GeForce.com Previews the NVIDIA GTX 560

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 13, 2011 - 05:30 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX560, graphics

 

GTX560.png

The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 is due to release on May 17th.  As the release date approaches, vast speculation and rumors have flooded the Internet.  GeForce.com has stepped up to preview what the card looks like and how it fairs in three soon to be released PC games versus the 9800GT at the popular 1080p resolution.  GeForce chose the 9800 GT for comparison because they found the card to be one of the most popular used on Steam.  As games are becoming more advanced graphically and 1080p monitors are becoming more popular, they wanted to compare what the GTX 560 is capable of versus a card that many people are familiar with.

While they were unable to share exact hardware specifications and performance numbers (due to NDA), they were able to show what graphics detail settings the card was able to run at 1080p and at least 35 frames per second.  The stated "Optimal Playable Settings" for the GTX 560 were then compared to the 9800 GT in three games.  These three soon to be released games were each chosen because of their ability to showcase what high resolution, high PhysX detail, and Nvidia Surround looked like.  The GTX 560 was able to handle all three of those features with ease, whereas the older but popular 9800 GT ran into issues playing games with those features smoothly.  The system configuration they used to test both cards is as follows:

Motherboard ASUS P8P67 WS Revolution
CPU Intel Core i7 2600K @ 3.4GHz
RAM 8GB DDR3 1333MHz, 9-9-9-24
Operating System Windows 7 x64

 

The first game they showcased was Duke Nukem Forever.  GeForce states that Duke Nukem will support both NVIDIA 3D and PhysX.  The graphics details they were able to achieve with Duke Nukem Forever are:

Resolution 1920x1080
Texture Detail Medium
Shadow Detail Medium
Shadows World & Characters
Motion Blur On
AA Off
Film Grain On
Post Special Effects On
Stereoscopic 3D On

The GTX 560 managed to pull off at least 35fps.  Conversely, the game was not playable at these settings with the 9800 GT.  Specifically, the 3D feature was not practical with the 9800 GT.

Alice:  Madness Returns was the second game GeForce showed off.  One interesting aspect of Alice is the useage of PhysX.  The graphics quality is much improved by the graphics textures and particles added by PhysX, as you can see in the comparison screenshot below.

 

The GTX 560 managed to run the game at the following setttings:

Resolution  1920x1080
AA  On
PhysX  High
Post Processing  On
Dynamic Shadows  On
Motion Blur On

The 9800 GT that they compared the GTX 560 to was a "slide show" by comparison.  The demands of PhysX were especially responsible for the reduced performance.  The 9800 GT simply was not capable of processing both high resolution graphics and the high PhysX calculations.  The GTX 560 was; however, capable of running the game at maxed out settings (at 1080p).

GeForce finally showcased the GTX 560 running Dragon Seige III.  In this test, they utilized 3 monitors in an NVIDIA Surround configuration.  The graphical settings that they were able to get out of the GTX 560 included:

Resolution 5760x1080
Motion Blur On
Shadow Quality Insane
Texture Quality High
Shader Quality High
Visual Effects Quality High
AF On
MSAA 8x

 

Their results are as follows:

"On these settings, which were near maximum aside from anti-aliasing which tops off at 16x, the average framerate was again consistently smooth and playable. Here, the ultra-wide experience allowed us to immerse ourselves into some deep dungeon crawling. Unfortunately for the 9800 GT, the GPU in SLI does not support NVIDIA Surround, making it impossible to play at the 5760x1080 resolution. "

 

The GeForce GTX 560 is reported to be positioned between the Geforce 460 and 560Ti on the NVIDIA side, and the 6870 and 6950 (1GB) on the AMD side.  When it comes to 1080p resolution, so far it has been a toss up for many DIY enthusiasts between buying the AMD 6950 (2GB) and the NVIDIA GTX 560Ti for maximum performance.  If GeForce's preview holds true for other games, the GTX 560 may well provide an another option for enthusiasts after the bang for the buck price and performance at 1080p resolutions.

