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Graphics Software Upgrades Hardware

AM3 Reference Diagram Disclosed 65

psyph3r writes "Chilehardware has released what appears to be a confidential image showing the future customer desktop AM3 reference boards for AMD and ATI. Here is an English site talking about this reference design image and the features it enables. 'The biggest improvement for this generation of chipsets is the audio and video capabilities integrated into the motherboard. The new features packed into these chipsets are beginning to look like standalone platforms. The RS780 supports DirectX 10 and has a UVD, which is similar to most High-end cards of today.'"
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AM3 Reference Diagram Disclosed

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  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:00AM (#21281179)
    Hasn't integrated audio and video been around forever?

    Supporting DirectX 10 and all that is great and all, but, how fast will it be? I remember getting an nForce 4 integrated video board for my folks some time ago and it supported the latest DirectX versions and, while it ran all the nVidia eyecandy demos, it sure was slow.

    I mean, TFA makes reference to Hypertransport 3.0 and all, but memory bandwidth is only part of pretty pixels.
    • TFA makes reference to Hypertransport 3.0 and all, but memory bandwidth is only part of pretty pixels.

      Good point.

      I think most of us are hoping that the marriage between AMD and ATI allows them to produce chipsets with actually decent graphics performance. Maybe not on par with a standalone GPU, but I'm hoping it at least approaches that...

      Even if its barely adequate, a decently performing system that allows me to use my HDTV as the monitor would be a welcome improvement.
      • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
        I don't understand the assumption that they can't embed a high-end graphics card in a motherboard? It hasn't typically been done since the resulting board would be seem to be insanely expensive until you realize that most of the cost is the graphics... But that doesn't mean they can't or won't.

        Also, when you say 'decent graphics performance' ... I assume you're talking about games, since the Intel GMA 3xxx series does perfectly well with Compiz. It's every bit as fast as the ATI card in my work machine.
        • by moderatorrater ( 1095745 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:01PM (#21281869)

          I don't understand the assumption that they can't embed a high-end graphics card in a motherboard
          I assume that it can be done but it hasn't. The reason I assume it hasn't been done is that the resulting motherboard would then have to go through testing and the video card would have to get integrated. In the meanwhile, the GPU market is moving forward and releasing new cards and marking down existing ones. In addition, the video card industry moves faster than the motherboard industry generally speaking, so while a good motherboard is useful 6 months later at roughly the same cost, a video card isn't. Most motherboard manufacturers would rather let enthusiasts with higher graphics requirements purchase the card separately and embed low-quality GPUs for people who don't need a better one.
        • the resulting board would be seem to be insanely expensive until you realize that most of the cost is the graphics

          There is the problem. If someone were willing to put a lot of money into a motherboard just because of the good graphics card on it, they are most likely the kind of person who is willing to put in a lot of money into a new video card in a year or so. Which means that now their expensive motherboard w/ GPU was a stupid purchase, since they could have started with a regular mobo and separate

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Aladrin ( 926209 )
            I agree totally... Except that conditions are a bit different. The improvements in graphics aren't as mind-blowing as they were 3+ years ago. I'm a graphics whore. I admit it. I'm one of those fools that buys $500 video cards.

            But since the 7800s, things haven't been so urgent. The new cards aren't -that- much better than the old ones because games aren't pushing the limits as much. It used to be there were several games a year that required rigs that were insane. Now there's maybe 1 or 2. Most of t
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              It used to be there were several games a year that required rigs that were insane. Now there's maybe 1 or 2.

              I haven't noticed that. What I've seen is that usually games will reach a plateau for a while (maybe a plateau with a slight incline) and then suddenly jump forward. For example, Doom 3 and Half Life 2 were both released withing a few months of each other, and Unreal Tournament 2004 was released only a few months before Doom 3 (UT2k4 required enough of a boost over UT2k3 that I included it). But

    • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:50AM (#21281739) Homepage
      What makes an IGP slower is a couple of things.

      In the case of Intel, it's the memory bandwidth coupled with a distinct lack of Vertex Shader support.

      In the case of AMD, it's the memory bandwidth coupled with a dramatically reduced/nonexistent support for Vertex Shaders.

      In the case of NVidia, it's the memory bandwidth.

