Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2011 - 06:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: ray tracing, knights ferry, idf 2011, idf
Very few things impress like a collection of 256 processor cores in a box. But that is exactly what we saw on our last visit to the floor at the Intel Developer Forum this year when I stopped by to visit friend-of-the-site Daniel Pohl to discuss updates to the ray tracing research he has been doing for many years now. This is what he showed us:
What you see there is a dual-Xeon server running a set of 8 (!!) Knights Ferry many-core processor discrete cards. Each card holds a chip with 32 Intel Architecture cores running at 1.2 GHz on it and each core can handle 4 threads for a total of 1024 threads in flight at any given time! Keep in mind these are all modified x86 cores with support for 16-bit wide vector processing so they are pumping through a LOT of FLOPS. Pohl did note that only 31-32 of the cores are actually doing ray tracing at any given time though as they reserve a couple for scheduling tasks, operating system interaction, etc.
Each of the the eight cards in the system is using a pair of 6-pin PCIe power connectors and they are jammed in there pretty tight. Pohl noted this was the only case they could find that would fit 8 dual-slot add-in cards into it so I'll take a note of that for when I build my own system around them. Of course there are no display outputs on the Knights Ferry cards as they were never really turned into GPUs in the traditional sense. They are essentially development and research for exascale computing and HPC workloads for servers though the plan is to bring the power to consumers eventually.
To run the demo the Knights Ferry ray tracing server was communicating over a Gigabit Ethernet connection to this workstation that was running game processing, interaction processing and more and passed off data about the movements of the camera and objects in the ray traced world to the server. The eight Knights Ferry cards then render the frame, the Xeon CPUs compress the image (8:1 using a standard Direct 3D format) and send the data across the network. All of this happens in real time with basically no latency issues when compared to direct PC gaming.
While the ray tracing game engine projects might seem a little less exciting since the demise of Larrabee, Pohl and his team have been spending a lot of time on learning how to take advantage of the x86 cores available. The Wolfenstein demo we have seen in past events has been improved to add things like HDR lighting, anti-aliasing and more.
Though these features have obviously been around in rasterization based solutions for quite a long time, the demo was meant to showcase the fact that ray tracing doesn't inherently have difficulty performing those kinds of tasks as long as the processing power is there and alotted to it.
I am glad to see the ray tracing research continuing at Intel as I think that in the long-term future, that is the route that gaming and other graphics-based applications will be rendering. And I am not alone - id Software founder and Doom/Quake creator John Carmack agreed in a recent interview we held with him.
Subject: Processors, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2011 - 01:54 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: idf, idf 2011, knights ferry, knights corner, mic, terascale
During Justin Rattner's closing keynote at the Intel Developer Forum he discussed the pending changes to the Many Integrated Core Architectures (MIC) that we previously knew as the Terascale projects. While we have heard about the Knights Ferry component for some time, and it was basically used a software development platform for Intel's many-core initiative.
Impressive to see at this stage, the upcoming Knights Corner product will actually be built on the new 22nm tri-gate transistors and with more than 50 cores. They haven't posted more details on what exactly ">50" refers to but it does mean that Intel continues to progress down this path and is going to be pushing the terascale computing projects into the future.
Rattner also indicated that not all of the cores on the many-core projects have to be identical and we will soon see designs that combine more than the x86 processors to make for truly heterogeneous computing platforms.
Research into the program continues including things like stacked and shared memory, new communications protocols like optical interconnects, etc. We are just as eager to see the fruits of this research as we were for its application to gaming and graphics that eventually failed.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Chipsets, Systems, Storage, Mobile, Shows and Expos | September 15, 2011 - 12:15 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: live blog, Intel, idf 2011, idf
PC Perspective is all over the 2011 Intel Developer Forum and we'll be covering it LIVE here all week. Expect to hear news about Ivy Bridge, Sandy Bridge-E, SSDs, X79 chipsets, 22nm tri-gate transistors and more! We will have specific news posts about the major topics but if you want to keep up with our information to the minute, then you'll want to migrate to this page throughout Tuesday, Wednesay and Thursday morning.
You can also hit up http://www.pcper.com/category/tags/idf to see all of the posts relating to and coming from IDF this week!
