AMD Releases New Generation of Radeon Pro Workstation Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 09:32 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, WX 5100, WX 4100, workstation, radeon pro, radeon, quadro, Polaris, amd

The professional card market is a lucrative one.  For many years NVIDIA has had a near strangle-hold on it with their Quadro series of cards.  Offering features and extended support far beyond that of their regular desktop cards, Quadros became the go-to cards for many professional applications.  AMD has not been overlooking this area though and have had a history of professional cards that have also included features and support not seen in the standard desktop arena.  AMD has slowly been chipping away at Quadro’s marketshare and they hope that today’s announcement will help further that particular goal.

It has now been around five months since the initial release of the Polaris based graphics cards from AMD.  Featuring the 4th generation GCN architecture and fabricated on Samsung’s latest 14nm process, the RX 4x0 series of chips have proven to be a popular option in the sub-$250 range of cards.  These products may not have been the slam-dunk that many were hoping from AMD, they have kept the company competitive in terms of power and performance.  AMD has also seen a positive impact from the sales of these products on the overall bottom line.

Today AMD is announcing three new professional cards based on the latest Polaris based GPUs.  These range in power and performance from a sub 50 watt part up to a very reasonable 130 watts.  These currently do not feature the SSD that was shown off earlier this year.

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The lowest end offering is the Radeon Pro WX 4100.  This is a low profile, single slot card that consumes less than 50 watts.  It features 1024 stream units, which is greater than that of the desktop RX 460’s 896.  The WX 4100 features 2.4 TFLOPS of performance while the RX 460 is at 2.2 TFLOPS.  AMD did not specify exactly what chips were used in the professional cards, but the assumption here is that this one is a fully enabled Polaris 11.

The power consumption of this card is probably the most impressive part.  Also of great interest is the DP 1.4 support and the four outputs.  Finally the card supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz.  This is a small, quiet, and cool running part that features the entire AMD Radeon Enterprise software support of the professional market.

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The next card up is the Pro WX 5100.  This features a sub 75 watt GPU that runs 1792 stream units.  We guess that this chip is a cut down Polaris 10.  On the desktop side it is similar to the RX 470, but that particular card features more stream units and a faster clockspeed.  The RX 470 is rated at 4.9 TFLOPS while the WX 5100 is at 3.9 TFLOPS.  Fewer stream units and a lower clockspeed allow it to hit that sub-75 watt figure.

It supports the same number of outputs as the 4100, but they are full sized DP.  The card is full sized but still only single slot due to the very conservative TDP.

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The final card is the WX 7100.  This is based on the fully enabled Polaris 10 GPU and is physically similar to the RX 480.  They both feature 2304 stream units, but the WX 7100 is slightly clocked down from the RX 480 as it features 5.7 TFLOPS of performance vs. 5.8 TFLOPS.  The card is rated below 130 watts TDP which is about 20 watts lower than a standard RX 480.  AMD did not explain to us how they were able to lower the TDP of this card, but it could be simple binning of parts or an upcoming revision of Polaris 10 to improve thermals.

This card is again full sized but single slot.  It features the same 4 DP connectors as the WX 5100 and the full monitor support that the 1.4 standard entails.

These products will see initial availability for this month.  Plans may of course change and they will be introduced slightly later.  Currently the 7100 and 4100 are expected after the 10th while the 5100 should show up on the 18th.

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AMD is also releasing the Radeon Pro Software.  This is essentially their professional driver development that improves upon features, stability, and performance over time.  AMD aims to release new drivers for this market every 4th Thursday each quarter.

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This is certainly an important area for AMD to address with their new cards and this updated software scheme.  NVIDIA has made a pretty penny over the years from their Quadro stack due to the extremely robust margins for these cards.  The latest generation of AMD Radeon Pro WX cards look to stack up favorably against the latest products from NVIDIA.

The WX 7100 will come in at a $799 price point, while the WX 5100 and WX 4100 will hit $499 and $399 respectively.

