Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 3, 2017 - 02:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: srgb, lfc, hdr10, hdr, freesync 2, freesync, dolby vision, color space, amd
Since the initial FreeSync launch in March of 2015, AMD has quickly expanded the role and impact that the display technology has had on the market. Technologically, AMD added low frame rate compensation (LFC) to mimic the experience of G-Sync displays, effectively removing the bottom limit to the variable refresh rate. LFC is an optional feature that requires a large enough gap between the displays minimum and maximum refresh rates to be enabled, but the monitors that do integrate it work well. Last year AMD brought FreeSync to HDMI connections too by overlaying the standard as an extension. This helped to expand the quantity and lower the price of available FreeSync options. Most recently, AMD announced that borderless windowed mode was being added as well, another feature-match to what NVIDIA can do with G-Sync.
The biggest feather in the cap for AMD FreeSync is the sheer quantity of displays that exist on the market that support it. As of our briefing in early December, AMD claimed 121 design wins for FreeSync to just 18 for NVIDIA G-Sync. I am not often in the camp of quantity over quality, but the numbers are impressive. The pervasiveness of FreeSync monitors means that at least some of them are going to be very high quality integrations and that prices are going to be lower compared to the green team’s selection.
Today AMD is announcing FreeSync 2, a new, concurrently running program that adds some new qualifications to displays for latency, color space and LFC. This new program will be much more hands-on from AMD, requiring per-product validation and certification and this will likely come at a cost. (To be clear, AMD hasn’t confirmed if that is the case to me yet.)
Let’s start with the easy stuff first: latency and LFC. FreeSync 2 will require monitors to support LFC and thus to have no effective bottom limit to their variable refresh rate. AMD will also instill a maximum latency allowable for FS2, on the order of “a few milliseconds” from frame buffer flip to photon. This can be easily measured with some high-speed camera work by both AMD and external parties (like us).
These are fantastic additions to the FreeSync 2 standard and should drastically increase the quality of panels and product.
The bigger change to FreeSync 2 is on the color space. FS2 will require a doubling of the perceivable brightness and doubling of the viewable color volume based on the sRGB standards. This means that any monitor that has the FreeSync 2 brand will have a significantly larger color space and ~400 nits brightness. Current HDR standards exceed these FreeSync 2 requirements, but there is nothing preventing monitor vendors from exceeding these levels; they simply set a baseline that users should expect going forward.
In addition to just requiring the panel to support a wider color gamut, FS2 will also enable user experience improvements as well. First, each FS2 monitor must communicate its color space and brightness ranges to the AMD driver through a similar communication path used today for variable refresh rate information. By having access to this data, AMD can enable automatic mode switches from SDR to HDR/wide color gamut based on the application. Windows can remain in a basic SDR color space but games or video applications that support HDR modes can enter that mode without user intervention.
Color space mapping can take time in low power consumption monitors, adding potential latency. For movies that might not be an issue, but for enthusiast gamers it definitely is. The solution is to do all the tone mapping BEFORE the image data is sent to the monitor itself. But with varying monitors, varying color space limits and varying integrations of HDR standards, and no operating system level integration for tone mapping, it’s a difficult task.
The solution is for games to map directly to the color space of the display. AMD will foster this through FreeSync 2 – a game that integrates support for FS2 will be able to get data from the AMD driver stack about the maximum color space of the attached display. The engine can then do its tone mapping to that color space directly, rather than some intermediate state, saving on latency and improving the gaming experience. AMD can then automatically switch the monitor to its largest color space, as well as its maximum brightness. This does require the game engine or game developer to directly integrate support for this feature though – it will not be a catch-all solution for AMD Radeon users.
This combination of latency, LFC and color space additions to FreeSync 2 make it an incredibly interesting standard. Pushing specific standards and requirements on hardware vendors is not something AMD has had the gall to do the past, and honestly the company has publicly been very against it. But to guarantee the experience for Radeon gamers, AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group appear to be willing to make some changes.
