PowerColor this week announced a new series of videocards it says are "environmentally friendly and cost efficient to the consumer." Kicking off the new Go! Green series is a pair of ATI cards - the HD 4650 and HD 4350.
Both cards come equipped with PowerColor's custom Silent Cooling Solution (SCS) passive heatsink, with the HD 4650 version adding heatpipes to the mix (SCS3). Partially as a result, PowerColor claims its HD 4650 consumes 38 percent less power than an Nvidia GeForce 9500GT videocard, while the HD 4350 boasts a 24 percent power savings over the Nvidia GeForce 8400GS. Likewise, the HD 4650 and HD 4350 offer up to 22 percent and 36 percent better performance than each one's respective Nvidia equivalent, PowerColor claims.
Availability is expected in July, but no word yet on price.
AMD/ATI this week released new Catalyst drivers, now in version 9.6. The new driver package sports a number of performance improvements, including:
Company of Heroes - up to 25 percent better performance with HD 4600 series
Crysis - up to 13 percent better performance in multi-GPU configurations
Crysis Warhead - up to 11 percent better performance in mutli-GPU configurations
World in Conflict - up to 30 percent better performance in settings that were previously CPU limited
In addition to goosing performance in a handful of titles, Catalyst 9.6 also squashes a boatload of bugs and resolves a ton of issues across all current Windows operating systems. Some of these include:
Opening Crossfire pages no longer causes Catalyst Control Center to stop responding (all Windows OSes)
Catalyst Control Center no longer appears interlaced when automatic deinterlacing is enabled (all Windows OSes)
On some configurations, video artifacts are no longer visible during playback of transcoded video files (Vista)
Team Fortress 2 some slowdowns no longer occur during gameplay (XP)
Catalyst Control Center no longer shows Crossfire as disabled (Windows 7)
For a full list of improvements (and there are many), refer to the release notes (PDF). Driver downloads available here.
We've heard rumors that Nvidia was planning on refreshing its GeForce GTX 295 videocard with a second, single-PCB version, and it looks like EVGA is the first to offer the new design.
"EVGA is proud to announce the latest and fastest in high performance graphics accelerators, the EVGA GTX 295 CO-OP Edition," EVGA wrote. "This card combines two GPUs onto a single PCB, a clear indication on why this card is called CO-OP!"
Core clockspeed will remain at 576MHz -- the same as EVGA's previous GTX 295 videocards -- however the company has goosed the memory clockspeed up from 1998MHz to 2016MHz.
EVGA also plans to sell separately a waterblock for the new card called the Hydro Copper. The full-cover copper waterblock ships with both 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch barbs and includes "an extreme high flow path design with a unique, integrated, pressure point."
If you thought the tension between Intel and Nvidia had already reached a boiling point over various licensing issues, just wait until the CPU maker (that would be Intel) releases its discrete graphics GPGPU solution called Larrabee sometime next year. The two companies (along with AMD/ATI) will suddenly be in direct competition on a whole new playing field, complete with a plot twist involving a longtime Nvidia graphics partner.
That partner, according to news and rumor site The Inquirer, is EVGA, who up to this point has been Nvidia's number one add-in-board (AIB) partner. Once Larrabee ships, that will change, The Inq says.
If true, this could be a big blow to Nvidia. EVGA has built an enthusiast following by offering one of the most flexible warranty policies in the business, and if the rumor holds true, this would be the second time a major partner jumped ship. Back in December of last year, XFX, another former Nvidia partner known for its liberal warranty terms, announced it would begin selling AMD videocards.
Maingear this week announced the Pulse gaming PC, the first Ion-based rig to sport upgradeable Nvidia graphics. The company also claims its Pulse is the "world's greenest gaming PC."
Built around Nvidia's Ion platform, the Pulse comes standard with an Intel 65W Core 2 Duo or Core 2 Quad processor, integrated GeForce 9300 graphics upgradeable to a discrete 9800 GT ECO card which the company says consumes 40 percent less power than a standard 9800 GT, up to 8GB of DDR2-800 memory, up to a 500GB hard drive or 160GB SSD, and an 80+ certified 300W power supply.
"The Maingear Puls with Nvidia graphics perfect for anyone who wants a small, energy efficient, and stylish PC," Maingear stated in a press release. "With its Nvidia Ion-based motherboard, the Pulse delivers the best graphics solution available for low-power, small form factor designs.
