AMD Hatches FLOP-Monster GPU Card

By Tiffany Trader

November 12, 2012

SC12 is officially here and the chip vendors are eagerly touting their latest and greatest offerings. On the GPU accelerator front, Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and NVIDIA both have products dropping today. AMD is launching the FirePro S10000, its most powerful GPU card yet. In fact, AMD is claiming this is the most powerful server graphics card on the market, but we’ll come back to that in a moment.

The FirePro S10000 (yes, four zeros!) is the successor to the S9000, which debuted in August. Both chips are based on 28 nm “Tahiti” silicon and support error-correcting code (ECC) memory, but compared to its predecessor, the S10000 has an extra GPU and packs more FLOPS punch (both single and double precision). The new card also offers greater memory bandwidth (480 GB/s versus 264 GB/s with ECC turned off) and slightly reduced clock speed (825 Mhz versus 900 Mhz). Both cards have 6GB of GDDR5 on-board memory and support PCI Express Gen3, but while the S9000 has 1 DisplayPort output, the S10000 offers 4 and a DVI. Total core count doubled: from 1,792 to 3,584. These enhancements raise the maximum heat envelope from 225 watts to a daunting 375 watts.

As with the previously-launched “Southern Islands” based-cards, the S10000 is built on top of AMD’s “Graphics Core Next” (GCN) architecture, which enables the two GPUs to carry out compute and graphics processing simultaneously. This makes them a good fit for a range of visualization and technical workloads, but the target audience is design professionals who use computer aided design (CAD), and media and entertainment (M&E) applications.

At last Tuesday’s press briefing, Bahman Dara, senior manager of worldwide marketing for AMD, explained that as products and design get more complex and sophisticated, there’s a greater demand for computational analysis, which makes server-based computing and remote graphics increasingly important. “This product is capable of delivering both compute and graphics at the same time – why buy two cards when you can buy one and achieve same objective?” queried Dara.

The “two cards” Dara is referring to are the two NVIDIA lines: Tesla, optimized for compute, and Quadro, which is geared for high-end graphics work. The idea is that the S10000 can do the work of both of these chips. During the same briefing, Joyce Burke, product manager at AMD, continued the theme. The card’s flexibility will enhance IT integration, she said, and because users will not need to purchase a second card for specific tasks, it’s also cost-efficient. Speaking of cost, the S10000 retails for $3,599 US, $1,100 more than its predecessor, but, as usual, most sales will take place through OEMs.

The continuing push by AMD into higher-end GPU territory shows they are serious about competing in this market, and that means competing against NVIDIA. The chipmaker emphasized repeatedly during the press briefing that its latest graphics card outperforms NVIDIA’s best offerings on pure performance and performance per watt. However, and this is important, they were using stats from the older M2090 and Kepler K10 products. We’ve known the higher-end Kepler K20s were coming since NVIDIA broke the news at their GPU Technology Conference last May and we knew they would exceed a teraflop of peak double-precision performance. With the full K20 specs now available, these older comparisons are obsolete.

“This will be the first professional-grade card to exceed one teraflop of double-precision performance,” Dara told reporters last Tuesday. Alas, the NVIDIA K20 and the uber-premium K20X, which also dropped today, both exceed the teraflop mark as well. The Kepler K20X is capable of 3.95 teraflops single precision and 1.31 double precision, while the K20 offers 3.52 teraflops and 1.17 teraflops, respectively.

With 5.91 teraflops of peak single precision and 1.48 teraflops of peak double precision floating point performance, the dual-GPU FirePro S10000 maintains some bragging rights. But it does so at the expense of efficiency. When it comes to double-precision performance, the new FirePro runs at 3.95 gigaflops per watt, while the K20 outputs 5.2 gigaflops per watt and the K20X achieves 5.57 gigaflops per watt. On the single precision side, the figures are: FirePro (15.76 gigaflops per watt), K20 (15.64 gigaflops per watt), and K20X (16.81 gigaflops per watt). A more apt comparison, however, is to the single-precision-optimized K10, which supplies 20.35 gigaflops per watt (making it 23% more efficient than the S10000).

Burke acknowledged that the S10000’s max thermal design power of 375 watts is at the high end, but emphasized that with two GPUs in a single dual-slot configuration, the new FirePro uses 15 percent less power consumption overall than two 225 watt cards. Going by AMD’s pre-release press material, Burke is most likely referencing the 225-watt Tesla M2090s, but note that this is a common power envelope for a GPU accelerator. It shows up in the FirePro S9000 and in the Kepler K10s and K20s; the elite K20X will boost the heat output to 235 watts. At any rate, FLOPS per watt is a more useful metric than overall power consumption, and as we’ve demonstrated, these figures are not in AMD’s favor.