Feel free to leave comments for me on what exactly you want to know and I will do my best to address your questions as the day progresses.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Processors, Shows and Expos | September 14, 2011 - 01:25 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: mooly eden, Ivy Bridge, idf 2011, idf
Today is day 2 at the Intel Developer Forum and with the first keynote out of the way, we can share a few short details about Ivy Bridge that we didn't know before. First, the transistor count is 1.48 billion - a hefty jump over Sandy Bridge that had less than 1 billion.
There was also mention of a new power management feature that will allow interrupts from other hardware devices to go to other cores than Core0, which it had ALWAYS done in the past. This means that it can route it to a core that is already awake and doing some work and not wake up a sleeping core unless necessary.
We also saw the Ivy Bridge processor running the HAWX 2 benchmark, now with support for DX11.
If you look at the die image at the top of this post, you will also notice that it appears more of the die has been assigned to graphics performance than was allocated to it on Sandy Bridge. Remember that on AMD's Llano about 50% of the die dedicated to stream processors; it would appear that by adding support for DX11, nearly doubling performance and including required support for things like DirectCompute, Intel was forced to follow suit to some degree.
Mooly laughed at press taking pictures of the die as he had purposely modified the image to hide some of the details or distort them to prevent precise measurements. Still, it looks like about 33% of the new Ivy Bridge processor is dedicated to graphics and media. This is good news for consumers, but potentially very bad news for the discrete GPU market in notebooks and low end PCs.
Finally, Mooly Eden ended with a brief look at future Ultrabooks that will be based on the Ivy Bridge processor.
If you thought the current generation of Ultrabooks was sexy (as I do) then you will really like what is coming up next.
Subject: Shows and Expos | August 24, 2011 - 01:17 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: PAX, nvidia, contest
SANTA CLARA, Calif.—August 24, 2011—NVIDIA Corporation announced the first Battlefield 3 tournament in the US will be held this weekend at PAX Prime in Seattle, WA.
Gamers who visit NVIDIA at PAX Prime this weekend will have a chance to play Battlefield 3—this year’s most anticipated PC gaming title—on MAINGEAR PCs powered by NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 GPUs in SLI. Gamers can polish their tactics in the PC Freeplay Area on Level 6 at PAX Prime before they sign up onsite for the daily 12v12 single player tournament to win some great prizes—including full PC systems, cases, power supplies, gaming mice, keyboards, and headphones, GTX 500-series GPUs and much, much more. Prizes up for grabs are worth more than $20K USD.
“GeForce owners are the most passionate gamers on the planet,” said Drew Henry, general manager of the GeForce business unit at NVIDIA. “This free tournament and the ability to win some great prizes while playing Battlefield 3, is another way for us to provide a really fun experience for PAX Prime attendees.”
Gamers at PAX Prime can also win prizes by participating in the NVIDIA “Are You My Match?” contest. Simply match the tattoo sticker from the PAX Prime show bag to a t-shirt worn by an NVIDIA staffer on the show floor, and come to Level 6 to claim a prize. Additional prizes include 3D Vision kits, PC cooling systems and a whole lot more.
Various PAX Prime prizing is being provided by Antec, ASUS, Coolermaster, CyberPower, EVGA, IBUYPOWER, Guild Wars 2, NVIDIA, NZXT, Razer, and Zotac, and others.
To obtain more information about NVIDIA and Battlefield 3 at PAX Prime, please visit http://www.nvidia.com/object/pax-prime.html. For more information on PAX Prime, please visit http://prime.paxsite.com/
Subject: Shows and Expos | August 24, 2011 - 10:10 AM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: antec, PAX, penny arcade, contest
Antec, Inc., the global leader in high-performance computer components and accessories for the gaming, PC upgrade and Do-It-Yourself markets, announced today its official relationship with video game developer & publisher NCsoft Corporation and its subsequent activity at PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) Prime 2011.
Antec will commence its relationship with NCsoft by opening an online boutique which, in the coming weeks, will let consumers purchase enclosures featuring custom NCsoft artwork from the City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Aion and future franchises.
Antec and NCsoft will team up at PAX Prime August 26th through August 28th, 2011 in Seattle, WA. Antec’s booth will be the only locale on the show floor where attendees can demo NCsoft’s upcoming City of Heroes Freedom.
