IBC 2017: AMD Radeon Pro Graphics Cards Will Support External Graphics Card (eGPU) Docks

Subject: Graphics Cards | September 16, 2017 - 01:43 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, Radeon Pro WX 5100, radeon pro, prorender, amd

At IBC 2017 (International Broadcasting Convention) in Amsterdam AMD made several announcements surrounding its Radeon Pro graphics cards for workstations. The graphics cards, which are aimed at professionals and replace the FirePro lineup, are now shipping to AMD customers with the Radeon Pro WX 5100 and WX 7100 available now and the higher end Radeon Pro WX 9100 and Radeon Pro SSG available from distributors and systems partners starting at the end of this quarter. The former two (the WX 5100 and WX 7100) carry a SEP (suggested e-tail price) of $499 and 799 respectively and are now officially support usage in external graphics setups (eGPU) for use with mobile workstations that can connect to an external graphics dock with the Pro series GPUs for things like 4K video editing and rendering on-the-go.

Radeon Pro WX 7100 Graphics Card.png

Currently AMD is partnered with Sonnet Technologies for the eGPU support and the Radeon Pro graphics cards fully support docks such as the Sonnet eGFX Breakaway Box. Of course, being able to plug into the raw computing horsepower does not mean much if it cannot be effectively utilized, and to that end AMD revealed several software design wins including the integration of its cross-platform OpenCL-based ray tracing renderer Radeon ProRender into MAXON Cinema 4D Release 19. ProRender is supported in the Adobe After Effects integration of Cinema 4D R19, and it is the first major application to implement it. Further, the Foundry Nuke 11 and Avid Media Composer 8.9 are also able to see performance improvements in effects rendering by using OpenCL-based programming techniques to harness GPU horsepower.

Finally, AMD casually reiterated another big design with for its professional series graphics cards with Radeon Pro Vega being used in the iMac Pro coming later this year. Considering the professional market is where the big money is to be made when it comes to graphics cards it is nice to see AMD making inroads with its revamped professional lineup and continuing to push for the cross platform OpenCL-based GPGPU technologies to be supported by the major software developers. Not much major news coming out of IBC from AMD (no new hardware revealed), but good news nonetheless.

Source: AMD

WWDC 2017: Apple Updates MacBook line-up with Kaby Lake, Improved Graphics

Subject: Mobile | June 5, 2017 - 03:58 PM |
Tagged: wwdc, radeon pro 560, radeon pro 550, radeon pro, macbook pro, MacBook Air, macbook, kaby lake, iris plus6540, iris plus 650, i7-7700hq, i5-7360U, i5-7267u, apple

Alongside other updates, Apple at its World Wide Developers Conference this morning announced some modest updates to the MacBook line of notebooks.

apple19.PNG

Starting with the MacBook Pro, we see an across the board upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. As we saw on the desktop side with Kaby Lake, there aren't radical differences with these new processor,  however we do see a 200MHz bump across the line on clock speeds. Essentially these are the same relative chips in Intel's Kaby Lake processor lineup as Apple used in the Skylake generation.

  MacBook Pro 13" with Function Keys MacBook Pro 13" with Touch Bar MacBook Pro 15" with Touch Bar
MSRP $1,299+ $1,799+ $2,399+
Screen 13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits 13.3" 2560x1600 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits 15.4" 2880x1800 with DCI-P3 Color Gamut, 500-nits
CPU Core i5-7360U (2.3GHz up to 3.6GHz) Core i5-7267U (3.1GHz up to 3.5GHz) Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz up to 3.8GHz)
GPU Intel Iris Plus 640 Intel Iris Plus 650

AMD Radeon Pro 555 (2GB)

AMD Radeon Pro 560 (4GB)

RAM 8 or 16 GB DDR3-1866 (non-upgradeable) 8 or 16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable) 16 GB DDR3-2133 (non-upgradeable)
Storage 128, 256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable) 256, 512, or 1TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable) 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, or 2TB NVMe SSD (non-upgradable)
Connectivity 2 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack 4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack 4 x Thunderbolt 3, headphone jack

Disappointingly, we do not see the rumored expandability to 32GB of RAM that many power users have been asking for.

Additionally, graphics are generationally upgraded to Intel's Iris Plus 640 and 650 on the 13" models with and without the touch bar respectively.

apple34.PNG

The 15" MacBook Pro models see refreshed Polaris GPUs in the form of the Radeon Pro 555 and 560. It's worth nothing that the old entry level 15" MacBook Pro previously had the Radeon Pro 450 GPU, so the base configuration is now a more capable GPU even after you take away the expected improvements to the improved Polaris architecture seen in the RX 580.

