Subject: Displays | May 31, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, gsync, g-sync, computex 2015, computex
In conjunction with the release of the new GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card today, NVIDIA is making a handful of other announcements around the GeForce brand. The most dramatic of the announcements center around the company's variable refresh monitor technology called G-Sync. I assume that any of you reading this are already intimately familiar with what G-Sync is, but if not, check out this story that dives into how it compares with AMD's rival tech called FreeSync.
First, NVIDIA is announcing a set of seven new G-Sync ready monitors that will be available this summer and fall from ASUS and Acer.
Many of these displays offer configurations of panels we haven't yet seen in a G-Sync display. Take the Acer X34 for example: this 34-in monitor falls into the 21:9 aspect ratio form factor, with a curved screen and a 3440x1440 resolution. The refresh rate will peak at 75 Hz while also offering the color consistency and viewing angles of an IPS screen. This is the first 21:9, the first 34x14 and the first curved monitor to support G-Sync, and with a 75 Hz maximum refresh it should provide a solid gaming experience. ASUS has a similar model, the PG34Q, though it peaks at a refresh rate of 60 Hz.
ASUS will be updating the wildly popular ROG Swift PG278Q display with the PG279Q, another 27-in monitor with a 2560x1440 resolution. Only this time it will run at 144 Hz with an IPS screen rather than TN, again resulting in improved color clarity, viewing angles and lower eye strain.
Those of you on the look out for 4K panels with G-Sync support will be happy to find IPS iterations of that configuration but still will peak at 60 Hz refresh - as much a limitation of DisplayPort as anything else though.
Another technology addition for G-Sync with the 352-series (353-series, sorry!) driver released today is support for windowed mode variable refresh.
By working some magic with the DWM (Desktop Window Manager), NVIDIA was able to allow for VRR to operate without requiring a game to be in full screen mode. For gamers that like to play windowed or borderless windowed while using secondary or large displays for other side activities, this is a going to a great addition to the G-Sync portfolio.
Finally, after much harassment and public shaming, NVIDIA is finally going to allow users the choice to enable or disable V-Sync when your game render rate exceeds the maximum refresh rate of the G-Sync monitor it is attached to.
One of the complaints about G-Sync has been that it is restrictive on the high side of the VRR window for its monitors. While FreeSync allowed you to selectively enable or disable V-Sync when your frame rate goes above the maximum refresh rate, G-Sync was forcing users into a V-Sync enabled state. The reasoning from NVIDIA was that allowing for horizontal tearing of any kind with G-Sync enabled would ruin the experience and/or damage the technology's reputation. But now, while the default will still be to keep V-Sync on, gamers will be able to manually set the V-Sync mode to off with a G-Sync monitor.
Why is this useful? Many gamers believe that a drawback to V-Sync enabled gaming is the added latency of waiting for a monitor to refresh before drawing a frame that might be ready to be shown to the user immediately. G-Sync fixes this from frame rates of 1 FPS to the maximum refresh of the G-Sync monitor (144 FPS, 75 FPS, 60 FPS) but now rather than be stuck with tear-free, but latency-added V-Sync when gaming over the max refresh, you'll be able to play with tearing on the screen, but lower input latency. This could be especially useful for gamers using 60 Hz G-Sync monitors with 4K resolutions.
Oh, actually one more thing: you'll now be able to enable ULMB (ultra low motion blur) mode in the driver as well without requiring entry into your display's OSD.
NVIDIA is also officially announcing G-Sync for notebooks at Computex. More on that in this story!
Subject: Displays, Mobile | May 31, 2015 - 06:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: nvidia, notebooks, msi, mobile, gsync, g-sync, asus
If you remember back to January of this year, Allyn and posted an article that confirmed the existence of a mobile variant of G-Sync thanks to a leaked driver and an ASUS G751 notebook. Rumors and speculation floated around the Internet ether for a few days but we eventually got official word from NVIDIA that G-Sync for notebooks was a real thing and that it would launch "soon." Well we have that day here finally with the beginning of Computex.
