CHIP DESIGNER AMD needs to support Linux if it is to see success with its upcoming Opteron accelerated processor units (APUs), according to Supermicro.
AMD has been pushing its Fusion APUs for over a year in the consumer market but has said it will bring its GPGPU cores as a module into its Opteron server processors. However Tau Leng, VP of high performance computing (HPC) at Supermicro said that unless AMD sorts out Linux support for OpenCL it will not be successful.
Leng said "Linux support in HPC is a bare minimum" in the supercomputing industry, something that is borne out by looking at Top 500 lists in the past few years. Even Intel has been pushing the Linux capabilities of its Xeon Phi accelerator boards, demonstrating a Linux based operating system on a single core of its Xeon Phi board.
AMD has bet the farm on adoption of OpenCL and on Windows systems there has been improvement, but the firm admitted to The INQUIRER that it needs to improve Linux OpenCL support. AMD has said that HPC is a niche market, but the VP of Intel's Architecture Group, Rajeeb Hazra said HPC sales have outstripped datacentre spending, implying that HPC is a market that firms such as Intel, AMD and Nvidia need to support.
Leng said the popularity of AMD, Intel or Nvidia products ultimately comes down to software support. While Nvidia's Linux support has also been patchy, the truth is that its Tesla boards are all over the Top 500 list and Nvidia has a long history of Linux support, all of which should put pressure on AMD to get its act together.
Leng also lamented AMD's processor performance, saying that the performance of the firm's Opteron chips has fallen behind that of Intel's processors, something that is clearly evident by looking at the most recent Top 500 list. His comments might seem harsh but AMD needs to sort out Linux OpenCL support before it introduces Opteron APUs, because if it doesn't, it might as well not bother launching Opteron APUs. µ