MSI Launches Radeon RX 580 Armor MK2 Graphics Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | February 3, 2018 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: RX 580, msi, GDDR5, factory overclocked, amd, 8gb

MSI is updating its Radeon RX 580 Armor series with a new MK2 variant (in both standard and OC editions) that features an updated cooler with red and black color scheme and a metal backplate along with Torx 2.0 fans.

MSI Radeon RX 580 Armor MK2 OC Graphics Card.png

The graphics card is powered by a single 8-pin PCI-E power connection and has two DisplayPort, two HDMI, and one DVI display output. MSI claims the MK2 cards use its Military Class 4 hardware including high end solid capacitors. The large heatsink features three copper heatpipes and a large aluminum fin stack. It appears that the cards are using the same PCB as the original Armor series but it is not clear from MSI’s site if they have dome anything different to the power delivery.

The RX 580 Polaris GPU is running at a slight factory overclock out of the box with a boost clock of up to 1353 MHz (reference is 1340) for the standard edition and at up to 1366 MHz for the RX 580 Armor MK2 OC Edition. The OC edition can further clock up to 1380 MHz when run in OC mode using the company’s software utility (enthusiasts can attempt to go beyond that but MSi makes no guarantees). Both cards come with 8GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at the reference 8GHz.

MSI did not release pricing or availability but expect them to be difficult to find and for well above MSRP when they are in stock  If you have a physical Microcenter near you, it might be worth watching for one of these cards there to have a chance of getting one closer to MSRP.

Source: MSI

Up next on things you can't have, the GIGABYTE AORUS GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce Xtreme

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 30, 2018 - 04:57 PM |
Tagged: gigabyte, aorus, gtx 1080 ti, waterforce extreme edition, watercooling, factory overclocked

On the odd occasion it is in stock, the GIGABYTE AORUS GTX 1080 Ti Waterforce Xtreme will cost you $1300 or more, about twice what the MSRP is.  The liquid cooled card does come with overclocking, Gaming mode offers 1607MHz Base and 1721MHz Boost Clock, OC mode is 1632MHz Base and 1746MHz Boost Clock.  [H]ard|OCP managed to hit an impressive 2038MHz Base, 2050MHz Boost with 11.6GHz VRAM.  Check out the full review to see what that did for its performance.

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"GIGABYTE has released a brand new All-In-One liquid cooled GeForce GTX 1080 Ti video card with the AORUS Waterforce Xtreme Edition video card. This video card gives the Corsair Hydro GFX liquid cooled video card some competition, with a higher out-of-box clock speed we’ll see how fast this video card is and if there is any room left for overclocking."

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

Graphics Cards

 

Source: [H]ard|OCP

SK Hynix Launches Its 8Gb GDDR6 Memory Running at 14 Gbps

Subject: Graphics Cards, Memory | January 24, 2018 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: SK Hynix, graphics memory, gddr6, 8gb, 14Gbps

SK Hynix recently updated its product catalog and announced the availability of its eight gigabit (8 Gb) GDDR6 graphics memory. The new chips come in two SKUs and three speed grades with the H56C8H24MJR-S2C parts operating at 14 Gbps and 12 Gbps and the H56C8H24MJR-S0C operating at 12 Gbps (but at higher voltage than the -S2C SKU) and 10 Gbps. Voltages range from 1.25V for 10 Gbps and either 1.25V or 1.35V for 12 Gbps to 1.35V for 14 Gbps. Each 8 Gb GDDR6 memory chip holds 1 GB of memory and can provide up to 56 GB/s of per-chip bandwidth.

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While SK Hynix has a long way to go before competing with Samsung’s 18 Gbps GDDR6, its new chips are significantly faster than even its latest GDDR5 chips with the company working on bringing 9 Gbps and 10 Gbps GDDR5 to market. As a point of comparison, its fastest 10 Gbps GDDR5 would have a per chip bandwidth of 40 GB/s versus its 14 Gbps GDDR6 at 56 GB/s. A theoretical 8GB graphics card with eight 8 Gb chips running at 10 Gbps on a 256-bit memory bus would have maximum bandwidth of 320 GB/s. Replacing the GDDR5 with 14 Gbps GDDR6 in the same eight chip 256-bit bus configuration, the graphics card would hit 448 GB/s of bandwidth. In the Samsung story I noted that the Titan XP runs 12 8 Gb GDDR5X memory chips at 11.4 Gbps on a 384-bit bus for bandwidth of 547 GB/s. Replacing the G5X with GDDR6 would ramp up the bandwidth to 672 GB/s if running the chips at 14 Gbps.

