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AMD's 'Crimson' Driver Software Released ( 43

An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday marked the launch of AMD's 'Crimson' driver software. It replaces the old Catalyst driver software, and represents a change in how AMD develops bug fixes, improves performance, and adds features. AnandTech took a detailed look at the new driver software. They say, "By focusing feature releases around the end of the year driver, AMD is able to cut down on what parts of the driver they change (and thereby can possibly break) at other times of the year, and try to knock out all of their feature-related bugs at once. At the same time it makes the annual driver release a significant event, as AMD releases a number of new features all at once. However on the other hand this means that AMD has few features launching any other time of the year, which can make it look like they're not heavily invested in feature development at those points." On a more positive note, the article adds, "Looking under the hood there's no single feature that's going to blow every Radeon user away at once, but overall there are a number of neat features here that should be welcomed by various user groups. ... Meanwhile AMD's radical overhaul of their control panel via the new Radeon Settings application will be quickly noticed by everyone."

Windows 10 Fall Update Uninstalls Desktop Software Without Informing Users ( 261

ourlovecanlastforeve sends this report from Martin Brinkmann of gHacks: Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system may uninstall programs — desktop programs that is — from the computer after installation of the big Fall update that the company released earlier this month. I noticed the issue on one PC that I upgraded to Windows 10 Version 1511 but not on other machines. The affected PC had Speccy, a hardware information program, installed and Windows 10 notified me after the upgrade that the software had been removed from the system because of incompatibilities. There was no indication beforehand that something like this would happen, and what made this rather puzzling was the fact that a newly downloaded copy of Speccy would install and run fine on the upgraded system. An IT Director I know had this happen with ESET antivirus as well, on multiple computers. He says fixes have been rolled out for both TH2 and the antivirus software to prevent this from happening. Other reports mention CPU-Z, AMD's Catalyst Control Center, and CPUID as software that's being automatically uninstalled.

AMD Launches Radeon R9 380X, Fastest GPU Under $250 ( 110

MojoKid writes: Although AMD's mid-range GPU line-up has been relatively strong for a while now, the company is launching the new Radeon R9 380X today with the goal of taking down competing graphics cards like NVIDIA's popular GeForce GTX 960. The Radeon R9 380X has a fully-functional AMD Tonga GPU with all 32 compute units / 2048 shader processors enabled. AMD's reference specifications call for 970MHz+ engine clock with 4GB of 1425MHz GDDR5 memory (5.7 Gbps effective). Typical board power is 190W and cards require a pair of supplemental 6-pin power feeds. The vast majority of the Radeon R9 380X cards that will hit the market, however, will likely be custom models that are factory overlcocked and look nothing like AMD's reference design. The Radeon R9 380X, or more specifically the factory overclocked Sapphire Nitro R9 380X tested, performed significantly better than AMD's Radeon R9 285 or NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 960 across the board. The 380X, however, could not catch more powerful and more expensive cards like the GeForce GTX 970. Regardless, the Radeon R9 380X is easily the fastest graphics card on the market right now, under $250.

NVIDIA Jetson TX1 Performance Shines For GPU Computing ( 22

An anonymous reader writes: Following last week's announcement of the Jetson TX1 development board, NVIDIA is now allowing independent reports of performance for their $599 USD 64-bit ARM development board. Linux results published by Phoronix show very strong performance for the Jetson TX1 when looking at the Cortex-A57 speed relative to the Tegra K1 and older Tegra SoCs along with other ARM hardware like Calxeda and Raspberry Pi. The Jetson TX1 was generally multiple times faster than ARM hardware a few years old. The graphics performance was twice as fast as the year-old Jetson TK1 thanks to the Maxwell GPU. Compared to x86 hardware, in CPU-bound tasks the performance is comparable to an AMD Sempron/Phenom except when utilizing GPGPU computing where it's then faster than Intel Skylake and Xeon processors. The Jetson TX1 had a peak power consumption of 16 Watts and an average power use of under 10 Watts.

