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Graphics/Benchmarks

Building A Linux HTPC / Storage Server With The SilverStone CS381

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Graphics/Benchmarks

SilverStone recently sent over their CS381 chassis that has proven to be quite a versatile micro-ATX enclosure that can accommodate up to twelve hard drives (eight of which are hot-swappable) all while coming in at just 400 x 225 x 316mm. The SilverStone CS381 could work quite well as a Linux HTPC / DIY Steam Linux gaming living room PC or SOHO file server system with its compact size while offering immense storage potential. Here's more on the SilverStone CS381 and our build with using a Ryzen 5 3400G that is playing well under Linux with an ASUS B450 motherboard.

It's been a while since last taking a look at any SilverStone enclosure, but with continuing to be impressed by their high-end cases over the years, it was exciting to look at the CS381 from their Case Storage Series. The key features of this case are offering support for up to twelve HDD/SSDs, up to a microATX motherboard, and other components while occupying just 30 liters of space. The case can be positioned in either a vertical or horizontal position depending upon the environment and eight of the drives being hot-swappable primes the case for interesting storage server options.

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Graphics: DXVK, Nouveau

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • DXVK 1.4 Released With Updates Against Direct3D 11.4, Other Improvements

    In time for any weekend gaming is the release of DXVK 1.4 as the latest big update to this Direct3D 11 over Vulkan implementation to boost the D3D11 Windows gaming performance with the likes of Wine and Valve's Steam Play (Proton).

    With DXVK 1.4 the Direct3D interfaces have been updated against D3D11.4, the latest D3D11 revision shipped by Windows 10 Build 1903. This update brings new API features but DXVK isn't yet supporting some of the optional features like tiled resources and conservative rasterization.

  • Nouveau Finally Lands SPIR-V Support As Part Of OpenCL Push

    Going back to December 2017 we've been tracking the Red Hat led effort on improving Nouveau's OpenCL compute support that involves adding NIR/SPIR-V support and improvements to the Clover Gallium3D state tracker. To much surprise, this morning the SPIR-V support for this open-source NVIDIA driver was merged for Mesa 19.3.

Noctua NH-L9a-AM4: A Very Low-Profile AMD Ryzen Cooler

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Graphics/Benchmarks

At just 37mm tall, the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 is one of the shortest yet quite capable CPU heatsink fans we have seen yet for AMD Ryzen processors.

When looking for a heatsink with a small stature for an AMD APU mini PC build for HTPC / file storage use-cases (more on that build in the next day or two), the Noctua NH-L9a-AM4 fit the criteria and so I went with that given the success with the many Noctua heatsinks we have used over the years. For those potentially interested in the NH-L9a-AM4 for an AMD APU like the new Ryzen 5 3400G or for lower-end Ryzen CPUs, I ran some benchmarks with this cooler.

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Graphics: AMD, GNOME Shell on Wayland and NVIDIA Nsight Graphics

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • AMD Pushes Back 3rd Gen Threadripper & Ryzen 9 3950X Until November

    While the Ryzen 9 3950X and 3rd Gen Ryzen Threadripper processors were reportedly on track for launching in October with updates as of a few weeks ago, today AMD announced a slight delay in launching these new processors.

  • AMD have delayed the Ryzen 9 3950X and 3rd generation Threadripper until November

    Today, AMD sent out a brief statement about a delay in their 16 core Ryzen 9 3950X and the 3rd generation Threadripper.

    [...]

    So if you were looking to grab either, keep an eye out in November. Will share any more news when they send it about the expected date and pricing.

  • AMD Sends In Initial Batch Of Fixes To Linux 5.4 - Includes Dali Support

    While just yesterday the big DRM feature pull was sent in for Linux 5.4, AMD has also volleyed out their initial batch of fixes for this next version of the kernel.

    This new AMDGPU pull isn't strictly fixes but as anticipated does include the recently reported Dali APU support. Dali along with Renoir -- also newly-supported in Linux 5.4 -- are some of AMD's 2020 APUs. Dali will be targeting the lower-end of the spectrum it's expected for value mobile/embedded. From the driver code, Dali looks like a newer revved version of the current-gen Picasso APUs. Both Dali and Renoir are based on the Vega architecture.

