Intel Drops Teaser For Upcoming Xe-HPG GPU Architecture

With the launch of their first-iteration Xe-LP architecture now firmly in the proverbial rearview mirror, Intel’s GPU division has turned its sights towards its next consumer-focused GPU architecture, Xe-HPG. Today the company has posted a very …

With the launch of their first-iteration Xe-LP architecture now firmly in the proverbial rearview mirror, Intel’s GPU division has turned its sights towards its next consumer-focused GPU architecture, Xe-HPG. Today the company has posted a very light teaser video advertising the forthcoming architecture.

The brief, 30 second promotional video highlights how Xe-HPG is built on top of Intel’s current Xe-LP architecture. And while there aren’t any concrete technical details disclosed within the otherwise abstract video, it’s notable that the video does briefly show 5 layers of blocks on the Xe-HPG chip. Assuming for the moment that Intel isn’t being quite literal here – a 5 layer GPU would be extravagant and hard to cool, to say the least – it’s more likely an allusion to the number of Execution Units (EUs) or some other aspect of the architecture.

Finally, the video also includes a short block of binary text as a further game for the audience to play.

00100011
10100000
11101101
11010000

For the moment we don’t have a solid idea of what it means. But no doubt someone will figure it out before too long.

Otherwise, this will no doubt be the first of many teasers for Xe-HPG. While Intel hasn’t provided a more recent roadmap for chips based on the architecture, the company previously announced in 2020 that they were aiming for a 2021 launch. And with the first DG2 chip already in the labs as of October, we know that Intel is well underway in bringing up Xe-HPG silicon.

NVIDIA Raises GeForce NOW Paid Subscription Plans to $10 Per Month, $100 Per Year

Just over a year ago, NVIDIA finally brought GeForce NOW, its PC game streaming service, out of beta. The commercial launch of the service saw the introduction of two tiers: a feature and time-limited free tier, and a paid Founders tier that offered a…

Just over a year ago, NVIDIA finally brought GeForce NOW, its PC game streaming service, out of beta. The commercial launch of the service saw the introduction of two tiers: a feature and time-limited free tier, and a paid Founders tier that offered a full set of features (including RTX) and priority access. Now as the company is in its second year of operating the commercial service, today NVIDIA is raising the price for GeForce NOW paid subscriptions, essentially doubling them to $10/month (or $100/year) for new members.

Officially, what NVIDIA is doing today with its subscription plans is two-fold. First, the Founders plans, which were advertised as a limited-time offer from the very beginning, are finally being retired and will no longer be offered to new customers. In their place the company is launching a new set of “Priority” memberships, which are otherwise identical to the old Founders plans, offering the same features and priority access.

The only meaningful change, other than the name on the plan, will be the price. Whereas the Founders plans were $5 a month or $25 for a six-month subscription, GeForce NOW Priority subscriptions will be sold on a monthly or yearly basis. Monthly plans are now $10 per month (or more specifically, $9.99), while yearly plans are $100 ($99.99).

With that said, as a thank you to their Founders members – and no doubt mindful of the negative public reaction to price hikes – NVIDIA is also grandfathering in the old Founders rate for existing customers under what they are calling their “Founders for Life” benefit. This means that while new customers will have to pay the new, higher prices, existing customers will have their old prices locked in so long as they remain in what NVIDIA calls “good standing.” Which for all practical purposes works out to a 50% discount on the service for existing members.

Past that, NVIDIA’s blog post announcing the price increase doesn’t go in to any detail on explaining the reason for the increase. But it’s not terribly surprising to see NVIDIA raising prices; even without the explicit limited-time nature of the founders packages, $5/month was probably not covering all of NVIDIA’s costs, especially as evidenced by the price of comparable high-end instances from the major cloud service providers. If nothing else, this is a sign that NVIDIA is finally looking to make a real profit from the service, rather than just trying to cover costs.

Overall, NVIDIA seems rather bullish on the future of their unique cloud gaming service, even with the licensing-related teething issues over the past year and the hit to demand that will no doubt come from a price hike. According to the company they’re continuing to add capacity to the service, including spinning up a data center in Montreal later this year. Similarly, the company is continuing to expand its GeForce NOW Alliance partnerships for other countries, further increasing the number of countries that have local GeForce NOW servers.

Finally, while today’s news is largely focused on the business-side of the service, NVIDIA does mention that an upcoming update to the service is going to address refresh rate synchronization. With the 2.0.28 update, the server-side refresh rate will be set to match the client-side refresh rate in order to account for the existence of both 60Hz displays and 59.94Hz displays. This small variance in refresh rates is not an issue with games locally, but similar to streaming video, it can be a problem with cloud gaming as a mis-match would lead to judder and the occasional dropped frame.