G-Sync for notebooks has no clever branding, no "G-Sync Mobile" or anything like that, so discussing it will be a bit more difficult since the technologies are different. Going forward NVIDIA claims that any gaming notebook using NVIDIA GeForce GPUs will be a G-Sync notebook and will support all of the goodness that variable refresh rate gaming provides. This is fantastic news as notebook gaming is often at lower frame rates than you would find on a desktop PC because of lower powered hardware yet comparable (1080p, 1440p) resolution displays.
Of course, as we discovered in our first look at G-Sync for notebooks back in January, the much debated G-Sync module is not required and will not be present on notebooks featuring the variable refresh technology. So what gives? We went over some of this before, but it deserves to be detailed again.
NVIDIA uses the diagram above to demonstrate the complication of the previous headaches presented by the monitor and GPU communication path before G-Sync was released. You had three different components: the GPU, the monitor scalar and the monitor panel that all needed to work together if VRR was going to become a high quality addition to the game ecosystem.
NVIDIA's answer was to take over all aspects of the pathway for pixels from the GPU to the eyeball, creating the G-Sync module and helping OEMs to hand pick the best panels that would work with VRR technology. This helped NVIDIA make sure it could do things to improve the user experience such as implementing an algorithmic low-frame-rate, frame-doubling capability to maintain smooth and tear-free gaming at frame rates under the panels physical limitations. It also allows them to tune the G-Sync module to the specific panel to help with ghosting and implemention variable overdrive logic.
All of this is required because of the incredible amount of variability in the monitor and panel markets today.
But with notebooks, NVIDIA argues, there is no variability at all to deal with. The notebook OEM gets to handpick the panel and the GPU directly interfaces with the screen instead of passing through a scalar chip. (Note that some desktop monitors like the ever popular Dell 3007WFP did this as well.) There is no other piece of logic in the way attempting to enforce a fixed refresh rate. Because of that direct connection, the GPU is able to control the data passing between it and the display without any other logic working in the middle. This makes implementing VRR technology much more simple and helps with quality control because NVIDIA can validate the panels with the OEMs.
As I mentioned above, going forward, all new notebooks using GTX graphics will be G-Sync notebooks and that should solidify NVIDIA's dominance in the mobile gaming market. NVIDIA will be picking the panels, and tuning the driver for them specifically, to implement anti-ghosting technology (like what exists on the G-Sync module today) and low frame rate doubling. NVIDIA also claims that the world's first 75 Hz notebook panels will ship with GeForce GTX and will be G-Sync enabled this summer - something I am definitely looking forward to trying out myself.
Though it wasn't mentioned, I am hopeful that NVIDIA will continue to allow users the ability to disable V-Sync at frame rates above the maximum refresh of these notebook panels. With most of them limited to 60 Hz (but this applies to 75 Hz as well) the most demanding gamers are going to want that same promise of minimal latency.
At Computex we'll see a handful of models announced with G-Sync up and running. It should be no surprise of course to see the ASUS G751 with the GeForce GTX 980M GPU on this list as it was the model we used in our leaked driver testing back in January. MSI will also launch the GT72 G with a 1080p G-Sync ready display and GTX 980M/970M GPU option. Gigabyte will have a pair of notebooks: the Aorus X7 Pro-SYNC with GTX 970M SLI and a 1080p screen as well as the Aorus X5 with a pair of GTX 965M in SLI and a 3K resolution (2560x1440) screen.
This move is great for gamers and I am eager to see what the resulting experience is for users that pick up these machines. I have long been known as a proponent of variable refresh displays and getting access to that technology on your notebook is a victory for NVIDIA's team.
Announced just this past June at last year’s Google I/O event, Android TV is a platform developed by Google, running Android 5.0 and higher, that aims to create an interactive experience for the TV. This platform can be built into a TV directly as well as into set-top style boxes, like the NVIDIA SHIELD we are looking at today. The idea is to bring the breadth of apps and content to the TV through the Android operating system in a way that is both convenient and intuitive.