NVIDIA has yet to make any noise about HDR or color space requirements for future monitors and while the FreeSync 2 standards shown here don’t quite guarantee HDR10/Dolby Vision quality displays, they do force vendors to pay more attention to what they are building and create higher quality products for the gaming market.
All GPUs that support FreeSync will support FreeSync 2 and both programs will co-exist. FS2 is currently going to be built on DisplayPort and could find its way into another standard extension (as Adaptive Sync was). Displays are set to be available in the first half of this year.
Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!
Subject: Graphics Cards | January 2, 2017 - 07:56 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Vega, amd
Just ahead of CES, AMD has published a teaser page with, currently, a single YouTube video and a countdown widget. In the video, a young man is walking down the street while tapping on a drum and passing by Red Team propaganda posters. It also contains subtle references to Vega on walls and things, in case the explicit references, including the site’s URL, weren’t explicit enough.
How subtle, AMD.
Speaking of references to Vega, the countdown widget claims to lead up to the architecture preview. We were expecting AMD to launch their high-end GPU line at CES, and this is the first (official) day of the show. Until it happens, I don’t really know whether it will be a more technical look, or if they will be focusing on the use cases.
The countdown ends at 9am (EST) on January 5th.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 20, 2016 - 07:41 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: graphics drivers, amd
Last week, AMD came down to the PC Perspective offices to show off their new graphics drivers, which introduced optional game capture software (and it doesn’t require a login to operate). This week, they are publishing a new version of it, Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 16.12.2, which fixes a huge list of issues.
While most of these problem were minor, the headlining fix could have been annoying for FreeSync users (until this update fixed it, of course). It turns out that, when using FreeSync with a borderless fullscreen application, and another monitor has an active window, such as a video in YouTube, the user would experience performance issues in the FreeSync application (unless all of these other windows were minimized). This sounds like a lot of steps, but you could imagine how many people have a YouTube or Twitch stream running while playing a semi-casual game. Also, those types of games lend themselves well to being run in borderless window mode, too, so you can easily alt-tab to the other monitors, exacerbating the issue. Regardless, it’s fixed now.
Other fixed issues involve mouse pointer corruption with an RX 480 and multi-GPU issues in Battlefield 1. You can download them at AMD's website.
Subject: Editorial | December 15, 2016 - 07:18 PM | AlexL
Tagged: podcast, zalman, ryzen, note 7, nand, LG, instinct, hdr, DRM, doom, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #428 - 12/8/16
Join us this week as we discuss AMD ReLive, Ryzen, Zalman Keyboards, LG HDR monitors and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the iTunes Store (audio only)
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- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:17:34
Podcast topics of discussion:
Week in Review:
News items of interest:
Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
Ryzen coming in 2017
As much as we might want it to be, today is not the day that AMD launches its new Zen processors to the world. We’ve been teased with it for years now, with trickles of information at event after event…but we are going to have to wait a little bit longer with one more tease at least. Today’s AMD is announcing the official branding of the consumer processors based on Zen, previously code named Summit Ridge, along with a clock speed data point and a preview of five technology that will help it be competitive with the Intel Core lineup.
The future consumer desktop processor from AMD will now officially be known as Ryzen. That’s pronounced “RISE-IN” not “RIS-IN”, just so we are all on the same page. CEO Lisa Su was on stage during the reveal at a media event last week and claimed that while media, fans and AMD fell in love with the Zen name, it needed a differentiation from the architecture itself. The name is solid – not earth shattering though I foresee a long life of mispronunciation ahead of it.
Now that we have the official branding behind us, let’s get to the rest of the disclosed information we can reveal today.
We already knew that Summit Ridge would ship with an 8 core, 16 thread version (with lower core counts at lower prices very likely) but now we know a frequency and a cache size. AMD tells us that there will be a processor (the flagship) that will have a base clock of 3.4 GHz with boost clocks above that. How much above that is still a mystery – AMD is likely still tweaking its implementation of boost to get as much performance as possible for launch. This should help put those clock speed rumors to rest for now.
