AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 07:34 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

For tomorrow’s Watch_Dogs 2, AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.5 graphics drivers, giving users a day to configure their PCs. Note that, while the download links in the release notes say 16.11.4, hovering your mouse over them shows the correct version, dated last Friday. Don’t worry, though, the Radeon Technologies Group is based out of Markham, Ontario, Canada, so they didn’t miss out on turkey leftovers to bring you this software.

Okay, yes, that joke was lame. Moving on.

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Beyond Watch_Dogs 2, this driver release also adds a new CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 for Windows 8.x and Windows 10, so multiple GPU users of that game might want to upgrade, too. Beyond that, flickering in The Division and Battlefield 1 while using CrossFire is also addressed.

There are quite a few known issues, though, including a few crashes when using the Vulkan API. Most of these known issues were present in 16.11.4 from a couple of weeks ago, including the aforementioned Vulkan crashes, but this driver adds two. The CrossFire profile for Dishonored 2 that was added with this driver will be disabled on Windows 7, although it sounds like that will be fixed in a future release. Also, Watch_Dogs 2 may flicker or crash when using Crossfire with two RX 480s, but apparently not other configurations.

The driver is not signed by WHQL, but I think I prefer what AMD’s doing now, rapidly releasing several drivers a month, addressing issues as they arise, versus a Microsoft stamp of approval. All that matters is that they can be installed on Anniversary Edition clean installs with Secure Boot enabled, and they can.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA Releases GeForce 376.09 Drivers

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 28, 2016 - 06:20 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Because holiday shopping is... wrapping up... this year’s rush of AAA games will be slowing down soon, at least until it starts up again in January. One of the last releases, Watch_Dogs 2, will be arriving on the PC tomorrow. As such, NVIDIA has released GeForce 376.09 drivers out to their website and GeForce Experience. The driver also includes optimizations for Dead Rising 4 and Steep.

nvidia-geforce.png

Unfortunately, the release notes aren’t yet available as of time of this writing (but the link is). As such, we don’t know specifics about what the driver fixes or changes. The notes are supposed to be up at some time today. Users in the forums have been complaining about a few things here and there, but nothing that seems credible and wide-spread that could be attributed to the driver.

Source: NVIDIA
Author:
Manufacturer: NVIDIA

A Holiday Project

A couple of years ago, I performed an experiment around the GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card to see if we could upgrade basic OEM, off-the-shelf computers to become competent gaming PCs. The key to this potential upgrade was that the GTX 750 Ti offered a great amount of GPU horsepower (at the time) without the need for an external power connector. Lower power requirements on the GPU meant that even the most basic of OEM power supplies should be able to do the job.

That story was a success, both in terms of the result in gaming performance and the positive feedback it received. Today, I am attempting to do that same thing but with a new class of GPU and a new class of PC games.

The goal for today’s experiment remains pretty much the same: can a low-cost, low-power GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics card that also does not require any external power connector offer enough gaming horsepower to upgrade current shipping OEM PCs to "gaming PC" status?

Our target PCs for today come from Dell and ASUS. I went into my local Best Buy just before the Thanksgiving holiday and looked for two machines that varied in price and relative performance.

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  Dell Inspiron 3650 ASUS M32CD-B09
Processor Intel Core i3-6100 Intel Core i7-6700
Motherboard Custom Custom
Memory 8GB DDR4 12GB DDR4
Graphics Card Intel HD Graphics 530 Intel HD Graphics 530
Storage 1TB HDD 1TB Hybrid HDD
Case Custom Custom
Power Supply 240 watt 350 watt
OS Windows 10 64-bit Windows 10 64-bit
Total Price $429 (Best Buy) $749 (Best Buy)

The specifications of these two machines are relatively modern for OEM computers. The Dell Inspiron 3650 uses a modest dual-core Core i3-6100 processor with a fixed clock speed of 3.7 GHz. It has a 1TB standard hard drive and a 240 watt power supply. The ASUS M32CD-B09 PC has a quad-core HyperThreaded processor with a 4.0 GHz maximum Turbo clock, a 1TB hybrid hard drive and a 350 watt power supply. Both of the CPUs share the same Intel brand of integrated graphics, the HD Graphics 520. You’ll see in our testing that not only is this integrated GPU unqualified for modern PC gaming, but it also performs quite differently based on the CPU it is paired with.

