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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)

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 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)

Real-Time Ray Tracing Support Comes to GeForce GTX GPUs and Game Engines

NVIDIA has announced that real-time ray tracing support is coming to GeForce GTX GPUs. This driver is scheduled to launch in April. GeForce GTX GPUs will execute ray traced effects on shader cores and support is extended to both Microsoft DXR and Vulkan APIs. NVIDIA reminds consumers that its GeForce RTX lineup of cards has dedicated ray tracing cores built directly into the GPU which deliver the ultimate ray tracing experience. GeForce RTX GPUs provide up to 2-3x faster ray tracing performance with a more visually immersive gaming environment than GPUs without dedicated ray tracing cores. NVIDIA GameWorks RTX is a comprehensive set of tools and rendering techniques that help game developers add ray tracing to games. Unreal Engine and Unity have announced that integrated real-time ray tracing support is being built into their engines.

Real-time ray tracing support from other first-party AAA game engines includes DICE/EA's Frostbite Engine, Remedy Entertainment's Northlight Engine and engines from Crystal Dynamics, Kingsoft, Netease and others. Quake II RTX -- uses ray tracing for all of the lighting in the game in a unified lighting algorithm called path tracing. The classic Quake II game was modified in the open source community to support ray tracing and NVIDIA's engineering team further enhanced it with improved graphics and physics. Quake II RTX is the first ray-traced game using NVIDIA VKRay, a Vulkan extension that allows any developer using Vulkan to add ray-traced effects to their games.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 18, 2019 10:09 PM (CDT)

Toyota Has a Curious Justification for Not Selling Any EVs

Toyota is one the biggest automakers, but it doesn’t sell a single fully electric vehicle in the United States. Why is that? According to vice president of research and development for Europe Gerald Killmann, it has all to do with battery production -- or the lack thereof. Toyota’s manageable supply can only allow for either 28,000 EVs or 1.5 million hybrid cars, and they’ve chosen the latter for being the more environmentally sound choice. Critics say the automaker is making excuses for terrible business decisions that have forced it to the back of the EV race.

...the calculation seems to assume that for every hybrid sold, a fully gasoline-powered car would be taken off the road. In reality, many Toyota hybrid buyers are replacing a Toyota hybrid. And, based on Toyota’s own revelation that they are losing Prius drivers to Tesla, it stands to reason that many Toyota hybrid drivers would jump at the opportunity to transition to an all-electric Toyota. Ultimately, Toyota's strategic decision to invest in gasoline-electric hybrids and bet on fuel cells in the long term is the reason that it isn't currently producing any electric cars.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 17, 2019 3:45 PM (CDT)

Microsoft Will Pester Windows 7 Users to Upgrade to W10 with Pop-Up Notifications

Microsoft has come up with another way to convince users to upgrade to Windows 10: corporate vice president Matt Barlow explained in a blog post this week Windows 7 users would be subjected to regular pop-up messages urging them to update to the latest version of the OS. That may not be the worst idea, as support for W7 officially ends January 14, 2020.

This is a courtesy reminder that you can expect to see a handful of times in 2019. By starting the reminders now, our hope is that you have time to plan and prepare for this transition. These notifications are designed to help provide information only and if you would prefer not to receive them again, you'll be able to select an option for "do not notify me again", and we will not send you any further reminders. Just as software has changed over the years, so has hardware.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 5:00 PM (CDT)

NVIDIA Could Tease Next-Gen 7nm Ampere at GTC 2019

It isn’t clear whether NVIDIA will have any surprises to share at next week’s GPU Technology Conference (GTC), but some speculate the company could reveal aspects of its next-generation architecture, "Ampere," which will purportedly be built on the 7nm node. TweakTown and TechSpot suggest it could be the right time to do so, as the luster of Volta and Turing continues to wear thin. The former predicts it won’t be a gaming part, however, suggesting "a new GPU architecture tease that will succeed Volta in the HPC/DL/AI market."

For now, NVIDIA has used the Ampere name for their future 7nm GPUs. If that's the case, the Ampere GPUs would bring power efficiency improvements, higher clock rates, and perhaps higher memory bandwidth. Now would be a good time for NVIDIA to make a big announcement, considering the company just had one of the worst fiscal quarters its ever had. Consumer and investor faith in the company is slipping, especially since the adoption of RTX technology has been much slower than expected.

