Async Compute turning the Gears of War

Subject: General Tech | November 23, 2016 - 01:39 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gears of war 4, gaming, dx12, async compute, amd

[H]ard|OCP sat down with the new DX12 based Gears of War 4 to test the performance of the game on a variety of cards, with a focus on the effect of enabling Async Compute.  In their testing they found no reason for Async Compute to be disabled as it did not hurt the performance of any card.  On the other hand NVIDIA's offerings do not benefit in any meaningful way from the feature and while AMD's cards certainly did, it was not enough to allow you to run everything at maximum on an RX 480.  Overall the game was no challenge to any of the cards except perhaps the RX 460 and the GTX 1050 Ti.  When playing at 4K resolution they saw memory usage in excess of 6GB, making the GTX 1080 the card for those who want to play with the highest graphical settings.  Get more details and benchmarks in their full review.

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"We take Gears of War 4, a new Windows 10 only game supporting DX12 natively and compare performance with seven video cards. We will find out which one provides the best experience at 4K, 1440p, and 1080p resolutions, and see how these compare to each other. We will also look specifically at the Async Compute feature."

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 08:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

The fourth Radeon Software Crimson Edition graphics driver to be released this month, dated November 15th, was just published on their website. These have not been WHQL certified, like the previous ones, but that might actually be for the best. Rapid graphics driver releases, not throttled by Microsoft red tape, probably increases driver quality over this busy time of year. Also, I recently found out that WHQL certification is not a requirement for clean installed Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems with Secure Boot Enabled. Both AMD and NVIDIA sign their hotfix drivers in a way that satisfies this check, without going through the entire WHQL process.

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That aside, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4 rolls in additional fixes to Civilization VI. AMD isn’t saying what these fixes are, such as whether they are for general performance optimizations or stability issues that we haven’t heard about yet, but it’s out now so you should probably update if you are currently playing the game. The driver also fixes problems when attempting to watch web video and play a game simultaneously, which is actually something I do frequently. (Don’t knock listening to podcasts while playing StarCraft II Arcade until you try it...) Thirdly, 16.11.4 also fixes rendering issues in Titanfall 2 that occur while piloting a Titan.

Source: AMD

Not a bad quarter to be a GPU vendor, though some fared better than others

Subject: General Tech | November 17, 2016 - 12:56 PM |
Tagged: amd, Intel, nvidia, jon peddie, q3 2016

Compared to Q2 2016, total GPU shipments including discrete and integral chips in the mobile and desktop markets increased by 20%; good but not enough to recover to the volume we saw in Q3 2015.  Indivdually, total AMD sales increased by 15% and but Intel 18% but it was NVIDIA that was the most successful with a 39% increase.  In AMD's case they saw sales of their aging desktop APUs drop by 10% but that was more than offset by a jump in discrete GPU sales of 34.7% and an increase in laptop demand by 19.1% . The discrete GPU market as a whole has grown by 35.6% from the last quarter and by 10.1% when compared to last year.  This is not bad news for AMD or Intel but it is certainly NVIDIA who has the most to celebrate.  Pop over to Jon Peddie Research for a look at their overview, or check out the full report if you subscribe to them.

Obviously the PC is still dead ... right?

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Courtesy of JPR

"AMD's overall unit shipments increased 15.38% quarter-to-quarter, Intel's total shipments increased 17.70% from last quarter, and Nvidia's increased 39.31%."

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Tech Talk

Please State Your Name; looking at performance in this short VR film

Subject: General Tech | November 16, 2016 - 01:33 PM |
Tagged: VR, nvidia, gaming, amd

VR offers a variety of new creative opportunities, not simply a new way to make games.  For instance StudioDisrupt has created a VR movie called Please State Your Name about a decapitated robot's head in a garbage dump.  While the movie has a script which it runs through, you have the freedom to move your perspective around the world.  While this may not sound overly interesting, Kyle over at [H]ard|OCP has watched this movie 25 or 30 times this week even before embarking on this review so there must be something to it.  Check out their full look at the performance of AMD and NVIDIA cards in this VR movie by following that previous link.  A second version of the movie is available for those using their cellphone as a VR headset, somewhat more limited but seeing as how the movie is free you should take the opportunity.

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"Please State Your Name is not a game, it is not really an "experience" either, but rather a short film done in a Virtual Reality world, which puts you right in the middle of the story. This genre of VR is where AMD has been putting a lot of its resources. Can we expect the Radeon RX 480 to show us its VR prowess once again?"

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

RX 480 versus the GTX 1060; who gets your $250?

