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Back in March, my colleague Carl Wakeland wrote an excellent blog describing all the reasons why audio is so important in VR. It’s a long read but well worth the time. As he puts it so articulately, what we hear is vital to our perception of reality. And achieving lifelike presence in virtual reality demands audio that sounds as real as the graphics need to look. Suspension of disbelief.

 

Audio that Feels Real

Creating audio that feels real when you’re in VR – when you can turn your head in any direction with continuous visuals - requires both physical acoustics-based sound modeling, and concurrent real-time audio physics calculations and processing. Conventional pre-baked approximations can offer acceptable experiences, but will fail to create the true presence necessary for full immersion.

 

The way to achieve immersive VR audio is by enabling a significant number of audio sources and processing them with real-time dynamic physics at low latency. This process allows humanly-unnoticeable delays between an input being processed and the corresponding output. However, it requires achieving a level of real-time performance in gaming scenarios that is not possible on the CPU alone. Because of performance limitations, physics-based audio engines have been forced to rely on statistically-derived physics – until now.

 

Physics-Based Audio Acoustics Rendering

Enter AMD TrueAudio Next. As part of AMD’s LiquidVR™ technology initiative aimed at enabling a fully immersive and comfortable virtual reality experience, TrueAudio Next is a scalable AMD technology that enables real-time dynamic physics-based audio acoustics rendering. It uses Radeon Rays (formerly AMD FireRays) to enable the entire soundscape to be modeled physically, with more than 32 stereo 2-second convolution sources.

 

We are thrilled today to announce that the TrueAudio Next open-source library is now available on GPUOpen.

 

TrueAudio Next stands out from the crowd thanks to the Asynchronous Compute Engines enabled by Radeon™ GCN and Polaris graphics architecture. It is a conventionally-held belief that using a GPU to render audio can cause too much latency, while also interfering with graphics performance. However, TrueAudio Next has the ability to leverage the powerful resources of GPU Compute, safely allowing the GPU to accelerate audio rendering. This is mainly thanks to a core element of this technology: Compute Unit (CU) Reservation.

 

AMD’s CU Reservation feature allows a limited set of CUs* to be partitioned off and reserved for as long as is required, offering a flexible and predictable reliable audio acceleration solution – isolating audio usage from graphics usage. [Note: AMD delivers the CU Reservation feature to AMD approved partners via the driver. The TrueAudio Next library can be used with or without CU Reservation.]

 

We are excited about the potential of TrueAudio Next, as it truly has the capacity to deliver spatially- and positionally-accurate audio to millions of consumers. It enables developers to integrate realistic audio into their VR content in order to achieve their artistic vision, without compromise. Combining this with AMD’s commitment to work with the development community to create rich, immersive content, the next wave of VR content can deliver truly immersive audio – that will sound and feel real.

 

Watch the video on AMD True Audio Next GPUOpen: TrueAudio Next - YouTube

Find out more at http://gpuopen.com/gaming-product/true-audio-next/

 

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of VR and Software Marketing for AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

*Discrete AMD Radeon™ and FirePro™ GPUs based on the Graphics Core Next architecture consist of multiple discrete execution engines known as a Compute Unit (“CU”). Each CU contains 64 shaders (“Stream Processors”) working together.

A major step toward enabling high-quality video streaming and recording, Advanced Media Framework (AMF) 1.3 is now open sourced, providing the structure for high quality video recording and live streaming. AMF 1.3 SDK will enable developers of Radeon™ graphics cards to create GPU-based game capture programs for high-quality multimedia streams on their favorite sites.

 

What is AMF?

Part of our GPUOpen initiative, the Advanced Media Framework (AMF) is an OS- and framework-agnostic multimedia API that enables developers to leverage the power of AMD hardware for real-time processing of multimedia, and building and accelerating complete multimedia applications.

AMF enables developers to take advantage of AMD Video Engines (VCE and UVD), including comprehensive APIs for video encoding, decoding, pre-processing, and post-processing. Accelerated encoding and decoding through CPU offloading optimizes access to AMD devices by using the CPU, GPU, and hardware accelerators for multimedia processing.

 

AMF 1.3 SDK

With the AMF 1.3 SDK, developers can create high-performance video editing, transcoding, and playback applications, enable enhanced user experience on highly efficient wireless displays and remote desktops. Succeeding Media SDK 1.1, AMF 1.3 has been updated with many new features, including a H.265 codec that enables higher quality video playback up to 4k UHD — at the same bitrate as H.264.

 

Open source, the new AMF 1.3 SDK is freely downloadable through GPUOpen, and available for any developer to use. The new no-cost AMF enables developers to easily integrate the SDK into their multimedia applications.

 

The new AMF 1.3 SDK also includes the runtime in the driver package, reducing maintenance for developers on application updates. Applications which leverage open source AMF 1.3 will create a significantly improved GPU-based game capture program that enables high quality encoding of streaming and recording on Radeon™ GPUs.

 

At AMD, our GPUOpen initiative is vital to creating and providing powerful tools for developers. AMD constantly strives to support collaborations with companies that share our vision. Please subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about our commitment to open source software — and discover how GPUOpen is helping developers create a superior customer experience for all gamers.

 

Find out more at http://gpuopen.com/gaming-product/advanced-media-framework/

 

Gurman Singh is a member of Software Marketing at AMD.

DOOM released globally to critical acclaim on May 13th with OpenGL® support and today the studio announced that Vulkan™ support is now live.

 

Doom Image.JPG

DOOM - the brutally fun and challenging modern-day shooter experience – was developed at id Software, the studio that pioneered the first-person shooter genre.

As many of you already know, the Vulkan™ API is a descendant of AMD’s Mantle that supports close-to-metal control across Windows® 7, Windows® 8.1, Windows® 10, and Linux®. Compared to OpenGL, Vulkan™ substantially reduces “API overhead” – the background work a CPU does to interpret what a game asks of the hardware – to deliver meaningful features, performance, and image quality and expose GPU hardware features that wouldn’t ordinarily be accessible through OpenGL.

 

DOOM benefits from Vulkan support by using several great features:

 

Asynchronous Shaders: Using multiple command processors — the Asynchronous Compute Engines in AMD’s Graphics Core Next and Polaris GPU architectures — each queue can submit commands without waiting for other tasks to complete.

Shader Intrinsics or Shader Intrinsic Functions, also called built-in functions, provide a way for game developers to directly access graphics hardware instructions in situations where those instructions would normally be abstracted by an API. This approach has been used successfully on gaming consoles to extract more performance from the GPU — and now AMD is enabling PCs with the same capability.

Frame Flip Optimizations which basically pass the frame directly to the display once it’s ready, i.e. skips the copy and save.

 

As Robert Duffy, Chief Technical Officer of id software pointed out at the AMD event at Computex 2016, “Vulkan is a modern API, with roots to AMD’s Mantle technology, and it provides real benefits to both us as developers and the large community of gamers using a wide range of hardware. When you factor in additional AMD features, like true Asynchronous Compute, custom intrinsic instructions, and combine those with a raw speed of idTech 6, we believe the experience on AMD will be hard to beat.”

