AMD Offers Supercomputing Via GPUs

Advanced Micro Devices announced at the Consumer Electronics Show its latest computer design, a high definition video rendering machine consisting of four video cards that can reach up to a petaflop of rendering performance.

The AMD Fusion Render Cloud is a joint venture between AMD (NYSE: AMD) and OTOY, a software and content developer and provider of convergence technologies and special effects for the video game and film industries.

The AMD Fusion Render Cloud is designed for content providers to deliver pre-rendered high definition video to any type of mobile device with a Web browser rather than having the end point do the rendering. Graphics can be a big battery drain on devices like the iPhone, so the idea is to deliver the video already rendered.

“The way I would explain it is there are a number of screens in your life connected to the cloud,” Nigel Dessau, chief marketing officer for AMD, told “If you look at those screens, it’s been about fairly static, low-volume content. What no one has been able to show is how to deliver high-def content to a browser like I deliver e-mail.”

The AMD Fusion Render Cloud is a standard tower PC with an AMD Phenom II processor, AMD 790 chipsets and four graphics cards, featuring two ATI Radeon HD 4870 graphics processors per card. The graphics cards running in parallel will provide a petaflop of processing for graphics and image processing.

The server-side rendering compresses the content and streams it in real-time over a wireless or broadband connection to devices such as smart phones, set-top boxes and ultra-thin notebooks. “That way, a content deliver company isn’t forced to write 15 delivery platforms to receive that experience,” said Dessau.

AMD promises that the Fusion Render Cloud will enable remote real-time rendering of film and visual effects graphics with game content and virtual world games with unlimited photo-realistic detail.

“This is definitely going to simplify the activities of gamers or anyone who wants to use more graphics on their handheld devices, and it is going to make their life easier because they don’t have to wait for background rendering to finish,” Jie Wu, a research manager for the Technical Computing Team at IDC told

She added one caveat: “I’m not sure if networks can handle all the data that would be sent to smaller devices.”

Jim McGregor, senior analyst with In-Stat, felt the same way. “What this is going to do is it lets them deliver more content to more platforms,” he said. “If you can render in the cloud, it reduces for developers need for server farm and it’s going to push that experience down to users on multiple platforms that wouldn’t have been able to enjoy that experience otherwise.”

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