NVIDIA Fumbles, Releases GeForce RTX 3060 Driver Without Anti-Mining Throttle

In an effort to partially mitigate the market chaos that has come from the cryptocurrency mining boom over the last 6 months, last month NVIDIA very publicly introduced a mining throttling mechanism for its then-new GeForce RTX 3060 cards. By throttli…

In an effort to partially mitigate the market chaos that has come from the cryptocurrency mining boom over the last 6 months, last month NVIDIA very publicly introduced a mining throttling mechanism for its then-new GeForce RTX 3060 cards. By throttling the performance of Ethereum mining on these cards to half their native rate, it would ideally keep miners from immediately snapping up any (and every) RTX 3060 card in search for a profit, leaving more available for NVIDIA’s gaming customers. Essentially a software security/DRM system, the success of NVIDIA’s effort would hinge largely on ensuring the underlying throttling mechanism remain undefeated – an effort that has significantly fumbled after NVIDIA accidentally released a driver without the complete throttling code.

As part of the development of their upcoming Release 470 driver branch, last week NVIDIA released driver 470.05 to developers and Windows Insiders. Among other things, this development driver enabled CUDA support on the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL2) for the first time. Unfortunately, this driver didn’t include the complete throttling code for Ethereum, and as a result it’s possible to use the driver to mine the cryptocoin on RTX 3060 cards at their full (native) rate.

The news was initially broken by HardwareLuxx and ComputerBase, who had the driver and were able to confirm that they were no longer getting throttled with the new driver. NVIDIA in turn has since confirmed the matter as well, sending a statement out to various members of the press that “A developer driver inadvertently included code used for internal development which removes the hash rate limiter on RTX 3060 in some configurations. The driver has been removed.”

Unfortunately, this is a prime, real-world example of how software security (and DRM-like systems) are only as strong as their weakest link – in this case NVIDIA’s driver team. NVIDIA security mechanisms rely on signature checks for the BIOS and drivers to prevent bypassing the throttling mechanism, but since this is a signed, legitimate NVIDIA driver to begin with, it is readily accepted by the card. And since the driver doesn’t have a timebomb on it, the genie is out of the bottle, as it were. Windows cryptominers should be able to use the driver with RTX 3060 cards indefinitely, and since the driver was widely released there’s no possibility to preventing its re-distribution.

The silver(ish) lining to this otherwise bad news is that it could have been even worse for NVIDIA. This driver was for Windows and not for Linux, with the latter being the preferred platform for industrial miners. Furthermore there are apparently other mining-checks in the driver that do still work (e.g. checking the PCIe link width), so NVIDIA’s anti-Ethereum throttle for the RTX 3060 is not completely broken. It has, however, had a massive chunk taken out of it with this driver release.

All of which means that the ongoing chip crunch has just become all that more severe for gamers and other video card buyers. With an unthrottled RTX 3060 able to pull in around $5/day in profit, the card risks being a reasonably attractive offering for miners looking to make a quick buck.

AMD Announces Radeon RX 6700 XT: RDNA2 For 1440p, Coming March 18th For $479

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that…

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that has come to define the GPU industry, the company is preparing its second RDNA2 GPU to further flesh out its lineup of video cards. Set to be released on March 18th, the Radeon RX 6700 XT will be AMD’s anchor card for 1440p gaming, succeeding the last-generation RX 5700 XT and giving AMD’s product lineup a more wallet-friendly option than their 4K-focused 6800/6900 series cards. The launch for the latest Radeon card will be an all-out affair, with both reference and partner custom cards launching the same day, with prices starting at $479.

AMD Announces Radeon RX 6700 XT: RDNA2 For 1440p, Coming March 18th For $479

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that…

As part of AMD’s latest Where Gaming Begins product presentation, the prolific processor designer announced the next member in its Radeon family of video cards, the Radeon RX 6700 XT. Following the tried and true scale-down release strategy that has come to define the GPU industry, the company is preparing its second RDNA2 GPU to further flesh out its lineup of video cards. Set to be released on March 18th, the Radeon RX 6700 XT will be AMD’s anchor card for 1440p gaming, succeeding the last-generation RX 5700 XT and giving AMD’s product lineup a more wallet-friendly option than their 4K-focused 6800/6900 series cards. The launch for the latest Radeon card will be an all-out affair, with both reference and partner custom cards launching the same day, with prices starting at $479.

