Tech

Nvidia have gone a bit Mantle with their latest GeForce driver release

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The green side of the graphics card divide are today releasing a new driver that aims to grab a little more gaming performance back for their GPUs. They’re doing it in much the same way AMD’s proprietary Mantle API is boosting things for the red team.

The new release, named 337.50, is available today, and has been designed to make the existing DirectX 11 API much more efficient for Nvidia graphics cards. They are doing this by reducing the CPU overhead that the driver and API generate, which in turn means you get all the performance your graphics card can muster without being hobbled by DirectX distracting your CPU.


Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available from April 8th

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If you've made the move to Microsoft’s much-maligned operating system, Windows 8.1 Update 1 will be available on the 8th April. This is the update set to improve the OS and its interface for Microsoft’s core audience: us keyboard and mouse-using folk.

The big changes seem to revolve around the taskbar. With Update 1, it's possible to pin Modern UI apps to the taskbar—the Store icon is pinned there by default—and it will also appear within the Modern UI interface. This should give you a bit more consistency in your experience if you're moving between interfaces.


Beyond Maxwell: Nvidia announce their next next-gen Pascal GPU

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Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference keynote was full of announcements this week. In addition to revealing the $3000 Titan Z, CEO Jen-Hsun Huang updated Nvidia's graphics architecture roadmap with a first look at the Pascal GPU.


The GTX Titan Z: $1000 more than two Titan Blacks, and probably slower

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Because lots of people paid serious money to buy up all the GTX Titans Nvidia could make, they've decided to push things further. The twin-GPU GTX Titan Z is a $3,000 graphics card announced at the GPU Technology Conference (GTC) in San Jose. According to Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang it exists simply because “the market just wanted so much more performance,” but is it really worth all that money?


Nvidia announce GeForce GTX Titan Z, brings 12GB VRAM for $3,000

Phil Savage at

Nvidia are currently on-stage at the GPU Technology Conference (think GDC for people who really love cores). They've just announced the GeForce GTX Titan Z, a $3,000 dual-Keplar GPU graphics card that can supercharge PCs with a total of 5,760 processing cores, and 12GB frame buffer memory. To my untrained eye, then, it essentially sounds like two Titan Blacks duct taped together. I'm sure that in practice it's a little bit more complicated.


Intel talks up new processor releases and celebrates an anniversary

Dave James at

After having tried to make me care about all-in-one PCs at GDC (sorry guys, I just can’t), Intel have announced a bunch of new processor toys that are on their way either this year or next. From Haswell, to Broadwell, to Haswell-E, we’re looking at a raft of new chips for our machines.

First up we’ll be seeing a bunch of new Haswell parts, code-named Devil’s Canyon. They’ll be slightly higher-clocked versions of the parts we’ve already got - so expect maybe an extra 100MHz on top of the K-series chips.


The first SSDs of 2014 have been announced

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Crucial have unveiled their new M550 series of SSDs, hot on the heels of Intel’s SSD 730 drives. These are the first new SSDs of the year, and represent two of the big boys in SSD manufacturing.

Crucial’s M550 is an update to their incredibly successful M500 series, and as such still retains the same commitment to performance and pricing. The M550 drives are competitive with the top SSDs on both of these fronts.

Crucial are using a slightly revised Marvell memory controller in their new drive, along with parent-company Micron’s 20nm NAND Flash to provide the storage. The M550 range comes with a little more space than their M500 counterparts, shifting from 480GB to 512GB, and from 960GB to a full 1TB for the relevant drives.


Razer sharpens up their new Blade gaming laptop

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Razer have announced their new thin and light gaming notebook will have a hefty screen upgrade along with the new Nvidia 800M series GPU.

We’re not quite talking 4K resolutions here but the 3200 x 1800 native resolution of the Indium Gallium Oxide (IGZO) panel isn’t far off the resolution we’ve seen from the beautiful, similarly IGZO-based 4K screen from Asus. Razer is calling the screen QHD+, because the world needs more display-based acronyms.


Thief's Mantle update incoming on March 18th

Dave James at

So far, the only real world example of AMD’s new graphics API, Mantle, is some less-than-convincing performance in Battlefield 4. Now though, AMD have teamed up with Eidos and are set to release a new update to the latest Thief game, wrestling it away from the Microsoft clutches of DirectX and giving it some Mantle lovin'.

For the uninitiated Mantle is a rival graphics layer AMD have created to replace DirectX on their Graphics Core Next graphics cards. Its promise is of giving developers much closer access to the hardware they’re coding for, and reducing the processor overheads that have recently become synonymous with Microsoft’s API.


The API wars continue: Valve launches free OpenGL translator

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We’ve seen Microsoft teasing the GDC announcement of the latest installment in their popular DirectX series — subtitled "A Storm of Low-Level Hardware Interaction" — and now it seems the open source brigade are countering this new Microsoft offensive. Valve have freely released a software layer, ToGL, which will translate Direct3D calls to OpenGL.


DirectX 12 is incoming, is this a return to the API wars?

