Who would have thought Acer would emerge as a front runner to release the first desktop replacement built around AMD's Evergreen graphics? Whether or not Acer will beat Alienware, Asus, and everyone else to the punch remains to be seen, but according to Fudzilla, the company is readying a monster notebook.
"Monster" in this case can refer to the size. At 18.4 inches, Acer's upcoming laptop probably won't spend much time on your lap. It could also refer to the Core i7-720QM processor stuffed inside, which races along at 1.6GHz. There's hardly an area that isn't beastly, including the 8GB of DDR3 memory, not one but two 640GB hard drives, and even a Blu-ray drive. And of course AMD's Mobility Radeon HD 5850 will bring DriectX 11 graphics to the table, along with 1GB of GDDR5 memory.
Other features of the lamely named Aspire 8942G-728G1280TWN (seriously?) include four USB 2.0 slots, 801.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, HDMI, a 5-in-1 card reader, 8-cell battery, and other odds and ends.
No word yet on price or availability, but if we were to guess, we'd say "soon" and "expensive."
Microsoft launched Windows 7 with full DirectX 11 support, but until now, Vista users running ATI’s newest 5000 series cards were left out in the cold. Its not like you’ve been waiting months to play the newest DX11 titles, but at least you now have the comfort of knowing that you don’t need to upgrade your OS in order to take advantage of your new GPU.
DirectX 11 isn’t a massive leap forward over the DirectX 10.1 found in Vista SP2, and in fact, is actually a superset implemented using WDDM (Windows Display Drive Model).Windows XP users will need to continue making do with DirectX 9 because it is not compatible with WDDM, and Microsoft has been pretty clear that this isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
The platform update KB971644 should be delivered to Vista users automatically via Windows update. Now all you need is an Radeon 5870. DirectX 11 support in Vista seems as good a reason as any don’t you think?
If you have a shiny new DirectX 11 card taking up space in your case, this may be of interest to you. The first DX11-specific benchmark has been released by Unigine Corp. The demo is called “Heaven” and runs on the company’s proprietary Unigine engine.
Unigine have released two previous GPU benchmarking demos called “Sanctuary” and “Tropics”. Like those programs, the new DX11 benchmark is available for free. Heaven has support for OpenGL, DirectX 9, 10, and 11. So regardless of your hardware, it should run as long as you have at least 256 MB of VRAM. There’s even support for AMD’s new Eyefinity technology.
You will, however, need .NET framework 2.0, OpenAL, and your card’s latest stable drivers. If you want to take your card for a spin, you can get the Heaven demo here.
The Radeon 5700 series card will be built upon ATI’s new 40nm “Juniper” chip, which consists of 1.04 billion transistors on a 166mm2 die. The smaller chip makes it possible to ATI to offer the cards at lower prices than the current DirectX 11 capable Radeon 5800 series cards: the HD 5870 and HD 5850. Price for the HD 5770 is set at $159, with the HD 5750 going for $129. ATI will later release a 512MB version of the HD 5750 for $109.
DirectX 10 marked a radical departure from DirectX 9: In order to be compatible, a graphics processor must feature a unified architecture in which each shader unit is capable of executing pixel-, vertex-, and geometry-shader instructions. The changes in DirectX 11 aren’t quite as fundamental, but they could have just as big an impact—and not only with games.
DirectX 11 is a superset of DirectX 10, so everything in DirectX 10 is included in the new collection of APIs. In addition, DX11 offers several new features and three additional stages to the Direct3D rendering pipeline: the Hull Shader, the Tessellator, and the Domain Shader. And in an effort to deliver cross-hardware support for general-purpose computing on graphics processors, Microsoft has come up with a new Compute Shader.
DirectX 11 will be compatible with both Vista and Windows 7, but many of its graphics features will be available on GPUs designed for previous iterations of Direct3D. Tapping into the Tessellator’s power, however, will require a GPU with transistors dedicated to the task (in this sense, DX11 marks a slight departure from DX10’s vision of a unified architecture). Let’s explore the concept of tessellation now.
DirectX 11 which will debut with the release of Windows 7 is arguably a pretty big deal. The new APIs will enjoy a much larger installed base than its predecessor thanks to backwards compatibility with Vista, and graphical improvements that were teased in DirectX 10 should see a pretty significant performance boost. With the release of Windows 7 nearly upon us, many have been holding off on GPU upgrades until the DX11 parts to start rolling off the line, and this time it appears AMD will beat Nvidia out of the gate with its “Evergreen” series.
