Visit additional Tabor Communication Publications
January 13, 2009
Back in June 2008, I suggested Sun Microsystems could accelerate its Network.com compute grid with GPU-based nodes. Sun never did, but it looks like AMD is going to give this idea a whirl. Last week at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), AMD CEO Dirk Meyer previewed the company's one petaflop GPU-based supercomputer: the Fusion Render Cloud. The system will be built from AMD CPUs and GPUs and is due to go online in the second half of 2009.
The Render Cloud will be used to process high-definition (HD) video content and stream it to mobile devices. This is the same content that today is confined almost exclusively to high-end PCs, game consoles, and HD TVs. From the AMD press release:
The system is being designed to enable content providers to deliver video games, PC applications and other graphically-intensive applications through the Internet “cloud” to virtually any type of mobile device with a web browser without making the device rapidly deplete battery life or struggle to process the content. The AMD Fusion Render Cloud will transform movie and gaming experiences through server-side rendering – which stores visually rich content in a compute cloud, compresses it, and streams it in real-time over a wireless or broadband connection to a variety of devices such as smart phones, set-top boxes and ultra-thin notebooks. By delivering remotely rendered content to devices that are unable to store and process HD content due to such constraints as device size, battery capacity, and processing power, HD cloud computing represents the capability to bring HD entertainment to mobile users virtually anywhere.
The system will also be available for large-scale rendering projects, aimed at studios and gaming companies and other CG content developers.
The Render Cloud will initially contain more than 1,000 ATI Radeon 4870 GPUs alongside some number of Phenom II CPUs. But the GPUs are what make the system so computationally dense. Since each 4870 graphics chip delivers around 1.2 teraflops of computing power, it is the GPUs that will deliver the majority of the system FLOPs. According to Meyer, the system will be the most powerful GPU-accelerated supercomputer ever built. Supposedly, it will draw just one-tenth the power of a CPU-based petaflop super.
The real secret sauce to the Render Cloud is the OTOY software (PDF), which enables cinematic quality 3D content to be delivered to a vanilla Web browser. The server-hosted OTOY engine renders HD video and compresses the data so that it can be sent via wireless or broadband connections. If network latency is to be an issue, it wasn't apparent in the Render Cloud-driven Web demo of the Mercenaries 2 video game.
The rationale for the Render Cloud is that since mobile devices like smart phones, ultrathin notebooks and netbooks lack discrete graphics chips, a render utility can deliver high definition games and video to a much wider audience than is currently the case. The same platform can also send these media streams into a television set top box.
The Render Cloud announcement was part of AMD's new "Fusion" strategy, the company's latest mantra for next-generation computing. Its original meaning of offering CPU-GPU hybrid chips has apparently been expanded to include the broader tenets of accelerated computing, which AMD defines thusly:
The model is reminiscent of Cray's adaptive supercomputing strategy and fits in nicely with AMD's unique market position as a chipmaker. As the only provider of both CPUs and GPUs, AMD seems more determined than ever to leverage its mixed offerings against Intel and NVIDIA. Considering AMD is currently being outgunned by superior Intel x86 technology, using the ATI graphics division to push heterogeneous computing is a natural way to create some differentiation.
From Meyer's perspective, the days of Moore's Law-driven performance in a CPU-centric world are over. Mobile computing and the demand it is generating for new user experiences are transforming the computing landscape. "In the past, processor companies like AMD really changed the world," said Meyer. "Now I think the world is changing us."
Posted by Michael Feldman - January 13, 2009 @ 4:38 PM, Pacific Standard Time
Michael Feldman is the editor of HPCwire.
No Recent Blog Comments
Contributing commentator, Andrew Jones, offers a break in the news cycle with an assessment of what the national "size matters" contest means for the U.S. and other nations...
Today at the International Supercomputing Conference in Leipzing, Germany, Jack Dongarra presented on a proposed benchmark that could carry a bit more weight than its older Linpack companion. The high performance conjugate gradient (HPCG) concept takes into account new architectures for new applications, while shedding the floating point....
Not content to let the Tianhe-2 announcement ride alone, Intel rolled out a series of announcements around its Knights Corner and Xeon Phi products--all of which are aimed at adding some options and variety for a wider base of potential users across the HPC spectrum. Today at the International Supercomputing Conference, the company's Raj....
Jun 18, 2013 |
The world's largest supercomputers, like Tianhe-2, are great at traditional, compute-intensive HPC workloads, such as simulating atomic decay or modeling tornados. But data-intensive applications--such as mining big data sets for connections--is a different sort of workload, and runs best on a different sort of computer.
Jun 18, 2013 |
Researchers are finding innovative uses for Gordon, the 285 teraflop supercomputer housed at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) that has a unique Flash-based storage system. Since going online, researchers have put the incredibly fast I/O to use on a wide variety of workloads, ranging from chemistry to political science.
Jun 17, 2013 |
The advent of low-power mobile processors and cloud delivery models is changing the economics of computing. But just as an economy car is good at different things than a full size truck, an HPC workload still has certain computing demands that neither the fastest smartphone nor the most elastic cloud cluster can fulfill.
Jun 14, 2013 |
For all the progress we've made in IT over the last 50 years, there's one area of life that has steadfastly eluded the grasp of computers: understanding human language. Now, researchers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) are utilizing a Hadoop cluster on its Longhorn supercomputer to move the state of the art of language processing a little bit further.
Jun 13, 2013 |
Titan, the Cray XK7 at the Oak Ridge National Lab that debuted last fall as the fastest supercomputer in the world with 17.59 petaflops of sustained computing power, will rely on its previous LINPACK test for the upcoming edition of the Top 500 list.
05/10/2013 | Cleversafe, Cray, DDN, NetApp, & Panasas | From Wall Street to Hollywood, drug discovery to homeland security, companies and organizations of all sizes and stripes are coming face to face with the challenges – and opportunities – afforded by Big Data. Before anyone can utilize these extraordinary data repositories, however, they must first harness and manage their data stores, and do so utilizing technologies that underscore affordability, security, and scalability.
04/15/2013 | Bull | “50% of HPC users say their largest jobs scale to 120 cores or less.” How about yours? Are your codes ready to take advantage of today’s and tomorrow’s ultra-parallel HPC systems? Download this White Paper by Analysts Intersect360 Research to see what Bull and Intel’s Center for Excellence in Parallel Programming can do for your codes.
Join HPCwire Editor Nicole Hemsoth and Dr. David Bader from Georgia Tech as they take center stage on opening night at Atlanta's first Big Data Kick Off Week, filmed in front of a live audience. Nicole and David look at the evolution of HPC, today's big data challenges, discuss real world solutions, and reveal their predictions. Exactly what does the future holds for HPC?
Join our webinar to learn how IT managers can migrate to a more resilient, flexible and scalable solution that grows with the data center. Mellanox VMS is future-proof, efficient and brings significant CAPEX and OPEX savings. The VMS is available today.