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 15, 2016 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, nvidia, GTX1060, amd

On one side of the ring is the RX 480, with 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units.  In the opposite corner, at 1280 CUDA Cores, 48 ROPs and 80 Texture Units is the GTX 1060.  The two cards retail for between $200 to $250 depending on the features present on the card as well as any sales.  [H]ard|OCP tested the two cards head to head, not just raw performance numbers but also the stability of the GPU frequencies. power draw and temperatures.  All games were tested at base clocks and at the highest stable overclock and the results were back and forth, in some games AMD pulled ahead while in others NVIDIA was the clear winner.  It is worth keeping in mind that these results do not include VR results.

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"We take GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 480 G1 GAMING video card and pit it against a MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X video card in today’s evaluation. We will overclock both video cards as high as possible and compare performance and find out what both video cards have to offer in the upper $200 price range for gaming."

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Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope scales with multi-GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 14, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: video, the last hope, serious sam vr, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, multi-gpu, liquidvr, amd, affinity

While VR excitement might have cooled slightly in the enthusiast community, there continues to be innovation and software releases on both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that are bringing me back to what I think we believe to be part of the future of PC gaming. Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope was announced at E3 this year and is now available as an early access game on Steam. It is a dual wielding shooter that combines the enemies of the previous games along with the crazy weapons that made the series iconic.

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And hey, there is something awesome about using a missile launcher that takes up half the screen.

One interesting technology addition to the game is use of AMD LiquidVR affinity multi-GPU. A Croteam developer recently posted a blog on the GPUOpen.com site talking about the implementation.

We wanted to add LiquidVR Affinity Multi-GPU rendering support to our engine because two GPUs can render the two eye views in almost half the time compared to a single GPU and this would greatly reduce our GPU bottlenecks. Affinity MGPU can either be done in one pass or with a separate pass for each eye, in which case we reap the GPU side benefits while the CPU workload stays the same.

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We needed about a week to modify all shaders and to make sure that correct data is set for each eye. Single pass rendering with Affinity Multi-GPU gave us a huge speed improvement on both CPU and GPU from our original VR implementation. In the end, it took us less time to do single pass rendering correctly than it took us to fix all the problems caused by multi pass multi-GPU rendering.

After the interest in the Deus Ex multi-GPU scaling video I thought I would see if the Serious Sam implementation was actually beneficial to gamers.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
  • Driver: 16.10.2

The test was simple: I found that a single RX 480 could run the game at Medium settings perfectly well, but could it be playable on High with multi-GPU? By adding in a second Radeon RX 480 I was able to bring the performance up by 55% or so, making the VR experience nearly flawless.

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It's not perfect scaling, but the benefits of multi-GPU for VR, when properly implemented, are obvious. As more games and experiences are released that require higher compute capability or have in-game settings that allow for better image quality, the ability to scale across GPUs will be a welcome addition to the ecosystem.

Check out the video here if you haven't seen any Serious Sam VR gameplay yet!

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 9, 2016 - 09:52 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, dishonored 2, crimson, amd

Just a handful of days into this busy month for video game companies, and AMD has released their third Radeon Software Crimson Edition drivers for November. 16.11.3, like 16.11.2 and 16.11.1, are not certified by WHQL. From a quality standpoint, Microsoft certification hasn't exactly made a difference over the last year or so. In fact, both graphics vendors rapidly releasing hotfixes between regular WHQL milestones seems to have a better user experience. Unfortunately, this does mean that users of clean installed Windows 10 1607 with Secure Boot enabled will be missing out. Correction: The drivers are actually signed by Microsoft with the attestation process.

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As for the driver itself, 16.11.3 rolls in AMD's optimizations for Dishonored 2. The game goes live in two days, so this should give users an opportunity to find a good time to install and reboot before launch. It also fixes an issue where Valve's Steam client and EA's Origin client would fail when an external GPU, using AMD's X-Connect Technology standard, is detached.

Source: AMD

A VR capable machine for less than the headset?

Subject: Systems | November 9, 2016 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: VR, vive, rift, Oculus, htc, build guide, amd

Neoseeker embarked on an interesting project recently; building a VR capable system which costs less than the VR headset it will power.  We performed a similar feat this summer, a rig which at the time cost roughly $900.  Neoseeker took a different path, using AMD parts to keep the cost low while still providing the horsepower required to drive a Rift or Vive.  They tested their rig on The Lab, Star Wars: Trials on Tatooine and Waltz of the Wizard, finding the performance smooth and most importantly not creating the need for any dimenhydrinate.  There are going to be some games this system struggles with but at total cost under $700 this is a great way to experience VR even if you are on a budget.

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"Team Red designed this system around their very capable Radeon RX 480 8GB video card and the popular FX-6350 Vishera 6-Core CPU. The RX 480 is obviously the main component that will not only be leading the dance, but also help drive the total build cost down thanks to its MSRP of $239. At the currently listed online prices, the components for system will cost around $660 USD in total after applicable rebates."