Source: AMD

Phoronix Tests NVIDIA GPUs OpenGL vs Vulkan on Linux

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 5, 2016 - 08:19 PM |
Tagged: linux, DOTA 2, valve, nvidia, vulkan, opengl

Phoronix published interesting benchmark results for OpenGL vs Vulkan on Linux, across a wide spread of thirteen NVIDIA GPUs. Before we begin, the CPU they chose was an 80W Intel Xeon E3-1280 v5, which fits somewhere between the Skylake-based Core i7-6700k and Core i7-6700 (no suffix). You may think that Xeon v5 would be based on Broadwell, but, for some reason, Intel chose the E3-1200 series to be based on Skylake. Regardless, the choice of CPU will come in to play.

They will apparently follow up this article with AMD results.

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A trend arose throughout the whole article. At 1080p, everything, from the GTX 760 to the GTX 1080, was rendering at ~101 FPS on OpenGL and ~115 FPS on Vulkan. The obvious explanation is that the game is 100% CPU-bound on both APIs, but Vulkan is able to relax the main CPU thread enough to squeeze out about 14% more frames.

The thing is, the Xeon E3-1280 v5 is about as high-end of a mainstream CPU as you can get. It runs the most modern architecture and it can achieve clocks up to 4 GHz on all cores. DOTA 2 can get harsh on the CPU when a lot of units are on screen, but this is a little surprisingly low. Then again, I don't have any experience running DOTA 2 benchmarks, so maybe it's a known thing, or maybe even a Linux-version thing?

Moving on, running the game at 4K, the results get more interesting. In GPU-bound scenarios, NVIDIA's driver shows a fairly high performance gain on OpenGL. Basically all GPUs up to the GTX 1060 run at a higher frame rate in OpenGL, only switching to Vulkan with the GTX 1070 and GTX 1080, where OpenGL hits that 101 FPS ceiling and Vulkan goes a little above.

Again, it will be interesting to see how AMD fairs against this line of products, both in Vulkan and OpenGL. Those will apparently come “soon”.

Source: Phoronix

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.2 Hotfix Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 4, 2016 - 05:57 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, crimson

AMD has released another hotfix driver, just a day after releasing 16.11.1. This version has a single listed change: “Improved Shader Cache storage limit”. I'm not sure why the company decided to release this update so abruptly, since I'm not aware of any critical issue that relies upon it, but there's certainly nothing wrong with rapidly releasing optional software. I'm guessing at least one new game has a performance issue with the previous maximum, though.

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If this has been an issue for you, and you are able to install drivers that are unsigned, it's available.

Source: AMD

Call of Duty: Radeon Crimson Remastered

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 04:27 PM |
Tagged: amd, Crimson Edition 16.11.1

By the time you read this you should be able to grab the new Radeon Crimson Edition 16.11.1 driver from AMD.  While mostly focused on the new CoD games there are also some fixes for existing games.  Check here for the version which is right for you.

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Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD’s revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements.

Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.1 Highlights

  • Support For: Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered

New AMD CrossFire profile added for DirectX®11:

  • Titanfall 2

Fixed Issues

  • AMD XConnect Technology will now allow Microsoft Office applications to migrate to iGPU on unplug.
  • Flickering may be observed on some surfaces in a few maps or locations in Battlefield 1 in AMD CrossFire mode.
  • Radeon R9 390 graphics series may experience a crash or application hang when running Unigine Heaven using OpenGL.
  • The Radeon WattMan feature may intermittently display a Radeon Software popup error regarding Radeon WattMan for non-supported products.
  • The Division may experience an application freeze or hang when running in AMD CrossFire mode after extended periods of play.
  • OBS screen capture may stutter after extended periods of use while capturing video and watching or streaming content in a web browser.

Source: AMD

VRMark arrives

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | November 3, 2016 - 01:48 PM |
Tagged: VRMark, Futuremark, Blue Room, Orange Room, VR

Futuremark's VRMark is available today via Steam or directly from Futuremark.  As with 3DMark the basic version is free while the Advanced Edition is $20, with a 25% discount for the first week of its release.

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The difference between the two versions is the inclusion of the Blue Room in addition to the Orange Room; the Blue Room is for high end systems which surpass the basic VR requirements and need heavier loads to test.  The two rooms can be used to run either a standard benchmark or to enter Experience Mode which lets you wander the room on your own to get a feel for the headsets reprojection performance as well as spatial audio and an interactive flashlight to test lighting.

