GDC 2016 Sessions Are Up and DirectX 12 / Vulkan Are There

Subject: General Tech | January 20, 2016 - 07:06 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, ue4, nvidia, Intel, gdc 2016, GDC, epic games, DirectX 12, Codemasters, arm, amd

The 30th Game Developers Conference (GDC) will take place on March 14th through March 18th, with the expo itself starting on March 16th. The sessions have been published at some point, with DX12 and Vulkan prominently featured. While the technologies have not been adopted as quickly as advertised, the direction is definitely forward. In fact, NVIDIA, Khronos Group, and Valve have just finished hosting a developer day for Vulkan. It is coming.


One interesting session will be hosted by Codemasters and Intel, which discusses bringing the F1 2015 engine to DirectX 12. It will highlight a few features they implemented, such as voxel based raytracing using conservative rasterization, which overestimates the size of individual triangles so you don't get edge effects on pixels that are partially influenced by an edge that cuts through a tiny, but not negligible, portion of them. Sites like Game Debate (Update: Whoops, forgot the link) wonder if these features will be patched in to older titles, like F1 2015, or if they're just R&D for future games.

Another keynote will discuss bringing Vulkan to mobile through Unreal Engine 4. This one will be hosted by ARM and Epic Games. Mobile processors have quite a few cores, albeit ones that are slower at single-threaded tasks, and decent GPUs. Being able to keep them loaded will bring their gaming potential up closer to the GPU's theoretical performance, which has surpassed both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, sometimes by a factor of 2 or more.

Many (most?) slide decks and video recordings are available for free after the fact, but we can't really know which ones ahead of time. It should be an interesting year, though.

Source: GDC

Take a break from Z170 with the BIOSTAR A68N-5200

Subject: Motherboards | January 19, 2016 - 07:27 PM |
Tagged: Kabini, biostar, amd, A68N-5200

We don't often think of Kabini based systems lately, focusing on systems of significantly more power but it is worth remembering that the low powered AMD processor and motherboard combo still exists.  The motherboard comes with an integrated A6-5200 with HD 8400 Graphics for a grand total of $68 leaving you short only a DIMM and storage device from having a fully functional system.  You will not be playing Crysis on this system but if you pick up a low cost GPU you would certainly be able to play online games and older titles, if you wanted to go that direction.  You could instead look at building a low powered, low cost system for Internet browsing and emailing for a friend or relative for very little cost, especially if you have an old disk lying around somewhere unused to install in the system.  It can also manage decent encoding performance for its price, check out the review at MadShrimps to see more.


"The A68N-5200 board, by incorporating one A6-5200 Kabini-based APU, is bringing to the table even more raw performance when compared to its A4-5000, while the GPU component gets a 100Mhz boost. While the increased 3D performance is minimal versus the A4, other tasks which require CPU performance will get up to 25% performance boost."

Here are some more Motherboard articles from around the web:



Source: MadShrimps

AMD High-End Polaris Expected for 2016

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 18, 2016 - 09:44 PM |
Tagged: Polaris, amd

When AMD announced their Polaris architecture at CES, it was focused on mid-range applications. Their example was an add-in board that could compete against an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 950, 1080p60 medium settings in Battlefront, but do so at 39% less wattage than this 28nm, Maxwell chip. These Polaris chips are planned for a “mid 2016” launch.


Raja Koduri, Chief Architect for the Radeon Technologies Group, spoke with VentureBeat at the show. In his conversation, he mentioned two architectures, Polaris 10 and Polaris 11, in the context of a question about their 2016 product generation. In the “high level” space, they are seeing “the most revolutionary jump in performance so far.” This doesn't explicitly state that the high-end Polaris video card will launch in 2016. That said, when combined with the November announcement, covered by us as “AMD Plans Two GPUs in 2016,” it further supports this interpretation.

We still don't know much about what the actual performance of this high-end GPU will be, though. AMD was able to push 8 TeraFLOPs of compute throughput by creating a giant 28nm die and converting the memory subsystem to HBM, which supposedly requires less die complexity than a GDDR5 memory controller (according to a conference call last year that preceded Fury X). The two-generation jump will give them more complexity to work with, but that could be partially offset by a smaller die because of the potential differences in yields (and so forth).

Also, while the performance of the 8 TeraFLOP Fury X was roughly equivalent to NVIDIA's 5.6 TeraFLOP GeForce GTX 980 Ti, we still don't know why. AMD has redesigned a lot of their IP blocks with Polaris; you would expect that, if something unexpected was bottlenecking Fury X, the graphics manufacturer wouldn't overlook it the next chance that they are able to tweak it. This could have been graphics processing or something much more mundane. Either way, upcoming benchmarks will be interesting.

And it seems like that may be this year.

