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Hiring Hegde was a good strategic move by AMD, said one West Coast-based custom system builder who partners closely with Nvidia on HPC accounts. But the system builder, who asked not to be named, also called Hegde’s public role with AMD “curious.”
“If they bring him on board, with his experience on the CUDA team, it just seems more natural that it would be to kick start their Stream initiative, not the Fusion project in 2013 or whatever,” the system builder said, referring to AMD’s seemingly muted effort in recent years to compete with Nvidia in the HPC space with its FireStream products.
“To be frank, the problem with AMD is that the future is always 12 months away with them. AMD has the hardware, but the Stream team is so small and they have limited resources, so unless the push comes from the top that we’re going to invest and do this at the level that Nvidia has with CUDA, it’s not going to happen.”
But Hegde was adamant that GPU computing, and by extension heterogeneous computing, needed to move beyond what he called “an island” in academia and the HPC market.
“The APU essentially delivers on the promise of GPU computing, the promise that’s been around three, four, five years. Some segments of the market have already bought into it, like some portions of HPC,” he said.
“What I think the APU does is take that promise and deliver it to the mainstream. It addresses power-per-watt, which is a huge consideration in the consumer space. Consumer applications typically have smaller, more granular workloads, so movement between the CPU and GPU is crucial. It’s very tough to do this with discrete parts on a platform, but it’s possible with them being on the same die.”
With CUDA, Peddie said Nvidia’s GPU computing initiative is “far out ahead of everybody else in terms of mindshare and developer toolkits and everything else.” But the analyst said AMD is fully committed to changing the game entirely with Fusion.
“The AMD people I spoke to recently said this is bigger than Hammer,” he said, referring to the code name for AMD’s groundbreaking move to a 64-bit processor architecture in 2003.