AMD has announced quite a bit within the last year. Monday night at the SIGGRAPH conference they announced a pretty significant change along with some adjustments to its future GPU lineup, including the launch of a new Radeon Pro graphics card. While the FirePro lineup is being retired altogether, its being resurrected from the ashes in favor of a new, Radeon Pro branding!
This card is quite interesting – unique to say the least, one that I guarantee many of you have never really seen before, welcome the Radeon Pro SSG! This little new Radeon Pro GPU has integrated M.2. slots for adding PCI express based NAND storage. Using what AMD gave as SSG Technology, or Solid State Graphics Technology, AMD will graft high-speed NAND memory to its upcoming line of professional GPU’s.
“The GPU can add up to 1 terabyte of SSD storage connected via a PEX8747 bridge chip.”
– Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group
Heres a simple way to put it:
Currently desktops can support 64GB, while highly expensive workstations can support up to 1,536GB of memory. Graphic cards are limited to a fraction of that; 32GB is the most a graphic card can support. If you want to perform a workload on the GPU, you either have to pull it all into GPU memory or rely on PCI express bus (which is a pretty high latency). By moving workloads into an “on-card NAND flash” this resolves the latency problem.
The GPU must slice workloads then manage the merging of those parts. When the GPU wants more work, it has to signal the CPU, which fetches data from the local RAM or even primary storage, this method gives quite a bit of latency.
With SSG, the CPU is bypassed entirely which cuts the latency greatly, AMD stated. SSG would not replace the graphic’s RAM itself, such as HBM, HBM2, or GDDR5+ as it would be too slow and induce too much latency. The company’s new “Polaris-based Radeon RX 480” for example has about 256GBps of memory bandwith. The best you can get out of a single M.2 interface today is anywhere from 1.5GBps to 2GBps.
In short, SSG memory would be treated as a huge pool of RAM. If the GPU can’t find its data within the local GDDR5+ or HBM RAM, it then would search the SSG. Only after that it would acquire help from the CPU.
AMD’s SSD graphics technology adds NAND alongside with RAM thus enables more than a terabyte of memory in a GPU with way less latency.
“This will allow us to connect terabytes of memory to the GPU. SSG is already making a difference in ultra-high resolution 8k video.”
-David Watters, AMD Head of Industry Alliances.
Why does this matter? 8k video isn’t just a double of 4k. An Ultra HD 4k video is about 8-8.3 megapixels. An 8k video is 7680×4320, which is about 33 megapixels. According to Watters, even the strongest of GPU’s on the market such as the Titan X and the brand new 1000’s series from NIVIDIA can play raw 8k video at about 15-20 frames per second; one with SSG can play the same video from 90-100 frames per second.
AMD claims that it can access local memory over the M.2. interface at an extremely low latency than pulling data from the PCI express bus. However it is still in the air about whether or not there’s any kind of bandwidth advantage to having this kind of accessibility.
When demoed at SIGGRAPH computer graphics conference, the Radeon PRO SSG rendered raw 8k video at 30 frames per second – AMD claims it will be having the possibility of running at 90 frames per second. Virtual Reality content creators along with medical and scientific communities who need high-end renders would benefit the most from this kind of large frame buffering the Radeon Pro SSG gives, and that’s exactly who AMD is targeting.
If you’re not in those fields, getting your hands on this powerful of a graphics card will most likely make you broke, that is of course you’re rich and have $10,000 dollars to spare.
$10,000 dollars, yup, ten-thousand-dollars is what the beta developer kits for the Radeon PRO SSG are going for and its highly unlikely the commercial version will see a big price drop. Applications to purchase the dev kit are being accepted and the Radeon Pro SSG is being scheduled to be release commercially later on in the year.