This hunch was further re-enforced by a live hands on demonstration provided to PC Perspective at QuakeCon showing a working DX11 graphics card in action. The GPU code named “Future Card” was running several live DirectX 11 SDK simulations, but even more impressive was its ability to launch and run existing DirectX 9 titles. Its one thing to show a tech demo, but it’s even more impressive to prove you have a fully functional card.
It looks like the Radeon HD 5000 series will among the first DX11 cards on the market, and AMD could well be on track for a late 2009 release. Is the race to DirectX 11 a battle Nvidia can afford to lose?
Writing an operating system is no easy task, particularly for Microsoft. Having to design a piece of software that will maintain compatibility across a nearly infinite number of hardware configurations can be a daunting mission. It becomes even more difficult when hardware manufacturers implement new technologies, but the software lags behind.
Determined to not let that happen to Windows 7, Microsoft engineers have reportedly worked side by side with Intel to optimize support for its processors. In a posting made on the new Windows 7 partner blog, Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc highlights the results of the collaboration. “Working with Intel, Microsoft implemented a new feature called SMT parking, which provided additional support for the Windows 7 scheduler for Intel Hyper-threading Technology, enabling better performance on hyper-threaded, multi-core Intel processors.”Intel and Microsoft have also been working on optimizing boot/ shutdown/ sleep/ and resume times, which could end up giving the chipmaker a substantial edge in performance for the foreseeable future.
Intel’s rival Nvidia also posted a follow up on the partner blog outlining GPGPU functions in Windows 7, and encouraged upgraders to spring for dedicated graphics cards. Ultimately the Intel announcement is more interesting since the DX Compute found in DirectX 11 will favor both ATI and Nvidia equally and it certainly makes me worry about the growing performance gap between Intel and AMD.
Will this announcement influence your upgrade decision?
According to Rick Bergman, AMD’s Senior Vice President for Platforms, he and his crew are looking to beat Nvidia to the world of DX11.
According to Bergman, “We want to supply hardware to Microsoft and software developers so they can make DX11 games on our hardware first.” This would put AMD ahead of Nvidia, something that hasn’t happened for several years, thanks to Nvidia’s dominance in the DX10 market. “We were kind of fighting from behind, but with DX11 it feels like we’re ahead this round.”
Despite reports that very few game titles would take advantage of DX11, Bergman is keeping up his enthusiasm. Reportedly, he knows of a handful of independent software vendors that are working “eagerly” to release games.
During a press conference at Computex, AMD gave the world's first official DirectX 11 GPU demonstration, saying the new API will debut before the end of 2009. When it does, AMD promised it would beat the competition to the punch and "deliver DirectX 11 first."
"Games and other applications are about to get a lot better as a result of AMD's new graphics hardware and DirectX 11," AMD stated in a press release. "DirectX 11 features such as tessellation will bring consumers higher quality, superior performing games making use of 6th generation AMD technology."
AMD also said its DX11-based videocards will improve Windows 7 performance in a wide number of applications and in a way that's "completely transparent to users," such as accelerating the conversion of video playback on portable media players.
New versions of Windows have featured new versions of DirectX, the 3D audio and graphics family of APIs, and it now appears that Windows 7 will be no exception. According to PC Games Hardware, Microsoft's Ben Basaric, Product Marketing Manager Windows, says that Redmond will be bundling DirectX 11 with Windows 7, after all. Earlier this week, PCGH had reported that the pairing of DirectX 11 and Windows 7 was "unlikely."
So, what's new in DirectX 11? As we reported this summer, DX 11 will include compute shader technology, enabling the GPU to perform operations other than 3D graphics; better multi-core resource handling; more efficient utilization of the processing pipeline; hardware tesselation support for more detailed 3D models.
For you chance to sound off about your plans to buy DirectX 11-compliant hardware, and how long you'll have to wait for it, join us after the jump.
When can you expect to buy DirectX 11-compliant GPUs? AMD says its first DirectX 11 parts will be available in late 2009 - right about the time Windows 7 is expected to arrive. New operating system and new graphics hardware? Hopefully, that's a recipe for more realistic 3D graphics than ever before. If Microsoft and OEMs continue to work as closely as the Engineering Windows 7 blog suggests, that's much more likely than a repeat of the poorly handled integration of hardware and Windows Vista at rollout.
How about you? Are you going to wait for DirectX 11 before you buy a new graphics card, or are NVIDIA and ATI's current products tempting you to make the jump now? Hit Comment and tell us what your heart (and your wallet) are telling you.