The AMD FirePro family of professional workstation graphics is getting a new member on March 26, as AMD announces the new FirePro W9100 in their “AMD Professional Graphics Showcase” webcast, for those of you who missed the livestream, the webcast can still be watched on-demand here.
FirePro W9100: The users want more!
For the FirePro W9100 graphics, the three major features AMD emphasized in the press conference are 16 GB GDDR5 frame buffer, GPU Compute/OpenCL in assisting graphics workstation workloads and 4K displays.
More polygon count, more frame buffer
The 16 GB frame buffer is pretty self-explanatory by itself, making it the largest frame buffer available in AMD professional graphics offerings.
So the 16 GB GDDR5 memory provides 320 GB/s bandwidth to the GPU (that means 5 Gbps modules on a 512-bit memory bus), and it’s there to help users working on high polygon count 3D models in either CAD models or animations, do remember the “Hawaii” GPU can do 4 Billion primitives per second which is 1.9x the geometry processing power of a “Tahiti” GPU.
More floating point horsepower
So AMD has put a considerable amount of coverage on the GPU Compute/OpenCL side of things, stating more and more CAD/CAE/CAM/Media and Entertainment (M&E) workflows have begun adopting OpenCL, and thus having more GFLOPS would surely help.
Although the spotlight is not on GPU compute alone, but the author views this as an admission that the FirePro W9100 supports half-rate double-precision floating point operations. Though GCN-based GPUs (including the previous “Tahiti” GPU that powers the FirePro W9000 graphics) should be capable of half-rate DP operations, the FirePro W9100 graphics would be the first product to actually have this capability enabled.
AMD cites more than 5.6 TFLOPS for single-precision (SPFP) operations but more than 2.67 TFLOPS horsepower for double-precision (DPFP) operations, which doesn’t add up at first glance.
With some simple math done with the assumption that a full-fledged “Hawaii” GPU with 2816 SPUs is used on the FirePro W9100 graphics, the former number would mean the GPU is running at 1 GHz frequency (2816 × 2 × 1 = 5632 GFLOPS), while the latter would mean a GPU frequency of 950 MHz (2816 × 2 × 0.95 × 0.5 = 2675.2 GFLOPS).
The author has absolutely no idea if there are any power-saving technologies in place, like PowerTune or configurable TDP, to make the FirePro W9100 graphics have such a weird combination of peak performance figures for SPFP and DPFP workloads, or it’s just a very last-minute change in the press presentation which was not reflected on either item.
As an unrelated note on power, the FirePro W9100 graphics still has 8-pin + 6-pin power connector on-board, which means a less than 375W power draw.
More pixels, more displays
With the new MacPro supporting output to multiple 4K/UltraHD display setups with two “Tahiti” GPUs (also known as the FirePro D series), driving these monitors has become an important feature for graphics workstations. The FirePro W9100 is equipped with six mini-DisplayPort 1.2 ports, while AMD claims up to six 4K/UltraHD display being supported.
Other features like connection to the S400 synchronization module for Genlock/Framelock, and 3-pin mini-DIN port for VESA Stereo-compatible 3D output are also there, just like the FirePro W9000 grapics.
Ultra Workstation: A new solution, a new branding program
With the introduction of the new professional graphics, AMD have also announced a new branding program for regional SI partners to launch workstations with the FirePro W9100 graphics. The worldwide SI partners who launch these systems will have special marketing and PR support to the professional users.
AMD has put forth two sets of specifications to be qualified for the “Ultra Workstation” branding as below:
- Dual Quad-Core 2.4GHz CPUs
- 16GB 1600MHz DDR3 memory
- 2x PCI Express 3.0 x16 [slots]
- 1000W 80 Plus Platinum PSU
- Dual 8-Core 2.6GHz CPUs
- 32GB 1866MHz DDR3 memory
- 4x PCI Express 3.0 x16 [slots]
- 1500W 80 Plus Platinum PSU
- Tower case with 9 expansion slots (4 dual-wide + 1 single-wide (for SDI IO or Fusion IO))
And the number of FirePro W9100 graphics inside these workstation systems decides their tier, which AMD defines for use in different kinds of workloads.
- Single-GPU: CAD/CAE/CAM, and Digital Content Creation (DCC)
- Dual-GPU (2X): Digital Video Editing and Post-production
- Quad-GPU (4X): 4K Color Grading
No price, no dates, not even a press release (yet)…
As the sub-header suggests, no price nor any concrete dates were announced during the livestream, not even a press release at time of publication, which would be a little odd given the nature of the livestream being actually a “press conference”.
This card does provide a healthy upgrade in the specification compared to the FirePro W9000, which should be welcomed by the targeted audiences if priced very competitively, and should further help AMD to gain in the professional graphics market with the improving drivers and ISV certifications, which is in progress. But if you are talking about anything revolutionary, the author would say there are pleasant surprises but certainly not earth-shattering. S|A
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