In addition, the MacBook saw an upgrade to Kaby Lake processors. Apple also claimed that the onboard SSDs in this machine have seen a speed bump, but provided no real data on such claims.

Finally, the stalwart MacBook Air sees a processor speed bump. We aren't sure exactly what processor is in the new Air, but it seems to only have a 100MHz speed increase. Interestingly enough it still retains HD graphics 6000branding, which would lead us to believe this is still a Broadwell -based mobile processor.

These updated models are now available from Apple.

Source: Apple

The Touch Bar on the new MacBook Pro is interesting, but check out that GPU

Subject: General Tech | November 15, 2016 - 12:38 PM |
Tagged: radeon pro 460, radeon pro 450, radeon pro 455, apple, radeon pro, macbook pro

Ars Technica had a chance to look at the new 13" and 15" MacBook Pro models, the ones with the touch enabled strip at the top of the keyboard.  What is more interesting is the hardware inside, both lines use Skylake processors, the 13" dual core CPUs and the Pro models a four core processor.  Ars Technica looks at the various hardware features, peripheral attachments and software in their preview but it is on the third page that we get some interesting information about the discrete GPU Apple chose for the 15" Pro models.

Instead of onboard Intel HD Graphics, you choose between a Radeon Pro 450, 455 or 460.  All are 35W Polaris chips which were chosen for their ability to send signal to up to six screens simultaneously; Intel's onboard GPU can only drive three.  That allows you to drive a pair of 5K Thunderbolt 3 monitors as well as the laptop display, Intel's APU can only power a single 5K display in addition to the integral display.  As we are still stuck with DisplayPort 1.2, 5K monitors are treated as two separate monitors by the GPU, though to your eyes they are a single seamless display which is what gives AMD the advantage.  There are other benefits such as support for 10-bit 4K HEVC decoding support, though the gaming performance will be somewhat limited. 

Check out their full preview here.

Capture.PNG

"The new design of the MacBook Pros is nice, and Apple’s decision to put in nothing but Thunderbolt 3 ports has prompted a fresh wave of dongle talk, but the signature feature of the new MacBook Pros was always going to be the Touch Bar."

Here is some more Tech News from around the web:

Tech Talk

Source: Ars Technica

Podcast #424 - AMD Radeon Pro GPUs, Corsair Carbide Air 740 Review, MSI Gaming Notebook Overview, VRMark, and more!

Subject: General Tech | November 10, 2016 - 02:22 PM |
Tagged: VRMark, VR, video, Red Alert 2, radeon pro, podcast, nvidia, notebook, NES Classic, nasa, msi, Mate 9, Leica, laptop, Kirin 960, gaming, DeepMind, carbide air 740

PC Perspective Podcast #424 - 11/10/16

Join us this week as we discuss new AMD Radeon Pro GPUs, Corsair Carbide Air 740 Review, MSI Gaming Notebook Overview, VRMark, and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts:  Allyn Malventano, Josh Walrath, and Jeremy Hellstrom

Program length: 1:09:34

  1. Week in Review:
  2. Casper!
  3. News items of interest:
  4. Hardware/Software Picks of the Week
    1. Ryan: I am applying for a position in this administration! going to change the direction of technology policy
  5. Closing/outro

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

AMD Releases New Generation of Radeon Pro Workstation Cards

Subject: Graphics Cards | November 7, 2016 - 09:32 AM |
Tagged: WX 7100, WX 5100, WX 4100, workstation, radeon pro, radeon, quadro, Polaris, amd

The professional card market is a lucrative one.  For many years NVIDIA has had a near strangle-hold on it with their Quadro series of cards.  Offering features and extended support far beyond that of their regular desktop cards, Quadros became the go-to cards for many professional applications.  AMD has not been overlooking this area though and have had a history of professional cards that have also included features and support not seen in the standard desktop arena.  AMD has slowly been chipping away at Quadro’s marketshare and they hope that today’s announcement will help further that particular goal.

It has now been around five months since the initial release of the Polaris based graphics cards from AMD.  Featuring the 4th generation GCN architecture and fabricated on Samsung’s latest 14nm process, the RX 4x0 series of chips have proven to be a popular option in the sub-$250 range of cards.  These products may not have been the slam-dunk that many were hoping from AMD, they have kept the company competitive in terms of power and performance.  AMD has also seen a positive impact from the sales of these products on the overall bottom line.

