More Llano because you know you llove it

Subject: Processors | June 23, 2011 - 12:32 PM |
Tagged: llano, amd, AFDS

Since Llano is the best news we have seen from AMD in quite a while here is more coverage of the APU and the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, this time from The Tech Report.  They take an A8-3500M APU and Radeon HD 6620G powered laptop and pit it against an HP ProBook 6460b with a Core i5-2410M and HD3000.   The TDP of both processors is 35W and they are likely going to be priced similarly once Llano powered laptops hit the market.  As with Ryan's review, for CPU bound tests the AMD processor lags far behind but once the GPU power comes into play the positions are completely reversed.  It will be interesting to see how AMD positions Llano in the marketplace.

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"Can AMD's 'Llano' APU really take on Intel's excellent Sandy Bridge processors and hold its own? We've taken a deep look at its architecture and performance in order to find out."

Here are some more Processor articles from around the web:

Processors

AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011: Live Blog

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards, Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 16, 2011 - 02:41 PM |
Tagged: llano, liveblog, fusion, APU, amd, AFDS

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The AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 is set to begin at 11:30am ET / 8:30am PT and promises to bring some interesting and forward looking news about the future of AMD's APU technology.  We are going to cover the keynotes LIVE right here throughout the week so if you want to know what is happening AS IT HAPPENS, stick around!!

Source: PCPer

AMD announces new OpenCL programming tools

Subject: General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 09:14 PM |
Tagged: opencl, amd, AFDS

If you are a developer of applications which requires more performance than a CPU alone can provide then you are probably having a gleeful week. Today Microsoft announced their competitor to OpenCL and we have a large write-up about that aspect of their keynote address. If you are currently an OpenCL developer you are not left out, however, as AMD has announced new tools designed to make your life easier too.

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General Purpose GPU utilities: Because BINK won't satisfy this crowd.

(Logo trademark Apple Inc.)

AMD’s spectrum of enhanced tools includes:

  • gDEBuger: An OpenCL and OpenGL debugger, profiler, and memory analyzer released as a plugin for Visual Studio.
  • Parallel Path Analyzer (PPA): A tool designed to profile data transfers and kernel execution across your system.
  • Global Memory for Accelerators (GMAC) API: Lets developers use multiple devices without needing to manage multiple data buffers in both the CPU and the GPU.
  • Task Manager API: A framework to manage scheduling kernels across devices. 

These tools and utilities should make the development of software easier and allow more developers to take the risk on the new technology. The GPU has already proven itself worthy of more and more important tasks and it is only a matter of time before it is finally ubiquitous enough that it is a default component as important as the CPU itself. As an ironic aside, that should spur the adoption of PC Gaming given how many people would have sufficient hardware.

Source: AMD

AFDS11: Microsoft Announces C++ AMP, Competitor to OpenCL

Subject: Editorial, General Tech, Shows and Expos | June 15, 2011 - 05:58 PM |
Tagged: programming, microsoft, fusion, c++, amp, AFDS

During this morning's keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, Microsoft's Herb Sutter went on stage to discuss the problems and solutions involved around programming and developing for multi-processing systems and heterogeneous computing systems in particular.  While the problems are definitely something we have discussed before at PC Perspective, the new solution that was showcased was significant.

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C++ AMP (accelerated massive parallelism) was announced as a new extension to Visual Studio and the C++ programming language to help developers take advantage of the highly parallel and heterogeneous computing environments of today and the future.  The new programming model uses C++ syntax and will be available in the next version of Visual Studio with "bits of it coming later this year."  Sorry, no hard release date was given when probed.

Perhaps just as significant is the fact that Microsoft announced the C++ AMP standard would be an open specification and they are going to allow other compilers to integrated support for it.  Unlike C# then, C++ AMP has a chance to be a new dominant standard in the programming world as the need for parallel computing expands.  While OpenCL was the only option for developers that promised to allow easy utilization of ALL computing power in a computing device, C++ AMP gives users another option with the full weight of Microsoft behind it.

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To demonstrate the capability of C++ AMP Microsoft showed a rigid body simulation program that ran on multiple computers and devices from a single executable file and was able to scale in performance from 3 GLOPS on the x86 cores of Llano to 650 GFLOPS on the combined APU power and to 830 GFLOPS with a pair of discrete Radeon HD 5800 GPUs.  The same executable file was run on an AMD E-series APU powered tablet and ran at 16 GFLOPS with 16,000 particles.  This is the promise of heterogeneous programming languages and is the gateway necessary for consumers and business to truly take advantage of the processors that AMD (and other companies) are building today. 

If you want programs other than video transcoding apps to really push the promise of heterogeneous computing, then the announcement of C++ AMP is very, very big news. 

Source: PCPer

AFDS11: Upcoming Trinity APU will use VLIW4 / Cayman Architecture

Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 08:06 PM |
Tagged: vliw, trinity, llano, fusion, evergreen, cayman, amd, AFDS

Well that was an interesting twist...  During a talk on the next generation of GPU technology at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit, one of the engineers was asked about Trinity, the next APU to be released in 2012 (and shown running today for the very first time).  It was offered that Trinity in fact used a VLIW4 architecture rather than the VLIW5 design found in the just released Llano A-series APU

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A shader unit from the VLIW4-based Cayman architecture

That means that Trinity APUs will ship with Cayman-based GPU technology (6900 series) rather than the Evergreen (5000 series).  While that doesn't tell us much in terms of performance simply because we have so many variables including shader counts and clocks, it does put to rest the rumor that Trinity was going to keep basically the same class of GPU technology that Llano had. 

