Spotlight - Products - Dec 07
Issue: Volume: 30 Issue: 12 (Dec. 2007)

Spotlight - Products - Dec 07

AMD Readies First Steam Processor with Double-Precision Floating-Point Technology
AMD leveraged its collective expertise in both GPUs and CPUs to deliver the first integrated hardware and software development solution that meets the needs of the high-performance computing (HPC) market. To this end, AMD plans to deliver the FireStream 9170 and supporting SDK to market in the first quarter of 2008.

The AMD FireStream 9170 will be the first Stream GPU with double-precision floating-point technology tailored for scientific and engineering calculations.  Priced at $1999, it features up to 500 GFLOPS of compute power, rivaling many of today’s supercomputers and providing dramatic acceleration for critical algorithms. This second-generation Stream processor is built with 55nm process technology and consumes less than 150 watts of power. In addition, the reduced heat dissipation allows the processor to function in dense design configurations.

The FireStream 9170 is a single-card solution with 2gb of onboard GDDR3 memory to compute large datasets without CPU traffic. The asynchronous direct memory access (DMA) ensures that data can flow freely without interrupting the Stream processor or CPU.

The AMD FireStream SDK, meanwhile, uses an open platform approach to allow developers to access key APIs and specifications, enabling performance tuning at the lowest level and development of third-party tools. Building on AMD’s Close to the Metal interface introduced in 2006, the Compute Abstraction Layer provides low-level access to the GPU for development and performance tuning, along with forward compatibility to future GPUs.

For high-level development, AMD is announcing Brook+, a tool providing C extensions for Stream computing based on the Brook project from Stanford University.

In addition, AMD plans to support the AMD Core Math Library to provide GPU-accelerated math functions and the COBRA video library for accelerating video transcode.

AJA Ships Io HD

AJA Video began shipping Io HD, delivering HD editing to the MacBook Pro and Mac Pro via its FireWire 800 interface. Io HD is the first device to natively support Apple’s ProRes 422 video format in hardware. Along with video and audio connectivity, Io HD includes a similar feature set to AJA’s KONA lineup: 10-bit hardware-based up-conversion, cross-conversion, and down-conversion, all performed in real time. Io HD runs on a new AJA-built driver, supporting features such as core audio and very low latency. Within its portable chassis, Io HD offers SD/HD analog inputs and outputs, SD/HD digital I/O, including HD-SDI and HDMI, as well as RS-422, genlock, balanced analog, and AES audio, in addition to LTC time-code connections. Io HD is available now for $3495.

HP Uncovers Two Quad-Core Models

One year after delivering its first workstations based on Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors, HP continued along this path by unveiling two upcoming eight-core workstations—the HP xw6600 and xw8600—both powered by next-gen Quad-Core (Intel 5400 series) and Dual-Core Intel Xeon (5200 series) processors. The workstations, available this month starting at $1200, are designed to meet the needs of compute-intensive industries, including software design, DCC, architecture, high-def video, game development, scientific imaging, and oil exploration.

The workstations also feature dual, full-performance PCI Express Gen2 x16 graphics slots, a memory capacity of up to 128gb in the 8600, and storage capacity of up to 5tb. Moreover, the systems are 90 percent recyclable and ship standard with 80 percent power-efficient supplies.
Designed for areas where space is at a premium, the xw6600 offers maximum computing power in a small form factor, making it one of the smallest dual-processor socket workstations available. Delivering up to twice the graphics performance of the previous systems, the xw6600 also supports up to four 3D displays or eight 2D displays.

The xw8600, meanwhile, is geared for extreme computational applications, delivering four times the graphics processing throughput of previous-generation systems. Like the xw6600, it can support multiple displays. And with its tool-less chassis, the xw8600 can be serviced easily and managed remotely.

RealViz Rolls Out Movimento Mocap

RealViz unveiled an eight-camera solution bundle, geared for motion-capture professionals, that captures facial, hand, arm, and full-body movement without the need for a mocap studio.

