Yes, We're Writing About a Forum Post

Update - July 19th @ 7:15pm EDT: Well that was fast. Futuremark published their statement today. I haven't read it through yet, but there's no reason to wait to link it until I do.

Update 2 - July 20th @ 6:50pm EDT: We interviewed Jani Joki, Futuremark's Director of Engineering, on our YouTube page. The interview is embed just below this update.

Original post below

The comments of a previous post notified us of an thread, whose author claims that 3DMark's implementation of asynchronous compute is designed to show NVIDIA in the best possible light. At the end of the linked post, they note that asynchronous compute is a general blanket, and that we should better understand what is actually going on.


So, before we address the controversy, let's actually explain what asynchronous compute is. The main problem is that it actually is a broad term. Asynchronous compute could describe any optimization that allows tasks to execute when it is most convenient, rather than just blindly doing them in a row.

I will use JavaScript as a metaphor. In this language, you can assign tasks to be executed asynchronously by passing functions as parameters. This allows events to execute code when it is convenient. JavaScript, however, is still only single threaded (without Web Workers and newer technologies). It cannot run callbacks from multiple events simultaneously, even if you have an available core on your CPU. What it does, however, is allow the browser to manage its time better. Many events can be delayed until the browser renders the page, it performs other high-priority tasks, or until the asynchronous code has everything it needs, like assets that are loaded from the internet.


This is asynchronous computing.

However, if JavaScript was designed differently, it would have been possible to run callbacks on any available thread, not just the main thread when available. Again, JavaScript is not designed in this way, but this is where I pull the analogy back into AMD's Asynchronous Compute Engines. In an ideal situation, a graphics driver will be able to see all the functionality that a task will require, and shove them down an at-work GPU, provided the specific resources that this task requires are not fully utilized by the existing work.

Read on to see how this is being implemented, and what the controversy is.

RetroArch Announces Vulkan API Support (& Async Compute)

Subject: General Tech | July 16, 2016 - 06:58 PM |
Tagged: n64, dolphin, libretro, retroarch, vulkan, async shaders, asynchronous compute, amd

While the Dolphin emulator has a lot of mind share, and recently announced DirectX 12 support, they have only just recently discussed working on the open alternative, Vulkan. It looks like the LibRetro developer community will beat them with an update to RetroArch and the LibRetro API. The page for RetroArch 1.3.5 exists as of (according to Google) yesterday, but 404s, so it should be coming soon. It is still in experimental mode, but it's better than nothing.


Interestingly, they also claim that their Vulkan port of Angrylion makes use of asynchronous compute. It's unclear what it uses that for, but I'm sure it will make for interesting benchmarks.

AMD Reveals Radeon RX 460 and RX 470 Specifications

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2016 - 01:10 AM |
Tagged: rx 470, rx 460, polaris 11, polaris 10, gcn4, esports, amd

At a launch event in Australia earlier this week AMD talked about its Polaris architecture, launched the RX 480 and revealed the specifications for the Polaris 10-based RX 470 and Polaris 11-derived RX 470 GPUs. The new budget GPUs are aimed at 1080p or lower gaming and will allegedly be available for purchase sometime in August.

AMD Polaris 10 and Polaris 11.png

First up is the AMD Radeon RX 470. This GPU is based on Polaris 10 (like the RX 480) but has some hardware disabled (mainly the number of stream processors). Based on the same 14nm process the GPU has 2,048 cores running at not yet known clocks. Thankfully, AMD has left the memory interface intact, and the RX 470 uses the same 256-bit memory bus pairing the GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory on the reference design and up to 8GB GDDR5 on partner cards.

Speaking of the reference design, the reference RX 470 will utilize a blower style cooler that AIBs can use but AMD expects that partners will opt to use their own custom dual and triple fan coolers (as would I). The card is powered by a single 6-pin power connector though, again, AIBs are allowed to design a card with more.

This card is reportedly aimed at 1080p gaming at "ultra and max settings". Video outputs will include DisplayPort 1.3/1.4 HDR support.

