NVIDIA graphics chip promises four times the speed, but not until 2016

nvidiaNVIDIA has announced its latest GPU, Volta, that promises 1Tb/s of memory bandwidth—almost four times the speed offered by its current top-of-the-range Titan GPU. However, don’t expect to see the chip appear in a Mac near you until 2016.

Reporting from the GPU Technology Conference in San José, Forbes explained the speed of the chip would enable it to process all the video on a full Blu-ray disc in just 1/50th of a second.

NVIDIA CEO Jen-Hsun Huang told the conference:

Volta is going to solve one of the biggest challenges facing GPUs today, which is access to memory bandwidth. We never seem to have enough! This is unbelievable stuff.

The speed is made possible by stacking DRAM layers on a single chip and drilling holes through the silicon to connect them. This far ahead, the company has sensibly avoided committing itself to either a price or a more specific release date.

The new iPad runs 10 degrees hotter, visualized

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I mentioned in my review that the new iPad runs a little hotter than the iPad 2. While it is not a game-changer on its own, it is certainly something to note when choosing between an iPad 2 and a new iPad. Those extra graphics cores powering all of those beautiful little pixels likely cause the extra heat. For me, the heat was strongest on the left side of the device where the motherboard strip is.

Dutch website Tweakers.net (via Engadget) did 5 minutes of GL benchmark on both an iPad 2 (right) and the new iPad (left). According to the website’s measurements, Cupertino’s new flagship slab reached 33.6C (92.5 Fahrenheit) versus 28.3C (82.9 Fahrenheit) with the iPad 2.

As you can see from the image above, the gradient of heat gets strongest where the motherboard is positioned toward the bottom.

Update: Apple responded today with a canned:

“The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications. If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.”

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Report: Apple to return to Nvidia for Mac Pro graphics in Nehalem update

It looks like Apple could (again) select the graphics giant Nvidia as the primary GPU provider for the upcoming Mac Pro hardware refresh. According to a mostly speculative story by MIC Gadget based on unnamed industry sources, new Mac Pros will feature Intel’s upcoming Ivy Bridge chipset fabbed on the chip maker’s latest 22-nanometer Trigate transistor technology (no surprise there). According to Intel, 22nm Ivy Bridge silicon claims a 37 percent speed jump and lower power consumption compared to the chip giant’s 32 nanometer planar transistors. ‘Trigate’ Ivy Bridge chips can feature up to eight processing cores and are more power-savvy, so they should help scale frequency, too. On a more interesting note, MIC Gadget speculates Apple could switch back to Nvidia as the primary supplier of next-generation GPUs for the new Mac Pros.

Nvidia has their “Kepler” platform due out around the same time as Intel is making their changes, and our sources within the company indicate that they have chosen to have Nvidia lead the charge so to speak on the graphics front.

Eagle-eyed readers could mention that AMD recently released the Radeon HD 7970 graphics card powered by the Tahiti GPU (its nearest rival is Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 590), with observes deeming it Apple’s go-to graphics card for future Mac Pros. Indeed, traces of support for Tahiti-driven AMD GPUs are found in Mac OS X Lion 10.7.3, at least indicating people might be able to upgrade their future Mac Pro with this card. Oh, and it’s great for Hackintosh builders, too.

Also indicative is a March 2011 Snow Leopard 10.6.7 update that enabled support for a bunch of AMD/ATI Radeon HD 5xxx and 6xxx cards, not all of which were in Macs at the time. On the other hand, a speculative switch to Nvidia would not be out of character as California-based Apple is known for frequently switching between Nvidia chips and those manufactured by rival AMD…

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iPhone 4S clocked at 800MHz, still crushes iPhone 4 (and everyone else) as advertised

The first SunSpider and BrowserMark benchmarks 9to5Mac told you about yesterday confirmed the iPhone 4S as being “twice as fast”, per Apple’s tagline. Today, AnandTech published a more thorough analysis based on Javascript, CPU and GPU benchmarks of Apple’s latest handset. Thanks to the dual-core A5 chip first outed with iPad 2 this Spring, Javascript performance on iPhone 4S “finally catches up to Tegra 2 based Honeycomb devices, while general CPU performance is significantly higher than the iPhone 4″ – about 68 percent, to be precise.

More importantly, Geekbench results (seen below) tell us that iPad 2 is clocked around “25 percent higher than the iPhone 4S”. Overall, the Apple-designed dual-core A5 chip inside iPhone 4S is estimated to run at 800MHz versus iPad 2’s 1GHz A5 processor. This isn’t entirely unexpected due to the battery concerns and the handset’s much smaller 5.25 Whr battery. Furthermore, Apple says iPhone 4S has “up to seven times faster graphics” versus the advertised “nine times faster graphics” on the iPad 2 – another proof that the two device’s graphics processing units are not clocked equally.

As we predicted, Imagination Technologies’ PowerVR SGX543 graphics units ticking inside the iPhone 4S is also significantly speedier compared to the ARM-based Mali-400 GPU found in the Samsung-designed 1.2GHz Exynos 4210 processor (they recently announced the improved 4212 chip) used in the Galaxy S II smartphone. By all accounts, the iPhone 4S has the fastest graphics in a smartphone yet. Anand Lal Shimpi and Brian Klug explain:


Chart courtesy of AnandTech

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Sony debuts Light Peak product in Europe with external GPU

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It looks like the report that Apple has a lock on Light Peak technology for a year was wrong.  Sony has gone ahead and announced their first Light Peak product in Europe and perhaps most interestingly, it contains an External GPU.  TIMN summerizes:

The vertically standing peripheral (pictured above) uses Intel’s Light Peak (yes, the same thing as Apple’s Thunderbolt) via a proprietary port and USB 3.0 socket to connect to the laptop. And not only does it provide an AMD Radeon HD 6650M with 1GB of VRAM, but also allows you to connect up to three additional displays via its HDMI and VGA ports.

One of the promises of Thunderbolt was External GPU video cards.  Imagine hooking your Thunderbolt-equipped, Sandy Bridge MacBook Air (with crappy integrated Intel GPU) to an external Thunderbolt GPU which drives a few 27-inch screens?

I like where this is going.

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New Flash 10.2 to see 10x improvement in performance


Here’s a demo showing a 10X reduction in CPU usage:

The video is from November but Adobe’s John Nack reports that Flash video sites across the web are updating their content to be optimized for the new version of Flash which purports to deliver video with 1/10th the CPU utilization of the current Flash plug-in.  YouTube, the biggie, is on board.  The original Flash 10.2 beta was released two weeks ago.

Good news, though: the new Flash Player 10.2 (download the beta) offers a new, video-playback-optimized mode called Stage Video.  Building on top of the GPU acceleration added earlier this year, Stage Video can leverage complete hardware acceleration of the video rendering pipeline, from video decoding to scaling/blitting, enabling best-in-class playback performance. Stage Video can dramatically decrease processor usage and enables higher frame rates, reduced memory usage, and greater pixel fidelity and quality.

Stage Video requires Flash developers to update the code in video players, so simply updating to the new player won’t automatically improve CPU usage on all sites, but YouTube has already updates its player & others will follow. If you’re a Flash developer and want to start experimenting, check out this tutorial from Lee Brimelow.

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