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VRMark Basic Edition - free download

  • See if your PC meets the performance requirements for HTC Vive and Oculus Rift
  • Test your system's VR readiness with the Orange Room benchmark
  • Explore the Orange Room in Experience mode

VRMark Advanced Edition - $19.99

  • Unlock the Blue Room benchmark for high-performance PCs
  • See detailed results and hardware monitoring charts
  • Explore both rooms in Experience mode
  • Make tests more or less demanding with custom settings.

VRMark comes with two VR benchmark tests, which you can run on your desktop monitor, no headset required, or on a connected HMD. There is also a free-roaming Experience mode that lets you judge the quality of a system's VR performance with your own eyes.

The performance requirements for VR games are much higher than for typical PC games. So if you're thinking about buying an HTC Vive or an Oculus Rift this holiday, wouldn't it be good to know that your PC is ready for VR?

VRMark includes two VR benchmark tests that run on your monitor, no headset required. At the end of each test, you'll see whether your PC is VR-ready, and if not, how far it falls short.

Orange Room benchmark
The VRMark Orange Room benchmark shows the impressive level of detail that can be achieved on a PC that meets the recommended hardware requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. If your PC passes this test, it's ready for the two most popular VR systems available today.

Blue Room benchmark
The VRMark Blue Room benchmark is a more demanding test with a greater level of detail. It is the ideal benchmark for comparing high-end systems with specs above the recommended requirements for the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift. A PC that passes this test will be able to run the latest VR games at the highest settings, and may even be VR-ready for the next generation of VR headsets.

Results and reporting
After running a benchmark, you'll see clearly whether your PC is VR-ready or not. To pass, your PC has to meet or exceed the target frame rate without dropping frames. You also get an overall score, which you can use to compare systems.

Hardware monitoring charts show how your PC performed frame-by-frame. There are charts for frame rate, GPU frequency, GPU load, and GPU temperature.

Experience mode
VR headsets use clever techniques to compensate for missed frames. With Experience mode, you can judge the quality of the VR experience with your own eyes. VRMark Experience mode features free movement, spatial audio, and an interactive flashlight for lighting up the details of the scene. Explore each scene in your own time in VR or on your monitor.

Source: Futuremark

The down and dirty on the hot and bothered ACX 3.0 cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 07:10 PM |
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX1070, GTX1060, GTX 1080, fail, evga, ACX 3.0

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Checklist time readers, do you have the following:

  • A GTX 1060/1070/1080
  • Which is from EVGA
  • With an ACX 3.0 cooler
  • With one of the model numbers above

If not, make like Bobby McFerrin.

If so, you have a reason to be concerned and EVGA offers their apologies and more importantly, a fix.  EVGA's tests, which emulate the ones performed at Tom's show that the thermal temperature of the PWM and memory was just marginally within spec.  That is a fancy way of saying that in certain circumstances the PWM was running just short of causing a critical thermal incident, also know as catching on fire and letting out the magic smoke.  They claim that this was because the testing focused on GPU temperature and the lowest acoustic levels possible and did not involve measuring the heat produced on memory or the VRM which is, as they say, a problem.

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You have several choices of remedy from EVGA, please remember that you should reach out directly to their support, not NVIDIA's.  You can try requesting a refund from the store you purchased it at but your best bet is EVGA.

The first option is a cross-ship RMA.  Contact EVGA as a guest or with your account to set up an RMA and they will ship you a replacement card with a new VBIOS which will not have this issue and you won't need to send yours back until the replacement arrives.

You can flash to the new VBIOS which will adjust the fan-speed curve to ensure that your fans are running higher than 30% and will provide sufficient cooling to additional portions of the GPU.  Your card will be louder but it will also be less likely to commit suicide in a dramatic fashion.

Lastly you can request a thermal pad kit, which EVGA suggests is unnecessary but certainly sounds like a good idea especially as it is free although requires you sign up for an EVGA account.  Hopefully in the spare seconds currently available to the team we can get our hands on an ACX 3.0 cooled Pascal card with the VBIOS update and thermal pads so we can verify this for you.

This issue should not have happened and does reflect badly on certain factors of EVGA's testing.  Their response has been very appropriate on the other hand, if you are affected then you can get a replacement card with no issues or you can fix the issue yourself.  Any cards shipped, though not necessarily purchased, after Nov. 1st will have the new VBIOS so be careful if you are sticking with a new EVGA Pascal card.

