Tag Archives: Computer graphics

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : What's Going On?

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : What’s Going On?

In case you missed it, AMD suffered a massive cybersecurity breach, losing the source codes to their Navi 10, Navi 21 and Arden GPUs in a hack!

Here is a summary of how the hack went down, and what this could mean for AMD and their partners…

 

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : A Quick Summary

A hacker managed to get her hands on AMD source codes for current and future graphics products, and has apparently tried to blackmail AMD.

After that failed, she leaked some of the source codes on Github, and threatened to release everything if she does not find a buyer.

The hacker recently leaked some of the source codes on Github, which was quickly removed after AMD issued a DMCA notice.

She has treated to release all of the stolen source codes, if she does not find a buyer for them,.

 

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : The Timeline

November 2019

A hacker called Palesa hacked into an unprotected computer / server, where she found and downloaded AMD source codes, which were determined to be for :

  • the current Navi 10 GPU (based on RDNA)
  • the upcoming Navi 21 GPU (based on RDNA 2), as well as
  • the Arden SoC for the Microsoft Xbox Series X console.

The source code was unexpectedly achieved from an unprotected computer / server through some exploits.

I later found out about the files inside it. They weren’t even protected properly or even encrypted with anything which is just sad.

Palesa told TorrentFreak that she valued the source codes at $100 million, but did not reveal how she came to that mind-blowing valuation.

Credit : WCCFTech

December 2019

Palesa contacted AMD, allegedly to blackmail them into paying for the return of the source codes.

Mid-March 2020

Rumours started circulating that a hacker obtained the source codes for Navi 10, Navi 21 and Arden.

24 March 2020

AMD discovered that some of the source codes were uploaded to the new xxXsoullessXxx repository on Github, as the project called AMD-navi-GPU-HARDWARE-SOURCE.

They issued a DCMA notice, notifying Github that, “This repository contains intellectual property owned by and stolen from AMD.” and that “The original IP is held privately and was stolen from AMD.

Github took down that repository, as well as four other repositories that AMD later identified as forks :

25 March 2020

When contacted by TorrentFreak, Palesa said that she will leak all of the stolen source codes if she does not get a buyer for them :

If I get no buyer I will just leak everything.

AMD issued this statement on the theft of their graphics IP :

At AMD, data security and the protection of our intellectual property are a priority. In December 2019, we were contacted by someone who claimed to have test files related to a subset of our current and future graphics products, some of which were recently posted online, but have since been taken down.

While we are aware the perpetrator has additional files that have not been made public, we believe the stolen graphics IP is not core to the competitiveness or security of our graphics products. We are not aware of the perpetrator possessing any other AMD IP.

We are working closely with law enforcement officials and other experts as a part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

 

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : What Was Leaked So Far?

According to WCCFTech who spoke to people who have vast experience with Verilog, and viewed those source codes, this was what was leaked so far :

  • Partial Verilog files that are typically used in the construction of processors.
  • The Verilog files in question represent a single and isolated function(s) on the GPU – NOT the whole/actual GPU blueprint.
  • Based on the leaker’s screenshots, the files not yet leaked are more of the same and also nowhere close to being a complete “source code”.
  • These Verilog files are built on a proprietary schematic that is only compatible with AMD’s internal design language (in other words, these are going to be close to useless to a third party).

 

AMD GPU Source Code Hack : The Implications

From what those experts told WCCFTech, the leaked source codes :

  • cannot be used to design or reverse engineer any of the three GPUs.
  • cannot be used to easily determine product specifications
  • cannot be used to bypass security features on AMD GPUs, although they may reveal vulnerabilities that can be exploited
  • does not contain any “crown jewel” IP

That said, their opinions are based on what was leaked so far. It is possible that Palesa may have at lot more that she has not revealed.

But considering the fact that she took the step of leaking some source code, they are likely not useful or important enough to be worth the trouble, especially now that a criminal investigation is underway.

What this leak has likely achieved is put a target on Palesa’s back, cause some embarrassment to AMD, and force them to relook at their cybersecurity measures and protocols.

