3D Vision Blog

A normal user's look into the world of 3D Stereo Technologies

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New GPU from Nvidia Announced Today, the GeForce GTX 670

May 10th, 2012 · 4 Comments · General 3D News

After the announcement of the top models from the new Kepler architecture – GeForce GTX 680 and GTX 690, Nvidia has just announced another a bit more affordable, but still high-end GPU in terms of features and performance. Today comes the announcement of the new GeForce GTX 670, definitely an interesting product coming with a $100 USD lower recommended end user price and a just slightly slower than GTX 680. The new GeForce GTX 670 should still be a bit faster, in terms of performance, as compared to a GeForce GTX 580 – the previous generation’s top model single GPU graphics card, as well as being with lower power consumption and thus producing less heat and noise. At $399 USD the GeForce GTX 670 should be very attractive alternative to the $499 USD price of the GeForce GTX 680, and with a performance difference of up to just about 20% between the two. Not to mention that overclocking the GeForce GTX 670 you should be able to achieve similar performance to that of a stock GTX 680 and even surpass it with a bit, so definitely a good deal. Now, what we only need is Nvidia to actually provide enough GPUs on the market, so that there won’t be shortages like with the GTX 680 that will also push the price of the GTX 670 higher than the recommended one…

Specifications of GeForce GTX 670:

Graphics Card – GeForce GTX 670 2GB
CUDA Cores – 1344 +864
Texture Units (TMU) – 112 +52
Raster Operator Units (ROP) – 32 -8
Graphics Clock (Base) – 915 MHz +183
Graphics Clock (Boost) – 950 MHz
Texture Fill Rate (Bilinear) – 102.5 billion/sec +58.6
Standard Memory Configuration – 2048 MB GDDR5 +768
Memory Interface Width – 256-bit -64
Memory Clock – 3004 MHz (6008 effective) +1104 (2208)
Memory Bandwidth – 192.2 GB/sec +40.2
Fabrication Process – 28 nm -12
Transistor Count – 3.54 Billion +0.54
Connectors – Dual-Link DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI-D, HDMI 1.4 High Speed, DisplayPort 1.2
Form Factor – Dual Slot
Power Connectors – 2x 6-pin PEG
Power Consumption – 170W TDP -49
GPU Thermal Threshold – 97 degrees Celsius
Bus Interface – PCI Express 3.0

* The numbers in red and green represent the upgrade or downgrade of the specific parameter in the GTX 670 as compared to the GTX 570!

The GeForce GTX 670 based on the same GK104 GPU that is being used in the GTX 680 with the difference being that the GTX 670 has one SMX block disabled. This means a bit less CUDA cores, fewer texture units, and a GPU clock frequency a bit lower in the GTX 670, although the memory clock frequency and amount available remain identical. This results in 25W of power consumption less in the GTX 670 (under maximum load), while at the same time the performance does not suffer a lot and can be compensated with a bit of overclocking as the new GPU should also be very capable in terms of overclock like the GTX 680. And just like its bigger brother, the new GeForce GTX 670 cards do come will all the new features introduced with the GTX 680 such as GPU Boost, Adaptive Vertical Sync, FXAA and TXAA, Single card driving up to four monitors and capable of running 3D Vision Surround setup and so on. And although a single GeForce GTX 670 supports 3D Vision Surround I’d still recommend to go at least for two such cards if you plan on building a three 3D-capable display gaming setup in order to be able to play comfortable even in more demanding games with high details.

If you plan on playing games in stereoscopic 3D mode with a single card on a single 3D monitor, then the GeForce GTX 670 should be more than enough for most people, performance wise, and although a GTX 680 could be slightly better, you should be Ok even with a GTX 670. But the real question is if you should upgrade your old GPU to a GTX 670 and the answer is it depends. If you have a GTX 570 or GTX 580 already an upgrade to GTX 670 would not bring that much of an improvement, sure you will get some extra performance combined with lower power consumption, but the difference probably won’t be that high and you might get up a bit disappointed in the end. If you have a GTX 470 or GTX 480, going for a GeForce GTX 670 video card would definitely help more, and I’m not talking only about performance improvement, but the more important advantage would be in the fact that you’ll be getting a much cooler and more silent operating video card. Upgrading from a GTX 460 or a GTX 560 / 560 Ti would really bring up a lot of extra performance that would definitely improve the experience when playing games in stereoscopic 3D mode. If you are in the GTX 460 / 560 domain however you might want to wait a bit more and get the GTX 660 that will very likely be the next thing that Nvidia will be announcing sooner than later if they continue to follow the traditional logic in launching new products. And a GTX 660 based on the Kepler architecture might prove to be among the best price/performance options (for stereo 3D gaming as well) on the market if/when launched, because the GTX 670 is still considered a high-end card with a high price. Looking at the simplified design of the reference GTX 670 cards you can expect that the GTX 660 will be with the same PCB and will have another SMX block disabled, couple that with a price of $249 and things might be looking very good. Now, we’ll have to wait and see some benchmarks from the new GTX 670 in stereoscopic 3D mode as well as the new cards should be immediately available on the market starting today…

