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AMD launches the first 7nm GPUs, but they're not for you

You'll have to wait a while longer for gaming cards. AMD is following through on its promise of releasing 7-nanometer GPUs -- not that you can use one yet. The company has formally launched Radeon Instinct MI50 and MI60 cards that use the denser, more efficient chip technology to accelerate specialized computing tasks like AI, cloud services and scientific calculations. The MI60 in particular is billed as the fastest double-precision accelerator of its type, pumping out 7.4 teraflops when crunching 64-bit floating point data. Both boards pack very high-bandwidth (up to 1TB/s) HBM2 memory and can work together in "hive rings" of up to four GPUs thanks to 200GB/s peer-to-peer links. The MI60 will make the promise of 7nm GPUs a reality by shipping to data centers before the end of 2018, while its more accessible MI50 counterpart should arrive no later than the first quarter of 2019. This isn't the 7nm gaming card many people are clamoring for, but it's still a milestone for the computing industry -- you can finally find 7nm tech in a GPU outside of a mobile chip. NVIDIA's RTX graphics hardware remains built on a 12nm process. Look at this as AMD laying the groundwork for 2019, when 7nm could is more likely to find its way inside your gaming rig.

AMD shows newest Radeon Instinct MI60 graphics chips for data centers

Advanced Micro Devices unveiled its Radeon Instinct MI60 graphics processing unit (GPU) for the data center. It promises 1.25 times performance and twice the transistor density of the previous generation. David Wang, senior vice president of engineering in the Radeon Technologies Group, made the announcement at AMDs press and analyst day in San Francisco. He said it can deliver up to 7.4 teraflops of 64-bit floating point peak performance. The new Vega-based GPUs debuting later this year will be built on a 7-nanometer manufacturing process. AMD also described its Zen 2 architecture for new families of central processing units (CPUs) coming in 2019. The GPUs in the cloud will be useful for cloud gaming, virtual desktops and workstations, machine learning, and high-performance computing, Wang said. The total available market is $12 billion by 2021, Wang said. This is the worlds first 7-nanometer GPU, Wang said. It has 13.2 billion transistors, or twice the density of the previous generation, and 1.25 times the performance. It is the worlds fastest floating point 64 and floating point 32 PCIe GPU, he said. AMD will also have an MI50 version GPU available. One Epyc central processing unit (CPU) can connect without bridges to four Radeon Instinct GPUs via the Infinity fabric. The chip also has a third generation of AMDs hardware virtualization, so many users can use a single GPU. This is really our differentiation, and it comes for free, Wang said. In the data center, the GPU can handle machine learning tasks. AMD is releasing ROCm 2.0 open source software for machine learning tasks. Supporters include Baidu, which is using AMD tech. On one benchmark, AMDs MI60 GPU is 8.8 times faster on the DGEMM benchmark than the previous generation 14-nanometer MI25 GPU. On Resnet-50 image processing, it is 2.8 times faster. Wang claimed that AMDs chip can acheive comparable performance to Nvidias Tesla V100 PCIe rival chip. More significant, noted analyst Kevin Krewell of Tirias Research, is that AMDs die size (size of the chip) is less than half the size of the Nvidia chip. That translates into lower costs and lower prices. Peter McGuinness, CEO of startup Highwai, showed how the chip can be used to produce simulated worlds for machine learning, using massive data sets. He showed in real-time how the AMD chip can be used to process data from a self-driving car in real-time, simulating what would be necessary for a car moving down a street. The AMD Radeon Instinct MI60 chip is expected to ship to data center customers by the end of 2018, and the AMD Radeon Instinct MI50 accelerator is expected to begin shipping by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Wang also teased a MI Next chip coming in the future with software compatibility to previous chips. Patrick Moorhead, analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said, AMD moved the ball down the field from a hardware perspective with Instincts 7-nanometer design. I am impressed with its one terabyte per second memory bandwidth, ganging with Epyc and Infinity Fabric, and density. I believe its degree of success will be directly related to it uptake of ROCm 2.0 software into customers workflow. AMD Radeon has always had good hardware and it takes hardware, software plus go-to-market to fully move the needle.