Why build a $7,000, 2TB graphics card? AMD explains its monster Radeon Pro SSG

Radeon™ Pro SSG Professional Graphics – the world’s first GPU to break the 2 terabyte memory barrier

It’s rare to find a professional graphics card that makes its consumer counterparts look miserable. Despite their high prices, cards built for professionals are rarely put to shame by gaming hardware. They are engineered for durability as much as speed.

AMD Radeon Pro SSG is different. It uses AMD’s latest Vega core, pairs it with 16GB of second-generation high-bandwidth memory (HBM2), and then adds 2TB of integrated long-term storage made up of four Samsung 512GB SM961 NVMe drives, a new standard that uses PCI Express lanes for data transfer , providing speeds significantly higher than SATA. Two terabytes eclipses the amount of memory typically found on a graphics card: the Vega RX 64, AMD’s fastest gaming card, only has 8GB of memory.

Putting 2TB of solid state memory on a graphics card looks impressive on paper, but why would anyone spend $7,000 – yes, that’s how much it costs – to buy a card that has hundreds of times more available memory than its contemporaries? We spoke with Evan Groenke, head of product management at AMD’s Professional Graphics business unit, and Gabor Sines, head of video and professional graphics at AMD, to find out.

Radeon Pro SSG: Evolution of the Monster

Although AMD bills the Radeon Pro SSG as the first to “break the terabyte memory barrier,” that honor should technically go to the card’s predecessor, the original Radeon Pro SSG.

Released back in September 2016, it featured the Fiji core (the same one found in the Fury line of consumer cards) and a terabyte of additional memory, provided by dual M.2 solid state drives (SSDs) mounted on the card itself. Aimed at manufacturers working with 8K video, it has shown an impressive improvement in performance over traditional workstation cards, which are already powerful solutions.

“A high-bandwidth cache controller allows you to address a lot of memory in a much more efficient way.”

The new Radeon Pro SSG isn’t hugely different on the surface, but it does deliver an edge in a few key areas. Its newer Vega core gives it more processing power and efficiency than its predecessor. This, according to Sines, allowed AMD to improve read and write throughput and reduce latency between memory and GPU.

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“Year after year, graphics cards have gotten faster and faster, but as AMD looks at the market and the future, we want to break down the barriers that existed before,” Groenke told Digital Trends. “Some of them focused on memory, particularly going beyond the gigabyte solutions available on most graphics processing units (GPUs) today. We wanted to move to the terabyte range.”

Vega also brings a high-bandwidth cache controller. Through better management of available memory, it manages algorithms that manipulate huge data sets – storing what is important and discarding data that is not immediately needed. For gamers, this might put an end to frame freezes, but in the entertainment and research sectors, that’s what Radeon Pro SSG’s solid state memory stack does.

Image used with permission of the copyright holder

“A high-bandwidth cache controller is what allows you to address a lot of memory in a much more efficient way.” Groenke said. “For all intents and purposes, we’re creating a hardware-based caching solution.”

Despite the improved hardware and capabilities of the new Radeon Pro SSG, it is significantly cheaper than its predecessor. The one-terabyte SSG cost $10,000 when it was first introduced, but the new version retails for $7,000.

“The original SSG was a developer kit, so it was a very small production run,” Groenke explained. “This is a mass-produced product, therefore it is intended for different price ranges and mass professional consumers. We’ve taken the economies of scale and we’ve priced it at what we believe is the right price in the market.”

Groenke denied that the first generation SSG was designed to test the water to see if there was a need for such a product. Citing one of his favorite movies, he compared the Radeon Pro SSG with Field of dreamsstating simply that AMD knew, “if we build it, they will come.”

What is the purpose of 2TB memory?

While 2TB seems excessive, given that nothing but SSG’s predecessor comes close to that, Groenke wasn’t wrong to suggest that there is already interest in such hardware.

“In the medical and entertainment sector […] we have situations where they use multiple cards from our workstations,” he said. “In some cases up to four. They need a lot of GPU power, but they also work with a lot of data. In those scenarios, I can’t use any of the PCIe storage slots. SSG fits the market very well because it can handle high processing and large data sets.” In a follow-up discussion, an AMD spokesperson clarified the use, saying that “CT, MRI, and anatomical visualization scans would benefit from SSG, especially for large whole-body scan datasets.”

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Radeon Pro SSG: Enabling workflows for 4K and 8K content creation

Editing 8K video is another example of resource-intensive work that pushes modern hardware to its limits. The first SSG showed huge gains in this workload, and the second generation will put its foot on the gas.

“With uncompressed 8K video editing, you’re looking at gigabytes and terabytes of raw material that the GPU needs to access in a very fast and efficient way,” explained Groenke. “That was one of the key use cases we wanted to solve with a product like SSG, physically co-locating high-speed NVMe storage to the graphics board to give it fast access to that storage.”

Sines agreed, saying that “If you’re building a visual effect and then rendering some CG content, render in at least 4K. These individual images can be 250 megabytes each. If you’re doing all that computer graphics and you want to see your data flowing at 30 frames per second, that’s a lot of data to handle.”

By having storage on the card, the system does not have to wait for data from another disk. Everything is managed directly on the card, helping it manipulate massive data sets such as editing raw 8K video in real-time and helping users develop high-end 3D models in Maya and Solidworks.

Theory Studios is said to be using AMD hardware for special effects work on the upcoming season of Amazon’s The Man in the High Castle, and could be one of SSG’s first customers.

Scaling for the future

While the Radeon Pro SSG can already do things other workstation cards can’t, AMD sees the hardware and its capabilities becoming even more expansive in the future.

“SSG is more revolutionary than evolutionary at this point,” Sines said. “Two terabytes is our vision where we see this product fitting. However, we can produce something that can have more. Two terabytes is just the beginning.”

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When asked how high he believed the SSG could go on the newly announced Vega platform, Sines didn’t think there was any conceivable limit.

“However, we can produce something that can have more. Two terabytes is just the beginning.”

“There are no design limitations to storage space. We can go four terabytes or more, but even if we had eight terabytes, we can always find a scenario where it’s not enough. With SSG, we want to expand in many directions. We’re pushing the barriers of bandwidth, latency and storage.”

The limits can be pushed further with a tactic that die-hard PC gamers will be familiar with — connecting multiple graphics cards into a single system. While it’s not a feature that’s currently available, it’s something AMD is aiming for, and the company thinks it’s an inevitable future for the hardware.

“We can easily adapt to multiple devices,” Sines told us. “While I can’t reveal the numbers right now, from a computational point of view, we’re seeing much better scaling in multi-GPU scenarios than you would see with gaming.”

AMD is confident in its ability to offer big performance gains because of its close relationship with its software developers. He collaborated with Adobe on the development of the card itself. Internally, AMD has created its own development engine called Pro Render. It uses ray tracing to create photo-realistic images and models that can then be fed into more general game engines.

Radeon Pro SSG: Next Generation Post Production and Editing

This is part of AMD’s overall strategy of not only providing a hardware solution, but also software. Pro Render supports all kinds of 3D applications such as Maya, Solidworks and 3DS Max, which AMD claims can benefit from the SSG card. Creating your own Pro Render works well with them and the card simply completes the package.

As hardware improves and software grows to meet its capabilities, we’ll only see better things from AMD’s Radeon SSG Pro. He’s unlikely to make the transition to the players anytime soon, though he’ll be worth keeping an eye on. We’re sure AMD will be ready to pounce if game developers find value in this idea.

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Categories: GAMING
Source: newstars.edu.vn

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