AMD Radeon RX 480 RX 470 and RX 460.png

Breaking away from Polaris 10 is the RX 460 which is the first GPU AMD has talked about using Polaris 11. This GCNv4 architecture is similar it its larger Polaris sibling but is further cut down and engineered for low power and mobile environments. While the "full" Polaris 11 appears to have 16 CUs (Compute Units), RX 460 will feature 14 of them (this should open up opportunities for lots of salvaged dies and once yields are good enough we might see a RX 465 or something with all of its stream processors enabled). With 14 CUs, that means RX 460 has 896 stream processors (again clock speeds were not discussed) and a 128-bit memory bus. AMD's reference design will pair this card with 2GB of GDDR5 but I would not be surprised to see 4GB versions possibly in a gaming laptop SKU if only just because it looks better (heh). There is no external PCI-E power connector on this card so it will be drawing all of its power from the PCI-E slot on the motherboard.

The reference graphics card is a tiny affair with a single fan HSF and support for DP 1.3/1.4 HDR. AMD further mentions 4K H.264 / HEVC encoding/decoding support. AMD is positioning this card at HTPCs and "eSports" budget gamers.

One other tidbit of information from the announcement was that AMD reiterated their new "RX" naming scheme saying that RX would be reserved for gaming and we would no longer see R9, R7, and R5 branding though AMD did not rule out future products that would not use RX aimed at other non-gaming workloads. I would expect that this will apply to APU GPUs eventually as well.

Naturally, AMD is not talking exact shipping dates or pricing but expect them to be well under the $239 of the RX 480! I would guess that RX 470 would be around the $150 mark while RX 460 will be a sub $100 part (if only barely).

What do you think about the RX 470 and RX 460? If you are interested in watching the whole event, there is a two part video of it available on YouTube. Part 1 and Part 2 are embedded below the break.

Source: Videocardz

Podcast #408 - RX 480 Conclusions, GTX 1060 Preview, 4TB Samsung 850 EVO and more!

Subject: General Tech | July 14, 2016 - 01:50 PM |
Tagged: video, Samsung, rx 480, radeon, Primochill, praxis, power consumption, podcast, phononic, gtx 1060, amd, 850 EVO, 4TB

PC Perspective Podcast #408 - 07/14/2016

Join us this week as we discuss a conclusion to the RX 480 power issue, the GTX 1060, a 4TB Samsung 850 EVO 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!

This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!

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

Program length: 1:36:40
  1. Week in Review:
  2. News items of interest:
  3. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Allyn: Rigol DS1054Z Digital Oscilloscope (hackable and overclockable!)
  4. Closing/outro

DOOM on Vulkan Benchmarks

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 13, 2016 - 09:20 PM |
Tagged: vulkan, R9 Fury X, nvidia, Mantle, gtx 1070, fury x, doom, amd

We haven't yet benchmarked DOOM on Vulkan Update (immediately after posting): Ryan has just informed me that, apparently, we did benchmark Vulkan on our YouTube page (embed below). I knew we were working on it, I just didn't realize we published content yet. Original post continues below.

As far as I know, we're trying to get our testing software for frame time analysis running on the new API, but other sites have posted framerate-based results. The results show that AMD's cards benefit greatly from the new, Mantle-derived interface (versus the OpenGL one). On the other hand, while NVIDIA never really sees a decrease, more than 1% at least, it doesn't really get much of a boost, either.


Image Credit:

I tweeted out to ID's lead renderer programmer, Tiago Sousa, to ask whether they take advantage of NVIDIA-specific extensions on the OpenGL path (like command submission queues). I haven't got a response yet, so it's difficult to tell whether this speaks more toward NVIDIA's OpenGL performance, or AMD's Vulkan performance. In the end, it doesn't really matter, though. AMD's Fury X (which can be found for as low as $399 with a mail-in rebate) is beating the GTX 1070 (which is in stock for the low $400s) by a fair margin. The Fury X also beats its own OpenGL performance by up to 66% (at 1080p) with the new API.

