AMD Celebrates Anniversary of Radeon Technologies Group

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | September 14, 2016 - 09:55 PM |
Tagged: rtg, radeon technologies group, Polaris, crimson, amd radeon, amd

It has now been a year since the formation of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group and the graphics driven division has proven itself rather successful. Looking back with hindsight, AMD's new graphics division has enjoyed several wins with new products and advancements in driver support reclaiming market share from NVIDIA and new initiatives advancing VR, HDR, and open source visual effects.

Radeon Technologies Group.jpg

Specifically, the Radeon Technologies Group, led by Raja Koduri, has managed to launch its new "Polaris" graphics architecture based on a 14nm FinFET process with the RX 400 series for consumers and the Radeon Pro Duo, Radeon Pro WX series, and Radeon Pro SSG (Solid State Graphics) for professionals. The company asl hit a milestone on FreeSync monitor design wins with a total of 101 displays launched to date.

Along with actual hardware, the graphics division has shaken up branding by rolling out new driver software under the Radeon Crimson Edition brand (with 21 driver releases since release) and dropping FirePro in favor of carrying over the Radeon name to create new Radeon Pro branding for its professional series of graphics cards. Driver support has also been enhanced on Linux and the AMDGPU-Pro driver works for RX 400 series.

Further, the Radeon Technologies Group launched its GPUOpen initiative back in December to foster the creation and advancement of free and open source visual effects and productivity code that developers are free to download, modify, and share.

Speaking of market share, AMD has managed to claw back some discrete GPU market share from a lowly 18% of GPUs in Q2 2015 to nearly 30% last quarter (Q2'16). That is a very respectable jump in just a year's time especially against NVIDIA's successful Pascal launches helped both by the price/performance of RX 400 as well as much needed focus on improving driver quality and timeliness of releases. 

Where does this leave AMD and its RTG? Honestly, the graphics division is in a much better place than it was last year and it is in a decent position to survive and make a difference. There are still many unknowns and just as AMD's processor division is dependent on a successful Zen release, the graphics division will need Vega to be a hit in order for AMD to get wins on the high end and compete with NVIDIA on the flagship and performance fronts. They will further need Vega to update their professional series of cards many of which are still using the company's Fiji architecture which is not as power efficient as Pascal or future Volta (the competition).

With that said, the team had solid wins since their formation and are gearing up for the future. According to the announcement, the Radeon Technologies Group will be focusing on pushing virtual reality (VR) and HDR (high dynamic range) in gaming by working with developers, improving drivers, adding to their GPUOpen software collection, and launching new products.

From the press release:

"We’re passionate about perfecting pixels and delivering an unrivaled gaming experience for our community, and uncompromising power and creative freedom for developers and content creators. And if you think our first year was exciting, wait until you see what RTG has lined up for the future."

In the near future, Raja Koduri told Venture Beat to expect VR backpacks to be on show at CES in January and to look out for mobile Polaris graphics cards. Also, Radeon Crimson Edition may be incorporating features from recently acquired startup HiAlgo who developed software to dynamically monitor gameplay and adjust the resolution to maintain maximum frame rates and prevent overheating during long game sessions. One of their techniques called HiAlgo Switch would allow gamers to switch from full to half resolution (and back again) at the press of a hot-key button so as to keep FPS high if a gamer anticipates they are about to enter a demanding area that would normally result in low frame rates. While these techniques are not very important for desktop gaming (especially the CPU/GPU limiter to prevent overheating), all three would come in handy for mobile gamers using laptops with discrete cards or especially APUs.

I am looking forward to seeing where Raja and the RTG team go from here and what they have in store for AMD graphics.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Releases 370.28 Drivers for Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 9, 2016 - 03:59 AM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers, linux

Unfortunately, I don't tend to notice when Linux drivers get released; it's something I want to report more frequently on. Luckily, this time, I heard about NVIDIA's 370.28 graphics drivers while they were still fresh. This one opens up overclocking (and underclocking) for GeForce 10-series GPUs, although NVIDIA (of course) mentions that this is “at the user's own risk”. It also fixes a bunch of Vulkan bugs.

7-TuxGpu.png

Many of these fixes were in the previous, but beta-class drivers, 370.23. It, like 370.28, also includes experimental support for PRIME Synchronization. PRIME handles choosing which GPU drives a given display, which may be different from the GPU that is rendering that image. I'm not too familiar with the system, and I've heard some jokes from the Linux community over the last couple of years about its almost vaporware-like status, but I don't have any personal experience with it.

