Live blog from AMD's 'Hawaii' GPU14 event


Seismic activity in Volcanic Islands
— 1:59 PM on September 25, 2013

We're live on the scene for AMD's GPU14 Tech Day event and expecting to get the details on the next generation of Radeons. We don't actually have any idea what we're doing, for the most part, but if you keep hitting refresh, you should see something like a live blog unfolding below, once the show gets underway.

This is the awesomeness. A room full of sweaty geeks. People typing furiously on tablets and phones simultaneously.  Loud and cheery pop music is bombarding us with Sony Mega Bass (tm).  Our program will begin momentarily.

Momentarily...

AMD's Chris Hook has taken the stage to inform us that there is a problem with the live stream via YouTube.  Bear with us while we get this fixed. Could be waiting another half-hour or 45 minutes.

Minutearily... Houritarily?

Oh, man. I'm gonna need more coffee.

 

Reporters eagerly awaiting the event: Ryan Smith of AnandTech (left) and David Kanter of RealWorldTech (right). Pictured making a sasquatch-like cameo in the middle is Anand Shimpi.

Since our live-blog software is non-existent, please keep your F5 key ready in order to see the latest updates. Once, you know, something is happening here.

Update: there is no coffee. Panic level: rising.

Ok, new schedule: Will begin at the top of the hour, roughly 15 minutes from now.

Anand could not be more excited.  He just wrote another iPhone review while waiting here. Terrifying.

Ok, we're about to start, for reals, guys. Get those F5 keys ready!

 AMD's John Taylor takes the stage to open the presentations.

There is a new new live stream URL, for those watching. Reload the page on our live stream post to get the new stream flowing.

And Anand just finished a tablet review, too. I think he's going to benchmark a phone now.

Video time.  Well, audio time.  Something about sound without sight and sight without sound. Now both together.  Illustrating... something.

AMD Graphics GM Matt Skynner takes the stage to explain.  You need both sight and sound to enable gaming.

Matt's talking about AMD's Unified Gaming strategy. Unified Radeon experience across consoles, PCs, and the cloud. Working with content developers is key to success here.

We can make cross-platform development easy. Can create a simpler, more efficient programming model for GPUs to enable better games.

Our vision is to put reality on a screen. Best lighting, shadows, TressFX hair effects.  Depth of field.

Talking about game devs who worked with AMD. Studios behind Tomb Raider, BioShock Infinite, Crysis 3.

PC gaming hardware market is healthy and growing. $18 billion market in 2013.  Growing to $21 bln in 2016, according to JPR.

New consoles will allow better experiences in all games. Ultra HD displays, too.  4K displays have 4X the pixels of 1080p. AMD pioneered multi-display gaming with Eyefinity, too.

Audio is the next frontier in user immersion.

More intense games are always coming that will push GPU harder, too.

Radeon HD 7000 series has served us well for two years, but we're here to talk about a new era, a new class of GPUs.

Today, we're announcing the AMD Radeon R9 and R7 series.  A top-to-bottom product lineup!  All new.

Radeon R7 250 under $100.

Radeon R7 260X for $139.

Radeon R9 270X. Fastest card under $200. $199 price.

Radeon R9 280X. 3GB of memory. $299. "Great for Battlefield 4."

Finally, the single most powerful graphics chip we've ever built. Radeon R9 290X.  4GB of memory.

Very excited to announced a R9 280X BF4 edition, limited quantities, available for pre-order Oct. 3 with BF4 included.

Whoa, so 4GB = 512-bit memory interface? Seems likely.

Video time. Loud dubstep: commence!

Raja Koduri, who runs AMD's graphics hardware and software development, takes the stage to tell us more.

Three fundamental technology pillars for the Radeon R9 series.

First, GCN architecture.  R9 is based on an enhancement to the same architecture that will power the next-gen consoles.  Have made some significant enhancements.  Is the first GPU to support DX 11.2.

Also, several energy enhancements.  Is capable of scaling form 1W devices to 1kW workstations.

This GPU is capable of 5 teraflops of compute. I believe this is the first consumer GPU to cross this barrier.

AMD was first to 1 teraflops, 2 teraflops, 3 teraflops with a single GPU.  First past 4 teraflops.  Now first to five.

GPU is capable of over 300 GB/s of memory bandwidth. Over 20X the historic Radeon 9700.

With this bandwidth, you can have over 100 layers of effects at 4K resolution.

We've also doubled our geometry performance. Over 4 billion triangles per second.

We've done this because we see the trend of incredibly complex games coming our way.

