Subject: Graphics Cards | March 21, 2017 - 07:47 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: windows 10, vulkan, sli, multi-gpu, crossfire
Update (March 22nd @ 3:50pm EDT): And the Khronos Group has just responded to my follow-up questions. LDA has existed since Windows Vista, at the time for assisting with SLI and Crossfire support. Its implementation has changed in Windows 10, but that's not really relevant for Vulkan's multi-GPU support. To prove this, they showed LDA referenced in a Windows 8.1 MSDN post.
Vulkan's multi-GPU extensions can be used on Windows 7 and Windows 8.x. The exact process will vary from OS to OS, but the GPU vendor can implement these extensions if they choose, and LDA mode isn't exclusive to Windows 10.
Update (March 21st @ 11:55pm EDT): I came across a Microsoft Support page that discusses issues with LDA in Windows 7, so it seems like that functionality isn't limited to WDDM 2.0 and Windows 10. (Why have a support page otherwise?) Previously, I looked up an MSDN article that had it listed as a WDDM 2.0 feature, so I figured DSOGaming's assertion that it was introduced with WDDM 2.0 was correct.
As such, LDA might not require a GPU vendor's implementation at all. It'll probably be more clear when the Khronos Group responds to my earlier request, though.
That said, we're arguing over how much a GPU vendor needs to implement; either way, it will be possible to use the multi-GPU extensions in Windows 7 and Windows 8.x if the driver supports it.
Update (March 21st @ 7:30pm EDT): The Khronos Group has just released their statement. It's still a bit unclear, and I've submit another request for clarification.
Specifically, the third statement:
If an implementation on Windows does decide to use LDA mode, it is NOT tied to Windows 10. LDA mode has been available on many versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and 8.X.
... doesn't elaborate what is required for LDA mode on Windows outside of 10. (It could be Microsoft-supported, vendor-supported, or something else entirely.) I'll update again when that information is available. For now, it seems like the table, below, should actually look something like this:
|macOS||Apple doesn't allow the Vulkan API to ship in graphics drivers.
|Linux / etc.||✓||✓||✓|
... but we will update, again, should this be inaccurate.
Update (March 20th @ 3:50pm EDT): The Khronos Group has just responded that the other posts are incorrect. They haven't yet confirmed whether this post (which separates "device groups" from the more general "multi-GPU in Vulkan") is correct, though, because they're preparing an official statement. We'll update when we have more info.
Original Post Below (March 19th @ 9:36pm EDT)
A couple of days ago, some sites have noticed a bullet point that claims Windows-based GPU drivers will need WDDM in “linked display adapter” mode for “Native multi-GPU support for NVIDIA SLI and AMD Crossfire platforms” on Vulkan. This note came from an official slide deck by the Khronos Group, which was published during the recent Game Developers Conference, GDC 2017. The concern is that “linked display adapter” mode is a part of WDDM 2.0, which is exclusive to Windows 10.
This is being interpreted as “Vulkan does not support multi-GPU under Windows 7 or 8.x”.
I reached out to the Khronos Group for clarification, but I’m fairly sure I know what this does (and doesn’t) mean. Rather than starting with a written out explanation in prose, I will summarize it into a table, below, outlining what is possible on each platform. I will then elaborate below that.
|macOS||Apple doesn't allow the Vulkan API to ship in graphics drivers.
|Linux / etc.||✓||✓||✓|
So the good news is that it’s possible for a game developer to support multi-GPU (through what DirectX 12 would call MDA) on Windows 7 and Windows 8.x; the bad news is that no-one might bother with the heavy lifting. Linked display adapters allow the developer to assume that all GPUs are roughly the same performance, have the same amount of usable memory, and can be accessed through a single driver interface. On top of these assumptions, device groups also hide some annoying and tedious work inside the graphics driver, like producing a texture on one graphics card and quickly giving it to another GPU for rendering.
Basically, if the developer will go through the trouble of supporting AMD + NVIDIA or discrete GPU + integrated GPU systems, then they can support Windows 7 / 8.x in multi-GPU as well. Otherwise? Your extra GPUs will be sitting out unless you switch to DirectX 11 or OpenGL (or you use it for video encoding or something else outside the game).