  • Linux Plumbers Conference 2019, part 2

    Pain points and missing pieces with Wayland, or specifically GNOME Shell:

    GNOME Shell is slower
    Synergy doesn't work(?) - needs to be in the compositor
    With Nvidia proprietary driver, mutter and native Wayland clients get GPU acceleration but X clients don't
    No equivalent to ssh -X. Pipewire goes some way to the solution. The whole desktop can be remoted over RDP which can be tunnelled over SSH.
    No remote login protocol like XDMCP
    No Xvfb equivalent
    Various X utilities that grab hot-keys don't have equivalents for Wayland
    Not sure if all X's video acceleration features are implemented. Colour format conversion and hardware scaling are implemented.
    Pointer movement becomes sluggish after a while (maybe related to GC in GNOME Shell?)
    Performance, in general. GNOME Shell currently has to work as both a Wayland server and an X compositor, which limits the ability to optimise for Wayland.

  • NVIDIA's Nsight Graphics 2019.5 Released With Better Vulkan Coverage

    NVIDIA this week released Nsight Graphics 2019.5 as the newest feature update to their proprietary developer tool for graphics profiling and debugging across multiple APIs.

    The Nsight Graphics 2019.5 release brings support for more than a dozen new Vulkan extensions, a variety of user-interface improvements, compatibility enhancements, and better syntax highlighting.

AMD EPYC 7642 Benchmarks: The Rome 48 Core CPU That Easily Takes On Intel's Xeon Platinum 8280

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Graphics/Benchmarks

Since the AMD EPYC 7002 series "Rome" launch at the beginning of August, it's been known how AMD's top-end (aside from the newly-announced EPYC 7H12) EPYC 7742 easily outperforms the Intel Xeon Platinum 8280 in most real-world benchmarks. The EPYC 7742 not only outperforms the Xeon Platinum 8280 in raw performance but also at a significantly lower cost and it gets even better with the EPYC 7642. We have been testing the EPYC 7642 48-core processors and even there the performance is generally ahead of a Xeon Platinum 8280 while being about half the cost of that flagship non-AP Intel Xeon Scalable Cascadelake processor.

Complementing our recent EPYC 7302 and EPYC 7402 benchmarks, today we are focused on the EPYC 7642 as the Rome 48-core / 96-thread processor. This 48 core processor has a 2.3GHz base clock and 3.3GHz boost clock while having 256MB of L3 cache, eight DDR4-3200 memory channels, 128 PCIe 4.0 lanes, and other features in common with the EPYC 7742 and other Rome processors. The EPYC 7642 carries a 50MHz base clock speed advantage over the 64 core EPYC 7742 but a 100MHz lower boost clock speed as the principal differences aside from the core/thread count. Both of these CPUs carry a 225 Watt TDP.

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Running The AMD "ABBA" Ryzen 3000 Boost Fix Under Linux With 140 Tests

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Last week AMD's AGESA "ABBA" update began shipping with a fix to how the boost clock frequencies are handled in hopes of better achieving the rated boost frequencies for Ryzen 3000 series processors. I've been running some tests of an updated ASUS BIOS with this adjusted boost clock behavior to see how it performs under Linux with a Ryzen 9 3900X processor.

The AGESA 1.0.0.3 ABBA update has an improved boost clock frequency algorithm along with changes to the idle state handling. This AGESA update should better position AMD Ryzen 3000 processors with the boost clock behavior expected by users with better hitting the maximum boost frequency and doing so more aggressively.

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Graphics: Gallium3D, Mesa, RADV, ACO

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  • Intel's Gallium3D OpenGL Driver Taps Another Optimization - ~32% For GFXBench

    Intel's new OpenGL Linux driver, their Gallium3D-based "Iris" implementation that is aiming to be the default before year's end, continues making striking progress.

    Just this past week when testing the very latest Mesa code for this Intel Gallium3D driver I was quite impressed with it near universally being faster than their existing "i965" Mesa driver. For some OpenGL workloads, this Gallium3D driver is significantly faster than the driver it's set to replace for Broadwell "Gen 8" graphics and newer.

  • Mesa's Disk Cache Code Now Better Caters To 4+ Core Systems

    Most Linux gamers these days should be running at least quad-core systems so Mesa 19.3 has been updated to reflect that reality with the number of CPU threads used by their disk cache.

  • Performance-Boosting DFSM Support Flipped On & Off For RADV Vulkan Driver

    Back in July of last year the RADV Vulkan driver enabled primitive binning and DFSM for this open-source Radeon Vulkan driver. Well, it thought it enabled DFSM support and paired with the binning did yield a minor performance benefit at the time for Raven Ridge APUs. But now it turns out the DFSM support wasn't properly wired up and is now addressed but is currently introducing a performance regression.

