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AMD Fusion: How It Started, Where Itís Going, And What It Means (What is HSA?)
tom'sHARDWARE ^ | August 14, 2012 | by William Van Winkle

Posted on 04/01/2013 9:50:44 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Table of contents

You've already read about APUs, and maybe you're even using them now. But the road to creating APUs was paved with a number of struggles and unsung breakthroughs. This is the story of how hybrid chips came to be at AMD and where they’re going.

“Nothing is more difficult than the art of maneuver. What is difficult about maneuver is to make the devious route the most direct and to turn misfortune to advantage.”

    —Sun Tzu, The Art of War

When I interviewed Dave Orton, then the president of ATI Technologies, in 2002, one of the first things he told me, "It’s always what’s possible in the business that keeps people going." No more prophetic words could describe the coming merger between his company and CPU manufacturer AMD. The big question, of course, isn’t what is possible or even whether the possible will become reality. The real question is whether the possible will become reality soon enough.

Dave OrtonDave Orton

Orton spent most of the '90s with Silicon Graphics and, in 1999, when almost anything in technology seemed possible, he left SGI to join a little core logic startup called ArtX. The little company won the development contract for Nintendo’s GameCube, which went on to sell a few units (somewhere north of 20 million). That fall, ArtX showed its first integrated chipset at Comdex, and immediately the company flashed on the industry’s radar as a prime acquisition target.

Ultimately, ATI was able to put ArtX in its pocket and made Orton its president and COO. Then the tech bubble burst, driver problems abounded, schedules slipped, and, for a while, it seemed that ATI could do nothing right.

Part of the road back to glory hinged on Orton figuring out how to complete the meshing of these two development teams. He was the one who figured out how to get ATI on a 12-month cycle for new architectures and six- to nine-month cycles for iterative design revisions. Product teams were given more control and responsibility. And slowly, over 18 months, perhaps, with Nvidia kicking it in the ribs at every turn, ATI managed to get back on its feet. The company rediscovered how to execute.

"Just step back and understand your roots," said Orton. "Constantly build. You can never be satisfied with where you are. You’ve got to be satisfied with where you can be and then drive to that."

Back on top of its game, Orton knew it was time to keep driving—but to where? I detected no glimmer of the future in our 2002 discussion. ATI continued to excel at integrating graphics into northbridge chips, and Intel, which still viewed integrated graphics as only needing to be good enough for business apps, was still more of a partner than a competitor.

However, in a keenly prescient moment, Orton told me, "I guess if I could change one thing about computing, I’d like it to be more open to create a broader range of innovation. I recognize the advantages of standards. Standards provide opportunity."

At two different points in our conversation, Orton lamented his daily Silicon Valley commute, even saying that if he could invent anything, no matter how fantastic, it would be a Star Trek-esque transporter. So perhaps we can take him at his word when, in 2007, he left his post as executive vice president of AMD in order to spend more time with his family. But this is jumping ahead. First, Orton’s drive from Toronto was about to take a hard southern turn, straight down to Texas.



TOPICS: Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: amd; hitech; hsa; mooreslaw

1 posted on 04/01/2013 9:50:44 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: ShadowAce; SunkenCiv; blam; Marine_Uncle; Fred Nerks; NormsRevenge

Just came across this,...thought there might be some interest in the article.


2 posted on 04/01/2013 9:53:03 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Bunny. Pancake on head.


3 posted on 04/01/2013 9:59:41 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

But I’m sure that SOME here will find it fascinating!


4 posted on 04/01/2013 10:00:51 AM PDT by JimRed (Excise the cancer before it kills us; feed &water the Tree of Liberty! TERM LIMITS, NOW & FOREVER!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Normally I avoid articles that have quotes from Sun Tzu like the plague but this one was interesting. However, this guy ran ATI, the company with the worse drivers ever and they make him out to be a sage not to mention the ‘borrowed’ legitimacy by quoting Sun Tzu.

While I’m on a rant on Sun Tzu, why is he supposed to be such a great genius. If you read Art of War, it is basically a list of things that says, “fight the enemy where he is weakest.” Great advice, I was going to attack at the strong point. Then again, I didn’t get the Five Rings either.


5 posted on 04/01/2013 10:12:16 AM PDT by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: Lx
I find the story fascinating.....and from several pages ahead there is a Graphic that says why do WE CARE....


6 posted on 04/01/2013 10:37:07 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Timely article... I was just considering an AMD fusion2. Never heard of it before and was wondering how well it supports programming with Linux. This is a brand new endeavor for me so I am starting in Python. I need a great computer, but the MAC I want is simply too expensive for now. I detest windows so they are out of the question.


