Subject: General Tech | July 20, 2017 - 11:53 AM | Alex Lustenberg
Tagged: zenbook, z270, wireless charging, water cooling, VR, video, Vega, TSMC, thermaltake, SILVIA, podcast, Pacific, Oculus, Kabby Lake-R, corsair, Contac, asus, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #459 - 07/20/17
Join us for Threadripper Pricing, Liquid Cooled VEGA, Intel Rumors, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano
Peanut Gallery: Ken Addison, Alex Lustenberg, Jim Tanous
Subject: Motherboards | July 19, 2017 - 04:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: x370, ryzen, Racing X370GT7, biostar, amd, AM4
BioStar have greeted the release of AMD's Ryzen with enthusiasm, releasing numerous AM4 boards, some of which are garnering better reviews than the main brands. [H]ard|OCP tested out their Racing X370GT7, an ATX model with a ~$160 price tag. The silkscreen on the board is rather unique and the layout is extremely clean. You get a lot of nice high end features such as a heatsink for the M.2 slot located just below the CPU socket, Realtec ALC1220 8 channel audio and even an LN2 switch for extreme overclockers. As with many other X370 boards there were some quirks with memory compatibility as well as some questionable UEFI choices specific to this board. It will offer a solid base for someone building a Ryzen platform and it will likely improve as the AMD Generic Encapsulated Software Architecture for AM4's matures.
"BIOSTAR isn’t exactly a juggernaut of a manufacturer here in the U.S. Despite stiff competition, the big boys are blowing it bad enough at the X370 Ryzen motherboard game that BIOSTAR’s X370GT7 just might be one of the best AM4 motherboard options around. While we think it might actually be good, it still doesn’t make for a smooth ride."
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI X370 XPower Gaming Titanium Review @ OCC
- ASRock Fatal1ty X370 Gaming K4 @ Hardware Secrets
- MSI X370 Krait Gaming @ Modders-Inc
- Gigabyte AB350N-Gaming WIFI @ Modders-Inc
- Gigabyte AORUS Gaming 3 X299 @ eTeknix
Specifications and Design
Just a couple of short weeks ago we looked at the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition 16GB graphics card in its air-cooled variety. The results were interesting – gaming performance proved to fall somewhere between the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080 from NVIDIA’s current generation of GeForce products. That is under many of the estimates from players in the market, including media, fans, and enthusiasts. But before we get to the RX Vega product family that is targeted at gamers, AMD has another data point for us to look at with a water-cooled version of Vega Frontier Edition. At a $1500 MSRP, which we shelled out ourselves, we are very interested to see how it changes the face of performance for the Vega GPU and architecture.
Let’s start with a look at the specifications of this version of the Vega Frontier Edition, which will be…familiar.
|Vega Frontier Edition (Liquid)||Vega Frontier Edition||Titan Xp||GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X|
|Base Clock||1382 MHz||1382 MHz||1480 MHz||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1600 MHz||1600 MHz||1582 MHz||1582 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||-|
|Memory Clock||1890 MHz||1890 MHz||11400 MHz||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||2048-bit HBM2||2048-bit HBM2||384-bit G5X||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||483 GB/s||483 GB/s||547.7 GB/s||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|300 watts||250 watts||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||13.1 TFLOPS||13.1 TFLOPS||12.0 TFLOPS||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS|
The base specs remain unchanged and AMD lists the same memory frequency and even GPU clock rates across both models. In practice though, the liquid cooled version runs at higher sustained clocks and can overclock a bit easier as well (more details later). What does change with the liquid cooled version is a usable BIOS switch on top of the card that allows you to move between two distinct power draw states: 300 watts and 350 watts.
First, it’s worth noting this is a change from the “375 watt” TDP that this card was listed at during the launch and announcement. AMD was touting a 300-watt and 375-watt version of Frontier Edition, but it appears the company backed off a bit on that, erring on the side of caution to avoid breaking any of the specifcations of PCI Express (board slot or auxiliary connectors). Even more concerning is that AMD chose to have the default state of the switch on the Vega FE Liquid card at 300 watts rather than the more aggressive 350 watts. AMD claims this to avoid any problems with lower quality power supplies that may struggle to hit slightly over 150 watts of power draw (and resulting current) from the 8-pin power connections. I would argue that any system that is going to install a $1500 graphics card can and should be prepared to provide the necessary power, but for the professional market, AMD leans towards caution. (It’s worth pointing out the RX 480 power issues that may have prompted this internal decision making were more problematic because they impacted the power delivery through the motherboard, while the 6- and 8-pin connectors are generally much safer to exceed the ratings.)
