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.

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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

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September 16, 2017 | 01:54 PM - Posted by SuperNintendoIntendo (not verified)

These WX 5100, and WX 7100 GPUs are not Vega based and has AMD stated how long it will be before there will be lower than the Radeon Pro WX 9100 variants the use the Vega Micro-arch.

From the link in you article:

"Working together with Sonnet Technologies, users of compatible mobile workstation can now harness more graphics horsepower for workstation class applications and compute use cases, overcoming the limitations of many standard integrated GPU offerings.
Available today, the Radeon™ Pro WX 5100 and Radeon™ Pro WX 7100 cards are now compatible with Sonnet’s eGFX Breakaway Box.
The Radeon Pro WX 5100 and Radeon Pro WX 7100 cards are available from e-tailers today with a suggested e-tail price (SEP) of $499 USD and $799 USD."

There appears to be no Raden Pro WX 9100 option and Intel really needs to get a Thunderbolt 4 version to market ASAP even if it's Just based on some form of link aggregation of TB3 ports in a similar method to what the USB-IF folks did with the USB 3.2 standard that uses 2 USB 3.1 links in a Link aggregated manner to get that 20Gbs USB 3.2 bandwidth.

The Laptop market also needs to be the market that adopts PCIe 4.0 sooner than the PC market so that Laptops are able to manage enough TB3+ connectivity to make external TB docks a practical solution for laptop users.

Any Vega based GPUs in an external dcok with the Vega GPU making heavy usage of its HBCC/HBC(HBM2) IP is going to be making use of more bandwidth if Vega's HNCC/HBC is turned on and making the VRAM page swaps between HBM2(VRAM) and system DRAM(Virtual VRAM). So maybe AMD needs to use that SSD technology across all of its WX branded Vega micro-arch based products that may be used in external docks so as not to tax a single TB3 connection for bandwidth. Hopefully there will be SSD used in the Raden Pro WX SSD variants with larger on board DRAM caches and the Vega variants all making use of that Radeon Pro WX/SSD IP where all that HBCC/HBC(HBM2) Virtual VRAM swapping can be done on the GPU's PCIe Card and that woid be great for exterl GPU dock usage with laptops.

September 30, 2017 | 12:35 PM - Posted by peter j connell (not verified)

Yes, the small matter of bandwidth did get little mention.

Some rhetorical points:

At least amds SSG (nvme raid array onboard the gpu card's Fabric bus) is a production happening thing now.

Vega architecture as I recall, provides for a substantial number of its own separate lanes for NVME ports. I cant recall if high end amd pro ssg cards have 2x or 4x nvme installed?

So SSG isn't just fast storage, its so fast as a multi dive array, it can emulate memory at times. 12GB/s read & 8GB/s write is doable on a 4x nvme array shifting big chunks of page files around.

If hot swap nvme ports were doable on the vega product, that may suit the industry well - like a super usb thumb drive.

Point being, if a laptop can control such an external self sufficient gpu, the major need for a HB link has been removed by the local nvmeS.

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