Performance numbers produced by AMD internal testing show the performance benefits of Vulkan versus OpenGL implementation:

  • Up to 27% faster performance at 1920x1080 using Radeon Software 16.7.1 and DOOM Vulkan on Radeon™ RX480 than with Radeon Software 16.7.1 and DOOM OpenGL.1
  • Up to 23% faster performance at 2560x1440 using Radeon Software 16.7.1 and DOOM Vulkan on Radeon™ RX480 than with Radeon Software 16.7.1 and DOOM OpenGL.2 

Now it’s time to gear yourself up with Radeon® graphics and experience the incredible performance of the Vulkan version of DOOM!

 

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of VR and Software Marketing for AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Liam Gallagher, Software Product Marketing, AMD, contributed to this blog.

 

Vulkan and the Vulkan logo are trademarks of Khronos Group Inc.

DOOM images and logo © 2016 Bethesda Softworks LLC, a ZeniMax Media company. DOOM and related logos are registered trademarks or trademarks of id Software LLC in the U.S. and/or other countries. All Rights Reserved.

  1. 1. Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of July 6th, 2016 on the AMD Radeon™ RX 480, on a test system comprising Intel i7 5960X CPU, 16GB DDR4-2666 Mhz system memory, Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver 16.7.1 and Windows 10 x64 using the game DOOM on the ultra preset. PC manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. At 1920x1080, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 running DOOM OpenGL scored 106.40 and Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 running DOOM Vulkan scored 135.65 on AMD Radeon™ RX 480, which is 27.5% faster performance. Performance may vary based on use of latest drivers. Test results are not average and may vary. RS-43
  2. 2. Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of July 6th, 2016 on the AMD Radeon™ RX 480, on a test system comprising Intel i7 5960X CPU, 16GB DDR4-2666 Mhz system memory, Radeon Software Crimson Edition driver 16.7.1 and Windows 10 x64 using the game DOOM on the ultra preset. PC manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. At 2560x1440, Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 running DOOM OpenGL scored 68.51 and Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.7.1 running DOOM Vulkan scored 84.34 on AMD Radeon™ RX 480, which is 23.1% faster performance. Performance may vary based on use of latest drivers. Test results are not average and may vary. RS-44

 

  Good news for PC gamers seeking the latest tactical advantage: AMD’s new Radeon WattMan utility delivers full overclocking command and control of select AMD Radeon™ graphics cards. Gamers and power users seeking ultimate graphics performance and efficiency can use Radeon WattMan to help achieve higher graphics performance and frame rates, greater efficiency and power savings, cool and quiet operation, improved operational stability, and extended service life.

 

Based on gamer-acclaimed Radeon Software features, Radeon WattMan offers innovative new ways of controlling GPU voltage, graphics engine clocks, memory clocks, fan speed, temperature, and more. Comprehensive tuning features now include precise controls for overvoltage and per-state frequency curve for the GPU clock, enabling fine-tuning to achieve an optimal optimum playing experience for particular games or applications.

 

A new histogram displays and records GPU activity, clock speeds, temperature and fan speed, enabling users to visualize and understand how tuning parameters affect the performance of a particular game or application, and use that captured performance data for more precise configuration.

 

wattman.PNG

First introduced in the initial Radeon Software Crimson Edition launch, Radeon WattMan includes a per-profile overclocking feature that allocates a dedicated overclocking profile for each detected game. Launching a detected game automatically applies a dedicated overclocking settings profile, with configuration settings reverting to user-selected global defaults upon closing the game.

 

Radeon WattMan replaces the current AMD OverDrive™ and its tab in the Radeon Settings software application, and is compatible with Radeon™ RX 400 Series GPUs. Radeon WattMan combines unprecedented graphics fine-tuning capabilities and customized performance-enhancing configuration profiles in the intuitive and user-friendly Radeon Settings interface in the Radeon Software Crimson Edition.

 

Note: AMD’s product warranty does not cover damages caused by overclocking, even when overclocking is enabled via AMD hardware and/or software.

 

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of VR and Software Marketing for AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

The Björk Digital Exhibition and AMD working together on the Björk ‘NotGet’ video directed by Nick Thornton Jones and Warren du Preez

 

There is very little introduction needed for Björk. She is a singer and actress, but first and foremost, an artist. Art is the outlet to her imagination. We are provoked by it, inspired by it, and encouraged by it.

Bjork_PhotoCred_Santiago_Felipe.jpgBjörk’s ‘NotGet’ Digital Exhibition is a ‘first of its kind’ creative and technical partnership with AMD. It is a premium VR dive into an intimate performance of her most personal and emotionally swaying songs. The directors of Björk's first mixed reality feature Warren du Preez and Nick Thornton Jones were able to utilize the latest reality capture, digital animation, games engine and playback technologies and techniques, affording Björk the broadest creative palette to draw from in this amazing new medium.

 

This immersive and interactive experience is powered by Radeon™ R9 390 graphics, which  paired with AMD LiquidVR™ technology enables full sense of “presence” that seems every bit as real as the physical world.

 

“Radeon graphics processors and their creative capacity for exploring new elements and creative expression are a fantastic tool, rendering our collaboration and work in progress to date on NotGet with Björk that is opening up a whole new dimension in immersive storytelling and how we experience new things,” said directors Nick Thornton Jones and Warren du Preez. “Collaborating with Björk within the dynamic audio visual spectrum of rendering real time motion graphics/animation in 'true' game engine based VR has allowed us to really explore and experiment and define new boundaries within the medium together.”

 

Using the HTC Vive, visitors engage creatively with Björk’s digital manifestation and performance, moving freely around the scene and painting with neon lights to reinforce the song’s positive outcome. Interaction with her dynamic visual narratives provides a new dimension of experience to Björk’s unique and astounding creativity.

 

Björk’s ‘NotGet’ Digital Exhibition will be live at the Miraikan in Tokyo, Japan starting June 29. There will also be an opportunity to see Björk at future tour locations in London, Houston and Reykjavik this year.

The Wall.JPG

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of VR and Software Marketing for AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Gaming like an eSports pro requires talent, ambition and of course plenty of practice, but you also need to have the right combination of hardware. In League of Legends, one moment of stuttering can be the difference between life and death, so gamer's need serious graphics power. But nobody wants to drag an elephant-sized PC to the LAN tournament; you also need something small, sleek, portable and capable to bring your best game.

 

Earlier this year, AMD joined with professional gaming team FNATIC as its official processor sponsor and to provide robust and slim hardware that its players can trust. But you don’t need to make the team to use the same great gear; gamer's can easily build a similar system to what FNATIC players count on in the eSports arena.

 

  Built with the high-performance AMD A10-7860K processor including capable Radeon™ R7 graphics for world class online gaming, the platform delivers incredibly smooth performance, offering up to 79 frames per second (average) at full HD 1080p resolution in some of the most popular online games like Counter Strike: Global Offensive, League of Legends and World of Tanks.

