New GeForce Bundle: Witcher 3 and Batman: Arkham Knight

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 5, 2015 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: The Witcher 3, nvidia, GTX 980, GTX 970, gtx, geforce, batman arkham knight

NVIDIA has announced a new game bundle for GeForce graphics cards starting now, and it’s a doozy: Purchase a qualifying GTX card and receive download codes for both Witcher 3: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight!

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Needless to say, both of these titles have been highly anticipated, and neither have been released just yet with Witcher 3: Wild Hunt due to be released on May 19, and Batman: Arkham Knight arriving on June 23. So which cards qualify? Amazon has a page specifically created for this new offer here, and depending on which card you select you’ll be eligible for either both upcoming games, or just Witcher 3. NVIDIA has this chart on their promotion page for reference:

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So GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 cards will qualify for both games, and GTX 960 cards and the mobile GPUs qualify for Witcher 3 alone. Regardless of which game or card you may choose these PC versions of the new games will feature graphics that can’t be matched by consoles, and NVIDIA points out the advantages in their post:

"Both Batman and The Witcher raise the bar for graphical fidelity, rendering two very different open worlds with a level of detail we could only dream of last decade. And on PC, each is bolstered by NVIDIA GameWorks effects that increase fidelity, realism, and immersion. But to use those effects in conjunction with the many other available options, whilst retaining a high frame rate, it’s entirely possible that you’ll need an upgrade."

NVIDIA also posted this Witcher 3: Wild Hunt behind-the-scenes video:

In addition to the GameWorks effects present in Witcher 3, NVIDIA worked with developer Rocksteady on Batman: Arkham Knight “to create new visual effects exclusively for the game’s PC release.” The post elaborates:

"This is in addition to integrating the latest and greatest versions of our GPU-accelerated PhysX Destruction, PhysX Clothing and PhysX Turbulence technologies, which work in tandem to create immersive effects that react realistically to external forces. In previous Batman: Arkham games, these technologies created immersive fog and ice effects, realistic destructible scenery, and game-enhancing cloth effects that added to the atmosphere and spectacle. Expect to see similar effects in Arkham Knight, along with new features and effects that we'll be talking about in depth as we approach Arkham Knight’s June 23rd release."

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Of note, mobile GPUs included in the promotion will only receive download codes if the seller of the notebook is participating in the "Two Times The Adventure" offer, so be sure to check that out when looking for a gaming laptop that qualifies!

The promotion is going on now and is available “for a limited time or while supplies last”.

Source: NVIDIA
Manufacturer: Microsoft

DirectX 12 Has No More Secrets

The DirectX 12 API is finalized and the last of its features are known. Before the BUILD conference, the list consisted of Conservative Rasterization, Rasterizer Ordered Viewed, Typed UAV Load, Volume Tiled Resources, and a new Tiled Resources revision for non-volumetric content. When the GeForce GTX 980 launched, NVIDIA claimed it would be compatible with DirectX 12 features. Enthusiasts were skeptical, because Microsoft did not officially finalize the spec at the time.

Last week, Microsoft announced the last feature of the graphics API: Multiadapter.

We already knew that Multiadapter existed, at least to some extent. It is the part of the specification that allows developers to address multiple graphics adapters to split tasks between them. In DirectX 11 and earlier, secondary GPUs would remain idle unless the graphics driver sprinkled some magic fair dust on it with SLI, CrossFire, or Hybrid CrossFire. The only other way to access this dormant hardware was by spinning up an OpenCL (or similar compute API) context on the side.

Read on to see what DirectX 12 does differently...

Rumor: Could AMD and PC Gamer Event at E3 Finally Bring New GPU Announcements?

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 30, 2015 - 08:28 PM |
Tagged: PC Gamer, gpu, Fiji, E3 2015, amd

We haven’t had much more than rumor and speculation about upcoming AMD graphics for a while now, but there is more than enough fresh fuel for the GPU fire today to ignore completely. It seems that AMD and PC Gamer magazine have teamed up to announce a special (what else) PC gaming event at this year’s E3 show on June 16, and this would be the perfect place for some new hardware announcements.