NVIDIA announced SHIELD back in March at GDC as the first product to use the company’s latest Tegra processor, the X1. This SoC combines an 8-core big.LITTLE ARM processor design with a 256-core implementation of the NVIDIA Maxwell GPU architecture, providing GPU performance previously unseen in an Android device. I have already spent some time with the NVIDIA SHIELD at various events and the promise was clearly there to make it a leading option for Android TV adoption, but obviously there were questions to be answered.
Today’s article will focus on my early impressions with the NVIDIA SHIELD, having used it both in the office and at home for a handful of days. As you’ll see during the discussion there are still some things to be ironed out, some functionality that needs to be added before SHIELD and Android TV can really be called a must-buy product. But I do think it will get there.
And though this review will focus on the NVIDIA SHIELD, it’s impossible not to marry the success of SHIELD with the success of Google’s Android TV. The dominant use case for SHIELD is as a media playback device, with the gaming functionality as a really cool side project for enthusiasts and gamers looking for another outlet. For SHIELD to succeed, Google needs to prove that Android TV can improve over other integrated smart TV platforms as well as other set-top box platforms like Boxee, Roku and even the upcoming Apple TV refresh.
But first, let’s get an overview of the NVIDIA SHIELD device, pricing and specifications, before diving into my experiences with the platform as a whole.
Subject: Editorial | May 28, 2015 - 01:22 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: X99, video, sapphire, r9 285, podcast, nvidia, GTX 980 Ti, gigabyte, Fiji, DAC, amd
PC Perspective Podcast #351 - 05/28/2015
Join us this week as we discuss AMD Fiji Leaks, rumors on GTX 980 Ti, a great $99 portable DAC, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store
- RSS - Subscribe through your regular RSS reader
- MP3 - Direct download link to the MP3 file
Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano and Sebastian Peak
Program length: 1:18:06
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 26, 2015 - 05:03 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: rumors, nvidia, leaks, GTX 980 Ti, gpu, gm200
Who doesn’t love rumor and speculation about unreleased products? (Other than the manufacturers of such products, of course.) Today VideoCardz is reporting via HardwareBattle a GPUZ screenshot reportedly showing specs for an NIVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti.
Image credit: HardwareBattle via VideoCardz.com
First off, the HardwareBattle logo conveniently obscures the hardware ID (as well as ROP/TMU counts). What is visible is the 2816 shader count, which places it between the GTX 980 (2048) and TITAN X (3072). The 6 GB of GDDR5 memory has a 384-bit interface and 7 Gbps speed, so bandwidth should be the same 336 GB/s as the TITAN X. As far as core clocks on this GPU (which seems likely to be a cut-down GM200), they are identical to those of the TITAN X as well with 1000 MHz Base and 1076 MHz Boost clocks shown in the screenshot.
Image credit: VideoCardz.com
We await any official announcement, but from the frequency of the leaks it seems we won’t have to wait too long.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 21, 2015 - 07:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, nvidia, 980 Ti
The source of leaks and rumours is often unexpected, such as this import data of a shipment headed from China into India. Could this 6GB card be the GTX 980 Ti that so many have theorized would be coming sometime around AMD's release of their new cards? Does the fact that 60,709 Indian Rupees equal 954.447 US Dollars put a damper on your excitement or could it be that these 6 lonely cards are being sold at a higher rate overseas than they might be in the US?
We don't know but we do know there is a mysterious card out there somewhere.
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 17, 2015 - 12:04 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: The Witcher 3, nvidia, hairworks, gameworks, amd
I feel like every few months I get to write more stories focusing on the exact same subject. It's almost as if nothing in the enthusiast market is happening and thus the cycle continues, taking all of us with it on a wild ride of arguments and valuable debates. Late last week I started hearing from some of my Twitter followers that there were concerns surrounding the upcoming release of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Then I found a link to this news post over at Overclock3d.net that put some of the information in perspective.
