AMD announces a dedicated stream processor

Word got out this summer that ATI was prepping a spinoff of its FireGL professional graphics cards dubbed FireStream for stream computing applications. Two and a half months and one completed acquisition later, AMD has introduced a strikingly similar product called the AMD Stream Processor. In the company's own words, the AMD Stream Processor is the "world's first dedicated enterprise stream processor."

While it may tout a shiny AMD logo, the AMD Stream Processor is basically an ATI graphics card based on the same R580 graphics processor that powers Radeon X1900- and X1950-series. The Stream Processor features 48 pixel shader processors, 1GB of GDDR3 memory, and full 32-bit floating point precision. It is available today, and some of AMD's partners have introduced new "stream servers" based around the product for the occasion. Those partners include GraphStream, PANTA Systems, and Rackable Systems.

Of course, a dedicated hardware stream processor would be no good without software support; AMD says its Stream Processor can be used with the "Close To Metal" application programming interface. Another ATI invention, CTM allows developers to access the R580 GPU's native instruction set and memory to write speedier stream computing applications. According to AMD, software written using CTM can be up to eight times faster than software written with a traditional 3D API such as OpenGL. CTM is available to developers today free of charge from the ATI Researcher Relations website.

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