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AMD looks to software optimisations to drive chip performance

It's not just about churning out silicon
Tue Feb 26 2013, 19:06
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CHIP DESIGNER AMD has said that future performance gains will be based on software optimisations rather than churning out new silicon.

AMD's decision to use games bundles to sell its Radeon HD 7000 series graphics cards suggested that the firm is looking to its independent software vendor relations teams to optimise software in order to keep its products competitive. Now the firm has told The INQUIRER that it will look to optimising software to get more performance out of its APUs rather than simply designing new silicon.

Referring to the games bundles that the chip maker recently updated, John Taylor, head of marketing for AMD's Global Business Units, said, "The continued work we will do with the top game titles as they come out, what that means for our drivers, the fact that those drivers are shared across a huge array of products that consumers might buy and carry with them for two or three years, puts AMD in the position of really being in the heart and soul of the gaming market from multiple dimensions. Our expection is to go much deeper with that to work with the game playing community, not just with the games developer community."

AMD's push into software optimisation is starting to pay off, with recent updates to its Catalyst graphics drivers yielding noticeable performance improvements in a number of popular games, and Taylor reiterated that games developers use AMD hardware to design games, meaning that future game titles will automatically be optimised.

While Taylor is expected to say that, AMD's wins with the Nintendo Wii U GPU and Sony's Playstation 4, and with many spectators believing it will also supply the chip in the next Microsoft Xbox console, make it seem almost inevitable that games developers will be working towards designing games optimised to run on AMD's chips.

Taylor continued by saying that AMD needs to support its APUs with software in terms of both development tools and applications. "As we deliver these SoCs, the idea of the software solutions that go with, the tools that make life easier for the developer, the optimised software solutions that can be bundled with it [...] that idea of a complete solution of an APU plus optimised software, optimised development tools is very much the way forward for us," said Taylor.

AMD's decision to allocate resources to optimising software to make best use of its silicon is something that Intel has been doing for a very long time and is significantly cheaper than relying solely on silicon to deliver results. AMD is arguably the biggest force behind the Hetrogeneous System Architecture (HSA) Foundation and while HSA will help AMD more than anyone else, AMD cannot simply rely on churning out silicon in the hope that firms will take advantage of the GPU, because AMD64 has shown that could take many years, time that AMD doesn't have. µ


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