AMD strategic research partners developing OpenCL GPU computing solutions

Posted by Tony DeYoung on November 12, 2010
OpenCL

“OpenCL allows the GPU to help the CPU do the computing or data crunching, to enable faster and more efficient processing. By allowing the CPU and the GPU to work together, OpenCL allows more computing to be done in a shorter amount of time than a single processor could ever achieve on its own. Arguably, the most important element of OpenCL is that it is open; it is based on standards created by a group of companies, and therefore all vendors involved in this project have a vested interest in making it work. (contrast this to Nvidia-controlled CUDA and MS-controlled DirectCompute).” Definition courtesy of Develop3D.

I have been a big advocate of OpenCL for similar reasons and the FirePro and latest Radeon line all support OpenCL fully.  So I was delighted to read that there has been some really interesting work going on at universities, with the full support of AMD,  to advance OpenCL.

Below are two examples:

  • At Northeastern University, Professor David Kaeli and his student team have developed OpenCL-based libraries for biomedical image analysis accelerated by GPUs.  His team is also researching techniques to optimize GPU compilation in OpenCL as well as GPU architecture simulation.
  • At Virginia Tech, Professor Wu Feng and his student team have done extensive work on a multi-dimensional characterization of GPU performance and power using OpenCL applications.  This includes demonstrating significant speed-ups on an OpenCL-based molecular modeling application (i.e., n-body compute motif) as well as creating a suite of GPU compute motifs in OpenCL, which in turn, is being used to drive their research in GPU-CPU cooperative computing.

Both very cool and it is really nice to see OpenCL coming of age.

Also of note:  AMD will be showing OpenCL demos at SC10, the high performance computing communities big event.

Tags: OpenCL

ATI FirePro V9800 with Eyefinity across 12 displays - live video, mapping, CAD, financial apps

Posted by Tony DeYoung on November 11, 2010

The text is in Chinese, but the video is pretty clear as to what you are seeing: Two ATI FirePro V9800 running different applications across 12 displays. The demos shows 1080P high-resolution videos, Google Earth, multiple financial applications and SolidWorks.

Tags: Eyefinity

Eyefinty technology will make your eyes boggle - TechEye tests 6 X 24” displays using FirePro V9800

Posted by Tony DeYoung on November 03, 2010
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TechEye reviewed the Eyefinity technology using the FirePro V9800 and 6 X 24” monitors. They wanted to see what the maximum performance hit was from the ATI FirePro V9800, at peak resolution, while under load using SolidWorks and Bentley MicroStation.

Results summary from SolidWorks and Bentley MicroStation Benchmark test quoted below:

“Starting out using Solidworks and using one monitor with the ATI FirePro V9800 brought in a graphical score of 3.81. The next sequence was four monitors running the application and two showing just the windows desktop. To our surprise the actual graphical score of 3.67 had dropped only by 0.14. Finally we pushed the whole six displays into one 5760 x 2400 unit and the final run took us by surprise again, showing a fine drop of only 0.13 with a graphical result of 3.54. The overall monitor increase only saw a very minor decrease in the final graphical output, an exceptionally good result.”

“We ran the Bentley MicroStation Benchmark to double check. These backed up our initial findings - it has to be reiterated, watching professional tests which absolutely stretch the V9800 chip to the limits, we wondered if it would be too much. But the V9800 didn’t falter once.”

See full review.

Is an Inflection Point Coming to the Workstation Market?

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 26, 2010
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The next generation of AMD integrated graphics and processors will be based on the Fusion Accelerator Processing Unit (APU). In late 2010 AMD will ship two low-end Fusion APUs code named Ontario and Zacate, followed in 2011 by a high-end APU code named Llano (32nm, 4 x86 cores, and multi-core GPU that is OpenGL, DirectX 11, and OpenCL compatible).

Jon Peddie Research talks about how these APUs will impact the CAD market (registration required to read the full article).

Take aways:

  • Eyefinity is a big value add - Fusion will directly drive 3 HD display.
  • Hardware-accelerated tessellation engine in the Fusion processor will offer even more capability to complex CAD drawings.
  • Shading, lighting, shadows and reflections take a lot of graphics power and here is where AMD will pull ahead of Intel Sandy Bridge due to its more powerful GPU.
  • Not everyone who uses a workstation is a power-user. There are a lot of entry-level and mid-range engineers, designers, financial analysts, and video editors who spend long hours in front of a workstation. Two of the main complaints those users have is noise and heat. Fusion will run cool, and quiet.
  • For more graphics power, an external FirePro GPU can be ganged to the GPU in the Fusion processor using CrossFire.

"This is a definite and real inflection point in the industry and the turning point for many companies and users in that it opens up new opportunities and capabilities."

