AMD Launches New Partnership with CAD Developer; Delivers GPU Optimizations

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News Posted: Thu, Apr 12 2012 11:18 PM
AMD is kicking off its weekend with news of a partnership between itself and CAD software developer PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation). PTC owns and develops the Creo software family. One of the programs at the heart of the company, Creo Element/Pro, was originally known as Pro/ENGINEER. It's not at all unusual for software developers in the CAD/CAM space to ally with hardware manufacturers, but it's typically Nvidia, not AMD, making such announcements.



AMD claims that the upcoming Creo 2.0 product suite will be able to take advantage of the GPU in unprecedented ways that simultaneously improve performance and visual quality without compromising either. The company calls one such option Order Independent Transparency, or OIT; it's a rendering technology that allows for the partial display of wireframes and models inside a solid surface without creating artifacts or imprecise visualizations.



AMD is claiming that the FirePro series can deliver performance the Quadro family can't match, though it's worth noting that AMD only includes data for up to the Quadro 4000, while the FirePro family reaches all the way up to the 7900. One of the purported benefits AMD is delivering in partnership with PTC is called VBO, short for Vertex Buffer Object. AMD claims significantly improved performance using VBO when compared to the Pro/ENGINEER version of the program.



What's interesting about this announcement is that it could signal a new push from AMD to break into the workstation market. The company has significantly boosted its share of that segment through sharp price cuts in the past five years, but roughly 4/5 new professional cards sold are still built on Nvidia technology. Price cuts alone are unlikely to make further deep inroads -- in professional systems, the cost of the graphics card is only a fraction of the total cost of product licenses and service agreements. What's far more important is the degree of software optimization and collaboration that goes on between the hardware vendor (AMD, in this case) and the software developers.

The new Creo 2.0 options imply that AMD is paying more attention to its work in this segment and may be the beginning of a new focus on GPU performance outside of consumer applications and general professional compatibility.  These are the sorts of features AMD needs to cultivate to see more success in the workstation line; we'll see if the company continues to announce these sorts of efforts in coming months.
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AMDFirePro replied on Sat, Apr 14 2012 12:36 PM

Thanks for the article - it's important to note that the FirePro V7900 and Quadro 4000 are direct competitors in terms of price, memory and other features.

It's also important to note that the OIT transparency feature is only accessible when running FirePro cards. (sorry Nvidia users)

One last note, this is not a new technology partnership. AMD FirePro's ISV Alliances team have worked closely with PTC and most of the other major software vendors in the CAD and M&E spaces for years on both the application side as well as driver optimizations on our end.

This work continues here at AMD in the service of the professional end-user community.

Thanks!

Adam G.

AMD FirePro team

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MCAD replied on Mon, Apr 16 2012 12:35 PM

All good and well, but when are you going to include GPU processing in the FEA packages, such as Creo Simulate?

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