 

Recommended Reading

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Video RAM Cacheable – The Tech ARP BIOS Guide

Video RAM Cacheable

Common Options : Enabled, Disabled

 

Quick Review of Video RAM Cacheable

The Video RAM Cacheable feature aims to boost VGA graphics performance by using the processor’s Level 2 cache to cache the 64 KB VGA graphics memory area from A0000h to AFFFFh.

If this BIOS feature is enabled, the VGA graphics memory area will be cached by the processor’s Level 2 cache. This speeds up accesses to the VGA graphics memory area.

If this BIOS feature is disabled, the VGA graphics memory area will not be cached by the processor’s Level 2 cache.

From what we have discussed so far, it sounds like caching the VGA graphics memory area is logically the way to go. Caching the VGA graphics memory area will definitely speed up VGA graphics performance by caching accesses to the graphics memory area.

However, reality is far less ideal. For one thing, VGA modes are hardly used at all these days. For compatibility reason, VGA is still used in Windows XP’s Safe Mode. It is also used in real mode DOS, if you still use that. Other than that, there is no more use for VGA modes. If VGA graphics modes are not used, no benefit can possibly be realized by enabling this BIOS feature.

Even if you use DOS modes a lot, is there even a point in caching the VGA graphics memory area for better performance? Even the slowest computer today is more than capable of handling VGA graphics with ease. In short, caching the VGA graphics memory area will not bring any noticeable advantage.

On the other hand, caching this memory area will cost you some processor performance. Because some of the processor’s Level 2 cache is being diverted to cache the VGA graphics memory area, there is less to keep the processor supplied with data. Consequently, the processor’s performance suffers.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you disable the Video RAM Cacheable feature. There is no reason to enable it even if you use real mode DOS a lot or work a lot in Windows Safe Mode.

 

Details of Video RAM Cacheable

The Upper Memory Area (UMA) is a 384KB block of memory at the top of the first megabyte of memory that is reserved for the system’s use in DOS. A portion of this Upper Memory Area is reserved as video RAM memory.

The video RAM memory area is a 128KB block from A0000h to BFFFFh. Of this 128KB, the first half (A0000h-AFFFFh) is reserved for use in VGA graphics mode. The other half is used for monochrome text mode (B0000h-B7FFFh) and colour text mode (B8000h-BFFFFh). This video RAM memory area is the only portion of the graphics card’s memory that the processor has direct access to in VGA mode.

The graphics card and the processor use this memory area to write pixel data when the computer is operating in VGA mode. This is why all VGA graphics modes take up less than 64KB of memory. The most common VGA mode is mode 0x13 which has a resolution of 320 x 200 in 256 colours. This mode uses up exactly 64,000 bytes of memory and fits nicely into the 64KB block from A0000h to AFFFFh.

The Video RAM Cacheable feature aims to boost VGA graphics performance by using the processor’s Level 2 cache to cache the 64 KB VGA graphics memory area from A0000h to AFFFFh.

If this BIOS feature is enabled, the VGA graphics memory area will be cached by the processor’s Level 2 cache. This speeds up accesses to the VGA graphics memory area.

If this BIOS feature is disabled, the VGA graphics memory area will not be cached by the processor’s Level 2 cache.

From what we have discussed so far, it sounds like caching the VGA graphics memory area is logically the way to go. Caching the VGA graphics memory area will definitely speed up VGA graphics performance by caching accesses to the graphics memory area. This is great for those old DOS games although it won’t do anything for VGA text modes.

However, reality is far less ideal. For one thing, VGA modes are hardly used at all these days. For compatibility reason, VGA is still used in Windows XP’s Safe Mode. It is also used in real mode DOS, if you still use that. Other than that, there is no more use for VGA modes. If VGA graphics modes are not used, no benefit can possibly be realized by enabling this BIOS feature.

Even if you use DOS modes a lot, is there even a point in caching the VGA graphics memory area for better performance? Even the slowest computer today is more than capable of handling VGA graphics with ease. In short, caching the VGA graphics memory area will not bring any noticeable advantage.

On the other hand, caching this memory area will cost you some processor performance. Because some of the processor’s Level 2 cache is being diverted to cache the VGA graphics memory area, there is less to keep the processor supplied with data. Consequently, the processor’s performance suffers.