      In the case with many IGPs, the combination of having to share RAM with the machine on it's own bus, along with no Transform, Clipping, and Lighting hardware acceleration (Little to no Vertex Shader hardware...) means for a very slow GPU overall. Now, having said this, the Hypertransport 3.0 interface may help on the bus speed, and if you're looking at the Unified Shader requirements for DX10, you might find that this may be a little better performer. It's not going to be like a PCI-E add-in card, but it may be serviceable for light to medium duty 3D stuff by itself because of those two things.
      • If you could have enough memory bandwidth, might it eventually trump PCI-E? Because with PCI-E, it still has to be copied into RAM on another card. With onboard, not only would it be easier to upgrade (just upgrade your system RAM), but if it was designed properly, the video would just pull the assets from where they already are in application memory.

        But maybe it's a stupid question -- I suspect it's kind of like asking "If you could have a fast enough single core, wouldn't green threads be great?"
        • by Svartalf ( 2997 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @01:15PM (#21282917) Homepage
          You're not really that ignorant... :-)

          In the case of the discrete cards (PCI-E, AGP...) they have a pool of memory that's accessible via the bus and that's directly accessible by the GPU's own memory bus (That memory size when you see 128, 256, 512Mb, etc.)- which is faster than just about anything out there and has no contention spots for the GPU to have to wait any longer than the access latency to the memory from the second access port. The peak speed of the GPUs when compared to an IGP solution comes from the contention-less, very, very fast access to the card's memory pool so that you don't stall the graphics pipeline. A stall of a microsecond can cost you FPS (Duh...) and larger stalls can drag framerates to the slide show domain- it's part of why the older ATI fglrx drivers were roughly 50% slower under Linux when compared to Windows. They had a stall in there somewhere that was introduced by their way of getting their then Windows-ish codebase to work under Linux.

          Now, having said this, Hypertransport's suspiciously close to the same performance level of most of the local GPU buses and you only need to deal with bus contention issues for the only real performance snag. IGPs start making sense at that point for many applications because the memory's now close to the same speed as the add-in card's memory with similar latencies. The only real slowdown would be that you don't have dual pathways now.
  • Why usb 1.1 and 2.0? and why not use HT for the NB to SB link like how nvidia does it?
    • 12 USB2.0 should be plenty for all your USB2.0 peripherals. I imagine the slower USB1.1 ports are a freebie in case you have USB1.1 devices that don't auto-negotiate well on a USB2.0 port... I wouldn't be surprised if most integrators don't even provide the pinouts to use them.

      As for PCIe vs. HT, they're probably so similar in latency and throughput at that level that its just a difference in transistor count or something similarly insignificant.
    • Did you not read the part about 12 usb 2.0 ports and 2 usb 1.1 ports?

      That's plenty of 2.0, and even some 1.1's for devices that you don't want slowing down the 2.0 bus.
  • by dilute ( 74234 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:22AM (#21281399)
    OK, flame me and mod me -1, but if the Slashdot editors had good reason to believe this was actually confidential (and based on the translation of this article, this pretty plainly appears to be the case), and an unauthorized disclosure, why the editors here decide to carry the story? If someone submitted a story that said, "Here are documents I STOLE from Microsoft by breaking into the building" would Slashdot carry that? Where do you draw the line? Why does AMD's stuff have to be outed like this as a consequence of someone violating their confidence? Or maybe it's a deliberate leak (???)
  • by unfunk ( 804468 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @11:41AM (#21281625) Journal
    * No integrated Audio
    * No Integrated Video

    Is that really so hard? Integrated video is easy enough to avoid, but you just can't get a motherboard these days that doesn't have onboard audio. I'm sick of having to disable it whenever I get a new board, and the amount of space the jacks take up on the rear panel could be better used for more USB or Firewire ports.
    I use an old Soundblaster Audigy for my sound needs, and it does everything I need. In hardware. Every time I buy a new motherboard, I test the onboard audio first, just to see if it's gotten any better than I last tried it.
    So far, this card's lasted me four complete system overhauls, and at this rate, will last until a version of Windows comes out that where Creative don't release drivers for it.
    • Agreed ... I still haven't found an onboard adapter better than my Live 5.1.
      • by sa1lnr ( 669048 )
        Nvidia's Soundstorm was the best onboard audio in my experience. I preferred onboard Soundstorm to my then current Audigy card.
      • by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:07PM (#21281933)

        Agreed ... I still haven't found an onboard adapter better than my Live 5.1.

        You mean like every single board that has audio based on the Via chipset that integrates the Envy24HT chip?

