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AMD Unveils FireStream 9170 For High-Performance Computing

The microprocessor package features up to 500 GFlops, or 500 billion floating point operations per second.

Advanced Micro Devices on Thursday introduced a second-generation microprocessor and software development kit for high-performance computing.

The AMD FireStream 9170 uses stream processing alongside the CPU in high-performance environments. Stream processing is a relatively new paradigm to allow highly efficient parallel processing.

In building the FireStream, AMD leveraged the double-precision floating point technology found in graphics processing units. AMD acquired GPU technology in last year's purchase of ATI Technologies.

The FireStream 9170 features up to 500 GFlops, or 500 billion floating point operations per second. AMD's second-generation stream processor is built with a 55 nanometer manufacturing process and consumes less than 150 watts of power. The processor is a single-card product with 2Gbytes of onboard GDDR3 memory to compute large datasets without CPU traffic. Asynchronous direct memory access provides data flow without interrupting the stream processor or CPU.

The FireStream SDK enables software developers to access application programming interfaces and specifications for performance tuning at the lowest level of the processor, and for compatibility with future chips. The SDK is also available to develop third-party tools.

The AMD FireStream 9170 is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year at a price of $1,999.

AMD and rival Intel believe graphics processing units have the potential to play major roles in mainstream computing, other than in gaming, supercomputing, and medical imaging.

Intel plans an eight-core processor, code-named Larrabee, which will deliver high-performance graphics and meet high-performance computing needs. AMD, on the other hand, plans to release in two years Eagle, a notebook platform that has a dedicated GPU and a separate GPU core within the CPU itself. The latter plan is an indication that AMD is steaming ahead to integrate ATI's technologies into mainstream processors.

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