Vive, DisplayPort, and GP104 Apparently Don't Mix For Now

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 6, 2016 - 07:15 AM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, htc vive, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, GP104

NVIDIA is working on a fix to allow the HTC Vive to be connected to the GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 over DisplayPort. The HTC Vive apparently has the choice between HDMI and Mini DisplayPort, but the headset will not be identified when connected over that connection. Currently, the two workarounds are to connect the HTC Vive over HDMI, or use a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter if your card's HDMI output is already occupied.

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It has apparently been an open issue for over a month now. That said, NVIDIA's Manuel Guzman has acknowledged the issue. Other threads claim that there are other displays that have a similar issue, and, within the last 24 hours, some users have experienced luck with modifying their motherboard's settings. I'd expect that it's something the can fix in an upcoming driver, though. For now, I guess plan your monitor outputs accordingly if you were planning on getting the HTC Vive.

Source: NVIDIA

Gigabyte Shows Off Bite Sized GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2016 - 01:49 AM |
Tagged: gigabyte, gtx 1070, pascal, mini ITX, factory overclocked

Custom graphics cards based on NVIDIA’s GTX 1070 GPU have been rolling out from all the usual suspects, and today small form factor enthusiasts have a new option with Gigabyte’s Mini ITX friendly GTX 1070 Mini ITX OC. As the name implies, this is a factory overclocked card that can hit 1746 MHz boost with the right checkboxes ticked in the company’s vBIOS utility.

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The new SFF graphics card measures a mere 6.7-inches long and is a dual slot design with a custom single 90mm fan HSF. It is a custom design that uses a 5+1 power phase design which Gigabyte claims is engineered to provide lower temperatures and more stable voltage compared to Nvidia’s reference design which is a 4+1 setup. The cooler on the dual slot card uses an aluminum fin array that is fed by three direct touch heatpipes. The 90mm fan is able to spin down to 0 rpm when the card is not under load which would make it a good candidate for a gaming capable living room PC that also doubles as your media center. Gigabyte further claims that their "3D stripe" ridged fan blade design helps to reduce noise and improve cooling performance.

Rear IO on the card includes two dual link DVI connectors, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort output. The graphics card is powered by a single 8-pin PCI-E power connector.

As far as the nitty gritty specifications are concerned, Gigabyte has the GTX 1070 GPU clocked out of the box at 1531 MHz base and 1721 MHz boost. Using the company’s Xtreme Engine utility, users can enable the “OC Mode” which automatically clocks the card further to 1556 MHz base and 1746 MHz boost. The OC Mode in particular is a decent factory overclock over the reference clocks of 1506 MHz base and 1683 MHz boost respectively. The 8 GB of GDDR5 memory remains effectively untouched at 8008 MHz.

Unfortunately as is usually the case with these kinds of launches pricing and availability has not yet been announced. From a cursory look around Newegg I would guess that the card will be somewhere around $465 (both the factory overclock and SFF premium).

Source: Gigabyte

AMD RX 480 (and NVIDIA GTX 1080) Launch Demand

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 30, 2016 - 07:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, nvidia, FinFET, Polaris, polaris 10, pascal

If you're trying to purchase a Pascal or Polaris-based GPU, then you are probably well aware that patience is a required virtue. The problem is that, as a hardware website, we don't really know whether the issue is high demand or low supply. Both are manufactured on a new process node, which could mean that yield is a problem. On the other hand, it's been about four years since the last fabrication node, which means that chips got much smaller for the same performance.

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Over time, manufacturing processes will mature, and yield will increase. But what about right now? AMD made a very small chip that produces ~GTX 970-level performance. NVIDIA is sticking with their typical, 3XXmm2 chip, which ended up producing higher than Titan X levels of performance.

It turns out that, according to online retailer, Overclockers UK, via Fudzilla, both the RX480 and GTX 1080 have sold over a thousand units at that location alone. That's quite a bit, especially when you consider that it only considers one (large) online retailer from Europe. It's difficult to say how much stock other stores (and regions) received compared to them, but it's still a thousand units in a day.

It's sounding like, for both vendors, pent-up demand might be the dominant factor.

