Gaming is AMD's Future; Launch and Previews of New Gaming Tech
3/27/2013 by: Theo Valich
After years of having mixed communication, we have come out of a press conference and multiple discussions feeling that AMD is finally coming together and pushing for a single message. That message is a $120 billion TAM opportunity which represents a new focus for the company. At least, those words came from Matt Skynner.
AMD's focus will be addressing the whole gaming market, which is expected to grow to become an $120 billion industry in just 2 years time.
When talking about TAM, AMD sees world’s gaming hardware market as a 20+ billion dollar market. Furthermore, when all the building blocks are included, counting both hardware and software, we reach true size of the gaming industry: $120 billion by 2015.
The company used good example in terms of how many major companies compete for the tight space in other entertainment industries such as music, movies or even automotive industry. When it comes to the gaming industry, the space is significantly more open. As a company that powers key console products from Nintendo, Microsoft and will power Sony PlayStation 4, the company is set to enjoy significant improvement of its balance sheet. In the battle of actual gaming consoles, AMD disclosed that Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony shipped a grand total of more than 750 million units. Should the next-gen consoles achieve the same result, AMD stands to ship anywhere between 750 and a billion units, APUs and GPUs (and those units combined).
PC is the Core of AMD Architecture
AMD hardware development starts "with the PC in Mind"
There's no beating around the bush - AMD sees PC as the building block of all of its current and future products, from server to mobile phones, as well as building a software ecosystem that optimizes for their hardware and offers compelling experience. The company is no more afraid of talking about its design wins with PlayStation 4 being the hot ticket. Naturally, AMD cannot discuss unannounced Microsoft Xbox Next ('Xbox 720', 'Durango') design win until Microsoft announces it at E3 timeframe, nor could they discuss the Xi3's PISTON console.
One of good examples how AMD sees graphics was the arrival of John Gustafson. This HPC guru and father of Gustafson's Law no serves as 'Chief Product Architect, Graphics'. John talked about how the company is working on achieving optimal balance with the products, all starting from the essential PC architecture. GPU does parallel computations the best, and is "a bandwidth beast", while CPU is all about serial execution and the lowest possible latency. Good example of balanced approach to technology was The Reality Deck, project of Stony Brook University. 420 screens, 1.5 billion pixels were all driven by no more than 70 FirePro cards, each driving six screens at the same time.
Cloud? Yes, but there are Two
According to both AMD and Nvidia, the future lies in heterogeneous computing between the local interconnected clients and the actual public cloud. Realistically speaking, every 10 years we start talking about thin clients and end up with more powerful home devices than the mainframes the cycle started with. The Cloud (Gaming) cycle is no different, as there are people that will want to keep the home infrastructure as well as the audience that sees it only as a service. Given that the company already has everything for the Home Cloud, we were not surprised to see AMD launching a product in order to address developers of the public cloud infrastructure.
Even though we have some reservations about using the consumer brand for server parts, AMD followed Nvidia's branding exercise 'GeForce GRID' to create a series of products which targets gaming from the Cloud. There are multiple parts available, targeting various price points. The common thread between the three launched Radeon SKY(Y Vodka?) products is the new heatsink design, oriented for the server implementation.
The company used only two GPUs to create three products: Radeon SKY 900 is a server version of the FirePro S10000, the dual-Tahiti (7970) GPU. In a way, this is a server version of the 7990, completing the full circle around the New Zealand PCB - Radeon HD 7970 X2 (as some partners named it) and the upcoming HD 7990, FirePro S10000 for workstations and now SKY 900 for servers. Time will tell will the brand kick the company into lucrative contracts, but the stats are pretty good. SKY 900 features 4096 cores, 6GB GDDR5 and features massive 480GB/s of on-board memory bandwidth.
Radeon SKY 700 is based off a single Tahiti PRO GPU, and features 1792 cores, 6GB GDDR5 (total bandwidth: 264GB/s), while the SKY 500 is Pitcairn XT, with 1280 cores and 4GB GDDR5 (154GB/s bandwidth).
AMD's event ended with a sneak peak of two products - MSI GX70 notebook featuring yet unannounced Radeon HD 8000 Series part (high-end notebook GPU) and previewing the Radeon HD 7990, which was star of the show at another event, Electronic Arts' reveal of Battlefield 4. All systems on that event were powered by the Radeon HD 7990.
AMD's Devon Nekechuk, Product Manager for the HD 7990 shows his pride and joy.
At the end of the day, Carl Jones, Director of Business Development at CryTek and Chuck Brungardt, President of Illfonic climbed to the state to show something special. We saw a 30 second clip of the new Ruby demo, which is now powered by CryEngine 3 and being produced in collaboration between AMD, CryTek and Illfonic. The demo is mighty impressive and it will be really interesting running it live on future hardware. The timeframe for the release of the demo is still not known yet but targeting Q2 2013 is a pretty good guess at this point in time.
All in all, we saw AMD in quite the unusual light. If they keep on shining like that, we are going to have return of the wars with Intel and Nvidia. Grab your popcorn and enjoy.
AMD, Advanced Micro Devices, Radeon, Radeon SKY, AMD Malta, Radeon HD 7990, HD 7990, Cloud, Cloud Gaming, Server, Enterprise, SSD, Radeon SSD, TAM, Total Addressable Market, gaming, gaming industry, GDC, Game Developers Conference, EA, Battlefield, Battlefield 4
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