 

System configuration details below

 

With its quad-core CPU and powerful graphics combined on one efficient chip, the A10-7860K enables all of this power to fit in a tiny, attractive, and easy-to-transport case. AMD FreeSync™ technology also eliminates image tears and choppiness for the smooth game play needed for victory.

 

The A10-7860K features full DirectX® 12 and Vulkan™ supporting current titles, as well as next-generation game titles, and comes fully-featured with support for up to three displays in multi-monitor Eyefinity, Microsoft® Xbox Game™ streaming through Windows® 10, and high-resolution H.265 video playback and encoding acceleration. So whatever your gaming need, AMD has got you covered.

 

While we can’t help you improve your aim or give you cat-like reflexes, AMD can provide you with great performance thanks to high clock rates and built-in Radeon R7 graphics, ensuring a smooth, immersive experience in some of the most popular online and eSports games right out of the box. May you strike first and last.

 

168995-A_AMD_ESPORTS_HORIZ_E_RGB.JPG

 

To learn more about AMD hardware and key features:

 

Jay Marsden is a PR Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied. 

 

 

 

Additional Information:

DirectX, Microsoft, Xbox One and Windows are trademarks or registered trademarks of Microsoft Corporation in the US and other jurisdictions. Vulkan and the Vulkan logo are trademarks of the Khronos Group Inc

FNATIC PTY LTD. All rights reserved.

 

System Configurations for E-Sports Gaming Performance:

* Low settings, 2XAA

** AMD Internal lab testing as of Jan. 25, 2016 on Microsoft Windows 10 using an AMD A10-7860K processor, 2x4GB of DDR3-2133 RAM, on an ASUS A88X-PRO motherboard using the Catalyst 16.1 Graphics Driver.

All games were run at Full HD 1080p with various detail settings. The system achieved 45fps avg. in DOTA2, 50fps avg. in Counter Strike: Global Offensive, and 79fps avg. in League of Legends. GV-26

YouTube is flooded with new game trailers, Reddit is abuzz with reactions, and it seems that every hour another press conference is kicking off live on Twitch to bring people more juicy gaming news than we can handle. Yes, E3 2016 is most definitely underway, and AMD and Alienware are in the mix in the big way.

 

Just a few minutes ago, AMD CEO Lisa Su took the stage at E3 to give the world of PC gaming what it was waiting for: a look at the full line-up of our next-generation Radeon™ RX Series graphics cards based on the revolutionary Polaris architecture.

 

These cards are going to transform PC gaming this summer, giving gamers enthusiast class performance and features for gamers at mainstream price points. The previously announced Radeon™ RX 480 graphics card, designed for incredibly smooth AAA gaming at 1440p resolution and set to be the most affordable solution for premium VR experiences starting at just $199 SEP for the Radeon RX 480 4GB version, is joined by the newly announced Radeon™ RX 470 graphics card, for unbelievable gaming at 1080p resolution, and the Radeon™ RX 460, a cool and efficient solution for the ultimate eSports experience. Check out the official press release for all the details here.

 

If that wasn’t enough, Lisa also showed off some of the insanely cool work that we’re doing in close collaboration with our technology partners.  That included a world-first sneak-peek of the upcoming Serious Sam VR experience from Croteam using AMD LiquidVR Technology, and some exciting new PC technology from Alienware, including the new Alienware VR Backpacki product concept featuring Radeon™ RX Series graphics.

 

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The VR backpack concept is a stunning new way to maximize the VR experience while minimizing cable clutter. As AMD works to democratize VR by making a premium VR experience available to millions of consumers, Alienware too has been exploring new ways of empowering consumers to enjoy VR. The backpack concept aims to squeeze in the ultra-efficient, high-performance Radeon™ RX Series graphics to give gamers the quality experience and sophisticated engineering they’ve come to expect from both companies.

 

Radeon™ graphics will also be powering Alienware’s entire next-generation line-up of gaming desktops, which were unveiled at E3 today. The forthcoming Radeon™ RX Series graphics processors will soon be a part of the lineup available on the Alienware Aurora, delivering exceptional gaming performance and VR capabilities typically reserved for larger systems in a sleek industrial design that maximizes cooling without sacrificing ergonomics. Engineered to support dual-graphics, and liquid-cooled, overclocked processors, the Alienware Aurora is every gamer’s dream.

 

Continuing its push into exciting new form factors, Radeon™ graphics will also drive the new Alienware Alpha, redefining the notion of desktop gaming by delivering extraordinary gaming performance in small form factor desktops that are ideal for the living room, and ultra-portable for toting around to LAN parties.

 

This June has already been an incredible month for PC gamers and we’re just halfway through. Follow along with AMD this E3 on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned throughout the rest of the month as the excitement around the new Radeon™ RX Series graphics hits a fever pitch!

 

Ogi Brkic is the Sr Director of Product Management at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

Cautionary Statement

 

This blog contains forward-looking statements concerning Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (“AMD”) including, among other things, the features, functionality, benefits, pricing, timing, expectations and availability of AMD Radeon™ RX series graphic cards, which are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are commonly identified by words such as "would," "may," "expects," "believes," "plans," "intends," "projects" and other terms with similar meaning. Investors are cautioned that the forward-looking statements in this document are based on current beliefs, assumptions and expectations, speak only as of the date of this document and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations. Material factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from current expectations include, without limitation, the following: the possibility that Intel Corporation’s dominance of the microprocessor market and its aggressive business practices may limit AMD’s ability to compete effectively; AMD relies on GLOBALFOUNDRIES Inc. (GF) to manufacture all of its microprocessor and APU products and a certain portion of its GPU products, with limited exceptions. If GF is not able to satisfy AMD’s manufacturing requirements, its business could be adversely impacted; AMD relies on third parties to manufacture its products, and if they are unable to do so on a timely basis in sufficient quantities and using competitive technologies, AMD’s business could be materially adversely affected; failure to achieve expected manufacturing yields for AMD’s products could negatively impact its financial results; the success of AMD’s business is dependent upon its ability to introduce products on a timely basis with features and performance levels that provide value to its customers while supporting and coinciding with significant industry transitions; if AMD cannot generate sufficient revenue and operating cash flow or obtain external financing, it may face a cash shortfall and be unable to make all of its planned investments in research and development or other strategic investments; the loss of a significant customer may have a material adverse effect on AMD; global economic uncertainty may adversely impact AMD’s business and operating results; and the markets in which AMD’s products are sold are highly competitive; and uncertainties involving the ordering and shipment of AMD’s products could materially adversely affect it. Investors are urged to review in detail the risks and uncertainties in AMD’s Securities and Exchange Commission filings, including but not limited to AMD’s Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 26, 2016.

 

iCurrently in product concept stage only and is subject to change. Images, mock-ups and demos of the VR Backpack are conceptual, not the actual product, and are for illustrative purposes only.

