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AMD's Vision, Smartphones, Steam Machines, And Pricing

Tom's Hardware's AMA With AMD, In Its Entirety
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Q. Regarding G-Sync, what would be easier: Licensing Nvidia's tech and eventually getting them to open it up, or creating an open alternative and asking them to contribute? There is, after all, more excitement about G-Sync than stuff like 4K.

A. We fundamentally disagree that there is more excitement about G-Sync than 4K. As to what would be easier with respect to NVIDIA’s technology, it’s probably best to wait an NVIDIA AMA. :p

(Community Manager’s Note: We’ve reached out to Nvidia to invite them to an Ask Me Anything here on Tom’s, and unfortunately they have not responded to follow-up emails after expressing initial interest.  We’ll keep trying.)

Q. Is AMD planning on making an OpenCL based physics engine for games that could hopefully replace PhysX?

A. No, we are not making an OpenCL physics library to replace PhysX. What we are doing is acknowledging that the full dimension of GPU physics can be done with libraries like Havok and Bullet, using OpenCL across the CPU and GPU. We are supporting developers in these endeavors, in whatever shape they take.

Q. AMD has had a great vision that matured into a strategy spanning over several years, targeting gamers.  First you won all the major consoles, then you develop Mantle in tight cooperation with the major game developers out there.  Such strategy involves commitment of significant resources.  Is this vision from the Dirk Meyer era, or has it grown under Rory Read’s tenure?

A. The gaming strategy you’re seeing today is the brainchild of the graphics GM Matt Skynner, along with his executive colleagues at AMD. It comes with the full support of the highest echelons at AMD.

Q. Are there any plans for developing a Radeon GPU specific for the mobile (mobile phones, tablets, smart wearables) segment?

A. We have no plans to enter the smartphone market, but we’re already in tablets from companies like Vizio with our 4W (or less) APU parts.

Q. Will there be a GCN 1.2, 2.0 or are you already working on a future architecture?

A. Graphics Core Next is our basic architecture for the foreseeable future.

Q. I know it's been asked before, but do you plan to sit this one out or will we see AMD getting involved in the Steam console(s) project?

A. You will see AMD-powered Steam machines in 2014.

Q. Did you have to make any sacrifices in the GPU architecture in order to ease the unification with the CPU? If yes please give a few examples, if no please motivate.

A. No, it’s more about changing the direction of CPU architecture to be harmonious with GPUs. Of course the GPU ISA has to be expanded to include things like unified memory addressing and C++ code execution, but this capability already exists within Graphics Core Next. So, on the GPU side, it’s all about extending the basic capabilities of the GPU, rather than changing the fundamentals to get GPGPU.

Q. Regarding your co-operation with EA, will we see the next-gen sports game engine supporting Mantle?

A. Mantle is in the Frostbite 3 engine. EA/Dice (http://www.slideshare.net/DICEStudio/battlefield-4-frostbite-3-mantle) have disclosed that the following franchises will soon support Frostbite: Command & Conquer, Mass Effect, Mirror’s Edge, Need for Speed, PvZ, Star Wars, Dragon Age: Inquisition. With respect to unannounced titles, I guess we all have to wait and see what they have in store!

Q. A question for Robert “Thracks” Hallock: What games do you play?

A. Right now I’m playing Tomb Raider, Dishonored, and Chivalry: Medieval Warfare.

Q. I’d like your thoughts on the price disparity between the different countries. 

A. We set suggested prices for our GPUs in US dollars. The prices you see in any other country are the product of tax, duty, import, and the strength of a currency compared to US dollars. Once a retailer purchases the board from us, we have absolutely no control over what they do with the product.

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Thanks again to all for making this a great success!

-The Tom’s Hardware Community Team

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  • 1 Hide
    jumpmanxt , November 12, 2013 11:46 PM
    Does AMD have an official download link for their cleanup utility? I can't get the link in the article to work (http://www2.ati.com/drivers/amd_cleanup_util_1.2.1.0.exe).
  • -1 Hide
    tomfreak , November 13, 2013 4:37 AM
    I is sad.... I ask if Radeon 7790 support TrueAudio or not, my question got passed -.-

    Radeon 7790 is the same chip with 260x.
  • 3 Hide
    ronch79 , November 13, 2013 5:17 AM
    WHy wasn't AMD asked about the future of their CPU division? Do they plan to offer FX SKUs using the Steamroller core? What about Excavator? Any plans to continue making x86 CPUs after Excavator?
  • 3 Hide
    InvalidError , November 13, 2013 5:31 AM
    Quote:
    WHy wasn't AMD asked about the future of their CPU division?