        Live 5.1 is sonically one of the worst sound cards ever made. My 8-year-old Vortex2 from Aureal, is MUCH better... and the $20 Chaintech AV-710 absolutely blows it away.
        • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:46PM (#21282483)
          look around for 'bit perfect' playback. you won't find it for soundblaster style cards. NOTHING from that company is even remotely pro audio quality or even home theater spdif bit-perfect output.

          hint: their internal arch. resamples ALL data to 48k. even 48k gets resampled (man!, that's dumb) to 48k. hopes of having literal bit-perfect 44.1 is hopeless with creative brand.

          envy24 - full-on pro chipset. I've used that one in my studio for years.

          before that was the cmedia 8738 (still a gem if you can find it). also bit-perfect and has some great free drivers (sourceforge) that allow kernel streaming (win-xp) and bit perfect mixer-goof-proof output.

          almost all else is drek. ie, junk.

          • Have you got a link for the 8738 drivers?
            • by Nexus7 ( 2919 )
              If you're talking Linux, it's already in the kernel. The module is snd_cmipci.
              • correct. cmipci is what you want.

                also note that you need a control panel to set the spdif output.

                also also note (also also wik?) that you need to know the diff between 5v output and 0.5v output. 5v is used to drive opto blocks (toslink thingies). 0.5v is used to drive 'coax' output (rg style 75ohm coax). sending 5v to the coax out may overdrive your home stereo. sending 0.5v to the opto block will give you a whole lotta dialtone (ie, no audio out).

            • here's the link (and some discussion, mostly by me) for the streaming bit-perfect opensource (!) drivers for win-xp. I use that for my htpc and it passes dolby digital (ac3), 44.1, 48k - just not 96k, that's all.

              http://forums.slickdeals.net/showthread.php?t=468288 [slickdeals.net]

              the driver, itself:

              http://cmediadrivers.googlepages.com/home [googlepages.com]

              and as noted, linux/bsd already have all they need in the public kernel! this is only to de-brain-damage xp and restore bit-perfect playback.
              • Wow, that's really neat. My old 8738 card is in the hand-me-down machine I gave my parents, but it's neat to see new drivers expanding it's capabilities :)
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by unfunk ( 804468 )
          ...and on that note, I have a SB Vibra 128 that I bought for $20aud about six years ago that has vastly, [i]vastly[/i] superior MIDI sounds than the vile DLS crap that my Audigy (and all other modern cards) uses. While I was studying Music Composition at uni, I actually ran both cards specifically so I could use the MIDI soundset of the Vibra.
    • The problem is that it's now so cheap to put into the chipset. Even if you were to get a new board "without" integrated audio video, you are likely to get in the chips somewhere anyway but the circuitry not hooked up to a jack and maybe a separate amp chip.
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Thursday November 08, 2007 @12:12PM (#21282043)
      It's simple: Adding onboard audio costs them almost nothing and gains them quite a few sales.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Touché. In fact, I've upgraded a while ago and I bought a nice little asus M2NPV-MX motherboard. I've chosen that particular motherboard for three simple reasons: it was a socket AM2 motherboard, it's price was very reasonable (about 60 euros) and it had an NVIDIA integrated video card (NVIDIA GeForce 6150). I don't play demanding games (mainly openttd), the integrated audio is excellent and from time to time I tinker with opengl. In the end that particular hardware combination made it possible for me
        • by unfunk ( 804468 )

          So exactly what's wrong with integrated audio/video? Absolutely nothing. At least that's what my wallet's opinion.
          I agree 100% - but from the viewpoint of somebody that prefers discreet hardware solutions, then integrated peripherals are kinda pointless.
          I'd even extend this viewpoint to onboard ethernet if it weren't so damned hard to get a decent hardware NIC these days...
          • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
            Ahh... but they are not pointless. By having the integrated peripherals, the manufacturer can sell to a wider audience with a single design. This leads to lower production costs, as well as making it cheaper for retail, as as they don't have to carry a bunch of different boards. Since the peripherals can be turned off, there is no negative for the customer that wants to use a card for the device, but there is a positive for the ones that are less picky.

            I know I don't long for the days when the only po
          • Neh, nothing wrong with an additional network connection or indeed, an audio connection. I use my Soundblaster for serious music, and my internal sound device is used for IM and VoIP. Same thing for the ethernet: one for my GB swich (which can be swiched off) and a cheapo 100Mbs ethernet card for my internet access. Anyway, previously some people bought soundblasters for their excellent DAC's. But nowadays the connections are all digital, and you would only use a SB for some small time post-processing.

