Steve Burke

Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

This episode of Ask GN is the last of our GamersNexus content from the combined PAX West & Whistler trip (with other videos still uploading to the GNSteve side-channel). Episode 58 is something of a special episode, having been shot in the “Peak 2 Peak” Gondola, and provided a unique time trials element to answering the questions.

We tackle topics of memory bandwidth (“what is memory bandwidth?”), Vega voltage validation and undervoltage issues, and daisy chained PCIe cable topics.

Episode below:

It’s illegal to outright fix prices of products. Manufacturers have varying levels of sway when establishing cost to distributor partners and suggested retail prices, acted on much lower in the chain, and have to produce supply based on expectations of demand. We’ve previously talked about how MDF or other exchanges can be used to inspire retailers to work within some guidelines, but there are limits to the financial and legal extension of those means.

This context in mind, it makes sense that the undertone of discussion pertaining to video card prices – not just AMD’s, but nVidia’s – plants much of the blame squarely on retailers. There’s only so much that AMD and nVidia can do to drive prices at least somewhat close to MSRP. One of those actions is to put out more supply to sate demand but, as we saw during the last mining boom & bust (with emergent ASIC miners), there’s reason for manufacturers to remain hesitant of a major supply commitment. If AMD or nVidia were to place a large order with their fabs, there’d better be some level of confidence that the product will sell. Factory-to-shelf turn-around is a period of months, weeks of which can be shipping (unless opting for prohibitively expensive air freight).  A period of months is a wide window. We’ve seen mining markets “crash” and recover in a period of days, or hours, with oft unpredictable frequency and intensity. That’d explain why AMD might be hesitant to issue large orders of older product, like the RX 500 series, to try and meet demand.

While traveling, the major story that unfolded – and then folded – pertained to the alleged unlocking of Vega 56 shaders, permitting the cards to turn into a “Vega 58” or “Vega 57,” depending. This ultimately was due to a GPU-Z reporting bug, and users claiming increases in performance hadn’t normalized for the clock change or higher power budget. Still, the BIOS flash will modify the DPM tables to adjust for higher clocks and permit greater HBM2 voltage to the memory. Of these changes, the latter is the only real, relevant change – clocks can be manually increased on V56, and the core voltage remains the same after a flash. Powerplay tables can be used to bypass BIOS power limits on V56, though a flash to V64 BIOS permits higher power budget.

Even with all this, it’s still impossible (presently) to flash a modified, custom BIOS onto Vega. We tried this upon review of Vega 56, finding that the card was locked-down to prevent modding. This uses an on-die security coprocessor, relegating our efforts to powerplay tables. Those powerplay tables did ultimately prove successful, as we recently published.

We're finally back at home base. The past week of hardware news and pending releases means a queue the height of the door upon returning, so we've got a busy week ahead of us. Motherboards are in the mix, the Antec P8, multiple other new cases (a quick glance suggests four), feature tests for GPUs and CPUs, and more. We also have some serious website work to get done, including our final and official move to SSL (HTTPS), following which will be fixes to the comments section. We are also looking into overhauling the forums -- it's about time. This becomes a matter of determining how the community is split: A significant portion of direct backers are now in our Patreon Discord, but forums serve an important means for archival and 'slow' support with more searchability, so to speak. That needs to be overhauled. We're considering merging comments and forums on a per-post basis, but aren't sure yet.

Regardless, the first website update in queue is the SSL move, followed by some fixes to the comments and caching systems. These have been inhibiting us for years at this point, and with GN's constant growth, it's about time to get serious about the website's ability to handle an actual user base. This will also include fixes to email activation and the registration system, which has been bugged lately. We intend to keep the forums and comments open for all users in perpetuity, with Discord remaining Patreon-only (for now, anyway).

We're on our way home from PAX West & a follow-up trip to Whistler, which means that this post will be exceptionally brief. We'll be back at home base shortly, and will begin normal testing and full-feature production at that point.

In the meantime, our latest news item (shot in the hotel while here) is viewable below. Sorry for the brevity on this one, folks, but we'll be home and producing full-length content ASAP.

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