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Submission + - DirectX 12 Performance Tested in Ashes of the Singularity

Vigile writes: The future of graphics APIs lies in DirectX 12 and Vulkan, both built to target GPU hardware at a lower level than previously available. The advantages are better performance, better efficiency on all hardware and more control for the developer that is willing to put in the time and effort to understand the hardware in question. Until today we have only heard or seen theoretical "peak" performance claims of DX12 compared to DX11. PC Perspective just posted an article that uses a pre-beta version of Ashes of the Singularity, an upcoming RTS utilizing the Oxide Games Nitrous engine, to evaluate and compare DX12's performance claims and gains against DX11. In the story we find five different processor platforms tested with two different GPUs and two different resolutions. Results are interesting and show that DX12 levels the playing field for AMD, with its R9 390X gaining enough ground in DX12 to overcome a significant performance deficit that exists using DX11 to the GTX 980.

Submission + - Intel's Skylake Architecture Comes to Enthusiasts First, Reviewed

Vigile writes: The Intel Skylake architecture has been on our radar for quite a long time as Intel's next big step in CPU design. We know at least a handful of details: DDR4 memory support, 14nm process technology, modest IPC gains and impressive GPU improvements. But the details have remained a mystery on how the "tock" of Skylake on the 14nm process technology will differ from Broadwell and Haswell. That changes today with the official release of the "K" SKUs of Skylake — the unlocked, enthusiast class parts for DIY PC builders. PC Perspective has a full review of the Core i7-6700K with benchmarks as well as discrete GPU and gaming testing that shows Skylake is an impressive part. IPC gains on Skylake over Haswell are modest but noticeable, and IGP performance is as much as 50% higher than Devil's Canyon. Based on that discrete GPU testing, all those users still on Nehalem and Sandy Bridge might finally have a reason to upgrade to Skylake.

Submission + - AMD Fury X with Fiji and HBM Falls Behind GTX 980 Ti->

Vigile writes: Even with months of build up and hype, culminating last week during a pair of press conferences from E3 to announce it, the reviews and performance of the AMD Radeon R9 Fury X are finally available. Built on the new Fiji GPU, AMD's Fury X has 4,096 stream processors and a 4,096-bit memory bus that runs at just 500 MHz. That High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) implementation results in a total memory bandwidth of 512 GB/s, much higher than the GTX 980 Ti or R9 290X/390X. The Fury X is also the first single-GPU reference card to ship with an integrated self-contained water cooler, keeping the GPU at around 55C while gaming — a very impressive feat that no doubt adds to the GPU's measured efficiency. But in PC Perspective's testing, the Fury X isn't able overcome the performance of the GeForce GTX 980 Ti in more than a couple of specific tests, leaving NVIDIA's flagship as the leader in the clubhouse. So even though it's great to see AMD back in the saddle and competing in the high end space, this $650 graphics card needs a little more work to be a dominant competitor.
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Submission + - NVIDIA GTX 980 Ti Offers Titan X Performance for $350 Less->

Vigile writes: Today at the beginning of Computex in Taipei, NVIDIA is officially unveiling the GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card, a new offering based on the same GM200 Maxwell architecture GPU as the GTX Titan X released in March. Though the Titan X sells today for more than $1000, the GTX 980 Ti will start at $650 while offering performance parity with the more expensive option. The GTX 980 Ti has 6GB of memory (versus 12GB for the GTX Titan X) but PC Perspective's review shows no negative side effects of the drop. This implementation of the GM200 GPU uses 2,816 CUDA cores rather than the 3,072 cores of the Titan X, but thanks to higher average Boost clocks, performance between the two cards is identical. Enthusiasts that were considering the Titan X for high end PC gaming should definitely reconsider with NVIDIA's latest offering. You can read the full review and technical breakdown over at PC Perspective.
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Submission + - Khronos Group Announces Vulkan to Compete Against DirectX 12.

Phopojijo writes: The Khronos Group has announced the Vulkan API for compute and graphics. Its goal is to compete against DirectX 12. It has some interesting features, such as queuing to multiple GPUs and an LLVM-based bytecode for its shading language to remove the need for a compiler from the graphics drivers. Also, the API allows graphics card vendors to support Vulkan with drivers back to Windows XP "and beyond".