Continue reading our look at upgrading an OEM machine with the GTX 1050 Ti!!

MSI's mercurial new GTX 1070

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 25, 2016 - 01:21 PM |
Tagged: msi, gtx 1070, GTX 1070 Quick Silver, factory overclocked

MSI's new Quick Silver design looks very different from most of their other cards, black and silver with a shiny metal backplate as opposed to the red and black we are used to.  The GTX 1070 which TechPowerUp reviewed has a bit of a factory overclock, the base Core clock is 76MHz higher than the default at 1582MHz though they have left the VRAM at the default frequency.  There is headroom left in the card, TechPowerUp hit a stable 2101MHz Core, 2290MHz VRAM, not the best results they have seen but certainly a decent increase.  Drop by for a look at its performance in over a dozen games.

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"MSI's GTX 1070 Quick Silver does away with the red-and-black color theme and uses stylish silver instead. Thanks to the powerful cooler from the GTX 1070 Gaming Z, the card is the coolest and quietest GTX 1070 we ever tested. It also comes at a rather affordable $425."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: TechPowerUp

AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 08:54 PM |
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers

The fourth Radeon Software Crimson Edition graphics driver to be released this month, dated November 15th, was just published on their website. These have not been WHQL certified, like the previous ones, but that might actually be for the best. Rapid graphics driver releases, not throttled by Microsoft red tape, probably increases driver quality over this busy time of year. Also, I recently found out that WHQL certification is not a requirement for clean installed Windows 10 Anniversary Edition systems with Secure Boot Enabled. Both AMD and NVIDIA sign their hotfix drivers in a way that satisfies this check, without going through the entire WHQL process.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

That aside, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.11.4 rolls in additional fixes to Civilization VI. AMD isn’t saying what these fixes are, such as whether they are for general performance optimizations or stability issues that we haven’t heard about yet, but it’s out now so you should probably update if you are currently playing the game. The driver also fixes problems when attempting to watch web video and play a game simultaneously, which is actually something I do frequently. (Don’t knock listening to podcasts while playing StarCraft II Arcade until you try it...) Thirdly, 16.11.4 also fixes rendering issues in Titanfall 2 that occur while piloting a Titan.

Source: AMD

NVIDIA GeForce 375.86 Game Ready Drivers Released

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 17, 2016 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, graphics drivers

Update, November 17th @ 7:21pm: NVIDIA has released 375.95 Hotfix to fix this issue. They are working on getting it WHQL certified for their website and GeForce Experience. You can download and install it directly, though.

Update, November 16th @ 12:56pm: NVIDIA has reproduced the low memory clocks issue, found its cause, and are working on a fix. They believe it only affects certain factory-overclocked cards. It is obviously a high priority, so a hotfix driver will likely be issued (unless they can get it WHQL certified quick enough that it would be pointless).

Original post below:

NVIDIA has just released a new graphics driver. GeForce Game Ready 375.86 provides optimized support for Ubisoft's Steep, which is an open-world game with wingsuiters, skiers, snowboarders, and paragliders. It also rolls in extra optimizations for previous game ready games that are receiving patches: Battlefield 1, Civilization VI, and Tom Clancy's The Division.

nvidia-geforce.png

Before you install, though, there is one particularly annoying issue that is being reported on GeForce forums. NVIDIA is currently investigating reports that certain, but not all, Pascal GPUs are having their video memory stuck at 810 MHz, leading to (as you would expect) severe performance loss. It's possible that the affected users are all running a specific overclocking application or something. If you are in a bit of a rush and don't want to put up with potentially rolling back, then you might want to skip the version.

Thankfully, both discrete graphics vendors have been releasing multiple versions per month. The wait shouldn't be too long.

Source: NVIDIA

RX 480 versus the GTX 1060; who gets your $250?

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 15, 2016 - 02:58 PM |
Tagged: rx 480, nvidia, GTX1060, amd

On one side of the ring is the RX 480, with 2304 Stream Processors, 32 ROPs and 144 Texture Units.  In the opposite corner, at 1280 CUDA Cores, 48 ROPs and 80 Texture Units is the GTX 1060.  The two cards retail for between $200 to $250 depending on the features present on the card as well as any sales.  [H]ard|OCP tested the two cards head to head, not just raw performance numbers but also the stability of the GPU frequencies. power draw and temperatures.  All games were tested at base clocks and at the highest stable overclock and the results were back and forth, in some games AMD pulled ahead while in others NVIDIA was the clear winner.  It is worth keeping in mind that these results do not include VR results.