The API should also make it easier for games to pace their frames, too, which should allow smoother animation at these higher rates. That said, we don't know for sure because we can't test that from just seeing FPS numbers. The gains are impressive from AMD, though.

Asynchronous Atomic Ghandi coming in Civ VI

Subject: General Tech | July 13, 2016 - 02:23 PM |
Tagged: gaming, dx12, civilization VI, asynchronous compute, amd

AMD, 2K and Firaxis Games have been working together to bring the newest DX12 features to Civilization IV and today they have announced their success.  The new game will incorporate Asynchronous Compute in the engine as well as support for Explicit Multi-Adapter for those with multiple GPUs.  This should give AMD cards a significant performance boost when running the game, at least until NVIDIA can catch up with their support for the new technologies ... HairWorks is not going to have much as effect on your units as Async Compute will.

If you haven't been keeping an eye out, we have seen the video of Egypt's leader which also talk about terrain adjacency bonuses and England's leader and civilization specific units and buildings.


"Complete with support for advanced DirectX 12 features like asynchronous compute and explicit multi-adapter, PC gamers the world over will be treated to a high-performance and highly-parallelized game engine perfectly suited to sprawling, complex civilizations."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:



Asus Teases Its Custom RX 480 STRIX Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 12, 2016 - 12:01 AM |
Tagged: strix, rx 480, Radeon RX 480, polaris 10, asus, amd

Alongside the launch of AMD’s reference design Radeon RX 480, the company’s various AIB (Add-In Board) partners began announcing their own custom versions pairing AMD’s Polaris 10 GPU with custom PCBs and coolers. Asus took the launch to heart and teased its Radeon RX 480 STRIX under it’s ROG lineup. The press release was rather scant with details, but it does look like a promising card that will let users really push Polaris 10 to it’s limits.

ASUS ROG STRIX RX 480 Graphics Card.png

Thanks to forum user Eroticus over at VideoCardz, the RX 480 STRIX looks to use a custom PCB and power delivery design that feeds the GPU via two PCI-E power connectors in addition to the PCI-E slot. Asus is not talking clock speeds on the GPU, but they did reveal that they are going with 8GB of GDDR5 memory at 8 GHz. The DirectCU III cooler pairs heatpipes and an aluminum fin stack with three shrouded fans. There is also a backplate (of course, with a LED backlit logo) which should help support the card and provide a bit more cooling.

I would not expect too much of a factory (out of the box) overclock from this card. However, I do expect that users will be able to seriously overclock the Polaris 10 GPU thanks to the extra power connector (allegedly one 6-pin and one 8-pin which seems a bit much but we’ll see!) and beefy air cooler.

For reference, the, well, reference design RX 480 has base and boost clock speeds of 1120 MHz and 1266 MHz respectively. The Polaris 10 GPU has 2,304 cores, 144 texture units, and 32 raster operators. If buyers get a good chip in their RX 480 Strix, it may be possible for them to get to 1400 MHz boost as some of the rumors around the Internet claim though it’s hard to say for sure as that may require quite a bit more voltage (and heat) to reach. I wouldn’t put it out of the realm of possibility though!

Of course it would not be Republic of Gamers’ material without LEDs, and ASUS delivers with the inclusion of its Aura RGB LEDs on the cooler shroud and backplate which I believe are user configurable in Asus’ software utility.

Beyond that, not much is known about the upcoming RX 480 STRIX graphics card. Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information as it gets closer to availability!

Also read:


Source: Asus

PowerColor Radeon RX 480 Red Devil Leak

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 04:37 PM |
Tagged: amd, rx 480, powercolor

According to Videocardz, a custom RX 480 from PowerColor has been caught on camera. The most interesting part about this variant is that it connects to the power supply with a single eight-pin PCIe connector. With AMD's latest driver, and hopefully even a modified vBIOS and PCB, this should be plenty enough power for the GPU, even with overclocking.


Image Credit: Videocardz

The card itself is a three-fan design with three DisplayPorts, one HDMI, and a single DVI. This retains the reference design's three DisplayPorts, but also adds the option to use DVI without an adapter. I'm not sure whether all five connectors can be used simultaneously, which isn't too bad -- apparently the GTX 1080 also cannot use all five connectors at the same time, so I wouldn't plan on connecting five monitors to a single-GPU system, just in case.