Since the year 2000, eSports has been an area of PC gaming which shows consistent, significant growth. A major part of this growth can be credited to organized teams, brands and celebrities whose fans can relate to and help drive the market forward. Now eSports is at a stage where teams and players are able to earn between 4 to 7 figure sums of money through prizes and sponsorships. Large events are attended by thousands with many more watching online and some events are even starting to be covered on traditional TV channels.

 

As eSports pushes the limits of what is achievable in technologies such as the CPU and GPU, AMD components must give players the clean and stable performance they need during those important tournament matches. The influence of new advances in technology helps shape both the competitive environment and the consumer audience who look to follow in the footsteps of their favorite teams.

 

So who are some of these gamers that go out globally and play at these events? We would like to start with introducing several of the most relevant e-sports team right now.

 

Fnatic

 

Squads for current games: League of Legends™, Dota® 2, Counter-Strike™: Global Offensive, Heroes of the Storm™.

Fnatic is one of the biggest brands in the world of eSports. They were founded in the UK in 2004 by Sam and Anne Mathews. Their League of Legends team holds the record for the most EU League Championship Series titles, having won five of the last six series. Their Counter-Strike team has been active since Fnatic’s inception and has been one of the top teams in the world since the switch to Counter-Strike™: Global Offensive, winning several major tournaments in 2015.

 

Fnatic also hosts an academy where aspiring gamers can follow their dreams of becoming professional players. They were awarded Team of the Year in both 2006 and 2009.

 

Counter Logic Gaming (CLG)

Squads for current games: League of Legends™, Halo 5™, Counter-Strike™: Global Offensive, Super Smash Bros™.

CLG was formed in North America in 2010 by two people, George "HotshotGG" Georgallidis and Alexander "Vodoo" Beutel to compete in League of Legends (LoL) tournaments. It is one of the oldest League of Legends teams, playing since the game was released by Riot Games back in 2009/2010. CLG has competed in the League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) since 2013 and were able to win the 2015 Summer Split of the Season. Winning the 2015 Summer Split earned them the chance to compete in the 2015 LoL World Championships where they unfortunately were knocked out during the group stages.

 

They have also become a multi-gaming team in recent years, picking up squads in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Halo and Super Smash Brothers. All are looking strong going into 2016 and this is one team to keep your eyes on.

 

SK Gaming

Squads for current games: League of Legends™, Counter-Strike™: Global Offensive, QuakeLive™, Hearthstone™, FIFA™, World of Warcraft™, Rocket League™.

 

Schroet Kommando (SK) is one of the longest running eSports teams, formed in Germany in 1997 as a Quake clan. A few years down the line in 2001, not only did they have a great Quake team but they merged a Counter-Strike squad and a news syndicate into the organization to create the successful SK Insider project. The SK Insider was paid premium service for the team where fans could download replays of games, configurations to play like their favorite players and talk to the SK Gaming players exclusively. In 2003, they signed a Swedish Counter-Strike team which had notable players such as Heaton, f0rest, and SpawN, and became one of the first teams to contract gamers professionally. SK was truly way ahead of everyone during that period.

 

Roll on a few years and SK has had success in Quake 4, FIFA, StarCraft 2, Warcraft 3. They are still going strong and currently have a competitive League of Legends team which recently was knocked out of the LCS. As the Spring season already has the teams set, SK Gaming will have to try to qualify again for the Summer Season. Their World of Warcraft squad recently won Blizzard’s own Blizzcon World Championships.

 

What is next for these teams?

With 2016 around the corner, Fnatic, SK Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming will look to build on 2015’s performance. Both SK Gaming and Counter Logic Gaming will be competing heavily with other well-known teams in eSports and aiming to become number 1 in the respected games they play.

 

AMD is a proud sponsor of the 2016 Fnatic League of Legends team. They are looking to repeat their success in the European LCS, despite welcoming several new players to the team. Fnatic’s 2016 Counter-Strike team is currently ranked #4 in the world by Gosugamers. You can follow Fnatic at - http://fnatic.com

 

For SK specifically, they want to get back into the main LoL league, the European LCS, a place they recently lost in a relegation battle. Also be sure to check out how their WoW champions perform during 2016 and to see if they can retain their title. You can catch all what they are all doing on their team page - http://www.sk-gaming.com/.

 

CLG looked strong during 2015 in the North American LCS, becoming number 1. Will they be able to hold onto it during the 2016 season? Elsewhere it could be a massive year for their Halo team as they try to qualify for the World Championships which already has a prize pool of $1.5 million dollars. That will likely rise thanks to crowdfunding. Keep up with what they are doing on their team page - http://www.clgaming.net/.

For eSports related marketing toolkits for our channel partners and other sales resources, visit the AMD Partner Hub at partner.amd.com.

Gerald Youngblood is the Director of Worldwide Channel Marketing & Communications for AMD and can be found tweeting at @GCYoungblood. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

We’ve been watching and listening when you’ve been asking about the status of a UEFI VBIOS for certain Radeon™ GPUs. Those of you who know what that is are likely quite interested in reading the rest of this blog, and you’ll be pleased to know that we have a solution for you.

 

A little background on UEFI

Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) is a relatively new standard for motherboard firmware that replaces the classic BIOS firmware standard. UEFI offers neat features like smart hardware monitoring, full color and high-resolution GUIs, PCIe® SSD booting, mouse and flash drive support and more. UEFI is also an essential player in the chain of custody driving the SecureBoot and fast boot features in Windows® 8, 8.1 and 10. Other devices essential to the PC boot process, like GPUs, can also have a firmware that is compliant with the requirements of UEFI.

 

If every device on the system has UEFI-compliant firmware, then a UEFI motherboard can disable a feature called Compatibility Service Module (CSM) to get the fastest possible boot times in Windows.

 

In the race to obtain faster boot times, GPUs are in an interesting position:

  1. Loading a GPU with a UEFI-compliant firmware renders them incompatible with motherboards that still run BIOS firmware. These motherboards will never boot in this configuration.
  2. Loading a GPU with a “legacy” BIOS-compliant firmware maximizes compatibility, ensuring motherboards with a BIOS firmware can boot the GPU. However, UEFI motherboards must enable CSM to interpret and run the “legacy” GPU BIOS—boot times are slowed as a result.
  3. Loading a GPU with a “hybrid” firmware that contains both UEFI and BIOS-compliant firmware works just fine for UEFI motherboards, but some older motherboards with BIOS firmware cannot read the newer hybrid GPU firmware and do not boot.

 

Despite the drawbacks, it seems clear that option #2 is the best way forward to ship a GPU that works with everyone’s hardware. Options #1 and #3 would result in GPUs that simply don’t boot for millions of customers that have otherwise perfectly fine motherboards configured with BIOS firmware.

 

The Rise of UEFI

In recent months, new chipsets and I/O standards (e.g. M.2 or USB 3.1 Gen 2) have driven a wave of new motherboards overwhelmingly based on UEFI firmware. These exciting features have understandably driven a broad-based upgrade cycle that has flushed older motherboards with BIOS firmware out of the market. The appetite for UEFI-compliant GPUs has grown.

