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NEWS MANIPULATE & EDIT ANALYSIS Despite being something of a tech geek, I’ve always strayed away from writing about pure computing technology. There’s just something about hard disk drives and motherboards that I seem to struggle with. This month, however, following the Siggraph show in California, I cannot ignore this topic as there’s been an escalation in the workstation GPU battle between Nvidia and AMD. And we’re not talking consumer gaming cards here. We’re talking professional use - the kind of power that facilitates live virtual reality production. First up Nvidia announced the Quadro P6000. A workstation GPU it has 3840 cores, 24GB of RAM and 12 teraflops of computing power (a teraflop is a unit that represents a trillion floating-point operations per second). According to its makers, “designers will be able to manipulate complex designs up to twice as fast as before.” To back up this claim they point to an 80% increase in performance compared to the previous generation GPUs. And here’s the money shot. This video card can reputedly allow a user to live stream VR video. By taking advantage of a new VRWorks 360 Video software developer kit users can capture, stitch and stream VR video from up to 32 cameras in real time. That is no mean feat. What we don’t know yet is how much it will cost. And then there is AMD. Among a raft of announcements at Siggraph (see below), the company launched the Radeon Pro range of GPUs, including the WX 7100 which is a workstation card for virtual reality content creation. It uses AMD’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, has 32 CUs and 8GB of GPU memory, offers 5.9 teraflops of double-precision performance and can handle four 5K displays at the same time. Importantly, it comes in at well under £800. According to Jon Peddie Research, in the professional workstation GPU market, Nvidia is currently the leader (despite AMD’s relationship with the Apple Mac Pro). Whether the Radeon Pro range will change that I am not in a position to say. But it certainly looks like the competition between the two companies will help to make VR content creation more affordable. Fight on. 14 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 116 AUGUST 2016 GRAPHICS CARDS At Siggraph 2016 in California, AMD launched the Radeon Pro range of GPUs (Graphics Processing Units), including one specifically for professional media production. The WX 7100 is for virtual reality content creation and uses AMD’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture. AMD also launched the Radeon Pro Solid State Graphics (SSG), a graphics card with a terabyte of SSD memory for large dataset applications including editing video in 8K, as well as VR. Raja Koduri, senior vice president and chief architect of the Radeon Technologies Group at AMD, said: “Radeon Pro SSG is poised to not only speed-up processing for many applications with very large datasets, but also to enable new application experiences by utilizing data persistence of non- volatile memory. This will be a disruptive advancement for many graphics and compute applications.” Also showcased was Project Loom, a real-time stitching software application for 360-degree VR video that can work with up to 24 cameras in HD at 60fps. GRAPHICS CARDS Nvidia has launched a new GPU for professional media production. The Quadro P6000 includes 3840 CUDA parallel-processing cores, 24 GB GDDR5X of GPU memory and 12 teraflops of single precision performance. Nvideo general manager for professional visualisation Bob Pette said: “It is about [creating] the realism that professionals demand, and that’s a very different thing from the realism that gamers will accept.” The GPU will available through Nvidia resellers initially, with shipping likely to start in October.