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Posts Tagged ‘Nvidia’

System-builders-600-x-272

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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nvidia gtx titan Z announcement

Right up until last night, no-one knew of Nvidia’s plans for the future or their rollout of next-generation products. Apart from some advancements on the Tegra side of things and the tiny Maxwell launch with the Geforce GTX750 and 750 Ti, along with discussions on DirectX 12 support and their commitment to OpenGL and Linux gaming, the company hasn’t had much to say this year – all of this, aside from the Maxwell launch, was largely unsurprising. But the opening discussion by Jen-Hsun Huang at the 2014 annual GPU Technology Conference revealed an incredibly far-reaching plan and the realisation that Nvidia is far from running out of ideas.

Aside from new roadmaps and product ideas and technologies, the company also hinted at a lot of changes in direction in between the lines and I’d like to take you through the announcements as well as discuss the implications of some of them. Follow me after the jump!

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Nvidia has announced plans to drop driver development for DirectX 10 graphics cards and notes that the last Geforce driver to support these cards will be the Geforce R340 driver. After this there will be no support for the Geforce 8000, 9000, 200 and 300 series of cards from the green team. Nvidia may opt, however, to fix driver bugs or security holes for their older cards, but this will merely update the R340 driver. For all intents and purposes, Nvidia considers the drivers for these cards feature complete.

There is some good news for Geforce 400 and 500 owners, though – your cards will continue to be supported by Nvidia. Although there won’t be any new features for these cards, Nvidia will still work on fixing bugs and improving performance. Moving forward, Nvidia will be supporting three different architectures (Fermi, Kepler, Maxwell) while AMD has only one to worry about – Graphics Core Next. That makes for simpler, quicker and better driver improvements, smaller download sizes and more stability from both graphics vendors – yay!

Source: Nvidia

AMD-Mantle-header-grey

AMD’s Mantle might be the only API currently fighting the good fight for gamers to get more performance out of their hardware but it appears that AMD has done what it originally set out to do and at a much quicker pace as well – it’s woken up the slumbering DirectX and OpenGL giants to start looking at how to optimise performance for modern hardware, particularly now that Mantle shows that it’s possible to run a Radeon R9 290X on a lowly Intel Core i3 processor and not bottleneck it hugely.

At the upcoming Game Developer’s Conference taking place in San Francisco in March 2014, AMD, Microsoft, Intel and Nvidia will all be sitting down for a chat about driver overhead and unlocking higher performance.

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System-builders-600-x-272

Its a little overdue because things are piling up on me now (a write-up about the GTX Titan Black, a mouse review and a few other planned columns) but here it is, the final episode of the System Builder’s Guide for February. We’re looking at the high-end market again and it’s getting into eye-watering levels now. Unfortunately, it looks like the weaker Rand has affected things even more in the higher-end markets and everything this month sees a big price hike. Some of the price hikes are scary while other components don’t see a lot of change. Ultimately, it means that you’ll have to spend more time debating on which hardware you need and which you’ll actually use and compromise on things a lot more in order to stay under budget.

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Nvidia GTX750 Ti Maxwell header

Although the Maxwell-based GTX750 Ti is a good value card in some parts of the world, South Africa is a completely different climate. We’re almost at the bottom of the planet, we eat dried meat and ride elephants to work, our internet connection is so slow that a pidgeon could transfer data quicker than ADSL and we have a weak currency. Importing anything from anywhere is expensive and by the hardware reaches our shores it’s usually jacked up in price absurdly. Earlier on I said that the GTX750 Ti wins in many metrics but fails in price/performance in our case and this quick price-check will show you why.

UPDATE: I’ve added in new pricing from Wootware and changed the average pricing to reflect the new figures. Still, Maxwell remains expensive given our current economic conditions.

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NVIDIA Geforce GM107

There’s this word in the English language that I love and consider to be a favourite: context. Context; the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood. Merely looking at something and dismissing it without understanding it, or taking things in context of the object, event or idea you’re considering or observing, means that you could miss the point entirely about what’s really going on, or what the big picture is.

So take into context the following: Nvidia’s Geforce GTX750 Ti is twice as fast as the GTX550 Ti and is twice as efficient. It is also as fast as the GTX480 and needs four times less energy to operate at the same level of performance. It sometimes punches out the GTX650 Ti Boost and at no point does it ever exceed power usage of 70 Watts.

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NVIDIA-teaser

Nvidia’s Maxwell architecture is coming very, very soon in the form of the mid-range GTX750 Ti, supposedly as soon as next week! It won’t be on a new silicon process, instead Nvidia will be testing out Maxwell on the same 28nm process as current Geforce 600 and 700 series cards. That’s similar to AMD’s current plans with GCN 1.1 and the Hawaii, Bonaire and Oland families but Maxwell is a little different because it includes an architecture change that’s very important in Nvidia’s mobile plans.

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System-builders-600-x-272

Eish! Another System Builder’s Guide! Man, I don’t know about you guys but the drool is beginning to pile up on my keyboard, mostly because I cannot upgrade my rig for at least another year. This week we’re into the mid-range segment where we enter into a price/performance war. Ultimately, R13,000 is still the sweet-spot for most buyers but prices have shifted dramatically in the last two months. Just yesterday I was helping out a fellow NAGling on the forums with a build for R13k and the end result where I’d tried to squeeze out as much as I could resulted in a very compromised build.

That being said, at least the price increases are manageable and I don’t have to raise or go over the budget too much to fit things in properly. Let’s see what we ended up with this week.

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