AMD unveils FireStream 9170 stream processor

Last November, word out on the street was that AMD was about to introduce a graphics card dedicated to general-purpose computing under the "FireStream" moniker. AMD did introduce a GPGPU card, which was based on the same R580 graphics processor as its Radeon X1900 cards, but it somewhat uncreatively named the card the AMD Stream Processor.

A year later, and FireStream is back, this time as a real product: the FireStream 9170 graphics processor, AMD's next generation GPGPU card. AMD says the FireStream 9170 is based around a GPU built on 55nm process technology—presumably the same RV670 GPU expected to appear in Radeon HD 3800 cards later this month—and that it features double-precision floating point technology, 320 "stream cores", 500 gigaFLOPS of floating-point computing power, 2GB of onboard GDDR3 memory, a PCI Express 2.0 interface, and a 150W power envelope. The new GPU is launching at $1,999, which AMD says is "competitively priced."

That's not all. AMD has also rolled out a developer toolkit for the new FireStream 9170. The FireStream SDK builds on AMD's "Close to Metal" interface, and the company says it "allows developers to access key Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and specifications, enabling performance tuning at the lowest level and development of third party tools." Developers more comfortable with high-level languages will be happy to know that AMD is rolling out Brook+, a set of C extensions for stream computing based on Stanford University's Brook project. In the future, AMD says it plans to support the AMD Core Math Library and COBRA video library to provide acceleration for math functions and video transcoding, respectively.

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