uploads///A_Semiconductors_AMD Radeon Instinct GPU

AMD’s New Vega GPUs Target Deep Learning


Nov. 20 2020, Updated 5:23 p.m. ET

AMD’s new Vega GPU

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) launched a refresh of its Polaris-based Radeon GPUs (graphics processing units) to tap gaming demand during the holiday season. The company is also looking to leverage its GPU technology in the data center market, where NVIDIA (NVDA) has a head start.

On November 6, AMD announced the world’s first 7nm (nanometer) GPU specifically for deep learning. The company’s new Radeon Instinct MI60 and MI50 chips deliver up to 7.4 TFLOPS (one trillion floating point operations per second) directly and have a memory bandwidth of up to 1 terabyte per second. To boost the adoption of its 7nm Vega GPUs in a world dominated by NVIDIA, AMD is looking to address the issues faced by NVIDIA’s GPU users.

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AMD’s ROCm open-software platform 

EE Times, citing a Twitter conversation among scientific researchers, stated that a major problem in NVIDIA’s CUDA, the software for general-purpose GPUs, is that it is proprietary and not open-source. This structure makes it difficult for users to give suggestions on future features or implement their own runtime for the CUDA API (application processing interface).

Addressing this issue, AMD announced the new ROCm (Radeon Open Compute) open-software platform for accelerated computing. Google (GOOG) welcomed AMD’s adoption of open-source machine-learning technology and stated that it would ease the adoption of GPU acceleration. According to EE Times, the scientific researchers also welcomed AMD Radeon open-source Linux drivers but warned that buggy open-source software could hinder the wider adoption of Vega GPUs.

Adoption of 7nm Vega GPUs

During AMD’s third-quarter earnings call, CEO Lisa Su stated that the 7nm Vega GPU had secured several orders from data center customers, and it is expected to begin shipment in the fourth quarter. Therefore, AMD’s fourth-quarter earnings might see the initial sales of 7nm Vega GPUs, which could mitigate crypto declines.

It remains to be seen if the new GPU lives up to its hype. AMD could also eventually launch 7nm GPUs for gamers, which we’ll discuss next.

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