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AMD Confirms Stadia Will Run on Intel CPUs

As one of the world's most pervasive cloud service providers, Google is in a better position to launch a successful game streaming platform than almost anyone. The hardware they choose to use for the launch of their "Stadia" streaming service will undoubtedly influence future game streaming efforts, hence AMD's stock price shot through the roof when Google announced they were using AMD GPUs. However, PCGamesN writer Dave James noticed that Google was conspicuously silent when it came to Stadia's CPUs. They were happy to share clock speeds, cache numbers and the fact that they're using "custom" x86 chips, but they refused to confirm the vendor of the platform's CPU. Eventually, AMD reached out and said that "the Stadia platform is using custom AMD Radeon datacentre GPUs, not AMD CPUs." Barring any surprise announcements from VIA, that more or less confirms that Stadia will run on some sort of Intel CPU platform, but just why Google refused to mention Chipzilla by name remains a mystery. The author suggested that Intel might not want to associate themself with what might be a "doomed" venture. Maybe Google plans to switch to EPYC CPUs or an unannounced Intel server platform sometime in the future, or maybe they just don't think it's particularly relevant. Whatever the reason may be, I also find the omission to be curious, and look forward to seeing what happens with Stadia's hardware in the future.

A switch to AMD's EPYC processors has been mooted as a potential future step for Stadia, and Google's Phil Harrison told us himself that "we're just talking about Gen 1 at the moment, but there will be iterations on that technology over time," so there is some potential for a changing of the processor guard either before or after launch. Whatever the truth of the matter is I still find it beyond strange that no-one involved is talking about the Intel CPUs being used for Google Stadia, even if they're not necessarily doing anything that special with regards the innovative streaming service. Certainly the multi-GPU features on offer with the Radeon graphics cards warranted mention, but just a note on the specs slide alone could have still done good things for Intel.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 11:20 AM (CDT)

Nvidia Releases "Creator Ready" RTX Drivers

Earlier this week, Nvidia rolled out a set of "creator ready" drivers that are compatible with consumer GPUs, but optimized for professional applications. This level of support is typically reserved for drivers that only work with pricey Quadro GPUs, but Nvidia says they've conducted "exhaustive multi-app testing" in programs like Adobe Premiere and After Effects. Support for this driver goes all the way back to Pascal cards, and extends to Nvidia's more affordable offerings like the GTX 1050 and the more recent 1660. Perhaps even more interestingly, Nvidia claims they've worked with a number of software vendors to leverage the raytracing and machine-learning muscle their RTX cards offer. Autodesk Arnold and Unreal Engine 4, for example, now support RTX accelerated rendering, and Redcine-X Pro seemingly uses Turing's updated video processing block to decode 8K video without taxing the CPU. Meanwhile, Lightroom uses "an extensively trained convolutional neural network to provide state-of-the-art image enhancing for RAW photographs." While I haven't tested Lightroom's new features myself, in my experience, neural networks can perform small miracles when processing images. Nvidia also claims the new driver features significant performance improvements in Photoshop, Premiere, Blender Cycles, and Cinema 4D.

"Creators are constantly faced with tight deadlines and depend on having the latest hardware and creative tools to complete their projects on time, without compromising quality," said Eric Bourque, senior software development manager at Autodesk. "We're excited that NVIDIA is introducing a Creator Ready Driver program because it will bring Arnold users an even higher level of support, helping them bring their creative visions to life faster and more efficiently." The first Creator Ready Driver is now available from NVIDIA.com or GeForce Experience. From GeForce Experience, you can switch between Game Ready and Creator Ready Drivers at any time by clicking the menu (three vertical dots in the top right corner). Creator Ready Drivers are supported for Turing-based GeForce RTX, GTX and TITAN GPUs, Volta-based TITAN V, Pascal-based GeForce GTX and TITAN GPUs, and all modern Quadro GPUs.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 22, 2019 8:57 AM (CDT)

Intel Previews Processors and Graphics Software at GDC 2019

At their GDC 2019 conference, Intel confirmed that they'll launch 9th generation mobile processors in the 2nd quarter of 2019. While 9th generation H-series and Y-series "Ice Lake" parts recently showed up on the EEC website, Intel told PC World that these parts are based on 14nm Coffee Lake Silicon. The company also mentioned that one of their goals with his release is "longer battery life" for gamers and more casual users alike, and they're promoting their Wi-Fi 6 capable AX200 chip and 3D XPoint memory with the new chips Meanwhile, Intel also showed off a new software suite for their modern IGPs and (presumably) their future GPUs. The "Intel Graphics Command Center" is essentially their answer to Nvidia's GeForce Experience and AMD's Game Advisor, as it automatically scans your PC for supported games and applies the optimal settings for your current hardware. An "early access" version of the control panel is available on the Microsoft Store, and oddly enough, it says it was "released" on 11/26/2018. Unlike other app stores, the Microsoft Store doesn't log updates or list old changes, so it was presumably in some kind of closed alpha before being officially launched today.