Linux 4.4 Kernel To Bring Raspberry Pi Graphics Driver, Open-Channel SSD Support ( 67

An anonymous reader writes: Linux 4.4-rc1 has been released. New features of Linux 4.4 include a Raspberry Pi kernel mode-setting driver, support for 3D acceleration by QEMU guest virtual machines, AMD Stoney APU support, Qualcomm Snapdragon 820 support, expanded eBPF virtual machine programs, new hardware peripheral support, file-system fixes, faster SHA crypto support on Intel hardware, and LightNVM / Open-Channel SSD support.

AMD Sued Over Allegedly Misleading Bulldozer Core Count 311

An anonymous reader writes: A class action suit accuses AMD of misleading buyers about the number of cores in its Bulldozer-based CPUs. The complaint claims that the chips effectively had only four cores, while AMD claims there are eight. According to Ars: "AMD's multi-core Bulldozer chips use a unique design that combines the functions of what would normally be two discrete cores into a single package, which the company calls a module. Each module is identified as two separate cores in Windows, but the cores share a single floating point unit and instruction and execution resources. This is different from Intel's cores, which feature independent FPUs. The suit claims that Bulldozer's design means its cores cannot work independently, and as a result, cannot perform eight instructions simultaneously and independently. This, the claim continues, results in performance degradation, and average consumers in the market for a CPU lack the technical expertise to understand the design of AMD's processors and trust the company to give accurate specifications regarding its CPUs."

AMD To Retire Catalyst Control Center Drivers, Rolling Out New Crimson Platform ( 113

MojoKid writes: AMD has gone through significant changes as a company over the last few months. Recently, we've seen them enter into a joint venture with Nantong Fujitsu for final assembly and test operations. They've also formed the new Radeon Technologies Group, led by longtime graphics guru Raja Koduri. Today, AMD is announcing another big change, and this one affects a piece of software that you may have running on your systems right now, if there's a Radeon graphics card on board. AMD is ditching Catalyst Control Center in favor of software dubbed Radeon Settings, which is a critical part of what AMD is calling the Radeon Software Crimson Edition. Radeon Software Crimson Edition is completely re-architected and is claimed to offer new features, improvements to stability and responsiveness, and performance improvements as well. The update will include a new Game Manager, video quality presets, social media integration, simplified EF setup, a system notifications tab, and more. It looks as though the first version of the software will be out this month.

Open-Source GPU Drivers Show Less Than Ideal Experience For SteamOS/Linux Gaming ( 109

An anonymous reader writes: Phoronix's recent 22-Way SteamOS Graphics Card Comparison showed that NVIDIA wins across the board when it comes to closed-source OpenGL driver performance. However, when it comes to the open-source driver performance for Steam Linux gaming, no one is really the winner. A new article, "Are The Open-Source Graphics Drivers Good Enough For Steam Linux Gaming?" answers that question with "heck no" by its author. While AMD is generally regarded as having better open-source support, their newer graphics cards still can't run at their rated clock frequencies due to lack of power management support, the lack of enough OpenGL 4.x support means many AAA Linux games simply cannot run yet, not enough QA means regressions are common, and other issues were noted when it comes to testing a number of modern graphics cards on the open-source drivers.

22-Way SteamOS Graphics Card Comparison: NVIDIA Wins Across the Board ( 98

An anonymous reader writes: A 22-way AMD Radeon vs. NVIDIA GeForce graphics card comparison on SteamOS 2.0 "Brewmaster" was carried out with one month to go until Steam Machines begin to ship. The article looks at the OpenGL performance of this Debian-based Linux distribution as well as the power/performance efficiency, thermal efficiency, and value of the entire line-up. The results make it pretty clear why the current range of Steam Machines with SteamOS all ship with NVIDIA graphics.
Open Source

Intel Develops Linux 'Software GPU' That's ~29-51x Faster ( 111

An anonymous reader writes: Intel is open-sourcing their work on creating a high-performance graphics software rasterizer that originally was developed for scientific visualizations. Intel is planning to integrate this new OpenSWR project with Mesa to deploy it on the Linux desktop as a faster software rasterizer than what's currently available (LLVMpipe). OpenSWR should be ideal for cases where there isn't a discrete GPU available or the drivers fail to function. This software rasterizer implements OpenGL 3.2 on Intel/AMD CPUs supporting AVX(2) (Sandy Bridge / Bulldozer and newer) while being 29~51x faster than LLVMpipe and the code is MIT licensed. The code prior to being integrated in Mesa is offered on GitHub.

