Subject: Systems, Mobile

Vulkan 1.0, OpenGL 4.5, and OpenGL ES 3.2 on a console

A few days ago, sharp eyes across the internet noticed that Nintendo’s Switch console has been added to lists of compliant hardware at The Khronos Group. Vulkan 1.0 was the eye-catcher, although the other tabs also claims conformance with OpenGL 4.5 and OpenGL ES 3.2. The device is not listed as compatible with OpenCL, although that does not really surprise me for a single-GPU gaming system. The other three APIs have compute shaders designed around the needs of game developers. So the Nintendo Switch conforms to the latest standards of the three most important graphics APIs that a gaming device should use -- awesome.

But what about performance?

In other news, Eurogamer / Digital Foundary and VentureBeat uncovered information about the hardware. It will apparently use a Tegra X1, which is based around second-generation Maxwell, that is under-clocked from what we see on the Shield TV. When docked, the GPU will be able to reach 768 MHz on its 256 CUDA cores. When undocked, this will drop to 307.2 MHz (although the system can utilize this mode while docked, too). This puts the performance at ~315 GFLOPs when in mobile, pushing up to ~785 GFLOPs when docked.

You might compare this to the Xbox One, which runs at ~1310 GFLOPs, and the PlayStation 4, which runs at ~1840 GFLOPs. This puts the Nintendo Switch somewhat behind it, although the difference is even greater than that. The FLOP calculation of Sony and Microsoft is 2 x Shader Count x Frequency, but the calculation of Nintendo’s Switch is 4 x Shader Count x Frequency. FMA is the factor of two, but the extra factor of two in Nintendo’s case... ...

Yup, the Switch’s performance rating is calculated as FP16, not FP32.

nintendo-2016-switch-gpu.png

Snippet from an alleged leak of what Nintendo is telling developers.
If true, it's very interesting that FP16 values are being discussed as canonical.

Reducing shader precision down to 16-bit is common for mobile devices. It takes less transistors to store and translate half-precision values, and accumulated error will be muted by the fact that you’re viewing it on a mobile screen. The Switch isn’t always a mobile device, though, so it will be interesting to see how this reduction of lighting and shading precision will affect games on your home TV, especially in titles that don’t follow Nintendo’s art styles. That said, shaders could use 32-bit values, but then you are cutting your performance for those instructions in half, when you are already somewhat behind your competitors.

As for the loss of performance when undocked, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue if Nintendo pressures developers to hit 1080p when docked. If that’s the case, the lower resolution, 720p mobile screen will roughly scale with the difference in clock.

Lastly, there is a bunch of questions surrounding Nintendo’s choice of operating system: basically, all the questions. It’s being developed by Nintendo, but we have no idea what they forked it from. NVIDIA supports the Tegra SoC on both Android and Linux, it would be legal for Nintendo to fork either one, and Nintendo could have just asked for drivers even if NVIDIA didn’t already support the platform in question. Basically, anything is possible from the outside, and I haven’t seen any solid leaks from the inside.

The Nintendo Switch launches in March.

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.33 Drivers

Subject: General Tech | December 14, 2016 - 05:07 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

While they’re not really promoting this release, such as with a blog post on the GeForce website, NVIDIA has just released their 376.33 WHQL drivers. This one is not associated with any specific game release, so it seems like this is more of a maintenance release, working on bugs rather than application-dependent optimizations. The release notes specifically mention several security improvements, so I would assume they’re going back through previous changes and looking at things like video memory management, which might also lead to overall performance and stability enhancements.

nvidia-geforce.png

As for the long-running Folding@Home bug affecting some of our readers, it turns out that the cause was a bug in the application that just happened to work until NVIDIA applied a fix on their end. This reminds me of when I was working on an OpenCL-based software renderer. At one point, I started crashing when executing on the Intel CPU, but not on either GPU (Intel HD 4600 or NVIDIA GTX 670). I later found out that it was an out-of-bounds access in my code, when a render group slightly bled off the side of the render buffer, which the GPU drivers silently compensated for. It looked like Intel’s CPU driver had a bug, but, really, it was just the only one that didn’t work around my bug.

Despite this, NVIDIA is planning on releasing a workaround for Folding@Home in a hotfix driver, until the organization can patch the issue on their own. This driver is not the one, though.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA GeForce GTX, HTC VIVE Bundle Deal at GeForce.com

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | December 12, 2016 - 01:31 PM |
Tagged: gaming, nvidia, geforce, htc vive, VR, game bundle

AMD's RX 480 and Fury X are capable of providing decent performance in VR applications and will save you some money for the VR headset, dongles and games.  However NVIDIA upped the ante today, giving away three games to anyone who purchases a GTX 1080, 1070 or 1060 and an HTC Vive. 

htv-vive-glp-header.png

The giveaway encompasses more than North America, as long as you can purchase the bundle from either Microsoft or NewEgg where you happen to live you should be able to get your three free games.  They are redeemable on Steam and should be available immediately, a peek at Sports Bar VR is below.

