. Between the battles of NVIDIA and AMD as well as the competition between board partners like EVGA, ASUS, MSI and Galaxy, there is very rarely a moment in time when we don't have a different GPU product of some kind on an active test bed. Both NVIDIA and AMD release reference cards (for the most part) with each and every new product launch and it then takes some time for board partners to really put their own stamp on the designs. Other than the figurative stamp that is the sticker on the fan.
One of the companies that has recently become well known for very custom, non-reference graphics card designs is MSI and the pinnacle of the company's engineering falls into the Lightning brand. As far back as the MSI GTX 260 Lightning and as recently as the MSI HD 7970 Lightning, these cards have combined unique cooling, custom power design and good amount of over engineering to really produce a card that has few rivals.
Today we are looking at the brand new MSI GeForce GTX 780 Lightning, a complete revamp of the GTX 780 that was released in May. Based on the same GK110 GPU as the GTX Titan card, with two fewer SMX units, the GTX 780 easily the second fastest single GPU card on the market. MSI is hoping to make the enthusiasts even more excited about the card with the Lightning design that brings a brand new TriFrozr cooler, impressive power design and overclocking capabilities that basic users and LN2 junkies can take advantage of. Just what DO you get for $750 these days?
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 26, 2013 - 01:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, Windows 8.1, microsoft, directx 11.2, graphics cards, gaming, GCN
Earlier this month, several websites reported that AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) based graphics cards (7000 series and 8000 series OEM lines) would not be compatible with the Windows 8.1-only DirectX 11.2 API. This was inferred from a statement made by AMD engineer Laylah Mah in an interview with c1 Magazin.
An AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.
Fortunately, the GCN-based cards will fully support DirectX 11.2 once an updated driver has been released. As it turns out, Microsoft’s final DirectX 11.2 specification ended up being slightly different than what AMD expected. As a result, the graphics cards do not currently fully support the API. The issue is not one of hardware, however, and an updated driver can allow the GCN-based 7000 series hardware to fully support the latest DirectX 11.2 API and major new features such as tiled resources.
The updated driver will reportedly be released sometime in October to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1. Specifically, Maximum PC quoted AMD in stating the following:
"The Radeon HD 7000 series hardware architecture is fully DirectX 11.2-capable when used with a driver that enables this feature. AMD is planning to enable DirectX 11.2 with a driver update in the Windows 8.1 launch timeframe in October, when DirectX 11.2 ships. Today, AMD is the only GPU manufacturer to offer fully-compatible DirectX 11.1 support, and the only manufacturer to support Tiled Resources Tier-2 within a shipping product stack.”
So fret not, Radeon 7000-series owners, you will be able to fully utilize DX 11.2 and all its features once games start implementing them, and assuming you upgrade to Windows 8.1.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 23, 2013 - 04:40 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: never settle, gamescom, amd
In much the same way as it was at E3 this year, AMD has plastered themselves all over the show floor at Gamescom 2013 in Cologne, Germany. The annual game celebration in Europe focuses not just on PC gaming but consoles as well but with AMD APUs at the heart of both the upcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4, they are about as universal as you can get.
The AMD booth at Gamescom obviously leans heavily on the world of PC gaming with both next-generation consoles not coming until November but the big draw is obviously the Battlefield 4 section that allows gamers to walk up and play. Due out October 29th here in North America, BF4 is likely to be one the biggest titles of the year available on current consoles, PC and the PS4 and Xbox One. And though nothing is confirmed it will likely be bundle game for Radeon graphics cards at some point as well...
Red capes and Battlefield 4
Much like the Penny Arcade Expo coming up next month in Seattle, Gamescom is an event where the public is invited to get hands on with impressive games and impressive technology without having to filter it through the eye of the media. AMD showcases unique capabilities of the PC gaming market in the booth as well like the 5-screen Eyefinity configuration seen here DiRT Showdown.
As is usually the case with public events, you're going to meet some interesting characters while you walk around but that is part of the fun! If you have never attended Gamescom, PAX, Blizzcon, Quakecon or anything like it, I would highly encourage you make plans to do so as it will really revitalize your excitement for gaming! While shows like CES and Computex drain me of energy, these public-facing experiences are much more spirited.
Other booths at the show are also running AMD-powered gaming systems for all of their demonstrations including Gaming Evolved partners like Deep Silver, Square-Enix, EA/DICE and Red5. If you haven't seen games like Thief or Saints Row IV in action then you are missing out and locals in Cologne still have the opportunity to do so. AMD claims that all the demo systems running these PC games are Radeon-powered: Battlefield 4, The Sims 4, Firefall, Saints Row IV, Need for Speed Rivals, FIFA 2014, Murdered Soul Suspect, and Final Fantasy XIV.
Even with all the other discussion and debate about AMD graphics technologies, the second half of 2013 is going to be incredibly exciting on all fronts!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | August 23, 2013 - 01:31 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Futuremark, AnTuTu, benchmarking
VR-Zone tossed the bees nest in a paint shaker and received a fairly sedate outcome.