    RADV developer Bas Nieuwenhuizen added the actual DFSM (Deterministic Finite State Machine) support and mirrors the behavior of the RadeonSI OpenGL driver. With the DFSM support he found that it doubles the fill-rate of one of his test samples from around 16 to 32 pixels/cycles for Raven Ridge.

  • The Valve-funded shader compiler 'ACO' is being queued up for inclusion in Mesa directly (updated: merged)

    Back in early July, Valve announced their work on a new AMD GPU shader compiler for Mesa named ACO and now they're trying to get it pulled into Mesa directly.

    Their main aims with ACO were to get the "best-possible code generation for game shaders, and fastest-possible compilation speed" and to replace the currently used shader compiler from the massive LLVM project. It has certainly seemed promising, improving both shader compile time resulting in less stuttering and so helping to improve overall FPS and smoothness in Linux games when played on supported AMD GPUs.

  • Valve's ACO Shader Compiler For The Mesa Radeon Vulkan Driver Just Landed

    It was just two days ago that Valve's performance-focused "ACO" shader compiler was submitted for review to be included in Mesa for the "RADV" Radeon Vulkan driver. Just minutes ago that new shader compiler back-end was merged for Mesa 19.3.

    ACO, short for the AMD COmpiler, is the effort led by Valve at creating a more performant and optimized shader compiler for the Radeon Linux graphics driver. Besides trying to generate the fastest shaders, ACO also aims to provide speedy shader compilation too, as an alternative to the AMDGPU LLVM shader compiler back-end. Initially ACO is for the RADV Vulkan driver but it may be brought to the RadeonSI OpenGL driver in the future. At the moment ACO is in good shape for Volcanic Islands through Vega while the Navi shader support is in primitive form.

CPU/GPU/Graphics Stack: AMD EPYC, NVIDIA and Mesa Radeon Vulkan Driver

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • AMD EPYC 7H12 Announced As New 280 Watt Processor For High Performance Computing

    From Rome, Italy this afternoon AMD not only announced more than 100 world records have been broken with their new EPYC "Rome" processors, but there is also a new SKU! Meet the EPYC 7H12.

    The EPYC 7H12 doesn't quite follow the naming convention of the rest of the EPYC Rome line-up announced back in August as it's a special part. The EPYC 7H12 is more akin to Intel's Cascadelake-AP line-up but with more broad availability and just a higher clocked / higher power part as opposed to tacking on extra dies. But it carries the same focus on delivering maximum HPC performance.

  • Nvidia Open Sources Its Deep Learning Compiler

    System architects and software teams now have the complete source for the fully open software and hardware inference platform.

  • NVIDIA Bringing Up Open-Source Volta GPU Support For Their Xavier SoC

    While NVIDIA doesn't contribute much open-source Linux driver code as it concerns their desktop GPUs (though they have been ramping up documentation), when it comes to Tegra/embedded is where they have contributed improvements and new hardware support to Nouveau and associated driver code in the past several years. NVIDIA's open-source Tegra/embedded contributions come as a result of customer demand/requirements. Their latest work is preparing to finally bring-up the "GV11B" Volta graphics found within last year's Tegra Xavier SoC.

  • Valve's ACO Shader Compiler Under Review For The Mesa Radeon Vulkan Driver

    The RADV "ACO" shader compiler announced by Valve back in July for the fastest compilation speeds and best possible code generation may soon be hitting mainline Mesa for the open-source AMD Linux graphics stack.

    The ACO shader compiler as an alternative to the existing AMDGPU LLVM shader compiler back-end has shown quite promising results for Linux games. ACO has become more featureful over time and is now largely at feature parity to the existing shader compilation support while generally offering some performance advantages, thanks to the effort and funding by Valve.

FreeBSD 12 & DragonFlyBSD 5.6 Running Well On The AMD Ryzen 7 3700X + MSI X570 GODLIKE

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Graphics/Benchmarks

For those wondering how well FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD are handling AMD's new Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors, here are some benchmarks on a Ryzen 7 3700X with MSI MEG X570 GODLIKE where both of these popular BSD operating systems were working out-of-the-box. For some fun mid-week benchmarking, here are those results of FreeBSD 12.0 and DragonFlyBSD 5.6.2 up against openSUSE Tumbleweed and Ubuntu 19.04.

Back in July I looked at FreeBSD 12 on the Ryzen 9 3900X but at that time at least DragonFlyBSD had troubles booting on that system. When trying out the Ryzen 7 3700X + MSI GODLIKE X570 motherboard on the latest BIOS, everything "just worked" without any compatibility issues for either of these BSDs.

