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QA Consultants Determines AMD's Most Stable Graphics Drivers in the Industry

As independent third-party experts in the software quality assurance and testing industry for over 20 years, QA Consultants has conducted over 5,000+ mission-critical projects and has extensive testing experience and depth in various industries. Based in Toronto, Ontario, QA Consultants is the largest on-shore software quality assurance company, with a 30,000 sq. ft., industry-grade facility called The Test Factory.

AMD Deepens Senior Management and Technical Leadership Bench

AMD today announced key promotions that extend senior-level focus on company growth. AMD named "Zen" chief architect Mike Clark an AMD corporate fellow; promoted Darren Grasby to senior vice president of global Computing and Graphics sales and AMD president for Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA); and promoted Robert Gama to senior vice president and chief human resources officer.

"We believe the opportunities ahead of us are tremendous as we execute on our long-term strategy and exciting product roadmap," said Lisa Su, AMD president and CEO. "As leaders, Mike, Darren, and Robert have made significant contributions to our success so far, and these promotions elevate their impact at AMD as we accelerate company growth going forward."

AMD Rolls Out Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.7.1

AMD today rolled out the latest version of Radeon Software Adrenalin. Version 18.7.1 drivers come with optimization for "Earthfall," with up to 28 percent more performance measured on Radeon RX Vega 56 and up to 28 percent more performance to be had on the RX 580 8 GB, at 1440; and up to 27 percent higher performance measured at 1080p, on the RX 560 4 GB.

The drivers also address a number of bugs, including random crash noticed in "Fortnite Season 5," when rendering throwing stars. Flickering noticed on "Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice" has been fixed. The drivers also fix a bug of not all compatible display modes appearing in Windows; slower than expected performance in Corel Draw, and black screen noticed during boot on displays connected via DisplayPort. A bug with memory clocks remaining high (i.e. not spooling down at lower power states), when changing resolutions or refresh-rates, has also been fixed.
DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 18.7.1

The change-log follows.

GIGABYTE Readies a Pair of Aorus Branded AMD B450 Motherboards

GIGABYTE is ready with two Aorus branded motherboards based on the upcoming AMD B450 mid-range socket AM4 chipset. These include the B450 Aorus Pro in the ATX form-factor, and the micro-ATX B450 Aorus M. The B450 Aorus Pro packs many of the features you'd expect from a more expensive board based on the pricier X470 chipset. The board draws power from a combination of 24-pin ATX and 8-pin EPS connectors, conditioning it for the AM4 SoC using a 11-phase VRM with high-current chokes. The AM4 SoC is wired to four DDR4 DIMM slots, and the board's sole reinforced PCI-Express 3.0 x16 slot. The second x16 slot is physically gen 3.0 x4 and shares its lanes with the top M.2-22110 slot; which is wired directly to the AM4 SoC. With an M.2 SSD installed, auto-switching gates the second x16 AIC slot. The third x16 slot is gen 2.0 x4, and wired to the chipset. The second M.2-2280 slot is gen 2.0 x4, too. A single PCIe x1 slot makes for the rest of the expansion.

Both M.2 slots on the B450 Aorus Pro feature heatsinks. Six SATA 6 Gbps ports, from which two come from the AM4 SoC, make for the rest of the storage connectivity. As part of the "gamer-grade" varnishing, this board gets rather high-end onboard audio, including a Realtek ALC1220 (120 dBA SNR) codec with EMI shielding, audio-grade WIMA and Muse capacitors, and ground layer isolation. USB connectivity includes two USB 3.1 type 2 ports (one each of type-A and type-C); and six USB 3.1 gen 1 (four on the rear panel, two by headers). Display outputs include DVI and HDMI. The sole networking connectivity is a 1 GbE interface. Its controller is unknown. You get RGB LED illumination and headers, and an integrated rear I/O shield.