Source: EVGA

NVIDIA Releases 375.76 Hotfix Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 2, 2016 - 04:01 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

The release of NVIDIA's GeForce 375.57 graphics drivers wasn't the most smooth. It introduced a few bugs into the package, which was likely due to all of the games that were coming out at the time. One issue introduced artifacts in animated GIFs, which could introduce seconds worth of black blotches. This was supposed to be fixed in the next WHQL driver, but it slipped. Since the next WHQL driver is looking to be a couple of weeks out, NVIDIA released a hotfix.

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The driver also fixes “occasional flicker on high refresh rate monitors”. I'm not sure how old this bug is. I've heard some people complain about it with recent drivers, but Allyn and I have noticed weird snowy flickers for several months now. (Allyn actually took slow motion video of one occurrence back in May.) I guess we'll see if this is the same issue.

You can pick up 375.76 Hotfix from NVIDIA's CustHelp.

Source: NVIDIA

MSI Is Turning Thirty Years Old with Thirty Giveaways

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Motherboards | November 1, 2016 - 05:23 PM |
Tagged: msi, giveaway, giveaways, pc gaming

To celebrate their 30th anniversary, MSI is having a massive giveaway. Each day, from today (November 1st) to November 30th, you are able to answer a trivia question to be entered in that day's drawing. Being that it's MSI, they are also requiring that you capitalize every letter of your answer. I'm not joking; that really is in their How to Enter process. You also need to follow MSI and HyperX on Twitter to enter but, although the form is through Facebook, it looks like you do not need a Facebook account. I could be wrong about that last part, though.

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Also, winning a prize does not exclude you from winning future prizes. Don't bother trying to game the system, like waiting to enter until the “good prizes” but not the “great prizes” that will get too many entries, etc. Try every day if you can, even if you already won previously.

The prize for today is the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GAMING 4G from MSI, but they vary wildly from day to day. Even though NVIDIA is a partner in this giveaway, along with HyperX and Intel, there are even some AMD cards scattered throughout the month. I mean, it makes sense: MSI sells AMD cards. Their contest page claims that the total prize pool is up to $14,000 USD.

Check out the contest page for more details, and enter at the button below the list of prizes.

Source: MSI

DX12 Multi-GPU scaling up and running on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 1, 2016 - 11:57 AM |
Tagged: video, rx 480, readon, nvidia, multi-gpu, gtx 1060, geforce, dx12, deus ex: mankind divided, amd

Last week a new update was pushed out to Deus Ex: Mankind Divided that made DX12 a part of the main line build and also integrated early support for multi-GPU support under DX12. I wanted to quickly see what kind of scaling it provided as we still have very few proof points on the benefit of running more than one graphics card with games utilizing the DX12 API.

As it turns out, the current build and driver combination only shows scaling on the AMD side of things. NVIDIA still doesn't have DX12 multi-GPU support enabled at this point for this title.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
    • Driver: 16.10.2
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB
    • Driver: 375.63

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Not only do we see great scaling in terms of average frame rates, but using PresentMon for frame time measurment we also see that the frame pacing is consistent and provides the user with a smooth gaming experience.

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PowerColor's Devil Box, a laptop dock with space for a GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 31, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: powercolor, devil box, external gpu

Thunderbolt 3, when properly implemented, provides enough bandwidth to make external GPUs possible.  The rather large Devil Box dock offers all the connectivity generally found in a docking station but can also handle even the most recently released GPUs.  Overclockers Club tested out the effectiveness of the Devil Box with an RX 480, comparing the performance of the card when installed internally and externally.  As you would reasonably expect the performance is slower over Thunderbolt, by a fair margin in most cases but not as much in the DX12 Ashes of the Singularity.  Drop by to see the full review and ponder if adding an external desktop GPU to your laptop is interesting enough for to you invest in.

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"If you are using a laptop, you get single connection to everything you need via Thunderbolt 3. External storage, connecting USB peripherals, Gigabit LAN connectivity, display output, and charging all through one cable. Pricing will come in at $375 US for just the Devil Box enclosure and included Thunderbolt 3 40Gbps cable. Add in the cost of a good, solid $200 GPU and you fast approach $600."

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