Antec will also showcase an enclosures gallery with custom NCsoft artwork as a preview for what attendees can eventually order online. One of these select cases, equipped with hardware from Intel, Zotac, Kingston and Seagate, will be raffled off as a complete gaming PC.
“NCsoft is pleased to team up with Antec to bring our visual imagery from our award-winning line up of MMORPGs to their fans,” said Steve Levy, Global Director, Publishing, at NCsoft. “This is a great collaboration that will allow Antec’s customers to select a high performance PC enclosure and create a work of art that they will be proud to display.”
“We’re excited to kick off this new venture with NCsoft and invite our fans to give more personality to their PCs,” said Matthew Bosma, Director of Sales at Antec. “It has been great working with NCsoft and we’re looking forward to showing off their beautiful artwork to our fans and their fans, too.”
This year marks Antec’s fourth consecutive appearance at PAX Prime, and together with NCsoft, Antec promises to make its most exciting appearance at PAX yet.
Attendees can expect to see the latest Antec products including the upcoming SOLO II enclosure, which presents the uncompromising balance of Quiet Computing and performance.
Antec will also be demoing the soundscience rockus 3D | 2.1 speaker system in a sound-insulated room within the booth. Attendees will have the pleasure of experiencing the rockus’s capabilities in Kinect Fruit Ninja.
Join Antec at the Washington State Convention Center from August 26th through August 28th, 2011 to experience the latest Antec product lineup and exciting activities. For more information visit www.antec.com/pax2011 or follow the official Antec Facebook page for event updates at www.facebook.com/AntecInc.
Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | August 19, 2011 - 09:06 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: gamescom, battlefield 3
DICE was at Gamescom in Germany showing off an assortment of new Battlefield 3 details through their booth and a short keynote speech. The vast majority of the keynote consisted of the two speakers playing Battlefield 3 co-op on the console. Aside from the live co-op demo there was a trailer from a more classic Battlefield map inhabited with 64 players and fighter aircraft. Check it out below, preferably in high resolution and fullscreen. You can then check out the unofficial BF3Blog for the complete weapon list with claymores and mortar launchers.
So Call of Duty was leaving a bar and the pub server asked, “Gotta jet?”
It was also recently revealed that Battlefield 3 would be locked to 30 frames per second on the consoles which drew fire from Activision who runs their game at 60 FPS. Their claim was that the added framerate is required to have a more responsive experience. Unfortunately as our previous article reporting on Mozilla’s stance on responsiveness shows: it is not as simple as 33.3ms versus 16.7ms latencies. Even under the assumption that the framerate is at its maximum you cannot tell the exact duration between input and TV draw without the use of a high-speed camera looking at both player-controller and monitor. Many frames could go by without even looking at the input loop and all the other dependent code on parallel out-of-sync threads that finally alter the state of the threads that draws what you should see. Be careful what you read folks; while yes, higher framerate gives the higher potential for lower latency between press and draw it is not necessarily the case. All of that said we will be on the PC which has its own set of methodologies for how to handle multi-process (there are still latencies inherent with any multiprocess game, but with different limits) and thus this is entirely irrelevant to us, but still a good learning experience regardless.
Last week we were in Dallas, Texas covering Quakecon 2011 as well as hosting our very own PC Perspective Hardware Workshop. While we had over 1100 attendees at the event and had a blast judging the case mod contest, one of the highlights of the event is always getting to sit down with John Carmack and pick his brain about topics of interest. We got about 30 minutes of John's time over the weekend and pestered him with questions about the GPU hardware race, how Intel's intergrated graphics (and AMD Fusion) fit in the future of PCs, the continuing debate about ray tracing, rasterization, voxels and infinite detail engines, key technologies for PC gamers like multi-display engines and a lot more!
One of our most read articles of all time was our previous interview with Carmack that focused a lot more on the ray tracing and rasterization debate. If you never read that, much of it is still very relevant today and is worth reading over.
This year though John has come full circle on several things including ray tracing, GPGPU workloads and even the advantages that console hardware has over PC gaming hardware.
