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xiaomi tegra tablet

Nvidia’s next successor in the Tegra family is called Tegra K1 and it’s important for the sold reason that it’s the first ever ARM-based product Nvidia’s ever produced that includes graphics hardware that is identical to what they currently have on the desktop market. K1 stands for “Kepler One” and that’s because it includes exactly one Kepler shader unit, comprising of 192 CUDA cores, 4 ROPs, 8 texture units, a 64-bit memory bus and full support for OpenGL, DirectX 11, CUDA 6 any any other API you can think of that runs on regular kepler hardware. The first tablet running Tegra K1 hardware will be the Chinese-designed-and-built Xiaomi MiPad, the company’s first-ever tablet.

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With Nvidia’s Shield gaining some traction among developers interested to see what its Tegra-based hardware can do, Valve has hinted that they’re adding another title to the little handheld-that-could: Half-Life 2 (and all of its two episodes). Across the world game journalists have been reporting that they’ve received Nvidia-logo’d neon green crowbars with the words, “What would Gordon do?” and a Nvidia Shield logo next to it. The Shield is currently only available in the US and Canada for $199 and some of the most popular classics like Grand Theft Auto III, Vice City and San Andreas and Portal are available on the console starting today.

Nvidia Half-Life crowbar teaser

To get your own you’d have to import it and to get the most out of it you’d need a robust Wi-Fi network at home with a Geforce GTX660 or better GPU. The Shield can be a handheld console or a streaming device and can also be hooked up to a Bluetooth gamepad and a HDMI cable into your TV to turn it into a home console for streaming from your PC over a wired or wireless network.

Source: Tech Report

If you really wanted one of those Geforce GTX Titan-Z dual-GPU graphics cards, you’ll probably have to wait for a bit longer to be able to spend the ridiculous US $3000 needed to buy one. According to Videocardz, the card has been delayed because of a last-minute change in the design of the GPU’s cooler, moving from using one that consumes 2.5 PCI expansion lanes to a full-on triple slot cooler, probably to help with taking away all the heat from two Geforce GTX Titan Black cores. With AMD’s Radeon R9 295X2 already out and selling for half the retail price of a Titan-Z, Nvidia’s going to have to do a lot more than re-engineer a fancy cooler just to keep consumer interest high.

Nvidia GTX Titan Z comparison

Source: Videocardz


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’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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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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