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If the use of the processor’s Level 2 cache can bring about significant improvement in the performance of the graphics subsystem, it would have been worth it. Unfortunately, the VGA graphics modes are rarely used at all.

Even when used, there is little or no real benefit in caching the memory area. The Video RAM Cacheable BIOS feature just wastes the processor’s Level 2 cache on something that cannot possibly improve the system’s graphics performance.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you disable the Video RAM Cacheable feature. There is no reason to enable it even if you use real mode DOS a lot or work a lot in Windows Safe Mode.

Go Back To > The Tech ARP BIOS Guide | Home

 

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The Radeon Technologies Group’s First Year Achievements

On September 9, 2015, AMD spliced off their Radeon graphics team into a separate Radeon Technologies Group. They also promoted Raja Koduri to Senior Vice President and Chief Architect of the new Radeon Technologies Group, reporting directly to AMD President and CEO Dr. Lisa Su.

It has now been a year since Raja Koduri took the helm of the newly-formed Radeon Technologies Group. Chris Hook, Senior Director of Global Marketing and Public Relations, Radeon Technologies Group, gave us a run-down of what the Radeon Technologies Group accomplished in just 12 months.

Then Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group, gave us a 40 minute Q&A session – a rare opportunity as you can imagine. Check out the full Q&A session below!

Now, join us for a quick tour of their achievements in the first year! If you would like to peruse the slides from the presentation, you can check them out here. [adrotate banner=”5″]

 

The First Year Of The Radeon Technologies Group

Right after its formation, the Radeon Technologies Group dove straight into the melee, delivering the Radeon Software Crimson Edition in November 2015, and then launching GPUOpen in December 2015.

 

Then in March 2016, they released their first Vulkan-capable driver. They followed that up with the launch of the AMD Radeon Pro Duo graphics card.

Their efforts culminated in the AMD Polaris launch during Computex 2016.

A month later, they launched the AMD Radeon Pro family, featuring the Radeon Pro WX series and the Radeon Pro SSG.

Finally, AMD announced in August that the AMD FreeSync technology is now available in just over 100 gaming monitors.

Next Page > The Radeon Technologies Group First Anniversary Presentation Slides

 

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Here are the presentation slides used by Chris Hook, Senior Director of Global Marketing and Public Relations, Radeon Technologies Group, during his presentation :

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Video Memory Cache Mode – BIOS Optimization Guide

Video Memory Cache Mode

Common Options : USWC, UC

 

Quick Review

Video Memory Cache Mode is yet another BIOS feature with a misleading name. It does not cache the video memory or even graphics data (such data is uncacheable anyway).

This BIOS feature allows you to control the USWC (Uncached Speculative Write Combining) write combine buffers.

When set to USWC, the write combine buffers will accumulate and combine partial or smaller graphics writes from the processor and write them to the graphics card as burst writes.

When set to UC, the write combine buffers will be disabled. All graphics writes from the processor will be written to the graphics card directly.

It is highly recommended that you set the Video Memory Cache Mode option to USWC for improved graphics and processor performance.

However, if you are using an older graphics card, it may not be compatible with this feature. Enabling this feature with such graphics cards will cause a host of problems like graphics artifacts, system crashes and even the inability to boot up properly.

If you face such problems, you should set this BIOS feature to UC immediately.

 

Details

Video Memory Cache Mode is yet another BIOS feature with a misleading name. It does not cache the video memory or even graphics data (such data is uncacheable anyway). It is actually similar to the USWC Write Posting BIOS feature.

Current processors are heavily optimized for burst operations which allows for very high memory bandwidth. Unfortunately, graphics writes from the processor are mostly pixel writes which are 8 to 32-bits in nature. Because they do not fill up an entire cache line, such writes are not burstable. This results in poor graphics write performance.

To correct this deficiency, processors now come with one or more internal write combine buffers. These buffers are designed to accumulate graphics writes from the processor. These partial or smaller writes are then combined and written to the graphics card as burst writes.

