Three years from now, two-thirds of all new desktop systems will be mutli-GPU capable and of those, 30 percent will be rocking multiple graphics chips. Or at least that's the not-too-distant future Jon Peddie Research Group (JPR) laid out last week in a report on the history, technology, and future of multi-GPU computing. But are we really on the verge of widespread multi-GPU computing?
Not so fast, says Arstechnica. The JPR report points to the desire for high performance computing as the driving force for multi-GPU setups, noting high performance workloads are highly parallel and unsuited for CPU applications. But according to Arstechnica, JPR hasn't thought through the manufacturing angle.
"GPUs are composed of many parallel processing units, so any multi-GPU system involves simply ganging together still more of such small, simple processor cores," Arstechnica writes. "Because the cores are small and the workload is parallel, there is no limit on core count analogous to the limit on the number of processors that can profitably be used in a single x86 CPU. The limits on single-die GPU horsepower are manufacturing limits."
But it's not just about manufacturing. As Ars points out, only two percent of all desktop PCs sold last year came with multiple GPUs, and in Q4 of last year, only 15.2 million out of 38.5 million PCs sold came with even a single discrete graphics card. It's hard to imagine such a dramatic shift towards multiple GPUs in just three short years from now.
There's more to Ars' argument, which you can read here.
You can finally find Nvidia's dual-GPU GTX 295 videocards in stock at pretty much any e-tailer who carries the part, but if you've waited this long, you might want to consider holding out a few more months. According to the latest rumblings, Nvidia plans to replace the flagship part with a dual GT300 card.
News and rumor site Fudzilla claims to have confirmed the rumor, but other details, including exactly when it will ship, remain sparse. If all goes to plan, Nvidia might have a demo ready in late Q4 2009 and start shipping in January 2010, but that remains to be seen.
The new card will apparently be DirectX 11 compatible and built to run parallel processing CUDA, DirectX compute, or OpenCL. It will also go toe-to-toe with AMD's upcoming dual RV870 card.
Those who attended Quakecon 2009 (as well as those who follow AMD's blog) were able to get an early look at AMD's Catalyst 9.8 drivers, and sometime today, the company is expected to release them to the general public.
The new driver package comes with support for the Radeon HD 2000, HD 3000, and HD 4000 series while serving up support for OpenGL 3.1 extensions. AMD also claims several performance gains, including:
Up to 50 percent better performance in Battleforge DirectX 10/10.1
Up to 77 percent better performance in Company of Heroes (DX10)
Up to a 10 percent (dual CrossFireX) and 34 percent (quad CrossFireX) performance boost in Crysis (DX10)
Crysis Warhead DX10 performance of CrossFireX technology in dual mode improves up to 7 percent and quad mode up to 69 percent
Far Cry 2 DX10 performance of CrossFireX in dual mode improves up to 50 percent and quad mode up to 88 percent
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X. DX10/10.1 performance of CrossFireX in dual mode improves up to 40 percent and quad mode up to 60 percent
UninginTropics OpenGL performance improvements of up to 20 percent
UningineTropics DX10 performance of CrossFireX in quad more improves up to 20 percent
World in Conflict DX10 performance improves up to 10 percent
If you don't feel like waiting for the drivers to show up on game.amd.com, you can grab them right here:
Nvidia on Monday announced that Intel and leading motherboard manufacturers have licensed the graphic chip maker's SLI technology for use in Intel's P55 Express chipset. This will include boards from Asus, EVGA, Gigabyte, and MSI.
"Nvidia technology is a perfect complement to the processing prowess of our new Core i7 and Intel DP55KG desktop brand," said Clem Russo, VP and General Manager of Intel Client Board Division. "Nvidia and Intel share a combined passion for furthering the PC as the definitive platform for gaming, and this combination will surely be attractive to anyone building or purchasing a brand new PC this fall."
By adding the P55 chipset under SLI's licensing umbrella, SLI is now available for all consumer PC platforms, including the Intel Core i7, Core i5, Core 2 Quad, and Core 2 Duo processor, in addition to those based on the AMD Phenom II CPU, Nvidia points out.
We don't often get excited over integrated graphics chipsets, but as far as that segment goes, AMD's new 785G chipset looks awfully enticing, at least on paper.
Whereas the older 780G was built around the Radeon HD 3200 GPU, the 785G bumps up graphics duties to the HD 4200, and with it support for DirectX 10.1. The new chipset also updates the HDMI 1.2 port to HDMI 1.3. Other goodies include support for PCI-E 2.0 graphics and ATI's Hybrid Graphics mode, 3Gbps SATA connectors, USB 2.0, and HD audio.
