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Thursday, November 08, 2007
New AMD FireStream Stream Processor Offer 500 GFLOPS of Compute Power

AMD launched a new graphics chip on Thursday modified to crunch huge amounts of data, with potential customers in financial, engineering and scientific industries.

The new product, called FireStream, are promising to deliver increased parallel processing power of the GPU to compute-intensive applications for scientists, engineers and consumers. AMD FireStream 9170 also provides the industry's first double-precision floating point capability on a GPU. With 2GB GDDR3 memory on board and 320 stream cores, Firestream drive up to 500GFLOPS single-precision performance, AMD says.

Graphics chips now often have more transistors and are more powerful than a computer's main processor, boasting scores or even hundreds of processing units that work in parallel.

The chips feature 660 million transistors and 320 processing units, and offer a relatively low power consumption (150W) due to the 55nm process technology applied. FireStream chips will be made by Taiwanese contract chipmaker TSMC.

FireStream is also a stepping stone to a major AMD project called Fusion that aims to combine a graphics processor on the same piece of silicon as a central processor by early 2009, a change that could lead to better-performing laptops.

FireStream is based on the high-end graphics chip found in the Radeon products from AMD's ATI graphics unit and will cost $2,000, AMD said.

AMD plans to launch the FireStream 9170 and the supporting Software Development Kit in the market by the first quarter of 2008.

FireStream gives AMD an answer to a similar initiative launched by rival Nvidia this year to find broader uses for increasingly powerful graphics chips.

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