AMD announces new GPGPU card, hints at RV670 specs

Thursday 08th November 2007, 01:01:00 AM, written by Tim

AMD has announced the RV670-based FireStream 9170 GPGPU processor as well as the FireStream SDK. Notable are 2GB of RAM, a 775-800 MHz core clock, 500 GFLOP/s, double precision support, and Brook+ (based on Brook, obviously!) as the official high-level language. But, let's look at these things one at a time.

First, the card itself is an RV670 at 775-800 MHz with 320 shader processors coupled with 2 GB of GDDR3. We can be sure it's RV670 and not R600 because it has a TDP of 150W, which bodes well for the consumer versions of the RV670. The 500 GFLOP/s figure indicates that RV670's shader core will be very similar to R600's, which we covered in our R600 architecture overview. It's also clear that RV670 does support double precision at some level, but how fast and whether this will be available on consumer cards is still to be answered. 2GB of GDDR3 isn't enough information to end the 256-bit versus 512-bit debate, but considering the size of the chip if it is built on a smaller process (as well as the fact that R600's extra memory bandwidth didn't help performance in the vast majority of applications), it's most likely a 256-bit chip.

The software side, though, is more interesting. AMD introduced an R580-based FireStream card last year without any software support but the ability to compile PS3.0 HLSL to CTM. With the 9170, AMD is introducing the FireStream SDK, which looks an awful lot like what we've seen of CUDA. Brook is now the officially supported language in the form of Brook+. What the + entails isn't yet known, but it's likely that it brings the baseline for support past the D3D9 level that Brook required. This would allow some important functions to be supported, such as gather and scatter, that weren't possible in D3D9. There's also the Compute Abstraction Layer, which seems to be AMD's equivalent to PTX. It's an intermediate assembly language that should allow code to be optimized on the fly for whatever architecture is present, presumably with a JIT compiler in the driver. Finally, as previously thought, the AMD Core Math Library will be getting GPGPU support.

The FireStream 9170 should be available in 1Q 2008; hopefully, the SDK will be available sooner--we want to poke at it!

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ati ± gpgpu, firestream, cuda, brook, hooraymhouston

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