Subject: Graphics Cards | August 26, 2013 - 01:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, Windows 8.1, microsoft, directx 11.2, graphics cards, gaming, GCN
Earlier this month, several websites reported that AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) based graphics cards (7000 series and 8000 series OEM lines) would not be compatible with the Windows 8.1-only DirectX 11.2 API. This was inferred from a statement made by AMD engineer Laylah Mah in an interview with c1 Magazin.
An AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.
Fortunately, the GCN-based cards will fully support DirectX 11.2 once an updated driver has been released. As it turns out, Microsoft’s final DirectX 11.2 specification ended up being slightly different than what AMD expected. As a result, the graphics cards do not currently fully support the API. The issue is not one of hardware, however, and an updated driver can allow the GCN-based 7000 series hardware to fully support the latest DirectX 11.2 API and major new features such as tiled resources.
The updated driver will reportedly be released sometime in October to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1. Specifically, Maximum PC quoted AMD in stating the following:
"The Radeon HD 7000 series hardware architecture is fully DirectX 11.2-capable when used with a driver that enables this feature. AMD is planning to enable DirectX 11.2 with a driver update in the Windows 8.1 launch timeframe in October, when DirectX 11.2 ships. Today, AMD is the only GPU manufacturer to offer fully-compatible DirectX 11.1 support, and the only manufacturer to support Tiled Resources Tier-2 within a shipping product stack.”
So fret not, Radeon 7000-series owners, you will be able to fully utilize DX 11.2 and all its features once games start implementing them, and assuming you upgrade to Windows 8.1.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2013 - 05:52 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor, devil hd 7870, hd 7870, amd, GCN
Nearly a year ago, PowerColor launched the massive “Devil 13” Radeon HD 7990 graphics card. Now, the company is releasing a new Devil-series single GPU card called the Devil HD 7870. This card combines a huge dual slot, triple fan HSF with a factory overclocked Graphics Core Next-based Radeon HD 7870 GPU.
The upcoming Devil HD 7870 features a factory overclocked 7870 “Pitcairn” GPU clocked at 1100 MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1250 MHz. As a refresher, the 7870 has 1,280 stream processors, 80 Texture Units, and 32 ROPs along with a 256-bit memory bus. The reference AMD Radeon HD 7870 graphics card has a GPU clockspeed of 1000 MHz and memory clockspeed of 1200 MHz.
To differentiate its card, PowerColor is pairing the factory overclocked GPU and memory with a triple fan (four heatpipe and aluminum fin stack) cooler similar in design to the Devil 13’s HSF. The card also features PowerColor’s “Platinum Power Kit” which entails a 7+1+1 power phase with digital VRMs and so-called “Super Capacitors.” PowerColor claims that its triple fan cooler runs 25% cooler and 18% quieter than the reference AMD cooler.
The Devil HD 7870 offers up a DL-DVI, DVI, HDMI, and two Mini-DisplayPort video outputs. It is powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors.
There is no word on pricing or availability, but expect the Devil-branded card to come at a premium (possibly around $270 MSRP).
Read more about AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture at PC Perspective.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 14, 2013 - 06:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, hd 7730, GCN, cape verde le, cape verde, 7730
Sapphire has launched its own budget card based on AMD’s Cape Verde LE GPU called the HD 7730. In fact, Sapphire is launching two 7730 SKUs with differing amounts (and types) of on board memory. Specifically, Sapphire is launching a Radeon HD 7730 with 1GB of GDDR5 and a HD 7730 with 2GB of GDDR3 (yes, you read that correctly, the second SKU comes with 2GB of GDDR3 memory).
The HD 7730 is based on the Cape Verde LE GPU, which is similar to the Cape Verde chip used in the 7750 and 7770 graphics cards minus a set of stream processors. The Graphics Core Next-based HD 7730 comes with 384 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz and 128-bit memory bus. From here, the two SKUs differ. One Sapphire card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 4500 MHz while the other version comes equipped with 2GB of GDDR3 clocked at 1800 MHz.
For comparison, the HD 7750 comes with 512 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz.
