AMD Targets Servers, Virtualization With New FirePro GPUs

What AMD is referring to as its most powerful dual- and single-slot server graphics cards to date, the new S9000 and S7000 are said to reduce server power consumption by up to 95 percent at idle, yielding overall data center cost savings and more efficient management for compute-intensive workloads, such as those demanded of computer-aided design (CAD) and media and entertainment apps.

AMD lifted the curtain on its new FirePro S-series GPUs at the VMworld 2012 conference in San Francisco, emphasizing the new chips' ability to more quickly and efficiently deploy virtualized desktops to client devices including smartphones and tablets. Both graphics cards include native support for virtualization technologies from Citrix, Microsoft and VMware.

[Related: VMworld 2012: Storage Takes Center Stage (Part 1) ]

"More companies want to virtualize their IT ecosystem in order to do more with less while remaining responsive to the needs of their users," said David Cummings, senior director and general manager of Professional Graphics at AMD, in a statement. "With the arrival of the AMD FirePro S9000 and S7000 GPUs, we are responding to these needs by providing a seamless solution. Our server graphics not only provide an unrivaled feature set for data center customers, but blistering compute performance and outstanding power efficiency."

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The $2,499 FirePro S900 delivers up to four teraflops of single precision compute performance, making it one of the highest-performing AMD graphics cards on the market to date. According to AMD, the S900 delivers server graphics up to 2.4 times faster than Nvidia's Tesla M2090 chips and up to 1.49 times the memory bandwidth.

The low-end S700 is selling for a more modest $1,249 and gets 2.4 teraflops of peak single-precision floating-point performance. It consumes about 150 watts of max power, compared to the S900's 225 watts.

The new FirePro S900 and S700 represent a recent and larger initiative on AMD's part to expand its reach into the server and virtualization markets. Earlier this year, the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based chip maker acquired microsever vendor SeaMicro in a $334 million deal, and also grew its Opteron family of low-power server chips with the launch of its new Opteron 3200 series in February.