Sapphire Intros FS-FP5V SFF Motherboard Based on Ryzen Embedded

Sapphire introduced the FS-FP5V, a mini-ITX (147.3 mm x 139.7 mm) SFF motherboard designed for AIO desktops, digital signage boxes, and compact desktops. At the heart of this board is an AMD Ryzen Embedded V1000 series FP5 SoC based on the 14 nm "Raven Ridge" silicon. Since this SoC also integrates a southbridge, the board is practically chipset-less. The Ryzen Embedded V1000 chip is configured with a 4-core/8-thread "Zen" CPU clocked at 2.00 GHz with 3.35 GHz boost, and 4 MB L3 cache. The iGPU is a Radeon Vega 11, which may look overkill, but is required to pull the four DisplayPort 1.4 outputs of this board (handy for digital-signage applications).

The Ryzen Embedded V1000 is wired to two DDR4 SO-DIMM slots, supporting up to 32 GB of dual-channel DDR4-2933 memory. Storage connectivity includes an M.2-2280 slot with PCI-Express 3.0 x4 wiring, an M.2 E-key slot with x1 wiring for WLAN cards; and a SATA 6 Gbps port. Networking options include two 1 GbE interfaces. USB connectivity includes two USB 3.1 gen 1 ports at the rear-panel, and two USB 3.1 gen 1 ports (direct ports) at the front side of the board, one each of type-A and type-C. Stereo HD audio makes for the rest of it. The board draws power from either 2-pin DC (external) or 4-pin ATX.

BenQ EX3203R Monitor Achieves VESA DisplayHDR 400 and AMD FreeSync 2 Certification

BenQ, leading global innovator of displays, today announced its latest milestone in visual technology, earning VESA DisplayHDR 400 and AMD FreeSync 2 certifications for the EX3203R entertainment monitor. Featuring dazzling HDR performance with stunning gaming capabilities, the curved 32" display delivers immersive viewing and gaming experiences protected by BenQ Brightness Intelligence Plus (B.I. +) eye-care technology.

"EX3203R ingeniously blends HDR image quality together with B.I. +, guaranteeing dark details remain crystal clear even in dim environments while softening bright images," said Conway Lee, President of BenQ Corporation. "With FreeSync 2 for ultimate gameplay, EX3203R provides endless personal entertainment in absolute health and comfort safeguarded by BenQ Eye Care."

AMD and Ubisoft Add FreeSync 2 HDR Support to Far Cry 5

Today, AMD and Ubisoft have raised the bar for fluid, vivid HDR gaming thanks to a new patch from Ubisoft bringing FreeSync 2 HDR support to Far Cry 5. Radeon gamers with supporting FreeSync 2 HDR monitors can select the option for FreeSync 2 while fighting to save Hope Country. FreeSync 2 HDR brings the content displayed on compatible monitors one step closer to the artistic vision of the developer by targeting the display's brightness, contrast and color gamut capabilities directly.

To take advantage of FreeSync 2 HDR technology, gamers must choose a FreeSync 2 HDR-branded monitor, which ensures at least twice the perceivable color gamut and dynamic range than an SDR display.

"We Can do it Too" - AMD Headhunts Intel's Core and Visual Computing Group VP Martin Ashton

It's been interesting to see how the industry's giants try and find ways to rejuvenate themselves with blood from other companies - and there's got to be no better feeling than taking someone from under a competitor's mantle. It's the old two kills with one stone adage, really: one reinforces one's position by hampering a competitors'. But until now, it seemed most high-profile movements between AMD and Intel were a game of squash, with Intel claiming AMD's chief graphics division experts such as Raja Koduri and Chris Hook.

Now, AMD has seemingly turned the game into a sort of tennis encounter, having successfully headhunted Intel's Martin Ashton, formerly "Vice President, Core and Visual Computing Group, Chief Engineer, VTT and Director of Hardware and Co-Director of Architecture, VPG at Intel." Martin Ashton, as the extensive position descriptor somewhat cloudily states, was an important piece of Intel's overall graphics strategy - though arguably not as important as the players Intel snagged from AMD. Still, Martin Ashton has long-standing roots on the graphics landscape, particularly at Imagination Technologies; and AMD's David Wang seems to think he's a great fit for the team - and AMD's vision. He's now part of AMD as Corporate Vice President.
Martin Ashton, left, and David Wang, right

Chinese Company Begins Making x86 Processors Based on AMD "Zen" Architecture

Chinese chipmaker Hygon began mass-producing its first x86 processors codenamed "Dhyana" based on AMD's "Zen" micro-architecture. The processor is the fruition of a deal AMD entered with a Chinese state-owned company back in mid-2016. As part of this deal, a company called Haiguang Microelectronics Company (HMC), in which AMD has a 51 percent stake, would license the "Zen" architecture to another company called Hygon (Chengdu Haiguang Integrated Circuit Design Co.), in which AMD owns a 30 percent stake. Hygon would then design "Dhyana," and a third entity (likely TSMC or some other Chinese foundry), would contract-manufacture the chip.

