Much was made over the race to 1GHz on the CPU front, a race AMD won with its Athlon processor. Markedly less exciting (but still an impressive feat) has been the sprint to churn out the first factory-clocked 1GHz GPU, with AMD again claiming victory, this time over Nvidia instead of Intel.
"Throughout the 40-year history of AMD, we have continually focused on technology firsts that deliver superior value to the customer," said Rick Bergman, senior VP, Products Group, AMD. "The 1GHz ATI Radeon HD 4890 continues that tradition by increasing the performance and compute power of our flagship singleGPU solution, ensuring a great experience whether our customers are playing the latest DirectX 10.1 game or running GPU accelerated applications built with OpenCL."
At 1GHz, the HD 4890 is able to deliver 1.6 TeraFLOPs of computing power, or "50 percent more than that of the competition's best single-GPU solution." In terms of real-world performance, however, the HD 4890 trails slightly behind Nvidia's GTX 285 in most benchmarks, or at least it does at 900MHz (see review of Asus Radeon EAH4890 Top in the June 2009 issue of Maximum PC on page 74).
FPS jockeying aside, it's good to see AMD aggressively going after the top spot in the graphics market rather than concede the high-end sector to Nvidia like it had done with its last generation of GPUs.
Another first-quarter revenue report, and another loss, this one from Nvidia. According to the report, the GPU chip maker's revenue slid 42 percent from last year, posting a net loss of $201.3 million, or 37 cents per share. That's a big change over last year when Nvidia posted a profit to the tune of $176.8 million, or 30 cents per share.
But hey, it seems everyone's numbers are down, and for Nvidia, analysts were anticipating worse numbers. While Nvidia's revenue of $664.2 million is a far cry from the $1.15 billion it posted last year, Wall Street had Nvidia pegged at $534.4 million, undershooting by $130 million.
To help cope with the recession, Nvidia has begun cutting back on its inventory, a method which seems to be working so far. Inventory was scaled back from 144 to 64 days sequentially, CNet reports, and revenue grew 38 percent sequentially from last quarter.
"We made good progress managing expenses and significantly reducing inventory," said Jen-Hsun Huang, CEO of Nvidia.
Nvidia has just released a new WHQL-certified driver, version 185.85, for GeForce videocard and ION platform owners. The new driver adds official support for the recently released GTX 275 videocard, as well as support for CUDA 2.2, which Nvidia says will result in improved performance in GPU computing applications. Other performance claims include:
Up to 25 percent in The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena
Up to 22 perent in Crysis: Warhead with antialiasing enabled
Up to 11 percent in Fallout 3 with antialiasing enabled
Up to 14 percent in Far Cry 2
Up to 30 percent in Half-Life 2 engine games with 3-way and 4-way SLI
Up to 45 percent in Mirror's Edge with antialiasing enabled
You read that right - that's up to a 45 percent boost in Mirror's Edge, according to Nvidia. In addition, 185.85 updates the PhysX software to 9.09.0408 and offers "numerous bug fixes." Barrage of links below.
The latest graphics rumor making the rounds for the past month was that Nvidia would be releasing a single-PCB version of its dual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocard, however it was unclear what other changes the design alteration would result in. At least until now.
According to news and rumor site Fudzilla, the slimmer, single-PCB GTX 295 looks to be more about cutting costs than adding performance. Following in ATI's footsteps, Nvidia will place both GPUs on a single circuit board, which should help the company save a bit on manufacturing.
However, only the memory is said to getting a small boost, with Nvidia increasing the reference design's frequency from 1000MHz on the dual-PCB version to 1100MHz on the single-PCB. Both the core and shaders clockspeeds will remain the same at 576MHz and 1242MHz, respectively, and despite shelving the second PCB, it will still be a dual-slot card. It will also be half an inch longer, Fudzilla says, measuring a full eleven inches.
If the rumor holds true, look for the revised card to show up by the middle of May with no change to its price point.
In today’s world of gaming hardware, ray tracing is the epitome of gaming graphics. Sadly, rendering them is difficult for current hardware due to their extremely random nature. Caustic Graphics is fixing that issue, all thanks to their graphics co-processor, the Ray Tracing Processing Unit (RTPU).
The RTPU works alongside current 3D graphics processors to bring rays at frame rates acceptable for interactive applications. While the offered 3-5 frames per second works for these applications, it’s nowhere near what gamers require. Thankfully, they claim that their second generation of hardware, out sometime next year, will be able to deliver 14 times that frame rate.
Be sure to check out a video of the tracing in action here.
More and more custom cooling solutions are starting to appear for Nvidia's GeForce GTX 285 videocards, with one of the more intriguing options belonging to MSI. The company has taken traditional heatpipe designs, fattened them up, and slapped them on its N285GTX SuperPipe OC graphics card.