 

We anticipated this trend! Since the advent of the Radeon™ R9 300 and Fury Series GPUs, our board manufacturing partners (“AIBs”) have had access to source code suitable for building customized UEFI-based firmwares. Many AIBs have already transitioned to UEFI by including this code in their custom firmware images, or have implemented solutions like “dual-BIOS” switches to work around the potential issues with BIOS-based motherboards. Today, it’s quite easy to find a UEFI-compliant Radeon™ R9 300 or Fury Series GPU that enables a pure EFI boot environment and the fastest boot modes.

 

UEFI GPU Firmware Upgrade

We have been tracking the chatter from a small and passionate group of users with Radeon™ R9 Fury X or R9 Nano GPUs that shipped with BIOS-compliant firmware for compatibility reasons. These users tell us they would prefer UEFI-compliant firmware. We hear you loud and clear, and we want you to know that we’re able to assist on these specific products because they track rather closely to our original hardware/firmware designs.

 

As a result, today we are releasing AMD-built UEFI-compliant GPU firmware for the Radeon™ R9 Fury X and R9 Nano GPUs. These firmware images can be flashed to any Radeon™ R9 Fury X and R9 Nano GPU, respectively, to enable UEFI compliance and a pure EFI boot environment.

 

Download images:

1. Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU firmware image

2. Radeon™ R9 Nano GPU firmware image

 

We appreciate all of your passionate feedback on this topic, and we hope you enjoy quicker and more secure boot times!

As part of the recent excitement generated by the AMD Capsaicin event held during GDC 2016, the world discovered that AMD is at the heart of 83% of the exciting Virtual Reality (VR) head-mounted display (HMD) systems market worldwide.1  From traditional bastions of gaming, such as consoles and discrete graphics cards inside gaming PCs, to incredible innovations such as the wireless Sulon Q head-mounted display powered by an AMD FX-8800P APU, AMD is demonstrating the prowess needed to drive the immersive experiences of VR.

 

The last piece of the VR puzzle is to understand where today’s AMD desktop platforms fit into the broad VR ecosystem. In fact, HTC recommends the AMD FX™ 8350 as a processor that’s capable of driving the HTC Vive VR headset - a fantastic and very accessible entry point to a VR-capable PC. Simply select your VR recommended discrete GPU to enable your VR experience.

 

Valve, the game developer behind incredibly popular games such as DOTA 2, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, and Half-Life, recently released the SteamVR performance test so that gamers can find out how capable their hardware is for Virtual Reality workloads.

 

VR Ready

In our testing, we found that many of our popular desktop processors can meet the High or Very High fidelity performance levels needed to earn the SteamVR performance test VR Ready moniker:

 

AMD Processor

GPU

SteamVR Test Fidelity

AMD FX™ 9370
AMD FX™  8370
AMD FX™  8350
AMD FX™  6350

Radeon™ R9 Fury

GeForce GTX 980

Very High

Radeon™ R9 390

GeForce GTX 970

High

 

With zero dropped frames and no CPU bottlenecked frames, the AMD FX 8-core/6-core processors listed above deliver the performance needed to earn the “VR Ready” rating.

 

VR Capable

Decades of PC gaming have taught us that there’s a wide spectrum of capable hardware to choose from, and that you don’t need to spend top dollar in order to have a worthwhile experience. VR is no different. The highest-end hardware will provide the highest visual fidelity, but you can get a great experience from a midrange PC as long as you pair it with a capable graphics card designed to maximize your VR experience - then adjust visual detail levels appropriately. The SteamVR performance test also indicates where a more mainstream PC can be considered “VR Capable” for these hand-tuned VR gaming experiences, some of which we have indicated below:

 

AMD Processor

GPU

SteamVR Test Fidelity

A10-7890K

A10-7860K

AMD Athlon™ X4 880K

Radeon™ R9 380

GeForce GTX 960

Medium

 

Again, all these combinations caused no CPU bottlenecked frames, ensuring the discrete GPU is working hard to deliver the best VR experience it can. A VR Capable rated platform is also able to be upgraded to “VR Ready” status by upgrading the discrete GPU – our testing shows an A10-7890K platform can be upgraded to Very High fidelity by using a GeForce GTX 980 graphics card, for example.

 

The Bottom Line

PC users shouldn’t assume they need to replace their PC to try out VR, and folks who want to build a brand-new system to experience virtual reality may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the AMD FX™, Athlon™ X4, and A10-series processors are viable platforms to enjoy this new, incredible, and immersive medium. Our testing is not designed to be exhaustive, so if you have a combination not listed above, go ahead and try out the SteamVR performance tool and share your results with us on your favorite social media platform, and tag it #AMDVR.

 

Learn More

For more information on this or other AMD products check out these resources:

  • Learn more about the AMD processors here
  • Learn more about Radeon™ Graphics here
  • Learn more about AMD LiquidVR™ here
  • Become a fan of AMD on Facebook
  • Follow AMD on Twitter

 

Till next time - GET MORE with AMD Processors!

 

Jay Marsden is a Communications Manager at AMD. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

Additional Information:

  1. According to Jon Peddie Research as of March 11, 2016, AMD is estimated as powering 83% of the total addressable market for dedicated VR HMDs.
  2. AMD Test System configurations for all SteamVR results: AMD FX™ 9370 4.4GHz, AMD FX™  8370 4.0GHz, AMD FX™  8350  4.0GHz, AMD FX™  6350 3.9GHz, A10-7890K 4.1GHz, A10-7860K 3.6GHz, AMD Athlon™ X4 880K 4.0GHz, Motherboard: ASUS A88X-PRO, 8GB RAM, Win10 pro 64-bit , AMD Driver 15.301.1801.1001, Nvidia Driver 10.18.13.6200

© Valve Corporation, all rights reserved. Valve, the Valve logo, Steam, the Steam logo, Source, the Source logo, Valve Source, Dota, Counter-Strike, and the Counter-Strike logo, Half-Life, Half-Life logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Valve Corporation.

dnalasco

Asynchronous Shaders Evolved

Posted by dnalasco Employee Mar 28, 2016

One of the most exciting new developments in GPU technology over the past year has been the adoption of asynchronous shaders, which can make more efficient use of available hardware to extract more performance. This capability was introduced with AMD’s Graphics Core Next (GCN) GPUs, and made accessible to developers with the latest generation of graphics programming interfaces including DirectX® 12 and Vulkan™.

 

For more detail on how asynchronous shaders work, you can check out the white paper here. As a quick recap, the idea behind asynchronous shaders is to allow the GPU to handle both graphics and compute tasks concurrently without having to switch back and forth between them. This allows small compute jobs to use resources that might otherwise sit idle when the main rendering workload is waiting for something else to happen, like completing a data transfer or receiving a new command from the CPU.

