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AMD APU13: Day 1 - Heterogeneous Computing For the Future

AMD APU13: Day 1 - Heterogeneous Computing For the Future

Just hours ago, the first day of the AMD Developer Summit 2013 began with keynotes from two of the top individuals from AMD. Titled APU13, the focus of this year’s summit was naturally on AMD’s new APUs, the Kaveri series to be specific. The summit began with a keynote that was delivered by Dr. Lisa Su, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Global Business Units, AMD. In her keynote, Dr. Su said that AMD’s focus for the incoming year will be on the heterogeneous system architecture (HSA) and in effect, the Kaveri APUs (Kaveri APUs are the first APUs to feature HSA technology).

Dr. Su further explained that AMD will also focus on Project Mantle, which is essentially optimization techniques that allow the Kaveri series of APUs to support games with console-like quality. This was proven when a system running an Intel Core i7-4770K processor and a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 630 graphics card was compared to a system running on a Kaveri A10 APU. The demo showcased some gameplay footage from Battlefield 4 – the Intel system running at an average of 12 frames per second  while the Kaveri system ran at an average of 28 frames. The game was supposedly set at Full HD. We were told that the Kaveri system was not yet optimized with Mantle, so it’s pretty exciting if this is the kind of performance we can look forward to from an APU.

To sum it up, Dr. Su’s keynote said that AMD is attempting to be more developer friendly by introducing technology such as HSA and Mantle. She ended by announcing that desktop versions of Kaveri will hit the markets first, with a planned launch on January 14, 2014. Kaveri for notebook PCs as well as embedded and servers will be released after that.

Once Dr. Su had finished her keynote, the floor was taken over by Phil Rogers, Corporate Fellow, AMD. In his keynote, Rogers explained how HSA would be able to benefit server systems. He began by explaining that a large amount of workload that’s handled by a modern cloud system involves handling heterogeneous workloads and one such example of a heterogeneous workload are videos. An APU that supports HSA will be able to handle these workloads better because HSA will allow a system to use all available virtual and physical memory easily. The workload can also be quickly distributed to either the CPU or GPU for maximum efficiency and performance (traditionally, all processing was done by the CPU first, before the GPU took over.)

Rogers then introduced a new video codec called the high efficiency video codec (HEVC or H.265). With this codec up and running, you’ll get videos that have better image quality, regardless of the bitrate. HEVC is computationally more complex but because it was designed to be used in the HSA, it is easier to parallelize.


 

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