AMD Chases NVIDIA with New FireStream GPU Offerings

By Michael Feldman

June 23, 2010

AMD today announced its next-generation FireStream GPU accelerator boards for HPC and other technical computing applications. The FireStream 9350 and 9370 represent the company’s attempt to match the pace NVIDIA has set with its “Fermi” Tesla-20 GPU offerings launched this spring. The new PCIe boards from AMD are based on the ATI Radeon HD 5870 processor, which was launched last year for the consumer market.

AMD has kicked up the peak performance on the new top-end FireStream, more than doubling the peak floating point performance of AMD’s current generation 9270 product. The dual-slot 9370 device boasts 2.64 teraflops of single precision performance and 528 gigaflops of double precision performance. From a raw FLOPS standpoint, this matches up well with NVIDIA’s latest “Fermi” parts, which deliver 1.03 single precision teraflops and 515 gigaflops double precision. The 9370 comes with 4 GB of local GDDR5 memory, while Tesla-20 offers the option of 3 or 6 GB (in the M2050 and M2070, respectively). Both top-end AMD and NVIDIA GPU computing devices max out at 225 watts.

The lesser 9350 offering is a single-slot board that delivers 2.0 teraflops of single precision and 400 gigaflops of double, and memory on this product is just 2 GB. Since the power consumption on the 9350 is a very modest 150 watts, this would be the clear choice if you wanted to max out density and performance per watt and didn’t require more than a couple of gig of local memory.

Setting aside the impressive performance and power metrics, the newest FireStream products are still missing some key features for HPC apps. Not the least of which is error corrected memory (ECC), which NVIDIA has incorporated in its latest generation Tesla-20 products. Dropping a few bits here and there is fine for traditional graphics processing, and even some technical computing codes, but for many HPC applications, ECC is a hard requirement.

NVIDIA also added L1 and L2 caches to its Fermi architecture, as well as support for asynchronous data transfers, concurrent kernels, and C++. That makes the NVIDIA GPUs more CPU-like than its predecessors, and at least theoretically, more friendly to traditional parallel programming techniques. AMD has stuck with a more traditional graphics processor architecture, which means more silicon real estate is devoted to additional GPU cores, rather than general-purpose computing functionality.

However, AMD’s more conservative strategy could make the FireStream products a prime choice in some application domains. For example, rendering server farms that harness raw GPU power to turn bits into image streams are very well-suited to traditional graphics processors. In fact, most scaled-out visual computing apps could take advantage of the high FLOPS performance on the FireStream, and not miss ECC at all. As the Web becomes more immersed in high-def 3D visualization, demand for GPU-accelerated servers could take off.

OTOY, a company that provides visualization solutions for the entertainment industry, is a big AMD fan and thinks the FireStream technology is a good fit for its emerging cloud rendering business. The FireStream press release quotes OTOY founder Jules Urbach, who says: “Rendering 3D video game graphics by way of a cloud model makes sense on so many levels, completely removing the issue of platform compatibility by potentially turning every device that can access the cloud into a gaming client. The rendering power of AMD GPU compute accelerators is phenomenal, and I believe it delivers the compute density and performance needed to make the OTOY business model a success.”

The other big difference between the AMD and NVIDIA GPU accelerator offerings is the underlying software framework. After a fling with the Brook+ GPU computing language, AMD is now focused on pushing the OpenCL open standard (and DirectX) for all its GPU computing offerings. OpenCL seems like a particularly nice fit for AMD, since it can be applied to both CPU and GPU parallel computing codes, thus will dovetail nicely with the company’s heterogeneous Fusion processors.

NVIDIA also supports OpenCL, and publicly maintains an agnostic position with regard to software environments. But the company’s GPU computing platforms have mostly relied on its home-grown CUDA programming environment, which got a two and half year jump on the OpenCL standard. As a result, the CUDA tools and compiler have managed to attract an extensive ecosystem of partners. High-level language implementations, debuggers, libraries, integrated development environments, university courses, and consulting services have grown up around CUDA over the last four years. Whether OpenCL becomes a force in HPC application development remains an open question, but NVIDIA could live with either a CUDA-based or OpenCL-based ecosystem, while AMD has bet almost everything on the open standard.