Source: VentureBeat

Skylake and Later Will Be Withheld Windows 7 / 8.x Support

Subject: Processors | January 17, 2016 - 02:20 AM |
Tagged: Windows 8.1, Windows 7, windows 10, Skylake, microsoft, kaby lake, Intel, Bristol Ridge, amd

Microsoft has not been doing much to put out the fires in comment threads all over the internet. The latest flare-up involves hardware support with Windows 7 and 8.x. Currently unreleased architectures, such as Intel's Kaby Lake and AMD's Bristol Ridge, will only be supported on Windows 10. This is despite Windows 7 and Windows 8.x being supported until 2020 and 2023, respectively. Microsoft does not believe that they need to support older hardware, though.


This brings us to Skylake. These processors are out, but Microsoft considers them “transition” parts. Microsoft provided PC World with a list of devices that will be gjven Windows 7 and Windows 8.x drivers, which enable support until July 17, 2017. Beyond that date, only a handful of “most critical” updates will be provided until the official end of life.

I am not sure what the cut-off date for unsupported Skylake processors is, though; that is, Skylake processors that do not line up with Microsoft's list could be deprecated at any time. This is especially a problem for the ones that are potentially already sold.

As I hinted earlier, this will probably reinforce the opinion that Microsoft is doing something malicious with Windows 10. As Peter Bright of Ars Technica reports, Windows 10 does not exactly have an equivalent in the server space yet, which makes you wonder what that support cycle will be like. If they can continue to patch Skylake-based servers in Windows Server builds that are derived from Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, like Windows Server 2012 R2, then why are they unwilling to port those changes to the base operating system? If they will not patch current versions of Windows Server, because the Windows 10-derived version still isn't out yet, then what will happen with server farms, like Amazon Web Services, when Xeon v5s are suddenly incompatible with most Windows-based OS images? While this will, no doubt, be taken way out of context, there is room for legitimate commentary about this whole situation.

Of course, supporting new hardware on older operating systems can be difficult, and not just for Microsoft at that. Peter Bright also noted that Intel has a similar, spotty coverage of drivers, although that mostly applies to Windows Vista, which, while still in extended support for another year, doesn't have a significant base of users who are unwilling to switch. The point remains, though, that Microsoft could be doing a favor for their hardware vendor partners.

I'm not sure whether that would be less concerning, or more.

Whatever the reason, this seems like a very silly, stupid move on Microsoft's part, given the current landscape. Windows 10 can become a great operating system, but users need to decide that for themselves. When users are pushed, and an adequate reason is not provided, they will start to assume things. Chances are, it will not be in your favor. Some may put up with it, but others might continue to hold out on older platforms, maybe even including older hardware.

Other users may be able to get away with Windows 7 VMs on a Linux host.

Source: Ars Technica

Meet the new AMD Opteron A1100 Series SoC with ARM onboard

Subject: Processors | January 14, 2016 - 02:26 PM |
Tagged: opteron a1100, amd

The chip once known as Seattle has arrived from AMD, the Opteron A1100 Series which is built upon up to eight cores based on a 64-bit ARM Cortex-A57.  The chips will have up to 4 MB of shared L2 cache and 8 MB L3 cache with an integrated dual-channel memory controller that supports up to 128 GB of DDR3 or DDR4 memory.  For connectivity options you will have two 10Gb Ethernet ports, 8 lanes of PCIe 3.0 and up to 14 SATA3 devices.


As you can see above the TDPs range from 25W to 32W, perfect for power conscious data centres.  The SoftIron Overdrive 3000 systems will use the new A1100 chips and AMD is working with Silver Lining Systems to integrate SLS’ fabric technology for interconnecting systems. 


TechARP has posted a number of slides from AMD's presentation or you can head straight over to AMD to get the scoop.  You won't see these chips on the desktop but new server chips are great news for AMD's bottom line in the coming year.  They also speak well of AMD's continued innovations, using low powered and low cost 64-bit ARM chips, combined with their interconnect technologies opens up a new market for AMD.

Full PR is available after the break.

Source: AMD

Podcast #382 - News from CES 2016, R9 Nano price cut, 13TB SSD and more

Subject: General Tech | January 14, 2016 - 12:53 PM |
Tagged: video, ultrasharp, synology, supermicro, Seagate, r9 nano, podcast, oled, dell, Dark Power Pro, CES 2016, CES, carizzo, be quiet!, amd, 13tb ssd, 10TB

PC Perspective Podcast #382 - 01/14/2016

Join us this week as we wrap up news from CES 2016, discuss the R9 Nano price cut, ponder a 13TB SSD and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: - Share with your friends!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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Catalyst Crimson Edition 16.1 Hotfix Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 13, 2016 - 07:42 PM |
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd

AMD's recent “Hotfix” drivers don't seem to mean what NVIDIA's does. In the Green Team's case, they usually fix one or two issues that slipped past QA. While they likely won't break anything, they are probably a bad idea to install if you're not experiencing the listed problems. The changelog on AMD's drivers are significantly longer with a list of known issues that is roughly the same size.


So should you install it? That depends. It's a little less cut-and-dry than NVIDIA's hotfixes, which are only useful for a handful of people. It sounds like the worst known issue is “Game stuttering may be experienced when running two Radeon R9 295X2 graphics cards in CrossFire mode” and “Display corruption may occur on multiple display systems when it has been running idle for some time.” The latter would affect me greatly, because I run four displays and basically never sleep or shutdown (except for updates). On the other hand, it fixes a variety of crash, hang, and flicker issues.