GPU has more than 6 billion transistors! That will take some time to count by hand.

Second key pillar of this GPU: the generational leap in display density and resolution is finally here. The next few years will be really exciting as we all transition to 4K displays.

AMD is the first GPU company to support 4K displays. In fact, AMD is always ahead of the state of the art in displays.

We have software setup for Eyefinity that works with 4K, but we are taking a couple of steps to make 4K diusplays easy.  First, enable drivers to auto-configure known 4K displays.  Second, even better, we have proposed a new VESA standard that has been accepted by VESA.  When displays that support this standard come out, they just work out of the box.  Already displays in the pipeline that support it.

Third pillar. Now, this a big one.  With AMD R9, we bring to the world a fully programmable audio engine.  TrueAudio technology.

You recall that programmable shaders revolutionized graphics. Allow graphics artists to express themselves. I believe TrueAudio will provide the same artistic freedom to audio artists at game companies.

Some immediate benefits of TrueAudio tech: will enable you to hear hundreds more voices and channels than what's possible with just CPUs today.

The next benefit: AMD is working with firms to enable virtual surround sound in headphones.  Very accurate positional audio since position data is extracted from the game. Current virtual 3D headsets can't do this, are not as accurate.

TrueAudio is avaiable on R9 cards, R7 260X.

We are working with great set of partners to make this work. Eidos, AudioKinetic... more.

Coming to stage: founder and CEO of GenAudio.  Jerry Mahabub.

And Anand just finished a MacBook review. 

Hearing is believing, so we're gonna get a demo of 7.1 audio mixes with elevation and depth perception.

Wow, lots of sounds coming from different places and stuff. I may never hear again, but at least I was deafened by really good audio.

Question is: how do we bring really good audio like that to gamers with just headphones or two speakers?  We can do it.  The next set of demos will demonstrate that, coming from the front left and right speakers only. We'll recreate six-channel audio by running it through a real-time process and converting to two channels.

Wow, so.. not as good as true 7.1 sound, but they are creating a 3D-ish sound stage with only the two front speakers.

To bring professional-grade audio to the industry requires processing horsepower.  We now have powerful, dedicated audio processing technology thanks to AMD bringing TrueAudio to market.

Will have demos running here in real time in games later.

Why is Astound Sound different? Conventional physcho-acoustic approaches use head model. Never worked that well to me.  We've modeled the audio cortex, mixed EEG and imaging data to create a set of brain-response transfer functions.  Not HRTF, but brain response transfer functions. Enables a spherical sound filed with accurate elevation and depth perception.  Have a mono and stereo algorithm that can pinpoint accurately place sound-emitting objects. Game developers can use this.

Also have multi-channel in and out.  Took 24 channel audio and squeezed it into 7.1  All of these algorithms are running in conjunction with TrueAudio.

Means we can have true 3D in real time.  In-game sound emitters can be found from their correct in-game position. Works in speakers, but headphone listening is absolutely incredible.

Improves situational awareness in online gaming. People respond faster to auditory cues than visual.

Have plug-ins available for leading sound engines. First one will be releasing for PC, Xbone, and PS4. Other has a different schedule, but multi-platform.  Is simple for game developers to use. Integrate it, and it works.

And the Astound Sound guy is finished.  Raja's back.

Now AudioKinetic is up. Simon Ashby, VP of products and co-founder, to talk about his tools.

AudioKinetic develops Wwise middleware for game audio. Today, the Wwise voice pipeline is executed on the CPU across all 14 platforms we support.

AMD TrueAudio allows us to run our current software algorithms on a dedicated audio DSP. Reduces the CPU load and guarantees audio consistency across platforms.

Convolution Reverb uses impulse responses to simulate a sound environment, virtually places sound into acoustic spaces. This effect doesn't come cheap. CPU load can be up to 15% for 5-second reverb. At each frame, two runtime FFTs are required. A lot of audio samples moved from RAM to cache.  Latency, shared data issues.  TrueAudio makes this easier.

Annnd, he's finished.  Raja's back again.

Next up, the lead sound designer for Eidos Montreal, Yves Breton.

We are working on the new Thief. We want to reimagine the whole franchise, give the player freedom. For audio, we want realism and immersion, so we will use convolution reverb.

Pros of it are that it enables more realistic environment. Key for immersion.

Cons: heavy on the CPU, takes a lot of memory.

But TrueAudio helps.  Gamers can get more, better reverbs.

Come and see our demo to get more of what we're doing. Here's a trailer for the game.

Wow, the thief dude is kinda Marxist.