Essentially, The Witcher 3 uses parts of NVIDIA's GameWorks development tools and APIs, software written by NVIDIA to help game developers take advantage of new technologies and to quickly and easily implement them into games. The problem of course is that GameWorks is written and developed by NVIDIA. That means that optimizations for AMD Radeon hardware are difficult or impossible, depending on who you want to believe. Clearly it doesn't benefit NVIDIA to optimize its software for AMD GPUs financially, though many in the community would like NVIDIA to give a better effort - for the good of said community.
Specifically in regards to The Witcher 3, the game implements NVIDIA HairWorks technology to add realism on many of the creatures of the game world. (Actually, the game includes HairWorks, HBAO+, PhysX, Destruction and Clothing but our current discussion focuses on HairWorks.) All of the marketing and video surrounding The Witcher 3 has been awesome and the realistic animal fur simulation has definitely been a part of it. However, it appears that AMD Radeon GPU users are concerned that performance with HairWorks enabled will suffer.
An example of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt with HairWorks
One of the game's developers has been quoted as such:
Many of you have asked us if AMD Radeon GPUs would be able to run NVIDIA’s HairWorks technology – the answer is yes! However, unsatisfactory performance may be experienced as the code of this feature cannot be optimized for AMD products. Radeon users are encouraged to disable NVIDIA HairWorks if the performance is below expectations.
There are at least several interpretations of this statement floating around the web. First, and most enflaming, is that NVIDIA is not allowing CD Project Red to optimize it by not offering source code. Another is that CD Project is choosing to not optimize for AMD hardware due to time considerations. The last is that it simply isn't possible to optimize it because of hardware limitations of HairWorks.
I went to NVIDIA with these complaints about HairWorks and Brian Burke gave me this response:
We are not asking game developers do anything unethical.
GameWorks improves the visual quality of games running on GeForce for our customers. It does not impair performance on competing hardware.
Demanding source code access to all our cool technology is an attempt to deflect their performance issues. Giving away your IP, your source code, is uncommon for anyone in the industry, including middleware providers and game developers. Most of the time we optimize games based on binary builds, not source code.
GameWorks licenses follow standard industry practice. GameWorks source code is provided to developers that request it under license, but they can’t redistribute our source code to anyone who does not have a license.
The bottom line is AMD’s tessellation performance is not very good and there is not a lot NVIDIA can/should do about it. Using DX11 tessellation has sound technical reasoning behind it, it helps to keep the GPU memory footprint small so multiple characters can use hair and fur at the same time.
I believe it is a resource issue. NVIDIA spent a lot of artist and engineering resources to help make Witcher 3 better. I would assume that AMD could have done the same thing because our agreements with developers don’t prevent them from working with other IHVs. (See also, Project Cars)
I think gamers want better hair, better fur, better lighting, better shadows and better effects in their games. GameWorks gives them that.
Interesting comments for sure. The essential take away from this is that HairWorks depends heavily on tessellation performance and we have known since the GTX 680 was released that NVIDIA's architecture performs better than AMD's GCN for tessellation - often by a significant amount. NVIDIA developed its middleware to utilize the strength of its own GPU technology and while it's clear that some disagree, not to negatively impact AMD. Did NVIDIA know that would be the case when it was developing the software? Of course it did. Should it have done something to help AMD GPUs more gracefully fall back? Maybe.
Next, I asked Burke directly if claims that NVIDIA was preventing AMD or the game developer from optimizing HairWorks for other GPUs and platforms were true? I was told that both AMD and CD Project had the ability to tune the game, but in different ways. The developer could change the tessellation density based on the specific GPU detected (lower for a Radeon GPU with less tessellation capability, for example) but that would require dedicated engineering from either CD Project or AMD to do. AMD, without access to the source code, should be able to make changes in the driver at the binary level, similar to how most other driver optimizations are built. Burke states that in these instances NVIDIA often sends engineers to work with game developers and that AMD "could have done the same had it chosen to." And again, NVIDIA reiterated that in no way do its agreements with game developers prohibit optimization for AMD GPUs.