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.
You'll have to look to Mars to spy the fastest desktop consumer graphics card in the galaxy, which is the name of the new GPU Asus is showing off at Computex. Instead of two semi-custom GPUs that sit "between" a GTX 260 and 280, the Asus Mars 295 Limited Edition stuffs two higher end GTX 285 chips -- the fastest single GPU in Nvidia's lineup -- into a single package.
All told, the new card boasts all 240 shader processors on each GPU, a full 512-bit GDDR3 memory interface, 32 memory chips for 4GB total (2GB accessible per GPU), and the same core/shader/memory clockspeeds as the GTX 285 (648/1476/2400 MHz). By comparison, a traditional GTX 295 sports 896MB of GDDR3 per GPU on a 448-bit memory bus with core/shader/memory clockspeeds checking in at 576/1242/2000 MHz.
According to TechPowerUp, the funky looking cooler uses the same basic internal construction as the reference design for GTX 295 cards, albeit extending "slightly higher."
No word on price or availability, but Asus did say it would limit the run to 1,000 individually numbered cards.
If, ten years ago, you’d told us that graphics would eventually look as nice as they do now, we wouldn’t have believed you. But that’s mostly because you’re not Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney. That guy – he knows his stuff. So carve a bunch of obtrusive red Xs across every calendar day between May 27, 2019 and May 27, 2024, because according to Sweeney, that’s (approximately) when we’re gonna see photo-realistic videogame graphics.
“We're only about a factor of a thousand off from achieving all that in real-time without sacrifices. So we'll certainly see that happen in our lifetimes; it's just a result of Moore's Law. Probably 10-15 years for that stuff, which isn't far at all. Which is scary -- we'll be able to saturate our visual systems with realistic graphics at that point,” he told Gamasutra.
But that’s only half of the equation. Sweeney also noted that visuals as we know them go far beyond immaculate wall textures and sizzling explosions. People matter too – and even with all the computing power in the world, that particular Rubik’s Cube won’t soon be solved.
“It's anything that requires simulating human intelligence or behavior: animation, character movement, interaction with characters, and conversations with characters. They're really cheesy in games now,” he explained.
“And unfortunately, all of that's not just a matter of computational power, because if we had infinitely fast computers now, we still wouldn't be able to solve that, because we just don't have the algorithms; we don't know how the brain works or how to simulate it.”
Still though – 10 or 15 years. We actually plan on being alive at that point! Now then, other industries, it’s time for you to fulfill your respective ends of the bargain. Hoverboards, jetpacks, and tight-fitting spandex suits, we expect to see you front-and-center when we christen Neo Future Earth in about a decade. We can’t start the show without you!
Try to imagine where 3D gaming would be today if not for the graphics processing unit, or GPU. Without it, you wouldn't be tredging through the jungles of Crysis in all its visual splendor, nor would you be fending off endless hordes of fast-moving zombies at high resolutions. For that to happen, it takes a highly specialized chip designed for parallel processing to pull off the kinds of games you see today, the same ones that wouldn't be possible on a CPU alone. Going forward, GPU makers will try to extend the reliance on videocards to also include physics processing, video encoding/decoding, and other tasks that where once handled by the CPU.
It's pretty amazing when you think about how far graphics technology has come. To help you do that, we're going to take a look back at every major GPU release since the infancy of 3D graphics. Join us as we travel back in time and relive releases like 3dfx's Voodoo3 and S3's ViRGE lineup. This is one nostalgiac ride you don't want to miss!
Intel's Larrabee project might rank as one of the most anticipated technology releases in a long while, and it looks like we'll have to wait just a bit longer than originally thought. It was expected that Intel would launch its many-cored cGPU sometime in late 2009, however the chip maker is now saying it plans to launch Larrabee in 2010.
Not a whole lot of details are known about Larrabee, only that it's a x86-based discrete graphics solution built around the second generation Pentium processor technology with the P54C core. When Larrabee launches, it will come in several iterations, the lowest of which will comprise no less than 8 cores. On the higher end, look for at least 32 cores and a 2GHz or faster clockspeed.
While it all sounds impressive, Intel's Jospeh Schultz did say that it would be a "big challenge" to compete with products from Nvidia and AMD.