Source: Fudzilla

Report: Image of Reference Design NVIDIA GTX 1060 Leaked

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 28, 2016 - 10:26 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce GTX 1060, GTX1060, rumor, report, leak, pascal, graphics card, video card

A report from VideoCardz.com shows what appears to be an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with a cooler similar to the "Founders Edition" GTX 1080/1070 design.

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Is this the GTX 1060 reference design? (Image via VideoCardz.com)

The image comes via Reddit (original source links in the VideoCardz post), and we cannot verify the validity of the image - though it certainly looks convincing to this writer.

So what does VideoCardz offer as to the specifications of this GTX 1060 card? Quoting from the post:

"NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 will most likely use GP106 GPU with at least 1280 CUDA cores. Earlier rumors suggested that GTX 1060 might get 6 GB GDDR5 memory and 192-bit memory bus."

We await official word on the GTX 1060 from NVIDIA, which VideoCardz surmises "is expected to hit the market shortly after Radeon RX 480".

Source: VideoCardz

Frame Time Monday; this time with the GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 27, 2016 - 04:55 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx, GP104, geforce, founders edition

You have already seen our delve into the frame times provided by the GTX 1080 but perhaps you would like another opinion.  The Tech Report also uses the FCAT process which we depend upon to bring you frame time data, however they present the data in a slightly different way which might help you to comprehend the data.  They also included Crysis 3 to ensure that the card can indeed play it.  Check out their full review here.

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"Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 is the company's first consumer graphics card to feature its new Pascal architecture, fabricated on a next-generation 16-nm process. We dig deep into the GTX 1080 to see what the confluence of these advances means for the high-end graphics market."

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Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell, and Pascal Comparison Benchmarks

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 21, 2016 - 05:22 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, fermi, kepler, maxwell, pascal, gf100, gf110, GK104, gk110, GM204, gm200, GP104

Techspot published an article that compared eight GPUs across six, high-end dies in NVIDIA's last four architectures: Fermi to Pascal. Average frame rates were listed across nine games, each measured at three resolutions:1366x768 (~720p HD), 1920x1080 (1080p FHD), and 2560x1600 (~1440p QHD).

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The results are interesting. Comparing GP104 to GF100, mainstream Pascal is typically on the order of four times faster than big Fermi. Over that time, we've had three full generational leaps in fabrication technology, leading to over twice the number of transistors packed into a die that is almost half the size. It does, however, show that prices have remained relatively constant, except that the GTX 1080 is sort-of priced in the x80 Ti category despite the die size placing it in the non-Ti class. (They list the 1080 at $600, but you can't really find anything outside the $650-700 USD range).

It would be interesting to see this data set compared against AMD. It's informative for an NVIDIA-only article, though.

Source: Techspot

NVIDIA Announces PCIe Versions of Tesla P100

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 20, 2016 - 01:57 PM |
Tagged: tesla, pascal, nvidia, GP100

GP100, the “Big Pascal” chip that was announced at GTC, will be coming to PCIe for enterprise and supercomputer customers in Q4 2016. Previously, it was only announced using NVIDIA's proprietary connection. In fact, they also gave themselves some lead time with their first-party DGX-1 system, which retails for $129,000 USD, although we expect that was more for yield reasons. Josh calculated that each GPU in that system is worth more than the full wafer that its die was manufactured on.

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This brings us to the PCIe versions. Interestingly, they have been down-binned from the NVLink version. The boost clock has been dropped to 1300 MHz, from 1480 MHz, although that is matched with a slightly lower TDP (250W versus the NVLink's 300W). This lowers the FP16 performance to 18.7 TFLOPs, down from 21.2, FP32 performance to 9.3 TFLOPs, down from 10.6, and FP64 performance to 4.7 TFLOPs, down from 5.3. This is where we get to the question: did NVIDIA reduce the clocks to hit a 250W TDP and be compatible with the passive cooling technology that previous Tesla cards utilize, or were the clocks dropped to increase yield?

They are also providing a 12GB version of the PCIe Tesla P100. I didn't realize that GPU vendors could selectively disable HBM2 stacks, but NVIDIA disabled 4GB of memory, which also dropped the bus width to 3072-bit. You would think that the simplicity of the circuit would want to divide work in a power-of-two fashion, but, knowing that they can, it makes me wonder why they did. Again, my first reaction is to question GP100 yield, but you wouldn't think that HBM, being such a small part of the die, is something that they can reclaim a lot of chips by disabling a chunk, right? That is, unless the HBM2 stacks themselves have yield issues -- which would be interesting.

