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AMD offers hardware-based GPU virtualization solution for workstations

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September 1, 2015

It looks like struggling chip producer AMD has used the VM World conference in San Francisco this week to showcase its new hardware-based GPU virtualization technology for virtualized workstations.

The news was expected by some in the industry. Known as the AMD MultiUser GPU, AMD claims it can allow up to fifteen virtualized desktops to share a single graphics processor without any loss of performance on the system.

The idea is to provide hardware graphics acceleration for virtualized GPU-intensive workloads, including design, manufacturing, several multimedia applications and GPU-accelerated computation.

AMD product vice president Sean Burke said in a statement-- "When these AMD GPUs are appropriately configured to the needs of a specific organization, end users get the same access to the GPU no matter what their workload is."

"As a whole, each user is provided with the virtualized performance to design, create and execute their workflows without any one user tying up the entire GPU," he added.

The Multiuser GPU is designed to work in environments based of VMware vSphere/ESXi 5.5 and later, and it also offers accelerated drivers for DirectX 12, OpenGL 4.4, and OpenCL 2.0, meaning that users should be able to do most of what they could do on a local machine, only in a virtualized environment.

Exactly how many users can take advantage of the Multiuser GPU depends on what they're trying to do. While as many as fifteen typical workers can share the same virtualized chip for Office-type applications, extremely graphics intensive workloads might only support sharing the chip between two simultaneous users, with various scenarios in between.

However, AMD says that another benefit of this hardware-based virtualization approach is that it makes it much harder for a malicious actor to hack into the system and peep at other users' screens, as compared to software-based systems.

Of course, a lot of these software-based applications are a direct hit on AMD's main competitor, Nvidia, which doesn't have the hardware-based GPU virtualization that AMD has baked into these latest chips. Not for now, anyway.

But not to be left out in the cold, Nvidia did use VMworld to roll out a new version of its Grid desktop virtualization technology based on its latest Tesla GPUs, and it's claiming it can support as many as 128 GPU-accelerated users per server.

More details on AMD's new Multiuser GPU are available on the company's data sheet. AMD has yet to announce a firm release data for the boards, though, saying only that they're coming soon.

Source: AMD Corp.

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