Theoretical Memory Bandwidth
Chip Pin Speed Per Chip Bandwidth 256-bit bus 384-bit bus 1024-bit (one package) 4096-bit (4 packages)
10 Gbps 40 GB/s 320 GB/s 480 GB/s    

12 Gbps

48 GB/s 384 GB/s 576 GB/s    
14 Gbps 56 GB/s 448 GB/s 672 GB/s    
16 Gbps 64 GB/s 512 GB/s 768 GB/s    
18 Gbps 72 GB/s 576 GB/s 864 GB/s    
HBM2 2 Gbps 256 GB/s     256 GB/s 1 TB/s

GDDR6 is still a far cry from High Bandwidth Memory levels of performance, but it is much cheaper and easier to produce. With SK Hynix ramping up production and Samsung besting the fastest 16 Gbps G5X, it is likely that the G5X stop-gap will be wholly replaced with GDDR6 and things like the upgraded 10 Gbps GDDR5 from SK Hynix will pick up the low end. As more competition enters the GDDR6 space, prices should continue to come down and adoption should ramp up for the new standard with the next generation GPUs, game consoles, network devices, ect. using GDDR6 for all but the highest tier prosumer and enterprise HPC markets.

Also read:

AMD Hires Two Graphics Execs to Help Tackle NVIDIA

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 23, 2018 - 05:10 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, radeon technologies group, rtg

The following story was originally posted on ShroutResearch.com.

AMD announced today that it has hired two new executives to run its graphics division after the departure of Radeon Technologies Group’s previous lead. Raja Koduri left AMD in November to join Intel and launch its new Core and Visual Computing group, creating a hole in the leadership of this critical division at AMD. CEO Lisa Su filled in during Koduri’s sabbatical and subsequent exit, but the company had been searching for the right replacements since late last year.

Appointed as the senior vice president and GM of the Radeon Technologies Group, Mike Rayfield comes to AMD from previous stints at both Micron and NVIDIA. Rayfield will cover all aspects of the business management of AMD’s graphics division, including consumer, professional, game consoles, and the semi-custom division that recently announced a partnership with Intel. At Micron he served as the senior vice president of the Mobile Business Unit, responsible for company’s direction in working with wireless technology providers (smart phones, tablets, etc.) across various memory categories. While at NVIDIA, Rayfield was the general manager of the Mobile Business Unit helping to create the Tegra brand and products. Though in a different division at the time, Rayfield’s knowledge and experience in the NVIDIA organization may help AMD better address the graphics markets.

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David Wang is now the senior vice president of engineering for the AMD Radeon Technologies Group and is responsible for the development of new graphics architectures, the hardware and software that integrate them, and the future strategy of where AMD will invest in graphics R&D. Wang is an alumni of AMD, working as corporate vice president for graphics IP and chip development before leaving in 2012 for Synaptics. David has more than 25 years of graphics and silicon experience, starting at LSI Logic, through ArtX, then ATI, before being acquired by AMD.

The hires come at a critical time for AMD. Though the processor division responsible for the Zen architecture and Ryzen/EPYC processors continues to make strong movement against the Intel dominated space, NVIDIA’s stranglehold on the graphics markets for gaming, machine learning, and autonomous driving are expanding the gap between the graphics chip vendors. The Vega architecture was meant to close it (at least somewhat) but NVIDIA remains the leader in the space by a not insignificant margin. Changing that is and should be AMD’s primary goal for the next few years.

AMD is hoping that by creating this two-headed spear of leadership for its Radeon graphics division it can get the group back on track. Rayfield will be taking over all business aspects of the graphics portion of AMD and that includes the addition of the semi-custom segment, previously a part of the EESC (Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom) group under senior vice president Forrest Norrod. AMD believes that with the growth and expansion of the enterprise segment with its EPYC processor family, and because the emphasis on the semi-custom group continues to be the advantage AMD holds in its graphics portfolio, the long-term strategy can be better executed with that group under the Radeon Technologies umbrella.

The return of Wang as the technical lead for the graphics division could bring significant positive momentum to the group that has struggled in the weeks leading up to the release of its Vega architecture. The product family based on that tech underwhelmed and had concerns over availability, pricing, and timing. Wang has a strong history in the graphics field, with experience as far back as any high-level graphics executive in the business. While at ATI and AMD, Wang worked on architectures from 2002 through 2012, with several periods of graphics leadership under his belt. Competing against the giant that NVIDIA has become will be a challenge that requires significant technical knowledge and risk-taking and Wang has the acumen to get it done.