There is also still no word on a 32GB version. Samsung claimed the memory technology, 8GB stacks of HBM2, would be ready for products in Q4 2016 or early 2017. We'll need to wait and see where, when, and why it will appear.

Source: NVIDIA

GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 3-Way and 4-Way SLI will not be enabled for games

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 8, 2016 - 08:44 PM |
Tagged: sli, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, geforce, 4-way sli, 3-way sli

IMPORTANT UPDATE: After writing this story, but before publication, we went to NVIDIA for comment. As we were getting ready to publish, the company updated me with a shift in its stance on multi-GPU configurations. NVIDIA will no longer require an "enthusiast key" to enable SLI on more than two GPUs. However, NVIDIA will also only be enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for a select few applications. More details are at the bottom of the story!

You'll likely recall that during our initial review of the GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition graphics card, we mentioned that NVIDIA was going to be moving people towards the idea that "only 2-Way SLI will be supported" and promoted. There would still be a path for users that wanted 3 and 4 GPU configurations anyway, and it would be called the Enthusiast Key.

As it turns out, after returning from an AMD event focused on its upcoming Polaris GPUs, I happen to have amassed a total of four GeForce GTX 1080 cards.

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Courtesy of some friends at EVGA and two readers that were awesome enough to let me open up their brand new hardware for a day or so, I was able to go through the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configuration process. Once all four were installed, and I must point out how great it is that each card only required a single 8-pin power connector, I installed the latest NVIDIA driver I had on hand, 368.19.

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Knowing about the need for the Enthusiast Key, and also knowing that I did not yet have one and that the website that was supposed to be live to enable me to get one is still not live, I thought I might have stumbled upon some magic. The driver appeared to let me enable SLI anyway. 

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Enthusiasts will note however that the green marker under the four GPUs with the "SLI" text is clearly only pointing at two of the GTX 1080s, leaving the remaining two...unused. Crap.

At this point, if you have purchased more than two GeForce GTX 1080 cards are simply out of luck and are waiting on NVIDIA to make good on it's promise to allow for 3-Way and 4-Way configurations via the Enthusiast Key. Or some other way. It's way too late now to simply say "we aren't supporting it at all." 

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While I wait...what is there for a gamer with four GeForce GTX 1080 cards to do? Well, you could run Ashes of the Singularity. It's multi-GPU mode uses MDA mode, which means the game engine itself accesses each GPU on its own, without the need for the driver to handle anything regarding GPU load balancing. Unfortunately, Ashes only supports two GPUs today.

Well...you could run an OpenCL based benchmark like LuxMark that access all the GPUs independently as well.

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I did so, and the result is an impressive score of 17,127!!

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How does that compare to some other products?

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The four GTX 1080 cards produce a score that is 2.57x the result provided by the AMD Radeon Pro Duo and 2.29x the score of SLI GeForce GTX 980 Ti cards. Nice!

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So there you go! We are just as eager to get our hands on the ability to test 3-Way and 4-Way SLI with new Pascal GPUs as some of the most extreme and dedicated enthusiasts out there are. With any luck, NVIDIA will finally figure out a way to allow it - no matter how it finally takes place.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Before going to press with this story I asked NVIDIA for comment directly: when was the community finally going to get the Enthusiast Key website to unlock 3-Way and 4-Way SLI for those people crazy enough to have purchased that many GTX 1080s? The answer was quite surprising: NVIDIA is backing away from the idea of an "Enthusiast Key" and will no longer require it for enabling 3-Way and 4-Way SLI. 

Here is the official NVIDIA statement given to PC Perspective on the subject:

With the GeForce 10-series we’re investing heavily in 2-way SLI with our new High Bandwidth bridge (which doubles the SLI bandwidth for faster, smoother gaming at ultra-high resolutions and refresh rates) and NVIDIA Game Ready Driver SLI profiles.  To ensure the best possible gaming experience on our GeForce 10-series GPUs, we’re focusing our efforts on 2-way SLI only and will continue to include 2-way SLI profiles in our Game Ready Drivers.
 
