What is HEVC and Why Should You Care?

Ah. Technology acronyms. In our industry they are pervasive and eventually become broadly used and well understood. For the average user, however, they sometimes take the incomprehensible and distill it down into something even less meaningful.  Acronyms can be especially frustrating when they are first starting to be used widely, so here’s a quick overview of one you will hear a lot more about in the coming months.

 

HEVC stands for High-Efficiency Video Compression, and HEVC decoding is supported by the 6th-Generation AMD APUs coming to market soon.  Wondering why you need this in your next PC?  The answer is simple: content providers are now adopting HEVC as the means to stream their HD and Ultra HD content. Cameras are also expected to move to the new standard for image files.

 

HEVC, also known as H.265, was developed by international regulatory bodies to replace the current H.264 standard used for HD content today. The standard’s main goals are to improve the sharpness, clarity, and color of HD and Ultra HD content on modern displays.  It also enables reduced file sizes, which reduces the bandwidth needed to stream content from your favorite online video service.  (Amazon, for example, has announced it will stream 4K HEVC content on its Instant Video service.)  It is the perfect combination of getting more for less; HEVC essentially doubles the data compression ratio of its predecessor in the same number of bits, allowing you to watch higher quality video with the same bits/bandwidth (or same quality video with half of the bits/bandwidth).

 

On PC platforms, this has typically been done with a combination of hardware and software, but AMD will be the first with a dedicated HEVC decoder on its processors, a much more effective solution. AMD’s HEVC decode performance, as well as other architectural details of the 6th Generation AMD APU, were presented at ISSCC 2015.

 

So, now you know. Pick up an 6th Generation AMD APU later this year and you will be able to stream hours of your favorite programming on a quiet, cool running PC that has performance leftover to get a little work done on the side.  HEVC. It’s the next best thing coming to acronym lovers everywhere!

 



Gary Silcott is a Communications Manager at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

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AMD Financial Analyst Day 2015

This is an exciting day for AMD. We start by ringing the Opening Bell at the Nasdaq in Times Square and then, shortly thereafter, we host our first AMD Financial Analyst Day (“FAD”) in three years, which you can watch live here starting at 1 p.m. EDT. At FAD, AMD executives will outline a strategy designed to drive profitable growth across a diverse set of markets aligned with the company’s core technologies.

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This blog is designed to be your one-stop-shop for what is presented and will be updated regularly as presentations are delivered. These will include:

  • Corporate strategy & long-term plan – Dr. Lisa Su, President & CEO
  • Innovation Driven Engineering – Mark Papermaster, SVP & CTO
  • Computing & Graphics Segment Overview – Dr. Lisa Su, acting GM for CG
  • Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom Segment Overview – Forrest Norrod, SVP & GM for EESC
  • Financial Performance Update & Guidance – Devinder Kumar, SVP & CFO
  • Closing remarks – Dr. Lisa Su, President & CEO

 

 

Check back here throughout the day for short summaries of each of the above event segments and a final set of related content when the event concludes.

 

 

Sarah Youngbauer is a Communications Manager at AMD. Her postings are her own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

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“Chappie” shows how any device can be turned into a supercomputer

Chappie Blog Image_hpc.pngYou may be surprised to know that whatever you are using to read this – a notebook, desktop, tablet or smartphone – can be part of a supercomputer.

 

In the hit film “Chappie” about a futuristic robot, audiences are taken to a world where technology is used in exciting and unexpected ways. In a scenario that put a smile on the face of AMDers worldwide, in one scene a number of Sony PlayStation 4 consoles, each with AMD Radeon™ graphics and AMD CPU processing inside, are connected together, effectively combining into a supercomputer cluster. While “Chappie” is a Hollywood creation, the idea behind connecting game consoles to create a supercomputer is not as science fiction as we may think. Clustering allows almost any device to become part of a supercomputer by being part of a pool of resources.

 

The world’s first supercomputers used expensive, specialized processors that put high performance computing out of reach most organizations, but today, many of the most powerful supercomputers make use of off-the-shelf processors to produce “nodes.” These nodes are then connected together to form clusters, similar to what we see with an array of AMD-powered PS4s in “Chappie”.

