AMD's New FirePro Chips Offer Integrated CPU, Graphics

Like previous AMD chips, the FirePro APUs combine compute and graphics capabilities on the same chip, and are aimed at workstations used by design professionals.

Advanced Micro Devices is rolling out new FirePro chips that integrate both discrete-level graphics capabilities with a CPU, similar to the processors the company sells for consumer desktop and notebook PCs.

AMD€™s FIrePro chips in the past have been high-end GPU offerings for professionals rather than consumers. However, the company on Aug. 7 unveiled the FirePro A300 Series accelerated processing units (APUs), which are aimed at workstations used by design professionals in such areas as media and engineering. AMD€™s other APUs€”including its A-Series, C-Series and E-Series chips for consumer devices€”offered Radeon graphics technology.

The new chips will offer design professionals a new platform that will include high-end compute and graphics capabilities, design flexibility and energy efficiency, according to Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics.

€œDesign professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations that deliver unbeatable value for CAD and M&E [media and entertainment] workflows,€ Skynner said in a statement.

The announcement of the new APUs came the same day AMD rolled out a host of new FirePro GPUs for workstations used by design professionals.

AMD and larger rival Intel last year both introduced new chip platforms that offer integrated CPU and GPU capabilities on a single piece of silicon, bringing greater performance and energy efficiency, according to the companies. It also echoes a trend in the high-end computing space toward hybrid systems that include CPUs running alongside graphics technologies, which tend to work faster for particular applications, including those designed for parallel computing.

For OEMs, the new APUs offer a platform for designing workstations that are smaller, consume less power, run cooler and are more quiet than current systems, according to AMD officials.

AMD€™s current integrated APUs for consumer devices have offered Radeon graphics, but the new platform includes the higher-end FirePro technology for users working with computer-aided design and M&E workloads. They also include other features such as AMD€™s Eyefinity technology for running tasks across multiple monitors and Turbo Core, which dynamically scales CPU and GPU performance based on workload demands.

Other features include display resolutions of up to 10,240-by-1,600 pixels and Discrete Compute Offload to enable users to run discrete FirePro GPUs in parallel with the graphics in the APUs for greater GP-GPU performance.

AMD€™s FirePro A300 Series APUs will start arriving in workstations later this month, according to company officials. AMD is offering the FirePro A300, a quad-core chip that consumes 65 watts of power, speeds up to 4GHz and 384 graphics cores. The FirePro A320 also offers four compute cores and 384 graphics cores, but runs at speeds up to 4.2GHz and consumes 100 watts of power.

In addition to the FirePro APUs, AMD also is rolling out new FirePro GPUs, including the W9000, which officials said is the world€™s most powerful workstation graphics card, with better compute capabilities, more memory bandwidth and improved multi-display support than competing chips. Like the W9000, the W5000, W7000 and W8000 graphics cards also are built to balance compute and 3D workloads on workstations.