Both Sapphire 7730 graphics cards come with the same dual slot, single fan cooler. Also, both cards support one HDMI, one DVI, and one VGA video output. The cards measure 168 x 104 x 33mm and have a 47W TDP.
Sapphire has not yet announced US pricing or availability, but various sites around the web report that the cards will each cost approximately 70 Euros. That works out to about $91 USD. Unfortunately, that price will likely be hard to justify considering users can pick up a noticeably faster HD 7750 for around that same price. Users building a new system looking for similar GPU specs to the HD 7730 may also wish to look into building a system around AMD’s APUs and skip needing a dedicated card altogether.
You can find more specifications and photos on the Sapphire website. Both cards are listed on the site and can be selected via the filtering options.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2013 - 06:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: R7730, msi, graphics card, GCN, 7730
If rumors hold true, consumers may be greeted with a new AMD Radeon graphics card today, in the form of a Graphics Core Next (GCN) based HD 7730. According to the leak by Videocardz, MSI will be launching a new card based on this budget GPU called the R7730-1GD5V1. It will use a shrouded fan and heatsink cooler with the company's propeller blade fan technology. Afterburner support and solid capacitors are also features of the MSI card that is rumored to use this new GPU chip. Video ouptuts include one DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connector.
The HD 7730 GPU itself is based on the same basic Cape Verde chip as the existing HD 7750 and HD 7770 GPUs. However, the HD 7730 has fewer stream processors. Specifically, the 7730 will use 384 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz. It will be paired with 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus, with the memory clocked at 4.5 GHz. For comparison, the HD 7750 features 512 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz along with 1GB of GDDR5 at 4.5GHz.
This new chip will not be as fast as the similarly-clocked HD 7750, but it will also be cheaper and use less power as it is able to get all of its power from the PCI-E bus (no PCI-E power cable from the PSU required).
The MSI HD 7730 graphics card is rumored to launch sometime today for 70 Euros, or about $90 USD. (At least we will not have long to wait to see if the rumors are true!)
Kabini is a pretty nifty little chip. So nifty, AMD is actually producing server grade units for the growing micro-server market. As readers may or may not remember, AMD bought up SeaMicro last year to get a better grip on the expanding micro-server market. While there are no official announcements from SeaMicro about offerings utilizing the server-Kabini parts, we can expect there to be sooner as opposed to later.
The Kabini parts (Jaguar + GCN) will be branded Opteron X-series. So far there are two announced products; one utilizes the onboard graphics portion while the other has the GCN based unit disabled. The products have a selectable TDP that ranges from 9 watts to 22 watts. This should allow the vendors to further tailor the chips to their individual solutions.
The X1150 is the GPU-less product with adjustable TDPs ranging from 9 to 17 watts. It is a native quad core product with 2 MB of L2 cache. It can be clocked up to 2 GHz, which we assume is that 17 watts range. The X2150 has an adjustable TDP range from 11 to 22 watts. The four cores can go to a max speed of 1.9 GHz while the GPU can go from 266 MHz up to a max 600 MHz.
The Architectural Deep Dive
AMD officially unveiled their brand new Bobcat architecture to the world at CES 2011. This was a very important release for AMD in the low power market. Even though Netbooks were a dying breed at that time, AMD experienced a good uptick in sales due to the good combination of price, performance, and power consumption for the new Brazos platform. AMD was of the opinion that a single CPU design would not be able to span the power consumption spectrum of CPUs at the time, and so Bobcat was designed to fill that space which existed from 1 watt to 25 watts. Bobcat never was able to get down to that 1 watt point, but the Z-60 was a 4.5 watt part with two cores and the full 80 Radeon cores.
The Bobcat architecture was produced on TSMC’s 40 nm process. AMD eschewed the upcoming 32 nm HKMG/SOI process that was being utilized for the upcoming Llano and Bulldozer parts. In hindsight, this was a good idea. Yields took a while to improve on GLOBALFOUNDRIES new process, while the existing 40 nm product from TSMC was running at full speed. AMD was able to provide the market in fairly short order with good quantities of Bobcat based APUs. The product more than paid for itself, and while not exactly a runaway success that garnered many points of marketshare from Intel, it helped to provide AMD with some stability in the market. Furthermore, it provided a very good foundation for AMD when it comes to low power parts that are feature rich and offer competitive performance.