Check it out. If it sounds good, then pick it up. Otherwise, wait for the next Beta or WHQL driver.

Source: AMD

Report: AMD Carrizo FM2+ Processor Listing Appears Online

Subject: Processors | January 11, 2016 - 06:26 PM |
Tagged: rumor, report, FM2+, carrizo, Athlon X4, amd

According to a report published by CPU World, a pair of unreleased AMD Athlon X4 processors appeared in a supported CPU list on Gigabyte's website (since removed) long enough to give away some information about these new FM2+ models.


Image credit: CPU World

The CPUs in question are the Athlon X4 835 and Athlon X4 845, 65W quad-core parts that are both based on AMD's Excavator core, according to CPU World. The part numbers are AD835XACI43KA and AD845XACI43KA, which the CPU World report interprets:

"The 'I43' letters and digits in the part number signify Socket FM2+, 4 CPU cores, and 1 MB L2 cache per module, or 2MB in total. The last two letters 'KA' confirm that the CPUs are based on Carrizo design."

The report further states that the Athlon X4 835 will operate at 3.1 GHz, with 3.5 GHz for the X4 845. No Turbo Core frequency information is known for these parts.

Source: CPU-World

AMD Announces Radeon R9 Nano Price Cut

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 11, 2016 - 08:32 AM |
Tagged: radeon, r9 nano, R9 Fury X, price cut, press release, amd

AMD has announced a price cut for the Radeon R9 Nano, which will now have a suggested price of $499, a $150 drop from the original $649 MSRP.


VideoCardz had the story this morning, quoting the official press release from AMD:

"This past September, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card launched to rave reviews, claiming the title of the world’s fastest and most power efficient Mini ITX gaming card, powered by the world’s most advanced and innovative GPU with on-chip High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM) for incredible 4K gaming performance. There was nothing like it ever seen before, and today, it remains in a class of its own, delivering smooth, true-to-life, premium 4K and VR gaming in a small form factor PC.

At a peak power of 175W and in a 6-inch form factor, it drives levels of performance that are on par with larger, more power-hungry GPUs from competitors, and blows away Mini ITX competitors with up to 30 percent better performance than the GTX 970 Mini ITX.

As of today, 11 January, this small card will have an even bigger impact on gamers around the world as AMD announces a change in the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card’s SEP from $649 to $499. At the new price, the AMD Radeon™ R9 Nano graphics card will be more accessible than ever before, delivering incredible performance and leading technologies, with unbelievable efficiency in an astoundingly small form factor that puts it in a class all of its own."

The R9 Nano (reviewed here) had been the most interesting GPU released in 2015 to the team at PC Perspective. It was a compelling product for its tiny size, great performance, and high power efficiency, but the dialogue here probably mirrored that of a lot of potential buyers; for the price of a Fury X, did it make sense to buy the Nano? It was all going to depend on need, but very few enclosures on the market do not support a full-length GPU, as we discovered when testing out small R9 Nano builds.

Now that the price will move down $150 it becomes an easier choice: $499 will buy you a full R9 Fury X core for $150 less. The performance of a Fury X is only a few percentage points higher than the slighly lower-clocked Nano, so you're now getting most of the way there for much less. We have seen some R9 Fury X cards selling for $599, but even at $100 more would you buy the Fury X over a Nano? If nothing else the lower price makes the conversation a lot more interesting.

Source: VideoCardz

CES 2016: Zotac ZBOX EA740 Features AMD Radeon R9 GPU

Subject: Systems | January 9, 2016 - 11:12 AM |
Tagged: zbox, small form factor, radeon, R9 M365X, i3-6100T Skylake, CES 2016, CES, amd

Zotac had several new ZBOX small form-factor PCs on display at CES, and among these was a new E series system featuring a pairing of an Intel Skylake i3 with an AMD Radeon R9 GPU.


The Radeon in question is the R9 M365X, a discrete mobile part with 640 stream processors, up to 925 MHz core clock, and 2 GB of dedicated 128-bit GDDR5 memory running at up to 1125 MHz (72 GB/s max bandwidth). This is running on a very capable platform powered by a 6th-gen Intel Core i3-6100T, a 35W 2 core/4 thread part running at 3.20 GHz.


Here is a rundown of the specifications:

  • Processor: Intel Core i3-6100T (Skylake) dual-core, 3.20 GHz
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon R9 M365X with 2 GB GDDR5
  • Memory: 2x DDR3L-1600 SoDIMM slots
  • Storage: 2.5-inch SATA 6.0 Gbps; M.2 SSD slot
  • USB: 2x USB 3.0; USB 3.0 Type-C
  • Networking: 2x Gigabit LAN; 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Display output: 3x DisplayPort


Good to see a discrete AMD GPU option in one of these small form-factor ZBOX units, as previous E-series models offered only NVIDIA or Intel solutions. Unfortunately no release date or price was announced.

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Source: Zotac