As for speculation and rumors on the graphics card's hardware, there have been many floating around the Internet.  For example, Tech Connect states that the GTX 560 will feature 336 CUDA cores, 56 Texture Units, and 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 256-bit bus.  Further, Tech Connect maintains that the card is rumored to be priced at approximately $200.  From Nvidia's statement that the graphics card will be positioned between the GTX 460 and the GTX 560Ti in terms of performance, the GPU will likely be clocked somewhere between the 675Mhz of the GTX 460 and the 820Mhz of the GTX 560Ti, with the RAM being slightly lower than the GTX 560Ti's 4008Mhz.  

Unfortunately, (until the NDA is lifted) only NVIDIA can tell us what the real specifications of the GTX 560 will be, and they are not talking.  You can; however, find further details as well as a video of the soon to be released card in action over at GeForce.com, and PC Perspective will have a review up with benchmarks gallore and the official hardware specifications as soon as the NDA is lifted on May 17th.

Will the GTX 560 power your next gaming rig?

Source: GeForce

Alenka: The SQL, starring CUDA!

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Storage | May 11, 2011 - 07:58 PM |
Tagged: SQL, developer, CUDA

Programmers are beginning to understand and be ever more comfortable with the uses of GPUs in their applications. Late last week we explored the KGPU project. KGPU is designed to allow the Linux kernel to offload massively parallel processes to the GPU to offload the CPU as well as directly increase performance. KGPU showed that in terms of an encrypted file system you can see whole multiple increases in read and write bandwidth on an SSD. Perhaps this little GPU thing can be useful for more? Alenka Project thinks so: they are currently working on a CUDA-based SQL-like language for data processing.

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CUDA woulda shoulda... and did.

SQL databases are some of the most common methods to store and manipulate larger sets of data. If you have a blog it almost definitely is storing its information in a SQL database. If you play an MMO your data is almost definitely stored and accessed on a SQL server. As your data size expands and your number of concurrent accesses increases you can see why using a GPU could keep your application running much smoother.

Alenka in its current release supports large data sets exceeding both GPU and system RAM via streaming chunks, processing, and moving on. Its supported primitive types are doubles, longs, and varchars. It is open source under the Apache license V2.0. Developers interested in using or assisting with the project can check out their Sourceforge. We should continue to see more and more GPU-based applications appear in the near future as problems such as these are finally lifted from the CPU and given to someone more suitable to bear.

Samaritan Demo Showcases New Unreal Engine 3 Graphical Effects

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 11, 2011 - 12:36 AM |
Tagged: UE3, graphics engine, gaming

Since 2006'a Gears of War, Epic Games' Unreal Engine 3 has provided both console and PC gamers hours of game play packed with graphical prowess. The now 5 year old graphics engine has enjoyed constant evolution to remain viable. At 2011's Games Developers Conference, Epic Games unvieled its Samaritan demo, proving to the world that not only could Unreal Engine 3 deliver graphics capable of fully utilizing current gen hardware but a huge evolution in graphical prowess that would require next gen hardware to in order to utilize all of it's features.

Using a three-way SLI GTX 580 powered gaming system, Epic Games was able to showcase some of the engine's newest features.  Taking eight months of development, the engine contains a slew of lighting, reflection, and shadow improvements as well as realistic hair and cloth physics.

Bokeh Depth of Field has been a popular artistic choice in Hollywood Films for many years.  Seen as out of focus but identifiable colored shapes in the background, bokeh objects serve to enhance a scene and influence viewers' moods.  Epic was able to improve upon earlier methods of rendering bokeh objects, though they admit that real time rendering of bokeh objects as seen in Hollywood films will necessitate next gen hardware.  Currently, the bokeh effects will be best used in cutscenes where developers can control and pre-render the objects to the best storytelling effect.

SamaritanPLRIE.png

Epic has also greatly enhanced the ways that light and reflections are handled.  Collectively called Image Based Reflections, Epic has implemented Point Light and Billboard Reflections.  These are then coupled with both static and dynamic Reflection Shadows to achieve a look resembling the real world.  While the graphics horsepower is not available today to allow Epic to mirror the way light works in the real world exactly, they are able to achieve a very close representation.  For example, they are not able to render the road to be as detailed as real life.  The road shown in their Samaritin demo was much less un-uniform.  This is so because the hardware required to calculate reflections on a road as un-uniform as in real life (in real time) is simply not available today.

Read on for more details...

Source: GeForce

Discrete Graphics Card Shipments See Slight Increase Versus Previous Quarter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 10, 2011 - 08:52 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, jpr, gpu, amd

The last quarter of 2010 saw shipments totalling 18.84 million units. In 2011, shipments rose slightly by 2% to 19.03 million add-in cards. According to JPR (Jon Peddie Research), while Q1 of 2011 behaved similarly to past years seasonally, it did not fair as well overall as shipments did not exceed those of Q1 2010. Where AMD increased units shipped by 5.7% versus the previous quarter (Q4 2010), NVIDIA saw a 2% decrease.

JPR notes that while increase in units shipped versus Q4 2010 was rather slight, it remains a positive change due to Q4 2010 behaving irregularly regarding the seasonal cycle.

The increased units shipped further reflect changes in market share for the two largest discrete graphics card makers. Versus last quarter, NVIDIA lost 2.7% of the market while AMD gained 4.4%. JPR states that AMD has gained 16.6% market share while rival NVIDIA lost 8.4 on a year-to-year basis.

 

Q1 2011

Market Share

Q4 2010

Market Share

Market Share

Change Qtr-Qtr

Previous Year

Market Share

Market Share

Change Yr-Yr

AMD 40.46% 38.77% 4.37% 34.65% 16.79%
NVIDIA 59.12% 60.77% -2.71% 64.50% -8.35%
Others 0.42% 0.47% -9.99% 0.85% -50.62%

JRP's reported market shares over time.

John Peddie Research notes that of the 19.03 million discrete graphics cards shipped, NVIDIA was the clear market leader, thanks in part to sales of CUDA and GPU-Compute cards used in scientific and data research.  The add-in board market is further composed of three main segments that amount to the 19.03 million boards shipped.  On the high end rests the enthusiast gamer (approx. 9 million sold per year) and GPU-compute markets which exists as lower volume of sales but higher price per card.  The majority of graphics card shipments come from the mainstream market which is a balance of price and volume.  Finally, the workstation segment which is smaller than even the enthusiast gaming market but traditionally sees higher average asking prices for the hardware that is shipped.

JPR estimates that the add-in market will fall 4.5% to $19.8 billion USD despite positive increases in the number of cards shipped due to "a gradual decline in the ASP."

As the chart illustrates, NVIDIA still remains the market juggernaut, shipping 11.25 million cards; however, AMD has made a lot of headway in the past year.  With both the AMD 6950 and Nvidia 560ti proving to be the cards of choice by many gamers worldwide competition is healthy and enthusiasts have only to benefit from the market's positive increases.

Source:

AMD Releases 11.5 Catalyst Drivers, Fixes Many Windows 7 Bugs

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2011 - 02:51 PM |
Tagged: catalyst, amd

AMD has released its latest Catalyst display drivers today. The new 11.5 drivers focus mainly on bug-fixes and interface improvements. The new features of the driver package include improvements to Hydravision for Eyefinity setups:

  • HydraGrid is now awar of user created bezels.
  • HydraGrid now includes an "Automatic Grid" that aligns itself to a user defined Eyefinity display layout.

amd-logo.jpg

Other important aspects of this driver release are bug fixes for the Windows 7 and XP operating systems:

A number of bugs have been fixed for Windows 7, notably:

  • Windows Media Player no longer randomly hangs or displays a black screen after playing VC1 (WMV) video files for over 4 hours.
  • Bioshock no longer displays visual corruption with Vsynch and MLAA enabled.
  • Transcoding MPEG-2 video to H.264 no longer causes an application crash.
  • Transcoding H.264 to AVCHD no longer generates lagging video.

Winows XP on the other hand, has only recieved a single bug fix.  A crossfire issue has been fixed so that Civilization V " no longer stops responding during game launch when Crossfire is enabled."

More information on bug fixes for Windows 7 as well as installation help can be found in the release notes here.

Source: AMD

Optimus for Linux Problem May Be Solved!

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2011 - 10:30 AM |
Tagged: optimus, linux

nv_logo.png

It looks like we have an answer for Optimus, even though it is unofficial support. Linux users have been wondering for almost a year now wether or not we would get Optimus. Now it looks like we have an unofficial answer to these questions in for form of bumblebee.With this feature, even though experimental, we could potentially see an increase of cpu offloading in Linux, such as Firefox web acceleration potentially.

Source: bumblebee

KGPU lets the Linux kernel harness your GPU's power

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 6, 2011 - 05:25 PM |
Tagged: linux, kgpu, gpgpu

PC Per has discussed using the GPU as a massively-parallel augment to the CPU for a very long time to allow the latter to focus on the branching logic (“if/then/else”) and other processes it is good at that GPUs are not. AMD and Intel both have their attempts to bundle the benefits of a GPU on to their CPU parts with their respective technologies. Currently most of the applications outside of the scientific community are gaming and multimedia; however, as the presence of stronger GPUs saturates, we are seeing more and more functions relegate to the GPU.

7-TuxGpu.png

So happy together!

KGPU is an attempt to bring the horsepower of the GPU to the fingertips of the Linux kernel. While the kernel itself will remain a CPU function, the attempt allows the kernel to offload the parallel stuff to the GPU for large speed-ups and keep the CPU free for more. Their current version shows whole multiple speedups of eCryptfs, an encrypted filesystem, in terms of maximum read and write bandwidth by allowing the GPU to deal with the AES cipher.

We should continue to see speedups as tasks that would be perfect for the GPU are finally allowed to be with their true love. Furthermore, as the number of tasks relegated to the GPU increases we should continue to see more and stronger GPUs embedded in PCs which should decrease the fears for PC game developers worried about the number of PCs capable of running their applications. I am sure that is great news to many of our frequent readers.

Source: KGPU Project

Tri-Fire/SLI redux, look at the difference SandyBridge makes!

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | May 6, 2011 - 01:09 PM |
Tagged: tri-fire, crossfire, sli, triple, sandybridge

Not too long ago [H]ard|OCP examined the price to performance ratio between a triple SLI GTX580 system and a Tri-Fire HD6990 and HD6970 and discovered that as far as value goes, NVIDIA could not touch AMD.  A reader of theirs inquired if it was the aging Core i7-920 that was holding the cards back even with the overclock of 3.6GHz.  A SandyBridge system with a Core i7-2600K and an ASUS board with the NF200 bridge chip was used to revisit the performance of the two vendors GPUs.  The result; we can hardly wait for the Z68 boards to come out!

H_Proof.gif

"We have re-tested performance between GTX 580 3-Way SLI and Radeon HD 6990+6970 Tri-Fire with a brand new Sandy Bridge 4.8GHz system. Our readers wanted to know if the CPU speed would improve performance and open up the potential of this triple-GPU performance beasts. To put it succinctly, they were right. The results completely turn the tables upside down and then some."

Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

What is AIDA64 Extreme Edition? Only the new improved replacement for the Everest benchmarking tool

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Systems, Storage | May 4, 2011 - 06:43 PM |
Tagged: ssd, everest, benchmarking, benchmark, aida64, aida

BUDAPEST, Hungary - May 04, 2011 - FinalWire Ltd. today announced the immediate availability of AIDA64 Extreme Edition 1.70 software, a streamlined diagnostic and benchmarking tool for home users; and the immediate availability of AIDA64 Business Edition 1.70 software, an essential network management solution for small and medium scale enterprises.

aida64.jpg

The new AIDA64 release further strengthens its solid-state drive health and temperature monitoring capabilities, and implements support for the latest graphics processors from both AMD and nVIDIA.