The GeForce GTX 670 is available in Newegg, while GTX 680 is still out of stock…

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Using GeForce GTX 580 for 720p and 1080p Stereo 3D Gaming

April 26th, 2012 · 16 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

It has been over a month already since the official introduction of the GeFocre GTX 680 video card and the demand is still quite high, so that these models are still out of stock in most places and you can usually find them in places that sell them for more than the recommended end user price. It would be strange is Nvidia is still not able to provide enough supply a month after the initial launch, so I’m going to be benchmarking the GeForce GTX 580 here. The idea is to find how well the GTX 580 card performs in stereo 3D mode with the more recent games and if it really is already outdated or you can wait a few more months for better availability and pricing of the GTX 680, or maybe even skip the GTX 680 and go directly to GTX 685/690 or why not even 7xx…

I’ve started doing the following tests with the idea to see how well is the GTX 580 handling 720p resolution with 4xAA (Anti-Aliasing) in order to see if the card is still powerful enough for people using 3D-capable projectors or 3D HDTVs for gaming in stereoscopic 3D mode. You know that the 3D-capable TV sets and 3D-capable projectors limit you to 720p resolution with high-enough (50/60Hz) refresh rate for gaming in stereo 3D mode, unlike 3D monitors, most of which do support 1080p 3D mode with 60 fps. And in the process I’ve decided to also compare with 1080p mode using no AA as well as to give a stereoscopic 3D rating to the games I test with. And the list of games grew to 20 popular and more demanding game titles released roughly in the last 6-8 months, regardless of them being 3D ready or not. So in the end I’ve managed to do a few things, do some performance comparison using a single GTX 580 card in 720p and 1080p 3D mode and check the situation of the 3D support for some of the popular games released recently.

In the table above you can see the results from my testing that took quite a while more than I initially have planned, and I do plan to extend it even further in the next few weeks of time. Note that the fps listed in the table are the ones achieved in stereo 3D mode with 60 fps being the maximum (120 frames per second in total, 60 for each eye to get the 3D effect). The benchmarking at 1080p 3D mode is with the games running at high detail settings with no AA, unless the game does not allow you to completely turn it off. For 720p 3D mode the games were running again in high details, but with 4xAA applied in order to compensate for the more easily visible jagged edges that the lower resolution produces. Have in mind that some games had a frame caps and others needed to have the AA forced trough the Nvidia control panel in order for them to work, so have in mind this when you see the lower framerates with some games. The 3D Rating is something that I quickly devised based on my personal requirements for a good stereoscopic 3D experience, the things that I expect to see in a game, with the maximum rating being 10 points and the minimum 1. A game with a rating of 1 would be actually unplayable in stereoscopic 3D mode, a rating of 5 is on the edge of ensuring decent playability in stereo 3D mode with some tweaking of the settings in the game and a rating of 10 would mean perfect stereoscopic 3D experience. As you can see there are no tens, but there is a game with a rating of 1 and quite a few with 5 or less, but there are also a lot with higher ratings as well, meaning that things are not so bad when talking about stereoscopic 3D compatibility.

Have in mind that all the benchmarking has been done using the games with no tweaks, mods or fixes of any kind in order to give an idea about what experience the user can get out of the box when he gets a game and tries to play it in stereoscopic 3D mode. There are some annoying things and limitations that could easily be overridden like the 30 fps frame cap limits in Alice Madness Returns or L.A. Noire, or get a better experience in stereoscopic 3D mode using user mods like the ones available for Skyrim or Mass Effect 3 that can help in getting much better experience. Not to mention different performance tweaks and optimizations that can help you get better looking graphics, more details or even higher fps without sacrificing visual quality. But as I’ve said, the idea was to get an adequate overview of the situation with out of the box game compatibility and performance in stereoscopic 3D mode and I think I’ve managed to do it quite decently.

