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AMD at ISC 2015

Posted by karl.freund Aug 20, 2015

Recently in Frankfurt, Germany, thousands of scientists, engineers, and HPC enthusiasts attended International SuperComputing 2015 for three days of deep technology lectures, networking, and the traditional German ‘beer and brats’. AMD exhibited with a well-placed booth that generated significant interest for the newly announced AMD FirePro™ S9170 Server GPU -- the only GPU in the industry to support 32GB of onboard high speed memory. Given that the competitive solution only supports up to 12GB per GPU, this represents a major advantage for AMD and allows our customers the opportunity to solve larger, more complex problems faster than ever before.  



We also met with many of AMD’s major customers who are interested in understanding where AMD is headed. They’ve been hearing that AMD is investing in R&D for High Performance Computing (HPC) with GPUs, next-generation ARM processors and an enterprise-class APU, initiatives disclosed by AMD President and CEO Lisa Su, and senior vice president and general manager for EESC Forrest Norrod, as part of our roadmap at the AMD Financial Analyst Day last May.


The excitement was palpable, as these large customers were eager to discover an alternative to competitor’s solutions. Our message was that AMD stands ready to be that alternative. As one customer commented: "AMD has just put another queen on the chessboard, and this will totally change the game!"  Customers were provided a glimpse into the HPC and workstation markets where vector applications with scale-up graphics performance, HSA enablement and optimized memory architecture are expected to deliver massive improvements.




Last year, many were only aware of the AMD’s Opteron™ CPU offerings. However, this year’s interest increased in AMD’s GPU products with many inquiring about AMD FirePro™ S9150 and AMD FirePro™ S9170 Server GPUs.




The AMD exhibit showcased a variety of design wins with HP and Supermicro that have given AMD increased credibility in the HPC space. 


OpenCL™ was recognized as a differentiating factor by attendees where they discovered the value of open versus closed development.


While it is pretty easy to get enthusiasts to “ooh“ and  “aahh” about cool technology, we know it will be a lot of hard work to get the same reaction for our large customers as we face the challenge of delivering on the promise of accelerated heterogeneous computing. Customers remain somewhat skeptical, so we have to prove we can steadily execute. Along the way, we have heard many cheering for AMD to succeed -- not just because we are the ‘alternative", but because we are known as an innovator and have an awesome technology roadmap that’s designed to deliver real value.


ISC 2015 has also proven to be an exciting time for the AMD Professional Graphics team. So I encourage you to ‘stay tuned’ for more exciting activities coming through the rest of the year. 


Karl Freund is the vice president of High Performance Computing at AMD. 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.


AMD, the AMD Arrow logo and FirePro are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Other names are for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners. OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos

We live in an era of ubiquitous video, animation and advanced graphics. It’s hard to fathom the progress that has been made over the last 10 to 15 years, how much work is carried out by computers today, and what can be achieved by the authors of modern day cartoons, advertisements or amateur videos on countless YouTube channels. In the early 2000s, we saw animated films such as ‘Toy Story’, ‘Shrek’ and other big Disney or Dreamworks movie studio productions. Back then, anyone trying to create animation at home faced a huge challenge, but the tools available from companies like AMD have been key to facilitating the animation revolution.


In 2003, when the first 64-bit consumer processor – Athlon 64 – was launched, AMD held an animation competition to illustrate the new levels of quality and capabilities this brand new technology offered. Daniel Zdunczyk, from Poland was the competition winner with a project entitled “May 1”. His animation took the jury by storm and won him the latest (at the time) AMD-based computer and a $6,400 prize.


This was just the beginning of an ongoing cooperation between AMD and this excellent artist. Interestingly, he used the prize money in the best way possible. By combining his creativity with entrepreneurship, Daniel developed the Virtual Magic studio, which has since become a regional Polish leader in video animation. Over the years, the company has completed a number of innovative projects, such as ‘Kajko and Kokosz™’ video (a Slavic equivalent of the Asterix and Obelix™ adventures), 3D movies such as ‘History of Cieszyn™’, and 5D movies such as ‘Asylum ™’ and ‘Mysterious Underworld™’. In addition, Virtual Magic Studio has also produced animations for entertainment venues, including Prehistoric Oceanarium, allowing visitors to view  million-year-old animals on a screen as if watching through a window. Throughout the years, AMD has supported these efforts by providing access to the latest multi-core processor technologies and graphics accelerators.


Excitingly, the most ambitious project was yet to come – an animated children’s feature film that combined hyper-realistic 3D set design with traditional 2D cel animation. These were a few of the creative techniques that Daniel used to film his latest enterprise,  ‘Golden Drops™’.




“This style is consistent with the global trend of returning to hand drawn characters combined with modern 3D animation,” explained Daniel Zdunczyk, director and animation supervisor at Virtual Magic Studio. “This unique combination has an extremely innovative effect but with the spirit of the old-time hits, such as ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’ and ‘Space Jam’. While this process placed much higher demands on hardware, we were fortunate in having AMD support and technologies. The only limits we had came from our own imagination.”




