Tuesday, February 5th 2013

AMD Working on a Real GPU Dynamic Overclocking Technology

While digging through documentation for the latest version of AMD Display Library (ADL), we discovered evidence that AMD is working on a real GPU dynamic overclocking technology akin to NVIDIA's GPU Boost. Such a technology could manipulate GPU (and possibly memory) clock speeds, and voltages across multiple power states, taking into account processing load and temperatures. ADL allows third-party applications low-level interactions with AMD display drivers. Current generation Radeon graphics cards use Overdrive 5 and the feature-set it comes with, and so the new technology, along with Overdrive 6 could feature on upcoming generations of AMD GPUs.

Listed under Overdrive 6 capabilities, AMD documented three new definitions, one which indicates that a GPU's core/engine clock can be changed within a range (ADL_OD6_CAPABILITY_SCLK_CUSTOMIZATION), one that its memory clock can be changed within range (ADL_OD6_CAPABILITY_MCLK_CUSTOMIZATION), and one that monitors its activity/load (ADL_OD6_CAPABILITY_GPU_ACTIVITY_MONITOR). The three are ingredients of a dynamic OC technology in the works.

With its Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition and Radeon HD 7950 v2, AMD rushed out a feature it calls PowerTune with Boost. This technology follows an archaic method of granting all applications maximum GPU clock (or boost state), while scaling down to nominal (advertised) clock speeds in the event the GPU is overloaded, so most applications run boost state at all time, very few apps actually slow the GPU down. Effectively, this means AMD is setting the boost clock speed too low on current cards, probably being held back by its impact on power draw.

The technology we believe AMD to be experimenting with could follow a method more similar to NVIDIA's GPU Boost. There are no definite clock speeds, but ranges, and the boost clock algorithm instructs the driver to alter clock speeds taking into account load, power draw, and temperatures. Close reading of the API documents also reveal that AMD is working on a dynamic boosting technology for the memory clocks, something that's currently not possible on NVIDIA's products. With AMD GPUs, applying a memory overclock no longer cause the screen to flicker (at least not noticeably).
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43 Comments on AMD Working on a Real GPU Dynamic Overclocking Technology

#1
BigMack70
But does your card benefit from hardware mods simply because the software controls are locked? Because that's an issue with what model you bought more than anything else.

Anyways, I'm playing at 1440p, and my overclock (1195/1800) has so far been quite helpful from a practical perspective in:
Far Cry 3
The Witcher 2
Crysis
Sleeping Dogs
Metro 2033
Posted on Reply
#2
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: BigMack70
Anyways, I'm playing at 1440p
That's part of the problem.


I bought a Dell 3007WFP in 2007. I learned all about high-res gaming in the near 6 years since. I chased decent performance, since then, at high res. I have 3x 1080p monitors, and 3x 1200p monitors for Eyefinity. I own dual 7950's, and a 7970.

Industry standard isn't even 1080p yet. Of course you see a benefit.. you're playing with tech that is technically, from the future.


Drop down to 1080p, and it is a far different story. Your story about performance, is from a limited perspective, because of your resolution, one that is very much in the minority. I've seen the same with Eyefinity, and 2560x1600, with my current Dell 3008WFP... which... because of poor performance, is collecting dust, unused.

With many apps, I get better performance in Eyefinity than I do @ 2560x1600. The same is reflected in many of W1zzard's benchmarks... that's a software problem.
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#3
erocker
by: RejZoR
They should first fix the damn current 2D/3D clock swithching because it's all bugged and broken and not just keep on releasing countless versions of their broken power saving mechanism.
Did you think that possibly having dynamic clock states would fix the problem? Perhaps doing this IS the fix.

That being said I my 2D/3D clock states over the last few generations of AMD cards have not been broken.
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#4
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: erocker
That being said I my 2D/3D clock states over the last few generations of AMD cards have not been broken.
They are, if you use multi-GPU. Secondary monitor flicker happens when clocks change only. It can also cause monitors to drop out of Eyefinity.

AMD uses higher clocks for 2D with multiple monitors, whether it's ebcuase the other hardware is the root cause or not, doesn't matter.
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#5
BigMack70
Well, I had a single 7970 playing at 1920x1200 for about 4 months (Jan-April of last year) and saw a pretty noticeable difference at 1200/1700 compared to 925/1375 in games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2.

Now, I realize that I'm comparing my cards, which were factory overclocked (when I was on a single 7970 it was an XFX DD BE card), to stock frequency performance and not factory OC performance, so it's a little bit of a stacked deck, but I have seen practical benefit from overclocking my GPU.

I also realize that the 7970 is a bit unusual... 30% overclocks from stock are extremely uncommon on high end GPUs in general and the 7950/7970 just happen to be marvelous exceptions.
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#6
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: BigMack70
Well, I had a single 7970 playing at 1920x1200 for about 4 months (Jan-April of last year) and saw a pretty noticeable difference at 1200/1700 compared to 925/1375 in games like Battlefield 3 and Crysis 2.
Current drivers make performance in these apps specifically very different. I play Ultra @ 1920x1200 on single 7950, @ 1000 MHz/1375 mem on BF3, nearly daily(over 600 hours logged). 60+ FPS all the time.

I do not think your overclocks are that odd..1200+ MHz is common for 7-series. 925 to 1200 is basically 30%.
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#7
erocker
by: cadaveca
They are, if you use multi-GPU. Secondary monitor flicker happens when clocks change only. It can also cause monitors to drop out of Eyefinity.

AMD uses higher clocks for 2D with multiple monitors, whether it's ebcuase the other hardware is the root cause or not, doesn't matter.
...2D/3D clock states are not broken... On single monitors. Pardon me.
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#8
cadaveca
My name is Dave
by: erocker
...2D/3D clock states are not broken... On single monitors. Pardon me.
:laugh:


And i'd agree...as I sit here now running a single monitor.


:banghead:
Posted on Reply
#9
TheMailMan78
Big Member
They need to OC AMD's driver teams talent.
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#10
Jstn7477
I have clock state problems with my HD 7950 in TF2 on a single 1080p 120Hz monitor. My core clock is always bouncing between 1150, 850, 500 and 300MHz because the game only loads the GPU from like 15-35%. It goes to 300 very often which makes my FPS halve from 120 to 60 and the game is super choppy until I look at the sky to get my 120 FPS back. Have to do the same ritual pretty much most of the time I respawn, and a 1v1 deathmatch training mod is pretty much unplayable because the GPU thinks there's not significant load. Game doesn't do that on my HD 3850 AGP, the Fermi GPUs I have used and even my 6950 didn't do it.

I will be installing RadeonPro soon to try and force the maximum power state for that game.
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#11
BigMack70
by: cadaveca
Current drivers make performance in these apps specifically very different. I play Ultra @ 1920x1200 on single 7950, @ 1000 MHz/1375 mem on BF3, nearly daily(over 600 hours logged). 60+ FPS all the time.

I do not think your overclocks are that odd..1200+ MHz is common for 7-series. 925 to 1200 is basically 30%.
Yeah I figured current drivers had probably changed things a bit. Just wanted to point out that there can be practical benefit beyond benchmarking when you get a card that overclocks as well as the 79xx cards do.

And I know that 30% overclocks are common on the 7xxx cards, I just meant that historically it is rare for a high end card to be able to overclock like the 7-series does on average (10-15% overclocks are much more common).
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#12
Casecutter
Hate to say it... but this might be the way of the world and AMD see's it can't keep going the same old direction.

I think AMD (and Nvidia) are finding how to achieve very precise binning of chips and then by appling more exacting dynamic profiles controls, that permit them to run at death defying limits without committing Hari-Kari. I think AMD this time around (like Nvidia did with Kepler) has added more feedback sensors in various areas on the chips. That allows them to really monitor on a granule appraisal of on die heat, voltage, memory and many other functions. With that they then can, based against the ASCI quality of the chip, will say use reference bios... while other right on up to the super-duper BIOS’s.

As someone said above Nvidia does seem to have the issue that two Keplers on the same AIB’s model will see some differences not so much in stock reference settings, but OC them and they can act completely unrelated even if they’re clocking the same. Sure it's like the old "luck of the draw" like always, but that's a reason OC"n will become something both Nvidia/AMD might look to curtail. I think they see by sorting chips to such a level they're no longer giving away OC"n, but can up-sell those chips with particular dynamic profile BIOS's to AIB's to use in their "naming convention series" like AMP, FTW, Signature, TOP, Extreme, Über. Confusing folks more, while shaking-down another $20-30 more.

I don’t want to be the Killjoy, but it looks to become you’ll buy at what level you feel comfortable pricewise, and plug it in and forget-a-bout-it.
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#13
BigMack70
by: TheMailMan78
They need to OC AMD's driver teams talent.
:laugh: :roll:

AMD makes it too easy sometimes, though to be fair they ARE getting better...
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#14
TheGuruStud
by: cadaveca
Well, that's the thing. We already have "overclocking" built in on nearly any part now, whether it be CPU or GPU. In a lot of ways, we are locked down.. Intel only allows wide adjustment on "K" SKUs, for example(AMD as well with certain platforms), and because of this, they are so confident on their product's resilience, they offer a cheap warranty(~$25 USD) so that when you do shove volts down a chip, you're covered.

The idea that we aren't already locked down, except if we pay enough, is FACT today. You buy unlocked chips from AMD and Intel, and the rest are locked up tight. NVidia GPU designs are restricted at the hardware-level, offering only minor adjustments, even so restricted that NVidia board partners have had to remove such functionality(eVBot) from products already released. AMD GPUs are limited by software.

By locking things up, they can ensure far greater quality in the parts sold, and when it comes to CPUs, boards already limit hardware physically with VRM designs and restrictions in BIOS.

My ASUS HD 7970..locked up tight, hence the mods. Look through the forum pages, you'll see many users complaining about it...especially since it advertises right on the box that these software adjustments would be there...but they aren't.

Now, they want to take advantage of those restrictions. This IS a good thing. And it's almost 100% completely deployed already. This isn't an idea...it's what's coming.
Notice that intel and nvidia are not in my system specs... :cool:

They're not controlling quality, they're just controlling product returns and attempting to force people to buy more expensive hardware (we all know there's virtually no difference in the CPUs, I don't think they're even specially binned minus OEM).

I understand that there needs to be some limitation to keep the noobs from instantly frying stuff and I'm okay with that. They think they're clever b/c completely locking it will have you coughing up a lot of extra money and pretty much zero chance of RMA if the mods are extensive at all (like you can't full reverse them). I haven't fried anything, but unrelated failures have happened, and I've volt modded cards to fix their crap (also, screw XFX).

I predict that you won't be paying 50 or 100 extra for a speed bump. It's going to be double those numbers, afterall, what are you going to do? Overclock it? 99% of people won't.
We're going to end up paying more for less, which, is normal for the crooks.
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#15
Aleksander
It might be true, but only for those games who take benefit from it and it might need at least one generation after this one, to become spread around a lot of games
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#16
nt300
by: de.das.dude
waste of time and resources. they should try instead to better the performance.
They need to do this plus get better performance. Combine the 2 and you have raw speed and power.
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#17
Prima.Vera
by: erocker
...2D/3D clock states are not broken... On single monitors. Pardon me.
On single monitors. Or on single cards. On Crossfire, not so sure... :wtf::shadedshu
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#18
BigMack70
by: Prima.Vera
On single monitors. Or on single cards. On Crossfire, not so sure... :wtf::shadedshu
Clocks have always been fine for me in crossfire as long as ULPS is disabled (ULPS has always caused a crazy amount of show-stopping problems for me)
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