A number of OEMs have already announced plans to incorporate the new FireStreams in their workstations and servers. For the time being, these include Supermicro, AMAX and One Stop Systems, but more system vendors are expected to add the AMD GPU option in the near future. The lower power, single-slot 9350 may be especially attractive for smaller systems with only limited power envelopes and PCIe interfaces. The new FireStream boards are slated for general availability in Q3 2010, at which point systems will begin shipping.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

AWS Expands Worldwide Availability to AMD-based Instances

July 22, 2019

Setting aside potential setbacks caused by U.S. trade policies, the steady cadence of AMD’s revival in HPC and the datacenter continued last week with AWS expanding availability of its AMD Epyc-based instances. Recall Read more…

By Staff

Microsoft Investing $1B in OpenAI Artificial General Intelligence R&D

July 22, 2019

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is AI’s moonshot, the next giant leap for the AI field. Microsoft regards it to be feasible enough to warrant a $1 billion investment in OpenAI, the not-for-profit research organi Read more…

By Doug Black

Researchers Use Supercomputing to Study Links Between Hurricanes and Climate Change

July 19, 2019

As climate change looms, researchers are scrambling to answer the question of how a warming planet will affect the frequency and severity of already-deadly hurricanes. Now, a team of researchers from the University of Il Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Bring the Combined Power of HPC and AI to Your Business Transformation

A growing number of commercial businesses are implementing HPC solutions to derive actionable business insights, to run higher performance applications and to gain a competitive advantage. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

With HPC the Future is Looking Grid

Gone are the days when problems such as unraveling genetic sequences or searching for extra-terrestrial life were solved using only a single high-performance computing (HPC) resource located at one facility. Read more…

San Diego Supercomputer Center to Welcome ‘Expanse’ Supercomputer in 2020

July 18, 2019

With a $10 million dollar award from the National Science Foundation, San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California San Diego is procuring a new supercomputer, called Expanse, to be deployed next Read more…

By Staff report

Microsoft Investing $1B in OpenAI Artificial General Intelligence R&D

July 22, 2019

Artificial general intelligence (AGI) is AI’s moonshot, the next giant leap for the AI field. Microsoft regards it to be feasible enough to warrant a $1 billi Read more…

By Doug Black

Informing Designs of Safer, More Efficient Aircraft with Exascale Computing

July 18, 2019

During the process of designing an aircraft, aeronautical engineers must perform predictive simulations to understand how airflow around the plane impacts fligh Read more…

By Rob Johnson

Intel Debuts Pohoiki Beach, Its 8M Neuron Neuromorphic Development System

July 17, 2019

Neuromorphic computing has received less fanfare of late than quantum computing whose mystery has captured public attention and which seems to have generated mo Read more…

By John Russell

Goonhilly Unveils New Immersion-Cooled Platform, Doubles Down on Sustainability Mission

July 16, 2019

Goonhilly Earth Station has opened its new datacenter – an enhancement to its existing tier 3 facility – in Cornwall, England, touting an ambitious commitme Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

ISC19 Cluster Competition: Application Results, Finally!

July 15, 2019

Our exhaustive coverage of the ISC19 Student Cluster Competition continues as we discuss the application scores below. While the scores were typically high, som Read more…

By Dan Olds

Nvidia Expands DGX-Ready AI Program to 19 Countries

July 11, 2019

Nvidia’s DGX-Ready Data Center Program, announced in January and designed to provide colo and public cloud-like options to access the company’s GPU-powered Read more…

By Doug Black

Argonne Team Makes Record Globus File Transfer

July 10, 2019

A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory has broken a data transfer record by moving a staggering 2.9 petabytes of data for a research project.  The data – from three large cosmological simulations – was generated and stored on the Summit supercomputer at the Oak Ridge Leadership Computing Facility (OLCF)... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia, Google Tie in Second MLPerf Training ‘At-Scale’ Round

July 10, 2019

Results for the second round of the AI benchmarking suite known as MLPerf were published today with Google Cloud and Nvidia each picking up three wins in the at Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

High Performance (Potato) Chips

May 5, 2006

In this article, we focus on how Procter & Gamble is using high performance computing to create some common, everyday supermarket products. Tom Lange, a 27-year veteran of the company, tells us how P&G models products, processes and production systems for the betterment of consumer package goods. Read more…

By Michael Feldman

Cray, AMD to Extend DOE’s Exascale Frontier

May 7, 2019

Cray and AMD are coming back to Oak Ridge National Laboratory to partner on the world’s largest and most expensive supercomputer. The Department of Energy’s Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Graphene Surprises Again, This Time for Quantum Computing

