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AMD aims at high-end CAD with FirePro W8100 workstation graphics adapter

23 Jun 2014
AMD FirePro W8100

AMD has unveiled a new professional graphics adapter for the workstation market, claiming it effectively offers twice the performance of Nvidia's Quadro K5000 card for users in industries such as CAD, engineering and media.

Available from mid-July, the FirePro W8100 is based on AMD's Hawaii GPU architecture and is dubbed by the firm as a "high-volume specialist card" for the professional graphics market.

Glen Matthews, AMD's senior product manager for Professional Graphics at AMD, said: "We're delivering an industry-leading product focused on media and entertainment professionals, computer-aided engineering and the high-end CAD users running Catia and Siemens NX."

Mathews added that the most important thing AMD is offering with the FirePro W8100 is increased productivity for those professionals. "This is all about enabling them to get more work done, helping them to deliver products to market faster and meet those deadlines," he said.

The FirePro W8100 features 2560 of AMD's second-generation GCN stream processors clocked at 824MHz, with 8GB of 512-bit GDDR5 memory. It can support up to four high-resolution 4K displays with DisplayPort 1.2 outputs.

However, it isn't just graphics acceleration that AMD is aiming at with the new card. It sees a growing uptake of GPU compute in many applications, especially around the OpenCL language.

"From a compute standpoint, you had workstation applications and then you had HPC applications, but what has happened now is the emergence of workstation applications, in particular for CAD and media and entertainment, which are adopting compute to provide more value to their users," Matthews said.

OpenCL is "now getting enormous traction, with a host of ISVs supporting it, and it is beginning to see traction in the HPC market as well," he added.

Not surprisingly, AMD also claims a lead here with the FirePro W8100, which is said to be capable of more than four teraflops (trillion floating point operations per second) in single precision mode, and more than two teraflops with double precision.

The FirePro W8100 ships with support for OpenCL 1.2, but OpenCL 2.0 is coming, AMD said.

AMD showed off benchmark results that indicate the FirePro W8100 is more than five times faster than the Nvidia K5000 under the LuxMark v2.0 OpenCL tests, and up to 38 times faster with SiSoftware Sandra.

However, it should be noted that the K5000 card which AMD is comparing its new FirePro W8100 card against was released by Nvidia back in 2012.

AMD said that the suggested retail price for the FirePro W8100 will be $2,499 (£1,467), which it said is in line with the competition.

The firm also said the new card will form part of its Ultra Workstation reference model for its system vendor partners to base workstation systems on.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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