Over the four year development taken to create the movie, Virtual Magic used a variety of animation tools:  3DSMAX® for 3D objects;  Real Flow® for simulating water; Toon Boom® for 2D characters; and Adobe After Effects® for post-processing. At each stage of the creation process, the studio used AMD hardware, including multi-core AMD Opteron™ processors and the latest AMD FirePro™ professional graphics cards to render the most compute-intensive forest landscape scenes in real time.




Animating, tracing and coloring the characters was also much faster thanks to multi-threaded processing for the 16-bit high resolution bitmaps conversion process. The complexity of the project was particularly evident when merging animations that resulted from two distinct techniques. Countless layers and components added up to terabytes of uncompressed data essential to the creation of crystal clear images. The accelerated process enable by AMD FirePro graphics allowed massive amounts of data to be efficiently processed and artists to see changes almost immediately.




“It’s amazing to see the results of this cooperation between AMD and Virtual Magic, especially since we know where these ambitious developers started from, and what ideas and needs they had from the beginning to the present day,” said David Watters,  director of ISV product relationships, AMD. “AMD’s commitment, simply put, is to support creative artists, so that they can give free reign to their imagination without concerns about their hardware keeping up, so that they can create incredible and beautiful visions.”


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Virtual Magic has completed this ambitious ‘Golden Drops’ project with the help of a former Hanna-Barbera® employee, Artur Maka. The uniqueness of the film comes not only in mixing 2D and 3D techniques, but also by being an enjoyable family romp featuring fast-paced action and positive emotions. The film has just started being shown at festivals but it has already won the ANIMATION FEATURE FILM – JURY category at the Dada Aaheb Phalke Film Festival in India and the BEST ANIMATION category at the New Media Film Festival in the U.S. The film is scheduled to be shown in selected cinemas this fall to continue to delight children and parents of all ages based on the innovative technologies from AMD.

With the announcement of the June 2015 Green500™ List, we are proud to share that AMD supports one of the top 5 most energy efficient super computers in the world. The L-CSC Cluster at the GSI research facility, powered by our AMD FirePro™ S9150 server GPUs, was ranked in the fourth spot among the world’s energy efficient super computers. In addition to being in the top 5, we remain the No. 1 commercially available solution, while also retaining the top spot as the No. 1 air-cooled solution in the world for energy efficiency. Our server GPUs are a compelling solution for high performance compute (HPC) because of the exceptional performance-per-watt, single- and double-precision compute and the rise of OpenCL™, the open standard for parallel programming. The AMD FirePro™ S9150 server GPU’s ability to crunch complex datasets were critical to the L-CSC cluster, installed at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung GmbH research facility in Darmstadt, Germany.


We are pleased to be recognized yet again as one of the key HPC components in the GSI L-CSC Cluster. Helping the GSI L-CSC Cluster take one of the top five spots on the Green500 List validates the innovation of AMD FirePro™ professional GPUs to deliver exceptional performance, outstanding energy efficiency, and to provide our partners with leading-edge solutions to enable critical new workloads of tomorrow.


The GSI L-CSC Cluster enables Lattice Quantum Chromo Dynamics (Lattice QCD) computational research using one of the fastest OpenCL™ implementations for research applications in the world. Memory bandwidth and memory capacity were extremely important and a main criteria for the L-CSC Cluster according to Dr. David Rohr, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies; memory bandwidth determines the performance capabilities within the application and memory capacity defines the maximum lattice size that can be computed. The GSI Cluster was able to deliver great memory bandwidth and sufficient memory capacities using the AMD FirePro S9150 server GPU. The GSI L-CSC Cluster leverages 640 AMD FirePro™ S9150 server GPUs, each providing 16GB GDDR5 memory and 320GB/s memory bandwidth. In total, the configuration equates to 160 compute nodes and 3.25 petaFLOPS of peak single precision compute.


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Dr. David Rohr, Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies, explains the benefits of AMD FirePro™ GPUs in the GSI L-CSC Cluster (


The AMD FirePro™ S9150 server GPU is one of the fastest and most power-efficient single GPU boards available today. Our family of AMD FirePro S-series products is designed to reliably support large multi-GPU clusters to address the kinds of large computational projects enabled at the GSI research facility. The recognition on the Green500 List distinguishes AMD Professional GPUs for pushing the boundaries of innovation in energy efficiency and performance-per-FLOPS, including enhancing overall system performance and efficiency through AMD’s industry-leading parallel GPU processing.


JC Baratault is Sr. Development Manager for HPC GPU Computing at AMD. 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.


AMD, the AMD Arrow logo and FirePro are trademarks of Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. Other names are for informational purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective owners. OpenCL and the OpenCL logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos