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Posts Tagged ‘Eyefinity’

Multiple Display Support for CAD Workstations

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

The most compelling reason to install multiple GPUs is to drive multiple high-resolution displays. The secret’s out that “multi-mon” is the single best way to improve your productivity. Anyone who’s gone to two displays (or three — or more!) will tell you they could never go back to one. And more graphics cards can display more pixels across more monitors.

Which Graphics Card Works for You?

EyefinityThat said, you don’t necessarily need to populate two cards to run two monitors, so pay attention to the cards you’re selecting. NVIDIA’s Quadro with nView and Mosaic technology can support two displays across most of the product line. A single high-end AMD FirePro V7900, with its Eyefinity technology, can handle four on its own, thank you very much. As such, if your performance demands have you buying midrange or high-end cards, you might get all the screen real estate you want with one card. But if you’re much hungrier for pixels and screens than you are for polygons per second, you might consider two less-expensive, dual-monitor cards.

On top of multi-monitor support, you can use that extra slot to turn your workstation into a supercomputer. An exaggeration? Not to some. General-purpose computing on GPUs (GPGPU) technology is still evolving, but many of the applications that show the most promise are the ones of most interest to engineers and other CAD users: applications such as computational fluid
dynamics (CFD) and finite-element analysis (FEA). Simulation software developers such as ANSYS and Abaqus are porting code to harness GPUs to deliver big speed-ups — in many cases tenfold or even 100- fold increases — over CPU-only computation.

High-end graphics cards usually require more power than the 75 watts supplied by the typical x16 PCI Express interface. Workstation OEMs accommodate their extra needs via auxiliary power cables drawn from the supply. Some high-end and virtually all ultra high-end graphics cards are dual-slot thickness. They insert into one PCI Express x16 connector, but their thickness means an
adjacent x16 slot may be blocked and rendered useless.

Make the Right Choice

When purchasing a workstation online, the OEM’s product configurator should let you know if the chosen card or cards will mate to the chosen system, with respect to power supplies and connectors, the number of available PCI Express x16 slots, and whether a dual-slot card has sufficient clearance. For example, when outfitting graphics on a smaller chassis that can’t accommodate two dual-slot cards, chances are the OEM will only offer the option of two entry-level or two mid-range cards, both of which are single slot width.

For that matter, if you’re perusing the latest flavor of entry level workstation, full-length cards may not have clearance lengthwise. Again, the online configurator should ensure compatibility, so you shouldn’t have to worry about these issues.

Author: Alex Herrera

New Accelerated Processing Units for CAD from AMD

August 15, 2012 1 comment

AMD launched the AMD FirePro A300 Series Accelerated Processing Unit (APU) for entry-level and mainstream desktop workstations. Featuring AMD Eyefinity multi-display technology, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are designed for CAD and media and entertainment (M&E) workflows.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs combine CPU and GPU functionality on a single chip to blend workstation performance and application-certified compatibility required to help keep design professionals productive in their work.

“Design professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics.

According to the company, the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs are the first single-chip processors capable of delivering the workstation-class visual computing performance required for advanced professional design workflows. The introduction of AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs is designed to allow OEMs and workstation integrators (WSIs) greater flexibility, enabling new workstation designs that help save space, are energy efficient, and have low heat and noise levels without compromising true workstation-class performance and reliability.

Performance

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs were developed for the entry-level and mainstream workstation segments, providing a blend of CPU and GPU performance and industry-leading features to keep design professionals efficient:

  • Support for AMD Eyefinity Technology for enhanced efficiency and immersive, multi-monitor productivity;
  • AMD Turbo Core technology, where CPU and GPU performance are dynamically scaled depending on workload demands, effectively providing a more responsive experience;
  • Support for horizontal display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 pixels, enabling large desktop spaces across multiple high-resolution display devices for advanced multitasking;
  • Support for Discrete Compute Offload (DCO), allowing additional compute capability by using discrete AMD FirePro GPUs in parallel with APU graphics for extended GPGPU performance;
  • 30-bit color support to enable image and color fidelity for advanced workflows such as color correction and image processing when using displays capable of 10-bit-per-channel operation;
  • Dedicated UVD (universal video decoder/VCE, or video CODEC engine) media encoding hardware for faster “fixed function” GPU processing of H.264/MPEG4 files and other motion media formats when using compatible software, to free up CPU resources for other tasks.

Pricing and Availability

The AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs will be available in systems from a number of workstation integrators starting in August 2012.

AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs
APU Model TDP CPU Cores CPU Clock (Max/Base) AMD Stream Processors GPU Clock Unlocked
AMD FirePro A300 65W 4 4 GHz / 3.4 GHz 384 760 MHz No
AMD FirePro A320 100W 4 4.2 GHz / 3.8 GHz 384 800 MHz Yes

Author: CADspeed editors

AMD Introduces New Workstation Graphics Cards for CAD

August 8, 2012 1 comment

If you’ve upgraded to the latest CAD software applications and your workstation is feel a little, well, overworked, AMD just might have the answer you’ve been looking in its latest line of workstation graphics launched this week.

The AMD FirePro W9000 GPU features incredible increased memory bandwidth and greater multi-display support performance than the competing solution. Following closely are the AMD FirePro W8000, W7000 and W5000 workstation graphics cards, all built on the AMD Graphics Core Next Architecture, and designed to balance compute and 3D workloads efficiently for computer-aided design and engineering, and for media and entertainment (M&E) professionals.

The AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, W7000 and W5000 GPUs are optimized and certified for leading software applications enabling users to unleash their creativity by ensuring ultra-high geometry performance. The latest AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards can enable smooth handling of complex models and feature dynamic power management that enables great performance and efficient power usage.

Using AMD Eyefinity technology, the AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, and W7000 GPUs can drive up to six, 30” independent displays via Multi-Stream Transport (MST) hubs for maximum workspace utilization at ultra-high 4096×2160 resolutions.

“As professionals work with larger data sets that demand advanced visualization and complex models, they need a graphics solution that is fast, powerful, and reliable,” said Matt Skynner, corporate vice president and general manager of AMD Graphics. “Certified for today’s software applications, the new AMD FirePro workstation graphics cards bring a range of features and capabilities for professionals working in digital signage, broadcast graphics, CAD/CAE and M&E, delivering the ideal balance of power, performance and reliability at the right price point.”

With the latest AMD FirePro workstation graphics offerings, graphics professionals can create more complex models and interact with them in real time, helping improve workflows and boost productivity. Through GCN and GeometryBoost, the state-of-the-art AMD FirePro W9000 workstation GPU delivers 1.95 billon triangles per second, which is 1.5 times as great as the competitor’s most powerful workstation graphics card, and up to 83 percent greater memory bandwidth than the competing solution, for outstanding application responsiveness.

The AMD FirePro W8000 workstation GPU, features Error Correcting Code (ECC) memory support and offers category leading dual-precision compute performance, up to 2.2 times as fast as the competing solution. This helps professionals experience greater accuracy in calculations performed for structural and molecular analysis and computational fluid dynamics without impacting application performance. Not to be outdone, the AMD FirePro W7000 workstation GPU is up to five times as fast as the competing solution in single-precision compute performance, while the AMD FirePro W5000 workstation GPU is the most powerful mid-range workstation graphics card ever created, delivering significantly better resolution, memory and display output performance than the competing card.

The AMD FirePro W9000, W8000, W7000 and W5000 workstation graphics cards are optimized and certified for leading workstation applications. Additionally, these new AMD FirePro cards support PCI Express 3.0 and AMD PowerTune and AMD ZeroCore Power technologies for dynamic power management.

 Product
 Target Market
 TFLOP
 Memory Size
 SRP

AMD FirePro W9000

High-performance CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage professionals

4 TFLOPs single precision

1 TFLOP double precision

6GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$3,999

AMD FirePro W8000

High-performance CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage professionals

3.23 TFLOPs single precision

806 GFLOPs double precision

4GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$1,599

AMD FirePro W7000

Mid-range solution for CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage

2.4 TFLOPs single precision

152 GFLOPs double precision

4GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$899

AMD FirePro W5000

Mid-range solution for CAD engineers, media designers, digital signage

1.27 TFLOPs single precision

80 GFLOPs double precision

2GB of high speed GDDR5 memory

USD$599

Find out more at the AMD website.

The Advantages of Eyefinity for CAD, Part 3: Rules of Thumb

July 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Previously in this series, we’ve talked about using Eyefinity with older displays and how to find the right adapter for non-DisplayPort monitors.

EyefinityObviously this confusion will fade away as older non-DisplayPort monitors are gradually replaced by new DisplayPort-savvy displays. For reasons of cost though, don’t expect to see that too soon. Until then here are some rules of thumb.

  • A maximum of 2 VGA/DVI/HDMI monitors can be enabled simultaneously by using a passive DisplayPort adapter/dongle on FirePro cards. (about $22)
  • To enable support for more than 2 VGA/DVI/HDMI monitors, active DisplayPort adapters/dongles are required (about $28 but included for free, one for each DisplayPort output, w/ the latest generation of FirePro cards).
  • To support a dual-link DVI monitor, a powered, active DisplayPort to DL-DVI adapter/dongle is required (about $80)
  • DisplayPort monitors of any resolution require no adapters/dongles
  • VGA monitors can be supported via:
    • Native VGA connector from the graphics card
    • DVI-I connector + passive DVI to VGA adapter
    • Active DP to VGA adapter

Eyefinity is a game-changing technology for boosting productivity at very low cost and low power. By including active adapters in the new FirePro line, AMD is making the user experience for Eyefinity significantly better and thus more pervasive.

I actually read a Twitter post the other day that seems relevant here:  “RT @cavemanjim: Biggest takeaway from AMD Fusion Summit is that AMD actually cares about user experience. It’s not a means to an end, it is the end.”

Author: Tony DeYoung

The Advantages of Eyefinity for CAD, Part 2: Adapters to the Rescue

June 30, 2011 2 comments

Okay, we’ve established that you want Eyefinity for multi-display CAD operations, and the display manufacturers and graphic card manufacturers aren’t necessarily making it easy for you.

DisplayPort AdapterIt might not seem the most elegant solution, but if you want to use your new DisplayPort card to drive an existing multi-monitor setup or you want to add low cost DVI monitors to complete your Eyefinity system, then you can buy relatively inexpensive DisplayPort adapters.

Active vs. Passive

Ah, if it were only that simple — just buy a DisplayPort adapter and all will work. Actually it is that simple, but until recently, the DisplayPort ecosystem was playing catch-up. You had to pay attention to what kind of adapter: Passive or Active.

The issue arises because DVI/HDMI requires a dedicated clock source per output.  On the other hand DisplayPort only requires one clock source to drive as many outputs as supported by the GPU.  FirePro cards offer a workaround by including two clocks which means you can simultaneously drive two DVI/HDMI displays from dual-mode DisplayPort outputs using nothing more than a Passive adapter. But to use more than two DVI/HDMI displays, you need to use an Active adapter (a cable or dongle that integrates a DisplayPort translator chip, and a DAC for the VGA case ).

Powered Active

Sounds confusing?  Wait it gets a little worse.  All of the above only refers to single-link DVI displays (displays that handle up to 1920 x 1200 resolution at 60 Hz).  If you are trying to drive dual-link DVI displays with resolutions up to 2560 x 1600 like the HP 30-inch or Apple Cinema Display, then you need a USB bus-Powered Active adapter/dongle.

Let’s Just Keep It Simple

Needless to say, this scenario of two adapters for single-link DVI and a third for dual-link DVI, caused a lot of confusion in the early days of DisplayPort and Eyefinity.  Not only could you not use your new graphics card until you ran out and bought adapters. But even with adapters in hand, you could find that you had purchased the wrong type of adapter to drive the third or fourth display.  It wasn’t an unsolvable crisis, but it was sure irritating.

Active Adapters Included in the Box

The new FirePro V7900 and FirePro V5900 cards eliminate the Passive vs. Active confusion, as well as the need to buy anything additional. The graphics cards simply come with Active adapters. You don’t need to think if you are connecting your 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th monitor.  Just plug in one of the included adapters and it supplies the conversion as needed. Simple (almost Apple-esque in the “it just works” simplicity). I hope we see more of this “included in the box” approach.

Of course, if you have a legacy dual-link display, then you still need a special bus-powered adapter. But fewer people have this setup then those with the more common multiple, single-link DVI monitors.

Next I’ll discuss the Rules of Thumb for Eyefinity setups.

Author: Tony DeYoung

The Advantages of Eyefinity for CAD, Part 1: DVI Monitors and DisplayPort Graphics Cards

June 28, 2011 7 comments
Eyefinity
Eyefinity drives 3 or more displays simultaneously.

Eyefinity lets you drive 3 or more independent displays simultaneously from a single low-power FirePro graphics card. This technology is great for CAD users because it enables you to multi-task different workflow applications on each display or span a single CAD application across multiple displays as one desktop workspace. Check out this video showing using a three-display configuration driven by a single laptop and then tell me you don’t want it.

DisplayPort for Graphics Cards and Display Manufacturers

Whether you are talking AMD FirePro or Nvidia Quadro, DisplayPort has become the standard output port for both consumer and professional graphics cards.  Yes, there are legacy DVI ports on some cards and there are even cards specifically designed to address the legacy market (e.g., FirePro V5800 DVI). But largely the debate about standards is over, and DisplayPort is here to stay. (I have written about the advantages of DisplayPort previously.)

But while the graphics card manufacturers embraced DisplayPort early on, the display manufacturers (Apple aside) have only recently made the switch. Beginning in 2010, Asus, Dell, HP LaCie, Lenovo, and NEC released more than 80 displays supporting DisplayPort. But there are still a lot more displays released with only the less expensive DVI or VGA input connectors.

So What Do I Do with My Older Monitors? Can I Still Use Eyefinity?

So what do you do if you have a display/monitor released before 2010 that only has single-link or dual-link DVI inputs? Or perhaps more interestingly, what if you want to set up a 3- or 4-display visual workspace for your CAD workflow using Eyefinity, but some or all of the displays you plan to use only have DVI/HDMI/VGA inputs?

Next, I’ll talk about DisplayPort adapters that can help you do just that.

Author: Tony DeYoung

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