Today AMD is announcing three new professional cards based on the latest Polaris based GPUs.  These range in power and performance from a sub 50 watt part up to a very reasonable 130 watts.  These currently do not feature the SSD that was shown off earlier this year.

wx4100.jpg

The lowest end offering is the Radeon Pro WX 4100.  This is a low profile, single slot card that consumes less than 50 watts.  It features 1024 stream units, which is greater than that of the desktop RX 460’s 896.  The WX 4100 features 2.4 TFLOPS of performance while the RX 460 is at 2.2 TFLOPS.  AMD did not specify exactly what chips were used in the professional cards, but the assumption here is that this one is a fully enabled Polaris 11.

The power consumption of this card is probably the most impressive part.  Also of great interest is the DP 1.4 support and the four outputs.  Finally the card supports 5K monitors at 60 Hz.  This is a small, quiet, and cool running part that features the entire AMD Radeon Enterprise software support of the professional market.

wx5100.jpg

The next card up is the Pro WX 5100.  This features a sub 75 watt GPU that runs 1792 stream units.  We guess that this chip is a cut down Polaris 10.  On the desktop side it is similar to the RX 470, but that particular card features more stream units and a faster clockspeed.  The RX 470 is rated at 4.9 TFLOPS while the WX 5100 is at 3.9 TFLOPS.  Fewer stream units and a lower clockspeed allow it to hit that sub-75 watt figure.

It supports the same number of outputs as the 4100, but they are full sized DP.  The card is full sized but still only single slot due to the very conservative TDP.

wx7100.jpg

The final card is the WX 7100.  This is based on the fully enabled Polaris 10 GPU and is physically similar to the RX 480.  They both feature 2304 stream units, but the WX 7100 is slightly clocked down from the RX 480 as it features 5.7 TFLOPS of performance vs. 5.8 TFLOPS.  The card is rated below 130 watts TDP which is about 20 watts lower than a standard RX 480.  AMD did not explain to us how they were able to lower the TDP of this card, but it could be simple binning of parts or an upcoming revision of Polaris 10 to improve thermals.

This card is again full sized but single slot.  It features the same 4 DP connectors as the WX 5100 and the full monitor support that the 1.4 standard entails.

These products will see initial availability for this month.  Plans may of course change and they will be introduced slightly later.  Currently the 7100 and 4100 are expected after the 10th while the 5100 should show up on the 18th.

software.jpg

AMD is also releasing the Radeon Pro Software.  This is essentially their professional driver development that improves upon features, stability, and performance over time.  AMD aims to release new drivers for this market every 4th Thursday each quarter.

software_2.jpg

This is certainly an important area for AMD to address with their new cards and this updated software scheme.  NVIDIA has made a pretty penny over the years from their Quadro stack due to the extremely robust margins for these cards.  The latest generation of AMD Radeon Pro WX cards look to stack up favorably against the latest products from NVIDIA.

The WX 7100 will come in at a $799 price point, while the WX 5100 and WX 4100 will hit $499 and $399 respectively.

Source: AMD

AMD Introduces Radeon Pro SSG: A Professional GPU Paired With Low Latency Flash Storage (Updated)

Subject: Graphics Cards | July 27, 2016 - 01:56 AM |
Tagged: solid state, radeon pro, Polaris, gpgpu, amd

UPDATE (July 27th, 1am ET):  More information on the Radeon Pro SSG has surfaced since the original article. According to AnandTech, the prototype graphics card actually uses an AMD Fiji GPU. The Fiji GPU is paired onboard PCI-E based storage using the same PEX8747 bridge chip used in the Radeon Pro Duo. Storage is handled by two PCI-E 3.0 x4 M.2 slots that can accommodate up to 1TB of NAND flash storage. As I mentioned below, having the storage on board the graphics card vastly reduces latency by reducing the number of hops and not having to send requests out to the rest of the system. AMD had more numbers to share following their demo, however.

From the 8K video editing demo, the dual Samsung 950 Pro PCI-E SSDs (in RAID 0) on board the Radeon Pro SSG hit 4GB/s while scrubbing through the video. That same video source stored on a Samsung 950 Pro attached to the motherboard had throughput of only 900MB/s. In theory, reaching out to system RAM still has raw throughput advantages (with DDR4 @ 3200 MHz  on a Haswell-E platform theroretically capable of 62 GB/s reads and 47 GB/s writes though that would be bottlenecked by the graphics card having to go over the PCI-E 3.0 x16 link and it's maximum of 15.754 GB/s.). Of course if you can hold it in (much smaller) GDDR5 (300+GB/s depending on clocks and memory bus width) or HBM (1TB/s) and not have to go out to any other storage tier that's ideal but not always feasible especially in the HPC world.