On the other hand, this limitation might pressure some developers to support unlinked multi-GPU configurations. There are some interesting possibilities, including post-processing, GPGPU tasks like AI visibility and physics, and so forth, which might be ignored in titles whose developers were seduced by the simplicity of device groups. On the whole, device groups was apparently a high-priority request by game developers, and its inclusion will lead to more multi-GPU content. Developers who can justify doing it themselves, though, now have another reason to bother re-inventing a few wheels.
Or... you could just use Linux. That works, too.
Again, we are still waiting on the Khronos Group to confirm this story. See the latest update, above.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2017 - 03:59 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce 378.78
AMD has been offering support for DX12 more effectively than NVIDIA in many titles; not enough to consistently surpass the higher end GTX cards but certainly showing improvements. NVIDIA announce that their new driver, along with optimized support for the new Tom Clancy game will also offer performance increases in DX12 games. [H]ard|OCP put the numbers referenced in the PR to the test in their recent review. The news is good for the games which were mentioned but you should not expect any gains in DX11 titles with the new driver as you can see from the benchmarks results.
"We will take the new NVIDIA GeForce 378.78 performance driver and add it to our NVIDIA Video Card Driver Performance Review graphs to see if this driver has improved performance. NVIDIA has made some very bold claims lately, so let's see if those come through as true gaming advantages."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti On Linux: Best Linux Gaming Performance @ Phoronix
- ASUS GTX 1080 Ti Strix OC 11 GB @ techPowerUp
- GTX 1080 Ti SLI Performance in 25 Games @ BabelTechReviews
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition Review @ Neoseeker
Background and setup
A couple of weeks back, during the excitement surrounding the announcement of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card, NVIDIA announced an update to its performance reporting project known as FCAT to support VR gaming. The updated iteration, FCAT VR as it is now called, gives us the first true ability to not only capture the performance of VR games and experiences, but the tools with which to measure and compare.
Watch ths video walk through of FCAT VR with me and NVIDIA's Tom Petersen
I already wrote an extensive preview of the tool and how it works during the announcement. I think it’s likely that many of you overlooked it with the noise from a new GPU, so I’m going to reproduce some of it here, with additions and updates. Everyone that attempts to understand the data we will be presenting in this story and all VR-based tests going forward should have a baseline understanding of the complexity of measuring VR games. Previous tools don’t tell the whole story, and even the part they do tell is often incomplete.
If you already know how FCAT VR works from reading the previous article, you can jump right to the beginning of our results here.
Measuring and validating those claims has proven to be a difficult task. Tools that we used in the era of standard PC gaming just don’t apply. Fraps is a well-known and well-understood tool for measuring frame rates and frame times utilized by countless reviewers and enthusiasts, but Fraps lacked the ability to tell the complete story of gaming performance and experience. NVIDIA introduced FCAT and we introduced Frame Rating back in 2013 to expand the capabilities that reviewers and consumers had access to. Using more sophisticated technique that includes direct capture of the graphics card output in uncompressed form, a software-based overlay applied to each frame being rendered, and post-process analyzation of that data, we could communicate the smoothness of a gaming experience, better articulating it to help gamers make purchasing decisions.
For VR though, those same tools just don’t cut it. Fraps is a non-starter as it measures frame rendering from the GPU point of view and completely misses the interaction between the graphics system and the VR runtime environment (OpenVR for Steam/Vive and OVR for Oculus). Because the rendering pipeline is drastically changed in the current VR integrations, what Fraps measures is completely different than the experience the user actually gets in the headset. Previous FCAT and Frame Rating methods were still viable but the tools and capture technology needed to be updated. The hardware capture products we used since 2013 were limited in their maximum bandwidth and the overlay software did not have the ability to “latch in” to VR-based games. Not only that but measuring frame drops, time warps, space warps and reprojections would be a significant hurdle without further development.
NVIDIA decided to undertake the task of rebuilding FCAT to work with VR. And while obviously the company is hoping that it will prove its claims of performance benefits for VR gaming, it should not be overlooked the investment in time and money spent on a project that is to be open sourced and free available to the media and the public.
NVIDIA FCAT VR is comprised of two different applications. The FCAT VR Capture tool runs on the PC being evaluated and has a similar appearance to other performance and timing capture utilities. It uses data from Oculus Event Tracing as a part of the Windows ETW and SteamVR’s performance API, along with NVIDIA driver stats when used on NVIDIA hardware to generate performance data. It will and does work perfectly well on any GPU vendor’s hardware though with the access to the VR vendor specific timing results.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | March 10, 2017 - 11:15 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, tom petersen, pascal, nvidia, live, gtx 1080 ti, gtx, gp102, geforce
Our review of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB graphics card is live and ready for consumption! Make sure you check it out before this afternoon's live stream!