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Not enough for you? Well, while the AMD Fiji GPU rumors are nothing new to followers of industry news, it has now been indirectly announced that the upcoming Fiji GPU from AMD will in fact feature 2.5D high-bandwidth memory (HBM). As reported by tech news/rumor site wccftech the announcement came via the official schedule for the upcoming Hot Chips symposium, which is slated for August 23-25 in Cupertino, California. 

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This screenshot was taken this morning from the official online event schedule

(Note: This part of the day 2 schedule has now been changed to read “AMD’s Next Generation GPU and Memory Architecture”, with all mention of Fiji and HBM removed.)

Whether this gives us insight into the actual release date of the long-awaited Fiji GPU from AMD is unclear, but new AMD GPU products certainly seem to be imminent as we move into the summer months. Speculation is fun (for a while), but hopefully the PC gaming event at E3 in June will provide at least some official news from AMD on the new GPU products we've been waiting for.

Source: PC Gamer

Got Windows 10? Get GeForce 352.63 beta

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 29, 2015 - 03:49 PM |
Tagged: GeForce 352.63, beta, windows 10

The new Win 10 NVIDIA GeForce driver is here, in two different flavours depending on your form factor.  If you spend the money for a gaming laptop with a GeForce 600M through 900M then this is the driver for you.  On the other hand if you have a traditional desktop and a GPU or two then head to this page.

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If you have a Sony laptop you should double check your GPU is covered and unfortunately at this point Hybrid Power technology is not supported.  NVIDIA did not provide much additional information on the desktop side; it is a beta and so is the OS so make sure to record the full information about your bugs and crashes when reporting them, not just a frowny face followed by expletives.

 

Source: NVIDIA

GTA V: The GPU review

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 21, 2015 - 04:07 PM |
Tagged: GTA5, gaming, titan x, GTX 980, R9 290X, r9 295x2

Some sort of game involving driving stolen prostitutes into cars in an open sore world has arrived and the questions about what it takes to make the game look good are popping up like pills.  [H]ard|OCP seems to have heard of the game and tested out its performance on the top performing video cards from AMD and NVIDIA in both single and doubles.  You will get more out of a double but unfortunately only around a 50% improvement so obviously that second shot is watered down a bit.  In the end the GTX TITAN X was the best choice for those who want to crank everything up, with the 980 tasting slightly better than the 290X for those that actually have to ask the price.  Check the full review here.

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"Grand Theft Auto V has finally been released on the PC. In this preview we will look at some video card comparisons in performance, maximize graphics settings at 1440p and 4K. We will briefly test AMD CHS Shadow and NVIDIA PCSS shadow and talk about them. We will even see if SLI and CrossFire work."

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

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

Red Hat Joins Khronos Group

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 20, 2015 - 07:30 AM |
Tagged: Red Hat, Khronos

With a brief blog post, Red Hat has announced that they are now members of the Khronos Group. Red Hat, one of the largest vendors of Linux software and services, would like to influence the direction of OpenGL and the upcoming Vulkan API. Also, apart from Valve, they are one of the only Linux vendors that contributes to the Khronos Group as an organization. I hope that their input counter-balances Apple, Google, and Microsoft, who are each members, in areas that are beneficial to the open-source operating system.

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As for now, Red Hat intends to use their membership to propose OpenGL extensions as well as influence Vulkan as previously mentioned. It also seems reasonable that they would push for extensions to Vulkan, which the Khronos Group mentioned would support extensions at GDC, especially if something that they need fails to reach “core” status. While this feels late, I am glad that they at least joined now.

Source: Red Hat

Moore's Law Is Fifty Years Old!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | April 19, 2015 - 02:08 PM |
Tagged: moores law, Intel

While he was the director of research and development at Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon E. Moore predicted that the number of components in an integrated circuits would double every year. Later, this time-step would slow to every two years; you can occasionally hear people talk about eighteen months too, but I am not sure who derived that number. In a few years, he would go on to found Intel with Robert Noyce, where they spend tens of billions of dollars annually to keep up with the prophecy.

