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AMD Unveils GPU-Based Radeon Instinct To Boost Machine Learning
Posted December 13, 2016
AMD Unveils GPU-Based Radeon Instinct To Boost Machine Learning
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By Shirley Siluk. Updated December 13, 2016 9:39AM

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The new Radeon Instinct GPU-based accelerators unveiled yesterday by chipmaker AMD are aimed at dramatically improving the capabilities of machine intelligence in server computing, the company said. In addition to the new hardware, AMD also announced new software frameworks and a new open source library for GPU-based machine learning implementations.

On top of yesterday's news, today AMD is presenting a live, online sneak preview of its long-awaited Zen CPU. With a new architecture built from the ground up, Zen could provide AMD with a greater competitive edge over Intel, the current giant of the microprocessor market.

AMD said its new Instinct accelerators are aimed at enabling customers to better use and understand the vastly expanding volumes of data being generated by a wide range of applications and devices. The new technologies are designed to provide "a blueprint for an open software ecosystem for machine intelligence, helping to speed inference insights and algorithm training," the company said in a statement. Instinct products are expected to hit the market in the first half of next year.

Aimed at 'Proliferation of Machine Intelligence'

Intended to "address a wide range of machine intelligence applications," the Radeon Instinct lineup will include three different accelerators: two for inference applications and one designed for deep learning training. The MI6 inference-focused accelerator, based on the Polaris GPU architecture, will offer a peak FP16 performance of 5.7 teraflops and is passively cooled.

The MI8 inference accelerator is based on the Fiji architecture and promises a peak FP16 performance of 8.2 teraflops, according to the company. The third accelerator, the Radeon Instinct MI25, is optimized for deep learning training and is built on AMD's Vega GPU architecture. It will also be passively cooled.

The new Radeon Instinct offerings provide "the GPU and x86 silicon expertise to address the broad needs of the datacenter and help advance the proliferation of machine intelligence," said Lisa Su, AMD president's and CEO, in the statement.

In a technology summit AMD held last week, the company showed off the new accelerator technology to a number of customers and partners, including SuperMicro, Xilinx and the University of Toronto's CHIME radio telescope project.

Zen Sneak Preview Today

To support the new family of Radeon Instinct accelerators, AMD also plans to roll out an open source library called MIOpen. Set to become available sometime in the first quarter of 2017, MIOpen will provide "GPU-tuned implementations for standard routines such as convolution, pooling, activation functions, normalization and tensor format," the company said.

AMD will also launch the ROCm software platform, which the company said is optimized for accelerating deep learning frameworks such as Caffe, Torch 7 and Tensorflow. Among the sectors AMD is targeting with Instinct, MIOpen and ROCm, are self-driving cars, smart homes, autopilot drones, personal robots, financial services and security.

Today, AMD is hosting a live, online "New Horizon" preview of its Zen CPU, currently scheduled to become available in the first quarter of next year. Zen is one of several forthcoming microprocessors that could show new potential to compete with Intel's dominant Xeon line, a forecast from the analyst firm IDC noted earlier this year.

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