Such legal gymnastics is necessary to ensure AMD makes good on the $293 million it will take from the Chinese firms to license "Zen," while not breaching the x86 architecture cross-licensing agreement it signed with Intel, the core x86 IP owner. Chinese firms are going through all this trouble to build "Dhyana" instead of simply placing a large order of EPYC processors not just because they want more control over the supply and pricing of these chips, but probably also to ensure that China can keep an eye on all the on-die software that makes the processor tick, and weed out any backdoors to foreign governments (*cough*NSA*cough*).

AMD Beats NVIDIA's Performance in the Battlefield V Closed Alpha

A report via PCGamesN points to some... interesting performance positioning when it comes to NVIDIA and AMD offerings. Battlefield V is being developed by DICE in collaboration with NVIDIA, but it seems there's some sand in the gears of performance improvements as of now. I say this because according to the report, AMD's RX 580 8 GB graphics card (the only red GPU to be tested) bests NVIDIA's GTX 1060 6GB... by quite a considerable margin at that.

The performance difference across both 1080p and 1440p scenarios (with Ultra settings) ranges in the 30% mark, and as has been usually the case, AMD's offerings are bettering NVIDIA's when a change of render - to DX12 - is made - AMD's cards teeter between consistency or worsening performance under DX 12, but NVIDIA's GTX 1060 consistently delivers worse performance levels. Perhaps we're witnessing some bits of AMD's old collaboration efforts with DICE? Still, It's too early to cry wolf right now - performance will only likely improve between now and the October 19th release date.

TechPowerUp Processor Survey Results: The Ryzen Effect is Real

Late May 2018, TechPowerUp started a front-page poll asking people which processor they use. 37 days and 16,140 responses later, we have a general idea of where the desktop processor market stands among our readers (predominantly PC gamers and enthusiasts). The top-two responses to our survey were 4th generation Core "Haswell," followed by the preceding two generations ("Ivy Bridge" and "Sandy Bridge"). This speaks volumes as to the hole Intel dug itself into, due to lack of competition from AMD. Processors that are 4-7 years old still run today's gaming PCs, and don't bottleneck today's games, as long as graphics cards keep getting faster (where there has been relatively more competition than the CPU market).

Despite being newer, fewer respondents use 6th generation "Skylake" and 7th generation "Kaby Lake" processors than older generations, because those on something like 4th generation "Haswell" or even "Ivy Bridge," don't see the value in upgrading. But then something changed in 2017 - AMD became competitive again, and forced an increase in CPU core counts across the segment. AMD's Ryzen processor family, including both its 1st and 2nd generations, are better received in the market than Intel's competing 8th generation "Coffee Lake" and 7th generation "Kaby Lake." The data stands to validate the "Ryzen effect," the idea that the introduction of Ryzen disrupted Intel's near-monopoly, increased core-counts, and brought innovation back to the segment.

ASRock Intros its Radeon RX Vega Series Graphics Cards

ASRock rolled out its first Radeon RX Vega series graphics cards under its Phantom Gaming series. These cards stick to AMD reference board design, and aren't much to talk about. The ASRock RX Vega 56 Phantom Gaming X sticks to reference clock speeds of 1156-1471 MHz core and 800 MHz memory; while the RX Vega 64 ticks at 1247-1546 MHz core, and 945 MHz memory. Both cards draw power from a pair of 8-pin PCIe power connectors; display outputs include three DisplayPorts and an HDMI. The cards could be launched at close-to-stock prices owing to a slump in demand from crypto-currency miners.

Many Thanks to ne6togadno for the tip.

It's Called Marketing: AMD to Hold Threadripper Event in Partnership With Scuderia Ferrari

It seems that the marketing money is flowing once again at AMD - certainly buoyed by the company's mainstream, enthusiast and professional success with its Ryzen, Threadripper and Epyc series of processors. The event, being organized between AMD and Ferrari, has been confirmed by multiple sources, according to Videocardz, and should be focused on AMD's upcoming Threadripper 2000 series. Being one of Ferrari's sponsors for its Formula 1 team, the company is likely taking advantage of that fact to ease into such a high profile partnership - as well it should. The event is expected to take place in the last week of July - maybe time for a Threadripper 2000 an announcement with a spin on AMD's solutions being employed for simulations, providing the crunching power that is behind every F1?

Prices of First-gen AMD Threadrippers Drop Like a Rock

Intel's strategy against AMD's unexpected doubling in core-counts of its Ryzen Threadripper HEDT processors has been that of a headless chicken in a room painted Vantablack. It announced a 28-core processor that would require you to buy a new motherboard; and is frantically working on a 22-core processor for the existing LGA2066 platform. It's looking like AMD isn't in a mood to walk into Intel's core-count trap, and could hit Intel where it hurts the most - pricing. The top-dog 32-core part has already reared its head on German web-stores, seeking a little over 1,500€, just 500€ more than the price its previous-generation 16-core flagship, the Threadripper 1950X launched at. At 1,500€-ish, AMD could end up disrupting Intel's entire >10-core lineup that's priced between $1199 to $1999, currently occupied by 12-core, 14-core, 16-core, and 18-core SKUs.

AMD may not spare Intel's sub-$1000 Core X lineup, either. Prices of first-generation Ryzen Threadripper processors are seeing a dramatic drop, with the flagship Threadripper 1950X being priced under 650€. Prices of the 12-core Threadripper 1920X have slipped to just under 550€. The Core i9-7900X, meanwhile, continues to command a touch over 880€. The drop in prices of first-gen Threadrippers is likely retailers trying to clear out inventories to make room for 2nd generation Threadrippers. It could also be a prelude to AMD announcing more affordable 12-core and 16-core Threadrippers based on the 2nd generation "Zen+" architecture.

AMD Ryzen Threadripper 2990X Makes an Appearance on 3DMark

It's becoming clear that AMD is naming its 32-core flagship HEDT processor Ryzen Threadripper 2990X. The chip was even listed on a German online retailer for a little over 1,500€, which if it turns out to be true, could spell doom and gloom for Intel's Core X HEDT processor lineup, as it could demolish the price-performance equations of every Intel SKU priced 1,000€ and above.

Thai PC enthusiast Tum Apisak scored a screenshot of this chip lurking around on 3DMark database. The screenshot hints at the possible clock speeds of the 2990X, with a rather healthy nominal clocks of 3.00 GHz, with boost frequencies of 3.80 GHz. XFR 2.0 could automatically overclock the chip even beyond the boost frequency, if your cooling is up to the task. The screenshot also reveals that this database submission was made by someone testing the processor, as a prototype motherboard codenamed "Whitehaven OPS rev B CF4" is listed. AMD is expected to launch its 2nd generation Ryzen Threadripper HEDT processors, based on the 12 nm "Zen+" architecture, some time in Q3-2018.

GIGABYTE Expands AMD EPYC Family with New Density Optimized Server

GIGABYTE continues our active development of new AMD EPYC platforms with the release of the 2U 4 Node H261-Z60, the first AMD EPYC variant of our Density Optimized Server Series. The H261-Z60 combines 4 individual hot pluggable sliding node trays into a 2U server box. The node trays slide in and out easily from the rear of the unit.

EPYC Performance
Each node supports dual AMD EPYC 7000 series processors, with up to 32 cores, 64 threads and 8 channels of memory per CPU. Therefore, each node can feature up to 64 cores and 128 threads of compute power. Memory wise, each socket utilizes EPYC's 8 channels of memory with 1 x DIMM per channel / 8 x DIMMS per socket, for a total capacity of 16 x DIMMS per node (over 2TB of memory supported per each node ).

