Remote graphics seems to be all the rage these days. You have Nvidia touting local game streaming with Project Shield and Sony promising something similar with the PlayStation 4. AMD's latest foray into the world of remote graphics has a decidedly more professional feel. Rather than being designed to fuel gaming sessions, the FirePro R5000 was crafted with remote workstations in mind.
The new FirePro is based on AMD's Pitcairn silicon, which can be found in Radeon 7800-series graphics cards on the desktop. That GPU is joined by 2GB of GDDR5 RAM on a PCIe 3.0 x16 expansion card with an active, single-slot cooler. Riding shotgun is the Teradici TERA2240 processor that's key to this card's target market. The chip grabs display output from the GPU's frame buffer and compresses it for efficient network transfer, taking only data pertaining to changed pixels.
Teradici promises pixel-accurate output at 60 frames per second and guarantees full compatibility with workstation-grade software packages. The firm's PC-over-IP technology offers 256-bit AES encryption in addition to support for remote USB 2.0 and multiple displays. A single FirePro R5000 is capable of powering dual remote monitors at 2560x1600 or four screens at 1920x1200. Users are, of course, free to add more R5000 cards to drive additional remote displays. Up to 32 screens can be linked to an eight-way R5000 config.
Although it supports multiple video outputs, the FirePro R5000 is limited to a single client per card. That connection can be made with a zero client compatible with Teradici's PCoIP tech or via software. And yes, there's an iOS app for that. AMD points out that it's not involved in the client side of the equation, though; it's just providing the FirePro card for the server side.
AMD's FirePro RG220 already incorporates a Teradici chip, but that card is based on a GPU from the Radeon 4000-series era. The RG2200 also features older Teradici tech that has fewer display outs and less USB functionality. The FirePro R5000 looks like a nice step up all around.
Interestingly, Teradici says there's nothing stopping folks from using its technology for remote gaming. The prospect of pixel-accurate graphics at 60 FPS is certainly more appealing than dealing with screen output that's been filtered through a lossy compression scheme. Then again, Teradici recommends network bandwidth of 100Mbps for remote video editing at 1920x1200 and 300Mbps for "extreme bandwidth allocation." The amount of bandwidth required to provide pixel-accurate remote gaming is probably prohibitive for anything short of a wired local network. Some of us do have Gigabit Ethernet running to the home-theater PCs in our living rooms, though.