The human brain — the thinking machine in our head that enables our intelligence — is divided into left and right hemispheres, two sides of our brain working together in harmony yet processing information quite differently. Put simply, the left side of the brain is the source of logical reasoning, and the right side produces creative effort.
Most brains are about the same size, but differ widely in their capability to process information. A recent study concluded that a significant factor behind the extraordinary intelligence of physicist Albert Einstein was that the left and right sides of his brain were far better connected than the average person, resulting in his genius-level “IQ”.
IQ is short for “intelligence quotient,” a rough measure of a person's general intellectual ability to understand ideas, and the ability to store, retrieve, and process information. Scoring 100 points on a typical IQ test is considered average; the higher the IQ score, the smarter the person is believed to be.
Like the human brain, processors are also a “thinking machine,” with separate components dedicated to processing logical and creative information. Traditionally, computer processing has been divided between two discrete components: a CPU, a central processing unit, and a GPU, a graphics processing unit.
The latest computer processors, called accelerated processing units or "APUs,” integrate the CPU and the GPU within the same chip. “Heterogeneous computing,” means different kinds of processing cores working together inside a unified APU. However, the traditional ways processors handle computing operations can be quite slow. Often, the logical processor may not be best suited to do all required operations, forcing the creative side to wait until the logical side finishes before responding with results.
AMD’s Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA) processor design eliminates these APU bottlenecks and inefficiencies. HSA enables sharing the same data through a technology called “heterogeneous unified memory architecture” or “hUMA.” Like with the brain, another key element is the “brain bridge” that connects the two sides of the APU. AMD’s heterogeneous queuing (hQ) technology connects and unifies the CPU and GPU, enabling them to act as processing equals and occasionally swap the commanding role.
Evaluating the “IQ” of an APU requires determining its ability to process information measured in operations per second — specifically, GFLOPS (GFLOPS). For example, an AMD Elite A-series processor is capable of 769 GFLOPS, with the logical-side CPU producing 131 GFLOPS, and the creative-side GPU producing 638 GFLOPS.
Processor IQ is more than a simple summation of left-side performance or right-side performance. It is also a measure of how well the CPU and GPU work together in concert. AMD’s HSA processor design enabling both of these interconnected APU processor components to work together in harmony also enables increased efficiency and superior APU processing power. In technical terms, this means greater GFLOPS utilization, defined as the ability of a processor to process more information with the same number of GFLOPS — boosted with HSA-enabled performance.
As a rule, the greater the GFLOPS utilization, the “smarter” the processor. One way to test processor utilization, or “processor IQ,” is using specialized tests like PCMark8 and BasemarkCL. Higher scores indicate “smarter” processors.
At present, companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Sony, Google and others, are improving their products to take advantage of the incredible creative GFLOPS power in AMD APUs. While their hardware and software applications now use the full potential of the logical side, CPU GFLOPS, technologies such as hUMA and hQ, enable significant increase in GFLOPS utilization from the nearly five-times-greater creative-side, GPU component. This could enable a much richer computing experience — and in many different ways.
Think of it as computing evolution in action. Essentially, past computing applications limped along using only half a brain. Unlocking the full potential of a unified processor, AMD’s HSA-enabled APUs achieve a superior “Processor IQ” — and perhaps even help you enjoy a small “IQ boost” with your own creative efforts.
Sasa Marinkovic is Sr. Manager, Technology 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.