AMD Launches Accelerated Parallel Processing SDK For Fusion APUs

AMD on Thursday updated its Accelerated Parallel Processing Software Development Kit (SDK) v2.3 for its new Fusion integrated graphics processors. Formerly known as the ATI Stream SDK, the new SDK offers full support for AMD's Radeon HD 6900 Series discrete graphics cards, and Open CL, which allows developers to write programs across heterogeneous platforms including both CPUs and GPUs. In addition, the SDK allows developers to leverage AMD's Fusion accelerated processor units (APUs) for multi-purpose GPU computing, or "parallel processing."

In particular, AMD says Accelerated Parallel Processing SDK v2.3 gives software developers the ability to write new applications using parallel processing power from heterogeneous platforms, including the new AMD E-Series and C-Series Fusion APUs.

"When developers harness the power of parallel processing within our APU designs, they can fundamentally change the PC experience to help not only make it faster, but also to create new possibilities in software," said John Taylor, AMD's director of client product and software marketing, in a statement. "In 2008, AMD was the first processor design company to embrace OpenCL, and as such, we have made significant progress in parallel processing innovation. Our vision has been realized with the widespread availability of the first PCs powered by AMD Fusion APUs."

AMD will need to create a complete software ecosystem around its new processor platform if it is to achieve its ambitious goals for Fusion.

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In an interview with CRN last week David Kenyon , vice president of worldwide channel marketing at AMD, said that system builders in Europe and Asia see the variety of Fusion designs as an advantage and an important means of differentiating AMD's products from those of rival, and leading microprocessor manufacturer, Intel.

However, graphics specialist Nvidia is AMD's main competitor in the GPU-based parallel processing market, and its Vida's Fermi architecture for parallel processing forms the basis of its efforts in high-performance GPU computing and provides a reference design for Nvidia's graphics cards as well as its Tegra mobile processors. While Nvidia did not unveil an integrated graphics solution of its own at CES, its Tegra processors were featured inside several devices that launched at the event, and Nvidia in 2011 is planning to launch integrated Project Denver processors based on ARM's CPU reference design.

Next: AMD's 2010 Earnings

Meanwhile, AMD reported fourth quarter and annual earnings for 2010 on January 20 that underscored the importance of the Fusion APUs. AMD's quarterly and annual figures exceeded average analyst estimates due to strong growth in the graphics segment, which the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company needed in order to avoid incurring a net loss for the year.

In addition, AMD's Chief Financial Officer and interim CEO Thomas Seifert said AMD is counting on Fusion to continue the growth of its graphics segment in 2011. Seifert replaced Dirk Meyer as AMD's chief executive after Meyer resigned earlier this month.

AMD's Board of Directors credited Meyer for a number of achievements, including the successful delivery of AMD's Fusion APUs to the market, but then added that AMD is looking for new leadership to achieve greater growth and financial returns and establish itself as a leader in the chip market.