Did you miss our GTX 1080 Ti Live Stream? Catch the reply below!
Ready your mind and body, it’s time for another GeForce GTX live stream hosted by PC Perspective’s Ryan Shrout and NVIDIA’s Tom Petersen. The general details about the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card are already official and based on the hype train and the response on social media, there is more than a little excitement.
On hand to talk about the new graphics card will be Tom Petersen, well known in our community. While the GTX 1080 Ti will be the flagship part of our live stream we will also be diving into the world of VR performance evaluation and how the new FCAT VR tool will help reviewers and standard enthusiast see where their systems stand in producing smooth, effective virtual reality gaming. We have done quite a few awesome live steams with Tom in the past, check them out if you haven't already.
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti and FCAT VR Live Stream
1pm PT / 4pm ET - March 9th
Need a reminder? Join our live mailing list!
The event will take place Thursday, March 9th at 4pm ET / 1pm PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Tom to answer live.
Tom has a history of being both informative and entertaining and these live streaming events are always full of fun and technical information that you can get literally nowhere else. Previous streams have produced news as well – including statements on support for Adaptive Sync, release dates for displays and first-ever demos of triple display G-Sync functionality. You never know what’s going to happen or what will be said!
This just in fellow gamers: Tom is going to be providing a GeForce GTX 1080 Ti graphics card to give away during the live stream! We won't be able to ship it until the end of next week, but one lucky viewer of the live stream will be able to get their paws on the fastest graphics card we have ever tested!! Make sure you are scheduled to be here on March 9th at 1pm PT / 4pm ET!!
Win this beauty.
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Tom or I?
So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Thursday at 4pm ET / 1pm PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live mailing list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2017 - 02:49 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers
Alongside the launch of the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, NVIDIA has released a new graphics driver that, one, obviously supports the new card and, two, also rolls in a bunch of optimizations for DirectX 12 titles. The graphics vendor already announced the initiative at last week’s GDC, but it is now released and available for public use. 378.78 is also “Game Ready” for Ghost Recon Wildlands, although that’s mostly for Ansel support; most of the optimizations for Wildlands were pushed into the previous driver.
The advertised gains vary from title to title, but they claim that Rise of the Tomb Raider at 4K will jump from 20 FPS to 27 FPS. This can be viewed as either a frame rate gain of about 33%, or it can be seen as an average frame time savings of about 12ms each and every frame. If that’s what actual end-users will see -- that’s a lot!
They also note improvements in Vulkan support, too, but without any hard, numeric assertions.
If you have a GeForce 1050 Ti notebook, then this driver is also said to fix a potential bluescreen bug that you have been facing. You can pick it up from GeForce Experience or the NVIDIA website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 9, 2017 - 01:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: 1080 ti, geforce, gp102, gtx 1080 ti, nvidia, pascal
As you have probably noticed from our front page, today is the day we can see how the GTX 1080 Ti performs in reviewers systems. The unfortunate news is that you can't buy one yet nor do we know when you will be able to spend the $699 it will cost to order one. We can share the performance with you, once again NVIDIA's Ti model takes the top spot out performing even the $1200 TITAN X. As for overclocking the reference model, as we have not had a chance to test any cards with third party cooler on them, [H]ard|OCP were able to increase the GPU frequency over 200MHz to 1967-1987MHz in game and push the memory to 12GHz, somewhat better than what Ryan was able to. Check out their full review here, with many more just below.