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It works out for the most part, but we have been running into physical issues over the last few years though. One major issue is that, with our process technology dipping into the single- and low double-digit nanometers, we are running out of physical atoms to manipulate. The distance between silicon atoms in a solid at room temperature is about 0.5nm; a 14nm product has features containing about 28 atoms, give or take a few in rounding error.

Josh has a good editorial that discusses this implication with a focus on GPUs.

It has been a good fifty years since the start of Moore's Law. Humanity has been developing plans for how to cope with the eventual end of silicon lithography process shrinks. We will probably transition to smaller atoms and molecules and later consider alternative technologies like photonic crystals, which routes light in the hundreds of terahertz through a series of waveguides that make up an integrated circuit. Another interesting thought: will these technologies fall in line with Moore's Law in some way?

Source: Tom Merritt

NVIDIA Released 350.12 WHQL and AMD Released 15.4 Beta for Grand Theft Auto V

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 14, 2015 - 01:27 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, GTA5

Grand Theft Auto V launched today at around midnight GMT worldwide. This corresponded to 7PM EDT for those of us in North America. Well, add a little time for Steam to unlock the title and a bit longer for Rockstar to get enough servers online. One thing you did not need to wait for was new video card drivers. Both AMD and NVIDIA have day-one drivers that provide support.

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You can get the NVIDIA drivers at their landing page

You can get the AMD drivers at their release notes

Personally, I ran the game for about a half hour on Windows 10 (Build 10049) with a GeForce GTX 670. Since these drivers are not for the pre-release operating system, I tried running it on 349.90 to see how it performed before upgrading. Surprisingly, it seems to be okay (apart from a tree that was flickering in and out of existence during a cut-scene). I would definitely update my drivers if they were available and supported, but I'm glad that it seems to be playable even on Windows 10.

Source: AMD
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI

Notebooks Specifications

Way back in January of this year, while attending CES 2015 in Las Vegas, we wandered into the MSI suite without having any idea what we might see as new and exciting product. Besides the GT80 notebook with a mechanical keyboard on it, the MSI GS30 Shadow was easily the most interesting and exciting technology. Although MSI is not the first company to try this, the Shadow is the most recent attempt to combine the benefits of a thin and light notebook with a discrete, high performance GPU when the former is connected to the latter's docking station.

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The idea has always been simple but the implementation has always been complex. Take a thin, light, moderately powered notebook that is usable and high quality in its own right and combine it with the ability to connect a discrete GPU while at home for gaming purposes. In theory, this is the best of both worlds: a notebook PC for mobile productivity and gaming capability courtesy of an external GPU. But as the years have gone on, more companies try and more companies fail; the integration process is just never as perfect a mix as we hope.

Today we see if MSI and the GS30 Shadow can fare any better. Does the combination of a very high performance thin and light notebook and the GamingDock truly create a mobile and gaming system that is worth your investment?

Continue reading our review of the MSI GS30 Shadow Notebook and GamingDock!!

90-some percent of the performance for 70 percent of the price; PowerColor's PCS+ R9 290X

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 6, 2015 - 04:54 PM |
Tagged: factory overclocked, powercolor pcs+, R9 290X

The lowest priced GTX 980 on Amazon is currently $530 while the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X is $380, about 72% of the price of the GTX 980.  The performance that [H]ard|OCP saw after overclocking the 290X was much closer, in some games even matching it but usually about 5-10% slower than the GTX 980, making it quite obvious which card is the better value.  The GTX 970 is a different story, you can find a card for $310 and the performance is only slightly behind the 290X although the 290X takes a larger lead at higher resolutions.  Read through the review carefully as the performance delta and overall smoothness varies from game to game but unless you like paying to brag about your handful of extra frames the 970 and 290X are the cards offering you the best bang for your buck.

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"Today we examine what value the PowerColor PCS+ R9 290X holds compared to overclocked GeForce GTX 970. AMD's Radeon R9 290X pricing has dropped considerably since launch and constitutes a great value and competition for the GeForce GTX 970. At $350 this may be an excellent value compared to the competition."

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

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Source: [H]ard|OCP