The 20MB of cache matches the Core i7-6900K, though obviously with some dramatic architecture differences between Broadwell and Zen, the effect and utilization of that cache will be interesting measure next year.
We already knew that Ryzen will be utilizing the AM4 platform, but it’s nice to see it reiterated a modern feature set and expandability. DDR4 memory, PCI Express Gen3, native USB 3.1 and NVMe support – there are all necessary building blocks for a modern consumer and enthusiast PC. We still should see how many of these ports the chipset offers and how aggressive motherboard companies like ASUS, MSI and Gigabyte are in their designs. I am hoping there are as many options as would see for an X99/Z170 platform, including budget boards in the $100 space as well as “anything and everything” options for those types of buyers that want to adopt AMD’s new CPU.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 09:05 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: vega 10, Vega, training, radeon, Polaris, machine learning, instinct, inference, Fiji, deep neural network, amd
Ryan was not the only one at AMD's Radeon Instinct briefing, covering their shot across NVIDIA's HPC products. The Tech Report just released their coverage of the event and the tidbits which AMD provided about the MI25, MI8 and MI6; no relation to a certain British governmental department. They focus a bit more on the technologies incorporated into GEMM and point out that AMD's top is not matched by an NVIDIA product, the GP100 GPU does not come as an add-in card. Pop by to see what else they had to say.
"Thus far, Nvidia has enjoyed a dominant position in the burgeoning world of machine learning with its Tesla accelerators and CUDA-powered software platforms. AMD thinks it can fight back with its open-source ROCm HPC platform, the MIOpen software libraries, and Radeon Instinct accelerators. We examine how these new pieces of AMD's machine-learning puzzle fit together."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- The Complete AMD Radeon Instinct Tech Briefing @ Tech ARP
- Chill With Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition @ Techgage
- Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition—an overview @ The Tech Report
- AMD Radeon Crimson ReLive Drivers @ techPowerUp
- AMD talk to KitGuru about Crimson ReLive
- We retest Radeon Chill 2 The Tech Report
- MSI RX 480 Gaming X 8G Review @ OCC
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 PCI-Express Scaling @ techPowerUp
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 05:56 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, relive, radeon software, radeon, live stream, live, giveaway, crimson, amd
UPDATE: If you missed the live stream today, don't worry! You can catch the reply right here:
Last year, AMD and its software team dispatched some representatives to our offices to talk about the major software release that was Radeon Software Crimson Edition. As most of you probably saw last week, AMD launched the Crimson ReLive driver and we are pleased to let you know that we will again be hosting a live stream with our friends at AMD! Come learn about the development of this new driver, how the new features work and insight on what might be coming in the future from AMD's software team.
And what's a live stream without prizes? AMD has stepped up to the plate to offer up some awesome hardware for those of you that tune in to watch the live stream!
- 3 x AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Cards
AMD Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Live Stream and Giveaway
10am PT / 1pm ET - December 13th
Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!
The event will take place Tuesday, December 13th at 10am PT / 1pm ET at https://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience. To win the prizes you will have to be watching the live stream, with exact details of the methodology for handing out the goods coming at the time of the event.
I will be joined by Liam Gallagher, Radeon Software Marketing Manager and Jeff Engel, Radeon Software Lead QA Manager. In short, these are two people you want to hear from and have answer your questions! (Apparently Terry Makedon will be hiding in the background as well...)
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from AMD?
So join us! Set your calendar for Tuesday at 10am PT / 1pm ET and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
AMD Enters Machine Learning Game with Radeon Instinct Products
NVIDIA has been diving in to the world of machine learning for quite a while, positioning themselves and their GPUs at the forefront on artificial intelligence and neural net development. Though the strategies are still filling out, I have seen products like the DIGITS DevBox place a stake in the ground of neural net training and platforms like Drive PX to perform inference tasks on those neural nets in self-driving cars. Until today AMD has remained mostly quiet on its plans to enter and address this growing and complex market, instead depending on the compute prowess of its latest Polaris and Fiji GPUs to make a general statement on their own.