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"We take GIGABYTE’s Radeon RX 480 G1 GAMING video card and pit it against a MSI GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X video card in today’s evaluation. We will overclock both video cards as high as possible and compare performance and find out what both video cards have to offer in the upper $200 price range for gaming."

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

Graphics Cards

Source: [H]ard|OCP

Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope scales with multi-GPU

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 14, 2016 - 11:22 AM |
Tagged: video, the last hope, serious sam vr, rx 480, radeon, Polaris, multi-gpu, liquidvr, amd, affinity

While VR excitement might have cooled slightly in the enthusiast community, there continues to be innovation and software releases on both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive that are bringing me back to what I think we believe to be part of the future of PC gaming. Serious Sam VR: The Last Hope was announced at E3 this year and is now available as an early access game on Steam. It is a dual wielding shooter that combines the enemies of the previous games along with the crazy weapons that made the series iconic.

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And hey, there is something awesome about using a missile launcher that takes up half the screen.

One interesting technology addition to the game is use of AMD LiquidVR affinity multi-GPU. A Croteam developer recently posted a blog on the GPUOpen.com site talking about the implementation.

We wanted to add LiquidVR Affinity Multi-GPU rendering support to our engine because two GPUs can render the two eye views in almost half the time compared to a single GPU and this would greatly reduce our GPU bottlenecks. Affinity MGPU can either be done in one pass or with a separate pass for each eye, in which case we reap the GPU side benefits while the CPU workload stays the same.

ssvrscreen2.jpg

We needed about a week to modify all shaders and to make sure that correct data is set for each eye. Single pass rendering with Affinity Multi-GPU gave us a huge speed improvement on both CPU and GPU from our original VR implementation. In the end, it took us less time to do single pass rendering correctly than it took us to fix all the problems caused by multi pass multi-GPU rendering.

After the interest in the Deus Ex multi-GPU scaling video I thought I would see if the Serious Sam implementation was actually beneficial to gamers.

  • Test System
  • Core i7-5960X
  • X99 MB + 16GB DDR4
  • AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB
  • Driver: 16.10.2

The test was simple: I found that a single RX 480 could run the game at Medium settings perfectly well, but could it be playable on High with multi-GPU? By adding in a second Radeon RX 480 I was able to bring the performance up by 55% or so, making the VR experience nearly flawless.

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It's not perfect scaling, but the benefits of multi-GPU for VR, when properly implemented, are obvious. As more games and experiences are released that require higher compute capability or have in-game settings that allow for better image quality, the ability to scale across GPUs will be a welcome addition to the ecosystem.

Check out the video here if you haven't seen any Serious Sam VR gameplay yet!

NVIDIA's Third Quarter Up to $2 Billion USD in Revenue

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 10, 2016 - 08:27 PM |
Tagged: quarterly earnings, nvidia

The most recent quarter for NVIDIA, which is the three months ending on October 30th, has just passed $2 Billion USD in revenue, an increase of 54% from last year. All said and done, this leads to $542 million in GAAP net income, which is also up 108% from last quarter (or up 120% from the same quarter last year).

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NVIDIA doesn't attribute this increase to any specific line of products. Instead, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang takes the opportunity to promote the “years of work and billions of dollars” they spent on the Pascal architecture, applying it all over the place. While I'm guessing a lot of the sales are carried over from last quarter's parts, which are now able to keep up with demand, NVIDIA points to laptop SKUs of 10-series GPUs, the launch of Tesla P4 and P40 GPUs, and initial shipments of the DGX-1 as new and notable for this quarter.

nvidia-2016-q317 table results.jpg

NVIDIA expects to have an even better quarter with the holiday, aimed at $2.1 Billion USD, plus or minus a couple percent. A lot more details are available on NVIDIA's blog, including their Switch announcement with Nintendo, their Drive PX2 platform, and their next-generation Tegra processor, codenamed Xavier.