 

Supercomputer clusters typically make use of server-orientated processors such as the AMD Opteron™ family of processors, but occasionally academics and engineers want to try something different and use less specialized computing resources. Because combining nodes to form a cluster is done using widely available equipment such as Ethernet, it is possible to make a cluster from a number of other devices, such as the Gizmo 2 or game consoles, for example.

 

To create the supercomputer cluster in “Chappie”, a number of PlayStation 4 consoles, each packing 1.84 teraflops of AMD computing power inside are connected together.  That processing power is delivered in a System-on-Chip design with eight AMD CPU cores and 18 AMD Radeon Graphics Core Next (GCN) compute units, typically used to process all the software, games, videos, and motion sensor capabilities that enable players to interact with others through online services. Even more impressive, the same compute architectures found in the PlayStation 4 really are powering some of today’s supercomputer clusters.

 

In recent years, high performance compute clusters achieved their immense compute capabilities through a mix of processor technologies. The CPU, which has been at the heart of supercomputers for decades has been supplemented with accelerators such as AMD FirePro GPUs, which provide immense compute capability and do so in an energy efficient manner.

 

Energy efficiency is a key to making a powerful high performance compute cluster given cooling thousands of processors is both a budgetary and engineering challenge. That is why power efficient CPUs and GPUs make ideal components to build compute clusters and have been a significant contributing factor in the massive growth in the amount of compute power in supercomputer clusters. Such is the efficiency of GPUs, the world’s most energy efficient cluster makes use of AMD FirePro accelerators.

 

By pooling compute and storage resources, academics, scientists, corporations and governments are able to tackle some of the world’s most challenging questions, from medical research to mineral exploration. In many cases, supercomputer clusters are made up of more than 10,000 nodes, with more than 100,000 compute cores, each core working towards producing a final result.  And if you think that only a scientist gets to feel the effects of a supercomputer cluster you may be surprised. When you glance at the weather forecast in the morning you may be surprised to find out that it is in part calculated by running immensely complex forecasting models on clusters. Cool, right?  Now think about this; supercomputers do even more than just science and predicting the weather. The car you drive has most likely been partly designed and tested using a supercomputer that is analyzing computational fluid dynamics to increase fuel efficiency.

 

One might say that supercomputer clusters have played a significant part in the world around us and with the growth in machine learning and big data analysis; it is set to play an even bigger role in our daily lives in the future. Perhaps the most amazing part in all this is that supercomputer clusters are powered by the same type of technology that is found under your desk or television and, you probably didn’t even realize how powerful these common devices actually can be.

 

John Taylor, is the Corporate Vice President of Marketing at AMD. His/her postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. There is no endorsement, express or implied, of this blog by the movie “Chappie”. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied.

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Major new features of DirectX® 12

As the PC graphics industry continues down the path of low-overhead graphics APIs, today I wanted to bring you some new details on two significant features of DirectX® 12. These features are called “multi-threaded command buffer recording” and “async shaders,” and they are poised to make a significant difference for gamers everywhere. Let’s take a look at what they do and why they matter.

 

ASYNC SHADERS

This feature allows a game engine to execute GPU compute or memory activities during “gaps” in the graphics workload presented by a game.

While it seems sensible to allow the graphics, compute and memory functions of a GPU to operate simultaneously, past versions of DirectX® did not provide for this functionality. Past versions of DirectX® were essentially limited to a single, serial graphics queue for processing all types of workloads. Therefore graphics, compute and memory copy operations had to wait for other parts of the graphics queue to finish processing before springing to life and doing their work. This would often result in idle hardware for some portions of time, and idle hardware is squandered performance.

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In contrast, DirectX® 12 Async Shaders supercharge work completion in a compatible AMD Radeon™ GPU by interleaving these tasks across multiple threads to shorten overall render time. Async Shaders are materially important to a PC gamer’s experience because shorter rendering times reduce graphics pipeline latency, and lower latency equals greater performance. “Performance” can mean higher framerates in gameplay and better responsiveness in VR environments. Further, finer levels of granularity in breaking up the workload can yield even greater reductions in work time. As they say: work smarter, not harder.

 

 

 

Finally, it must be understood that AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture is specifically equipped to enable incredibly fine DirectX® 12 Async Shader granularity with dedicated hardware known as the Asynchronous Compute Engine (ACE). Many ACEs serve as fundamental building blocks in modern AMD graphics hardware, and they are specifically tuned to accommodate significant parallelization of complex jobs with superb performance.