    Because the AMA panel was from the GPU division and deferred CPU-related questions to AMD's upcoming forum and interviews elsewhere. In other words, they probably were not authorized to discuss CPU-related questions.
  • 0 Hide
    sarinaide , November 13, 2013 6:20 AM
    Nice interview, its eye opening to see how little people in position to know actually knew about AMD and its projects. The automatic knee-jerk reaction is to assume a problem when there is no problem other than the assumption of problems.

  • 2 Hide
    goodguy713 , November 13, 2013 8:28 AM
    well this was pretty informative actually. the temp issue with the 290 and 290x seems like it can be solved just by gaming out side in 30 degree weather.. lol
  • 2 Hide
    goodguy713 , November 13, 2013 8:30 AM
    all joking aside i honestly think I will buy a 290 here soon been waiting for amazon to get more in stock
  • 2 Hide
    MajinCry , November 13, 2013 8:31 AM
    Gah. Forgot about the AMA. I'd have asked if there would be any performance benefit from wrapping, say, DirectX 9 to Mantle, due to the low-level aspect of the latter.
  • 1 Hide
    InvalidError , November 13, 2013 9:56 AM
    Quote:
    Gah. Forgot about the AMA. I'd have asked if there would be any performance benefit from wrapping, say, DirectX 9 to Mantle, due to the low-level aspect of the latter.

    Sounds like a silly idea to me since the point of Mantle is to bypass DXn's complexity and overhead in the first place by giving programmers lower-level access to the hardware.

    If you make DXn libraries that translate the DXn API to Mantle, you lose pretty much all advantages Mantle is intended to provide since you have to jump through all DXn hoops on top of dealing with Mantle stuff.

    With DXn, you get: Game -> DXn APIs -> driver hardware abstraction layer -> low-level drivers -> hardware
    With Mantle, you get: Game -> Mantle -> low-level drivers -> hardware
    With "Mantlified DXn" you get: Game -> DXn API -> DXn translation layer -> Mantle -> low-level drivers -> hardware

    Converting DXn to Mantle is likely less efficient since it introduces an extra middleware layer that may not be able to execute calls as efficiently as a middleware layer that speaks native hardware language - the hardware abstraction layer has liberties in how to translate DXn calls to hardware that Mantle would not have.
  • 1 Hide
    joditas , November 13, 2013 10:18 AM
    This is the original version
    http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/id-1863987/official-amd-radeon-representatives.html

    I appreciate THG for hosting this but many questions are simply left unanswered. If AMD wants to capture more market share, not just maintain, they need to do better in areas where they are lacking.
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , November 13, 2013 10:42 AM
    Quote:
    If AMD wants to capture more market share, not just maintain, they need to do better in areas where they are lacking.

    Doing better in areas they are lacking (per-core performance) is only one way to go about improving their market position. Reducing the industry's dependence on AMD's biggest weakness by heavily promoting HSA works too but does require more effort to drive market interest and adoption.

    As I have been saying for a while, most of the gaming and image/video processing algorithms that "require more cores" are embarrassingly parallel and would be perfect candidates for GPGPU. Once you remove that from the CPU's workload, most of what is left is heavily branch-dependent code that may be nearly impossible to break into threads in a sensible manner.
  • 1 Hide
    smeezekitty , November 13, 2013 11:11 AM
    Quote:

    WHy wasn't AMD asked about the future of their CPU division? Do they plan to offer FX SKUs using the Steamroller core? What about Excavator? Any plans to continue making x86 CPUs after Excavator?

    Because this is a GPU AMA with GPU reps. There were CPU questions but they were not answered (and realistically the GPU division probably didn't really know the answers)
  • 0 Hide
    mapesdhs , November 13, 2013 11:23 AM

    I second jumpmanxt's question, the cleanup utility link doesn't work, and
    searching AMD's site gives no results.

    Ian.

  • -3 Hide
    silicondoc_85 , November 13, 2013 2:12 PM
    Quote:
    Does AMD have an official download link for their cleanup utility? I can't get the link in the article to work (http://www2.ati.com/drivers/amd_cleanup_util_1.2.1.0.exe).