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Systems

Source: Neoseeker

The Brookhaven Experiment, the next in the new wave of VR shooters

Subject: General Tech | November 9, 2016 - 02:03 PM |
Tagged: brookhaven experiment, VR, amd, nvidia, htc vive

[H]ard|OCP has a new Vive title to test on AMD and NVIDIA silicon, a wave shooter with some horror elements called The Brookhaven Experiment.  As with most of these games they found some interesting results in the testing, in this case the GPU load stayed very consistent, regardless of how much was on the screen at any time.  The graphical settings in this title are quite bare but it does support supersampling, which [H]ard|OCP recommends you turn on when playing the game, if your system can support it.  Check out the rankings in their full review.

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"If naked mutants from another dimension with horribly bad skin conditions interests you, this is YOUR VR game! The Brookhaven Experiment is a tremendously intense 360 degree wave shooter that will keep you on your toes, give you a workout, and probably scare the piss out of you along the way. How do AMD and NVIDIA stack up in VR?"

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Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

AMD Releases New Generation of Radeon Pro Workstation Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 09:32 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, WX 5100, WX 4100, workstation, radeon pro, radeon, quadro, Polaris, amd

The professional card market is a lucrative one.  For many years NVIDIA has had a near strangle-hold on it with their Quadro series of cards.  Offering features and extended support far beyond that of their regular desktop cards, Quadros became the go-to cards for many professional applications.  AMD has not been overlooking this area though and have had a history of professional cards that have also included features and support not seen in the standard desktop arena.  AMD has slowly been chipping away at Quadro’s marketshare and they hope that today’s announcement will help further that particular goal.

It has now been around five months since the initial release of the Polaris based graphics cards from AMD.  Featuring the 4th generation GCN architecture and fabricated on Samsung’s latest 14nm process, the RX 4x0 series of chips have proven to be a popular option in the sub-$250 range of cards.  These products may not have been the slam-dunk that many were hoping from AMD, they have kept the company competitive in terms of power and performance.  AMD has also seen a positive impact from the sales of these products on the overall bottom line.

Today AMD is announcing three new professional cards based on the latest Polaris based GPUs.  These range in power and performance from a sub 50 watt part up to a very reasonable 130 watts.  These currently do not feature the SSD that was shown off earlier this year.

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The lowest end offering is the Radeon Pro WX 4100.  This is a low profile, single slot card that consumes less than 50 watts.  It features 1024 stream units, which is greater than that of the desktop RX 460’s 896.  The WX 4100 features 2.4 TFLOPS of performance while the RX 460 is at 2.2 TFLOPS.  AMD did not specify exactly what chips were used in the professional cards, but the assumption here is that this one is a fully enabled Polaris 11.

The power consumption of this card is probably the most impressive part.  Also of great interest is the DP 1.4 support and the four outputs.  Finally the card supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz.  This is a small, quiet, and cool running part that features the entire AMD Radeon Enterprise software support of the professional market.

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The next card up is the Pro WX 5100.  This features a sub 75 watt GPU that runs 1792 stream units.  We guess that this chip is a cut down Polaris 10.  On the desktop side it is similar to the RX 470, but that particular card features more stream units and a faster clockspeed.  The RX 470 is rated at 4.9 TFLOPS while the WX 5100 is at 3.9 TFLOPS.  Fewer stream units and a lower clockspeed allow it to hit that sub-75 watt figure.

It supports the same number of outputs as the 4100, but they are full sized DP.  The card is full sized but still only single slot due to the very conservative TDP.

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The final card is the WX 7100.  This is based on the fully enabled Polaris 10 GPU and is physically similar to the RX 480.  They both feature 2304 stream units, but the WX 7100 is slightly clocked down from the RX 480 as it features 5.7 TFLOPS of performance vs. 5.8 TFLOPS.  The card is rated below 130 watts TDP which is about 20 watts lower than a standard RX 480.  AMD did not explain to us how they were able to lower the TDP of this card, but it could be simple binning of parts or an upcoming revision of Polaris 10 to improve thermals.

This card is again full sized but single slot.  It features the same 4 DP connectors as the WX 5100 and the full monitor support that the 1.4 standard entails.

These products will see initial availability for this month.  Plans may of course change and they will be introduced slightly later.  Currently the 7100 and 4100 are expected after the 10th while the 5100 should show up on the 18th.

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AMD is also releasing the Radeon Pro Software.  This is essentially their professional driver development that improves upon features, stability, and performance over time.  AMD aims to release new drivers for this market every 4th Thursday each quarter.

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This is certainly an important area for AMD to address with their new cards and this updated software scheme.  NVIDIA has made a pretty penny over the years from their Quadro stack due to the extremely robust margins for these cards.  The latest generation of AMD Radeon Pro WX cards look to stack up favorably against the latest products from NVIDIA.

The WX 7100 will come in at a $799 price point, while the WX 5100 and WX 4100 will hit $499 and $399 respectively.

Source: AMD