 

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This diagram of the AMD Radeon™ R9 290X GPU’s architecture shows eight Asynchronous Compute Engines (ACEs) ready to handle Async Shader work. Each AMD product based on GCN has a certain amount of these ACEs.

 

MULTI-THREADED COMMAND BUFFER RECORDING

The command buffer is a game’s “to-do list,” a list of things that the CPU must reorganize and present to an AMD Radeon™ graphics card so that graphics work can be done. Things on this to-do list might include lighting, placing characters, loading textures, generating reflections and more.

 

Modern PCs often ship with multi-core CPUs like AMD FX processors or AMD A-Series APUs. One notable characteristic of DirectX® 11-based applications is that many of these CPU cores in any multi-core CPU go partially or fully unutilized. This lack of utilization is owed to DirectX® 11’s relative inability to break a game’s command buffer into small, parallel and computationally quick chunks that can be spread across many cores. In addition to modest multi-threading in DirectX® 11, a disproportionate amount of CPU time is frequently spent on driver and API code (“overhead”) under the DirectX® 11 programming model, which leaves lesser time for the game code that delivers quality and framerates.

 

In DirectX® 12, however, the command buffer behavior is radically overhauled in five key ways:

  1. Overhead is significantly reduced by moving driver and API code to any available CPU thread
  2. The absolute time required to complete complex CPU tasks is notably reduced
  3. Game workloads can be meaningfully distributed across >4 CPU cores
  4. New “bandwidth” on the CPU allows for higher peak draw calls, enabling more detailed and immersive game worlds
  5. All available CPU cores may now “talk” to the graphics card simultaneously

 

Much like going from a two-lane country road to an eight-lane superhighway, the shift to DirectX® 12 allows more traffic from an AMD FX processor to reach the graphics card in a shorter amount of time. The end result: more performance, better image quality, reduced latency, or a blend of all three (as the developer chooses).

 

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The benefit of this feature is already being seen in real games. Oxide Games and Stardock have collaborated with AMD for Ashes of the Singularity™, an upcoming strategy game that already utilizes all 8 cores of an AMD FX-8370 processor to deliver performance, image quality and resolutions that—in the words of the developer’s CEO Brad Wardell—are “not even a possibility” under DirectX® 11.

 

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In other words, platforms with AMD Radeon™ GPU and multi-core AMD CPUs using DirectX® 12 are literally allowing developers to explore game designs previously considered impossible.

 

WRAP-UP

Multi-threaded command buffer recording and async shadersare two big features of the base DirectX® 12 specification, each harboring great potential to extract significantly more performance and image quality out of existing hardware.

 

But many gamers also know that game devs must commit to using a feature before it is seen in the real world—we’re taking care of that. Our collaboration with developers like Oxide/Stardock (and others unannounced) to get cool tech into great games is a guiding light for the AMD Gaming Evolved Program, and we’re already seeing healthy interest in these features. That bodes well for everyone!

 

Before we part ways, you might be interested to know which AMD products are compatible with DirectX® 12. Presuming you’ve installed Windows® 10 Technical Preview Build 10041 (or later) and obtained the latest driver from Windows Update, here’s the list of DirectX® 12-ready AMD components. We think you’ll agree that it’s an excitingly diverse set of products!

 

  • AMD Radeon™ R9 Series graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R7 Series graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ R5 240 graphics
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000 Series graphics for OEM systems (HD 8570 and up)
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 8000M Series graphics for notebooks
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000 Series graphics (HD 7730 and up)
  • AMD Radeon™ HD 7000M Series graphics for notebooks (HD 7730M and up)
  • AMD A4/A6/A8/A10-7000 Series APUs (codenamed “Kaveri”)
  • AMD A6/A8/A10 PRO-7000 Series APUs (codenamed “Kaveri”)
  • AMD E1/A4/A10 Micro-6000 Series APUs (codenamed “Mullins”)
  • AMD E1/E2/A4/A6/A8-6000 Series APUs (codenamed “Beema”)

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AMD Participated in The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference

On Monday, April 20th, I represented AMD along with Corporate Fellow, Sam Naffziger, in The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship’s 2015 International Corporate Citizenship Conference. Our participation in the conference reinforces AMD’s position as a leader in the corporate responsibility and energy efficiency space.

 

During the conference, I presented AMD’s expertise and leadership in corporate responsibility and had the opportunity to introduce the keynote speaker Donald Sull, a global expert on strategy and execution in turbulent markets. Plus, AMD had some awesome giveaways for those in attendance.                                                                

 

Additionally, Sam Naffziger participated in a panel titled “The Future Is Energy Efficiency: How the digital revolution affects sustainability.” There’s been an explosion of computing and communications over the last 20 years with resulting societal benefits across business, education, research, health care, and other sectors. However, the energy and environmental impact footprint from computing has correspondingly grown. Energy Efficiency 25x20.pngThe panel explored the sustainability implications of the technology revolution and the trend lines that will impact the future. While the growth in usage is undeniable, there are those who say that information and communications technologies provide a huge opportunity for energy conservation.

 

Susan McPherson served as the panel moderator. She is a well-known corporate social responsibility (CSR) expert and regular writer and contributor for the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and Triple Pundit. In addition to Naffziger, panelists included Dr. Michael Webber, Deputy Director of the Energy Institute and Co-Director of the Clean Energy Incubator, the University of Texas; R. Neal Elliott, Associate Director for Research, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE); and Christopher Lloyd, Executive Director Corporate Responsibility, Verizon.

The Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship was founded in 1985, inspired by an early recognition that community expectations of companies were changing. The conference is attended by corporate citizenship and CSR professionals tasked with developing their company’s corporate citizenship initiatives.

 

Learn more about the conference here and be part of the conversation online by following the hashtag #BCConf15

 

Tim Mohin is Director of Corporate Responsibility for Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) and the author of the book, Changing Business from the Inside Out: A Treehugger’s Guide to Working in Corporations (Greenleaf and Berrett-Kohler). His postings (and comments made in his book) are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied. Follow Tim @TimJMohin and
check out AMD’s latest
Corporate Responsibility Report.

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AMD FirePro and PTC Creo Parametric 3.0® – A Stable, Dependable Platform

The AMD FirePro™ graphics team, working closely with PTC®, enables engineering efforts to ensure exceptional workflow performance for PTC Creo® Parametric 3.0 users, giving them access to features and performance that open the door to breakthrough innovation and outstanding competitive advantages.

 

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Robustness and scalability for large assemblies – rapid design and greater “design intuition”

Developed by AMD in close collaboration with PTC, advanced OpenGL optimizations greatly increase the 3D frame rate and interactivity of PTC Creo. The new transparency mode exploits the on-board memory processing of modern GPUs to enable additional, always-on 3D acceleration on complicated datasets and complex workflows. As a result, PTC Creo designers using AMD FirePro graphics experience up to 40x faster 3D frame rates than PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5(1), helping them maintain their productivity and creative flow.

 

Reliability and graphics optimization – tuned, optimized, and certified for PTC Creo

To ensure optimal performance and compatibility, AMD FirePro professional graphics solutions are tested and certified by PTC across the suite of applications. Combined with workstations certified by PTC, AMD FirePro professional graphics provide an unbeaten user experience for PTC Creo designers with up to 2.5x faster 3D frame rates in shaded mode(2), compared to competitive GPU solutions.

Collaboration and communication across workflows – Creo 3.0 Unite technology and AMD FirePro plus AMD Eyefinity technology
Product development workflows have changed significantly over recent years. Working with multiple applications is common with design, simulation, data management and collaboration all happening in unison. AMD FirePro graphics cards feature AMD Eyefinity(3) multi-display technology that empowers engineers to view multiple applications and product assemblies across three, four or even six high-resolution monitors all from a single graphics card, at up to 4K resolution for each output. Users can view designs at ultra-high resolutions for increased design accuracy, realism and enhanced insight, and speed up workflow by using the extra screens to view additional applications. Using the new Creo 3.0 Unite Technology and AMD Eyefinity, collaboration and multi-CAD data consolidation across the family of PTC products in design, manufacturing and simulation can be accomplished with ease.

 

Improved graphics realism and performance – Creo 3.0 new immersive modeling environment

Fully supported by AMD FirePro graphics, Creo 3.0 now allows interactive and realistic design visualization. Advanced features such as reflections, HDR, and ambient occlusion in an immersive environment allows designers to experience the product, not just visualize it. AMD recommends the following professional graphics cards for PTC Creo users:

 

AMD FirePro™ W5100 is recommended for design and simulation,

AMD FirePro™ W7100 is recommended for large assemblies and rendering.

