AMD Unveils Virtualized GPUs, New Quiet Chips

The new offerings are aimed at such industry segments as gaming PCs, virtual desktop environments and cloud computing.


Advanced Micro Devices is continuing a steady drumbeat of product releases as officials look to make the chip maker a larger player in everything from high-end gaming PCs and virtual desktops to cloud computing.

The company on Feb. 1 unveiled virtualized graphics cards that can be housed in data center servers and delivered as needed to a range of devices, including remote workstations and other client systems. A day later, officials introduced two new desktop processors—the A10-7860K and Athlon X4 845—featuring AMD's new Wraith Cooler thermal system that they said generates less than a 10th of the noise of previous chips.

"Customers can build a capable, near-silent online gaming PC in a surprisingly small form factor for an unexpectedly low price," Kevin Lensing, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Client Business Unit, said in a statement. "The low-power requirements mean you can build a tiny system perfect for a small dorm room, for use in the living room as a home theatre PC … and portable enough to take to a LAN party."

The new offerings are part of a larger aggressive push by CEO Lisa Su and other AMD executives to increase the company's presence in a range of market segments, from data center systems and gaming to immersive computing and high-end PCs. Officials unveiled their plans last year, saying their plan is to compete better against rivals like Intel and Nvidia and to return the company to sustainable profitability starting in the second half of this year.

A focus has been on GPUs, which officials see as a key differentiator in its competition with Intel. AMD created a business unit for its Radeon graphics technology, expanded its GPU software capabilities, and last month unveiled Polaris, the next-generation Graphics Core Next offering built through a 14-nanometer FinFET manufacturing process for better performance and energy efficiency. Revenue for the GPU business grew 11 percent in the fourth quarter over the previous period.

In the latest move, AMD unveiled its FirePro S-Series GPUs that include the company's hardware-virtualization GPU architecture, Multiuser GPU (MxGPU). The technology is aimed at such segments as virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), remote workstations, cloud gaming and cloud computing.

The FirePro S7150 and AMD FirePro S7150 x2 graphics cards are hosted in a server, which offers consistent performance and improved security to virtual machines. The MxGPU technology is based on a PCI-Express standard called SR-IOV (Single Root I/O Virtualization), enabling the GPUs to deliver the same level of performance as they would within physical systems, officials said. That includes offering full support for graphic APIs like Direct X and OpenGL and GPU compute APIs like OpenCL.

"We created the innovative AMD FirePro S-series GPUs to deliver a precise, secure, high-performance and enriched graphics user experience—all provided without per-user licensing fees required to use AMD's virtualized solution," Sean Burke, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD's Radeon Technologies Group, said in a statement.

The new FIrePro GPUs will be available from server technology vendors in the first half of the year, and are on display until Feb. 3 in the Dell server system booth at the SolidWorks World 2016 show in Dallas.

The new desktop PC chips come with the Wraith Cooler technology, which runs at what officials describe as a "near-silent" 39 decibels. Along with enabling the new chips to generate less than a 10th of the noise of previous processors, the new design also provides 34 percent more airflow and 24 percent more surface area for heat dissipation.

The A10-7860K accelerated-processing unit (APU) includes four 4GHz CPUs and eight GPU cores with integrated Radeon R7 processor graphics. The quad-core Athlon X4 845 is based on AMD's "Excavator" architecture and runs up to 3.8GHz.

The new chips armed with the new Wraith Cooler technology are available now, with prices ranging from $69.99 to $199.99.