The V7900 Part I

Introduction to the AMD FirePro™ V7900

The AMD FirePro™ V7900 is AMD’s latest high-end workstation professional graphics card, addressing the same segments of the CAD/CAE, DCC and other professional markets as the ATI FirePro V7800 launched in 2010. Some of the key facts, differences and improvements relative to the older generation include:

• A ‘Cayman GL’ GPU with 1280 Stream Processors, and 2 GB GDDR5 memory.

• A single-slot form factor, with a power consumption of under 150 Watts

• Four DisplayPort connectors supporting DisplayPort 1.2 – a first in professional graphics

• PCI Express 2.1 Standard

• AMD technologies including PowerTune and GeometryBoost that deliver significant improvements in performance
   over previous generation graphics adapters.

AMD Eyefinity technology and new Workflows

AMD Eyefinity technology, introduced to professional GPUs with the ATI FirePro ‘Vx800’ series (ATI FirePro V9800, ATI FirePro V8800, etc) in 2010, represented a revolution in terms of GPU capabilities, delivering three, four or six display outputs from the entire range of AMD professional graphics products (with the exception of the ATI FirePro V3800 which maintained two outputs to maintain a half-height form factor).  

The ability to drive additional displays (beyond the traditional two of older and competing GPUs) is far more important than simple numerical comparison (‘three is better than two’): the workflows of today’s professionals are unquestionably becoming more complex, particularly in the CAD/engineering world, where workflows have migrated from being simply about parts design and increasingly about entire assemblies, including various forms of analysis (mechanical, stress, fluid), and even into full product lifecycle management (PLM). In the digital content creation world, complex production pipelines have been the norm for a number of years, but the tighter integration between applications makes the workflows more seamless. The increasingly workflow-driven nature of professionals’ work has been difficult to miss; nothing exemplifies this new reality like the recognition of industry giants such as Adobe® and Autodesk®, who have moved toward providing their applications in suites. Adobe is presently in their fifth generation of suites with the recently released Adobe Creative Suite 5.5, and Autodesk announced their shift to a similar model of suites for their applications, announcing a total of seven different workflow-based suites for users of their tools from DCC to engineering.   AMD Eyefinity technology is exceptionally well placed to meet the needs of users with these new workflows, allowing them to display the different applications (and the dense user interfaces they present). The AMD FirePro V5900 offers three display outputs, enabling users to work without the burden of continuously having to switch between applications, and the AMD FirePro V7900 offers four outputs for the most highly complex workflows, and for other advanced multi-display scenarios such as those in event and digital signage.


AMD PowerTune technology

AMD PowerTune technology helps deliver higher performance that is optimized to the thermal limits of the GPU by dynamically adjusting the clock in real time based on an internally calculated GPU power usage.
AMD PowerTune technology is very different from existing and previous methods; rather than setting highest state GPU clock speeds based on a worst case TDP approach that can compromise performance in a majority of applications, AMD PowerTune technology can dynamically adjust the performance profile in real time to fit within the TDP envelope.   An important point to note about PowerTune on the AMD FirePro™ V7900 and V5900 professional graphics cards is that the calibration information (that sets clocks based on power draw in the GPU) has been defined with today’s workstation applications in mind. Generally speaking, these applications have a very different GPU use profile from consumer GPUs. For example, they typically do a great deal of geometry processing, and significantly less pixel shading and texturing. When compared to previous generation workstation graphics accelerators, increases in performance on consumer applications and benchmarks are more modest than for professional applications.

AMD GeometryBoost technology

The AMD FirePro™ V7900 and V5900 professional graphics cards implement the new AMD GeometryBoost technology and so are designed to process geometry data at up to twice the rate of previous-generation GPUs. The implementation of this capability is driven by the need for professional graphics cards to process complex models and the emerging use of GPU tessellation (which creates or amplifies geometry within the GPU). AMD GeometryBoost has been accomplished by putting in place a dual graphics engine architecture which allows graphics workloads to be divided and dispatched for processing in a
highly efficient manner.   The dual graphics engine is portrayed in the diagram below, and shows the presence of geometry and vertex assemblers in each engine (also linked to the tesselator units), that effectively instantiate the GeometryBoost feature.

VLIW4 thread processors

  •  4-way co-issue
  •  All stream processing units now have equal capabilities (no more “T-unit”)

o   Special functions (transcendental) occupy 3 of 4 issue slots

Allow better utilization than previous AMD VLIW5 design

  • Similar performance with ~10% area reduction
  • Simplified scheduling and register management
  • Extensive logic re-use

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