We asked, you answered. You're tired of our 'old, boring, corporate-looking' Graphics Control Panel. We were too and we designed a completely new one from the ground up! We're incorporating the changes you - the gamers, home theater enthusiasts, professionals, and everyday tinkerers requested. Using a phased approach, we're rolling out something we're proud to share with you: introducing the Intel Graphics Command Center.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 9:54 AM (CDT)

Intel Shows Off Graphics Card Designs at GDC 2019

Intel reportedly unveiled some "early designs" of their upcoming discrete graphics cards at their GDC 2019 presentation. The graphics card in the first and 2nd slides they showed largely reassembles an Optane 905P SSD with a blower fan and a conspicuously short PCB. While the Xe's specs and performance levels are still unknown, to me, the short PCB suggests that Intel will use some kind of on-package memory with their upcoming GPU, or a relatively narrow GDDR memory bus at the very least. A shot of the back reveals a full backplate, as well as 3 DisplayPort outputs and one HDMI port. Finally, the last slide shows a card with a fan right on top of the graphics chip, which is something I haven't seen on a high-end reference card in some time.

Unfortunately, full specifications are still not yet available for Intel's upcoming graphics card. Real world performance is essentially completely unknown for now. As the year goes on, there is a good chance Intel may share some numbers given how eager the company is to make everyone aware that they have a major new product incoming.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 21, 2019 8:32 AM (CDT)

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.3 driver has been released and it adds support for Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Generation Zero. Fixed issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA 2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API.

Known Issues: Mouse cursors may disappear or move out of the boundary of the top of a display on AMD Ryzen Mobile Processors with Radeon Vega Graphics. Performance metrics overlay and Radeon WattMan gauges may experience inaccurate fluctuating readings on AMD Radeon VII.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 4:51 PM (CDT)

Linux Gaming Across 9 Distros [Review in Progress]

Jason Evangelho of Forbes has started a Linux series where he reviews various Linux distributions (distros) for ease of use and performance in regards to Linux gaming. Jason's series isn't about just running benchmarks as he asks questions that everyday users would need to find out. Where am I going to get up-to-date graphics drivers for my AMD or NVIDIA graphics card? How is the default state of gaming on the Linux distro? Can I get Steam working right out of the box or am I going to have to tweak my system to accomplish this task? The 9 Linux distros that he is going to test in the series includes: Fedora 29 Workstation, Pop!_OS 18.10, Debian 9, Solus 4, Manjaro 18, Linux Mint 19, elementary OS 5, Deepin 15.9, and Ubuntu 18.10. His test system consists of an AMD Ryzen 5 2600, Radeon Sapphire RX 580, Gigabyte G1 Gaming GTX 1080 and more. So far he has tested Fedora 29 Workstation and Pop!_OS 18.10 with Pop!_OS 18.10 easily winning hands down in usability and performance. With the recent announcement that Google is leveraging Linux, Vulkan, first party games, and open-source AMD drivers for games running on its Google Stadia game streaming service; Linux gaming performance may enter into our PC gaming world very soon!

If you're an NVIDIA user, good news: Pop!_OS has a separate installer image for you which automatically installs the proprietary (and far more performant) graphics driver. Again, there's no need to enable alternative software sources or hit the command line. The moment your OS is installed you're ready to start gaming. You'll be using the latest and greatest stable driver, Nvidia 418.43. Radeon gamers have an advantage across several Linux distributions: the open source driver is part of the kernel (and thus ready to use immediately), well maintained and quite performant. This typically means less steps to get up and running with Steam and Steam Proton. One distinct difference between Pop!_OS and Fedora, however, is that Fedora runs with a much newer MESA driver. Specifically, Fedora 29 uses MESA 18.3.4 while Pop uses MESA 18.2.8. The kernel on Pop is also a bit older, but again I noticed no disadvantage on the gaming side save for one: updating your kernel to 5.0 will add Freesync support which is a feature I can't live without. It is quite literally a game-changer.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 20, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