Submission + - NVIDIA GTX 970 Specifications Corrected, Memory Pools Explained->

Vigile writes: Over the weekend NVIDIA sent out its first official response to the claims of hampered performance on the GTX 970 and a potential lack of access to 1/8th of the on-board memory. Today NVIDIA has clarified the situation again, this time with some important changes to the specifications of the GPU. First, the ROP count and L2 cache capacity of the GTX 970 were incorrectly reported at launch (last September). The GTX 970 has 52 ROPs and 1792 KB of L2 cache compared to the GTX 980 that has 64 ROPs and 2048 KB of L2 cache; previously both GPUs claimed to have identical specs. Because of this change, one of the 32-bit memory channels is accessed differently, forcing NVIDIA to create 3.5GB and 0.5GB pools of memory to improve overall performance for the majority of use cases. The smaller, 500MB pool operates at 1/7th the speed of the 3.5GB pool and thus will lower total graphics system performance by 4-6% when added into the memory system. That occurs when games request MORE than 3.5GB of memory allocation though, which happens only in extreme cases and combinations of resolution and anti-aliasing. Still, the jury is out on whether NVIDIA has answered enough questions to temper the fire from consumers.
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Submission + - NVIDIA Responds to GTX 970 Memory Issue->

Vigile writes: Over the past week or so, owners of the GeForce GTX 970 have found several instances where the GPU was unable or unwilling to address memory capacities over 3.5GB despite having 4GB of on-board frame buffer. Specific benchmarks were written to demonstrate the issue and users even found ways to configure games to utilize more than 3.5GB of memory using DSR and high levels of MSAA. While the GTX 980 can access 4GB of its memory, the GTX 970 appeared to be less likely to do so and would see a dramatic performance hit when it did. NVIDIA responded today saying that the GTX 970 has "fewer crossbar resources to the memory system" as a result of disabled groups of cores called SMMs. NVIDIA states that "to optimally manage memory traffic in this configuration, we segment graphics memory into a 3.5GB section and a 0.5GB section" and that the GPU has "higher priority" to the larger pool. The question that remains is should this affect gamers' view of the GTX 970? If performance metrics already take the different memory configuration into account, then I don't see the GTX 970 declining in popularity.
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Submission + - Micron SSDs with MLC/SLC Conversion Technology Tested

Vigile writes: Earlier this month Micron announced a technology called Dynamic Write Acceleration in the new M600 SSD models that is able to swap NAND flash from MLC and to SLC (multi- and single-level cell) on the fly in order to improve performance in low cost solid state drive implementations. In short, a new and empty M600 SSD will have its dies in SLC mode. While the SSD will appear to the user at its rated capacity, the actual flash capacity in SLC mode is half of what it would be if all dies were in MLC mode. As the SSD is filled past 50% capacity, the controller intelligently switches dies from SLC to MLC, shuffling data around as necessary in the background to briefly empty a given die before switching its mode. In PC Perspective's testing though, the hardware was very inconsistent in write speeds, even at the same capacity fill levels, and would often run at a much lower throughput level than expected. Read speeds are not affected by the DWA feature. While interesting in theory it appears the dynamic flipping technology needs a bit more work.

Submission + - GeForce GTX 980 and GTX 970 Bring Unseen Power Efficiency->

Vigile writes: Launching today is a new GPU from NVIDIA along with two new graphics card that utilize it. GM204, the second chip released based on the Maxwell architecture, brings an incredibly high level of power efficiency to high-end enthusiast level graphics cards. The GeForce GTX 980, reviewed by PC Perspective, with 2048 CUDA cores, a 256-bit memory bus, 4GB of GDDR5 running at 7.0 GHz and a base clock over 1100 MHz, is able to outperform cards like the GeForce GTX 780 Ti and the AMD Radeon R9 290X and will sell for $549. Maybe most impressive is the power draw difference — the GTX 980 uses 130 watts LESS POWER than the R9 290X under a full load. The GTX 970, with 1664 CUDA cores, the same memory configuration and a base clock of 1050 MHz runs at even lower power, outperforming the Radeon R9 290 and using 80 watts less power and has an MSRP of just $329. Faster GPUs using less power — it's pretty impressive. New features of the GTX 900 series include MFAA (multi-frame AA), Dynamic Super Resolution and full DX12 feature set support. And the fact that we were able to overclock the GTX 980 to nearly 1500 MHz doesn't hurt either.
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Submission + - AMD Releases new Tonga GPU, Lowers 8-core CPU to $229