Intel's Core i5 6500 Shines As a $199 Skylake Processor, Works With Linux ( 119

An anonymous reader writes: Intel has begun releasing more "Skylake" processors that are cheaper than the launch SKUs of the i5-6600K and i7-6700K. One of the new processors that is now widely available is the Core i5 6500 and it costs just $199 USD — that puts it just a few dollars more than the AMD FX-8370 and significantly less than the higher-end Skylake and Haswell CPUs. At least with Ubuntu Linux, the Core i5 6500 is showing competitive performance that for some workloads puts it faster than Core i7 Haswell/Broadwell processors and much faster than any AMD processors. The Intel Skylake CPUs are fully supported under Linux but the caveat is needing the very latest kernel otherwise there's no graphics acceleration or sound support.

Fable Legends DX12 Benchmark Stressing High End GPUs 51

Vigile writes: In preparation for the release of the free-to-play Fable Legends game on both Xbox One and PC this winter, Microsoft and Lionhead Studios released a benchmark today that allows users to test performance of their PC hardware configuration with a DirectX 12 based game engine that pushes the boundaries of render quality. Based on a modified UE4 engine, Fable Legends includes support for asynchronous compute shaders, manual resource barrier tracking and explicit memory management, all new to the DX12 API. Unlike the previous DX12 benchmark, Ashes of the Singularity, which focused mainly on high draw call counts and mass quantities of on-screen units, Fable Legends takes a more standard approach, attempting to improve image quality and shadow reproduction with the new API. PC Perspective has done some performance analysis with the new benchmark and a range of graphics cards, finding that while NVIDIA still holds the lead at the top spot (GTX 980 Ti vs Fury X), the AMD Radeon mid-range products offer better performance (and better value) than the comparable GeForce parts.

AMD Confirms Vulkan Driver For Linux, But To Start Off As Closed-Source 47

An anonymous reader writes: AMD has finally revealed some basic details concerning their support of Vulkan on Linux. AMD has a Vulkan driver but it will begin its life as closed-source, reports Phoronix. In time the AMD Vulkan driver will transition to being open-source. This Vulkan driver is built to interface with their new AMDGPU kernel DRM driver that's part of their long talked about AMD open-source strategy for Linux. This closed-then-open Vulkan driver will be competing with Valve's Intel Vulkan driver that will be open from day one.

Linux 4.3 Bringing Stable Intel Skylake Support, Reworked NVIDIA Driver 93

An anonymous reader writes: Mr. Torvalds has released Linux 4.3-rc1 this weekend. He characterized the release as "not particularly small — pretty average in size, in fact. Everything looks fairly normal, in fact, with about 70% of the changes being drivers, 10% architecture updates, and the remaining 20% are spread out." There are a number of new user-facing features including stabilized Intel "Skylake" processor support, initial AMD R9 Fury graphics support, SMP scheduler optimizations, file-system fixes, a reworked open-source NVIDIA driver, and many Linux hardware driver updates.

AMD Radeon R9 Nano: 6 Inches Of High-Priced, High-Performance Graphics 26

Vigile writes: Back when AMD announced it would be producing an even smaller graphics card than the Fury X, but based on the same full-sized Fiji GPU, many people wondered just how they would be able to pull it off. Using 4096 stream processors, a 4096-bit memory bus with 4GB of HBM (high bandwidth memory) and a clock speed rated "up to" 1000 MHz, the new AMD Radeon R9 Nano looked to be an impressive card. Today, PC Perspective has a review of the R9 Nano and though there are some quirks, including pronounced coil whine and a hefty $650 price tag, it offers nearly the same performance as the non-X Radeon R9 Fury card at 100 watts lower TDP! It is able to do that by dynamically adjusting the clock speed from ~830 MHz to 1000 MHz depending on the workload, always maintaining a peak power draw of just 175 watts. All of this is packed into a 6 inch PCB — smaller than any other enthusiast class GPU to date, making it a perfect pairing for SFF cases that demand smaller components. The R9 Nano is expensive though with the same asking price as AMD's own R9 Fury X and the GeForce GTX 980 Ti. Readers have also submitted links to reviews at Hot Hardware and Tom's Hardware.

