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BittWare Launches IA-840F with Intel Agilex FPGA and Support for oneAPI

BittWare, a Molex company, today unveiled the IA-840F, the company's first Intel Agilex -based FPGA card designed to deliver significant performance-per-watt improvements for next-generation data center, networking and edge compute workloads. Agilex FPGAs deliver up to 40% higher performance or up to 40% lower power, depending on application requirements. BittWare maximized I/O features using the Agilex chip's unique tiling architecture with dual QSFP-DDs (4× 100G), PCIe Gen4 x16, and three MCIO expansion ports for diverse applications. BittWare also announced support for Intel oneAPI, which enables an abstracted development flow for dramatically simplified code re-use across multiple architectures.

"Modern data center workloads are incredibly diverse, requiring customers to implement a mix of scalar, vector, matrix and spatial architectures," said Craig Petrie, vice president of marketing for BittWare. "The IA-840F ensures that customers can quickly and easily exploit the advanced features of the Intel Agilex FPGA. For those customers who prefer to develop FPGA applications at an abstracted level, we are including support for oneAPI. This new unified software programming environment allows customers to program the Agilex FPGA from a single code base with native high-level language performance across architectures."

Intel and Argonne Developers Carve Path Toward Exascale 

Intel and Argonne National Laboratory are collaborating on the co-design and validation of exascale-class applications using graphics processing units (GPUs) based on Intel Xe-HP microarchitecture and Intel oneAPI toolkits. Developers at Argonne are tapping into Intel's latest programming environments for heterogeneous computing to ensure scientific applications are ready for the scale and architecture of the Aurora supercomputer at deployment.

"Our close collaboration with Argonne is enabling us to make tremendous progress on Aurora, as we seek to bring exascale leadership to the United States. Providing developers early access to hardware and software environments will help us jumpstart the path toward exascale so that researchers can quickly start taking advantage of the system's massive computational resources." -Trish Damkroger, Intel vice president and general manager of High Performance Computing.

AMD Graphics Drivers Have a CreateAllocation Security Vulnerability

Discovering vulnerabilities in software is not an easy thing to do. There are many use cases and states that need to be tested to see a possible vulnerability. Still, security researchers know how to find those and they usually report it to the company that made the software. Today, AMD has disclosed that there is a vulnerability present in the company graphics driver powering the GPUs and making them work on systems. Called CreateAllocation (CVE-2020-12911), the vulnerability is marked with a score of 7.1 in the CVSSv3 test results, meaning that it is not a top priority, however, it still represents a big problem.

"A denial-of-service vulnerability exists in the D3DKMTCreateAllocation handler functionality of AMD ATIKMDAG.SYS 26.20.15029.27017. A specially crafted D3DKMTCreateAllocation API request can cause an out-of-bounds read and denial of service (BSOD). This vulnerability can be triggered from a guest account, " says the report about the vulnerability. AMD states that a temporary fix is implemented by simply restarting your computer if a BSOD happens. The company also declares that "confidential information and long-term system functionality are not impacted". AMD plans to release a fix for this software problem sometime in 2021 with the new driver release. You can read more about it here.

QNAP Announces Strategic Partnership with ownCloud GmbH

QNAP Systems, Inc., a leading computing, networking and storage solution innovator, and ownCloud, a leading open-source Content Collaboration Solution provider, today announced they have entered a global strategic partnership, combining QNAP's Network-attached Storage (NAS) with ownCloud's Enterprise Content Collaboration Software.

This long-term partnership focuses on providing ownCloud's Content Collaboration Solution for file sync and share, on all QNAP's NAS from QTS v4.4 onwards. In the coming months, the fully certified ownCloud Content Collaboration Solution will be available for easy installation from the QTS App Center. The installation packages are updated with every new release and continuously maintained in the interim period. Users can choose between the free Community Edition and the paid Enterprise Edition which includes premium features and professional support. Enterprise subscriptions will be available from the QNAP Software Store and upgrading from the Community to the Enterprise Edition will be straightforward and require no reinstallation.