Nvidia Skips Ampere at GTC 2019

Several news outlets seems to think Nvidia's GTC presentation was relatively longwinded and unexciting this year. The three-hour keynote reportedly featured some software announcements and a low power Jetson board, among other things, but didn't feature the 7nm Ampere GPUs many were expecting. EE Times says that the "unspoken message" at the presentation was that "Nvidia doesn't need to pre-announce a new and faster chip because it owns that software stack and channel today," and the emphasis on CUDA seemed to really drive that point home. However, in one of the more exciting parts of the presentation, Nvidia did highlight the Q2VKPT project we covered earlier this year. Nvidia's CEO seemed quite excited about the introduction of raytracing to Quake II, and they showed off some of the project's gameplay, which you can see below:

Presaging that future, Nvidia's chief scientist, Bill Dally, told reporters about a research project in optical chip-to-chip links. It targets throughput in terabits/second while drawing 2 picojoules/bit/s. In an initial implementation, 32 wavelengths will run at 12.5 Gbits/s each, with a move to 64 wavelengths doubling bandwidth in a follow-up generation. Dally predicted that copper links will start run out of gas as data rates approach 100 Gbits/s, already on many roadmaps for network switches. Progress in more power-efficient laser sources and ring resonators will enable the long-predicted shift, he said. If the future evolves as he believes, bleeding-edge GPUs may continue to skip an appearance at some Nvidia events. Attendees will have to hope that as the interconnects speed up, the keynotes don't get even longer.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 20, 2019 11:25 AM (CDT)

Google Partners with AMD for Google Stadia Game Streaming Service

Google has selected AMD as its partner for the Google Stadia game streaming service. Google will use high-performance, custom AMD Radeon datacenter GPUs for its Vulkan and Linux-based Google Stadia. AMD noted how its commitment to open-source AMD Linux drivers would allow Google and its development partners to inspect the code and understand exactly how the driver works, enabling them to better optimize their applications to interface with AMD Radeon GPUs. AMD supplies other tools such as the AMD Radeon GPU Profiler (RGP) that allows developers to identify timing issues that might lead to optimizations. The Google Stadia service will feature game streams with resolutions up to 4K HDR 60 FPS. Google announced a 2019 launch time for the game streaming service.

Streaming graphics-rich games to millions of users on demand and from the cloud requires ultra high-performance processing capabilities to minimize latency and maximize game performance. It also requires advanced technologies to tackle unique datacenter challenges, including security, manageability, and scalability. The AMD graphics architecture supports a wide range of today's gaming platforms -- from PCs to major game consoles -- enabling developers to optimize their games for a single GPU architecture and extend these benefits across multiple platforms which now include large-scale cloud gaming platforms.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 4:41 PM (CDT)

Google GDC 2019 Gaming Announcement

Here is the Google GDC gaming announcement.

Gather around as we unveil Google's vision for the future of gaming at #GDC19.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 19, 2019 12:23 PM (CDT)

AMD Talks 3D Stacking at Rice Presentation

AMD has talked up their "chiplet" based approach used in their upcoming products, and according to some reports, Marvell is already selling products based on the chiplet concept. But the next logical step from that approach is to move from 2D to 3D, where different dies are "stacked" on top of each other. In a recent presentation at Rice University, AMD confirmed that they're working on 3D stacking techniques in their future designs, and that it's a necessary step to keep the improvements coming, but didn't elaborate much beyond that. Check out the memory and stacking talk in the presentation below:
Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 10:47 AM (CDT)

Intel Ice Lake Shows Up In EEC Database

Intel showed off a 10nm Ice Lake "client SoC" at CES this year, and revealed that it will use the "Sunny Cove" CPU architecture. While they gave a few details about the upcoming mobile chips and the core itself, we didn't hear much about Ice Lake in higher power parts. However, Twitter user and data-miner Komachi has once again found some unreleased hardware on the Eurasian Economic Commission's Online Portal. The first listing shows an "Idaville Ice Lake-D Pre-Alpha 85W Clear Linux Internal 32G Physical SDP," suggesting that Intel will brink the upcoming 10nm architecture to their (relatively) high power Xeon-D server chip lineup. Assuming the listing is accurate (as some other EEC listings have been,) this more or less confirms that Ice Lake won't be confined to the realm of low-power laptop chips.
Meanwhile, the next listing suggests that the low power "Ice Lake-Y" chips will have a "4+2" core config. Intel's current Amber Lake processors top out at 2 cores, so if I'm reading the listing right, it looks like ultra low power notebooks could get a core count boost next generation. There's also an Ice Lake-U "upgrade kit" listing with the same "4+2" core config. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 19, 2019 9:48 AM (CDT)

Goodbye HardOCP - Hello Intel

We have some big changes happening here at HardOCP. Kyle Bennett will be taking on new challenges very soon with Intel working as its Director of Enthusiast Engagement.
Posted by Kyle March 19, 2019 6:30 AM (CDT)