370.28 is available for 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Linux on their website.

Source: NVIDIA

NVIDIA Launches GeForce Experience 3.0

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 7, 2016 - 08:02 PM |
Tagged: dirty pool, nvidia, geforce experience, geforce

Update (September 7th @ 9:34pm): It's been pointed out in our comments that the new GeForce Experience cannot be used without logging in. It supports NVIDIA, Google, and Facebook accounts.

It's been in Beta for a while, but NVIDIA has just officially launched their new GeForce Experience application. The release version is 3.0.5.22, so be sure to check for updates if you were in the beta and your settings panel shows an earlier version. Also, there's an “allow experimental features” checkbox right under the version number, too, also in the settings panel. It defaults to on for me, so you might want to take a look if you use GeForce Experience for anything professional (ex: Twitch streaming).

Anywho, the new version runs a lot better for me than the previous one. I used to have quite long load times, often literally in the minutes, with version 2. With version 3, it often pops up in less than a second, or maybe a couple of seconds at the worst.

Obviously, if you don't use GeForce Experience, then you don't really need to update. WHQL drivers can still be downloaded from their website (although installing drivers through GeForce Experience 3.0 has been fairly bug-free for me) and most of its other features can be obtained with other applications, like OBS Studio. That said, it's free and pretty good, so it's worth giving it a try.

Source: NVIDIA

The Strix strikes again, Asus' ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 7, 2016 - 03:41 PM |
Tagged: GTX 1080 STRIX GAMING, asus, GTX 1080, aerogel

ASUS has updated their GTX 1080 Strix with a few more features than the previous models in this family.  The aesthetics are a bit different but there is more to the card than that, hidden under the front edge of the card are two four pin fan headers which allow you to connect two case fans to the card which will react according to the heat load on the GPU.  The new DirectCU cooler has five copper heatpipes and the PCB has eight-plus-two power-phases.  There are two models, the ROG Strix-GTX1080-A8G-Gaming and the ROG Strix-GTX1080-O8G-Gaming, with core speeds of 1670/1809MHz and 1759/1898MHz respectively.  The Tech Report tested out the first of those two cards, see how it matches up to the competition here.

side.jpg

"Asus' graphics cards are favorites of ours at TR, so we were excited when the ROG Strix GeForce GTX 1080 landed in our labs. We put it to the test to see whether Asus gave Pascal a good set of wings."

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

Graphics Cards

Rumor: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 GPU-Z Screenshot

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 05:45 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, pascal, gtx 1050, geforce

I don't know why people insist on encoding screenshots from form-based windows in JPEG. You have very little color variation outside of text, which is typically thin and high-contrast from its surroundings. JPEG's Fourier Transform will cause rippling artifacts in the background, which should be solid color, and will almost definitely have a larger file size. Please, everyone, at least check to see how big a PNG will be before encoding it as JPEG. (In case you notice that I encoded it in JPEG too, that's because re-compressing JPEG artifacts makes PNG's file-size blow up, forcing me to actually need to use JPEG.)

nvidia-2016-gtx1050leak-benchlife.jpg

It also makes it a bit more difficult to tell whether a screenshot has been manipulated, because the hitches make everything look suspect. Regardless, BenchLife claims to have a leaked GPU-Z result for the GeForce GTX 1050. They claim that it will be using the GP107 die at 75W, although the screenshot claims neither of these. If true, this means that it will not be a further cut-down version of GP106, as seen in the two GTX 1060 parts, which would explain a little bit why they wanted both of them to remain in the 1060 level of branding. (Although why they didn't call the 6GB version the 1060 Ti is beyond me.)

What the screenshot does suggest, though, is that it will have 4GB of GDDR5 memory, on a 128-bit bus. It will have 768 shaders, the same as the GTX 950, although clocked about 15% higher (boost vs boost) and 15W lower, bringing it back into the range of PCIe bus power (75W). That doesn't mean that it will not have a six-pin external power connector, but that could be the case, like the 750 Ti.

This would give it about 2.1 TeraFLOPs of performance, which is on part with the GeForce GTX 660 from a few generations ago, as well as the RX 460, which is also 75W TDP.

