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!

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “pre-exascale” award), parsed out additional information ab Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid whoops and hollers from the crowd, Thomas Sterling presented t Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out plans to push deeper into climate science and develop more gran Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale companies and their embrace of AI and deep learning – tha Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Creating a Roadmap for HPC Innovation at ISC 2017

In an era where technological advancements are driving innovation to every sector, and powering major economic and scientific breakthroughs, high performance computing (HPC) is crucial to tackle the challenges of today and tomorrow. Read more…

At ISC – Goh on Go: Humans Can’t Scale, the Data-Centric Learning Machine Can

June 22, 2017

I've seen the future this week at ISC, it’s on display in prototype or Powerpoint form, and it’s going to dumbfound you. The future is an AI neural network designed to emulate and compete with the human brain. In thi Read more…

By Doug Black

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “global” launch event in Austin TX. In many ways it was a fu Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it, analysts and journalists want to report on it. Deep learni Read more…

By Doug Black

OpenACC Shows Growing Strength at ISC

June 19, 2017

OpenACC is strutting its stuff at ISC this year touting expanding membership, a jump in downloads, favorable benchmarks across several architectures, new staff members, and new support by key HPC applications providers, Read more…

By John Russell

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tsinghua Crowned Eight-Time Student Cluster Champions at ISC

June 22, 2017

Always a hard-fought competition, the Student Cluster Competition awards were announced Wednesday, June 21, at the ISC High Performance Conference 2017. Amid wh Read more…

By Kim McMahon

GPUs, Power9, Figure Prominently in IBM’s Bet on Weather Forecasting

June 22, 2017

IBM jumped into the weather forecasting business roughly a year and a half ago by purchasing The Weather Company. This week at ISC 2017, Big Blue rolled out pla Read more…

By John Russell

Intersect 360 at ISC: HPC Industry at $44B by 2021

June 22, 2017

The care, feeding and sustained growth of the HPC industry increasingly is in the hands of the commercial market sector – in particular, it’s the hyperscale Read more…

By Doug Black

At ISC – Goh on Go: Humans Can’t Scale, the Data-Centric Learning Machine Can

June 22, 2017

I've seen the future this week at ISC, it’s on display in prototype or Powerpoint form, and it’s going to dumbfound you. The future is an AI neural network Read more…

By Doug Black

AMD Charges Back into the Datacenter and HPC Workflows with EPYC Processor

June 20, 2017

AMD is charging back into the enterprise datacenter and select HPC workflows with its new EPYC 7000 processor line, code-named Naples, announced today at a “g Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion: Deep Learning, AI Helping Drive Healthy HPC Industry Growth

June 20, 2017

To be at the ISC conference in Frankfurt this week is to experience deep immersion in deep learning. Users want to learn about it, vendors want to talk about it Read more…

By Doug Black

OpenACC Shows Growing Strength at ISC

June 19, 2017

OpenACC is strutting its stuff at ISC this year touting expanding membership, a jump in downloads, favorable benchmarks across several architectures, new staff Read more…

By John Russell

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Pulls Back the Covers on Its First Machine Learning Chip

April 6, 2017

This week Google released a report detailing the design and performance characteristics of the Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), its custom ASIC for the inference Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

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

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Facebook Open Sources Caffe2; Nvidia, Intel Rush to Optimize

April 18, 2017

From its F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif., today, Facebook announced Caffe2, a new open-source, cross-platform framework for deep learning. Caffe2 is the successor to Caffe, the deep learning framework developed by Berkeley AI Research and community contributors. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

MIT Mathematician Spins Up 220,000-Core Google Compute Cluster

April 21, 2017

On Thursday, Google announced that MIT math professor and computational number theorist Andrew V. Sutherland had set a record for the largest Google Compute Engine (GCE) job. Sutherland ran the massive mathematics workload on 220,000 GCE cores using preemptible virtual machine instances. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

US Supercomputing Leaders Tackle the China Question

March 15, 2017

Joint DOE-NSA report responds to the increased global pressures impacting the competitiveness of U.S. supercomputing. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

DOE Supercomputer Achieves Record 45-Qubit Quantum Simulation

April 13, 2017

In order to simulate larger and larger quantum systems and usher in an age of “quantum supremacy,” researchers are stretching the limits of today’s most advanced supercomputers. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Knights Landing Processor with Omni-Path Makes Cloud Debut

April 18, 2017

HPC cloud specialist Rescale is partnering with Intel and HPC resource provider R Systems to offer first-ever cloud access to Xeon Phi "Knights Landing" processors. The infrastructure is based on the 68-core Intel Knights Landing processor with integrated Omni-Path fabric (the 7250F Xeon Phi). Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

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