AMD's R9 Fury On Open-Source: Prepare for Disappointment, For Now 43

An anonymous reader writes: With Linux 4.3 AMD is adding the initial open-source driver for the R9 Fury graphics cards. Unfortunate for Linux gamers, the R9 Fury isn't yet in good shape on the open-source driver and it's not good with the Catalyst Linux driver either as previously discussed. With the initial code going into Linux 4.3, the $550 R9 Fury runs slower than graphics cards like the lower-cost and older R7 370 and HD 7950 GPUs, since AMD's open-source developers haven't yet found the time to implement power management / re-clocking support. The R9 Fury also only advertises OpenGL 3.0 support while the hardware is GL4.5-capable and the other open-source AMD GCN driver ships OpenGL 4.1. It doesn't look like AMD has any near-term R9 Fury Linux fix for either driver, but at least their older hardware is performing well with the open-source code.

AMD Unveils Radeon R9 Nano, Targets Mini ITX Gaming Systems With a New Fury 60

MojoKid writes: AMD today added a third card to its new Fury line that's arguably the most intriguing of the bunch, the Radeon R9 Nano. True to its name, the Nano is a very compact card, though don't be fooled by its diminutive stature. Lurking inside this 6-inch graphics card is a Fiji GPU core built on a 28nm manufacturing process paired with 4GB of High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). It's a full 1.5 inches shorter than the standard Fury X, and unlike its liquid cooled sibling, there's no radiator and fan assembly to mount. The Fury Nano sports 64 compute units with 64 stream processors each for a total of 4,096 stream processors, just like Fury X. It also has an engine clock of up to 1,000MHz and pushes 8.19 TFLOPs of compute performance. That's within striking distance of the Fury X, which features a 1,050MHz engine clock at 8.6 TFLOPs. Ars Technica, too, takes a look at the new Nano.

NVIDIA Launches $159 Mainstream Maxwell-Based GeForce GTX 950 85

MojoKid writes: NVIDIA is launching a new mainstream graphics card today, the GeForce GTX 950, based on the company's GM206 GPU. The GM206 debuted on the GeForce GTX 960, which launched a few months back. As the new card's name suggests though, the GM206 used on the GeForce GTX 950 isn't quite as powerful as the one used on the GTX 960. The company is targeting this card at MOBA (massive online battle arena) players, who don't necessarily need the most powerful GPUs on the market, but want smooth, consistent framerates at resolutions of 1080p or below. It's being positioned as a significant, yet affordable, upgrade over cards like the GeForce GTX 650 Ti, that are a couple of generations old. NVIDIA's reference specifications for the GeForce GTX 950 call for a base clock of 1024MHz and a Boost clock of 1188MHz. The GPU is packing 768 CUDA cores, 48 texture units, and 32 ROPs. The 2GB of video memory on GeForce GTX 950 cards is clocked at a 6.6GHz (effective GDDR5 data rate) and the memory links to the GPU via a 128-bit interface. At those clocks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers up a peak textured fillrate of 49.2 GTexels/s and 105.6 GB/s of memory bandwidth. At a $159 starting MSRP, in the benchmarks, the GeForce GTX 950 offers solid entry level or midrange performance at 1080p resolutions. It's a bit faster than AMD's Radeon R9 270X but comes in just behind a Radeon R9 285.

AMD Still Struggling With Linux Gaming 100

An anonymous reader writes: AMD's Linux gaming performance has been embarrassingly bad, and it doesn't look like there's any quick remedy. Virtual Programming just released Dirt: Showdown for Linux, and it's the latest example of AMD's Linux driver issues: AMD's GPU results are still far behind NVIDIA's, with even the Radeon R9 Fury running slower than NVIDIA's aging GTX 680 and GTX 760. If a racing game doesn't interest you, Feral Interactive confirmed they are releasing Company of Heroes 2 for Linux next week, but only NVIDIA and Intel graphics are supported.

DirectX 12 Performance Tested In Ashes of the Singularity 96

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