The use of these internal write combine buffers provides many benefits :-

  1. Partial or smaller graphics writes from the processor are now combined into burstable writes. This greatly increases the performance of the processor and AGP (or PCI) buses.
  2. Graphics writes will require fewer transactions on the processor and AGP (or PCI) bus. This improves the bandwidth of those buses.
  3. The processor will only need write to its internal write combine buffers, instead of the processor bus. This improves its performance by allowing it to work on other tasks while the write combine buffers handle the actual write transaction.

Because the write combine buffers allow speculative reads, this feature is known as the USWC (Uncached Speculative Write Combining) feature. The older method of writing all processor writes directly to the graphics card is known as UC (UnCached).

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This BIOS feature allows you to control the USWC (Uncached Speculative Write Combining) write combine buffers.

When set to USWC, the write combine buffers will accumulate and combine partial or smaller graphics writes from the processor and write them to the graphics card as burst writes.

When set to UC, the write combine buffers will be disabled. All graphics writes from the processor will be written to the graphics card directly.

It is highly recommended that you set the Video Memory Cache Mode option to USWC for improved graphics and processor performance.

Please note that this feature must also be supported by the graphics card, the operating system and the graphics driver for it to work properly.

All Microsoft operating systems from Windows NT 4.0 onwards support USWC, so you do not need to worry if you are using a Windows NT 4.0 or newer operating system from Microsoft. As this feature has been around for some time, drivers of USWC-compatible graphics cards will fully support this feature.

However, if you are using an older graphics card, it may not be compatible with this feature. Older graphics cards make use of a FIFO (First In, First Out) I/O model which can only support the UnCached (UC) type of transaction. Enabling this feature with such graphics cards will cause a host of problems like graphics artifacts, system crashes and even the inability to boot up properly.

If you face such problems, you should set this BIOS feature to UC immediately.

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Deadpool Opening Scene Was Rendered By NVIDIA Quadro

It’s amazing the kind of mayhem that can be unleashed when cutting-edge technology gets pushed past its old limits.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Consider Deadpool, which tells the tale of Wade Winston Wilson, a Special Forces operative turned mercenary whose mutant powers are rivaled only by his smart mouth.

It’s also the story of how the film’s startling opening sequence — one that would’ve seemed unimaginable a few years ago — came to be.fhp

Based on Marvel Comics’ most unconventional anti-hero and directed by Blur Studios’ Tim Miller, Deadpool is action-packed from beginning to end, starting with the film’s incredible title sequence.

It’s a 90-second-long camera shot that weaves its way through a climactic, frozen-in-time, battle scene. Miller turned to Blur to develop the sequence, which was created entirely in CG.

 

GPU-Powered Rendering Turns Seeing Into Believing

As a first step, Blur developed detailed pre viz – previews of what the scenes would look like – to show to the studio and to Tim. Typically, such concept previews are rudimentary. They use simplified models, lighting and textures. But not all clients can see beyond these limitations.

Kevin Margo, a visual effects supervisor/director at Blur who served as a lighting TD for Deadpool, had previously explored GPU rendering during the making of his own fully computer-generated short film, Construct. So, he knew it would allow his team to make the previz as visually realistic and immersive as possible.

“We wanted to put our best quality preview in front of Fox,” Margo said.

Blur Studios built CG assets from the ground up using Autodesk 3ds Max. They then rendered them using Chaos Group’s GPU renderer, V-Ray RT, which runs exclusively on NVIDIA GPUs, and is up to 15 times faster than a CPU renderer.

 

GPU Rendering Delivers Speed and Fidelity

Filmmakers funneled footage captured on set along with visual effects into Open Drives’ storage offering. Blur’s CG artists, equipped with HP Z840 workstations running NVIDIA Quadro M6000 GPUs, then got to work producing a previz of the opening title sequence that was a close approximation of the final.

Blur was able to refine the design, quickly applying textures, global illumination and more — all interactively. That led them to complete and render the scene’s previz in just days.

The result was a physically based render in super-high fidelity. So the executives at Fox could see exactly what the intended sequence would look like to give it the greenlight.

Learn more about NVIDIA rendering solutions during the Media & Entertainment track at our NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference. You’ll hear from Blur Studios and Chaos Group. You’ll also be able to learn more about network, storage and workflow design for film production from Open Drives.

 

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