Computer Graphics World

July-Aug-Sept 2021

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58 cgw j u ly • a u g u s t • s e p t e m b e r 2 0 2 1 D espite the lockdowns and the supply-chain interruptions, and the scalpers scalping, and the overbook- ings, and the political upheavals around the world and in the US, the GPU industry somehow just kept plugging along. GPUs power our lives in everything from supercomputers to workstations, notebooks to game consoles, smartphones to TVs. We see more, better, and bigger than ever before. Some of the developments over the past year or so included announcements from the "big three" (or "five"). AMD teased and talked about RDNA2 and ray tracing, and finally at Computex, made announcements. Several of them. Lisa Su charmed the Computex audience, offering the Taiwan ODMs and OEMs new product opportunities with the Radeon 6000 graphics boards. She also unveiled AMD's new Advan- tage technology, which makes the most of AMD CPUs and GPUs in the same systems. Just aer Computex, AMD filled out its graphics product line with new workstation boards. Now AMD is serving ray tracing in PCs, workstations, and game consoles. AMD has also introduced a new soware path for game developers that will let them sharpen and scale up their games' resolution while simultaneously increasing the frame rate. They call it FidelityFX, and developers can get it at "GPU open" — it runs on any GPU that is DirectX 11 or later compatible. Intel continued to issue teaser leaks via Facebook and Twitter that didn't really say much, as they slipped their delivery date for the vaunted but vaporous Xe GPU. Still, the company's financial performance is in line with expectations. The company is bene- fiting from the 2020 surge in PC sales, but continues to struggle with its manufacturing operations. The board of directors hopes a new CEO will remedy that, and if a CEO can do such things, they picked the right guy in Pat Gelsinger. Meanwhile, Nvidia never took its foot off the gas pedal and kept introducing new GPUs and AIBs. Its Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS) has given the company an edge with dedicated hardware-accelerated ray tracing. The firm kept making ray tracing more com- pelling and reaffirmed its intention to buy Arm (first announced in September 2020). Nvidia's success in the data center has emboldened GPU start-ups, and the popu- lation is again growing. Two US companies said they have GPUs in development (a third is in the wings), and two Chinese companies said they were building GPU-compute AIBs. Arm released new GPU designs — the Mali-G710, Mali-G510, and Mali-G310 — and Imagination Technologies released two, revitalized its ray-tracing IP, moved into the automotive sector, and quietly mentioned that Apple is again a great customer. Apple introduced the M1 with its own (ahem) GPU, and Qualcomm tweaked its three-year-old GPU. Nvidia announced it is sticking its SoC into all the Mercedes it can find, while Arm'ing robo taxis and trucks around the world. Incidentally, Nvidia has announced the acquisition of DeepMap. DeepMap and Nvidia have been involved in the Mercedes robot-taxi trial. And word has leaked out that the Nvidia- powered Nintendo Switch 2 will show up in time for holidays. Switch has been a runaway best seller, exceeding Nintendo's, Nvidia's, and their rivals' wildest expectations. DMP expanded its AI suite beyond its own GPUs and ISPs to Qualcomm, NXP, and Nvidia. VeriSilicon expanded its GPU scope from automotive to wearables, mobiles, and even PCs. And Think Silicon held a party to celebrate a new office and one-year anniversary of being acquired by Applied Materials. The story that got all the headlines, how- ever, was the scalping and speculative buy- ing of AIBs, microseconds aer being made available. The asking price (by scalpers) for AIBs has shot up faster than Beanie Babies in the 1990s. Meanwhile, if you actually wanted an AIB, you needed to dip into your 401k. AIB prices are expected to get back to normal by the end of the year, and supply is expected to loosen up at the same time. In the meantime, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others have released exciting, skinny, and powerful notebooks with 4K screens that seem to use no power at all and yet have powerful GPUs in them. GTC, Computex, FMX, and E3 have passed, and GDC and SIGGRAPH are up next as of this writing. When SIGGRAPH is over, we will have better vision of what the AIB landscape looks like. Dr. Jon Peddie ( is a recognized author and pioneer in the graphics industry; president of Jon Peddie Research, a Tiburon-CA-based consultancy specializing in graphics and multimedia that also publishes JPR's "TechWatch"; and named one of the most influential analysts in the world. WHAT HAPPENED IN GPU-LAND? CHIPS GOT BIGGER, TRANSISTORS GOT SMALLER, AND EVERYTHING WENT FAST AS HELL BY JON PEDDIE Samsung unofficially announced its Exynos SoC with AMD GPU IP inside. Nintendo isn't switching its GPU supplier.

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