I mean in the game, not the developer guy.  Dunno about him.

Raja's back again.

Don't you see the parallels and what we've been doing with programmable shading in graphics?  You kind of see the parallels with audio affecting the gaming experience..

Next up is a game using the new GPUs and TrueAudio: Lichdom. Trailer time.

Josh Van Veld, the Producer from Xaviant is here to talk about the game.

Lichdom is a PC game based on Cryengine. Partnered with AMD. Will have TressFX, Eyefinity support, CrossFire optimization, and TrueAudio.

AMD also gave us a whole bunch of free video cards. Awesome.

Using Wwise's convolution reverb audio effects.  Is first game with Astound Sound to do 3D positional audio.  We can offload the work for these effects from CPU to GPU without impacting performance. Have brought a demo of Lichdom here to the show, so you can check it out later.

Xaviant CEO Michael is on stage to prevent the producer from talking about a boring outline. Heh.

Let's talk about magic. How to build the ultimate Mage.

More than a million spell-crafting combos in the game. The two guys are kinda giving us a back-and-forth prepared routine about their game.

Very pleased to announce Lichdom will ship next summer, 2014, on the PC. Trailer time, with the audio effects in action.

It's so... Skyrimmy!

Combat looks way more satisfying, though. Not that that's a high bar to leap.

And Raja is back once again.

I'd like to introduce, Wallace Santos, CEO of Maingear. And here he is.

I think during the video David Kanter just reverse-engineered some of these audio algorithms by looking at the patents. Can't wait to read that article.

Introducing the Maingear Shift with Radeon R9 GPUs. Epic 180 closed-loop cooling tech. Comes in any color you want with automotive finish.  Will be available in the next few weeks with Radeon R9 series GPUs.

Back to Raja. Please welcome Ritchie Corpus, AMD's Director of ISV Gaming Alliances.

He says AMD is working with game developers on stuff!

I'm sure you all remember Ruby. She's coming back.  Here's the new Ruby featuring TressFX hair and 17 DX11 features.

Ruby has had complete and total facial reconstruction.

She's fighting robots.

I think they're robots.

Wow, given what she is doing to them, I hope they are robots.

So I guess you can download this demo soon to run in real-time on Radeon GPUs.

Based on CryEngine 3, DX11, more stuff.

Now talking about Forward+ rendering. An alternative to deferred shading that allows good lighting and quality multisampled AA.

We're also optimizing for Battlefield 4.

Up next: Chris Roberts, who did Wing Commander and other stuff. Founder and Chief Creative Officer, ??? Games, to talk about Star Citizen.

Normally, I wouldn't be onstage to talk about a game this early in the development, but we're doing things very differently for this game.

We have some in-engine footage. Using CryEngine. Space sim with combat. Already looks very nice. I think you get to shoot dudes with lasers in space, so it's got that going for it.

I'd take pictures and upload them, but yeah, not really well set up to do that quickly. I think you can google the trailer for the game and see it, though.

Star Citizen is the next great sci-fi adventure. Applying some of the techniques I learned in the 10 years I was off in the film buisiness.

It's a large consistent universe.  Ultimate millions of players will interact and make their fortunes.  A giant sandbox.  Designed for the bleeding edge. Trying to make "the best damn space sim ever."

I believe this is the first AAA title completely funded by gamers.  Up to $19.9M in funding now.

You can own your own spaceship or a fleet of them. Fully dynamic universe.  Visceral dogfighs in Hollywood-quality spaceships. A fully-realized economic simulation.  Live.  Private servers and extensive modding options.  Completely public development process.

We will release functionality of the game before it's complete.  The hangar module is out now.

And Anand just finished his Star Citizen review.

Our smallest ship has about 300K polys. We're rendering about 18M polys per frame.

Getting a demo of walking around, getting on the ship, looking around in the hangar and such.

So yeah, there are several incredibly detailed spaceships. You can shower on the big one.

This thing supports the Oculus Rift. People will lose themselves in this world.

He's outlining the other modules that will be released to backers in sequence as they're ready. Intriguing way to build a game. He's  pledging to "melt some GPUs" while pushing the limits of PC hardware. That's why he's working with AMD.

Ritchie Corpus returns to the stage.  Talking about another Gaming Evolved game: Murdered: Soul Suspect. A "supernatural detective thriller" where the player must solve his own murder.

Saints Row IV is now part of Never Settle Forever bundle, so comes with purchase of the faster Radeons.

Now please welcome founder and CEO of Raptr, Dennis "Thresh" Fong.

Wait, what? Thresh lives!