AMD Comments on FreeSync 2 HDR Controversy

AMD earlier this month announced that it is simply renaming its new FreeSync 2 standard as FreeSync 2 HDR, since it already incorporates hardware HDR, even though HDR is but one among many new features introduced with FreeSync 2. This caused some controversy as some FreeSync 2-certified monitors, which could now be plastered with FreeSync 2 HDR stickers, barely meet VESA's DisplayHDR 400 standards. AMD released a detailed statement to TechPowerUp, in which it clarified that FreeSync 2 HDR in no way lowers the bar for HDR, and that its certification program is both separate from and predates VESA DisplayHDR standards.

Essentially, AMD claims that all FreeSync 2 HDR-certified displays exceed DisplayHDR 400 requirements, but not all meet the DisplayHDR 600 minimums. In such cases, monitor manufacturers may stick both DisplayHDR 400 and AMD FreeSync 2 HDR logos in their specs-sheets or the product itself, but that doesn't mean that their monitors can only put out 400 nits brightness. The statement follows.

On The Coming Chiplet Revolution and AMD's MCM Promise

With Moore's Law being pronounced as within its death throes, historic monolithic die designs are becoming increasingly expensive to manufacture. It's no secret that both AMD and NVIDIA have been exploring an MCM (Multi-Chip-Module) approach towards diverting from monolithic die designs over to a much more manageable, "chiplet" design. Essentially, AMD has achieved this in different ways with its Zen line of CPUs (two CPU modules of four cores each linked via the company's Infinity Fabric interconnect), and their own R9 and Vega graphics cards, which take another approach in packaging memory and the graphics processing die in the same silicon base - an interposer.

ASUS Giving Away Four Games with Radeon Graphics Cards

In what looks like a move to get rid of ASUS-branded AMD Radeon graphics cards, the company announced a massive game-bundle promotion in the UK. The company is giving away Steam keys to four fairly old games with its Radeon RX Vega, RX 580, and RX 570 based graphics cards, that include not just ROG Strix models, but also Dual Fan, and Expedition sub-branded ones. Among the games are "The Surge" (2017), "Blood Bowl" Legendary Edition (2010), "Sprintires: MudRunner" (2017), and "Farming Simulator 17" (2017). Participating retailers include Aria, OCUK, Scan, Box, CCL, E-Buyer, and Novatech.

ASRock Offering Its Phantom Series Graphcis Cards in EMEA Region Starting July 1st

ASRock, which is the latest company to extend its product portfolio to graphics cards, has announced that they will be offering their AMD Phantom series of graphics cards in the EMEA region (Europe, Middle-East and Africa) starting July 1st. The roll-out should see the Polaris-based graphics cards being introduced first, since product codes for the Vega variants haven't been made known yet. With demand from miners relatively cooled with lower (and lowering still) cryptocurrency values, perhaps ASRock has decided that stock of their Phantom series is enough now to fulfill orders from these additional regions.

AMD Marries Cooler Master for Wraith Ripper: Threadripper 2-Designed Mega Cooler

AMD has partnered with Cooler Master to deliver a Threadripper 2-specific cooler. Dubbed the Wraith Ripper (as per AMD's Wraith stock coolers and their Threadripper 2, up to 32-core, 64-thread HCC CPUs), this is a behemoth of a mega cooler that can dissipate Threadripper 2's (perhaps the Threadripper 2990X's) 250 W TDP.

The cooler features addressable RGB lighting that can be app-controlled, and Cooler Master says this cooler has been designed to offer full memory compatibility. The height between the baseplate and the heatsink's fins does seem tall and tidy for the tallest RAM sticks you can find, for sure - even with the eight pairs of heatpipes that drive the heat away from your most precious silicon component. Check our COMPUTEX 2018 pics of this behemoth below.

AMD to Rename "FreeSync 2" To "FreeSync 2 HDR", Increase Minimum HDR Requirement

The guys over at PC Perspective conducted an interesting interview with AMD, during which a company representative talked about impending changes to AMD's FreeSync program. Essentially, the company found that there is some consumer confusion regarding what features exactly FreeSync 2 delivers over its first-gen counterpart. As such, they feel renaming the technology to FreeSync 2 HDR conveys the focus on the new feature-set: LFC (Low Framerate Compensation) and the FreeSync 2 HDR fast-lane for tone-mapping improvements.