A little background information is required. AnTuTu, a mobile benchmark developed by AnTuTu Labs, has been accused of inaccurate scores and bias towards specific hardware. Leaked BayTrail-T benchmarks, surpassing our expectations of Intel's capabilities, were harshly refuted based on AnTuTu's credibility. More recently, certain Samsung GPUs have been allegedly recorded self-overclocking during that benchmark but not elsewhere.
Scene from Cloud Gate, latest Windows 3DMark.
Oliver Baltuch, president of Futuremark, accepted an interview with VR-Zone to discuss business and ethics in their marketplace. Futuremark is a direct competitor to AnTuTu and a household name in the benchmarking community. Being modest Fins, self-proclaimed, they did not wish to discuss whether AnTuTu was less honest than they are. Futuremark does disagree with AnTuTu's process, however, and has some suggestions for better results.
The design process for 3D Mark Android begun with 25 pages of specification proposal. Each vendor is given a chance to reply to that proposal and these responses are compared. Changes to the specification must be reviewed by a committee sitting between the financial department and the engineering department.
Baltuch made the point that all of their finances for the last five years, according to Finnish law, can be reviewed for about $7 USD. Despite being a private company, the law mandates no deals can be made in secret.
On the engineering side of things, drivers are approved only if they follow specific guidelines. Unapproved results will be removed from their website and leaderboards followed by a polite conversation with the manufacturer. Drivers are not allowed to identify their benchmarks intent on modifying settings due to that information.
Almost every benchmark they release gets negative responses from some upset vendor or vendors.
The relatively short interview is wrapped up with commentary on iOS benchmarks. Futuremark is nearing completion of their first benchmarking app. Apple disallows apps to exceed 60 frames per second, through vsync, which unnecessarily hinders benchmark scores. Working around this, Futuremark developed a method to render frames which are not displayed on screen to keep the processors from idling once at frame rate cap.
Ryan must love that idea...
This concept has, according to the interview, reached internal QA review and is expected to be released in a few weeks.
Futuremark develops benchmarks for x86 Windows, Windows RT, Android, and iOS. Scores are intended to scale linearly to their metrics and are designed to allow cross-platform performance comparisons.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 22, 2013 - 01:39 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: sony, ps4, playstation 4, Kabini, hUMA, amd
UPDATE: I have added new info at the bottom of this post with more commentary from AMD (kind of).
You might have seen some reports in the last couple of days claiming that the upcoming Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) will have a big advantage over the Xbox One thanks to its unique ability to support AMD's hUMA memory architecture. hUMA, heterogeneous unified memory architecture, is an exciting new memory technology that AMD has built into upcoming APUs.
Josh published a story on hUMA that sums it as so:
The idea behind hUMA is quite simple; the CPU and GPU share memory resources, they are able to use pointers to access data that has been processed by either one or the other, and the GPU can take page faults and not rely only on page locked memory. Memory in this case is bi-directionally coherent, so coherency issues with data in caches which are later written to main memory will not cause excessive waits for either the CPU or GPU to utilize data that has been changed in cache, but not yet written to main memory.
There's just one problem with these various reports (VR-Zone, ExtremeTech): they're incorrect. After sending some emails to our representatives at AMD I was told that "Kabini doesn't support hUMA" which is the APU that both the PS4 and Xbox One processors are based on. AMD further clarified with us:
Our spokesperson made inaccurate statements about our semi-custom APU architectures and does not speak for Microsoft, Sony or the AMD semi-custom business unit responsible for co-developing the next generation console APUs.
So while the PS4 will still be a faster system thanks to its higher SIMD processor (GPU core) count, there is no support for a true heterogeneous unified memory architecture in either upcoming console platform.
NOTE: I have had several people point out that it's possible Sony and Microsoft worked on their own custom memory architectures that will perform similar functionally to hUMA. That is entirely possible but means that official hUMA support isn't on the SoCs.
UPDATE: AMD contacted me again to make another comment. Essentially, they said that the correction statement to the original statement claiming hUMA was part PS4 was "inaccurrate" but that this correction does NOT mean the opposite claim is true. Even when pressed for a more specific and debate-ending comment, AMD wouldn't give us any more information.
So does the PS4 have support for some type of heterogeneous unified memory? Maybe. And the Xbox One? Maybe. At this point, I'd stop listening to anything AMD has to say on the subject as they are likely to recant it shortly thereafter. Many readers have emailed me with their thoughts and I personally feel that its more likely the original statement from AMD (that the PS4 will have the edge with a hUMA design) will turn out to be the truth in the long run...