"NVIDIA is launching the fastest video card it offers for gaming today in the new $699 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. We will take this video card and test it against the GeForce GTX 1080 and GeForce GTX TITAN X at 1440p and 4K resolutions to find out how it compares. Is it really faster than a $1200 GeForce GTX TITAN X Pascal?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 Ti @ The Tech Report
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti review: The fastest graphics card, again @ Ars Technica
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition 11 GB @ techPowerUp
- The NVIDIA GTX 1080 Ti 11GB Review @ Hardware Canucks
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti Founders Edition 11GB @ Kitguru
- The GTX 1080 Ti Performance Review vs. the TITAN XP & the GTX 1080 @ BabelTechReviews
- Nvidia GTX 1080 Ti CPU Showdown: i7 7700k Vs Ryzen R7 1800x Vs i7 5820k @ eTeknix
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 Ti 11GB @ eTeknix
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Review: A Look At 4K & Ultrawide Gaming @ Techgage
- MSI GeForce GTX 1060 Armor OC 6 GB @ techPowerUp
Flagship Performance Gets Cheaper
UPDATE! If you missed our launch day live stream, you can find the reply below:
It’s a very interesting time in the world of PC gaming hardware. We just saw the release of AMD’s Ryzen processor platform that shook up the processor market for the first time in a decade, AMD’s Vega architecture has been given the brand name “Vega”, and the anticipation for the first high-end competitive part from AMD since Hawaii grows as well. AMD was seemingly able to take advantage of Intel’s slow innovation pace on the processor and it was hoping to do the same to NVIDIA on the GPU. NVIDIA’s product line has been dominant in the mid and high-end gaming market since the 900-series with the 10-series products further cementing the lead.
The most recent high end graphics card release came in the form of the updated Titan X based on the Pascal architecture. That was WAY back in August of 2016 – a full seven months ago! Since then we have seen very little change at the top end of the product lines and what little change we did see came from board vendors adding in technology and variation on the GTX 10-series.
Today we see the release of the new GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, a card that offers only a handful of noteworthy technological changes but instead is able to shake up the market by instigating pricing adjustments to make the performance offers more appealing, and lowering the price of everything else.
The GTX 1080 Ti GP102 GPU
I already wrote about the specifications of the GPU in the GTX 1080 Ti when it was announced last week, so here’s a simple recap.
|GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||GTX 980 Ti||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X||R9 Fury||R9 Nano|
|GPU||GP102||GP102||GP104||GM200||GM200||GM204||Fiji XT||Fiji Pro||Fiji XT|
|Base Clock||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||up to 1000 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1600 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1076 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||-||-||-|
|Memory Clock||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz||500 MHz|
|Memory Interface||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|TDP||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts||275 watts||175 watts|
|Peak Compute||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||5.63 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||7.20 TFLOPS||8.19 TFLOPS|
The GTX 1080 Ti looks a whole lot like the TITAN X launched in August of last year. Based on the 12B transistor GP102 chip, the new GTX 1080 Ti will have 3,584 CUDA core with a 1.60 GHz Boost clock. That gives it the same processor count as Titan X but with a slightly higher clock speed which should make the new GTX 1080 Ti slightly faster by at least a few percentage points and has a 4.7% edge in base clock compute capability. It has 28 SMs, 28 geometry units, 224 texture units.
Interestingly, the memory system on the GTX 1080 Ti gets adjusted – NVIDIA has disabled a single 32-bit memory controller to give the card a total of 352-bit wide bus and an odd-sounding 11GB memory capacity. The ROP count also drops to 88 units. Speaking of 11, the memory clock on the G5X implementation on GTX 1080 Ti will now run at 11 Gbps, a boost available to NVIDIA thanks to a chip revision from Micron and improvements to equalization and reverse signal distortion.
The move from 12GB of memory on the GP102-based Titan X to 11GB on the GTX 1080 Ti is an interesting move, and evokes memories of the GTX 970 fiasco where NVIDIA disabled a portion of that memory controller but left the memory that would have resided on it ON the board. At that point, what behaved as 3.5GB of memory at one speed and 500 MB at another speed, was the wrong move to make. But releasing the GTX 970 with "3.5GB" of memory would have seemed odd too. NVIDIA is not making the same mistake, instead building the GTX 1080 Ti with 11GB out the gate.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 6, 2017 - 09:08 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers
Just prior to the release of Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, AMD has released another graphics driver with specific optimizations. Radeon Software Crimson ReLive Edition 17.3.1 is support to provide up to a 6% performance improvement (on an RX 480) in that title. It also adds a CrossFire profile under DirectX 11. Note that there’s a known issue with 3- and 4-GPU systems, which will apparently make the game crash back to desktop on launch.
Beyond this, the new graphics driver also fixes several issues, many of which involve flickering textures, objects, or mouse pointers. It also solves an issue where installing the driver could cause a failed reboot.
If you have an AMD GPU, then you can pick up the driver from their website.