 

Modern rendering engines must execute a large number of individual tasks to generate each visible frame. Each task includes a shader program that runs on the GPU. Normally these tasks are processed sequentially in a fixed order, which is referred to as synchronous execution. Asynchronous shader technology allows more flexibility in terms of the timing and order of execution for independent tasks. When used effectively, the result is better utilization of the GPU, faster frame times, and improved responsiveness.

 

While the feature is already being employed in games like Ashes of the Singularity and Hitman, there is much more to come.  Developers are just starting to experiment with the basic functionality, and the new wave of virtual reality applications starting to appear this year are poised to make great use of it. Meanwhile at AMD we have been working on enhancing the technology with the goal of making it even more powerful.

 

 

Quick Response Queue

 

Today’s graphics renderers provide many opportunities to take advantage of asynchronous processing, but for some applications the lack of determinism in terms of when certain tasks are executed could diminish the benefits. In these cases the renderer needs to know that a given task will be able to start and complete within a certain time frame.

 

In order to meet this requirement, time-critical tasks must be given higher priority access to processing resources than other tasks. One way to accomplish this is using pre-emption, which works by temporarily suspending other tasks until a designated task can be completed. However the effectiveness of this approach depends on when and how quickly an in-process task can be interrupted; task switching overhead or other delays can impact responsiveness, and potentially manifest as stuttering or lag in graphics applications.

 

To address this problem, we have introduced the idea of a quick response queue. Tasks submitted into this special queue get preferential access to GPU resources while running asynchronously, so they can overlap with other workloads. Because the Asynchronous Compute Engines in the GCN architecture are programmable and can manage resource scheduling in hardware, this feature can be enabled on existing GPUs (2nd generation GCN or later) with a driver update.

 

Illustration comparing different methods of scheduling graphics and compute workloads on a GPU

 

 

Enabling Asynchronous Time Warp for Virtual Reality

 

Virtual reality rendering provides a great use case for the quick response queue. For example, the production release of the Oculus Rift VR headset implements a technique known as Asynchronous Time Warp (ATW) to reduce latency and prevent image judder caused by dropped frames.

 

In VR, dropped frames can occur when a frame takes too long to render and misses a refresh of the head-mounted display, causing the same image to be displayed repeatedly. The effect is jarring and destroys the sense of presence that is essential to VR. While there are a variety of ways to address this problem (including application tuning, reducing image quality, or upgrading to a more powerful graphics card), Oculus’ ATW solution is designed to be automatic and transparent to users as well as to developers.

 

ATW works by performing an image warp on the last frame that has finished rendering, to correct for any head movement that takes place after the rendering work is initiated. This warping operation is executed on the GPU using a compute shader, and can be scheduled asynchronously with other rendering tasks on hardware that supports that capability. Scheduling this operation every frame ensures that there is always an updated image available to display, even if it is only a warped version of a previously displayed frame.

 

While great in concept, execution of the ATW task must be timed carefully in order to be useful. Ideally it should happen as late as possible in a frame interval, allowing just enough time for it to complete before the next display refresh. If it happens too early, then additional head movement can occur before the display refresh, causing a noticeable lag. If it happens too late, then it may miss the refresh and allow visible juddering to occur.

 

This is where the quick response queue comes into play. Putting the ATW shader on this queue gives it priority access to the GPU’s compute units, making it far more likely to complete before the next refresh even when it is submitted late in each frame interval. And since it doesn’t need to pre-empt other graphics tasks already in flight, it allows the GPU to start working on the next frame quickly.

 

Timeline showing how Asynchronous Time Warp tasks are scheduled concurrently with graphics tasks

 

This is just one example of how providing more precise control over when individual tasks execute on GPUs can open the door to entirely new ways of exploiting the massive computational power they offer. We are already experimenting with other latency-sensitive applications that can take advantage of this, such as high fidelity positional audio rendering of virtual environments on the GPU. We’re also looking at providing more scheduling controls for asynchronous compute tasks in the future. And we can’t wait to see what developers do with this next!

 

P.S.  If you haven’t already, install the latest Radeon Software drivers to make sure you have access to all of the latest features and optimizations for your Radeon™ GPU.

 

David Nalasco is the Senior Technology Manager for Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Have your ever considered video games as the ultimate community building exercise?

 

CS:GO

Counter-Strike: Global Offensive is the 2012 iteration of the original Half-Life mod released in 1999. CS:GO is a game of nuance and the pre-requisites to play at a competitive level demand mastery of the mechanics, map knowledge, and consistent refining of individual skill. A quintessential competitive FPS in the PC gaming space, the game enjoys a player base of over 20 million worldwide. In today’s rapid expansion of eSports from a competitor and spectator standpoint, including national television and major brand influencers, the competitive scene is ever expanding. CS:GO developer Valve has upped the prize pools of their “major” events (the upper echelon of tournament play in the pro scene), from $250K to $1 million dollars, setting a new bar for Counter-Strike no previous iteration of the game had to offer.

 

sdf.jpg

 

Team AMD

AMD has long been involved with amateur eSports, LAN events, and recently, professional eSports with the sponsorship of the Fnatic League of Legends team.

 

Enter Team AMD, a newly founded grassroots competitive CS:GO team composed of AMD employees and AMD Red Team Plus members. The team’s main objective is to carry AMD’s enthusiasm for all things gaming into the community with our competitive gaming spirit and eSports involvement.

 

Team AMD currently competes in the E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) Open division, Eastern conference. All teams must prove their competitive worth to advance to the season playoffs. Promotion into the next league tier, the Intermediate division, will require Team AMD’s sustained dedication and outstanding performance.

 

P_20160312_122315.jpg

 

The team is equipped with the same AMD hardware you may have, providing a competitive platform that is used during practices, matches, and offline events. The team dedicates 12 hours over 4 nights every week to CS:GO practices and matches. Official league matches are streamed every Monday and Thursday on our Twitch.TV channel from 9-10PM ET.

 

Team AMD system hardware:

  • AMD FX™ 8370 CPU
  • MSI 990FXA Gaming motherboard
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 240GB SSD
  • AMD Radeon™ R9 Gamer Series 8GB DDR3 2133MHz RAM
  • Corsair H80iGT CPU AIO liquid cooler
  • Sapphire Radeon™ R9 380X 4GB GPU
  • EVGA SuperNova 750W G2 80 Plus Gold PSU
  • Nixeus Vue 24” 1080p 144Hz FreeSync display
  • CoolerMaster Mastercase 5

 

wideshot-team.jpg

 

Gamers for Giving 2016 LAN event

Team AMD recently attended the offline Gamers for Giving competitive gaming tournament and LAN party that helped generate resources for the initiatives of Gamers Outreach. Funds raised from the event help support Gamers Outreach charity programs, such as building portable gaming carts for children in hospitals. The event took place within the main arena of Eastern Michigan University’s Convocation Center during the weekend of March 12th & 13th. Competitors entered into a non-stop gaming marathon which began in the morning hours of Saturday, March 12th, and lasted until Sunday evening, March 13th.