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 20, 2013 - 12:24 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, geforce 326.80
The new GeForce 326.80 beta driver is now available to download. An essential update for gamers sneaking into Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell Blacklist, today’s driver ensures maximum performance and system compatibility in the brand new stealth title, which is jam-packed with PC-exclusive features and technology, including NVIDIA HBAO+ Ambient Occlusion, NVIDIA TXAA Temporal Anti-Aliasing, out-of-the-box NVIDIA SLI support, and much much more. For a full rundown, head on back to GeForce.com tomorrow when we’ll detail all of Blacklist’s impressive tech.
New in GeForce R326 Drivers Performance Boost
- Increases performance by up to 19% for GeForce 400/500/600/700 series GPUs in several PC games vs. GeForce 320.49 WHQL-certified drivers. Results will vary depending on your GPU and system configuration.
Here is an example of measured gains:
GeForce GTX 770:
- Up to 15% in Dirt: Showdown
- Up to 6% in Tomb Raider
GeForce GTX 770 SLI: ·
- Up to 19% in Dirt: Showdown
- Up to 11% in F1 2012
- GeForce GTX 770:
- Added SLI profile for Spinter Cell: Blacklist
- Added SLI profile for Batman: Arkham Origins
- SHIELD · Enables GeForce to SHIELD streaming. Learn more here.
- 4K Displays · Adds support for additional tiled 4K displays Extended support for tiled 4K features
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 19, 2013 - 03:04 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: jpr, Matrox, s3, amd, nvidia
Well, according to John Peddie Research (JPR), not too good if you are Matrox or S3. The total market for add-in boards decreased 5.4% from last quarter. 14.0 million were shipped across the entire industry. Neither company accounted for a thousandth of that value leaving them with a maximum 7000 units shipped, best case scenario. This industry is, basically, a two horse race.
|This Quarter||Prev. Quarter||Last Year|
Two horses unless you count the Intel Xeon Phi. While technically not a graphics processor despite hardware design, 48,000 of these coprocessors were sold, already, for the Tianhe-2 supercomputer. This is at least seven-fold more than an entire quarter for Matrox. Unfortunately JPR does not report on Intel add-in cards despite its overlap with the GPU add-in market. These numbers could get even more interesting as years progress.
As for the two big players, AMD and NVIDIA, both hold very dominant positions. Almost spiting the 750,000 unit industry decline, AMD experienced a total increase of 0.8% quarter-over-quarter. Their market share gained 2.3% as a result of this growth. NVIDIA experienced a total decrease of 8.9%.
In all, AMD has been doing better than the industry average. They are fighting the slight decline in the graphics industry while simultaneously helping GPUs hold off against larger declines in PC systems.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | August 16, 2013 - 04:00 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, APU, amd
Despite a slight decline in PC sales compared to last quarter, graphics processors are on the rise. Jon Peddie Research attributes the heightened interest in graphics, with a decline in systems, to a trend towards multiple GPUs in a system. Crossfire and SLI, according to the report, are not driving this drift but they are relevant. More importantly, consumers are adding discrete graphics to systems with integrated solutions.
AMD has experienced an increase in shipments of 47% for laptop APUs. Desktop heterogeneous processors declined but, in all, shipments increased 11%. Intel, likewise, saw an increase albeit just 6%. NVIDIA declined 8%. AMD now enjoys a 5.8% lead in total market share over NVIDIA.
Many PCs have access to multiple graphics processors simultaneously. With an increase of available GPUs, software developers might take the plunge into fully supporting heterogeneous architectures. You could imagine a game which offloads physics or AI pathfinding to secondary graphics. Sure, the increased heat would slightly limit the turbo-performance of the CPU, but the increased parallel performance should overtake that decreased serial performance for a sensible developer.
JPR claims an average of nearly 1.4 GPUs available per system.
The increased laptop heterogeneous processors is a major win for AMD. Still, I wonder how much Never Settle played in to users dropping discrete graphics into machines which would otherwise have integrated (chipset or processor) graphics. The discrete graphics market has declined and yet somehow AMD got a boost from double-attach or replaced graphics.
The report only discusses consumer x86 tablets, desktops, laptops, and some hybrid between the previous three categories. Other processor architectures or x86 servers are not covered.
Plus one GTX 670...
Brand new GPU architectures are typically packaged in reference designs when it comes to power, PCB layout, and cooling. Once manufacturers get a chance to put out their own designs, then interesting things happen. The top end products are usually the ones that get the specialized treatment first, because they typically have the larger margins to work with. Design choices here will eventually trickle down to lower end cards, typically with a price point $20 to $30 more than a reference design. Companies such as MSI have made this their bread and butter with the Lightning series on top, the Hawk line handling the midrange, and then the hopped up reference designs with better cooling under the Twin Frozr moniker.
ASUS has been working with their own custom designs for years and years, but it honestly was not until the DirectCU series debuted did we have a well defined product lineup which pushes high end functionality across the entire lineup of products from top to bottom. Certainly they had custom and unique designs, but things really seemed to crystallize with DirectCU. I guess that is also the power of a good marketing tool as well. DirectCU is a well known brand owned by Asus, and users typically know what to expect when looking at a DirectCU product.
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