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High-end computing mounts dual-core processor wagon

Posted: 26 Apr 2005 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:amd? opteron? speed-up numbers? ls-dyna code? pgi?

The Portland Group Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of STMicroelectronics, has released performance speed-up numbers for workstations based on AMD's latest dual-core Opteron that show a 30 percent increase in speed compared to the previously reported best single-chip performance.

The Portland Group made the announcement at the launch of AMD's double-core Opteron chip Thursday. PGI said the increase in speed was achieved running a version of its LS-DYNA code compiled for AMD's processor-based dual-core systems using the PGI's Workstation 6.0 compilers and tools.

LS-DYNA is a general-purpose multi-physics simulation software package developed by PGI and Livermore Software Technology Corp. used to model a wide range of complex real-world problems. In one application, LS-DYNA is used to predict the behavior of vehicles in a collision and to study occupant safety, thereby reducing the number of experimental test prototypes and saving time and cost designing new vehicles.

The high-performance computing field that is engaged in modeling cars, weapons, drugs, and financial strategies, and in making animated feature films has been anxious to apply parallel compilers to run on the dual-core processors such as Opteron to speed up performance over current single-core processors.

"We definitely are behind the move toward dual-core hi-end processors such as AMD's newest Opteron," said Douglas Miles, director, AST Portland Lab, at AMD's official launch here. "Today we need every application to be parallel-enabled, either automatically or explicitly. Our parallelizing compilers are designed to efficiently make use of multiple cores, whether they are from AMD or from Intel. We support both camps."

The move of bringing parallel applications to bear is also being taken up in chip development. STMicroelectronics's acquisition five years ago of PGI was done specifically to leverage the company's compiler technology for its embedded DSP core family and for SoCs in applications such as mobile phones, wideband network access, data storage, automotive and multimedia. PGI's know-how is contributing to STMicroelectronics' capability to build SoC DSP platforms with multiprocessor and parallel processing architectures.

At the Opteron2 launch, the fact that both Intel and AMD made back-to-back announcements the same week was noted. The event was more a celebration of the success of a two-core processor launch a year after the single-core Opteron debuted.

"Someone will stand on this stage in ten years and wonder how computing was done on single-core processors as multiple core-processors will be standard fare", said Marty Seyer, general manager of AMD's microprocessor business unit. Seyer said 1300 applications have already been written for the dual-core Opteron, prompting this comment aimed at Intel: "We challenge you [Intel] to move from being vendor-friendly to customer-friendly."

Even AMD's chairman and CEO Hector Ruiz joined the music band made up of AMD employees to celebrate, playing electric guitar. "This is the culmination of a strategy that started in 1999 to reach 64-bit computing and provide multi-core hardware to run hi-end applications," said Ruiz.

- Nicolas Mokhoff

EE Times

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