Moving away from the hardware, AMD apparently is putting extra effort into building support for Windows 7.
"We recognized that inflection point and realized we needed a product for that timeline," Adam Kozak, Desktop Marketing Manager for AMD, told ExtremeTech. "One of the things with AMD, there's a lot around this, and our driver schedules and everything are part of the proof that we value this transition. That's why you'll get the WHQL drivers way ahead of launch. We've worked hard with Microsoft to ensure that all these features work. It's been a long process to get to where we are now."
While hardcore gamers probably need not apply, AMD says that an Athlon II X2 CPu and 785G-based mobo combo should run under 200 clams.
Nvidia on Tuesday announced that Hewlett Packard's flagship Z800 workstation computer is configurable with up to two Nvidia Tesla GPUs.
"The adoption of Tesla GPUs is the fastest of any new processor technology in the history of HPC," said Andy Keane, general manager of Tesla business at Nvidia. "We are delighted to see a leader such as HP begin to ship Tesla GPU-enabled systems into the market and to help accelerate the work of their customers."
Nvidia's Tesla GPUs differ from standard graphics chips in that Tesla is built using the company's massively parallel CUDA architecture, featuring 240 cores per processor. Tesla-based hardware solutions are designed for CAD/CAM,CE, computational finance, computational fluid dynamics, geographic information services, imaging, life sciences, and other high performance tasks.
In addition to up to two Tesla GPUs, HP's Z800 comes configurable with an Intel Xeon 5500 quad-core processor, Intel 5520 chipset, 4MB or 8MB of processor cache, and up to 192GB of DDR3-1333 memory.
There was plenty of fanfare surrounding the release of Nvidia's ION platform, a DirectX 10-capable chipset that includes Nvidia's GeForce 9400M (MCP79) GPU coupled with either an Intel Atom or VIA Nano processor. But despite the ongoing buzz, Nvidia has introduced a followup chipset, the ION LE, with nary a peep.
News and rumor site Fudzilla got in touch with Nvidia about the new chipset and was told that ION LE is identical to ION except it only supports DirectX 9. Nvidia said the new SKU is designed specifically for Windows XP on netbooks and nettops and will only be offered to OEM markets.
No other details on the entry-level part are yet available, including which OEMs plan to build products around ION LE and at what price points.
OpenGL 3.2 is here, marking the third major update in twelve months to the 2D and 3D graphics API (application programming interface). The updated API adds a bunch of new features, including a new WebGL standard for 3D on the web.
According to the Khronos Group, a member-funded industry consortium focused the creation of OpenGL, the latest release adds features to enhance performance, visual quality, accelerated geometry processing, and easier portability of Direct3D applications.
In addition, the OpenGL ARB (Architecture Review Board) working group on Khronos has defined an updated version of the OpenGL Shading language, along with two profiles within the OpenGL 3.2 specification for new application development and backwards compatibility.
Both AMD and Nvidia commented on the updated release, with the former calling the development of three new versions in twelve months a "remarkable achievement," while the latter announced the release of its OpenGL 3.2 beta drivers.
According to Nvidia, Windows 7, which recently reached RTM, will be the catalyst that propels the concept of GPGPU computing into the mainstream.
"Previously, GPUs were almost exclusively limited to rendering and accelerating graphics and video," Chris Daniel, product manager for software at Nvidia, wrote in a Microsoft Partner blog. "With the introduction of Windows 7, the GPU and CPU will exist in a co-processing environment where each can handle the computing task they are best suited for. The CPU is exceptionally good at performing sequential calculations, I/O, and program flow, whereas the GPU is perfectly suited for performing massive parallel calculations."
Nvidia went on to say that by introducing the DirectX Compute in Windows 7, Microsoft is providing a huge shot in the arm for developers to make better use of the GPU for more than just graphics acceleration. Such tasks include high-quality video playback, high performance transcoding, enabling new media scenarios, and offering extended control over media libraries.
"As an example of the real world benefits of DX Compute, you will be able to use the massive parallel capabilities of the GPU to significantly reduce the time it takes to manager your media files compared with just using the CPU alone," Nvidia added.
Now that Windows 7 has officially been released to manufacturing (RTM), expect to see third-party driver development kick into high gear, especially as the OS's October 22nd release date inches closer. AMD appears to be ready and has announced the release of the company's first WHQL-certified ATI Catalyst graphics drivers for the RTM.
AMD's Catalyst drivers are of the unified variety, meaning the same set works with both Windows 7 and Vista. With regards to Windows 7, AMD promises its drivers will offer stability and compatibility out of the gate, bring "full support for the visually stunning desktop environment of Windows 7," better gaming performance when compared to Vista, and full support for ATI FirePro professional graphics.