However, having onboard storage on the same board as the GPU only a single "hop" away vastly reduces latency and offers much more total storage space than most systems have in DDR3 or DDR4. In essence, the solid state storage on the graphics card (which developers will need to specifically code for) acts as a massive cache for streaming in assets for data sets and workloads that are highly impacted by latency. This storage is not the fastest, but is the next best thing for holding active data outside of GDDR5/x or HBM. For throughput intensive workloads reaching out to system RAM will be better Finally, reaching out to system attached storage should be the last resort as it will be the slowest and most latent. Several commentors mentioned using a PCI-E based SSD in a second slot on the motherboard accessed much like GPUs in CrossFire communicate now (DMA over the PCI-E bus) which is an interesting idea that I had not considered.

Per my understanding of the situation, I think that the on board SSG storage would still be slightly more beneficial than this setup but it would get you close (I am assuming the GPU would be able to directly interact and request data from the SSD controller and not have to rely on the system CPU to do this work but I may well be mistaken. I will have to look into this further and ask the experts heh). On the prototype Radeon Pro SSG the M.2 slots are actually able to be seen as drives by the system and OS so it is essentially acting as if there was a PCI-E adapter card in a slot on the motherboard holding those drives but that may not be the case should this product actually hit the market. I do question their choice to go with Fiji rather than Polaris, but it sounds like they built the prototype off of the Radeon Pro Duo platform so I suppose it would make sense there.

Hopefully the final versions in 2017 or beyond use at least Vega though :).

 Alongside the launch of new Radeon Pro WX (workstation) series graphics cards, AMD teased an interesting new Radeon Pro product: the Radeon Pro SSG. This new professional graphics card pairs a Polaris GPU with up ot a terabyte of on board solid state storage and seeks to solve one of the biggest hurdles in GP GPU performance when dealing with extremely large datasets which is latency.

AMD Radeon Pro SSG.jpg

One of the core focuses of AMD's HSA (heterogeneous system architecture) is unified memory and the ability of various processors (CPU, GPU, specialized co-processors, et al) to work together efficiently by being able to access and manipulate data from the same memory pool without having to copy data bck and forth between CPU-accessible memory and GPU-accessible memory. With the Radeon Pro SSG, this idea is not fully realized (it is more of a sidestep), but it will move performance further. It does not eliminate the need to copy data to the GPU before it can work on it, but once copied the GPU will be able to work on data stored in what AMD describes as a one terabyte frame buffer. This memory will be solid state and very fast, but more importantly it will be able to get at the data with much lower latency than previous methods. AMD claims the solid state storage (likely NAND but they have not said) will link with the GPU over a dedicated PCI-E bus. I suppose that if you can't bring the GPU to the data, you bring the data to the GPU!

Considering AMD's previous memory champ – the Radeon W9100 – maxed out at 32GB of GDDR5, the teased Radeon Pro SSG with its 1TB of purportedly low latency onboard flash storage opens up a slew of new possibilities for researchers and professionals in media, medical, and scientific roles working with massive datasets for imaging, creation, and simulations! I expect that there are many professionals out there eager to get their hands on one of these cards! They will be able to as well thanks to a beta program launching shortly, so long as they have $10,000 for the hardware!

AMD gave a couple of examples in their PR on the potential benefits of its "solid state graphics" including the ability to image a patient's beating heart in real time to allow medical professionals to examine and spot issues as early as possible and using the Radeon Pro SSG to edit and scrub through 8K video in real time at 90 FPS versus 17 with current offerings. On the scientific side of things being able to load up entire models into the new graphics memory (not as low latency as GDDR5 or HBM certainly) will be a boon as will being able to get data sets as close to the GPU as possible into servers using GPU accelerated databases powering websites accessed by millions of users.

It is not exactly the HSA future I have been waiting for ever so impatiently, but it is a nice advancement and an intriguing idea that I am very curious to see how well it pans out and if developers and researchers will truly take advantage of and use to further their projects. I suspect something like this could be great for deep learning tasks as well (such as powering the "clouds" behind self driving cars perhaps).

Stay tuned to PC Perspective for more information as it develops.

This is definitely a product that I will be watching and I hope that it does well. I am curious what Nvidia's and Intel's plans are here as well! What are your thoughts on AMD's "Solid State Graphics" card? All hype or something promising?

Source: AMD