AMD discusses "Heterogeneous Computing"

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 22, 2011 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: fusion, amd, AFDS

In a little over three weeks’ time AMD will host their AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 (AFDS): a three-day conference with the hopes of promoting heterogeneous computing amongst developers. We have increasingly seen potential applications of using the parts of your computer outside the standard x86 core over the years though much of it was through NVIDIA’s brand. Building up to the summit, AMD’s DeveloperCentral talked with Lee Howes, parallel computing expert and Member of Technical Staff for Programming Models at AMD, about his upcoming session at AFDS.

20-AFDS.png

I can't get over how much AFDS looks like a diagnosis.

In the short five-question interview, Dr. Howes outlined that the goal of his session is to show developers what to expect, good and bad, from developing for a heterogeneous architecture such as that of an APU. The rest of the interview was spent discussing how heterogeneous computing is currently and will eventually look like. Topics spanned from the slow perceived uptake of parallel computing in the home to the technological limitations of traditional CPUs that APUs and other heterogeneous computing systems look to bypass.

While AFDS is (by its namesake) a developer’s conference it is very much relevant to peer at for the end-user. The support for developers of newer computing architectures will help fuel the cycle of adoption between software and hardware which ends up with a better experience for us. What tasks would you like to see accelerated by heterogeneous computing? Let us know in the comments below.

PCPer v4.0 Giveaway: ASUS GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II Graphics Card

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards | May 22, 2011 - 09:16 PM |
Tagged: gtx 570, giveaway, contest, asus

As you can no doubt tell, PC Perspective got a HUGE and much needed facelift recently to what we are internally calling "PC Perspective v4.0".  I know there are still some kinks to work out and we are actively addressing any feedback from our readers in this comment thread.  

But we want to celebrate the launch of the new site in style!!  Some of our site sponsors have very generously offered up some prizes for us to give out throughout the coming days...

The tenth (!!) prize is a wicked ASUS GeForce GTX 570 DirectCU II card that is a triple-slot design and that supports 3D Vision Surround out of the box!

gtx570cuii.png

What do you have to do to win this wonderful piece of hardware?

Couldn't be easier: post a comment in this post thanking ASUS for its sponsorship of PC Perspective as well as what feature in a graphics card you would most like to see in the future.  Be creative! You should probably have a registered account or at least be sure you include your email address in the appropriate field so we can contact you!

Source: ASUS

KFA2 Launches Two NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 21, 2011 - 03:04 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, kfa2, GTX 560, graphics

large560EXOC_image_3.jpg

Not to be left out of the slew of NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 releases, KFA2 announced two new NVIDIA graphics cards to their current graphics card lineup.  Both are based on the Geforce GTX 560 GPU; however, one card is overclocked and fitted with an aftermarket heatsink and fan combo (the other is a standard single, centered, and shrouded fan design).  Labeled the KFA2 GeForce GTX 560 1GB 256bit and the KFA2 GeForce GTX 560 EX OC 1GB 256bit, the DirectX 11 cards offer the following specifications:

  GeForce GTX 560 1GB 256bit GeForce GTX 560 EX OC 1GB 256bit
CUDA Cores 336 336
GPU Clock 810 MHz 905 MHz
Shader Clock 1620 MHz 1810 MHz
Memory Clock 2004 MHz 2004 MHz
Memory 1 GB GDDR5 on 256-bit bus 1 GB GDDR5 on 256-bit bus
Memory Bandwidth 128.3 GB/s 128.3 GB/s
Texture Fill Rate 45.3 Billion/s 50.6 Billion/s

 

The two new cards seem to be positioned (specifications wise) between purely reference cards and the highest clocked GTX 560 cards of their competitors.  The street price will ultimately determine if they are worth picking up versus other brands with higher clocks or reference clocks but aftermarket cooling.  KFA2 states that the cards will be available online and in retail stores throughout Europe, and are backed by a two year warranty.