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Graphics: CUDA, Radeon and Vulkan

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Graphics/Benchmarks
  • HIPCL Lets CUDA Run On OpenCL+SPIR-V

    Based off AMD's GPUOpen HIP as part of their ROCm stack, researchers at Tampere University in Finland have created HIPCL as leveraging HIP as well as POCL for routing CUDA codes to run on any hardware supporting OpenCL+SPIR-V.

    HIPCL provides a path of running CUDA on top of OpenCL, permitting the OpenCL driver also supports the SPIR-V intermediate representation. The OpenCL implementation also needs to support Shared Virtual Memory (SVM) so that actually rules out using NVIDIA's own driver for taking this route in place of their actual CUDA driver. HIPCL also relies upon a patched version of the LLVM Clang compiler.

  • Radeon RADV Vulkan Driver Tackling NGG Stream-Out

    One of the areas the RadeonSI OpenGL and RADV/AMDVLK Vulkan drivers have had a challenging time promptly support with AMD Navi GPUs has been the NGG (Next-Gen Geometry) functionality but it's slowly getting worked out.

    The NGG engine support has required various fixes to the graphics drivers, Navi 14 NGG support is borked, and various other Next-Gen Geometry support issues in the Navi driver code. At least on the software side the open-source developers have continued to improve the support and today the latest improvements arrived for the Mesa RADV Vulkan driver.

  • Radeon Navi 12/14 Open-Source Driver Support Now Being Marked As "Experimental"

    In an interesting change of course, the open-source driver support for AMD Radeon Navi 12 and Navi 14 GPUs is being flagged as experimental and hidden behind a feature flag.

    Back at the start of August AMD sent out their AMDGPU Linux kernel driver support for Navi 12 along with Navi 14. That Navi 12/14 support has since been queued up for introduction in the Linux 5.4 kernel along with the new Vega-based Arcturus GPU.

  • Vulkan 1.1.123 Released With Two New Extensions

    Vulkan 1.1.123 is the latest weekly update to this high performance graphics API and it's formally introducing two more extensions.

    Besides the usual variety of documentation clarifications and corrections, there are two new Vulkan extensions with version 1.1.123.

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Thermostats, Locks and Extension Add-ons – WebThings Gateway 0.10

Happy Things Thursday! Today we are releasing WebThings Gateway 0.10. If you have a gateway using our Raspberry Pi builds then it should already have automatically updated itself. This new release comes with support for thermostats and smart locks, as well as an updated add-ons system including extension add-ons, which enable developers to extend the gateway user interface. We’ve also added localisation settings so that you can choose your country, language, time zone and unit preferences. From today you’ll be able to use the gateway in American English or Italian, but we’re already receiving contributions of translations in different languages! Read more

A technical comparison between the snap and the Flatpak formats

Since we’ve already discussed the snap layout and architecture in greater details in the previous weeks, let’s start with a quick overview of Flatpak. Much like snaps, Flatpak packages come with necessary components contained inside standalone archives, so they can be deployed and maintained with simplicity on a range of Linux distributions. Runtime and image components are bundled into a single file using the OCI format. In general, Flatpak applications are built against runtimes, but they can also contain additional libraries inside their own bundles. A Linux system with the Flatpak binary (primary command) installed and configured can then run Flatpak applications. At the moment, there are 21 distributions that offer Flatpak support. Furthermore, applications are sandboxed using Bubblewrap, which utilises kernel security and namespace features to set up unprivileged containers. Communication outside the sandbox is possible through a mechanism of portals, which allows granular access to system resources. Flatpak packages are available to end users primarily through Flathub, an app store and build service that is (semi)-officially associated with the Flatpak project. Submissions to Flathub are done as pull requests through GitHub, and require approval from the store admins. Similarly, publishers of proprietary software have to manually request inclusion of their applications. Flatpak applications are also sometimes available as manual download links. There is no automatic update mechanism available by default. Read more

Zorin OS vs Linux Mint

There are some specific linux distros out there that specially target the new and casual Linux users, most notably, Linux Mint and Zorin OS. In this article we will compare them.

Zorin OS vs Linux Mint

Both of these distros have earned a solid reputation from the community for being two of the most user-friendly distros of all. Both of them use Ubuntu as the core. Thus, both of them offer similar functionality at the core. However, the real magic is how each of them builds up on top of it. Both Linux Mint and Zorin OS comes up with different feel and vibe. While both of them are extremely user-friendly and robust, there are some key differences between them. That’s the beauty of Linux. Read more