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AMD this morning announced that the replacement for the Radeon HD7950, the R9 280, is getting a price cut to make the card more competitive in international markets. The card’s recommended retail price will drop down to $249, putting tremendous pressure on Nvidia and its partners to scrutinise their pricing, as the only competitor in the same price range is the Geforce GTX760. This won’t affect pricing locally for another month or two, but its still good news for buyers who previously held back on their purchases while waiting for a better deal.

Source: Anandtech

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Rejoice all you gamers in the PC Master Race, because some very good things are coming to the monitor market. AMD’s submission to the VESA standards body has been successful and the organisation will go on to add in a new feature to the Displayport 1.2a standard to be rolled out by monitor manufacturers in the future that will ship their units with modern scalers and a Displayport connection.

Just what is that feature? Why, its variable refresh rates, of course! Nvidia’s proprietary solution is called G-Sync and requires a custom scaler chip and the use of specific monitors and Geforce graphics cards, while AMD’s version, now called Adaptive-Sync, will be available on most monitors with a Displayport connection shipping in late 2014, provided the manufacturers enable the feature and don’t use older hardware.

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AMD Kaveri analysis header 800x450

AMD’s Kaveri launch has been going smoothly for the most part. Socket FM2+ motherboards are now available at decent stock levels worldwide and the chips themselves are also not too expensive in the markets that AMD feels they can grow in (that excludes South Africa, where they are still exorbitantly priced). However, Kaveri’s biggest market where it could have made the most impact, which is in mobile devices like laptops and ultrabooks, is still not seeing the chips that AMD needs to put out to make any significant inroads. This seems to be one of the company’s primary concerns because a table detailing the leaked chips has been unearthed by WCCF Tech, providing hints at clock speeds, product names¬†and even dual graphics pairings for the upcoming mobile chip family.

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AMD 2013 header

AMD is going to be in a very tight spot in the next two years, coming up against the launch of Intel’s Broadwell, Skylake and Haswell-E chips that further extend big blue’s lead over their competitors. With AMD concentrating on their low-power APUs, improving ARM architecture and getting Excavator on track for a release in 2015, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of time for the company to come up with new, high-performance offerings to replace the aging socket AM3+ and the FX processor family and there definitely doesn’t seem to be any indication that AM3+ will see any more action either. 2016 is their year to get things back on track and it’s beginning to look very interesting already.

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If you’re a developer who wants to make games powered by AMD’s Mantle API, you’re in luck. Previously AMD only collaborated with developers that could advance the API’s progress beyond just a single studio and now it’s in a private beta. The program is still invitation-only but now it’s open to interested indie developers and bigger studios who want to play with it. The move into a private beta is a good sign, signaling that things are still on the move and that AMD and its partners are still improving it as they go along. By the time DirectX 12 will be revealed at Microsoft’s /Build/ conference in 2015, Mantle will be fully fleshed out to the point where it’ll most likely be in an open beta.

Mantle is a custom API designed by AMD for use with their Radeon HD7000 and newer graphics cards. While Mantle’s primary goal is to remove low-end CPU bottlenecks in games and to scale up the number of on-screen units, it also has a deep similarity with the same API leveraged in Sony’s Playstation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One, with similar methods of resource management and memory sharing. If you’re a developer who wants to get into consoles but is still tied to the PC, Mantle is a gateway into that more hands-on development style.

Source: AMD

amd never settle forever new additions

AMD’s Never Settle campaign has been really successful in the past, driving sales of their graphics cards well thanks top a great selection of bundled games. Never Settle has been without new games for a while now and AMD has been casting around to look for games that it thinks gamers will appreciate and in a few cases it’ll include games which run really well on AMD hardware. For 2014, the new Never Settle Forever lineup includes a roster of many modern titles released in the last year as well as some popular indie games and a few classics. For the first time ever, the Never Settle campaign also stretches down to the very cheapest graphics cards in AMD’s stable. Hit the jump to find out more.

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AMD’s Kaveri launch is almost complete but it is missing a key product – the A8-7600. It’s a quad-core part with 384 GCN shader cores (six Compute Units) with base clocks of 3.1GHz, boosting to 3.3GHz under multi-threaded applications. Unlike other APUs in the Kaveri family, the A8-7600 is cheaper at $119 (approx. R1250 as of 14 May 2014) and has two modes of operation – a 65W TDP for desktop use and a 45W mode for use in small-form factor chassis and inside laptops.

AMD’s official word now is that the A8-7600 will arrive in early 2H 2014, using the first six months of 2014 instead to seed the chip to OEM partners. This could be a financial play for the company as it allows for higher sales of the A10-7850K and the A10-7700K, leaving the market open for stocks of the older Richland APUs to clear out before they unleash their bargain chip. If you were waiting on this APU, you’ll either have to wait longer or settle on something less elegant.

Source: Techspot

AMD’s efforts for improving their Radeon branding and mindshare have been to two markets thus far – memory modules and RAMdisk software. Radeon memory modules are qualified by AMD for use with their processors and APUs at various DDR3 frequencies and their branded RAMdisk software is sold separately, enabling users to deploy RAM disks for use on their computer, giving you a super-fast temporary drive hosted on your system memory. The company is now rumored to be working on branded SSDs, partnering with Toshiba. According to Fudzilla, the SSDs would use Toshiba’s new assets acquired from OCZ which includes the Barefoot 3 controller along with 19-nanometer NAND memory made by Toshiba in-house.

Such a combination would be potent for value-orientated PC enthusiasts. Although Barefoot 3 isn’t as fast as more modern designs from Intel, Samsung, LAMD or Marvell, it does hold its own in terms of performance and OCZ drives have recently been playing the value card instead of aiming for high-end markets. If true, AMD and Toshiba would have to work together to bring up the reliability of OCZ’s technology and tailor it to be more performant than standard OCZ drives before they can think of mass deployment. Although OCZ’s SSD lines were good, many consumers had issues with reliability and reliability issues ended up undermining the work done with the Vertex 3 and 4 families.

Source: Fudzilla

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The System Builder’s Guide has been around for roughly two years. I started writing this bi-monthly column in March of 2012 and before that I contributed to the System Builder’s thread on the NAG Forums together with JP “Chevron” Dormehl since its inception in 2009. I’ve been writing and compiling these guides ever since and it’s mostly been unchanged in the presentation – a wall of text, some options in green highlights that were linked and a little total at the bottom. Starting from this month to coincide with the April issue of NAG Magazine’s 2014 revamp, I’m switching the look a little bit to something that’s easier to understand and nicer to look at. I can’t promise there won’t be walls of text but I can promise it will be prettier. Follow me after the jump!

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Nvidia logo HD

AMD’s Mantle has had a lot of media coverage over the past few months for it’s ability to almost completely eradicate all traces of CPU bottlenecks when you’re pairing a high-end GPU with something like a Core i3 or i5 or FX processor. Mantle removes a lot of API bloat and prioritises multi-threaded code, resulting in games that aren’t limited in single-core performance but this requires a lot of work and, occasionally, a complete re-engineering of a game engine in order to support the renderer.

Nvidia, not content with letting AMD get the performance crown on unequal grounds, has been working in the shadows to improve performance on Geforce graphics cards with results that could rival Mantle’s offerings. But there’s a little more to it than that.

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