The AMD representative further clarified what specs are required for a monitor to receive FreeSync 2 HDR certification: support for at least HDR600, coverage of 99 percent of BT.709 and 90 percent of the DCI P3 color spectrum. Also mentioned was a minimum response time, though the exact value remains unknown. An interesting point that can be gleaned from AMD's change, though, is that this one is more than just cosmetic: AMD's first FreeSync 2 certification program required displays to only be able to adhere to HDR400. There are some examples of announced, FreeSync 2 monitors that only support that standard (and others that don't support even that but were certified all the same), instead of the aforementioned HDR600 the company will apparently start enforcing alongside the renewed "FreeSync 2 HDR" program. Here's hoping for a stricter certification program from AMD in this regard, since HDR400 was a push in itself towards being true HDR (it isn't...) - and FreeSync 2 already has all the market support and recognition it needs to now start increasing its requirements for quality support instead of mainly quantity.

First Benchmarks, CPU-Z Screenshots of AMD Ryzen Threadripper 32-core CPU Surface

First benchmarks and CPU-Z screenshots of AMD's upcoming Ryzen Threadripper 32-core monster have surfaced, courtesy of HKEPC. The on-time-for-launch (as AMD puts it) 12 nm "Pinnacle Ridge" processor has apparently been christened "Threadripper 2990X", which does make sense - should AMD be thinking of keeping the 2920X moniker for 12 cores and 1950X for 16-cores, then it follows a 20-core 2960X, a 24-core 2970X, a 28-core 2980X, and the aforementioned 32-core 2990X. whether AMD would want to offer such a tiered lineup of HEDT processors, however, is another matter entirely, and certainly open for discussion - too much of a good thing can actually happen, at least where ASP of the Threadripper portfolio is concerned.

On the CPU-Z screenshot, the 2990X is running at 3.4 GHz base with up to 4.0 GHz XFR, and carries a 250 W TDP - a believable and very impressive achievement, testament to the 12 nm process and the low leakage it apparently produces. The chip was then overclocked up to 4.2 GHz on all cores, which caused for some thermal throttling, since performance was lower than when the chip was clocked at just 4 GHz on all cores. Gains on this particular piece of silicon were reserved up to 4.12 GHz - the jump to 4.2 GHz must have required another bump in voltage that led to the aforementioned throttling. At 4.12 GHz, the chip scored 6,399 points in Cinebench - a remarkable achievement.

AMD Radeon Vega 12 and Vega 20 Listed in Ashes Of The Singularity Database

Back at Computex, AMD showed a demo of their Vega 20 graphics processor, which is produced using a refined 7 nanometer process. We also reported that the chip has a twice-as-wide memory interface, effectively doubling memory bandwidth, and alsomaximum memory capacity. The smaller process promises improvements to power efficiency, which could let AMD run the chip at higher frequencies for more performance compared to the 14 nanometer process of existing Vega.

As indicated by AMD during Computex, the 7 nanometer Vega is a product targeted at High Performance Compute (HPC) applications, with no plans to release it for gaming. As they clarified later, the promise of "7 nanometer for gamers" is for Navi, which follows the Vega architecture. It's even more surprising to see AOTS results for a non-gaming card - my guess is that someone was curious how well it would do in gaming.

Intel: "If [AMD] Wanted an Intel Core i7-8086K CPU, [They] Could Have Just Asked Us"

Oh well, this almost makes us think of this industry as going hand in hand merrily, tongue-in-cheeking each other towards fulfilling, eternal happiness. It's a shame that this not usually the shape of our industry, but really, life isn't either, so let's keep our expectations in check. All in all, Intel's Twitter response to the viral, beautifully-crafted AMD initiative of exchanging one of Intel's commemorative 8086K CPUs for one of its Threadripper 1950X processors is equally satisfying - there's an unavoidable smile to be found while considering these two exchanges.

Kudos, Intel. Kudos for both companies for keeping it in a good spirit. If only we didn't have strange things such as Optane memory shenanigans going on concurrently...
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