No pricing and availability yet... this is just a picture. We don't even know clock rates.

Source: VideoCardz
Manufacturer: AMD

Radeon Software 16.7.1 Adjustments

Last week we posted a story that looked at a problem found with the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card’s power consumption. The short version of the issue was that AMD’s new Polaris 10-based reference card was drawing more power than its stated 150 watt TDP and that it was drawing more power through the motherboard PCI Express slot that the connection was rated for. And sometimes that added power draw was significant, both at stock settings and overclocked. Seeing current draw over a connection rated at just 5.5A peaking over 7A at stock settings raised an alarm (validly) and our initial report detailed the problem very specifically.

AMD responded initially that “everything was fine here” but the company eventually saw the writing on the wall and started to work on potential solutions. The Radeon RX 480 is a very important product for the future of Radeon graphics and this was a launch that needs to be as perfect as it can be. Though the risk to users’ hardware with the higher than expected current draw is muted somewhat by motherboard-based over-current protection, it’s crazy to think that AMD actually believed that was the ideal scenario. Depending on the “circuit breaker” in any system to save you when standards exists for exactly that purpose is nuts.


Today AMD has released a new driver, version 16.7.1, that actually introduces a pair of fixes for the problem. One of them is hard coded into the software and adjusts power draw from the different +12V sources (PCI Express slot and 6-pin connector) while the other is an optional flag in the software that is disabled by default.

Reconfiguring the power phase controller

The Radeon RX 480 uses a very common power controller (IR3567B) on its PCB to cycle through the 6 power phases providing electricity to the GPU itself. Allyn did some simple multimeter trace work to tell us which phases were connected to which sources and the result is seen below.


The power controller is responsible for pacing the power coming in from the PCI Express slot and the 6-pin power connection to the GPU, in phases. Phases 1-3 come in from the power supply via the 6-pin connection, while phases 4-6 source power from the motherboard directly. At launch, the RX 480 drew nearly identical amounts of power from both the PEG slot and the 6-pin connection, essentially giving each of the 6 phases at work equal time.

That might seem okay, but it’s far from the standard of what we have seen in the past. In no other case have we measured a graphics card drawing equal power from the PEG slot as from an external power connector on the card. (Obviously for cards without external power connections, that’s a different discussion.) In general, with other AMD and NVIDIA based graphics cards, the motherboard slot would provide no more than 50-60 watts of power, while any above that would come from the 6/8-pin connections on the card. In many cases I saw that power draw through the PEG slot was as low as 20-30 watts if the external power connections provided a lot of overage for the target TDP of the product.

Continue reading our analysis of the new AMD 16.7.1. driver that fixed RX 480 power concerns!!

AMD Radeon Crimson 16.7.1 Software Released for RX 480 Power Issue

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 7, 2016 - 02:50 PM |
Tagged: rx480, rx 480, Radeon RX 480, radeon, power draw, PCIe power, graphics drivers, driver, Crimson Edition 16.7.1, amd

As promised, AMD has released an updated driver for the RX 480 graphics card, and the Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 promises a fix for the power consumption concerns we have been covering in-depth.

Note: We have published our full analysis of the new 16.7.1 driver, available here.


AMD lists these highlights for the new Crimson Edition 16.7.1 software:

"The Radeon RX 480’s power distribution has been improved for AMD reference boards, lowering the current drawn from the PCIe bus.

A new 'compatibility mode' UI toggle has been made available in the Global Settings menu of Radeon Settings. This option is designed to reduce total power with minimal performance impact if end users experience any further issues.  This toggle is 'off' by default.

Performance improvements for the Polaris architecture that yield performance uplifts in popular game titles of up to 3%. These optimizations are designed to improve the performance of the Radeon RX 480, and should substantially offset the performance impact for users who choose to activate the 'compatibility' toggle."

You can go directly to AMD's page for this updated driver from this direct link:

Source: AMD