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Aug 6, 2014

AMD Launches Mighty Server/Supercomputer GPU with 16 GB GDDR5 VRAM




So far, the High Performance Computing stage has mostly been ruled by NVIDIA when it came to GPU compute acceleration, but Advanced Micro Devices has been doing its best to catch up, and it seems it just managed it.

And it isn't even holding onto the relatively unknown FireStream brand anymore. Even though that's the company's brand for stream processing and/or GPGPU in supercomputers, the company chose to sell its new server GPU under the FirePro brand instead. In fact, AMD even says that the new product, the FirePro S9150 server GPU, is the “first AMD architecture designed specifically with compute workloads in mind.” Looking at its hardware specs, we have to say that the newcomer definitely has what it takes to compete in the same league as NVIDIA's Tesla series. And that means a lot, seeing as how Tesla GPU compute accelerators power some of the most powerful supercomputers on the Top500 list. Anyway, the new AMD FirePro S9150 server GPU has 2,813 stream processors in 44 GCN compute units (graphics core next), as well as 16 GB of GDDR5 backing it up through an interface of 512 bits.

The memory bandwidth is, thus, of 320 GB/s, while the power consumption can go as high as 235W (which isn't as high as it could have been). In fact, it is the same as the 235W of NVIDIA's best Tesla card, the Tesla K40. The peak single-precision floating point performance is of 5.07 TFLOPS, 18% more than the Tesla K40, which has 4.29 TFLOPs. Meanwhile, double-precision floating point performance is of 2.53 TFLOPs vs. 1.43 TFLOPs. Clearly, AMD is playing for keeps here. There's a second HPC FirePro card from AMD, called AMD FirePro S9050. This one has 1,792 stream processors divided into 28 GCN compute units, plus 12 GB VRAM, a 384-bit memory interface, and a bandwidth of up to 264 GB/s. The power draw is of 225W.

Both newcomers utilize the PCI Express x16 card form factor and have passive cooling solutions. They also support AMD STREAM technology, which actually lets a server/supercomputer divert parallel processing tasks from the CPU (or CPUs) to the GPUs. Basically, it's the answer to NVIDIA's CUDA. With the launch of the FirePro S9150 and S9050 server GPUs, AMD has reaffirmed the long-lasting rivalry between it (or rather what used to be ATI Technologies) and NVIDIA. Sapphire will be the main distribution partner, with ASUS, GIGABYTE, Supermicro, and TYAN making compatible motherboards starting this quarter (Q3, 2014).

AMD FirePro S9150

AMD FirePro S9050
Images credits to AMD

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