Cyberpunk 2077 a DX12-Only Release on PC

Marcin Gollent, Lead Graphics Programmer at CD Projekt RED revealed in an interview with PC Games Hardware that cyberpunk 2077 would only support DX12 on the PC release, which means that gamers playing on either Windows 8 or (god forbid) older windows releases won't be able to partake in the cyberpunk dream of Night City. A special note to Windows 7 users though - the game will be supported on Windows 7's DX12 implementation as well. The decision to cut out other API's isn't an opaque one - Marcin Gollent himself said that DX12 was chosen as the only development target due to the fact that it's the rendering API for the Xbox family of consoles (including for the next-generation ones), and thus, a decision to streamline the rendering pipeline and API support was made.

The decision was also made, according to the developer, because DX12 is the birthplace of DXR - and CD Projekt Red has already announced that cyberpunk 2077 will be making heavy use of raytracing on the PC (and will almost certainly bring the same magic potion to the next-generation update to their yet-unreleased game). Marcin Gollent also said that the game will be compatible with all DX12 GPUs - but the DX12 Ultimate badge might be of interest to some of the hardware features that may be deployed in the final version of the game. A question, of course, could be asked regarding how some games' DX11 API actually delivers increased performance over the DX12 version. But with the game being originally developed with DX12 in mind, we'll have to believe it's the best version it could be.

DirectX Coming to Linux...Sort of

Microsoft is preparing to add the DirectX API support to WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux). The latest Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 will virtualize DirectX to Linux applications running on top of it. WSL is a translation layer for Linux apps to run on top of Windows. Unlike Wine, which attempts to translate Direct3D commands to OpenGL, what Microsoft is proposing is a real DirectX interface for apps in WSL, which can essentially talk to hardware (the host's kernel-mode GPU driver) directly.

To this effect, Microsoft introduced the Linux-edition of DXGkrnl, a new kernel-mode driver for Linux that talks to the DXGkrnl driver of the Windows host. With this, Microsoft is promising to expose the full Direct3D 12, DxCore, and DirectML. It will also serve as a conduit for third party APIs, such as OpenGL, OpenCL, Vulkan, and CUDA. Microsoft expects to release this feature-packed WSL out with WDDM 2.9 (so a future version of Windows 10).

Khronos Group Releases OpenCL 3.0

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, publicly releases the OpenCL 3.0 Provisional Specifications. OpenCL 3.0 realigns the OpenCL roadmap to enable developer-requested functionality to be broadly deployed by hardware vendors, and it significantly increases deployment flexibility by empowering conformant OpenCL implementations to focus on functionality relevant to their target markets. OpenCL 3.0 also integrates subgroup functionality into the core specification, ships with a new OpenCL C 3.0 language specification, uses a new unified specification format, and introduces extensions for asynchronous data copies to enable a new class of embedded processors. The provisional OpenCL 3.0 specifications enable the developer community to provide feedback on GitHub before the specifications and conformance tests are finalized.

Intel iGPU+dGPU Multi-Adapter Tech Shows Promise Thanks to its Realistic Goals

Intel is revisiting the concept of asymmetric multi-GPU introduced with DirectX 12. The company posted an elaborate technical slide-deck it originally planned to present to game developers at the now-cancelled GDC 2020. The technology shows promise because the company isn't insulting developers' intelligence by proposing that the iGPU lying dormant be made to shoulder the game's entire rendering pipeline for a single-digit percentage performance boost. Rather, it has come up with innovating augments to the rendering path such that only certain lightweight compute aspects of the game's rendering be passed on to the iGPU's execution units, so it has a more meaningful contribution to overall performance. To that effect, Intel is on the path of coming up with SDK that can be integrated with existing game engines.

Microsoft DirectX 12 introduced the holy grail of multi-GPU technology, under its Explicit Multi-Adapter specification. This allows game engines to send rendering traffic to any combinations or makes of GPUs that support the API, to achieve a performance uplift over single GPU. This was met with lukewarm reception from AMD and NVIDIA, and far too few DirectX 12 games actually support it. Intel proposes a specialization of explicit multi-adapter approach, in which the iGPU's execution units are made to process various low-bandwidth elements both during the rendering and post-processing stages, such as Occlusion Culling, AI, game physics, etc. Intel's method leverages cross-adapter shared resources sitting in system memory (main memory), and D3D12 asynchronous compute, which creates separate processing queues for rendering and compute.