Fong wants to talk about how PC gaming rocks.. but it ain't always easy. A lot of gamers don't have time to research settings, figure out how to tune their games for best performance.

Also, PC gaming doesn't have a truly universal Xbox-live-like service to bring everyone together.  Steam does a "pretty good job" but isn't truly universal.

About six years ago, I decided to start Raptor to try to make the PC gaming experience more like consoles.  Just plug it in and it works.

Raptr has over 18 million users, is publisher and platform agnostic. Can link across multiple services like Steam, Battle.net, Facebook, etc.  Has an in-game overlay so you don't have to alt-tab out in order to do things. Has live streaming capability via Twitch.tv with one click, with free client. Also a rewards program, earn more for playing more.  Have given away $20M worth of stuff to gamers in last year.

Really wanted to tackle the "hairy problem" of optimal game settings.

After about a year's worth of blood, sweat, and tears, we are announcing new Raptr app. Exclusive version called the AMD Gaming Evolved App powered by Raptr.

How did we make game optimizations work? Had to make it easy to use.  Use real data from users. Take advantage of expertise of the community, crowd-source the right settings. And use all of the data to determine optimal settings via machine learning, not using a bunch of guys in a lab to create canned settings.  That approach really doesn't scale.

So this app detects the games, hardware, resolution, and settings you're currently using for all of your games.  FPS histogram tracked every time you play. Sends data to Raptr cloud. Uses collaborative filtering to determine best settings.  User doesn't see any of that.  Just hit one red button to optimize settings.

There are three different simple settings per game: performance, balanced and quality.  Quality is the default.  Can use quality for single-player, performance or balanced for multiplayer, where you may need more speed.

You can go get it at www.raptr.com/amd right now. Is in beta still. Adding dozens of games every single week.

Raja's back. One last thing!

What I have next is one of the most brilliant engineers working on graphics tech.  Video of Johan Andersson of DICE talking about how he's working with AMD.

Frostbite 3 is our next-gen engine. Has become widely used across EA.

Now he's talking about key Battlefield 4 features like level-changing events that happen in real time, change dynamics of games.  Some nice new graphics effects.

Engine is optimized for DX11.1 and for Radeon GPUs.  Working with AMD on CPU and GPU optimizations.

Ooh, will have a 64-bit native executable. 32-bit fallback, but 64-bit will be default.

Further parallelization to scale up to 8-core CPUs.

He's talking about how the PC is a great platform, but has some limitations still.  GPU programmability is limited.  CPU is "spoon feeding" GPU, and GPU memory isn't exposed.  Abstractions are good, but they are getting in the way for us.  We want to be able to adapt to what the hardware is capable of.

We can be more efficient.  APIs aren't evolving quickly enough.  On the consoles, we develop only for a single setup and config, and all hardware functionality is exposed to the developer (almost).  Easier to achieve the target frame rate.

We want to be able to push the PC forward while keeping scalability, ability to run on different types of PCs.  Think we need a different approach.  Game engine takes on a lot of the functionality that graphics driver does today.  Graphics driver is just a thin layer.

Working with AMD on a solution called Mantle.  Close collaboration. Cross-platform, but Windows first.  BF4 is the pilot program.  Have a native rendering back-end using Mantle with a compatible Radeon GPU.  Will give superb GPU performance, better scaling, use all 8 CPU cores, render more in parallel.  Really highly optimized GPU usage.

This is a foundation for the future for us.  Really only the beginning.

Game launches Oct. 29.  Mantle update will come out in December.  Should see some really good performance improvements with that.  Is a free and automatic update.

Going forward, I'm super-excited about Mantle.  Can do a really low-latency renderer for VR and even more.

Video's over.

Mike Heilemann, Director of Technology at EA is on stage to talk BF4.  Johan wishes he could have been here himself but is finishing BF4.

Time for a BF4 single-player demo of the level "Angry Sea."  Wow, that's loud.

The amount of stuff happening on screen is just insane. Incredible detail and fidelity.

Yeah, stuff just got blown up.

Raja returns.

What is mantle? A new low-level programming interface with a thin driver.  Mantle enables 9X more draw calls per second than other APIs by reducing CPU overhead.

Enables developers to explore advanced rendering techniques not possible now.  More performance on consoles with less hardware specs.  On the PC, developers can get more performance out of the faster hardware finally.

Mantle is the fourth pillar of our 2014 GPU products... that I forgot to mention.  We'll talk more about Mantle at our developer summit November 11-14.

John Taylor is back to wrap things up.

Thanks to all. And we're done!

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Tags: Graphics