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Trinity notebook shown for the first time today at AFDS.  Inside is an APU with Cayman-class graphics.

AMD is definitely pushing the capabilities of APUs forward and if they can stay on schedule with Trinity, Intel might find the GPU portion of its Ivy Bridge architecture well behind again.

Source: PCPer

AFDS11: ARM Talks Dark Silicon and Computing Bias at Fusion Summit

Subject: Editorial, Processors, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 05:09 PM |
Tagged: nvidia, Intel, heterogeneous, fusion, arm, AFDS

Before the AMD Fusion Developer Summit started this week in Bellevue, WA the most controversial speaker on the agenda was Jem Davies, the VP of Technology at ARM.  Why would AMD and ARM get together on a stage with dozens of media and hundreds of developers in attendance?  There is no partnership between them in terms of hardware or software but would there be some kind of major announcement made about the two company's future together?

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In that regard, the keynote was a bit of a letdown and if you thought there was going to be a merger between them or a new AMD APU being announced with an ARM processor in it, you left a bit disappointed.  Instead we got a bit of background on ARM how the race of processing architectures has slowly dwindled to just x86 and ARM as well as a few jibes at the competition NOT named AMD.

As is usually the case, Davies described the state of processor technology with an emphasis on power efficiency and the importance of designing with that future in mind.  One of the interesting points was shown in regard to the "bitter reality" of core-type performance and the projected DECREASE we will see from 2012 onward due to leakage concerns as we progress to 10nm and even 7nm technologies.

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The idea of dark silicon "refers to the huge swaths of silicon transistors on future chips that will be underused because there is not enough power to utilize all the transistors at the same time" according to this article over at physorg.com.  As the process technology gets smaller then the areas of dark silicon increase until the area of the die that can be utilized at any one time might hit as low as 10% in 2020.  Because of this, the need to design chips with many task-specific heterogeneous portions is crucial and both AMD and ARM on that track.

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Those companies not on that path today, NVIDIA specifically and Intel as well, were addressed on the below slide when discussing GPU computing.  Davies pointed out that if a company has a financial interest in the immediate success of only CPU or GPU then benchmarks will be built and shown in a way to make it appear that THAT portion is the most important.  We have seen this from both NVIDIA and Intel in the past couple of years while AMD has consistently stated they are going to be using the best processor for the job.  

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Amdahl's Law is used in parallel computing to predict the theoretical maximum speed up using multiple processors.  Davies reiterated what we have been told for some time that if only 50% of your application can actually BE parallelized, then no matter how many processing cores you throw at it, it will only ever be 50% faster.  The heterogeneous computing products of today and the future can address both the parallel computing and serial computing tasks with improvements in performance and efficiency and should result in better computing in the long run.

So while we didn't get the major announcement from ARM and AMD that we might have been expecting, the fact that ARM would come up and share a stage with AMD reiterates the message of the Fusion Developer Summit quite clearly: a combined and balanced approach to processing might not be the sexiest but it is very much the correct one for consumers.

Source: PCPer

AFDS11: AMD Demonstrates Trinity Powered Notebook

Subject: Processors, Mobile, Shows and Expos | June 14, 2011 - 12:08 PM |
Tagged: trinity, fusion, APU, AFDS

On stage during the opening keynote at the AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011, Rick Bergman showed off a notebook that was being powered not by the recently released AMD Llano A-series APUs, but rather the Trinity core due in 2012.

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Trinity is the desktop APU for next year that will combine Bulldozer-based x86 CPU cores with an updated DX11 GPU architecture built on the current 32nm process.  Not much else is known about the chip yet but hopefully we'll get some more details this week at the show.

Source: PCPer

AMD discusses "Heterogeneous Computing"

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Processors | May 22, 2011 - 11:04 PM |
Tagged: fusion, amd, AFDS

In a little over three weeks’ time AMD will host their AMD Fusion Developer Summit 2011 (AFDS): a three-day conference with the hopes of promoting heterogeneous computing amongst developers. We have increasingly seen potential applications of using the parts of your computer outside the standard x86 core over the years though much of it was through NVIDIA’s brand. Building up to the summit, AMD’s DeveloperCentral talked with Lee Howes, parallel computing expert and Member of Technical Staff for Programming Models at AMD, about his upcoming session at AFDS.

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I can't get over how much AFDS looks like a diagnosis.

In the short five-question interview, Dr. Howes outlined that the goal of his session is to show developers what to expect, good and bad, from developing for a heterogeneous architecture such as that of an APU. The rest of the interview was spent discussing how heterogeneous computing is currently and will eventually look like. Topics spanned from the slow perceived uptake of parallel computing in the home to the technological limitations of traditional CPUs that APUs and other heterogeneous computing systems look to bypass.

While AFDS is (by its namesake) a developer’s conference it is very much relevant to peer at for the end-user. The support for developers of newer computing architectures will help fuel the cycle of adoption between software and hardware which ends up with a better experience for us. What tasks would you like to see accelerated by heterogeneous computing? Let us know in the comments below.