Source: NVIDIA

Oculus Launches Asynchronous Spacewarp, 45 FPS VR

Subject: Graphics Cards, Systems | November 10, 2016 - 11:44 AM |
Tagged: VR, rift, Oculus, atw, asynchronous timewarp, asynchronous spacewarp, asw

Oculus has announced that as of today, support for Asynchronous Spacewarp is available and active for all users that install the 1.10 runtime. Announced at the Oculus Connect 3 event in October, ASW promises to complement existing Asynchronous Timewarp (ATW) technology to improve the experience of VR for lower performance systems that might otherwise result in stutter.

A quick refresher on Asynchronous Timewarp is probably helpful. ATW was introduced to help alleviate the impact of missed frames on VR headsets and started development back with Oculus DK2 headset. By shifting the image on the VR headset without input from the game engine based on relative head motion that occurred AFTER the last VR pose was sent to the game, timewarp presents a more accurate image to the user. While this technology was first used as a band-aid for slow frame rates, Oculus felt confident enough in its advantages to the Rift that it enables for all frames of all applications, regardless of frame rate.

ATW moves the entire frame as a whole, shifting it only based on relative changes to the user’s head rotation. New Asynchronous Spacewarp attempts to shift objects and motion inside of the scene by generating new frames to insert in between “real” frames from the game engine when the game is running in a 45 FPS state. With a goal of maintaining a smooth, enjoyable and nausea-free experience, Oculus says that ASW “includes character movement, camera movement, Touch controller movement, and the player's own positional movement.”

Source: Oculus

To many of you that are familiar with the idea of timewarp, this might sound like black magic. Oculus presents this example on their website to help understand what is happening.

Source: Oculus

Seeing the hand with the gun in motion, ASW generates a frame that continues the animation of the gun to the left, tricking the user into seeing the continuation of the motion they are going through. When the next actual frame is presented just after, the gun will have likely moved slightly more than that, and then the pattern repeats.

You can notice a couple of things about ASW in this animation example however. If you look just to the right of the gun barrel in the generated frame, there is a stretching of the pixels in an artificial way. The wheel looks like something out of Dr. Strange. However, this is likely an effect that would not be noticeable in real time and should not impact the user experience dramatically. And, as Oculus would tell us, it is better than the alternative of simply missing frames and animation changes.

Some ASW interpolation changes will be easier than others thanks to secondary data available. For example, with the Oculus Touch controller, the runtime will know how much the players hand has moved, and thus how much the object being held has moved, and can better estimate the new object location. Positional movement would also have this advantage. If a developer has properly implemented the different layers of abstraction for Oculus and its runtime, separating out backgrounds from cameras from characters, etc., then the new frames being created are less likely to have significant distortions.

I am interested in how this new feature affects the current library of games on PCs that do in fact drop below that 90 FPS mark. In October, Oculus was on stage telling users that the minimum spec for VR systems was dropping from requiring a GTX 970 graphics card to a GTX 960. This clearly expands the potential install base for the Rift. Will the magic behind ASW live up to its stated potential without an abundance of visual artifacts?

Oculus-Rift-Promo.jpg

In a blog post on the Oculus website, they mention some other specific examples of “imperfect extrapolation.” If your game or application includes rapid brightness changes, object disocclusion trails (an object moving out of the way of another object), repeated patterns, or head-locked elements (that aren’t designated as such in the runtime) could cause distracting artifacts in the animation if not balanced and thought through. Oculus isn’t telling game developers to go back and modify their titles but instead to "be mindful of their appearance."

Oculus does include a couple of recommendations to developers looking to optimize quality for ASW with locked layers, using real-time rather than frame count for animation steps, and easily adjustable image quality settings. It’s worth noting that this new technology is enabled by default as of runtime 1.10 and will start working once a game drops below the 90 FPS line only. If your title stays over 90 FPS, then you get the advantages of Asynchronous Timewarp without the potential issues of Asynchronous Spacewarp.

The impact of ASW will be interesting to see. For as long as Oculus has been around they have trumpeted the need for 90 FPS to ensure a smooth gaming experience free of headaches and nausea. With ASW, that, in theory, drops to 45 FPS, though with the caveats mentioned above. Many believe, as do I, that this new technology was built to help Microsoft partner with Oculus to launch VR on the upcoming Scorpio Xbox console coming next year. Because the power of that new hardware still will lag behind the recommended specification from both Oculus and Valve for VR PCs, something had to give. The result is a new “minimum” specification for Oculus Rift gaming PCs and a level of performance that makes console-based integrations of the Rift possible.

Source: Oculus