Launching Today: NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 – Aiming For Mainstream At $329

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with t…

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with today’s card in some respects being the most popular one. Aimed at the mainstream market, the RTX 3060 is designed to be a more balanced option for the larger market of gamers who probably aren’t trying to drive high-end 4K displays, but still want the latest graphical features on a 1080p or 1440p display. RTX 3060 cards will go on sale a bit later this morning – at 9am Pacific – with prices starting at $329.

Launching Today: NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 – Aiming For Mainstream At $329

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with t…

NVIDIA this morning is launching their previously announced GeForce RTX 3060. First unveiled back at CES 2021, the latest member of the GeForce RTX 30 series is continuing NVIDIA’s ongoing top-to-bottom launch of Ampere-based video cards, with today’s card in some respects being the most popular one. Aimed at the mainstream market, the RTX 3060 is designed to be a more balanced option for the larger market of gamers who probably aren’t trying to drive high-end 4K displays, but still want the latest graphical features on a 1080p or 1440p display. RTX 3060 cards will go on sale a bit later this morning – at 9am Pacific – with prices starting at $329.

NVIDIA Closes Out Q4 & FY2021 With Another Round of Record Earnings

NVIDIA this afternoon closed the book on another record fiscal year, announcing their FY 2021 and Q4 2021 earnings results for the company. For the last quarter of their fiscal year, NVIDIA booked just over $5B in revenue with a profit of $1457M, mark…

NVIDIA this afternoon closed the book on another record fiscal year, announcing their FY 2021 and Q4 2021 earnings results for the company. For the last quarter of their fiscal year, NVIDIA booked just over $5B in revenue with a profit of $1457M, marking NVIDIA’s first five billion dollar quarter, and setting earning records across the board. Meanwhile for the full fiscal year, NVIDIA has recorded just under $16.7B in revenue, with a net income for the year of $4.3B.

AMD To Unveil Next Radeon RX 6000 Video Card On March 3rd

It looks like AMD is getting ready to launch the next part in their RDNA2/RX 6000 family of video cards. This afternoon the company sent out a save the date invitation to the press and public, announcing that the company will be holding a Radeon-relat…

It looks like AMD is getting ready to launch the next part in their RDNA2/RX 6000 family of video cards. This afternoon the company sent out a save the date invitation to the press and public, announcing that the company will be holding a Radeon-related announcement next Wednesday, March the 3rd. And with a picture of a previously unseen Radeon video card included with the announcement, AMD is leaving little ambiguity about their plans.

The event, officially dubbed “Where Gaming Begins Episode 3”, will be another Radeon-focused event, where AMD will “introduce the newest addition to the Radeon RX family of high-performance graphic cards.” AMD’s previous two WGB events have been pre-recorded presentations, so we’re expecting the same here.

The cornerstone of the announcement will be the introduction of a new Radeon video card. Essentially giving us half of the product announcement up-front, AMD has also posted a short, looping video of the card, highlighting the fairly sizable card and its open air cooler with dual axial fans. Given this, we’re almost certainly looking at what will be a Radeon RX 6700 card. AMD started the RDNA2 family with the top cards and GPU (Navi 21) first, so this is the next step in the expected filtering down of RDNA2 into cheaper video cards.

We’ll find out more about the card next week of course, but I would expect to see it positioned to compete against NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3060 series, with today’s announcement by AMD clearly intended to be a bit of a spoiler ahead of NVIDIA’s launch tomorrow. Currently AMD’s product stack stops at the $579 RX 6800, so it will be interesting to see just where this upcoming video card lands – if it’ll be positioned closer to the $400 RTX 3060 Ti, or the (nominally) $329 RTX 3060. AMD and NVIDIA’s GPUs have been slightly out of alignment this generation, as evidenced by Navi 21’s performance, so I won’t be too surprised if this next Navi GPU (Navi 22) similarly floats between NVIDIA’s GA106 and GA104.

Finally, I suspect we’ll hear some software-related news from AMD as well. The company has demonstrated an aptness for bundling software news into these hardware announcements, looking to make the most of these large, highly visible product launches. So I don’t expect AMD to solely talk about the new video card for 15+ minutes.

At any rate, we’ll find out more on March 3rd at 11am ET. So please join us then for the full details on AMD’s next Radeon video card.