At the heart of the offering is Movimento, the company’s video-based motion-capture software. Movimento is powered by Smart, RealViz’s automatic 3D tracking engine, and offers the unique capability to capture the motion of any non-rigid object (humans, animals) in postproduction from synchronized image sequences. Users can start with just two cameras (of different rates) that can be fixed or moving. The mocap results can then be used within a range of applications from special effects and games to biomechanical research and sports science.

The kit is available now for $39,000.

Cintiq 12WX Interactive Pen Display Avaiable

Wacom Technology rolled out the Cintiq 12WX, aimed at professional digital content creators, that combines all the advantages and power of direct pen-on-screen input with a new low-profile, lightweight, and flexible design.

Ideal for storyboarding 2D or 3D animations, compositing, graphic design, and photo retouching, the Cintiq 12WX is suitable in a variety of computer environments, especially those where users wish to work across displays. It is ideal as a companion monitor for a primary display, alongside other displays in a multi-monitor environment, or even by itself. Moreover, the 12WX works seamlessly with more than 100 software applications. The Cintiq 12WX features a 12.1-inch TFT LCD display for direct pen-on-screen drawing, painting, sketching, navigating, and collaborating. Users can work with the pressure-sensitive pen directly on screen, providing WXGA resolution of 1280x800 pixels with 24-bit color depth and a wide viewing angle of 170 degrees.

With an estimated price of $999, the Cintiq 12WX is available now.

AMD Introduces x86 Quad-Core Microprocessor

AMD announced the Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor, the first native x86 quad-core microprocessor, geared for demanding data centers.

Quad-Core AMD Opteron processors with AMD’s Direct Connect Architecture introduce innovations beyond four x86 processing cores on a single die of silicon in the areas of energy efficiency, with a 50 percent increase in integer and floating-point performance, as well as enhanced virtualization performance. The company is also offering investment protection, enabling non-disruptive transitions from dual to quad core within the same power and thermal envelopes to help keep infrastructure costs down.

Quad-Core AMD Opteron processor-based systems from global OEM and system-builder partners began shipping last month. AMD Phenom processor solutions, which will leverage many of the same benefits of this next-generation architecture, are expected to be available for the desktop market in December.

As part of the same announcement, AMD unveiled the Average CPU Power (ACP) metric, which represents processor power usage, including cores, integrated memory controller, and HyperTransport technology links, while running a suite of commercially useful high-utilization workloads indicative of the industry. ACP is a useful metric for data-center operators when estimating power budgets to size their data centers.

Softimage Goes Mod

For a while now, Softimage has been offering its XSI 6 Mod Tool, free 3D modeling and animation software for non-commercial game content creation and modification. The product enables aspiring game developers to create compelling 3D characters, levels, and content designed for use with Microsoft XNA Game Studio. Integrating natively with the XNA Framework Content Pipeline, the XSI Mod Tool comes with an enhanced user interface and training videos from Noesis Interactive.
Softimage XSI 6 Mod Tool is restricted to non-commercial usage. XSI 6 Mod Tool files cannot be opened using commercial XSI packages. Furthermore, models created in the tool are limited to 64,000 triangles at the time of export for each mesh in the scene, and the assets cannot be rendered outside a game engine.

Havok Launches Integrated Character Physics Solution

Havok, known for its interactive software, made available Havok 5, which offers new features across the company’s modular suite of run-time technology and artists tools for accelerating the development of cross-platform games and special effects in films.

Havok 5 offers major enhancements in its core products, Havok Physics and Havok Animation, as well as introduces new features for Havok Behavior, the system for developing event-driven character behaviors in a game. Havok Physics 5 provides memory and CPU performance improvements that can dramatically accelerate interactive destruction sequences in games. Havok Animation 5’s new run-time mirroring feature allows character animations to be reflected interactively from left to right—cutting content creation and memory requirements in half for directional animation assets.

Havok Behavior 5 establishes the first unified authoring environment and SDK that intuitively combines physics with procedural animation and traditional animation assets. This system can accelerate production up to tenfold, and opens the door to novel hybrid character performances. Pricing for Havok 5 varies according to customer needs.