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AMD Reveals First Virtualized GPU Hardware: FirePro S-Series

By - Source: Toms IT Pro

AMD announced a new series of FirePro graphics cards, the AMD FirePro S7150 and S7150 X2. These GPUs are meant to be a hardware-based solution for virtualized environments and remote workstations for cloud gaming, computing and Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDIs). The AMD FirePro S-series graphics cards offer multi-user support for enhanced graphics performance in a virtualized environment.

The AMD FirePro S7150 and S7150 X2 sport much of the same hardware as other workstation-class graphics cards in the FirePro family. However, the FirePro S-series could be in a whole different class on its own, with AMD claiming that the GPUs are the “world’s first” graphics solutions for hardware-based virtualization.

GPUAMD FirePro S7150AMD FirePro S7150 X2
Max Users1632 (16 per GPU)
Stream Processors20484096 (2048 per GPU)
Memory8 GB ECC GDDR516 GB (8 GB per GPU) ECC GDDR5
Size/PowerSingle Slot/ 150WDual Slot/ 265W

The AMD FirePro S-series offers the total resources of each graphics card to each individual virtualized workstation (up to 16 users per GPU) using AMD’s Multiuser GPU (MxGPU) technology, an innovation based on the Single root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV) PCI-e standard that is designed to enable consistent, predictable and secure performance from a single hardware-based graphics solution for multiple users in virtualized workstations. The FirePro S1700-series GPUs utilize Tonga-based AMD Graphics Core Next (GCN) architectures, and on paper, they can deliver high-performance graphics experiences for virtualized environments, particularly with CAD and 3D applications.

These hardware-virtualized GPUs are able to deliver consistent performance by giving each user assigned to the graphics card full range of the resources, which are split evenly for each user added to the card. For IT administrators with a specific performance target in mind, adding more GPUs to the server and distributing users evenly will increase individual VM graphics performance (16 users assigned to one GPU is not as effective as 16 users between two GPUs).

The AMD FirePro S7150 features 2048 shaders with 8 GB of ECC GDDR5 memory and a 256-bit memory bandwidth. The FirePro S7150 X2 is like most other X2 variants from AMD; it’s a dual-GPU graphics card that features double the shaders and double the VRAM of the single-GPU S7150. However, the TDP of the dual-GPU card is less than double, and the price is only $1,600 more than the single-GPU FirePro S7150. The X2 is passively cooled, and the single-slot S7150 can be actively or passively cooled.

AMD is not asking for a per-user licensing fee for the FirePro S-series graphics cards, something that is often associated with virtualized services and software. AMD aims to keep the cost of ownership low by excluding such a surcharge.

The AMD FirePro S7150 and S7150 X2 are expected to arrive sometime in the first half 2016.

Derek Forrest is an Associate Contributing Writer for Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s IT Pro. Follow Derek Forrest on Twitter. Follow us on Facebook, Google+, RSS, Twitter and YouTube.