The original Brazos update did not happen, instead AMD introduced Brazos 2.0 which was a more process improvement oriented product which featured slightly higher speeds but remained in the same TDP range. The uptake of this product was limited, and obviously it was a minor refresh to buoy purchases of the aging product. Competition was coming from low power Ivy Bridge based chips, as well as AMD’s new Trinity products which could reach TDPs of 17 watts. Brazos and Brazos 2.0 did find a home in low powered, but full sized notebooks that were very inexpensive. Even heavily leaning Intel based manufacturers like Toshiba released Brazos based products in the sub-$500 market. The combination of good CPU performance and above average GPU performance made this a strong product in this particular market. It was so power efficient, small batteries were typically needed, thereby further lowering the cost.
All things must pass, and Brazos is no exception. Intel has a slew of 22 nm parts that are encroaching on the sub-15 watt territory, ARM partners have quite a few products that are getting pretty decent in terms of overall performance, and the graphics on all of these parts are seeing some significant upgrades. The 40 nm based Bobcat products are no longer competitive with what the market has to offer. So at this time we are finally seeing the first Jaguar based products. Jaguar is not a revolutionary product, but it improves on nearly every aspect of performance and power usage as compared to Bobcat.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2013 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: radeon hd 7850, ICEQ Turbo, his, hd 7850, GCN, amd
HIS has launched a new factory overclocked graphics card based on AMD's Radeon HD 7850 "Pitcairn" GPU called the IceQ X^2 Turbo. The new card uses a custom PCB and IceQ X^2 cooler.
The IceQ X^2 cooler uses two 75mm fans to cool an aluminum fin stack that is connected to the copper GPU contact plate with copper heatpipes. The HSF is surrounded by a black shroud. HIS claims that its custom cooler runs at a quiet 28dB when the card is idle.
The HIS HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo is a factory overclocked card. HIS has taken a standard HD 7850 GPU with 1024 stream processors and clocked it at 1GHz, which is a 140MHz overclock over the reference 7850 clockspeed. The card is further paired with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at the reference 1200MHz (4800MHz effective) on a 256-bit bus. An 8-phase VRM keeps the overclocked components fed with stable power. It offers up a single DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort video outputs.
Because of the custom cooler, it should be possible to push the HD 7850 GPU even higher, although exactly how much higher will depend on the individual card.
The HIS IceQ X^2 Turbo does not have any official pricing information yet, but it should be priced somewhere around $220 since the already-available single fan IceQ X Turbo card is currently priced at approximately $210 at online retailers.
Also read: The AMD Radeon HD 7850 gets frame rated!
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2013 - 01:23 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Steamroller, piledriver, Kaveri, Kabini, hUMA, hsa, GCN, bulldozer, APU, amd
AMD may have united GPU and CPU into the APU but one hurdle had remained until now, the the non-uniformity of memory access between the two processors. Today we learned about one of the first successful HAS projects called Heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access, aka hUMA, which will appear in the upcoming Kaveri chip family. The use of this new technology will allow the on-die CPU and GPU to access the same memory pool, both physical and virtual and any data passed between the two processors will remain coherent. As The Tech Report mentions in their overview hUMA will not provide as much of a benefit to discrete GPUs, while they will be able to share address space the widely differing clock speeds between GDDR5 and DDR3 prevent unification to the level of an APU.
Make sure to read Josh's take as well so you can keep up with him on the Podcast.
"At the Fusion Developer Summit last June, AMD CTO Mark Papermaster teased Kaveri, AMD's next-generation APU due later this year. Among other things, Papermaster revealed that Kaveri will be based on the Steamroller architecture and that it will be the first AMD APU with fully shared memory.