Subject: Graphics Cards | March 1, 2017 - 05:04 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: video card, RX 580, RX 570, RX 560, RX 550, rx 480, rumor, report, rebrand, radeon, graphics, gpu, amd
According to a report from VideoCardz.com we can expect AMD Radeon RX 500-series graphics cards next month, with an April 4th launch of the RX 580 and RX 570, and subsequent RX 560/550 launch on April 11. The bad news? According to the report "all cards, except RX 550, are most likely rebranded from Radeon RX 400 series".
Until official confirmation on specs arrive, this is still speculative; however, if Vega is not ready for an April launch and AMD will indeed be refreshing their Radeon lineup, an R9 300-series speed bump/rebrand is not out of the realm of possibility. VideoCardz offers (unconfirmed, at this point) specs of the upcoming RX 500-series cards, with RX 400 numbers for comparison:
Chart credit: VideoCardz.com
The first graph shows the increased GPU boost clock speed of ~1340 MHz for the rumored RX 580, with the existing RX 480 clocked at 1266 MHz. Both would be Polaris 10 GPUs with otherwise identical specs. The same largely holds for the rumored specs on the RX 570, though this GPU would presumably be shipping with faster memory clocks as well. On the RX 560 side, however, the Polaris 11 powered replacement for the RX 460 might be based on the 1024-core variant we have seen from the Chinese market.
Chart credit: VideoCardz.com
No specifics on the RX 550 are yet known, which VideoCardz says "is most likely equipped with Polaris 12, a new low-end GPU". These rumors come via heise.de (German language), who state that those "hoping for Vega-card will be disappointed - the cards are intended to be rebrands with known GPUs". We will have to wait until next month to know for sure, but even if this is the case, expect faster clocks and better performance for the same money.
Linked Multi-GPU Arrives... for Developers
The Khronos Group has released the Vulkan 184.108.40.206 specification, which includes experimental (more on that in a couple of paragraphs) support for VR enhancements, sharing resources between processes, and linking similar GPUs. This spec was released alongside a LunarG SDK and NVIDIA drivers, which are intended for developers, not gamers, that fully implement these extensions.
I would expect that the most interesting feature is experimental support for linking similar GPUs together, similar to DirectX 12’s Explicit Linked Multiadapter, which Vulkan calls a “Device Group”. The idea is that the physical GPUs hidden behind this layer can do things like share resources, such as rendering a texture on one GPU and consuming it in another, without the host code being involved. I’m guessing that some studios, like maybe Oxide Games, will decide to not use this feature. While it’s not explicitly stated, I cannot see how this (or DirectX 12’s Explicit Linked mode) would be compatible in cross-vendor modes. Unless I’m mistaken, that would require AMD, NVIDIA, and/or Intel restructuring their drivers to inter-operate at this level. Still, the assumptions that could be made with grouped devices are apparently popular with enough developers for both the Khronos Group and Microsoft to bother.
A slide from Microsoft's DirectX 12 reveal, long ago.
As for the “experimental” comment that I made in the introduction... I was expecting to see this news around SIGGRAPH, which occurs in late-July / early-August, alongside a minor version bump (to Vulkan 1.1).
I might still be right, though.
The major new features of Vulkan 220.127.116.11 are implemented as a new classification of extensions: KHX. In the past, vendors, like NVIDIA and AMD, would add new features as vendor-prefixed extensions. Games could query the graphics driver for these abilities, and enable them if available. If these features became popular enough for multiple vendors to have their own implementation of it, a committee would consider an EXT extension. This would behave the same across all implementations (give or take) but not be officially adopted by the Khronos Group. If they did take it under their wing, it would be given a KHR extension (or added as a required feature).
The Khronos Group has added a new layer: KHX. This level of extension sits below KHR, and is not intended for production code. You might see where this is headed. The VR multiview, multi-GPU, and cross-process extensions are not supposed to be used in released video games until they leave KHX status. Unlike a vendor extension, the Khronos Group wants old KHX standards to drop out of existence at some point after they graduate to full KHR status. It’s not something that NVIDIA owns and will keep it around for 20 years after its usable lifespan just so old games can behave expectedly.
How long will that take? No idea. I’ve already mentioned my logical but uneducated guess a few paragraphs ago, but I’m not going to repeat it; I have literally zero facts to base it on, and I don’t want our readers to think that I do. I don’t. It’s just based on what the Khronos Group typically announces at certain trade shows, and the length of time since their first announcement.
The benefit that KHX does bring us is that, whenever these features make it to public release, developers will have already been using it... internally... since around now. When it hits KHR, it’s done, and anyone can theoretically be ready for it when that time comes.