SAN JOSE, Calif. Advanced Micro Devices is releasing new software and hardware to drive use of its graphics processors for general-purpose computing. The company is competing head-on with Nvidia Corp. to establish a way to use graphics chips as parallel processors for a range of high-end technical and media uses.
AMD will make available in December a version 8.12 of the Catalyst driver that will let users run general-purpose apps on its latest-generation graphics chips. It will also release a utility that uses the capability for transcoding consumer videos.
Separately, AMD has updated its software developer kit for its style of graphics computing it calls Stream Computing. A handful of software companies including Adobe and Microsoft will release applications that use it starting next year.
"We want to get this into mainstream applications with these new products for users and developers," said Patricia Harrell, director of Stream Computing at AMD.
Nvidia has already made software available so users can run parallel computing jobs on its graphics chips using the so-called CUDA software environment geared for its chips. It also recently announced a few third party apps using the capability.
AMD is working with Intel, Nvidia and others on OpenCL, a standard for parallel C programming on x86 and graphics chips based on work from Apple Inc. OpenCL could be ratified by Khronos, a graphics industry standards group, as early as December and be supported in software products early next year.
Separately, Microsoft has announced it will support graphics computing in future versions of its DirectX APIs. The DirectX and OpenCL efforts are likely to form the basis of programming standards for graphics computing that Nvidia or others could extend in their proprietary environments such as CUDA.
"I am sure Intel and Nvidia will get behind this because it's rare a proprietary format holds sway in the industry for long," said Terry Makedon, a software product manager at AMD.
Separately, AMD released a new high-end card for graphics computing. The 9270 boosts memory support from one to two Gbytes using graphics DDR-5 chips and offering 240 GFlops double precision floating point performance. The card dissipates about 160 W and costs $1,499.