The new Radeon Instinct brand of accelerators based on current and upcoming GPU architectures will combine with an open-source approach to software and present researchers and implementers with another option for machine learning tasks.
The statistics and requirements that come along with the machine learning evolution in the compute space are mind boggling. More than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated daily and stored on phones, PCs and servers, both on-site and through a cloud infrastructure. That includes 500 million tweets, 4 million hours of YouTube video, 6 billion google searches and 205 billion emails.
Machine intelligence is going to allow software developers to address some of the most important areas of computing for the next decade. Automated cars depend on deep learning to train, medical fields can utilize this compute capability to more accurately and expeditiously diagnose and find cures to cancer, security systems can use neural nets to locate potential and current risk areas before they affect consumers; there are more uses for this kind of network and capability than we can imagine.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 9, 2016 - 11:11 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: giveaway, hitman 2016, amd, rx 470
If you purchase a Radeon RX 470 or a system with said GPU and an FX 8370, 8350 or 6350 you can get a copy of the latest Hitman game for free. If you purchased a card recently you should still be eligible, just pop over to the redemption page, sign in and redeem your code.
Third annual release
For the past two years, AMD has made a point of releasing one major software update to Radeon users and gamers annually. In 2014 this started with Catalyst Omega, a dramatic jump in performance, compatibility testing and new features were the story. We were told that for the first time in a very long while, and admitting this was the most important aspect to me, AMD was going to focus on building great software with regular and repeated updates. In 2015 we got a rebrand along with the release: Radeon Software Crimson Edition. AMD totally revamped the visual and user experience of the driver software, bringing into the modern world of style and function. New features and added performance were also the hallmarks of this release, with a stronger promise to produce more frequent drivers to address any performance gaps, stability concerns and to include new features.
For December 2016 and into the new year, AMD is launching the Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition driver. While the name might seem silly, it will make sense as we dive into the new features.
While you may have seen the slides leak out through some other sites over the past 48 hours, I thought it was worth offering my input on the release.
Not a performance focused story
The first thing that should be noted with the ReLive Edition is that AMD isn’t making any claims of substantially improved performance. Instead, the Radeon Technologies Group software team is dedicated to continued and frequent iterations that improve performance gradually over time.
As you can see in the slide above, AMD is showing modest 4-8% performance gains on the Radeon RX 480 with the Crimson ReLive driver, and even then, its being compared to the launch driver of 16.6.2. That is significantly lower than the claims made in previous major driver releases. Talking with AMD about this concern, it told us that they don’t foresee any dramatic, single large step increases in performance going forward. The major design changes that were delivered over the last several years, starting with a reconstruction of the CrossFire system thanks to our testing, have been settled. All we should expect going forward is a steady trickle of moderate improvements.
(Obviously, an exception may occur here or there, like with a new game release.)
Radeon ReLive Capture and Streaming Feature
So, what is new? The namesake feature for this driver is the Radeon ReLive application that is built in. ReLive is a capture and streaming tool that will draw obvious comparisons to what NVIDIA has done with GeForce Experience. The ReLive integration is clean and efficient, well designed and seems easy to use in my quick time with it. There are several key capabilities it offers.
First, you can record your gameplay with the press of a hotkey; this includes the ability to record and capture the desktop as well. AMD has included a bevy of settings for your captures to adjust quality, resolution, bitrate, FPS and more.
ReLive supports resolutions up to 4K30 with the Radeon R9 series of GPUs and up to 1440p30 with the RX 480/470/460. That includes both AVC H.264 and HEVC H.265.
Along with recording is support for background capture, called Instant Replay. This allows the gamer to always record in the background, up to 20 minutes, so you can be sure you capture amazing moments that happen during your latest gaming session. Hitting a hotkey will save the clip permanently to the system.