Subject: Shows and Expos | August 11, 2011 - 06:30 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: GLOBALFOUNDRIES, GTC 2011
Milpitas, Calif. – August 11, 2011 – GLOBALFOUNDRIES today announced the agenda for its second annual Global Technology Conference (GTC) on Tuesday, August 30 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, Calif. GTC 2011 will be a seminal opportunity to learn about the vision and strategy of the new GLOBALFOUNDRIES leadership team, in addition to featuring executives and technologists from throughout the semiconductor ecosystem.
“In the past two months, I have spent a great deal of time working with and listening to our customers,” said Ajit Manocha, chief executive officer of GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “They are critical to our success, and we are committed to delivering the innovation and technology solutions that they are demanding from the foundry industry. We are excited to take this opportunity to update our customers, partners and the rest of the ecosystem on the business momentum we’ve achieved since GTC 2010 and particularly over the last few months.”
GTC 2011 will feature a keynote address by Manocha and presentations from other members of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES executive leadership as well as management and technical teams. The conference also will include a highlight from the previous year’s event—a panel discussion among senior executives in the EDA/IP ecosystem examining industry trends and challenges in leading-edge design enablement. Moderated by Mojy Chian, GLOBALFOUNDRIES senior vice president of design enablement, the panel will feature the following participants:
- Warren East, chief executive officer, ARM
- Lip-Bu Tan, president and chief executive officer, Cadence Design Systems
- Aart de Geus, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, Synopsys
- Robert Hum, vice president and general manager, Deep Submicron Division, Mentor Graphics
“At last year’s inaugural GTC event, we received a tremendous response from the industry as we outlined our plans to change the foundry landscape and revive competition at the leading edge,” said Jim Kupec, senior vice president of sales and marketing at GLOBALFOUNDRIES. “We have made a great deal of progress and overcome significant challenges to become the only foundry in volume production of leading-edge High-k Metal Gate (HKMG) technology. We look forward to sharing our successes and demonstrating our continued commitment to bringing a differentiated model to the foundry industry.”
In addition, GLOBALFOUNDRIES will present “Leading in Innovation” awards to customers and partners who are working with the company on products ranging from 0.35um non-volatile to 130nm and 65nm RFCMOS, and leading-edge 28nm technologies for processors and high-speed, low-power analog solutions. These awards epitomize the GTC 2011 theme of driving product innovation through true collaboration between GLOBALFOUNDRIES and its ecosystem partners on leading edge and mainstream CMOS technologies, as well as solutions for high voltage, embedded non-volatile memories, RF, analog, and MEMS.
GTC 2011 is expected to draw more than 1,500 people from around the world, including broad participation from key customers, suppliers, partners, industry analysts and media as well as the GLOBALFOUNDRIES leadership team. The Santa Clara event will kick off a series of GTC 2011 “Road Show” events to be held at other strategic international venues including:
- September 14, Hsinchu, Taiwan
- September 16, Shanghai, China
- October 27, Tokyo, Japan
Each regional event features members of the GLOBALSOLUTIONSTM ecosystem of partners exhibiting proven, differentiated solutions in design enablement, mask services, assembly and test for the consumer, communications, computing and automotive sectors.
Please visit the following Web site for details on the agenda, keynotes, exhibitions, demos and other features of the event: http://www.globalfoundries.com/gtc2011/.
Subject: Editorial, Shows and Expos | August 10, 2011 - 07:14 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: workshop, video, quakecon, pcper
If you weren't at Quakecon 2011 last weekend and didn't get a chance to watch our live stream of the event, you can still catch it right here. What did we do at 3rd Annual PC Perspective Hardware Workshop? We gave out a TON of hardware and prizes thanks to our many sponsors (listing here) and also showed off some great case mods, some new technology including a 5 display capable Galaxy graphics card and of course, a demo from NVIDIA's own Tom Petersen.
Again, a HUGE thanks goes out to our sponsors for helping out with the event, providing interesting things to show off and prizes for all the gamers. We had a blast as did the 1100+ attendees and 2000+ viewers live online that day!! A big thanks specifically goes out to Corsair, NVIDIA and OCZ for exceptional help getting it all together!
Here is to next year...or who knows...maybe even sooner...? ;)