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NVIDIA Releases GeForce 441.99 Beta Drivers with Vulkan 1.2 API Support

NVIDIA today released its first developer beta drivers that support the new Vulkan 1.2 3D graphics API. Labeled GeForce 441.99, under the R440-series, the drivers extend Vulkan 1.2 support to all NVIDIA graphics architectures going back to "Kepler." That would include GTX 600/700-series "Kepler," GTX 700/900-series "Maxwell," GTX 10-series "Pascal," and GTX 16/RTX 20-series "Turing," along with TITAN and Quadro graphics cards based on these architectures. NVIDIA states that its API support for Vulkan 1.2 is "full," including including support for timeline semaphores, descriptor indexing, buffer device address and SPIR-V 1.5 features.

DOWNLOAD: NVIDIA GeForce 441.99 Vulkan 1.2 Developer Beta

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan 1.2

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the release of the Vulkan 1.2 specification for GPU acceleration. This release integrates 23 proven extensions into the core Vulkan API, bringing significant developer-requested access to new hardware functionality, improved application performance, and enhanced API usability. Multiple GPU vendors have certified conformant implementations, and significant open source tooling is expected during January 2020.

Vulkan continues to evolve by listening to developer needs, shipping new functionality as extensions, and then consolidating extensions that receive positive developer feedback into a unified core API specification. Carefully selected API features are made optional to enable market-focused implementations. Many Vulkan 1.2 features were requested by developers to meet critical needs in their engines and applications, including: timeline semaphores for easily managed synchronization; a formal memory model to precisely define the semantics of synchronization and memory operations in different threads; descriptor indexing to enable reuse of descriptor layouts by multiple shaders; deeper support for shaders written in HLSL, and more.

Ray Tracing and Variable-Rate Shading Design Goals for AMD RDNA2

Hardware-accelerated ray tracing and variable-rate shading will be the design focal points for AMD's next-generation RDNA2 graphics architecture. Microsoft's reveal of its Xbox Series X console attributed both features to AMD's "next generation RDNA" architecture (which logically happens to be RDNA2). The Xbox Series X uses a semi-custom SoC that features CPU cores based on the "Zen 2" microarchitecture and a GPU based on RDNA2. It's highly likely that the SoC could be fabricated on TSMC's 7 nm EUV node, as the RDNA2 graphics architecture is optimized for that. This would mean an optical shrink of "Zen 2" to 7 nm EUV. Besides the SoC that powers Xbox Series X, AMD is expected to leverage 7 nm EUV for its RDNA2 discrete GPUs and CPU chiplets based on its "Zen 3" microarchitecture in 2020.

Variable-rate shading (VRS) is an API-level feature that lets GPUs conserve resources by shading certain areas of a scene at a lower rate than the other, without perceptible difference to the viewer. Microsoft developed two tiers of VRS for its DirectX 12 API, tier-1 is currently supported by NVIDIA "Turing" and Intel Gen11 architectures, while tier-2 is supported by "Turing." The current RDNA architecture doesn't support either tiers. Hardware-accelerated ray-tracing is the cornerstone of NVIDIA's "Turing" RTX 20-series graphics cards, and AMD is catching up to it. Microsoft already standardized it on the software-side with the DXR (DirectX Raytracing) API. A combination of VRS and dynamic render-resolution will be crucial for next-gen consoles to achieve playability at 4K, and to even boast of being 8K-capable.

Intel Announces New GPU Architecture and oneAPI for Unified Software Stack at SC19

At Supercomputing 2019, Intel unveiled its vision for extending its leadership in the convergence of high-performance computing (HPC) and artificial intelligence (AI) with new additions to its data-centric silicon portfolio and an ambitious new software initiative that represents a paradigm shift from today's single-architecture, single-vendor programming models.

Addressing the increasing use of heterogeneous architectures in high-performance computing, Intel expanded on its existing technology portfolio to move, store and process data more effectively by announcing a new category of discrete general-purpose GPUs optimized for AI and HPC convergence. Intel also launched the oneAPI industry initiative to deliver a unified and simplified programming model for application development across heterogenous processing architectures, including CPUs, GPUs, FPGAs and other accelerators. The launch of oneAPI represents millions of Intel engineering hours in software development and marks a game-changing evolution from today's limiting, proprietary programming approaches to an open standards-based model for cross-architecture developer engagement and innovation.

Crytek Releases Hardware-Agnostic Raytracing Benchmark "Neon Noir"

Crytek today released the final build for their hardware-agnostic raytracing benchmark. Dubbed Neon Noir, the benchmark had already been showcased in video form back in March 2019, but now it's finally available for download for all interested parties from the Crytek Marketplace. The benchmark currently doesn't support any low-level API such as Vulkan or DX 12, but support for those - and the expected performance improvements - will be implemented in the future.

Neon Noir has its raytracing chops added via an extension of CRYENGINE's SVOGI rendering tool that currently Crytek's games use, including Hunt: Showdown, which will make it easier for developers to explore raytracing implementations that don't require a particular hardware implementation (such as RTX). However, the developer has added that they will add hardware acceleration support in the future, which should only improve performance, and will not add any additional rendering features compared to those that can be achieved already. What are you waiting for? Just follow the link below.

TechPowerUp GPU-Z v2.25.0 Released

TechPowerUp today released the latest version of TechPowerUp GPU-Z, the definitive graphics subsystem information, diagnostic, and monitoring utility. Version 2.25.0 adds several new features, support for more GPUs, and fixes various bugs. To begin with, you'll notice that the main screen displays a second row of APIs supported by your graphics card. These include Vulkan, DirectX Raytracing, DirectML, and OpenGL. The last one in particular help you figure out if your graphics drivers have been supplied by Microsoft of your computer's OEM (and lack OpenGL or Vulkan ICDs). Among the new GPUs supported are Quadro P2200, Quadro RTX 4000 Mobile, Quadro T1000 Mobile; AMD Radeon Pro WX 3200, Barco MXRT 7600, 780E Graphics, HD 8330E; and Intel Gen11 "Ice Lake."

