NVIDIA is ready to storm the server room

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Networking, Shows and Expos | March 19, 2019 - 06:16 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, t4, amazon, microsoft, NGC, Mellanox, CUDA-X, GTC, jen-hsun huang, DRIVE Constellation, ai

As part of their long list of announcements yesterday, NVIDIA revealed they are partnering with Cisco, Dell EMC, Fujitsu, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Inspur, Lenovo and Sugon to provide servers powered by T4 Tensor Core GPUs, optimized to run their CUDA-X AI accelerators. 

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Those T4 GPUs have been on the market for a while but this marks the first major success for NVIDIA in the server room, with models available for purchase from those aforementioned companies.  Those who prefer other people's servers can also benefit from these new products, with Amazon and Microsoft offering Cloud based solutions.  Setting yourself up to run NVIDIA's NGC software may save a lot of money down the road, the cards sip a mere 70W of power which is rather more attractive than the consumption of a gaggle of Tesla V100s.  One might be guilty of suspecting this offers an explanation for their recent acquisition of Mellanox.

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NGC software offers more than just a platform to run optimizations on, it also offers a range of templates to start off with from classification, and object detection, through sentiment analysis and most other basic starting points for training a machine.  Customers will also be able to upload their own models to share internally or, if in the mood, externally with other users and companies.  It supports existing products such as TensorFlow and PyTorch but also offers access to CUDA-X AI, which as the name suggests takes advantage of the base design of the T4 GPU to reduce the amount of time waiting for results and letting users advance designs quickly. 

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If you are curious exactly what particular implementations of everyone's favourite buzzword might be, NVIDIA's DRIVE Constellation is a example after JoshTekk's own heart.  Literally an way to create open, scalable simulation for large fleets of self-driving cars to train them ... for good one hopes.  Currently the Toyota Research Institute-Advanced Development utilizes these products in the development of their next self-driving fleet, and NVIDIA obviously hopes others will follow suit. 

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There is not much to see from the perspective of a gamer in the short term, but considering NVIDIA's work at shifting the horsepower from the silicon you own to their own Cloud this will certainly impact the future of gaming from both a hardware and gameplay perspective.  GPUs as a Service may not be the future many of us want but this suggests it could be possible, not to mention the dirty tricks enemy AIs will be able to pull with this processing power behind them.

One might even dream that escort missions could become less of a traumatic experience!

Source: NVIDIA

Every NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti on Amazon (So Far)

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 23, 2019 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: zotac, video card, turing, nvidia, msi, gtx 1660 ti, graphics, gpu, gigabyte, geforce, gaming, evga, asus, amazon

NVIDIA partners launched their new GeForce GTX 1660 Ti graphics cards yesterday, and we checked out a pair of these in our review and found these new TU116-based cards to offer excellent performance (and overclocking headroom) for the price. Looking over Amazon listings today here is everything available so far, separated by board partner. We've added the Boost Clock speeds for your reference to show how these cards are clocked compared to the reference (1770 MHz), and purchases made through any of these Amazon affiliate links help us out with a small commission.

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In any case, this list at least demonstrates the current retail picture of NVIDIA's new mainstream Turing GPU on Amazon, so without further preamble here are all currently available cards in alphabetical order by brand:

ASUS

ASUS Phoenix GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC

ASUS Dual GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC

ASUS Strix Gaming GTX 1660 Ti OC

EVGA

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Black Gaming

EVGA GeForce GTX 1660 Ti XC Gaming

GIGABYTE

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti OC 6G

GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 1660 Ti Windforce OC 6G

MSI

MSI GTX 1660 Ti VENTUS XS 6G OC

MSI GTX 1660 Ti ARMOR 6G OC

MSI GTX 1660 Ti GAMING X 6G

ZOTAC

ZOTAC Gaming GeForce GTX 1660 Ti

Already we are seeing many cards offering factory overclocks, ranging from a small 30 MHz bump at $279.99 from GIGABYTE (GTX 1660 Ti OC 6G, 1800 MHz Boost Clock) to 100 MHz+ from the MSI GTX 1660 Ti GAMING X 6G (1875 MHz Boost Clock) we reviewed at $309.99.

We will update the list as additional cards become available on Amazon.

Source: Amazon.com

Amazon's new kit

Subject: General Tech | September 21, 2018 - 03:02 PM |
Tagged: amazon

Amazon announced a variety of products, new or improved for you to order from them.  The Echo Dot, Plus and Show have all been improved, both in performance and aesthetics such as adding temperature monitoring to the Plus to give feed back to your smart thermostat.  The Echo Sub can be linked to existing bluetooth speakers to give your audio some bass while the Echo Input can add any speaker into your Alexa powered audio system.  Pop by The Inquirer for a look at the rest of the new products, up to and including the microwave.