Source: KFA2
Author:
Manufacturer: MSI Computers

MSI R6970 Lightning: High Speed, Low Drag

MSI has been on a tear as of late with their video card offerings.  The Twin Frozr II and III series have all received positive reviews, people seem to be buying their products, and the company has taken some interesting turns in how they handle overall design and differentiation in a very crowded graphics marketplace.  This did not happen overnight, and MSI has been a driving force in how the video card business has developed.

r6970_box1.jpg

Perhaps a company’s reputation is best summed up by what the competition has to say about them.  I remember well back in 1999 when Tyan was first considering going into the video card business.  Apparently they were going to release a NVIDIA TnT-2 based card to the marketplace, and attempt to work their way upwards with more offerings.  This particular project was nixed by management.  A few years later Tyan attempted the graphics business again, but this time with some ATI Radeon 9000 series of cards.  Their biggest seller was their 9200 cards, but they also offered their Tachyone 9700 Pro.  In talking with Tyan about where they were, the marketing guy simply looked at me and said, “You know, if we had pursued graphics back in 1999 we might be in the same position that MSI is in now.”

Gigabyte Unveils NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 Overclock Edition Graphics Card

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 19, 2011 - 04:33 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX 560, graphics

Coinciding with the NDA lift on the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560, Gigabyte announced its enthusiast class Overclock Edition graphics card based on new the GTX 560 GPU.

GTX560GigabyteOC.jpg

The new Overclock Edition replaces the reference design's cooler with Gigabyte's own WindForce 2X variant, which they claim reduces the noise of the card under full load to 31db. Further, the heatsink used direct heat pipe technology, which means that the heat pipes that carry heat away from the GPU and into the fins physically contact the GPU itself. Both fans produce 30.5 CFM of airflow to quickly dissipate the heat of the overclocked GTX 560 GPU, Gigabyte was able to clock the card at a 830 MHz GPU clock and a 4008 Mhz memory clock from the factory. Gigabyte claims to improve overclocking capability by 10% to 30% thanks to it's "Ultra Durable" copper PCB technology and power switching enhancements.

The full specification of the GeForce GTX 560 Overclock Edition are as follows:

 

 

Model Number GV-N56GOC-1GI
Core Clock 830 MHz
Shader Clock 1660 MHz
Memory Amount 1 GB
Memory Type GDDR5
Memory Bus 256 bit
Card Bus PCI-E 2.0
Process Technology 40 nm
Card Dimensions 43mm (h) x 238mm (l) x 130mm (w)
Power Requirements Minimum 500 Watt PSU required
DirectX Support 11
Outputs

1x HDMI and Display Port via adapter(s)

1x mini HDMI

2x DVI

1x VGA (via adapter)

 

Gigabyte is a popular motherboard manufacturer for enthusiasts and it seems that they are striving to gain that same level of consumer brand loyalty with their graphics cards.  Do you have a Gigabyte graphics card in your rig?

Source: Gigabyte

The vanilla GTX560 arrives, does it fit well between the GTX460 and the GTX 560 Ti?

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 17, 2011 - 02:14 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GTX560, gtx560 ti

The GTX560 Ti did not receive glowing rewards, not because it didn't perform but because the price was too high compared to the Radeon cards it competes against.  Now with the vanilla card available at $200, and with higher peak pixel fill rates, higher rasterization rates, and more memory bandwidth than the Ti version the card is not simply squeezed into an already tight market segment but actually has some interesting abilities.  The similarly priced Asus Radeon HD 6870 TOP can't keep up with the new GTX560, but the gap is not huge.  The Tech Report recommends waiting a bit before considering this card, they feel it is likely to drop below $200 which would make it a very good deal indeed.

TR_msi560.jpg

"Say hello to Nvidia's latest $199 graphics card. Is this a worthwhile step up from the GeForce GTX 460 1GB, and is it a better deal than AMD's Radeon HD 6870?"

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

Graphics Cards

NVIDIA To Release Updated GTX 590 Cards In June

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 17, 2011 - 01:43 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, hardware, graphics

gtx590.jpg

The current GTX 590

VR-Zone reports that NVIDIA is gearing up to deliver a revised edition GTX 590 in June to combat the overheating problems that some overclockers fell victim too using certain drivers.  PC Perspective did not run into the issue when overclocking their card; however, VR-Zone stated in an earlier article that:

"NVIDIA has sent out a cautionary to their partners regarding possible component damage due to high temperature when running Furmark 1.9 as it bypasses the capping detection. . . .  This is something not able to fix through drivers nor it is just applicable to GeForce GTX 590."