AMD CEO Lisa Su expressed excitement and trust in the new graphics executives. “Mike and David are industry leaders who bring proven track records of delivering profitable business growth and leadership product roadmaps,” she says. “We enter 2018 with incredible momentum for our graphics business based on the full set of GPU products we introduced last year for the consumer, professional, and machine learning markets. Under Mike and David’s leadership, I am confident we will continue to grow the footprint of Radeon across the gaming, immersive, and GPU compute markets.”

CES 2018: NVIDIA Opens Up GeForce NOW Beta To PC Gamers

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 8, 2018 - 11:35 PM |
Tagged: pc game streaming, nvidia, geforce now, game streaming, cloud gaming, CES 2018, CES

NVIDIA is opening up its Geforce NOW cloud gaming service to PC gamers who will join Mac users (who got access last year) in the free beta. The service uses GeForce GTX graphics cards and high-powered servers to store, play, and stream games at high settings and stream the output over the internet back to gamers of any desktop or laptop old or new (so long as you have at least a 25Mbps internet connection and can meet the basic requirements to run the Geforce NOW application of course - see below). Currently, NVIDIA supports over 160 games that can be installed on its virtual GeForce NOW gaming PCs and a select number of optimized titles can even be played at 120 FPS for a smoother gaming experience that is closer to playing locally (allegedly).

GeForce NOW.jpg

GeForce NOW is a bring your own games service in the sense that you install the Geforce NOW app on your local machine and validate the games you have purchased and have the rights to play on Steam and Ubisoft's Uplay PC stores. You are then able to install the games on the cloud-based Geforce NOW machines. The game installations reportedly take around 30 seconds with game patching, configurations, and driver updates being handled by NVIDIA's Geforce NOW platform. Gamers will be glad to know that the infrastructure further supports syncing with the games' respective stores and save games, achievements, and settings are synched allowing potentially seamless transitions between local and remote play sessions. 

You can find a list of currently supported games here, but some highlights include some oldies and newer titles including: Borderlands 2, Bioshock Remastered, various Call of Duty titles, League of Legends, Left 4 Dead 2, Kerbal Space Program, Just Cause 3, StarCraft II, Resident Evil 7, KOTOR, Tomb Raider, Metal Gear Solid, Dirt 4 (just for Josh), Project Cars 2, Fallout 4, XCOM 2 (a personal favorite), PUBG, WoW, Civilization VI, and more.

While many of the titles may need to be tweaked to get the best performance, some games have been certified and optimized by NVIDIA to come pre-configured with the best graphics settings for optimum performance including running them at maximum settings at 1920 x 1080 and 120 Hz.

If you are interested in the cloud-based game streaming service, you can sign up for the GeForce NOW beta here and join the waiting list! According to AnandTech, users will need a Windows 7 (or OS X equivalent) PC with at least a Core i3 clocked at 3.1 GHz with 4GB of RAM and a DirectX 9 GPU (AMD HD 3000 series / NVIDIA 600 Series / Intel HD 2000 series) or better. Beta users are limited to 4 hours per gaming session. There is no word on when the paid Geforce NOW tiers will resume or what the pricing for the rented virtual gaming desktops will be.

I signed up (not sure I'll get in though, maybe they need someone to test with old hardware hah) and am interested to try it as their past streaming attempts (e.g. to the Shield Portable) seemed to work pretty well for what it was (something streamed over the internet).

Hopefully they have managed to make it better and quicker to respond to inputs. Have you managed to get access, and if so what are your thoughts? Is GeForce NOW the way its meant to be played? It would be cool to see them add Space Engineers and Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion as while me and my brother have fun playing them, they are quite demanding resource wise especially Space Engineers post planets update!

Also read:

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2018: HTC announces Vive Pro and Vive Wireless Adapter

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 8, 2018 - 06:22 PM |
Tagged: wigig, VR, vive wireless adapter, vive pro, vive, steamvr, Oculus, htc, CES 2018, CES

As it turns out, HTC's teasing of a new Vive product late last week was well warranted. Today, at their press conference before CES 2018, HTC announced two new hardware products—the Vive Pro and the Vive Wireless adapter.

Copy of VIVE-Pro_KV-B_FA.jpg

Just like their teaser indicated, one of the major features of this new Vive hardware is an increased display resolution. The Vive Pro's resolution is 2880x1600 (combined), a 78% increase from the standard 2160×1200 resolution shared by the original Vive and the Oculus Rift.

Currently, there are no details about upgraded optics in the form of new lenses, but considering Valve's announcement of new lenses for future VR headsets, I would expect these to be included in the Vive Pro.