 

To learn more about these technologies, visit http://ift.tt/1HeOkB2

 

Antoine Reymond is an industry executive for Professional Graphics at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites are provided for convenience and unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such linked sites and no endorsement is implied.

 

1 Based on comparison of AMD FirePro W7100, Creo 3.0 in OIT transparency mode vs. Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 blended transparency mode, running AMD internal benchmark “Creo Benchmark v3.1” using AMD’s Internal Motorcycle dataset. Intel Xeon X5570 at 2.93GHz 4-Core, 12GB RAM, Windows 7 64-bit, 120GB SSD, AMD FirePro driver 14.301, display 1920×1200, Creo Parametric 3.0 F000, and PTC Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 5.0 M250.

 

2 Based on comparison of AMD FirePro W7100 vs Nvidia Quadro K4200 in Creo 3.0 running AMD internal benchmark “Creo Benchmark v3.1” using AMD’s motorcycle dataset and shaded mode. Windows 7 64-bit, Intel Xeon E5-2630 at 2.30 GHz, 18GB RAM, Seagate 250 GB 7200 SATA 16 MB HDD, AMD driver 14.30-140915a-175805E ATI, Nvidia driver 340.66.FP-114

 

3 4K content required. AMD Eyefinity technology supports up to six DisplayPort™ monitors on an enabled graphics card. Supported display quantity, type and resolution vary by model and board design; confirm specifications with manufacturer before purchase. To enable more than two displays, or multiple displays from a single output, additional hardware such as DisplayPort-ready monitors or DisplayPort 1.2 MST-enabled hubs may be required.  A maximum of two active adapters is recommended for consumer systems. 4K support requires 4K display and content.  See http://ift.tt/1gqJlyV for full details.

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Back in the Saddle

At AMD we pride ourselves on innovation and on a pioneering spirit that enables our partners to make their visions a vibrant, undeniable reality.  I have spent over 8 years seeing this come to life and more importantly I’ve had the opportunity to present our technology to the world.  My channel journey started as a pre-teen attending First Saturday PC component swap meets in Dallas.  That’s where I learned about building and rebuilding systems.  My passion has become a career.  The heart and soul of the PC channel is a network of distributors, retailers, system integrators, value-added resellers, and e-tailers who enable people like me to give widgets a story. Several years ago I had the opportunity to build AMD’s first global channel partner program.  At the end of 2014, I was asked to take responsibility for our AMD Partner Program and build AMD’s first global channel marketing team.  Just like my PC, I took a look at the system we had in place and worked with my team to keep some components and upgrade others.

AMD owes its partners a pioneering approach to engaging with our channel partners and we are here to deliver.  We have created a new AMD Partner Hub, built to be easily accessible via phone, tablet, or computer, to give you unencumbered access to a plethora of resources. The revolutionary part is that we don’t want to keep it behind a login firewall as was done in the past.  We want to put as much out into the ecosystem as possible and earn your engagement.  The AMD Partner Hub includes the following:

  • Sales Tools
  • Training
  • Marketing Assets
  • Latest News and Reviews
  • Communications
  • Localized Content in 8 Languages

We will also now have a monthly Meet the Experts webcast series where partners will have direct access with the best and brightest within AMD.  You will continue to be able to sign up for our AMD Channel Update newsletter and key partner alerts.  We will be looking to our community for direct feedback on how we can evolve and change.  If you find the content valuable, give us the means to contact you.  You can start by reaching out to me via Twitter or LinkedIN.

This is only the beginning. I’m excited to be back in the saddle leading our worldwide channel marketing team.  We look forward to serving you better and enabling you to leverage our technology to create your vision.

I’m off to make an impossibly small AMD APU-based PC with my son because we think we can …

 

AMD Partner Hub Overview – Video

 

Gerald Youngblood, Director of  Worldwide Channel Marketing at AMD. His postings are his own opinions and may not represent AMD’s positions, strategies or opinions. Links to third party sites, and references to third party trademarks, are provided for convenience and illustrative purposes only. Unless explicitly stated, AMD is not responsible for the contents of such links, and no third party endorsement of AMD or any of its products is implied

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