DX12 and NVIDIA VR Works SLI technology also allows developers to directly implement and control multi-GPU support within their games.  If a developer chooses to use these technologies then their game will not need SLI profiles.  Some developers may also decide to support more than 2 GPUs in their games. We continue to work with all developers creating games and VR applications that take advantage of 2 or more GPUs to make sure they’ll work great on GeForce 10-series GPUs.
 
For our overclocking community, our Game Ready Drivers will also include SLI profiles for 3- and 4-way configurations for specific OC applications only, including Fire Strike, Unigine and Catzilla.

NVIDIA clearly wants to reiterate that only 2-Way SLI will get the attention that we have come to expect from the GeForce driver dev team. As DX12 and Vulkan next-generation APIs become more prolific, the game developers will still have the ability to directly access more than two GeForce GTX 10-series GPUs, though I expect that be a very narrow window of games simply due to development costs and time.

NVIDIA will enable support for three and four card configurations in future drivers (without a key) for specific overclocking/benchmarking tools only, as a way to make sure the GeForce brand doesn't fall off the 3DMark charts. Only those specific applications will be able operate in the 3-Way and 4-Way SLI configurations that you have come to know. There are no profiles to change manually and even the rare games that might have "just worked" with three or four GPUs will not take advantage of more than two GTX 10-series cards. It's fair to say at this point that except for the benchmarking crowd, NVIDIA 3-Way and 4-Way SLI is over.

We expect the "benchmark only" mode of 3-Way and 4-Way SLI to be ready for consumers with the next "Game Ready" driver release. If you happened to get your hands on more than two GTX 1080s but aren't into benchmarking, then find those receipts and send a couple back.

So there you have it. Honestly, this is what I was expecting from NVIDIA with the initial launch of Pascal and the GeForce GTX 1080/1070 and I was surprised when I first heard about the idea of the "enthusiast key." It took a bit longer than expected, and NVIDIA will get more flak for the iterated dismissal of this very niche, but still pretty cool, technology. In the end, this won't have much impact on the company's bottom line as the quantity of users that were buying 3+ GTX GPUs for a single system was understandably small.

GeForce GTX 1080s Are Available at Newegg Canada

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 08:07 PM |
Tagged: zotac, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, GP104, asus

Update @ 10:30pm, June 7th: Annnnnnnnd it's gone.

Update @ 9:45pm, June 7th: ASUS is now out-of-stock, so I crossed out the relevant links. ZOTAC is still around for now.

Update @ 8:45pm, June 7th: Turns out that it's also available on Newegg US. In fact, it's possible that both sites share from the same stock pool, at least for the US ASUS and US ZOTAC cards, given that Newegg Canada says it ships them from the US.

A couple of GeForce GTX 1080s are available at Newegg Canada at the moment. Both models, one from ASUS and one from ZOTAC, are listed at $909. This seems high, but it's actually the current US-to-Canada exchange rate from the $699 MSRP. If you were interested in the Founders Edition cards, then you have a brief moment to pick one up.

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That said, it's looking like the custom-cooled versions might be a better bet. The EVGA dual-fan GAMING SC ACX 3.0 version is listed at $824.99 CDN (~$635 USD) and, from what we've seen so far, seems to be quite a bit cooler than the Founders Edition (albeit we haven't tested sound levels yet). Those should be coming out fairly soon, and will apparently lean on the cheaper side of the Founders Edition fence.

But, if you don't care, go go go go go.

The frequency of Pascal reviews is still increasing

Subject: Graphics Cards | June 7, 2016 - 03:50 PM |
Tagged: geforce, GP104, gtx 1070, nvidia, pascal

With Computex behind us it is time to catch up on all the reviews which were launched during the show, including [H]ard|OCP's review of the GTX 1070 Founders Edition.  Their testing was done using an NVIDIA provided driver, GeForce 368.19 the same one which Ryan used in his review.  They did not have a chance to delve into overclocking or utilizing the new power settings.  From their testing they concluded the GTX 1070 is a great upgrade for those using a vanilla GTX 980 or R9 390X, while the card performs faster than a R9 Fury X or GTX 980 Ti the jump is not quite enough to recommend dumping it for anything less than a GTX1080.

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"In our review of the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition video card we will explore the price competitive performance and find out what kind of gameplay advantage the new GeForce GTX 1070 Founders Edition offers over the previous generation cards. We compare both the GTX 980 and Radeon R9 Fury GPUs to the new GTX 1070"

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Source: [H]ard|OCP