Tags: APU, CAD

I’m not a gamer but Eyefinity on 3 x 46” LCD TVs is too cool

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 26, 2010

I’m not a gamer, but it is not at all difficult to translate this video review of the Radeon 6870 running using Eyefinity on 3 x 46” LCD TVs, to uses in 3D CAD and 3D visualization. The tech is cool, but the low price point and the low power consumption is what makes this a standout.

One word aptly describes AMD’s latest Radeon HD 6800 series GPUs: refinement

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 22, 2010
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Reviews on the just-released second generation DX11 Radeon cards are out.

The gist:  solid performance, lower cost, best-in-class energy efficiency, and an unmatched feature set, including full DirectX 11 support, Eyefinity multi-display technology, HD3D stereoscopic technology, Unified Video Decoder 3, great CrossFire GPU scaling, and DisplayPort 1.2 (enabling multiple displays at different resolutions, refresh rates, and color depth using Eyefinity). The cards also support both DirectCompute and OpenCL!  KitGuru offers a comprehensive review of the Saphire Radeon HD6850 and HD6870 (summary here).

HotHardware says it most succinctly:
“One word aptly describes AMD’s latest Radeon HD 6800 series GPUs: refinement.  AMD’s goal was to drive cost and power consumption out of their architecture, along with enhancing its capabilities, features and image quality in next-generation DX11 gaming engines.  To that end we’d say the company has succeeded masterfully. With the Radeon HD 6870 at $239 MSRP, gamers can enjoy virtually all the performance and then some of AMD previous generation $299 card, but with lower power consumption and better support for DX11 features like tessellation and seemingly better multi-GPU scaling.

The Radeon line is for consumer cards and does not offer the accuracy or reliability or performance of the FirePro line.  But the new GPU’s bode well for future FirePro professional graphic cards. More value with less energy consumption ( performance per Watt) is exactly the direction things should be heading in the professional DCC and CAD world.

And just because the video was so much fun, I am posting a promo video for the XFX Radeon 6800 implementations.  I want that Eyefinity monitor setup!

Tags: DX11, Hardware

First public demonstration of 32nm ‘Llano’ unveils high-performance AMD Fusion APU

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 19, 2010

AMD demonstrated the Llano APU at its Technical Forum in Taipei, Taiwan. It is a 32nm single die combining 4 Phenom II-type cores with powerful DX11 graphics.

The video of the Llano demo shows three compute-intensive workloads running simultaneously on Windows 7:
- multi-threaded calculation of the value of Pi to 32 million decimal places
- decoding 1080p HD video from a Blu-ray disc
-  n-body DirectCompute particle effect using both GPU and CPU cores (Microsoft’s equivalent to OpenCL)  , achieving around 30 GFLOPS (a relative measure of the available capacity to assist the CPU cores to accelerate a non-graphics application).

AMD aims to bring this level of raw compute power to mainstream PC users in 2011.

Jon Peddie reviews FirePro V9800 - standouts: Eyefintiy, Open Standards 3D, OpenCL and DX11

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 13, 2010
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Jon Peddie Research reviews the FirePro V9800.

What do they think in a nutshell?  The board has an edge over the competition because of Eyefinity, DX11 & DirectCompute support, open standards 3D,  and OpenCL support.

From the article:

“AMD ... believes that its Eyefinity multi-monitor technology is going to cause even dedicated Nvidia-philes to take a look and is banking on its strategy of openness to give it a boost. ... their stereographic 3D technology will work with a variety of systems and 120/240 Hz monitors. In other words, they’re not promoting a proprietary solution like Nvidia does. Rather, they’ll work with vendors to create a system and so there may be different options for glasses and monitors.”

“AMD is also banking on DirectX 11 DirectCompute and OpenCL. DirectCompute is an open technology as long as you’re on Windows and OpenCL competes with Nvidia’s CUDA as an open technology to provide access to GPU processors.”

Autodesk ‘See the Advantage’ Virtual Event archive now online

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 06, 2010

The recent Autodesk ‘See the Advantage’ Virtual Event conference was attended by about 1200 people. AMD’s FirePro team staffed a virtual booth, interacting with participants via chat. Participants could view demos, download information and ask questions of FirePro team members.

The materials and event venue are archived online until Jan 6, 2011 to anyone who registers (registration is free).

There is also a new page up on the AMD site worth checking out specifically for the Autodesk software user. 

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Tags: 3D, Autodesk, DX11

More on the FirePro performance plug-ins for 3ds Max & AutoCAD

Posted by Tony DeYoung on October 05, 2010

Check out these graphs showing the performance gains using the new FirePro plug-ins developed in collaboration with Autodesk.

AUTOCAD
Note the 130-446% performance boost from the low end FirePro to the mid-range FirePro V7800

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3ds MAX
Note the 59-65% performance boost across the FirePro line

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