Podcast #391 - AMD's news from GDC, the MSI Vortex, and Q&A!

Subject: General Tech | March 18, 2016 - 03:07 AM |
Tagged: podcast, video, amd, XConnect, gdc 2016, Vega, Polaris, navi, razer blade, Sulon Q, Oculus, vive, raja koduri, GTX 1080, msi, vortex, Intel, skulltrail, nuc

PC Perspective Podcast #391 - 03/17/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the AMD's news from GDC, the MSI Vortex, and Q&A!

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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

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AMD's Raja Koduri talks moving past CrossFire, smaller GPU dies, HBM2 and more.

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 15, 2016 - 06:02 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, raja koduri, Polaris, HBM2, hbm, dx12, crossfire, amd

After hosting the AMD Capsaicin event at GDC tonight, the SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri sat down with me to talk about the event and offered up some additional details on the Radeon Pro Duo, upcoming Polaris GPUs and more. The video below has the full interview but there are several highlights that stand out as noteworthy.

  • Raja claimed that one of the reasons to launch the dual-Fiji card as the Radeon Pro Duo for developers rather than pure Radeon, aimed at gamers, was to “get past CrossFire.” He believes we are at an inflection point with APIs. Where previously you would abstract two GPUs to appear as a single to the game engine, with DX12 and Vulkan the problem is more complex than that as we have seen in testing with early titles like Ashes of the Singularity.

    But with the dual-Fiji product mostly developed and prepared, AMD was able to find a market between the enthusiast and the creator to target, and thus the Radeon Pro branding was born.

    pro_duo_zoom.jpg

    Raja further expands on it, telling me that in order to make multi-GPU useful and productive for the next generation of APIs, getting multi-GPU hardware solutions in the hands of developers is crucial. He admitted that CrossFire in the past has had performance scaling concerns and compatibility issues, and that getting multi-GPU correct from the ground floor here is crucial.
     

  • With changes in Moore’s Law and the realities of process technology and processor construction, multi-GPU is going to be more important for the entire product stack, not just the extreme enthusiast crowd. Why? Because realities are dictating that GPU vendors build smaller, more power efficient GPUs, and to scale performance overall, multi-GPU solutions need to be efficient and plentiful. The “economics of the smaller die” are much better for AMD (and we assume NVIDIA) and by 2017-2019, this is the reality and will be how graphics performance will scale.

    Getting the software ecosystem going now is going to be crucial to ease into that standard.
     

  • The naming scheme of Polaris (10, 11…) has no equation, it’s just “a sequence of numbers” and we should only expect it to increase going forward. The next Polaris chip will be bigger than 11, that’s the secret he gave us.

    There have been concerns that AMD was only going to go for the mainstream gaming market with Polaris but Raja promised me and our readers that we “would be really really pleased.” We expect to see Polaris-based GPUs across the entire performance stack.
     

  • AMD’s primary goal here is to get many millions of gamers VR-ready, though getting the enthusiasts “that last millisecond” is still a goal and it will happen from Radeon.
     
  • No solid date on Polaris parts at all – I tried! (Other than the launches start in June.) Though Raja did promise that after tonight, he will only have his next alcoholic beverage until the launch of Polaris. Serious commitment!
     
  • Curious about the HBM2 inclusion in Vega on the roadmap and what that means for Polaris? Though he didn’t say it outright, it appears that Polaris will be using HBM1, leaving me to wonder about the memory capacity limitations inherent in that. Has AMD found a way to get past the 4GB barrier? We are trying to figure that out for sure.

    roadmap.jpg

    Why is Polaris going to use HBM1? Raja pointed towards the extreme cost and expense of building the HBM ecosystem prepping the pipeline for the new memory technology as the culprit and AMD obviously wants to recoup some of that cost with another generation of GPU usage.

Speaking with Raja is always interesting and the confidence and knowledge he showcases is still what gives me assurance that the Radeon Technologies Group is headed in the correct direction. This is going to be a very interesting year for graphics, PC gaming and for GPU technologies, as showcased throughout the Capsaicin event, and I think everyone should be looking forward do it.

Jim Keller Leaves AMD

Subject: Editorial | September 18, 2015 - 05:00 PM |
Tagged: Zen, raja koduri, lisa su, Jim Keller, bulldozer, amd

2012 was a significant year for AMD.  Many of the top executives left and there were many new and exciting hires at the company.  Lisa Su, who would eventually become President and CEO of AMD was hired in January of that year.  Rory Read seemed to be on a roll with many measures to turn around the company.  He also convinced some big name folks to come back to AMD from other lucrative positions.  One of these rehires was Jim Keller.

jim_keller.jpg

Jim Keller, breakin it down for AMD. Or doing "The Robot". Or both.

Today it was announced that Jim would be leaving AMD effective Sept. 18th.  He was back at AMD for three years and in that time headed up the CPU group.  He implemented massive changes that would result in the design of the upcoming Zen architecture.  There was a full scale ejection of the Bulldozer concept that powered AMD processors since 2011 with the FX-8150 introduction with the current Excavator core design to last through 2016 with the final product being "Bristol Ridge,"expected next summer.  Zen will not ship until late 2016 with the first full quarter of revenue in 2017.