May 8, 2019

Graphene is fascinating stuff with promise for use in a seeming endless number of applications. This month researchers from the University of Vienna and Institu Read more…

By John Russell

AMD Verifies Its Largest 7nm Chip Design in Ten Hours

June 5, 2019

AMD announced last week that its engineers had successfully executed the first physical verification of its largest 7nm chip design – in just ten hours. The AMD Radeon Instinct Vega20 – which boasts 13.2 billion transistors – was tested using a TSMC-certified Calibre nmDRC software platform from Mentor. Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

TSMC and Samsung Moving to 5nm; Whither Moore’s Law?

June 12, 2019

With reports that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TMSC) and Samsung are moving quickly to 5nm manufacturing, it’s a good time to again ponder whither goes the venerable Moore’s law. Shrinking feature size has of course been the primary hallmark of achieving Moore’s law... Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Competitors Stalk Nvidia

May 14, 2019

There is no shortage of processing architectures emerging to accelerate deep learning workloads, with two more options emerging this week to challenge GPU leader Nvidia. First, Intel researchers claimed a new deep learning record for image classification on the ResNet-50 convolutional neural network. Separately, Israeli AI chip startup Hailo.ai... Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Embraces Arm, Declares Intent to Accelerate All CPU Architectures

June 17, 2019

As the Top500 list was being announced at ISC in Frankfurt today with an upgraded petascale Arm supercomputer in the top third of the list, Nvidia announced its Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Top500 Purely Petaflops; US Maintains Performance Lead

June 17, 2019

With the kick-off of the International Supercomputing Conference (ISC) in Frankfurt this morning, the 53rd Top500 list made its debut, and this one's for petafl Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

ISC 2019 Virtual Booth Video Tour

CRAY
CRAY
DDN
DDN
DELL EMC
DELL EMC
GOOGLE
GOOGLE
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
ONE STOP SYSTEMS
PANASAS
PANASAS
VERNE GLOBAL
VERNE GLOBAL

Intel Launches Cascade Lake Xeons with Up to 56 Cores

April 2, 2019

At Intel's Data-Centric Innovation Day in San Francisco (April 2), the company unveiled its second-generation Xeon Scalable (Cascade Lake) family and debuted it Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cray – and the Cray Brand – to Be Positioned at Tip of HPE’s HPC Spear

May 22, 2019

More so than with most acquisitions of this kind, HPE’s purchase of Cray for $1.3 billion, announced last week, seems to have elements of that overused, often Read more…

By Doug Black and Tiffany Trader

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Hardware That Powered the Black Hole Image

June 24, 2019

Two months ago, the first-ever image of a black hole took the internet by storm. A team of scientists took years to produce and verify the striking image – an Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Announcing four new HPC capabilities in Google Cloud Platform

April 15, 2019

When you’re running compute-bound or memory-bound applications for high performance computing or large, data-dependent machine learning training workloads on Read more…

By Wyatt Gorman, HPC Specialist, Google Cloud; Brad Calder, VP of Engineering, Google Cloud; Bart Sano, VP of Platforms, Google Cloud

Chinese Company Sugon Placed on US ‘Entity List’ After Strong Showing at International Supercomputing Conference

June 26, 2019

After more than a decade of advancing its supercomputing prowess, operating the world’s most powerful supercomputer from June 2013 to June 2018, China is keep Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

In Wake of Nvidia-Mellanox: Xilinx to Acquire Solarflare

April 25, 2019

With echoes of Nvidia’s recent acquisition of Mellanox, FPGA maker Xilinx has announced a definitive agreement to acquire Solarflare Communications, provider Read more…

By Doug Black

Qualcomm Invests in RISC-V Startup SiFive

June 7, 2019

Investors are zeroing in on the open standard RISC-V instruction set architecture and the processor intellectual property being developed by a batch of high-flying chip startups. Last fall, Esperanto Technologies announced a $58 million funding round. Read more…

By George Leopold

Nvidia Claims 6000x Speed-Up for Stock Trading Backtest Benchmark

May 13, 2019

A stock trading backtesting algorithm used by hedge funds to simulate trading variants has received a massive, GPU-based performance boost, according to Nvidia, Read more…

By Doug Black

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This