NVIDIA Nerfs Ethereum Hash Rate & Launches CMP Dedicated Mining Hardware

One of the critical points during this period of high demand for graphics cards is that a portion of them are being purchased by professional users looking to mine cryptocurrencies. The recent launch of new cards coupled with record highs in the crypt…

One of the critical points during this period of high demand for graphics cards is that a portion of them are being purchased by professional users looking to mine cryptocurrencies. The recent launch of new cards coupled with record highs in the cryptocurrency market has led to a rebirth of the mining community, who as of recently could earn ~$15 per RTX 3090 graphics card. These professional miners buy graphics card by the pallet load, sometimes bypassing retailers and going direct to distributors, as they can guarantee a complete shipment sale in one go. The knock on effect is fewer cards available for gamers looking to build new systems, leading to empty shelves and causing prices to spike for the handful of cards that ever make it to retailers.

In order to at least offer a fig leaf to gamers, in the past certain graphics board partners started producing mining-only graphics cards. These had no graphical outputs, making them almost impossible for gaming use cases, but it filtered off some of the mining market into buying those rather than taking stock away from shelves for gamers. This was a poor band-aid, and now NVIDIA has gone one step further to separate mining from gaming.

NVIDIA’s announcement today is two-fold: firstly addressing the upcoming launch of the RTX 3060 graphics on February 25th, and secondly announcing a new range of dedicated mining hardware.

RTX 3060: Halving the Mining Rate

One of the key drivers as to why the new graphics cards are being sold is because they are so good at doing the mining operations for various cryptocurrencies (namely for Ethereum and other derived coins) and earning the users a semblance of return on their purchase. Mining requires hardware and software, and it’s the software side that NVIDIA is tackling with this first announcement.

For the upcoming RTX 3060, the software drivers for this graphics card will automatically limit cryptocoin hashing rates to half – making how much they can earn specifically halved. The software drivers will do this by detecting the math coming through the pipeline and restricting access to the hardware for those operations. At this point we’re not sure if it’s a cut in frequency that the drivers will cause or simply limiting the operations to half of the hardware, but either way NVIDIA is hoping this will detract professional miners from buying these cards if the return on them is halved.

No plans are being announced for cards currently in the market, perhaps because the drivers for those cards already allow a full-rate compute solution, and those can simply keep older drivers installed.

NVIDIA CMP: Dedicated Mining Silicon for Ethereum

In the same way that ‘crypto’ cards without video outputs were pushing into the market for balance, NVIDIA is going a step further and removing the video outputs from the silicon entirely. There are other potential optimizations that could be made for power and performance, but at this point NVIDIA is simply stating as graphics-less silicon. This could be a mix of customized new silicon, or simply silicon already manufactured that had defects in the video output pipeline.

The new NVIDIA CMP HX dedicated mining cards will come in four variants up to 320 W, and from authorized partners including ASUS, Colorful, EVGA, Gigabyte, MSI, Palit, and PC Partner. These cards (along with drivers) are also set to be designed such that more of these cards can be enabled in a single system.

NVIDIA CMP HX Mining Hardware
AnandTech 30HX 40HX 50HX 90HX
Eth Hash Rate* 26 MH/s 36 MH/s 45 MH/s 86 MH/s
Rated Power 125 W 185 W 250 W 320 W
Reference Connectors 8-pin 8-pin 2 x 8-pin 2 x 8-pin
Memory Size 6 GB 8 GB 10 GB 10 GB
Availability Q1 Q1 Q2 Q2
*NVIDIA Measured to DAG and Epoch 394

What’s interesting here is that these states aren’t that great. Here is a breakdown of what NVIDIA’s cards do today, and you can see why:

NVIDIA Hardware Hash Rates
AnandTech Hash Rate Power Efficiency
MH/s/W
RTX 3090 121 MH/s 290 W 0.42
RTX 3080 98 MH/s 224 W 0.44
90HX 86 MH/s 320 W 0.27
RTX 3070 62 MH/s 117 W 0.53
RTX 3060 Ti 60 MH/s 120 W 0.50
RTX 2080 Ti 49 MH/s 240 W 0.20
50HX 45 MH/s 250 W 0.18
40HX 36 MH/s 185 W 0.19
30HX 26 MH/s 125 W 0.21
HX Data from NVIDIA
RTX Data from Minerstat

The only way these new CMP HX mining add-in cards make financial sense is if they are really cheap, around $600 for the 90HX, otherwise the retail gaming GPUs seem to be a lot more efficient.

NVIDIA isn’t giving any more details on when these mining add-in cards will be made available, aside from Q1 for the slower ones and Q2 for the faster ones. No word on pricing, nor on distribution methods – there’s a chance here that these cards will only be sold by distributors direct to professional mining outlets. By the pallet. Note that this doesn’t stop the high demand for power supplies. That market is also feeling the effects.

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