 

 

dfgh.jpg

Team AMD left the competitive arena in their first-ever LAN event with a very respectable 4th place finish following multiple back to back best-of-3 rounds. Team AMD took wins over competitors in much higher ESEA league divisions, with 24 teams participating from across North America. Competitors and spectators alike were impressed with the team’s performance and tournament placement.

 

CdXZTFXVAAAmLfl.jpg

 

Many community members were pleased to see an official AMD competitive presence at the event. The team also led several discussions with the community (players, spectators and competitors), discussing eSports, the team’s hardware, and excitement for AMD technologies including Virtual Reality and the 14nm FinFET manufacturing node as well as DirectX® 12 and Vulkan™ APIs. Team AMD’s star player and “AWPer” Chris “stickysalamander” Hilash left the event with an outstanding +72 K/D ratio, and currently holds the #1 ranking in ESEA for weapon proficiency.

 

The team has their sights on upcoming LAN events through 2016 to move up in tournament ranking placement.  Stay tuned for more Team AMD updates over the next few months!

 

overhead photo.PNG

 

16-0-win.jpg

 

Jake Francis is the Gaming Community Manager for AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

Counter Strike: Global Offensive images and logo © 2015 Valve Corporation. All rights reserved. Valve, the Valve logo, Steam, the Steam logo, Counter-Strike, the Counter-Strike logo, Source and the Source logo are trademarks and/or registered trademarks of Valve Corporation.

We were excited to welcome Sulon Technologies on-stage with us at our GDC Capsaicin event today where they showcased an exclusive sneak peek of their upcoming Sulon Q headset: the world’s first and only all-in-one, tether-free, “wear and play” headset for virtual reality, augmented reality and spatial computing – realizing the promise of virtual and augmented reality made easy.

 

Sulon Q uses AMD’s 6th-generation A-Series processor for power-efficient and graphics-rich computing. Simple to use – with no wires or complicated tracking systems – the Sulon Q combines the power of the AMD FX-8800P Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) (that comes with AMD Radeon™ R7 graphics) with Sulon's Spatial Processing Unit, to deliver gaming console-quality graphics and full content immersion. This headset is yet another example of AMD powering a growing catalogue of VR headsets with the broad spectrum of AMD products.

 

InfoGraphic_AMD_SULON_Radeon_R7_V3.jpg

Fuelled by AMD Radeon™ graphics and harnessing AMD LiquidVR™ technology to enable smooth and responsive VR experiences, Sulon Q represents the latest in an ever-expanding AR/VR market. It features unique spatial mapping technology, which scans your environment and gestures in real-time, and virtualizes them so you can interact with objects in ways never before possible – change the ambience and lighting of your room by adding a virtual fireplace, or augment your productivity with a full-surround computing workspace wherein you can manipulate holographic Windows® 10 panels. It's incredibly sophisticated technology that's absolutely simple and intuitive to use. You put it on, turn it on, and you're immersed in a virtual world that almost indistinguishably feels and interacts as you would expect from the real world.

 

Atmospheric enhancements and remarkable efficiency gains are only the start, though, as the Sulon Q is primed to completely transform how you watch movies and play video games. Sulon compatible movies and games will change looking at flat, 2D scenes into 3D, interactive and customizable viewing opportunities that place you at the center of the action. Imagine locking on your Sulon Q headset and being thrown in the heat of a melee with hordes of high-tech soldiers bent on your demise, or emerging from a portal realm of a monster serpent only to have the beast follow you back into your living room. That is an imaginable future of entertainment made possible by Sulon.

 

Sulon Q is an industry-first as well as a catalyst for a new class of virtual- and augmented-reality simulations and entertainment possibilities. And it's a great showcase for what companies can do with AMD technologies to enable exceptional interactive and immersive VR experiences.

 

Sasa Marinkovic is Head of Software and VR Marketing for AMD.

PC gamers that want to game on the go have always faced some tough choices when buying a notebook. Do we buy a gaming notebook that’s great to game on, but tough to carry? Or an ultrathin that’s easy to carry, but tough to game on? Some of us just buy two notebooks. Some of us buy a gaming notebook, wishing it were lighter every time they carry it. Some just buy the ultrathin, acknowledging that comfortable portability is probably more important than gaming over the long run. Every choice has drawbacks.

 

 

dilemma.png

 

Many gamers—myself included!—have dreamed of buying the best of both worlds with a lightweight notebook or 2-in-1 that also supports a powerful external graphics card. The notebook or 2-in-1 could be conveniently lightweight for work, relaxing on the couch, or travel. But, when needed, the PC could also tap into serious framerates and image quality with a powerful external GPU that’s not far from carrying an average gaming notebook. The point is: you choose.

 

A system compatible with AMD XConnect™ technology could offer exactly that.1

 

AMD XConnect™ technology is a new feature debuting in today’s Radeon Software 16.2.2 (or later) graphics driver that makes it easier than ever to connect and use an external Radeon™ graphics card in Windows® 10. External GPU enclosures configured with select Radeon™ R9 GPUs can easily connect to a compatible notebook or 2-in-11 over Thunderbolt™ 3. Best of all, a PC configured with AMD XConnect™ technology and external Radeon™ graphics can be connected or disconnected at any time, similar to a USB flash drive—a first for external GPUs.

 

xconnect.png


And it happens that there’s already one company out there that’s incorporating all of these pieces into an amazing package, which brings me to…

 

AMD XConnect™ In Action: Razer Blade Stealth & Razer Core

 

core.jpg

 

The Razer Blade Stealth with Thunderbolt™ 3 is an exciting new notebook that’s also the first to be compatible with AMD XConnect™ technology. The Razer Core, meanwhile, is an optional external graphics enclosure that connects to the Blade Stealth with Thunderbolt™ 3. Gamers are in for some pretty exciting features/convenience if the Core is configured with a Radeon™ R9 300 Series GPU:

  • Plug in, game on: There’s no need to reboot the PC to connect or disconnect the Razer Core thanks to AMD XConnect™ technology.
  • Flexible displays: Our driver gives you the flexibility to choose between gaming on the Blade Stealth’s display, or standalone monitors of your choice.
  • Upgradeable: We plan to continue testing and adding Radeon™ GPUs to the AMD XConnect™ support list, giving you the power to upgrade beyond the Radeon™ R9 300/Fury Series when the time is right for you.

perf.png

 

 

A Three-Party Collaboration

 

parties.png


The intersection of AMD XConnect™, the Razer Blade Stealth/Core, and Thunderbolt™ 3 is not a coincidence. AMD, Razer, and the Intel Thunderbolt™ group have been working for many months to architect a comprehensive hardware/software solution that brings plug’n’play external graphics to life over Thunderbolt™ 3. The first external graphics solution that “works like it should!”