Source: Benchlife

IFA 2016: AMD Announces Radeon ProRender

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 6, 2016 - 02:53 AM |
Tagged: radeon, firepro, amd

AMD is apparently interested in supporting open-source, professional graphics. For instance, the Blender Foundation is interviewing potential hires based on a potential deal with the CPU and graphics vendor. They have also open-sourced a bunch of technologies through their GPUOpen Initiative, such as the Radeon Rays (formerly FireRays) library.

amd-2016-firerender-watch.png

This time, at IFA 2016, they released the Radeon ProRender, which used to be called FireRender. This is a plug-in for multiple 3D applications to render high-quality, raytraced images. The open-source, third-party renderer is currently available for 3D Studio Max, in beta for Maya, Rhinoceros, and Solidworks, and coming soon for Blender. While Cycles is pretty good, the potential for cross-pollination is interesting for the future of open 3D development.

We can't go wrong with more options.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Announces a Fallout 4 Mod

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 07:50 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, gameworks, fallout 4, pc gaming

Vault 1080, which is a terrible pun by the way, is a free mod of Fallout 4 that is developed by NVIDIA Lightspeed Studios. It is designed to show off GameWorks technologies, such as volumetric lighting and HBAO+, more heavily than Bethesda did with the base game. They claim that the content lasts more than an hour, which is pretty decent for a free expansion.

It will launch on the first day of PAX West: September 2nd.

If you're wondering why NVIDIA has a game development studio, they are mostly responsible for bringing content from the PC to their Shield devices, such as Half-Life 2 and Portal. They also created NVIDIA's VR Funhouse demo, which was also release for free to show off GameWorks (such as NVIDIA Flow and VRWorks Audio) for the HTC Vive. Basically, they develop games (and now game content) to make NVIDIA's hardware more appealing.

Source: NVIDIA

If you don't Ottoman-tically update your drivers, Radeon 16.8.3 has just arrived

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 06:09 PM |
Tagged: radeon 16.8.3, crimson, amd

Similar to the release yesterday from NVIDIA, AMD's Crimson 16.8.3 hotfix has been timed for release with Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and the Battlefield 1 Beta.  This particular update will add Crossfire profiles for both games and also fixes an unfortunate bug from the previous release which occasionally caused a static, albeit colourful screen over top of your game.  Unfortunately, the Gaming Evolved overlay launch problem still exists, as does the workaround. 

radeon-crimson.jpg

If you do plan on submitting bug reports whilst trying out the new Battlefield, please do head on over and upgrade so the devs are not working on issues which are already resolved.

Source: AMD

Testing the community developed RADV driver against AMDGPU-PRO

Subject: Graphics Cards | August 31, 2016 - 05:38 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, open source, linux, RADV, graphics driver

As of yet, AMD has not delivered the open-source Radeon Vulkan driver originally slated to arrive early this year, instead relying on their current proprietary driver.  That has not stopped a team of plucky programmers from creating RADV, utilizing the existing AMDGPU LLVM compiler back-end and Intel's work with Mesa NIR intermediate representation to pass to LLVM IR.  You won't get Gallium3D support, ironically RADV is too close to the metal for that to work.

Phoronix just wrapped up testing of the new driver, looking at performance for The Talos Principal and DOTA 2, contrasting the open source driver with the closed source AMDGPU-PRO.  RADV is not quite 4k ready but at lower resolutions it proves very competitive.

image.php_.jpg

"With word coming out last week that the RADV open-source Vulkan driver can now render Dota 2 correctly, I've been running some tests the past few days of this RADV Vulkan driver compared to AMD's official (but currently closed-source) Vulkan driver bundled with the AMDGPU-PRO Vulkan driver."

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

Graphics Cards

 

Source: Phoronix

Battlefield 1 Beta is out, as is the GeForce 372.70 driver

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 30, 2016 - 12:46 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce 372.70, driver

NVIDIA continues with their Game Ready driver program, releasing the GeForce 372.70 driver, hand crafted in the new world by artisanal engineers to bring enhanced support to World of Warcraft: Legion, Battlefield 1: Open Beta, Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, and Quantum Break.  There is not much to see in the release notes, although you can now enjoy Deus Ex in glorious 3D vision assuming you have the monitor and glasses.

HiPelly.PNG

If you are testing the new Battlefield you should consider updating, one would suppose the bug reports submitted using this driver will be more beneficial to the developers than an older release.  You know the drill, grab them from GeForce.com or NVIDIA.com.

Source: NVIDIA