Last week, AMD shed some more light on Kaveri's uniform memory architecture, which now has a snazzy marketing name: heterogeneous uniform memory access, or hUMA for short."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD’s new heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access
- hUMA; AMD’s Heterogeneous Unified Memory Architecture @ Hardware Canucks
- Compro TN50W Cloud Network Camera @ Tweaktown
- Wifi Pineapple project uses updated hardware for man-in-the-middle attacks @ Hack a Day
- New OpenWRT Drops Support For Linux 2.4, Low-Mem Devices @ Slashdot
- HP mashes up ProLiant, Integrity, BladeSystem, and Moonshot server @ The Register
- Acer selling tablet using Intel Y series processor @ The Register
- CERN Celebrates 20 Years of an Open Web (and Rebuilds 1st Web Page) @ Slashdot
- BitFenix 5K YouTube Subscriber Giveaway @ eTeknix
heterogeneous Uniform Memory Access
Several years back we first heard AMD’s plans on creating a uniform memory architecture which will allow the CPU to share address spaces with the GPU. The promise here is to create a very efficient architecture that will provide excellent performance in a mixed environment of serial and parallel programming loads. When GPU computing came on the scene it was full of great promise. The idea of a heavily parallel processing unit that will accelerate both integer and floating point workloads could be a potential gold mine in wide variety of applications. Alas, the promise of the technology did not meet expectations when we have viewed the results so far. There are many problems with combining serial and parallel workloads between CPUs and GPUs, and a lot of this has to do with very basic programming and the communication of data between two separate memory pools.
CPUs and GPUs do not share common memory pools. Instead of using pointers in programming to tell each individual unit where data is stored in memory, the current implementation of GPU computing requires the CPU to write the contents of that address to the standalone memory pool of the GPU. This is time consuming and wastes cycles. It also increases programming complexity to be able to adjust to such situations. Typically only very advanced programmers with a lot of expertise in this subject could program effective operations to take these limitations into consideration. The lack of unified memory between CPU and GPU has hindered the adoption of the technology for a lot of applications which could potentially use the massively parallel processing capabilities of a GPU.
The idea for GPU compute has been around for a long time (comparatively). I still remember getting very excited about the idea of using a high end video card along with a card like the old GeForce 6600 GT to be a coprocessor which would handle heavy math operations and PhysX. That particular plan never quite came to fruition, but the idea was planted years before the actual introduction of modern DX9/10/11 hardware. It seems as if this step with hUMA could actually provide a great amount of impetus to implement a wide range of applications which can actively utilize the GPU portion of an APU.
Jaguar Hits the Embedded Space
It has long been known that AMD has simply not had a lot of luck going head to head against Intel in the processor market. Some years back they worked on differentiating themselves, and in so doing have been able to stay afloat through hard times. The acquisitions that AMD has made in the past decade are starting to make a difference in the company, especially now that the PC market that they have relied upon for revenue and growth opportunities is suddenly contracting. This of course puts a cramp in AMD’s style, but with better than expected results in their previous quarter, things are not nearly as dim as some would expect.
Q1 was still pretty harsh for AMD, but they maintained their marketshare in both processors and graphics chips. One area that looks to get a boost is that of embedded processors. AMD has offered embedded processors for some time, but with the way the market is heading they look to really ramp up their offerings to fit in a variety of applications and SKUs. The last generation of G-series processors were based upon the Bobcat/Brazos platform. This two chip design (APU and media hub) came in a variety of wattages with good performance from both the CPU and GPU portion. While the setup looked pretty good on paper, it was not widely implemented because of the added complexity of a two chip design plus thermal concerns vs. performance.
AMD looks to address these problems with one of their first, true SOC designs. The latest G-series SOC’s are based upon the brand new Jaguar core from AMD. Jaguar is the successor to the successful Bobcat core which is a low power, dual core processor with integrated DX11/VLIW5 based graphics. Jaguar improves performance vs. Bobcat in CPU operations between 6% to 13% when clocked identically, but because it is manufactured on a smaller process node it is able to do so without using as much power. Jaguar can come in both dual core and quad core packages. The graphics portion is based on the latest GCN architecture.