AMD RDNA 2 GPUs to Support the DirectX 12 Ultimate API

AMD today announced in the form of a blog post that its upcoming graphics cards based on RDNA 2 architecture will feature support for Microsoft's latest DirectX 12 Ultimate API. "With this architecture powering both the next generation of AMD Radeon graphics cards and the forthcoming Xbox Series X gaming console, we've been working very closely with Microsoft to help move gaming graphics to a new level of photorealism and smoothness thanks to the four key DirectX 12 Ultimate graphics features -- DirectX Raytracing (DXR), Variable Rate Shading (VRS), Mesh Shaders, and Sampler Feedback." - said AMD in the blog.

Reportedly, Microsoft and AMD have worked closely to enable this feature set and provide the best possible support for RDNA 2 based hardware, meaning that future GPUs and consoles are getting the best possible integration of the new API standard.
AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate AMD RDNA 2 supports DirectX12 Ultimate

NVIDIA GeForce RTX GPUs to Support the DirectX 12 Ultimate API

NVIDIA graphics cards, starting from the current generation GeForce RTX "Turing" lineup, will support the upcoming DirectX 12 Ultimate API. Thanks to a slide obtained by our friends over at VideoCardz, we have some information about the upcoming iteration of the DirectX 12 API made by Microsoft. In the new API revision, called "DirectX 12 Ultimate", it looks like there are some enhancements made to the standard DirectX 12 API. From the leaked slide we can see the improvements coming in the form of a few additions.

The GeForce RTX lineup will support the updated version of API with features such as ray tracing, variable-rate shading, mesh shader, and sampler feedback. While we do not know why Microsoft decided to call this the "Ultimate" version, it is possibly used to convey clearer information about which features are supported by the hardware. In the leaked slide there is a mention of consoles as well, so it is coming to that platform as well.

Khronos Group Releases Vulkan Ray Tracing

Today, The Khronos Group, an open consortium of industry-leading companies creating advanced interoperability standards, announces the ratification and public release of the Vulkan Ray Tracing provisional extensions, creating the industry's first open, cross-vendor, cross-platform standard for ray tracing acceleration. Primarily focused on meeting desktop market demand for both real-time and offline rendering, the release of Vulkan Ray Tracing as provisional extensions enables the developer community to provide feedback before the specifications are finalized. Comments and feedback will be collected through the Vulkan GitHub Issues Tracker and Khronos Developer Slack. Developers are also encouraged to share comments with their preferred hardware vendors. The specifications are available today on the Vulkan Registry.

Ray tracing is a rendering technique that realistically simulates how light rays intersect and interact with scene geometry, materials, and light sources to generate photorealistic imagery. It is widely used for film and other production rendering and is beginning to be practical for real-time applications and games. Vulkan Ray Tracing seamlessly integrates a coherent ray tracing framework into the Vulkan API, enabling a flexible merging of rasterization and ray tracing acceleration. Vulkan Ray Tracing is designed to be hardware agnostic and so can be accelerated on both existing GPU compute and dedicated ray tracing cores if available.
Vulkan ray tracing

AMD RDNA2 Graphics Architecture Detailed, Offers +50% Perf-per-Watt over RDNA

With its 7 nm RDNA architecture that debuted in July 2019, AMD achieved a nearly 50% gain in performance/Watt over the previous "Vega" architecture. At its 2020 Financial Analyst Day event, AMD made a big disclosure: that its upcoming RDNA2 architecture will offer a similar 50% performance/Watt jump over RDNA. The new RDNA2 graphics architecture is expected to leverage 7 nm+ (7 nm EUV), which offers up to 18% transistor-density increase over 7 nm DUV, among other process-level improvements. AMD could tap into this to increase price-performance by serving up more compute units at existing price-points, running at higher clock speeds.

AMD has two key design goals with RDNA2 that helps it close the feature-set gap with NVIDIA: real-time ray-tracing, and variable-rate shading, both of which have been standardized by Microsoft under DirectX 12 DXR and VRS APIs. AMD announced that RDNA2 will feature dedicated ray-tracing hardware on die. On the software side, the hardware will leverage industry-standard DXR 1.1 API. The company is supplying RDNA2 to next-generation game console manufacturers such as Sony and Microsoft, so it's highly likely that AMD's approach to standardized ray-tracing will have more takers than NVIDIA's RTX ecosystem that tops up DXR feature-sets with its own RTX feature-set.
AMD GPU Architecture Roadmap RDNA2 RDNA3 AMD RDNA2 Efficiency Roadmap AMD RDNA2 Performance per Watt AMD RDNA2 Raytracing

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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