"Today, MSI is pleased to announce the N285GTX SuperPipe graphics card, which not only brings to bear the powerful NVIDIA GPU - GeForce GTX 285, but, via the revolutionary ‘SuperPipe’ and Twin Frozr thermal design, offers a high performance and thermal efficiency graphics card," MSI wrote in a press release.
The aptly named SuperPipes consiste of 8mm thick heatpipes, which are up to 60 percent thicker than traditional heatpipes. According to MSI, the wider design leads to 90 percent better cooling performance. The N285GTX has been outfitted with five heatpipes in all, two of which are SuperPipes, on an all-metal heatsink with dual fans.
AMD has just released new Catalyst 9.4 drivers for ATI videocard owners. In keeping with the promise the company previously made, Catalyst 9.4 offers unified support for Windows 7, XP, and Vista.
Highlighted in the 9.4 release is the new ATI OverDrive auto-tuning application. Designed for the ATI Radeon HD 4000 series, the new OverDrive module claims to "accurately determine the best overclocked engine and memory values for ATI OverDrive supported ATI Radeon graphics accelerators." AMD cautions it will not warranty busted videocards that give up the ghost as a result of using the utility, which further highlights why it's so cool XFX, who will have your back, now sells ATI-branded cards.
Catalyst 9.4 resolves a number if issues covering all supported operating systems. Among the resolutions:
World of Warcraft no longer flickers when Shadow is set to medium/high in a CrossFire configuration (Vista)
Resolutions above 1024 x 768 will now full screen properly for specific HDMI displays (Vista)
Overlay Theater Mode display no longer corrupt after enabling 3D screen saver (XP)
Display now redraws correctly in City of Villains after changing graphics settings (Windows 7)
No more jitter or flicker caused by WinDVD9 HD playback (Windows 7)
Before someone asks, the answer is 'yes,' we don't doubt the Atlas Folder can handle Crysis. But despite outfitting his server with 23 -- TWENTY EFFING THREE! -- gual-GPU GeForce GTX 295 videocards, Jason Farqué, who goes by the username Atlas Folding, has a more important goal in mind:
"The reason that my father in enrolled in [a clinical trial] is the same as the reason I run my folding farm. To fight back, to do something," Farqué wrote on his blog. "To help science overcoming Huntington's Disease so that people as yet unborn wont' have as hard a time as he and others do. Because my father wants the human race to succeed, to get better, to overcome our bodies' inherent frailties by using our minds."
Farqué's father suffers from Huntington's Disease, and if Stanford's Folding@Home distributed computing project leads to a cure, then it will be hard to imagine a better use for such a gluttony of high powered videocards. Among the setup are 9 MSI-brand 295s, 14 EVGA-brand 295s, and and a single GTX 260 and 9800GT thrown in for good measure.
And if you think that's impressive, Farqué has been mulling a similar setup with Nvidia's 300 series once it launches.
Check out a video of the super Folding server here, a Maximum PC forum post on how Farqué handled the configuration here, and see how you can both help the cause and lead Maximum PC to victory in this year's Chimp Challenge here.
Holy moly, what a day it's been in graphics cards. Nvidia and ATI are set to do battle in the mid-range market, the former with today's announcement of the GeForce GTX 275 videocard, and ATI with the launch of its HD 4890 videocard.
While Nvidia's announcement may have been intended to steal some thunder from ATI's HD 4890 launch, it hasn't seemed to make much of a difference. According to news site DailyTech, 50,000 Radeon HD 4980 videocards have already been shipped to retailers, many of which have been sold to end-users before today's launch. A quick glance at the Egg shows several models selling for $250, with mail-in-rebates bringing the price down another $20, including XFX, who recently defected as an Nvidia-only board partner to sell both ATI and Nvidia brand videocards.
Rumored specs turned out to be largely true for ATI's new part. The RV790-based 4890 comes with a core clockspeed of 850MHz, or 100MHz faster than the HD 4870. Other goodies include 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 975MHz on a 256-bit bus, 800 stream processors, 40 texture units, 16 ROPs, and a 190W rated maximum TDP (60W idle).
Nvidia today announced the GeForce GTX 275 GPU, which the company claims is the highest performing GPU in the $230 to $250 price tier. As the name suggests, the GTX 275 nestles in between the GTX 260 and GTX 285, fleshing out the company's mid-range graphics line.
Build around the GT200 architecture, the GTX 275 sports 240 processor cores racing along at 1,404MHz, 80 texture processing units, and 895MB of GDDR3 video memory clocked at 1,134MHz on a 448-bit bus. The reference design calls for the GPU to run 634MHz. The end result is a videocard that, according to Nvidia, will best ATI's HD 4890 by 10 to 20 percent.
Nvidia also announced its new GeForce Power Pack #3. Included with the new Power Pack are three new PhysX-accelerated apps and two new CUDA-accelerated programs.
The GeForce GTX 275 will be available globally on or before April 14 in both standard and overclocked versions from the usual suspects (Asus, BFG, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, XFX, and more).