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"AMAZON HAS taken the covers off its new Echo and Alexa range and against all expectation, much of the range will be coming to the UK from the outset. But it looks like we've been diddled out of the microwave."

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Source: The Inquirer

Has your Amazon Fire TV been running a little hot lately?

Subject: General Tech | June 12, 2018 - 01:36 PM |
Tagged: amazon fire tv, amazon, security, cryptocurrency, Android, ADB.Miner

New cryptomining malware has been popping up on Android devices recently, especially Fire TV's with debugging mode or installation of unsigned apps enabled. ADB.Miner runs a program called Test under com.google.time.time and will happily suck up as much of your devices processing power as it can, causing slow performance and occasionally interrupting video playback with a screen which reads Test.  If you have seen this you should probably disable debug, set the device to block unsigned apps and do a factory reset. 

The Inquirer also describes an Amazon store app called Total Commander which should remove it, but the factory reset will offer a better guarantee of removal.

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"AFTVnews has the scoop and reports that the threat, a malware worm variant dubbed 'ADB.Miner', is installing itself on Amazon gadgets as an app called 'Test' under the package name 'com.google.time.time.' "

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Source: The Inquirer

Amazon Lumberyard Beta 1.14 Released... with VS2017!

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2018 - 09:03 PM |
Tagged: amazon, lumberyard

The May 2018 beta release of Amazon Lumberyard has been pushed to their website. This version brings a long-standing feature request to fruition: Visual Studio 2017.

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This is particularly important for someone looking to try out Lumberyard. Previously, if the user installed Visual Studio 2017, they would need to uninstall it, run a post-install clean-up script from a Microsoft GitHub account, install Visual Studio 2015, then install Visual Studio 2017 to get it to run. Yup, Visual Studio 2017 needed to be installed after Visual Studio 2015, and the standard Visual Studio uninstaller wouldn’t correct the broken state (at least on my machine when I attempted it a few times). This is a large, annoying burden for someone who just happened to accidentally install Visual Studio 2017 for some other project.

Now you should be able to just use Visual Studio 2017.

In terms of actual rendering features, the two main ones are Wind Volume and Sky Cloud components. These are additions to Amazon’s Entity Component System that give the ability to blow objects around, including vegetation, as well as create several types of clouds, including volumetric ones.

As always, Amazon Lumberyard is free. Completely free. The catch is that you’ll need to use Amazon Web Services for your servers (unless you roll you own servers) if you have any online element, such as multiplayer, online leaderboards, and so forth.

Source: Amazon

What's more terrifying than an EPYC vulnerability? Your entire Amazon.com history!

Subject: General Tech | May 28, 2018 - 01:24 PM |
Tagged: scary, amazon

For some unknowable reason, Ars Technica determined a way for people to request their entire Amazon.com purchase history, since the creation of the account.  The link provided doesn't seem to be compatible with other Amazon sites, such as Amazon.ca which may be a blessing for many readers.  As part of the project the Ars staff reminisce about some of their past purchases and what Amazon has meant to them. 

Are you willing to see what you have been doing all these years?  If so, click here.

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"As Americans who've spent many years ordering things off the Internet, we at Ars all have Amazon shopping histories in common, but that doesn't mean we all use the site the same—or feel the same about Amazon's reach, quite frankly."

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Source: Ars Technica

Your MP3s are about to be evicted from Amazon Music Storage

Subject: General Tech | April 2, 2018 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: amazon, mp3

If you were under the impression you owned the music you have stored on Amazon's Music Storage Service, Mr. Bezos would like to remind you that you rent, and that you now have an eviction notice.  On April 29th, not only will you not be able to create a new account on this service, you will not be able to renew an existing account and once it expires all your music shall join the toasters in silicon heaven.  If you log into your account and locate the "keep my music" option, clicking it will give you until January 2019 to move your music before it evaporates.  The Register notes that both Prime Music and Music Unlimited will remain active, it is only the Music Storage Service which is being discontinued.

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"Amazon says subscribers to its moribund Music Storage Service have 30 days to claim any song files they have stored on the service or lose them forever."

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Source: The Register
Manufacturer: Microsoft

It's all fun and games until something something AI.

Microsoft announced the Windows Machine Learning (WinML) API about two weeks ago, but they did so in a sort-of abstract context. This week, alongside the 2018 Game Developers Conference, they are grounding it in a practical application: video games!