It would also be possible for AMD to have pushed for the implementation of TressFX in addition to HairWorks; a similar scenario played out in Grand Theft Auto V where several vendor-specific technologies were included from both NVIDIA and AMD, customized through in-game settings.
NVIDIA has never been accused of being altruistic; it doesn't often create things and then share it with open arms to the rest of the hardware community. But it has to be understood that game developers know this as well - they are not oblivious. CD Project knew that HairWorks performance on AMD would be poor but decided to implement the technology into The Witcher 3 anyway. They were willing to sacrifice performance penalties for some users to improve the experience of others. You can argue that is not the best choice, but at the very least The Witcher 3 will let you disable the HairWorks feature completely, removing it from the performance debate all together.
In a perfect world for consumers, NVIDIA and AMD would walk hand-in-hand through the fields and develop hardware and software in tandem, making sure all users get the best possible experience with all games. But that style of work is only helpful (from a business perspective) for the organization attempting to gain market share, not the one with the lead. NVIDIA doesn't have to do it and chooses to not. If you don't want to support that style, vote with your wallet.
Another similar controversy surrounded the recent release of Project Cars. AMD GPU performance was significantly lower than comparable NVIDIA GPUs, even though this game does not implement any GameWorks technologies. In that case, the game's developer directly blamed AMD's drivers, saying that it was a lack of reaching out from AMD that caused the issues. AMD has since recanted its stance that the performance delta was "deliberate" and says a pending driver update will address gamers performance issues.
All arguing aside, this game looks amazing. Can we all agree on that?
The only conclusion I can come to from all of this is that if you don't like what NVIDIA is doing, that's your right - and you aren't necessarily wrong. There will be plenty of readers that see the comments made by NVIDIA above and continue to believe that they are being at best disingenuous and at worst, are straight up lying. As I mentioned above in my own comments NVIDIA is still a for-profit company that is responsible to shareholders for profit and growth. And in today's world that sometimes means working against other companies than with them, resulting in impressive new technologies for its customers and push back from competitor's customers. It's not fun, but that's how it works today.
Fans of AMD will point to G-Sync, GameWorks, CUDA, PhysX, FCAT and even SLI as indications of NVIDIA's negative impact on open PC gaming. I would argue that more users would look at that list and see improvements to PC gaming, progress that helps make gaming on a computer so much better than gaming on a console. The truth likely rests somewhere in the middle; there will always be those individuals that immediately side with one company or the other. But it's the much larger group in the middle, that shows no corporate allegiance and instead just wants to have as much fun as possible with gaming, that will impact NVIDIA and AMD the most.
So, since I know it will happen anyway, use the comments page below to vent your opinion. But, for the benefit of us all, try to keep it civil!
Subject: Mobile | May 16, 2015 - 01:00 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Tegra X1, tegra, shield pro, shield console, shield, nvidia
UPDATE: Whoops! It appears that Amazon took the listing down... No surprise there. I'm sure we'll be seeing them again VERY SOON. :)
Looks like the release of the new NVIDIA SHIELD console device, first revealed back at GDC in March, is nearly here. A listing for "NVIDIA SHIELD" as well as the new "NVIDIA SHIELD Pro" showed up on Amazon.com today.
Though we don't know what the difference between the SHIELD and SHIELD Pro are officially, according to Amazon at least, the difference appears to be the internal storage. The Pro model will ship with 500GB of internal storage, the non-Pro model will only have 16GB. You'll have to get an SD Card for more storage on the base model if you plan on doing anything other than streaming games through NVIDIA GRID it seems.
No pricing is listed yet and there is no release date on the Amazon pages either, but we have always been told this was to be a May or June on-sale date. Both models of the NVIDIA SHIELD will include an HDMI cable, a micro-USB cable and a SHIELD Controller. If you want the remote or stand, you're going to have to pay out a bit more.