And now for a bit of statistics. Out of 20 games that I’ve tested with 10 are with rating of 8 or 9 out of 10, meaning that they are looking very good in stereoscopic 3D mode and that is half of the titles that I’ve used and I did not specifically go for games that are being optimized for 3D, but instead for games that were released roughly in the last 6-8, are more popular and generally more demanding in terms of performance. There are some games that are on the edge with a rating of 5-6, but for some of them such as Mass Effect 3 using some user made modifications you can get much better stereoscopic 3D experience. There are also some games with very low rating that are practically unplayable in stereo 3D mode due to some serious issues and I’m actually quite disappointed, because sports simulators such as NBA or FIFA could benefit a lot from proper stereoscopic 3D support and that also goes for other sports games as well. Other games like Alan Wake for example started quite bad in terms of stereoscopic 3D support (although the developer of that particular one was claiming good S3D support), but they have been improving the situation a bit by bit with updates, so in a few more updates the game might actually movie among the titles with twice as high 3D rating than the one it currently has. Some other games have already walked this way, for example Dirt 3 and Hard Reset weren’t working very well in stereo 3D mode at first, when they were released, but with updates the experience in S3D mode that they now provide has been significantly improved.

And now back to the GTX 580, definitely still more than capable for stereoscopic 3D gaming and will be for quite a while actually. Have in mind that the results in the table above have been made on a system running Intel Core i5 2500K CPU on an Asus P67 motherboard and neither the processor, not the video card have been overclocked for the testing – they were running on stock speeds. So you can get even higher framerates after overclocking your hardware and if you already have a second GTX 580 in SLI, then unless you are using 3D Vision Surround setup, there is even less reason to upgrade at the moment. However if you are still using a GTX 480 or a slower card form the 400 or 500 series, then upgrading to GTX 680 or the upcoming slightly slower models might be a good idea, especially considering the fact that the latest GeForce 600 series GPUs are coming with some new useful features, along with the improved performance and the reduced power consumption.

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The New Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 (Kepler) Finally Making an Appearance

March 22nd, 2012 · 16 Comments · GeForce 3D Vision

Nvidia has just officially announced their new flagship GPU, the GeForce GTX 680 based on the new Kepler architecture and manufactured using 28nm process. The video cards based on the new graphics processors offer increased performance over the previous generation of Fermi and the flagship GTX 580 as well as numerous improvements and new features. Below I’ve prepared a short list of thee specifications of the new GTX 680 GPU as compared to the previous GTX 580 single GPU flagship from Nvidia, so you can easily compare what has changed.

Nvidia GeForce GTX 680 Specifications:

Graphics Card: GeForce GTX 680 2GB
Graphics Processing Clusters: 4
Streaming Multiprocessors: 8 -8
CUDA Cores: 1536 +1024
Texture Units: 128 +64
ROP Units: 32 -16
Graphics Clock: 1006 MHz +234
GPU Boost Clock: 1058 MHz
Memory Clock (Data rate): 6008 MHz +2000
L2 Cache Size: 512KB -256
Total Video Memory: 2048MB GDDR5 +512
Memory Interface: 256-bit -128
Total Memory Bandwidth: 192.26 GB/s -0.14
Texture Filtering Rate (Bilinear): 128.8 GigaTexels/sec +79.4
Fabrication Process: 28 nm
Transistor Count: 3.54 Billion +0.54
Connectors: Dual-Link DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI-D, HDMI 1.4 High Speed, DisplayPort 1.2
Form Factor: Dual Slot
Power Connectors: 2x 6-pin
Thermal Design Power (TDP): 195 Watts -49
Thermal Threshold: 98 degrees C
Bus Interface: PCI Express 3.0

* The superscript numbers in green and red show the change as compared to the specs of GTX 580.

I don’t want to go too much into detail about changes in the new Kepler architecture, as I’m sure not a lot of people are actually interested too much into such technical details. I just want to mention a few things and then will go to the more interesting part, namely the new features that the GTX 680 offers over the previous generation. There has been a significant change in the basic modules that build-up the GPU in the Kepler and as a result you get more CUDA cores and there is no more a separate shader clock available, there is just one clock frequency for the GPU, although there are changes in how it functions as well. And while the number of CUDA cores has been essentially tripled you should not expect to get three times the performance of a GTX 580 with a single GTX 680, as there are other important things that are responsible for the overall performance that a video card can provide… there are the Texture and ROP units as well, and then there is the memory frequency and bandwidth. Looking at the specs of the new GTX 680 you may notice that the operating frequency of the memory chips has been increased significantly, but the width of the memory bus has been reduced, so essentially the memory bandwidth remains pretty much the same as it was with the GTX 580. So instead of tripling the performance you should expect something more like 1.5x up to 2x the performance of the previous generations of GPU, depending on the usage scenario of course, although that would require some extra testing to confirm, especially when using in stereo 3D mode.