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Specifically, the API provides the mechanisms for game developers to run inference on the target machine. The training data that it runs against would be in the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format from Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon. Like the initial announcement suggests, it can be used for any application, not just games, but… you know. If you want to get a technology off the ground, and it requires a high-end GPU, then video game enthusiasts are good lead users. When run in a DirectX application, WinML kernels are queued on the DirectX 12 compute queue.

We’ve discussed the concept before. When you’re rendering a video game, simulating an accurate scenario isn’t your goal – the goal is to look like you are. The direct way of looking like you’re doing something is to do it. The problem is that some effects are too slow (or, sometimes, too complicated) to correctly simulate. In these cases, it might be viable to make a deep-learning AI hallucinate a convincing result, even though no actual simulation took place.

Fluid dynamics, global illumination, and up-scaling are three examples.

Previously mentioned SIGGRAPH demo of fluid simulation without fluid simulation...
... just a trained AI hallucinating a scene based on input parameters.

Another place where AI could be useful is… well… AI. One way of making AI is to give it some set of data from the game environment, often including information that a player in its position would not be able to know, and having it run against a branching logic tree. Deep learning, on the other hand, can train itself on billions of examples of good and bad play, and make results based on input parameters. While the two methods do not sound that different, the difference between logic being designed (vs logic being assembled from an abstract good/bad dataset) someone abstracts the potential for assumptions and programmer error. Of course, it abstracts that potential for error into the training dataset, but that’s a whole other discussion.

The third area that AI could be useful is when you’re creating the game itself.

There’s a lot of grunt and grind work when developing a video game. Licensing prefab solutions (or commissioning someone to do a one-off asset for you) helps ease this burden, but that gets expensive in terms of both time and money. If some of those assets could be created by giving parameters to a deep-learning AI, then those are assets that you would not need to make, allowing you to focus on other assets and how they all fit together.

These are three of the use cases that Microsoft is aiming WinML at.

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Sure, these are smooth curves of large details, but the antialiasing pattern looks almost perfect.

For instance, Microsoft is pointing to an NVIDIA demo where they up-sample a photo of a car, once with bilinear filtering and once with a machine learning algorithm (although not WinML-based). The bilinear algorithm behaves exactly as someone who has used Photoshop would expect. The machine learning algorithm, however, was able to identify the objects that the image intended to represent, and it drew the edges that it thought made sense.

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Like their DirectX Raytracing (DXR) announcement, Microsoft plans to have PIX support WinML “on Day 1”. As for partners? They are currently working with Unity Technologies to provide WinML support in Unity’s ML-Agents plug-in. That’s all the game industry partners they have announced at the moment, though. It’ll be interesting to see who jumps in and who doesn’t over the next couple of years.

Play nicely children; Google and Amazon having trouble with that sharing thing

Subject: General Tech | December 6, 2017 - 12:58 PM |
Tagged: amazon, google, Alexa, youtube

Google has decided that YouTube should not work as advertised on any Amazon devices, in retaliation to Amazon refusing to stream Amazon Prime Video over Google Cast nor sell Google devices online.  Currently you will just be redirected to YouTube.com when you launch your app but Google is planning on blocking all access from Echo or Fire TV in the near future.  None of us particularly care about Google and Amazon's relationship problems but sadly, similar to children whose parents are going through a divorce, we are the ones who suffer.  These two companies have been at it for a while, The Register covers some of the highlights of their disfunctional relationship here.

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"Google is trying to stop Amazon Echo Show devices from streaming YouTube videos – and from January, it will block Amazon’s Fire TVs from accessing the vid service, too."

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Source: The Register

NVIDIA Partners with AWS for Volta V100 in the Cloud

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2017 - 09:58 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amazon, google, pascal, Volta, gv100, tesla v100

Remember last month? Remember when I said that Google’s introduction of Tesla P100s would be good leverage over Amazon, as the latter is still back in the Kepler days (because Maxwell was 32-bit focused)?

Amazon has leapfrogged them by introducing Volta-based V100 GPUs.

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To compare the two parts, the Tesla P100 has 3584 CUDA cores, yielding just under 10 TFLOPs of single-precision performance. The Tesla V100, with its ridiculous die size, pushes that up over 14 TFLOPs. Same as Pascal, they also support full 1:2:4 FP64:FP32:FP16 performance scaling. It also has access to NVIDIA’s tensor cores, which are specialized for 16-bit, 4x4 multiply-add matrix operations that are apparently common in neural networks, both training and inferencing.

Amazon allows up to eight of them at once (with their P3.16xlarge instances).

So that’s cool. While Google has again been quickly leapfrogged by Amazon, it’s good to see NVIDIA getting wins in multiple cloud providers. This keeps money rolling in that will fund new chip designs for all the other segments.

Source: Amazon