Where the new FirePro excels is in pure FLOPS and its flexible compute-plus-graphics design. The S10000 is the Swiss Army knife of processor cards – it supports HPC workloads as an accelerator, but is also positioned and targeted for Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

“FirePro products support two types of VDI,” Burke explained. For higher-end applications, direct GPU pass-through mode from VMware and Citrix facilitates one user per GPU – and since these boards have two GPUs that means two users. Reflecting a more traditional VDI experience, Microsoft’s RemoteFX allows one GPU to be shared among multiple users of office productivity apps that are not particularly graphics-intensive.

AMD’s claim is that with two GPUs per board, the S10000 can handle a greater density of users, but this configuration also places a lot more demand on the PCI bus, creating a possible bottleneck. Also at nearly 400 watts, excess heat could certainly be an issue, especially for densely configured servers.

Overall, AMD has added an interesting offering to its portfolio that will likely appeal to a certain class of users. However, in their zeal to go head-to-head with NVIDIA’s Kepler architecture, AMD may have rushed the launch. Questions about partner OEM and software support were met with a wait-and-see response. We know OpenCL 1.2 is supported but the company was mum when it came to further parallel programming languages and tools.

As for application performance, neither real-world nor artificial benchmarks were available at press time. To be fair, AMD said that more would be revealed during SC, and they even hinted that we should pay close attention to the next Green500 list. We shall see!

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!

RSC Reports 500Tflops, Hot Water Cooled System Deployed at JINR

April 18, 2018

RSC, developer of supercomputers and advanced HPC systems based in Russia, today reported deployment of “the world's first 100% ‘hot water’ liquid cooled supercomputer” at Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JI Read more…

By Staff

New Device Spots Quantum Particle ‘Fingerprint’

April 18, 2018

Majorana particles have been observed by university researchers employing a device consisting of layers of magnetic insulators on a superconducting material. The advance opens the door to controlling the elusive particle Read more…

By George Leopold

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’s introduction of an ARM-based system (XC-50) last November. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Hybrid HPC is Speeding Time to Insight and Revolutionizing Medicine

High performance computing (HPC) is a key driver of success in many verticals today, and health and life science industries are extensively leveraging these capabilities. Read more…

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Symposium on Computer Architecture (ISCA) in Los Angeles. The Read more…

By Staff

Cray Rolls Out AMD-Based CS500; More to Follow?

April 18, 2018

Cray was the latest OEM to bring AMD back into the fold with introduction today of a CS500 option based on AMD’s Epyc processor line. The move follows Cray’ Read more…

By John Russell

IBM: Software Ecosystem for OpenPOWER is Ready for Prime Time

April 16, 2018

With key pieces of the IBM/OpenPOWER versus Intel/x86 gambit settling into place – e.g., the arrival of Power9 chips and Power9-based systems, hyperscaler sup Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Cloud-Readiness and Looking Beyond Application Scaling

April 11, 2018

There are two aspects to consider when determining if an application is suitable for running in the cloud. The first, which we will discuss here under the title Read more…

By Chris Downing

Transitioning from Big Data to Discovery: Data Management as a Keystone Analytics Strategy

April 9, 2018

The past 10-15 years has seen a stark rise in the density, size, and diversity of scientific data being generated in every scientific discipline in the world. Key among the sciences has been the explosion of laboratory technologies that generate large amounts of data in life-sciences and healthcare research. Large amounts of data are now being stored in very large storage name spaces, with little to no organization and a general unease about how to approach analyzing it. Read more…

By Ari Berman, BioTeam, Inc.

IBM Expands Quantum Computing Network

April 5, 2018

IBM is positioning itself as a first mover in establishing the era of commercial quantum computing. The company believes in order for quantum to work, taming qu Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

FY18 Budget & CORAL-2 – Exascale USA Continues to Move Ahead

April 2, 2018

It was not pretty. However, despite some twists and turns, the federal government’s Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget is complete and ended with some very positi Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

New Blueprint for Converging HPC, Big Data

January 18, 2018

After five annual workshops on Big Data and Extreme-Scale Computing (BDEC), a group of international HPC heavyweights including Jack Dongarra (University of Te Read more…

By John Russell

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Momentum Builds for US Exascale

January 9, 2018

2018 looks to be a great year for the U.S. exascale program. The last several months of 2017 revealed a number of important developments that help put the U.S. Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This