 

Source: NVIDIA

Podcast #428 - Khronos Group, Enterprise SSDs/HDDs, Water-cooled Cases, Mechwarrior

Subject: Editorial | December 8, 2016 - 04:00 PM |
Tagged: podcast, Thrustmaster, thermaltake, tablet, snapdragon, razer, nvidia, microsoft, Mechwarrior, Khronos, Intel, hp, evga, Deepcool, AUKEY

PC Perspective Podcast #428 - 12/8/16

Join us this week as we discuss Khronos Group, Enterprise SSDs, Water cooled cases  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: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:13:35

  1. Join our spam list to get notified when we go live!
  2. Patreon
  3. Win a White Special Edition Corsair RM1000i Power Supply!
  4. Week in Review:
    1. 0:04:16 AUKEY KM-G3 RGB Mechanical Gaming Keyboard Review
    2. 0:08:06 Thrustmaster TMX Review: Budget FFB for Xbox One and PC
    3. 0:15:16 Deepcool GamerStorm GENOME Liquid-Cooled Case Review
    4. 0:23:06 EVGA SuperNOVA 550W G3 Power Supply Review
    5. 0:28:01 Qualcomm and Microsoft Bring Full Windows 10 to Snapdragon Devices
  5. News items of interest:
    1. 0:32:07 Razer Joins The Khronos Group
    2. 0:36:54 Thermaltake Launches Water Cooling Friendly E-ATX Tower 900 Series Case
    3. 0:39:32 Intel Z270 Express and H270 Express Chipsets Support Kaby Lake, More PCI-E 3.0 Lanes
    4. 0:42:12 MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries Announced on Unreal Engine 4
    5. 0:46:10 HP Launches Ruggedized Apollo Lake Powered Convertible Tablet For Students
    6. 0:47:33 Micron Launches 5100 Series Enterprise SSDs - 3D TLC up to 8TB!
    7. 0:52:12 WD and HGST Refresh Enterprise SSDs to Include 8TB, Push HDDs to 12TB and Beyond
    8. 1:02:37 NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)
    9. 1:04:14 The Khronos Group Announces VR Standard Initiative
  6. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: Uber, but boats  … CanUber
    2. Jeremy: PRUSA i3 MK2 printer Store link
    3. Josh: Hitting low cost per GB!
    4. Allyn: iRoller
  7. http://pcper.com/podcast
  8. http://twitter.com/ryanshrout and http://twitter.com/pcper
  9. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

Watch Dogs 2, in two parts

Subject: General Tech | December 7, 2016 - 03:04 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, amd, gaming, watch dogs 2, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx 1060, rx 480x, rx 470

[H]ard|OCP have spent a lot of with Watch Dogs 2 recently, enough to create three articles covering the game of which two are now published.  The first article focuses on performance at ultra settings and finding the highest playable settings that the GPUs they tested were capable of, without installing the high resolution texture pack.  As it turns out, the game is much more graphically demanding than many other recent releases, so much so that only the Titan X and GTX 1080 was able to perform at 4k resolutions, the GTX 1070 and 1060, as well as the RX 480 and 470 only feature at lower resolutions. 

The second article looks at performance with the texture pack installed, which did not have much effect on overall performance but significantly increased VRAM usage.  Even the mighty Titan X struggled with this game, we will need a new generation of GPUs to utilize all the available graphics features available in this game.  The last review will be up soon and will focus on what effect each of the graphical settings have on the visual appearance of the game.

1480688745dVhPbE1pRh_1_1.png

"Watch Dogs 2 has been released on the PC. We will have a three part evaluation of performance and image quality starting today with performance comparisons. We will also find the highest playable settings for each graphics card and the gameplay experience delivered. Finally, a graphically demanding game."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.19 Drivers (and Two Contests)

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 6, 2016 - 07:05 AM |
Tagged: pc gaming, nvidia, graphics drivers, giveaways, giveaway

Alongside the release of the Oculus Touch controllers from Oculus VR, and the fifty-or-so games that launched with it, NVIDIA has published another graphics driver. The GeForce Game Ready 376.19 WHQL drivers also resolve one of two SLI issues in No Man’s Sky (the other bug, which involves temporal anti-aliasing, is still being worked on) and also fixes two issues with G-Sync for laptops.

nvidia-geforce.png

Since it affects a few of our readers: the Folding@Home bug is not yet fixed, but it’s now classified as a top-priority bug, though. Personally, I’m guessing that it will be fixed soon, now that there’s a little down-time before and after the holidays, after and before the game release rushes. Otherwise, it seems pretty stable and smooth for me. One user is complaining about Windows 10 UI freezes and crashes, starting with 376.09, but it’s otherwise relatively quiet.