Discussion
Posted by Megalith March 16, 2019 4:45 PM (CDT)

Win Some, Lose Some in Qualcomm vs Apple Saga

A jury in federal court in San Diego awarded Qualcomm $31 million in a patent infringement case against Apple. Qualcomm requested damages amounting to $1.41 per iPhone. The three patents that Apple allegedly violated were related to battery life in mobile phones. In another case, a U.S. federal judge issued a preliminary ruling favoring Apple related to patent royalty rebate payments. Factories that build Apple iPhones paid Qualcomm billions of dollars to use Qualcomm's technology. Apple agreed to reimburse the factories. "Qualcomm and Apple had a cooperation agreement under which Qualcomm would pay Apple a rebate on the iPhone patent payments if Apple agreed not to attack in court or with regulators." Apple filed a lawsuit after it says Qualcomm refused to issue $1 billion in patent royalty rebates. Qualcomm alleged that "Apple had broken the agreement by urging other smartphone makers to complain to regulators and making "false and misleading" statements to the Korean Fair Trade Commission." Apple said it was just responding to regulators.

The decision will not become final until after the trial in the case, which begins next month. And it is unlikely that Qualcomm will make a new payment to Apple. Apple's contract factories, which under normal circumstances would pay Qualcomm for patent royalties owed on iPhones, have already withheld the nearly $1 billion in payments to Qualcomm. "Apple has already offset the payment at issue under the agreement against royalties that were owed to Qualcomm," Qualcomm's Rosenberg told Reuters.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru March 15, 2019 3:32 PM (CDT)

AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 Supports DX12 on Windows 7

The AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition 19.3.2 driver has been released and it is optimized for Tom Clancy's The Division 2 and Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm. AMD Radeon VII owners should see a 4% performance uplift in Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm when compared to the 19.2.3 driver. This driver brings DirectX 12 to Windows 7 for supported game titles. AMD supports more Vulkan extensions in this driver. Fixed issues include: Radeon ReLive for VR may sometimes fail to install during Radeon Software installation. Fan curve may fail to switch to manual mode after the manual toggle is switched when fan curve is still set to default behavior. Changes made in Radeon WattMan settings via Radeon Overlay may sometimes not save or take effect once Radeon Overlay is closed.

Known issues include: Rainbow Six Siege may experience intermittent corruption or flickering on some game textures during gameplay. DOTA2 VR may experience stutter on some HMD devices when using the Vulkan API. 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 14, 2019 8:41 PM (CDT)

Intel Comet Lake Processors Could Pack 10 Cores

A recently updated file in coreboot's Github repository seemingly corroborates previous rumors that claim Intel's upcoming Comet Lake processors could pack up to 10 cores. The "report_platform.c" file contains references to various Comet Lake CPU + Graphics core configurations, including a "CometLake-S (10+2)" config.
The listing also suggests that Intel will launch low power, 6-core U-series parts for laptops, as well as a variety of other 2, 4, 6, and 8 core configs designed to supplement or replace the existing Coffee Lake and Whiskey Lake lineup. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 11:05 AM (CDT)

Gaming Display Prices are Dropping

As anyone who recently built or updated a PC probably noticed, memory and GPU prices were conspicuously high throughout most of 2018 and late 2017. But, as we've said before, memory prices are dropping like a rock, while GPU prices are starting to level out thanks to the crypto mining bust. According to a recent report, another important component for any PC is expected to get cheaper throughout 2019. Digitimes claims that competition among "gaming monitor" manufacturers is starting to "heat up" as more Chinese LCD manufacturers enter the market. TV-size panel production is expected to grow as well, and OLED TVs in particular could get significantly cheaper as more OLED factories come online.

However, China's panel makers including BOE Technology, CPC-Panda LCD Technology and China Star Optoelectronics Technology (CSOT) have recently stepped into the gaming panel sector, encouraged by government policy support and high profits generated by such products. The growing competition has sent gaming monitor panel prices falling sharply, with models with refresh rates of 144Hz and below being hit hardest, indicated the sources. Prices of 144Hz and below gaming panels fell 10% on average in 2018 and has dropped another 5% so far in 2019, as most China-based suppliers are focusing on this segment, said the sources, noting that the prices of 144Hz models will continue to fall in the second quarter.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas March 14, 2019 8:47 AM (CDT)