Jim helped to develop the K7 and K8 processors from AMD.  He also was extremely influential in the creation of the X86-64 ISA that not only powers AMD’s parts, but also was adopted by Intel after their disastrous EPIC/IA64 ISA failed to go anywhere.  His past also includes work at DEC on the Alpha processors and before AMD at Apple working on the A4 and A5 SOCs.

We do not know any of the details about his leaving, and perhaps never will.  AMD has released an official statement that “Jim Keller is leaving AMD to pursue other opportunities, effective September 18”.  Looking at Jim’s past employment, he seems to move around a bit.  Perhaps he enjoys coming into a place, turning things around, implementing some new thinking, but then becomes bored with the daily routine of management, budget, and planning.

In the near future this change will not affect AMD’s roadmaps or product lineups.  We still will see Bristol Ridge as the follow-up for Godavari in Summer 2016 and the late 2016 introduction of Zen.  What can be said beyond that is hard to quantify.  There are a lot of smart and talented people still working at AMD and perhaps this allows someone there to step up and introduce the next generation of architectures and thinking at AMD.  Everybody likes the idea of a rockstar designer coming in to shake things up, but time moves on and new people become those rockstars.

We wish Jim well on his new journey and hope that this is not a harbinger of things to come for AMD.  Consumers need the competition that AMD brings to the table and we certainly hope we see them continue to release new products and stay on a schedule that will benefit both them and consumers.  Perhaps he will join fellow veteran Glenn Henry at VIA/Centaur and produce the next, great X86-64 chip.  Perhaps not.

Source: AMD

AMD makes Raja Koduri SVP and Chief Architect of Radeon Technologies Group

Subject: Editorial | September 9, 2015 - 07:53 PM |
Tagged: raja koduri, amd

In a move of outstanding wisdom and forward thinking, AMD has made a personnel move that I can get behind and support. After forming the Radeon Technologies Group to help refocus the company on graphics, it has promoted Raja Koduri to the role of Senior Vice President and Chief Architect of that new group. While this might be a little bit of an "inside baseball" announcement to discuss, Raja is one of the few people in the industry that I have known since day one and he is an outstanding and important person in the graphics world as we know it today.

Koduri recently returned to AMD after a stint with Apple as the mobile SoC vendors director of graphics architecture and his return was met with immediate enthusiasm and hope for a company that continues to struggle financially.

raja.jpg

In this new role, Koduri will no longer just be responsible for the IP of AMD graphics, adding to his responsibility the entirety of the hardware, software and business direction for Radeon products. From personal experience I can assure readers that Raja is a fantastic leader, has great instincts for what the industry needs and has seen some of AMD's most successful products through development.

This new role and new division of structure at AMD will come with a lot of responsibility, as Koduri will be responsible for finding ways to grow the Radeon brand's shrinking market share, how to make a play in the mobile IP space, change the dynamic between developers and AMD, and how working with console vendors like MS and Sony makes sense going forward. In many ways this is a return to the structure that made ATI so successful as a player in the GPU space and AMD is definitely hoping this move can turn things around.

Good luck Raja!

Read AMD's full press release after the break.

Source: AMD

Raja Koduri Returns to AMD After 4 Years at Apple

Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | April 19, 2013 - 06:51 PM |
Tagged: raja koduri, apple, amd

Interesting information has surfaced today about the addition of a new executive at AMD.  Raja Koduri, who previously worked for ATI and AMD as Chief Technology Officer, departed the company in 2009 for a four year stint at Apple, helping to turn that company into an SoC power house.  Developing its own processors has enabled Apple to stand apart from the competition in many mobile spaces and Koduri is partly responsible for the technological shift at Apple.

Starting on Monday though, Raja Koduri is officially back at AMD, taking over as the CVP (Corporate Vice President) of Visual Computing.  This position will result in more complete control over the entirety of the hardware and software platforms AMD is developing including desktop discrete, mobile and APU/SoC designs.  This marks the second major returning visionary executive in recent memory to AMD, the first of which was Jim Keller in August of 2012 (also returning from a period with Apple). 

koduri1.JPG

It will take some time for Koduri to have effect on AMD's current roadmap

Having known Raja Koduri for quite a long time I have always seen the man as an incredibly intelligent engineer that was able to find strengths in designs that others could not.  Much of the success of the ATI/AMD GPU divisions during the 2000s was due to Koduri's leadership (among others of course) and I think having him back at AMD at an even more senior role is great news for both discrete graphics fans and APU users. 

In a discussion with Koduri recently, Anandtech got some positive feedback for PC gamers:

Raja believes there’s likely another 15 years ahead of us for good work in high-end discrete graphics, so we’ll continue to see AMD focus on that part of the market.

koduri2.jpg

Koduri sees 15 years more GPU evolution

So even though this hiring isn't going to change AMD's position on the APU and SoC strategy, it is good to have someone at the CVP level that sees the importance and value of discrete, high power GPU technology. 

In many talks with AMD over the last 6 months we kept hearing about the healthy influx of quality personnel though much of it was still under wraps.  Keller was definitely one of them and Koduri is another and both of the hires give a lot of hope for AMD as a company going forward.  Some in the industry have already written AMD off but I find it hard to believe that this caliber of executive would return to a sinking ship. 

Source: CNET