Vigile writes: AMD looks to continue addressing the mainstream PC enthusiast and gamer with a set of releases into two different component categories. First, today marks the launch of the Radeon R9 285 graphics card, a $250 option based on a brand new piece of silicon dubbed Tonga. This GPU has nearly identical performance to the R9 280 that came before it, but includes support for XDMA PCIe CrossFire, TrueAudio DSP technology and is FreeSync capable (AMD's response to NVIDIA G-Sync). On the CPU side AMD has refreshed its FX product line with three new models (FX-8370, FX-8370e and FX-8320e) with lower TDPs and supposedly better efficiency. The problem of course is that while Intel is already sampling 14nm parts these Vishera-based CPUs continue to be manufactured on GlobalFoundries' 32nm process. The result is less than expected performance boosts and efficiency gains.

Submission + - Intel Core i7-5960X Brings 8 Haswell Cores to Enthusiasts->

Vigile writes: Today Intel released its updated E-class, enthusiast platform based on Haswell, known previously as just Haswell-E. The Core i7-5960X Extreme Edition CPU is an 8-core processor (addressing 16 threads with HyperThreading) that doubles core count over mainstream Haswell parts and jumps from the 6-core parts in previous E-class platforms. That not only turns into dramatic performance increases in highly threaded applications like rendering and encoding, but Haswell-E is also the first consumer platform to integrate a quad-channel DDR4 memory controller, with frequencies starting at 2133 MHz. The top two tiers of Haswell-E processors also include 40 lanes of PCI Express 3.0 while the lower cost Core i7-5820K will be limited to 6-cores and 28 lanes of PCIe. New motherboards based on the new X99 chipset are required as well and include additional storage options like 14 USB ports and 10 SATA 6.0 Gbps channels. Clearly this is the fastest consumer platform tested but as with all E-class releases, the cost is higher. The Core i7-5960X will set you back $999 and expect to pay at least $500 for a motherboard and 4 DIMMs of the new DDR4 as well.
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Comment Re:Cheaper drives (Score 4, Insightful) 183

No, no particular technical difficulty, just another step in gradually falling prices. We have seen drives hit $0.39/GB as well with standard Amazon.com pricing. The Crucial M550 (a bit faster) is at $407 for 1TB model today, for example: http://amzn.to/1kBpIs1

Submission + - Intel Core M Processor: Broadwell Architecture and 14nm Process Reveal

Vigile writes: Intel continues to plug along with new processor architectures and new process technologies in an effort to stay ahead in the consumer and enterprise markets (against AMD) as well as gain ground in the mobile space against the likes of Qualcomm and Samsung. The new 14nm process technology being detailed for the first time results in a 0.65x area scaling rate, an improvement over other generational shifts. Yield appears to be slightly behind where 22nm was at this point in its life cycle but Intel sees it catching up rather quickly before products ship late this winter. Also detailed was information on Broadwell-Y, the lower power version of the Broadwell microarchitecture. With a die size of just 80 mm^2 (compared to the 130 mm^2 of Haswell-Y) and some changes to the packing of the dies themselves, Intel is enabling much smaller form factors (as low as 7mm) with fanless designs. A feature called Duty Cycle Control enables lower "effective" clock speeds than would be possible with current voltage minimums on the process to enable lower power consumption for low performance requirement tasks. PC Perspective covered the released information on both the 14nm process technology as well as the Broadwell CPU/GPU changes and it looks like Intel could be dramatically reinventing itself once again.

Submission + - Silicon Valley Doesn't Have an Attitude Problem, OK?->

Nerval's Lobster writes: In Silicon Valley they think differently, and if that leads to arrogance, so be it. At least that’s what Bloomberg Businessweek’s Joel Stein implies in his long meditation on the area’s outlook on technology, money and changing the world. Stein set out to examine the underlying notion that Silicon Valley’s and San Francisco’s tech entrepreneurs are feeding a backlash by being, in a word, jerks. His conclusion seems to be that they may well be jerks, but they’re misunderstood jerks. He doesn’t deny that there’s sexism and boorishness at play in the young tech community, but he sees the industry trying to make itself better. He sees a lot of egotism at work, too but, he observes, if you’re setting out to change the world, you’re probably going to need a big ego to do it. But tell that to other people in Northern California: undoubtedly, you’ve read about the tempest in San Francisco recently, where urban activists are decrying the influx of highly paid tech professionals, who they argue are displacing residents suddenly unable to keep up with skyrocketing rents.
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