    Like of course ! AMD website sucks, as it always has, it's a huge pain compared to nVidia's website, which rocks and rocks and rocks.

    I just bought a brand new high end SB950 AM3+ board and guess what ?
    AMD HOSTS NO DRIVERS FOR IT - FOR THEIR OWN CHIPSET.

    You get links at the bottom of the page after the massive runaround - to manufacturers of motherboards...
    See it would cost amd money to have drivers for their products online... they prefer to laythe burden upon their "partners" or should I call them abused spouses ?

    Yeah, I thought I knew how much amd sucks which is to the far reaches of the universe, but then I saw even greater suckage from them.

    I give mantle about a 3% chance of not being a huge pain in the rear 99% of the time for dubious and very "massaged" benefit, with many unstated caveats and issues, only to be told a couple years later, in passing, while proclaiming "the new solution" and bashing the superior competition, since that's how it's been done for a decade plus now.
  • 0 Hide
    iknowhowtofixit , November 13, 2013 3:11 PM
    Quote:
    Q. How much in the way of performance increase are we looking at with Mantle-enabled games?

    A. I cannot give you a precise answer now, but the first performance numbers will be revealed during the AMD Developer Conference next week. Keep your eyes open on the 13th.


    It is the 13th, I wanna see Mantle performance numbers! :-)
  • -2 Hide
    silicondoc_85 , November 13, 2013 3:37 PM
    Quote:
    Gah. Forgot about the AMA. I'd have asked if there would be any performance benefit from wrapping, say, DirectX 9 to Mantle, due to the low-level aspect of the latter.


    Allow me to answer that.

    YES ! There will be huge gains ! Think of it as BF6 or BF8 !
    Think of very expensive items on your fireplace's mantle !

    Of course all that will come "in the future" with "the game dev partners" "doing all the work", and after the gigantic flops and artifacts and visual anomalies and embarrassing fragolific fallout, the amazing promises will then come "in the future", when " the great advantages can be put to use! ", so of course, BUY IT NOW !, because years down the road the benefits will "materialize" !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wow I amd so fired up !!!!!!

  • 0 Hide
    Shankovich , November 13, 2013 5:31 PM
    "Such a dance would take 10 conferences to complete, and may require the use of a Potara Earring." Best AMA answer ever
  • 0 Hide
    ihog , November 13, 2013 7:10 PM
    Quote:
    Using a 100% reference design at launch ensures that AMD can control every facet of the initial production. It minimizes the number of variables that can "go wrong."


    Apparently, their production design just sucks then. The reference cooler is awful. AMD did a bad job, and they should feel bad.

    Also, Tom's, these mobile ads are beyond annoying. Sure, one is fine, even though none should show up since I'm a member, but every single time I click out of one, another pops up. Mod edit for language. Keep it family friendly please!
  • 0 Hide
    InvalidError , November 13, 2013 7:33 PM
    Quote:
    Apparently, their production design just sucks then. The reference cooler is awful. AMD did a bad job, and they should feel bad.

    The reference cooler should be fine for the most part but the fan design is very odd. I'm sure it could be improved substantially with very minor tweaks. For example: the fan blades are practically perpendicular to the rotation tangent. This creates high resistance in front of them and turbulence around them instead of making the blades shove the air outside the centrifugal fan. Simply rotating the blades about five degrees counter-clockwise should improve that a fair bit by making the inner edge slice into air in front of it with the blade curve guiding that outwards, assisted by centrifugal force. A very minor tweak but I bet it would significantly improve airflow and noise.
  • 0 Hide
    Christopher Shaffer , November 13, 2013 11:06 PM
    All of this was very interesting, especially the favorite color question. However, this is my favorite response:
    A. Mantle is a full graphics API. Anything indie developers are doing with other APIs today can be done on Mantle, plus you get direct hardware access. Anything with a GCN graphics core can leverage Mantle. We're open to working with any developer on Mantle! Please contact us.

    It would rock to see Indie devs able to pump out better products with AMD support. DX11 isn't exactly Indie-friendly.

    Here's to Indie games getting wide-spread attention and support due to Mantle. I'm excited (and I'm running a 770 4GB right now.... don't tell anyone!).
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