Fortunately for overclockers, NVIDIA is planning to re-engineer aspects of the design, including new inductors, which should help with the over-current protection issues.  This new design will also effect the size and dimensions of the current GTX 590 PCB, which means that current third party heat sinks and water blocks made for the (current) GTX 590 will not fit.

It is nice to see that NVIDIA is sticking by it's technology and updating its hardware to fix issues.  Overclockers especially, will benefit from this updated model.

 

Source: VR-Zone

MSI's Lightning Strikes Again, this time it is a factory overclocked HD6970

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 16, 2011 - 03:40 PM |
Tagged: HD6970, MSI lightning, factory overclocked, msi

MSI's new R6970 Lightning will set you back about $80 more than a stock card which gets you an 80MHz GPU overclock, though the GDDR5 remains at the stock speed of 5.5GHz effective.  Don't turn your nose up right away, the clocks are similar but the PCB is completely redone and all components follow MSI's Military Class II specs which give you a vastly improved platform to crank up the voltage and frequency, helped by the custom cooling solution.  [H]ard|OCP broke 1GHz on the GPU and an additional 280MHz effective on the RAM which noticeably improved their experience.  This is definitely one worth checking out.

H_MSI_lightning_6970.jpg

"MSI's Latest Lightning series, the R6970 Lightning is here, based on an AMD Radeon HD 6970 with 2GB of GDDR5. It is only moderately overclocked out of the box, but its hardware quality may just knock the ball out of the park. Come with us as we test it against the stock Radeon HD 6970 and the GeForce GTX 570."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Tidbits from NVIDIA's Q1 conference call

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile | May 13, 2011 - 06:49 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, conference call

NVIDIA made their quarterly conference call on May 12th which consisted of financial results up to May 1st and questions from financial analysts and investors. NVIDIA chief executive officer Jen-Hsun Huang projected that future revenue from the GPU market would be “flattish”, revenue from the professional market would be “flattish”, and revenue from the consumer market would be “uppish”. Huang did mention that he believes that the GPU market will grow in the future as GPUs become ever more prevalent.

13-1.jpg

How's the green giant doing this quarter? Read on for details.

For the professional market, NVIDIA discussed their intention to continue providing proof-of-concept applications to show the benefit of GPU acceleration which they hope will spur development of GPU accelerated code. Huang repetitively mentioned that the professional market desires abilities like simultaneous simulation and visualization and that a 10% code-rewrite would increase performance 500-1000%, but current uptake is not as fast as they would like. NVIDIA also hinted that GPUs will be pushed in the server space in the upcoming future but did not clarify on what that could be. NVIDIA could simply be stating that Tesla will continue to be a focus for them; they also could be hinting towards applications similar to what we have seen in recent open sourced projects.

For consumers, Huang made note of their presence in the Android market with their support of Honeycomb 3.1 and the upcoming Icecream Sandwich. Questions were posed about the lackluster sales of Tegra tablets but Huang responded stating that the first generation of tablets were deceptively undesirable due to cost of 3G service. He went on to say that the second wave of tablets will be cheaper and more available in retail stores with Wi-Fi only models more accessible to consumers.

13-2.jpg

nVihhhhhhhhhdia. (Image by Google)

The bulk of the conference call was centered on nVidia’s purchase of Icera though not a lot of details were released being that the purchase is yet to be finalized. The main points of note is that as of yet, while NVIDIA could integrate Icera’s modems onto their Tegra mobile processors, they have no intention of doing so. They also stated they currently have no intention of jumping into the other mobile chip markets such as GPS and near-field communications due to the lesser significance and greater number of competitors.

13-3.jpg

I think the new owners like the color on the logo.

The last point of note from the conference call was that they expect that Project Denver, NVIDIA’s ARM-based processor, to be about 2 generations away from accessible. They noted that they cannot comment for Microsoft but they do reiterate their support for Windows 8 and its introduction of the ARM architecture. The general theme throughout the call was that NVIDIA was confident in their position as a player in the industry. If each of their projects works out as they plan, it could be a very well justified attitude.

Source: NVIDIA

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