AMD opened its Fusion Developer Summit with a prediction that its chips will offer 10 teraflops of compute power by 2020, and outlined how the firm will ensure that developers can harness the power of the GPU as easily as programming for standard CPUs today.
Kicking off the first Fusion Developer Summit, AMD product group senior vice president Rick Bergman said that Fusion chips will offer 10 teraflops of performance within a decade, equivalent to the fastest supercomputer on the planet in 2001.
The A-Series Llano accelerated processing units launched this week already offer half a teraflop, while next year's Trinity chips based on the Bulldozer CPU core will be 50 per cent faster, Bergman claimed, showing off a laptop based on early Trinity silicon.
"We are winning with Fusion," he said, adding that the architecture represents a new era for AMD and the rest of the computing industry.
The company also offered a roadmap for what it calls the heterogeneous computing era, whereby programmers ought to be able to code applications that seamlessly use the CPU cores and the massively parallel processing capabilities of the on-chip GPU.
Part of the solution is APIs such as OpenCL and Microsoft's DirectCompute, but AMD is also adding support for C++ to access features of the GPU, emphasising that it is taking a standards-based approach.
One key feature of the Fusion chip hardware is a unified memory model, according to AMD corporate fellow Phil Rogers.
"With unified memory, the GPU gains access to the system memory, so it becomes coherent between the GPU and CPU, as with symmetric multiprocessing. This means the GPU can now be context-switched, just like the other cores," he explained.
However, there is still some way to go. Rogers said that coding for the GPU is "still the era of the expert programmer", although the industry has already moved on from proprietary APIs and forcing developers to write directly to the hardware.
Rogers claimed that AMD's open architecture and published specifications will allow developers to build apps that will continue to be supported as the Fusion technology evolves.
"The investments you make today will get faster and better in the future," he said.
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