Even without clock speed changes, the move to water cooling should result in better and more consistent performance by removing the overheating concerns that surrounded our first Radeon Vega Frontier Edition review. But let’s dive into the card itself and see how the design process created a unique liquid cooled solution.
Subject: Cases and Cooling | July 14, 2017 - 03:15 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: thermaltake, Contac Silent 12, ryzen, AM4, amd, heatsink, air cooler
Thermaltake has a new cooler for those planning a Ryzen build on a budget, or for quiet system builds. The Contac Silent 12 is a mere 153x12x100.3mm in size, with the fan attached, and weighs a paltry 700g however it is capable of almost matching the performance of AMD's Wraith cooler while operating at a noticeably quieter level. In addition to the heatsink you will find a 'low-noise cable' which changes the fans RPM span from 500-1500 RPM to 400-1100 RPM however in their tests The Tech Report found it had little effect on the noise produced by a system under load. See the full results here.
"Thermaltake's Contac Silent 12 relies on an established design and a simple mounting system to get AMD Socket AM4 builders up and running as quickly as possible. We tested this cooler at stock and overclocked speeds to see how it stacks up for just $25."
Here are some more Cases & Cooling reviews from around the web:
- Aqua Computer cuplex kryos NEXT CPU Water Block @ techPowerUp
- In Win 301 Mini Tower @ Benchmark Reviews
- Aerocool P7-C0 @ Kitguru
- VIVO CASE-V08 Review @ OCC
Just a little taste
In a surprise move with no real indication as to why, AMD has decided to reveal some of the most exciting and interesting information surrounding Threadripper and Ryzen 3, both due out in just a few short weeks. AMD CEO Lisa Su and CVP of Marketing John Taylor (along with guest star Robert Hallock) appear in a video being launched on the AMD YouTube website today to divulge the naming, clock speeds and pricing for the new flagship HEDT product line under the Ryzen brand.
We already know a lot of about Threadripper, AMD’s answer to the X299/X99 high-end desktop platforms from Intel, including that they would be coming this summer, have up to 16-cores and 32-threads of compute, and that they would all include 64 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 for a massive amount of connectivity for the prosumer.
Now we know that there will be two models launching and available in early August: the Ryzen Threadripper 1920X and the Ryzen Threadripper 1950X.
|Core i9-7980XE||Core i9-7960X||Core i9-7940X||Core i9-7920X||Core i9-7900X||Core i7-7820X||Core i7-7800X||Threadripper 1950X||Threadripper 1920X|
|Base Clock||?||?||?||?||3.3 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz|
|Turbo Boost 2.0||?||?||?||?||4.3 GHz||4.3 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz|
|Turbo Boost Max 3.0||?||?||?||?||4.5 GHz||4.5 GHz||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Cache||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||16.5MB (?)||13.75MB||11MB||8.25MB||40MB||?|
|DDR4-2666 Quad Channel|
|TDP||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||165 watts (?)||140 watts||140 watts||140 watts||180 watts||180 watts|
|Threadripper 1950X||Threadripper 1920X||Ryzen 7 1800X||Ryzen 7 1700X||Ryzen 7 1700||Ryzen 5 1600X||Ryzen 5 1600||Ryzen 5 1500X||Ryzen 5 1400|
|Base Clock||3.4 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.4 GHz||3.0 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.2 GHz||3.5 GHz||3.2 GHz|
|Turbo/Boost Clock||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.8 GHz||3.7 GHz||4.0 GHz||3.6 GHz||3.7 GHz||3.4 GHz|
|DDR4-2666 Quad Channel||DDR4-2400
|TDP||180 watts||180 watts||95 watts||95 watts||65 watts||95 watts||65 watts||65 watts||65 watts|
Subject: Motherboards | July 10, 2017 - 03:38 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, b350, B350 Mortar, msi, AM4, mATX
MSI's B350 Mortar comes in the model you see below as well as an Arctic version if you prefer a different colour scheme. AMD's B350 chipset carries a lower cost than the X370 series but retains most of the features enthusiasts delight in, such as M.2, support for DDR4-3200MHz, a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C plug and a Realtek ALC892 HD audio codec for audio. Indeed about the only thing you lose is the ability to run multiple GPUs, which is not exactly a common need on an mATX build. Modders-Inc were taken with this low cost motherboard, especially the amount of customization available in the UEFI to adjust your fan speeds ... and yes it has your RGBs.
"AMD's B350 chipset is challenging Intel's market dominance in a different subset that the chip giant did not expect: affordability. If AMD's Ryzen product releases sound too familiar with that of Intel's line, that is because it is deliberate. It is basically an aggressive move by AMD, challenging Intel directly that they can take over the naming scheme and do …"
Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:
- MSI Z270 GAMING M7 @ techPowerUp
- ECS Z270-Lightsaber Review @ Neoseeker
- ASRock X299 Taichi @ techPowerUp
There has been a lot of news lately about the release of Cryptocurrency-specific graphics cards from both NVIDIA and AMD add-in board partners. While we covered the currently cryptomining phenomenon in an earlier article, today we are taking a look at one of these cards geared towards miners.
It's worth noting that I purchased this card myself from Newegg, and neither AMD or Sapphire are involved in this article. I saw this card pop up on Newegg a few days ago, and my curiosity got the best of me.
There has been a lot of speculation, and little official information from vendors about what these mining cards will actually entail.
From the outward appearance, it is virtually impossible to distinguish this "new" RX 470 from the previous Sapphire Nitro+ RX 470, besides the lack of additional display outputs beyond the DVI connection. Even the branding and labels on the card identify it as a Nitro+ RX 470.
In order to test the hashing rates of this GPU, we are using Claymore's Dual Miner Version 9.6 (mining Ethereum only) against a reference design RX 470, also from Sapphire.
On the reference RX 470 out of the box, we hit rates of about 21.8 MH/s while mining Ethereum.
Once we moved to the Sapphire mining card, we move up to at least 24 MH/s from the start.
A long time coming
External video cards for laptops have long been a dream of many PC enthusiasts, and for good reason. It’s compelling to have a thin-and-light notebook with great battery life for things like meetings or class, with the ability to plug it into a dock at home and enjoy your favorite PC games.
Many times we have been promised that external GPUs for notebooks would be a viable option. Over the years there have been many commercial solutions involving both industry standard protocols like ExpressCard, as well as proprietary connections to allow you to externally connect PCIe devices. Inspiring hackers have also had their hand with this for many years, cobbling together interesting solutions using mPCIe and M.2 ports on their notebooks which were meant for other devices.
With the introduction of Intel’s Thunderbolt standard in 2011, there was a hope that we would finally achieve external graphics nirvana. A modern, Intel-backed protocol promising PCIe x4 speeds (PCIe 2.0 at that point) sounded like it would be ideal for connecting GPUs to notebooks, and in some ways it was. Once again the external graphics communities managed to get it to work through the use of enclosures meant to connect other non-GPU PCIe devices such as RAID and video capture cards to systems. However, software support was still a limiting factor. You were required to use an external monitor to display your video, and it still felt like you were just riding the line between usability and a total hack. It felt like we were never going to get true universal support for external GPUs on notebooks.
Then, seemingly of out of nowhere, Intel decided to promote native support for external GPUs as a priority when they introduced Thunderbolt 3. Fast forward, and we've already seen a much larger adoption of Thunderbolt 3 on PC notebooks than we ever did with the previous Thunderbolt implementations. Taking all of this into account, we figured it was time to finally dip our toes into the eGPU market.
For our testing, we decided on the AKiTio Node for several reasons. First, at around $300, it's by far the lowest cost enclosure built to support GPUs. Additionally, it seems to be one of the most compatible devices currently on the market according to the very helpful comparison chart over at eGPU.io. The eGPU site is a wonderful resource for everything external GPU, over any interface possible, and I would highly recommend heading over there to do some reading if you are interested in trying out an eGPU for yourself.
The Node unit itself is a very utilitarian design. Essentially you get a folded sheet metal box with a Thunderbolt controller and 400W SFX power supply inside.
In order to install a GPU into the Node, you must first unscrew the enclosure from the back and slide the outer shell off of the device.
Once inside, we can see that there is ample room for any graphics card you might want to install in this enclosure. In fact, it seems a little too large for any of the GPUs we installed, including GTX 1080 Ti models. Here, you can see a more reasonable RX 570 installed.
Beyond opening up the enclosure to install a GPU, there is very little configuration required. My unit required a firmware update, but that was easily applied with the tools from the AKiTio site.
From here, I simply connected the Node to a ThinkPad X1, installed the NVIDIA drivers for our GTX 1080 Ti, and everything seemed to work — including using the 1080 Ti with the integrated notebook display and no external monitor!
Now that we've got the Node working, let's take a look at some performance numbers.
Two Vegas...ha ha ha
When the preorders for the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition went up last week, I made the decision to place orders in a few different locations to make sure we got it in as early as possible. Well, as it turned out, we actually had the cards show up very quickly…from two different locations.
So, what is a person to do if TWO of the newest, most coveted GPUs show up on their doorstep? After you do the first, full review of the single GPU iteration, you plug those both into your system and do some multi-GPU CrossFire testing!
There of course needs to be some discussion up front about this testing and our write up. If you read my first review of the Vega Frontier Edition you will clearly note my stance on the idea that “this is not a gaming card” and that “the drivers aren’t ready. Essentially, I said these potential excuses for performance were distraction and unwarranted based on the current state of Vega development and the proximity of the consumer iteration, Radeon RX.
But for multi-GPU, it’s a different story. Both competitors in the GPU space will tell you that developing drivers for CrossFire and SLI is incredibly difficult. Much more than simply splitting the work across different processors, multi-GPU requires extra attention to specific games, game engines, and effects rendering that are not required in single GPU environments. Add to that the fact that the market size for CrossFire and SLI has been shrinking, from an already small state, and you can see why multi-GPU is going to get less attention from AMD here.
Even more, when CrossFire and SLI support gets a focus from the driver teams, it is often late in the process, nearly last in the list of technologies to address before launch.
With that in mind, we all should understand the results we are going to show you might be indicative of the CrossFire scaling when Radeon RX Vega launches, but it very well could not. I would look at the data we are presenting today as a “current state” of CrossFire for Vega.
Performance not two-die four.
When designing an integrated circuit, you are attempting to fit as much complexity as possible within your budget of space, power, and so forth. One harsh limitation for GPUs is that, while your workloads could theoretically benefit from more and more processing units, the number of usable chips from a batch shrinks as designs grow, and the reticle limit of a fab’s manufacturing node is basically a brick wall.
What’s one way around it? Split your design across multiple dies!
NVIDIA published a research paper discussing just that. In their diagram, they show two examples. In the first diagram, the GPU is a single, typical die that’s surrounded by four stacks of HBM, like GP100; the second configuration breaks the GPU into five dies, four GPU modules and an I/O controller, with each GPU module attached to a pair of HBM stacks.
NVIDIA ran simulations to determine how this chip would perform, and, in various workloads, they found that it out-performed the largest possible single-chip GPU by about 45.5%. They scaled up the single-chip design until it had the same amount of compute units as the multi-die design, even though this wouldn’t work in the real world because no fab could actual lithograph it. Regardless, that hypothetical, impossible design was only ~10% faster than the actually-possible multi-chip one, showing that the overhead of splitting the design is only around that much, according to their simulation. It was also faster than the multi-card equivalent by 26.8%.
While NVIDIA’s simulations, run on 48 different benchmarks, have accounted for this, I still can’t visualize how this would work in an automated way. I don’t know how the design would automatically account for fetching data that’s associated with other GPU modules, as this would probably be a huge stall. That said, they spent quite a bit of time discussing how much bandwidth is required within the package, and figures of 768 GB/s to 3TB/s were mentioned, so it’s possible that it’s just the same tricks as fetching from global memory. The paper touches on the topic several times, but I didn’t really see anything explicit about what they were doing.
If you’ve been following the site over the last couple of months, you’ll note that this is basically the same as AMD is doing with Threadripper and EPYC. The main difference is that CPU cores are isolated, so sharing data between them is explicit. In fact, when that product was announced, I thought, “Huh, that would be cool for GPUs. I wonder if it’s possible, or if it would just end up being Crossfire / SLI.”
Apparently not? It should be possible?
I should note that I doubt this will be relevant for consumers. The GPU is the most expensive part of a graphics card. While the thought of four GP102-level chips working together sounds great for 4K (which is 4x1080p in resolution) gaming, quadrupling the expensive part sounds like a giant price-tag. That said, the market of GP100 (and the upcoming GV100) would pay five-plus digits for the absolute fastest compute device for deep-learning, scientific research, and so forth.
The only way I could see this working for gamers is if NVIDIA finds the sweet-spot for performance-to-yield (for a given node and time) and they scale their product stack with multiples of that. In that case, it might be cost-advantageous to hit some level of performance, versus trying to do it with a single, giant chip.
This is just my speculation, however. It’ll be interesting to see where this goes, whenever it does.