Copy of Vive Pro Profile.png

In addition to the display improvements, there are also some design changes in the Vive Pro that aim to allow users to quickly put on the headset and adjust it for maximum comfortability. The Vive Pro now features a dial on the back of the head strap to adjust the headset rather than having to adjust velcro straps. This setup is very reminiscent of the PSVR headset which is widely regarded as one of the most comfortable VR headsets currently on the market.

Copy of Vive Pro Sizing Dial.png

While we've already seen some of these design changes like integrated headphones in the currently shipping Deluxe Audio Strap for Vive, the Vive Pro is built from the ground up with this new strap instead of it being a replacement option.

Vive Pro Head on.png

HTC was very quiet about the change from a single front-facing camera on the standard Vive to dual front cameras on the Vive Pro. Having stereo cameras on the device have the potential to provide a lot of utility ranging from a stereo view of your surroundings when you are nearing the chaperone boundaries to potential AR applications.

vivepro-tracking.jpg

The Vive Pro will work with the current 1.0 base stations for positional tracking, as well as Valve's previously announced but unreleased 2.0 base stations. When using SteamVR 2.0 tracking, the Vive Pro supports up to 4 base stations, allowing for a  significantly larger play area of up to 10m x 10m.

Initially, the Vive Pro is slated to ship this quarter as a headset-only upgrade for customers who already have the original Vive with its 1.0 base stations. The full Vive Pro kit with 2.0 tracking is said to ship in the Summer time frame. Pricing for both configurations is yet to be announced.

In addition to new headset hardware, HTC also announced their first official solution for wireless VR connectivity. 

Copy of VIVE_Pro_Wireless_KV_Square.jpg

Built in partnership with Intel, the Vive Wireless Adapter will use 60 GHz WiGig technology to provide a low latency experience for wirelessly streaming video to the HMD. Both the original Vive and the Vive Pro will support this adapter set to be available this summer. We also have no indications of pricing on the Vive Wireless Adapter.

HTC's announcements today are impressive and should help push PC VR forward. We have yet to get hands-on experience with either the Vive Pro or the Vive Wireless adapter, but we have a demo appointment tomorrow, so keep checking PC Perspective for our updated impressions of the next generation of VR!

Source: HTC

CES 2018: NVIDIA announces Big Format Gaming Display initiative with 65-in G-SYNC

Subject: Graphics Cards, Displays | January 8, 2018 - 12:30 AM |
Tagged: SHIELD TV, nvidia, hp, hdr, g-sync, DCI-P3, bgfd, asus, android tv, acer

Although their Keynote presentation tonight at CES is all about automotive technology, that hasn't stopped NVIDIA from providing us with a few gaming-related announcements this week. The most interesting of which is what NVIDIA is calling "Big Format Gaming Displays" or BFGDs (get it?!).

Along with partners ASUS, Acer, and HP, NVIDIA has developed what seems to be the ultimate living room display solution for gamers.

Based on an HDR-enabled 65" 4K 120Hz panel, these displays integrate both NVIDIA G-SYNC variable refresh rate technology for smooth gameplay, as well as a built-in NVIDIA SHIELD TV set-top box.

In addition to G-SYNC technology, these displays will also feature a full direct-array backlight capable of a peak luminance of 1000-nits and conform to the DCI-P3 color gamut, both necessary features for a quality HDR experience. These specifications put the BFGDs in line with the current 4K HDR TVs on the market.

Unlike traditional televisions, these BFGDs are expected to have very low input latencies, a significant advantage for both PC and console gamers.

Integration of the SHIELD TV means that these displays will be more than just an extremely large PC monitor, but rather capable of replacing the TV in your living room. The Android TV operating system means you will get access to a lot of the most popular streaming video applications, as well as features like Google Assistant and NVIDIA GameStream.

BFGD KV.jpg

Personally, I am excited at the idea of what is essentially a 65" TV, but optimized for things like low input latency. The current crop of high-end TVs on the market cater very little to gamers, with game modes that don't turn off all of the image processing effects and still have significant latency.

It's also interesting to see companies like ASUS, Acer, and HP who are well known in the PC display market essentially entering the TV market with these BFGD products.

Stay tuned as for eyes-on impression of the BFGD displays as part of our CES 2018 coverage!

Update: ASUS has officially announced their BFGD offering, the aptly named PG65 (pictured below). We have a meeting with ASUS this week, and we hope to get a look at this upcoming product!

asus-angled-1920x1080-screenshot.jpg

Source: NVIDIA

CES 2018: AMD teases 7nm Vega for machine learning in 2018

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 8, 2018 - 12:00 AM |
Tagged: Vega, CES 2018, CES, amd, 7nm

Though just the most basic of teases, AMD confirmed at CES that it will have a 7nm based Vega product sampling sometime in 2018. No mention of shipping timeline, performance, or consumer variants were to be found.