        • I went through a similar process and ended up with a similar board. Unfortunately for me (and possibly you, I haven't kept up since), ASUS concentrates on adding features and minor details like standards compliance are ignored.

          The ASUS boards do not correctly have their sensors detected, their USB controller doesn't quite work (problems with suspend, problems with cold-boot occasionally), their ACPI is screwed (broken APIC). Basically, if it works well enough for casual windows users they consider it good
    • Not everyone buys Video/Sound cards.
    • Or at least, an industry standard to be able to totally disable both in the bios or via jumper.

      I've got a Tyan Tomcat board where my rev 1.0 board had no jumper to disable the onboard graphics card. Which happens to be a dirty piece of junk ATI Rage card. Apparently the rev 1.1 DID have that jumper, but when we started to get all these nice little UI enhancements for Linux and I bought a new nVidia graphics card to take advantage of all that stuff, I couldn't. Of course, by then, the board was out of wa
    • Oh no, you have to disable the onboard audio! That's pure craziness!! Seriously, the days of add-on soundcards are coming to an end. People are generally just mistaken when they think their peripheral sound card is so much better than the onboard. If you're using SP/DIF, it doesn't matter of course. If you're going straight to speaker, it matters less now because Vista and hardware audio acceleration via newer EAX "standards" is broken anyway. I gave up my Audigy 2 ZS a few months ago when Vista's sup
  • I only see one PCIE x16... There are 2 x16 physical slots, but only one of them is actually x16 electrical. Is this the end for SLI/Crossfire? Why would they design a socket/bridge with less connectivity/bandwidth than current boards? Sure, the dam thing has 12 USB ports, but it only has 2 PCI ports, and 4 PCIE ports (1 x16, 1x8, 1x4, 1x1). Sure, it has 4 video conenctors (DVI, HDMI, VGA, TV) and a 512Meg frame buffer, but wow...
    • by unfunk ( 804468 )

      I only see one PCIE x16... There are 2 x16 physical slots, but only one of them is actually x16 electrical. Is this the end for SLI/Crossfire?
      Unlikely. Remember that initially, putting your motherboard into SLI mode split the x16 channel into two x8 ones...
      • A lot of people want two PCIe slots at x16 electrical. There are boards that have two x16 electrical slots. The new PCIe 2.0 should require x16. Otherwise the cards plugged into the lower electrical slot will not run optimally. I would think that the two full open x16 slots would allow the two gpus to use the most bandwidth. Which should be useful for all the high end graphics and video. I wonder if the video rendering/editing people use could use all the bandwidth?
        • by unfunk ( 804468 )
          ...there's no real advantage to using both slots at full x16 rating though - videocards these days aren't even saturating the AGP 8x bus, let alone PCIe x16. I remember an article on Tom's Hardware, back when PCIe cards first came out where they actually taped over some of the contacts, to make x8, x4 x2, and x1 electrical connections... if my memory serves me correctly (I could really use an ECC chip in my brain...), there was no performance degradation until they got down to x2 connections.

          I'm sure it
    • I am assuming the worst and supposing they are abandoning the enthuisast market to Intel and Nvidia. Even ATI's upcoming cards haven't sounded inspiring.

    • this is a low end chipset with on board video higher end chipsets will have more pci-e lanes.
  • Many of the integrated chipset GPUs make great Linux MythTV / HTPC boards, in theory. The problem is normally driver support to take advantage of all the great features.

    The VIA Unichrome had good video decoding support, but poor drivers too many crippled hardware versions. The new Intel GPUs look like an excellent option, but the video acceleration drivers have not caught up yet.

    Any of the ATI boards would also be a great option, when/if the ATI drivers can support video acceleration (XvMC or maybe the ne
  • RS780 (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by ErikTheRed ( 162431 )
    Is that an upgrade to RS232?

    /me runs, ducks, and hides...
  • I heard that you should never use ATI with AMD, because they would be releasing a new hardware DRM, that will lock out your access to the framebuffer, as described here http://www.infoworld.com/article/07/03/28/14OPcurve_1.html [infoworld.com] does anyone have any idea if the AM3 contains such DRM?
    • by yuriks ( 1089091 )
      I think what the article describes is plain simple driver support for the Vista HDCP DRM implementation.

I've got a bad feeling about this.