For those of you that missed out on the original SHIELD announcement from March, here is a quick table detailing the specs, as we knew them at that time. NVIDIA's own Tegra X1 SoC featuring 256 Maxwell GPU cores powers this device using the Android TV operating system, promising 4K video playback, the best performing Android gaming experience and NVIDIA GRID streaming games.
|NVIDIA SHIELD Specifications|
|Processor||NVIDIA® Tegra® X1 processor with 256-core Maxwell™ GPU with 3GB RAM|
|Video Features||4K Ultra-HD Ready with 4K playback and capture up to 60 fps (VP9, H265, H264)|
|Audio||7.1 and 5.1 surround sound pass through over HDMI
High-resolution audio playback up to 24-bit/192kHz over HDMI and USB
High-resolution audio upsample to 24-bit/192hHz over USB
|Wireless||802.11ac 2x2 MIMO 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz Wi-Fi
Two USB 3.0 (Type A)
MicroSD slot (supports 128GB cards)
IR Receiver (compatible with Logitech Harmony)
|Gaming Features||NVIDIA GRID™ streaming service
|SW Updates||SHIELD software upgrades directly from NVIDIA|
|Power||40W power adapter|
|Weight and Size||Weight: 23oz / 654g
Height: 5.1in / 130mm
Width: 8.3in / 210mm
Depth: 1.0in / 25mm
|OS||Android TV™, Google Cast™ Ready|
|In the box||NVIDIA SHIELD
NVIDIA SHIELD controller
HDMI cable (High Speed), USB cable (Micro-USB to USB)
Power adapter (Includes plugs for North America, Europe, UK)
|Requirements||TV with HDMI input, Internet access|
|Options||SHIELD controller, SHIELD remove, SHIELD stand|
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 15, 2015 - 11:36 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, geforce, graphics drivers, nvidia, whql
The last time that NVIDIA has released a graphics driver for Windows 10, they added a download category to their website for the pre-release operating system. Since about January, graphics driver updates were pushed by Windows Update and, before that, you would need to use Windows 8.1 drivers. Receiving drivers from Windows Update also meant that add-ons, such as PhysX runtimes and the GeForce Experience, would not be bundled with it. I know that some have installed them separately, but I didn't.
The 352.84 release, which is their second Windows 10 driver to be released outside of Windows Update, is also certified by WHQL. NVIDIA has recently been touting Microsoft certification for many of their drivers. Historically, they released a large number of Beta drivers that were stable, but did not wait for Microsoft to vouch for them. For one reason or another, they have put a higher priority on that label, even for “Game Ready” drivers that launch alongside a popular title.
For some reason, the driver is only available via GeForce Experience and NVIDIA.com, but not GeForce.com. I assume NVIDIA will publish it there soon, too.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Displays, Systems | May 15, 2015 - 03:02 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Oculus, oculus vr, nvidia, amd, geforce, radeon, Intel, core i5
Today, Oculus has published a list of what they believe should drive their VR headset. The Oculus Rift will obviously run on lower hardware. Their minimum specifications, published last month and focused on the Development Kit 2, did not even list a specific CPU or GPU -- just a DVI-D or HDMI output. They then went on to say that you really should use a graphics card that can handle your game at 1080p with at least 75 fps.
The current list is a little different:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970 / AMD Radeon R9 290 (or higher)
- Intel Core i5-4590 (or higher)
- 8GB RAM (or higher)
- A compatible HDMI 1.3 output
- 2x USB 3.0 ports
- Windows 7 SP1 (or newer).
I am guessing that, unlike the previous list, Oculus has a more clear vision for a development target. They were a little unclear about whether this refers to the consumer version or the current needs of developers. In either case, it would likely serve as a guide for what they believe developers should target when the consumer version launches.
This post also coincides with the release of the Oculus PC SDK 0.6.0. This version pushes distortion rendering to the Oculus Server process, rather than the application. It also allows multiple canvases to be sent to the SDK, which means developers can render text and other noticeable content at full resolution, but scale back in places that the user is less likely to notice. They can also be updated at different frequencies, such as sleeping the HUD redraw unless a value changes.
The Oculus PC SDK (0.6.0) is now available at the Oculus Developer Center.