 

It came from a simple place: we collectively shared a dream that external GPUs were an important step forward for the PC industry, but were adamant that three things were “must haves” for external graphics to finally be a serious option for gamers:

 

  1. The external GPUs had to have a graphics driver with all the right bits for simple plug’n’play use. With AMD XConnect™ technology, Radeon™ R9 300 and Fury Series GPUs now support this in Windows® 10.
  2. The external GPUs had to connect to a system with standardized connectors/cables and enough bandwidth to feed the appetite of a high-end GPU. Thunderbolt™ 3 does that very well.
  3. And the external chassis had to be upgradeable, so users could prolong the life of their system and buy into a performance level that’s right for their needs. The Razer Core supports that with gusto—up to 375W, dual slot, 12.2” PCB. You could fit easily fit a Radeon™ R9 Nano or 390X GPU in there!2

 

And so our joint project began with regular engineering and marketing meetings to design, build and test: drivers, enclosures, cabling, BIOSes, and so much more. After months of work and hundreds of man hours, here we are!

 

The Future of AMD XConnect™ technology

 

Future external GPU solutions from other companies may come in many shapes and sizes. Some may be very compact with integrated mobile Radeon™ GPUs. Other vendors might allow you to buy empty user-upgradeable enclosures that accept desktop Radeon™ GPUs of varying lengths. We foresee that there will be choice, and the choice will be yours.

 

To keep it easy, we will be maintaining a list of systems, system requirements, GPUs and enclosures that are compatible with AMD XConnect™ on www.amd.com/xconnect.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


FOOTNOTES:
1. Not all notebooks or 2-in-1s feature AMD XConnect™ technology, and not all external graphics (eGFX) enclosures are pre-configured with an AMD Radeon™ graphics card and/or feature user upgradability. Base system’s software package and BIOS must be configured to support AMD XConnect™ technology. System must have Thunderbolt™ 3 connection. Check with your manufacturer for full specifications and capabilities and visit www.amd.com/xconnect for a list of compatible devices. GD-86   

2. GPU upgrade must be supported by the system and enclosure OEM. New GPU must be supported by AMD XConnect™ technology. Visit your product’s support documentation for additional information. GD-87

 

ATTRIBUTIONS:
THUNDERBOLT AND THE THUNDERBOLT LOGO ARE TRADEMARKS OF INTEL CORPORATION IN THE U.S. AND/OR OTHER COUNTRIES. RAZER, RAZER DISTRESSED LOGO, TRIPLE-HEADED SNAKE LOGO ARE ALL TRADEMARKS OR REGISTERED TRADEMARKS OF RAZER INC. IN THE UNITED STATES AND/OR OTHER COUNTRIES. USB TYPE-C™ AND USB-C™ ARE TRADEMARKS OF USB IMPLEMENTERS FORUM. FALLOUT, FALLOUT: NEW VEGAS, FALLOUT SHELTER, VAULT BOY AND RELATED LOGOS ARE TRADEMARKS OR REGISTERED TRADEMARKS OF BETHESDA SOFTWORKS LLC IN THE U.S. AND/OR OTHER COUNTRIES.

Last week Ashes of the Singularity™ was updated with comprehensive support for DirectX® 12 Asynchronous Compute. This momentous occasion not only demonstrated how fast Radeon™ GPUs are in DirectX® 12 games, but how much “free” performance can be gained with our exclusive support for asynchronous compute.

 

A Brief Primer on Async Compute

Important in-game effects like shadowing, lighting, artificial intelligence, physics and lens effects often require multiple stages of computation before determining what is rendered onto the screen by a GPU’s graphics hardware.

 

In the past, these steps had to happen sequentially. Step by step, the graphics card would follow the API’s process of rendering something from start to finish, and any delay in an early stage would send a ripple of delays through future stages. These delays in the pipeline are called “bubbles,” and they represent a brief moment in time when some hardware in the GPU is paused to wait for instructions.

 

thread.PNGA visual representation of DirectX® 11 threading: graphics, memory and compute operations are serialized into one long production line that is prone to delays.

 

Pipeline bubbles happen all the time on every graphics card. No game can perfectly utilize all the performance or hardware a GPU has to offer, and no game can consistently avoid creating bubbles when the user abruptly decides to do something different in the game world.

 

What sets Radeon™ GPUs apart from its competitors, however, is the Graphics Core Next architecture’s ability to pull in useful compute work from the game engine to fill these bubbles. For example: if there’s a rendering bubble while rendering complex lighting, Radeon™ GPUs can fill in the blank with computing the behavior of AI instead. Radeon™ graphics cards don’t need to follow the step-by-step process of the past or its competitors, and can do this work together—or concurrently—to keep things moving.

 

threading.PNG
A visual representation of DirectX® 12 asynchronous compute: graphics, memory and compute operations decoupled into independent queues of work that can run in parallel.

 

Filling these bubbles improves GPU utilization, input latency, efficiency and performance for the user by minimizing or eliminating the ripple of delays that could stall other graphics cards. Only Radeon™ graphics currently support this crucial capability in DirectX® 12 and VR.

 

Ashes of the Singularity™: Async Compute in Action

chart.png

AMD Internal testing. System config: Core i7-5960X, Gigabyte X99-UD4, 16GB DDR4-2666 Radeon™ Software 15.301.160205a, NVIDIA 361.75 WHQL, Windows® 10 x64.

 

Here we see that the Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU is far and away the fastest DirectX® 12-ready GPU in this test. Moreover, we see such powerful DirectX® 12 performance from the GCN architecture that a $400 Radeon™ R9 390X GPU ties it up with the $650 GeForce GTX 980 Ti.1 Up and down the product portfolios we tested, Radeon™ GPUs not only win against their equivalent competitors they often punch well above their pricepoints.

 

You don’t have to take our word for it. Tom’s Hardware recently explored the performance implications of DirectX® 12 Asynchronous Compute, and independently verified the commanding performance wins handed down by Radeon™ graphics.

 

“AMD is the clear winner with its current graphics cards. Real parallelization and asynchronous task execution are just better than splitting up the tasks via a software-based solution,” author Igor Wallossek wrote.

 

Other interesting data emerged from the THG analysis, summarized briefly:

  • The Radeon™ R9 Fury X gets 12% faster at 4K with DirectX® 12 Asynchronous Compute. The GeForce 980 Ti gets 5.6% slower when attempting to use this powerful DirectX® 12 feature.
  • DirectX® 12 CPU overhead with the Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU is an average of 13% lower than the GeForce 980 Ti.
  • The Radeon™ R9 Fury X GPU is a crushing 98% more efficient than the GeForce 980 Ti at offloading work from the CPU to alleviate CPU performance bottlenecks. At 1440p, for example, THG found that the Fury X spent just 1.6% of the time waiting on the processor, whereas the 980 Ti struggled 82.1% of the time.

 

Of asynchronous compute, Wallossek later concludes: “This is a pretty benchmark that serves up interesting results and compels us to wonder what's coming to PC gaming in the near future? One thing we can say is that AMD wins this round. Its R&D team, which implemented functionality that nobody really paid attention to until now, should be commended.”

 

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

 

Robert Hallock is the Head of Global Technical Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 


Footnotes:

1. Prices in $USD based on Newegg.com as of February 29, 2016. Happy leap day!