With GPU-Z 2.25.0, we've improved AMD Radeon "Navi" support even further, by making the clock-speed measurement more accurate, and displaying base, gaming, and boost clocks in the "Advanced" tab. A workaround is added for the AMD bug that causes fan-speeds to lock when idle fan-stop is engaged on custom-design "Navi" graphics cards; and a faulty "65535 RPM" fan-speed reading for "Navi." A BSOD caused in QEMU/KVM machines by MSR register access has also been fixed. Grab it from the link below.

DOWNLOAD: TechPowerUp GPU-Z 2.25.0
The change-log follows.

AMD Releases Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.9.1 Drivers

AMD today posted the latest version of Radeon Software Adrenalin 2019 Edition drivers. Version 19.9.1 beta comes with day-one optimization for "Gears 5," with up to 5 percent performance improvement in the DirectX 12 mode. It also expands the Vulkan API feature-set with four new extensions, "VK_AMD_device_coherent_memory," "VK_EXT_calibrated_timestamps," "VK_EXT_line_rasterization," and "VK_EXT_shader_demote_to_helper_invocation." Lastly, the drivers address a bug that causes GIGABYTE RGB Fusion 2.0 software to hang the system on graphics cards based on RX 5700-series GPUs. Grab the drivers from the link below.

DOWNLOAD: AMD Radeon Software Adrenalin 19.9.1 beta
The change-log follows.

Primate Labs Introduces GeekBench 5, Drops 32-bit Support

Primate Labs, developers of the ubiquitous benchmarking application GeekBench, have announced the release of version 5 of the software. The new version brings numerous changes, and one of the most important (since if affects compatibility) is that it will only be distributed in a 64-bit version. Some under the hood changes include additions to the CPU benchmark tests (including machine learning, augmented reality, and computational photography) as well as increases in the memory footprint for tests so as to better gauge impacts of your memory subsystem on your system's performance. Also introduced are different threading models for CPU benchmarking, allowing for changes in workload attribution and the corresponding impact on CPU performance.

On the Compute side of things, GeekBench 5 now supports the Vulkan API, which joins CUDA, Metal, and OpenCL. GPU-accelerated compute for computer vision tasks such as Stereo Matching, and augmented reality tasks such as Feature Matching are also available. For iOS users, there is now a Dark Mode for the results interface. GeekBench 5 is available now, 50% off, on Primate Labs' store.

Quake II RTX to Launch on Steam

NVIDIA plans to release their adaptation of Quake, called Quake II RTX, soon on Steam. The Quake II RTX will be free(in some cases) to play, full Quake II game, with additional features such as ray tracing. The game is using Vulkan API for its Ray Tracing capabilities and requires NVIDIA's Turing GPUs in order to play with and use all of the advanced lighting effects.

All the owners of the original Quake II on Steam will get the RTX update free of charge. However, new users will get only 3 levels to play for free and if they want more levels with multiplayer as well, they will have to purchase the original Quake II for $4.99. The game will become available on June 6th, one day from present.

Crypto Exchange Binance Hacked, $40M+ Stolen in Bitcoin

This is a pretty high-profile heist, as heist come, since Binance is actually the rworld's biggest crypto exxchange in terms of traded volume. The act was reported by Binance as a well-conducted orchestra, with hackers using seemingly unconnected accounts at the most opportune time to achieve a single, high-value withdrawal of $41M (roughly 7,000 Bitcoin at current pricing) - only 2% of Binance's total value in their so-called "hot wallet".

The hackers also took away with several information on users' accounts: a large number of user API keys, 2FA codes, and "potentially other info" were taken besides the cool $41M in Bitcoin. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao warned that the hackers could still be controlling enough relevant accounts that could allow them to influence pricing and make even more money.

Crytek's Hardware-Agnostic Raytracing Scene Neon Noir Performance Details Revealed

Considering your reaction, you certainly remember Crytek's Neon noir raytracing scene that we shared with you back in march. At the time, the fact that raytracing was running at such mesmerizing levels on AMD hardware was arguably the biggest part of the news piece: AMD's Vega 56 graphics card with no dedicated raytracing hardware, was pushing the raytraced scene in a confident manner. Now, Crytek have shared some details on how exactly Neon noir was rendered.

The AMD Radeon Vega 56 pushed the demo at 1080p/30 FPS, with full-resolution rendering of raytraced effects. Crytek further shared that raytracing can be rendered at half resolution compared to the rest of the scene, and that if they did so on AMD's Vega 56, they could push a 1440p resolution at 40+ FPS. The raytraced path wasn't running on any modern, lower-level API, such as DX12 or Vulkan, but rather, on a custom branch of Crytek's CryEngine, version 5.5.

No Man's Sky Updated to Support Vulkan Renderer API

I've written my fair share of articles on No Man's Sky, since the game's concept is one of the more interesting in recent years (for me; editor liberties, can we call it?). The game may have excelled more in concept than in execution, but a series of updates have brought the game close to what was promised. Now, developer Hello games has brought about an update that brings a more subtle change: the game's API has been updated from OpenGL to Vulkan. The "behind the curtains" update has brought about improved performance across the spectrum of graphics cards that support that API renderer (in particular AMD users, as the patch notes themselves spell out), and, expectedly, an easier coding time for the developers. Improved HDR support was also coded into the game. The full patch notes follow, as well as Hello Games' words on this change.
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