7 posted on 04/01/2013 10:39:00 AM PDT by momincombatboots (Back to West by G-d Virginia.)
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To: momincombatboots
Including the text following the Graphic at post #6:

*************************************EXCERPT************************************

Just as the two organizations were completing their cultural fusion, the Fusion effort itself was nearing the end of its first stage. AMD showed its first Fusion APUs to the world at CES in early 2011, and product started shipping shortly thereafter. In the consumer space, the Llano platforms, based on the 32 nm K10 core, arrived in the A4, A6, A8, and E2 APU series. Another announcement from 2011 CES was that the Fusion System Architecture would henceforward be known as the Heterogeneous System Architecture (HSA). According to AMD, the company wanted to turn HSA into an open industry standard, and a name that didn’t reflect a long-standing AMD-centric effort would help illustrate that fact. This would prove to be the first hint of AMD’s even larger aspirations.

8 posted on 04/01/2013 10:42:45 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: All
Another significant paragraph from the article:

*************************************EXCERPT******************************************

Ubiquitous as that might sound, though, the APU is not the endgame; it’s only the beginning. Simply having two different cores on the same die may improve latency, but the aim of Fusion was always to leverage heterogeneous computing in the most effective ways possible. Having discrete CPUs and GPUs each chew on the application tasks best suited to them is still heterogeneous computing. Having those two cores present on the same die is merely an expression of heterogeneous computing more suited to certain system goals, such as optimizing high performance in a lower power envelope. Of course, this assumes that programs are being written to leverage a heterogeneous compute model—and most are not.

9 posted on 04/01/2013 10:48:36 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
OK, I did something I seldom do, you shamed me into reading the article I was commenting on. I have one question, when do I get this to run DOS 5 on?

Tom's Hardware is a great website.

10 posted on 04/01/2013 10:51:40 AM PDT by Lx (Do you like it, do you like it. Scott? I call it Mr. and Mrs. Tennerman chili.)
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To: Lx
Well if you have the moola,...multiple thousands I think,...You can now get your own SeaMicro server which can run Multiple Virtual Machines each running ...whatever with x86 instructions...

Don't know why this Linux Distro would not run:

DistroWatch.com: Qubes OS--

********************************

Qubes OS is a security-oriented, Fedora-based desktop Linux distribution whose main concept is "security by isolation" by using domains implemented as lightweight Xen virtual machines. It attempts to combine two contradictory goals: how to make the isolation between domains as strong as possible, mainly due to clever architecture that minimises the amount of trusted code, and how to make this isolation as seamless and easy as possible.

It is a Beta....and I do have it running on my Lalno APU ....not really doing much though....except trying to learn.

11 posted on 04/01/2013 11:04:55 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: All
another segment:

*************************************EXCERPT***************************************

Not surprisingly, all of the traditional APIs built to interface with GPUs were designed for graphics. To make a GPU compute math, one had to pretend operations were based on textures and rectangles. The great advance of OpenCL was that it dispensed with this work-around and provided a straight compute interface for the GPU. OpenCL is managed by the non-profit Khronos Group, and it is now supported by a wide range of industry players involved with heterogeneous computing, including AMD, ARM, Intel, and Nvidia.

12 posted on 04/01/2013 11:16:22 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: All
The closing paragraph:

******************************************EXCERPT***************************************

At a time when cracks are appearing in Moore’s Law and the costs of shrinking fab processes continue to skyrocket, an industry that wants to keep accelerating compute capabilities must turn increasingly to optimizing efficiency. Ultimately, this is what GPGPU and HSA enable. By old methods, how much would a CPU need to evolve in order to facilitate a 5x performance gain? Now, such gains are possible simply through hardware and software vendors adopting an end-to-end platform such as HSA. No pushing the envelope of lithography physics. No new multi-billion-dollar factories. Just more efficient utilization of the technologies already on the table. And through that, the world of computing can take a quantum leap forward.

13 posted on 04/01/2013 11:56:58 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach ((The Global Warming Hoax was a Criminal Act....where is Al Gore?))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Thanks Ernest.


14 posted on 04/01/2013 1:58:13 PM PDT by Marine_Uncle (Galt level is not far away......)
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To: Lx

You do not need to think of it first, you must get it published first.

Sun Tzu.


15 posted on 04/01/2013 1:59:54 PM PDT by dangerdoc (see post #6)
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