Dave James at

We’ve already spoken about the possibility of Microsoft changing their DirectX API to be more like AMD’s new Mantle API - bringing developers more access to the actual performance hardware. Now it looks they are going to be announcing a whole new iteration of the Microsoft API and not just an update.

A new Twitter account has appeared, called DirectX12, and has teased an announcement set to take place at the Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco in a couple weeks time.


Is Microsoft going Mantle?

Dave James at

Over on the Neogaf forums one of their members has dug up a couple of interesting sessions from the next Games Developer’s Conference (GDC) taking place in a couple of weeks in sunny San Francisco. Both of which are talking about bringing Microsoft’s DirectX API a lot closer to the metal.

That means giving developers much more open access to the actual hardware that’s available inside modern PCs, without hiding it behind layers and layers of performance-sapping software code.

If that sounds familiar it’s because that’s exactly what AMD have been trying to do - relatively successfully by what I’ve seen in the StarSwarm demo and high-end Battlefield 4 benchmarks.


ASRock's M8 barebone rig could make a decent, rugged mini-PC

Dave James at

The ASRock M8 has just arrived in the office and it’s one of the best-looking mini-ITX boxes I’ve seen in a long time. It's a high-end barebone PC, which means you'll need to provide your own processor, graphics card, memory, cooler and storage, but it uses a PCIe riser board so you can lie your dual-slot graphics card in line with the motherboard.


Lian Li reveal bizarre new desktop PC design

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Taiwanese PC chassis manufacturers, Lian Li, are preparing for the upcoming CeBIT trade show in Germany with the announcement of a collection of fresh case designs. As well as some pretty standard-looking aluminium PC cases, Lian Li have also shown off some pictures of this bizarre DK01. Is it a desk? Is it a PC? Whatever it is, it's supposedly “combining the symbiotic relationship of desks and computer cases,” according to Lian Li's press material. Let's take a closer look


Nvidia GTX Titan Black announced, designed to be Nvidia's new fastest card

Dave James at

Did you find yourself yawning at the idea of a new budget-priced GTX 750 Ti yesterday? If you're looking at the top end of the market, Nvidia's GeForce GTX Titan Black might suit. Their new premium card is designed to oust the Titan, and can be yours for the hefty asking cost of £785.


AMD and Nvidia's new budget cards do battle this week

Dave James at

There's a big showdown happening in the world of affordable graphics cards this week. AMD and Nvidia are releasing the latest editions in their £100 / $150 range, an important battleground, given that cards at that range easily outsell their flashy flagship $1000 tech. AMD are bringing some rebranded and boosted versions of their last-gen GPUs to compete with Nvidia's GTX 750Ti and GTX 750, which will give us our first look at their new Maxwell GPU architecture.


Silverstone's new mini-chassis could house a fine Steam machine

Dave James at

Chassis builders, Silverstone, have just announced the release today of their new Raven RVZ01 PC case. And it bears more than a passing resemblance to Valve’s Steam Machine prototype. The Raven RVZ01 is the follow up to the RV01 Silverstone released some six years ago, and shows how times and aesthetics have changed. Gone are the overly-angular edges of the original, instead gone for a simpler, smoother chassis design.

Personally I’ve been waiting for third-party manufacturers to start creating small form factor, mini-ITX chassis capable of housing a horizontally-mounted graphics card - a la the Steam Machine prototype. That’s the only way to get the height of a machine with a discrete GPU down and make it look less like a hefty traditional PC.


Nvidia's Maxwell GPU on its way, but no GTX 800s yet

Dave James at

Nvidia is launching a couple of brand new graphics cards in the entry-level arena. Normally that wouldn’t be a particularly exciting event, but this is going to be our first taste of Nvidia’s new Maxwell GPU architecture. It'll be the first time Nvidia have launched new graphics architecture without housing it in a top-end graphics card. You could argue that’s because they simply don’t need to with the likes of the GTX 780 Ti delivering the goods against the hot and hungry Radeon 290X.


AMD A10-7850K "Kaveri" processor review

Dave James at

AMD’s latest processor design is probably the most interesting new chip from the Texan silicon giant since they released their Bulldozer FX chips on the world. And, on first glance at the performance metrics, it would be just as easy to dismiss the new APU as a bit of a failure.

But there is more to the A10-7850K - the APU formerly known as Kaveri - than meets the eye, though it might be a while before its promise is completely realised. Let’s talk about the actual processor performance first though. It’s pretty unspectacular.


AMD's Mantle API arrives in new beta driver, free Star Swarm benchmark released

Dave James at

It’s finally happened. AMD have launched their new graphics API, Mantle, to the public and you can pick it up right now in the new Catalyst 14.1 beta driver update. Obviously there are caveats. The first is that it’s a beta driver so don’t expect it to be rock-solid no matter what the situation - I’ve already encountered some glitches in a CrossFireX rig that I didn’t see in a single GPU setup.

The biggest caveat though is that only AMD GPU-owners need apply, and then only those with Graphics Core Next architecture in their cards. That means all HD 77XX and above, and all R7 and above, will be able to support the new API.