New features & improvements

  • LGA1155 B3 stepping motherboards support
  • Preliminary support for AMD “Bulldozer” and “Llano” processors
  • Intel 320, Intel 510, OCZ Vertex 3, Samsung PM810 SSD support
  • GPU details for AMD Radeon HD 6770M, Radeon HD 6790
  • GPU details for nVIDIA GeForce GT 520, GT 520M, GT 550M, GT 555M, GTX 550 Ti, GTX 590

Pricing and Availability
AIDA64 Extreme Edition and AIDA64 Business Edition are available now at www.aida64.com/online-store. Additional information on product features, system requirements, and language versions is available at www.aida64.com/products. Join our Discussion Forum at forums.aida64.com.

AIDA64 license renewal is now available. For more information, visit www.aida64.com/aida64-renewal.
A migration program is available for all EVEREST customers at www.aida64.com/everest-upgrade.

Source: AIDA

Graphics shipments rise 10% despite falling PC sales; NVIDIA share drops

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | May 3, 2011 - 10:37 PM |
Tagged: jpr, nvidia, gpus, amd, Intel

In a mixed report coming from Jon Peddie Research, information about the current state of the GPU world is coming into focus. Despite seeing only 83 million PCs shipping in Q1 2011 (a 5.4% drop compared to Q4 2010), the shipment of GPUs rose by 10.3%. While this no doubt means that just as many in the industry have been predicting, the GPU is becoming more important to the processing and computing worlds, there are several factors that should be considered before taking this news as win for the market as whole.

First, these results include the GPUs found in Intel and AMD’s CPU/GPU combo processors like the Sandy Bridge platforms, AMD’s Fusion APU and the more recent Intel Atom cores as well. If a notebook or desktop system then ships with a discrete solution from AMD or NVIDIA in addition to one of those processors, then the report indicates that two GPUs have shipped. We can assume then that because ALL Sandy Bridge processors include a GPU on them that much of this rise is due to the above consideration. 

nv_logo.png

JPR does warn that there is a concern that this 10.3% rise in GPU shipments (not sales, necessarily) could result in a significant stock overage going in to the second quarter of the year and might stifle shipment numbers for Q2 and Q3 2011. If both AMD and NVIDIA have been stock piling graphics cards on store shelves (you know, due to these continuous low-to-mid-range GPU wars) then this seems like a likely scenario as we go into the mid-year cycle.
 
Looking at individual market share numbers both Intel and AMD gained at the expense of NVIDIA, the lone notable company in this fight without a CPU/GPU platform to fall back on. 
 
jpr-table.png
 
AMD and Intel both saw slight improvements in their market share from Q4 2010 to Q1 2011 (0.6% and 1.9% respectively) while NVIDIA’s dropped by 2.5%. However it is the year-to-year growth that should really scare the executives at NVIDIA; the company has dropped from 28% to 20% of the total GPU shipments while AMD grew 3.3% and Intel improved by 4.8%. 
 
As mentioned above, these numbers look worse than they probably are for NVIDIA. The drop from 28% to 20% is based on unit sales of the total GPUs that JPR counts. Because of drastic increase in CPU/GPU combination parts on the market that number that NVIDIA is now a portion of has increased pretty quickly. What would be more accurate to report NVIDIA’s current state is to see how their discrete sales have compared to AMD’s discrete shipments. Is NVIDIA’s market share in danger because of these changes? Yes. But is it as dire as these JPR results seem to indicate? I don’t believe so. 
 
These types of reports are interesting for us to look at and discuss but sometimes the obtuse nature of the statistics and the lack of detail to break down the results really can change the picture pretty dramatically. More data points are always better but the knowledge to parse them is even more…better.
Source: JPR