And now a it for some of the new features. One interesting thing is the GPU Boost functionality that is supposed to control in real time the operating frequency of your graphics processor, so that it can maximize the performance you get whenever you need it. Automatically increasing the working frequency of the GPU when a certain application is not optimally loading the graphics card, so you can squeeze some more performance. And since the GPU Boost cannot be disabled by the user, it will ultimately change the way you overclock the video card, especially considering that there are no more two different frequencies for the GPU anymore. And while you cannot disable the GPU Boost, you can control how it works, making you get the most out of your video card in terms of performance even when you overclock it. But thanks to the GPU Boost function and the extra electronics used to monitor the current utilization, temperature and power consumption of the GTX 680 you also get some neat new extras such as the ability to limit the maximum framerate in a 3D application to lets say 60 or 120 fps (NVIDIA Frame Rate Target). So you can look at the GPU Boost as not only something that can help you get the most out of your GPU, but also a function that can help you save power and resources when you actually don’t need them. Because when you limit the maximum framerate there is usually no need for the video card to use all of its processing power to maintain that framerate and thus it will run cooler and more silent.

Another new thing is the improvement in the Anti-Aliasing modes that you get at your disposal in order to get rid of the jaggies and get smoother looking image in games. Aside from the FXAA mode that is also supported, the new GTX 680s introduce the two new TXAA modes that bring better quality AA than MSAA with less performance hit. Another interesting new feature is the Adaptive VSync that can help you smooth out the transitions when the framerate drops below a certain level, something that with no VSync or with normal VSync usually leads to tearing of the image. And while Adaptive VSync may not be able to completely eliminate the tearing when framerate drops significantly it can help reduce it greatly making it not so apparent and even hardly noticeable if you are not paying special attention in most of the cases. So another good thing if you are a gamer and going for GTX 680 if you are not a gamer may seem like something a bit pointless to do.

And here comes another very interesting new feature – the Single GPU 3D Vision Surround. Since the GeForce GTX 680 is now capable of driving four independent monitors at the same time you are now able to create a 3D Vision Surround with just a single video card, no more need of at least two GPUs in SLI to drive the 3D Vision Surround. Have in mind though that the GTX 680 has Dual-Link DVI-I, Dual-Link DVI-D, DisplayPort 1.2 a HDMI 1.4 High Speed interfaces. Obviously you can’t use the HDMI 1.4 HS interface for a 3D Vision Surround setup, so the third display needs to be connected either through the DisplayPort or with a DP to DL-DVI adapter. The HDMI 1.4 High Speed interface should be capable of providing more than the 1080p 24Hz 3D mode that the normal HDMI 1.4 interface currently supports, however you would also require a 3D monitor supporting it and there are still no such consumer products available apparently. There are also some improvements in the Surround support, for example you can use a fourth accessory display together with the surround for showing your email for example or something else while playing, although switching to that monitor can be a bit tricky. Also you finally get the taskbar displayed only on the center display when using a Surround setup, and the ability to maximize windows only in a single display and not on all three (user selectable) and these are apart of software improvements actually, so you should be getting them available on older hardware as well. There is also a new Bezel Peek function to allow you to briefly see in-game menus or objects that may appear hidden due to the use of bezel correction by using a hotkey, there is also faster display acceleration when using only a single display in a surround setup as well as an improvement in the list of resolutions you get active when using a Surround setup, so you will not be bothered by a huge list resolutions that you need to go through. One thing that I’ve almost missed is the DirectX 11.1 support, but should you actually care that it is supported by the hardware, not really at the moment as it is nothing major for now.

The new GeForce GTX 680 from Nvidia is definitely a good improvement not only in terms of performance, but also in terms of new features that can help you get the most out of your gaming experience, including in stereoscopic 3D mode as well. It is more powerful and more energy efficient as compared to the previous generation and brings some new useful features that are surely going to be interesting for gamers. The new GeForce GTX 680 should be available with a price of about $499 USD already and I hope to be able to soon get the card to test and provide you with some benchmarks of the 680 in stereoscopic 3D mode, so stay tuned for more about that…

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