As for the contests

NVIDIA is hosting two giveaways: one on their social media sites (Twitter and Facebook) and the other on GeForce Experience. The first contest runs from Tuesday to Friday, where they are giving away a GTX 1080, game codes, and one grand prize of a custom PC, accessorized with an Oculus Rift and Oculus Touch. The other contest runs until December 30th, where NVIDIA will give away a bundle of Oculus Rift, Oculus Touch Controllers, and a GTX 1070 to ten people, at random, who log in to GeForce Experience.

Check out their blog post for details on how to enter, as well as get the new driver (if GeForce Experience hasn’t already started begging).

Source: NVIDIA

Serious Sam VR, now with tag teaming NVIDIA cards

Subject: General Tech | November 30, 2016 - 03:31 PM |
Tagged: serious sam vr, nvidia, gaming, pascal

Having already looked at AMD's performance with two RX 480's in a system, the recent patch which enables support for multiple NVIDIA GPUs have dragged [H]ard|OCP back into the game.  Lacking a pair of Titan X cards, they tested the performance of a pair of GTX 1080s and 1070s; the GTX 1060 will not be receiving support from Croteam.  It would seem that adding a second Pascal card to your system will benefit you, however the scaling they saw was nowhere near as impressive as with the AMD RX 480 which saw a 36% boost.  Check out the full results here and yes ... in this case the m in mGPU indicates multiple GPUs, not mobile.

1480447611nZ8LrzvbVG_5_1.jpg

"Serious Sam VR was the first commercial enthusiast gaming title to include multi-GPU support with AMD's RX 480 GPU. Now the folks at Croteam have added mGPU support for NVIDIA cards as well. We take a look at how well NVIDIA's VRSLI technology fares in this VR shooter title."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.09 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Because holiday shopping is... wrapping up... this year’s rush of AAA games will be slowing down soon, at least until it starts up again in January. One of the last releases, Watch_Dogs 2, will be arriving on the PC tomorrow. As such, NVIDIA has released GeForce 376.09 drivers out to their website and GeForce Experience. The driver also includes optimizations for Dead Rising 4 and Steep.

nvidia-geforce.png

Unfortunately, the release notes aren’t yet available as of time of this writing (but the link is). As such, we don’t know specifics about what the driver fixes or changes. The notes are supposed to be up at some time today. Users in the forums have been complaining about a few things here and there, but nothing that seems credible and wide-spread that could be attributed to the driver.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A Holiday Project

A couple of years ago, I performed an experiment around the GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card to see if we could upgrade basic OEM, off-the-shelf computers to become competent gaming PCs. The key to this potential upgrade was that the GTX 750 Ti offered a great amount of GPU horsepower (at the time) without the need for an external power connector. Lower power requirements on the GPU meant that even the most basic of OEM power supplies should be able to do the job.

That story was a success, both in terms of the result in gaming performance and the positive feedback it received. Today, I am attempting to do that same thing but with a new class of GPU and a new class of PC games.

The goal for today’s experiment remains pretty much the same: can a low-cost, low-power GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that also does not require any external power connector offer enough gaming horsepower to upgrade current shipping OEM PCs to "gaming PC" status?

Our target PCs for today come from Dell and ASUS. I went into my local Best Buy just before the Thanksgiving holiday and looked for two machines that varied in price and relative performance.

01.jpg

  Dell Inspiron 3650 ASUS M32CD-B09
Processor Intel Core i3-6100 Intel Core i7-6700
Motherboard Custom Custom
Memory 8GB DDR4 12GB DDR4
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 530 Intel HD Graphics 530
Storage 1TB HDD 1TB Hybrid HDD
Case Custom Custom
Power Supply 240 watt 350 watt
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
Total Price $429 (Best Buy) $749 (Best Buy)

The specifications of these two machines are relatively modern for OEM computers. The Dell Inspiron 3650 uses a modest dual-core Core i3-6100 processor with a fixed clock speed of 3.7 GHz. It has a 1TB standard hard drive and a 240 watt power supply. The ASUS M32CD-B09 PC has a quad-core HyperThreaded processor with a 4.0 GHz maximum Turbo clock, a 1TB hybrid hard drive and a 350 watt power supply. Both of the CPUs share the same Intel brand of integrated graphics, the HD Graphics 520. You’ll see in our testing that not only is this integrated GPU unqualified for modern PC gaming, but it also performs quite differently based on the CPU it is paired with.

Continue reading our look at upgrading an OEM machine with the GTX 1050 Ti!!

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.

1479888886lJNAO2Au4H_1_7_l.jpg

"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."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Gaming

Source: [H]ard|OCP