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This product will target the machine learning market, with hardware and platform optimizations key to that segment. AMD mentions “new DL Ops”, or deep learning operations, but the company didn’t expand on that. It could mean it will integrate Tensor Core style compute units (as NVIDIA did on the Volta architecture) or it may be something more unique. AMD will integrate a new IO, likely to compete with NVLink, and MxGPU support for dividing resources efficiently for virtualization.

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AMD did present a GPU “roadmap” at the tech day as well. I put that word in quotes because it is incredibly, and intentionally, vague. You might assume that Navi is being placed into the 2019 window, but its possible it might show in late 2018. AMD was also unable to confirm if a 7nm Vega variant would arrive for gaming and consumer markets in 2018.

Source: PCPer

NVIDIA addresses Spectre vulnerabilities

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | January 5, 2018 - 02:59 PM |
Tagged: meltdown, spectre, geforce, quadro, NVS, nvidia, tesla, security

If you were wondering if NVIDIA products are vulnerable to some of the latest security threats, the answer is yes.  Your Shield device or GPU is not vulnerable to CVE-2017-5754, aka Meltdown, however the two variants of Spectre could theoretically be used to infect you. 

  • Variant 1 (CVE-2017-5753): Mitigations are provided with the security update included in this bulletin. NVIDIA expects to work together with its ecosystem partners on future updates to further strengthen mitigations.

  • Variant 2 (CVE-2017-5715): Mitigations are provided with the security update included in this bulletin. NVIDIA expects to work together with its ecosystem partners on future updates to further strengthen mitigations.

  • Variant 3 (CVE-2017-5754): At this time, NVIDIA has no reason to believe that Shield TV/tablet is vulnerable to this variant.

The Android based Shield tablet should be updated to Shield Experience 5.4, which should arrive before the end of the month.  Your Shield TV, should you actually still have a working on will receive Shield Experience 6.3 along the same time frame.

The GPU is a little more complex as there are several product lines and OSes which need to be dealt with.  There should be a new GeForce driver appearing early next week for gaming GPUs, with HPC cards receiving updates on the dates you can see below.

nvidia patch.PNG

There is no reason to expect Radeon and Vega GPUs to suffer from these issues at this time.  Intel could learn a bit from NVIDIA's response, which has been very quick and includes ther older hardware.

Source: NVIDIA

ASUS Announces XG Station Pro, a Thunderbolt 3 External GPU Enclosure for Windows and Mac

Subject: Graphics Cards | January 4, 2018 - 10:15 AM |
Tagged: external graphics, external gpu, CES 2017, CES, ASUS ROG, asus

ASUS today announced the XG Station Pro, a Thunderbolt 3-based external GPU enclosure tailored for both gamers and professionals. The XG Station Pro can accommodate full-size GPUs up to 2.5 slots wide, including large cards such as the ROG Strix 1080 Ti and Radeon RX Vega 64.

Featuring a "contemporary design with clean lines and subtle styling," the XG Station Pro has a footprint of 4.3-inches x 14.8-inches, thanks to ASUS's decision to use an external power supply. In order to provide enough juice for high-end graphics cards, ASUS is borrowing the power supply design from its GX800 gaming laptop, which puts out up to 330 watts.

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The XG Station Pro's chassis, designed by case maker In Win, has a smooth dark gray finish with a black PCB and sleeved PCIe power cables. It features a soft white internal glow that can be controlled by ASUS's Aura software, including Aura Sync to synchronize lighting with your compatible ASUS and ROG graphics cards and laptops.

xgstationpro-inside.jpg

Inside the XG Station Pro, dual 120mm PWM fans provide exhaust out of the right side of the chassis. The fans automatically ramp down and even shut off below certain temperatures, but users can also manually control the fans with the ASUS GPU Tweak II application.

xgstationpro-standing.jpg

Around back, users will find an extra USB Type-C 3.1 Gen 2 port, which can supply up to 15 watts of power to compatible devices such as smartphones and external storage. Finally, ASUS notes that it includes the require Thunderbolt 3 cable in the box, something that many Thunderbolt-based devices seem to lack.

The ASUS XG Station Pro will launch later this month for $329 with support for both AMD and NVIDIA GPUs in Windows 10, and just AMD Vega-based GPUs in macOS Sierra and newer.

Source: ASUS