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SIGGRAPH has always positioned itself as being at the heart of computer graphics, and this year’s event continued to live up to its claims. For those that couldn’t make the trip to “LA LA Land”, we have compiled a summary of all the key news you missed from AMD, both on the GPU and CPU side.

AMD Capsaicin SIGGRAPH: We Got the Party Started

On Sunday, we got SIGGRAPH off to a spicy start by hosting another collection of industry insight presentations, trend overviews and big product announcements (as well as a few drinks and nibbles with 1600 of our industry friends). This event, hosted at Novo with over 90 minutes of presentations, was called “Capsaicin”. Why Capsaicin? Well, this is the active ingredient in chilis that give them their fiery kick, and this fire was matched by the spice in the various presentations we all got to enjoy.

We were lucky to hear presentations from a number of industry leaders and visionaries, which included Jellyfish Pictures, RED Digital Cinema, Epic Games, MAXON and the director of Baahubali 2: The Conclusion, S.S. Rajamouli — as well as AMD’s very own Raja Koduri, and CEO, Dr. Lisa Su.

The 90 minutes of insights covered too many topics to cover in this post, but much of the buzz afterwards was focused on three main areas: Innovation, Performance, and Reliability.

Dr. Lisa Su kicked off the party with a range of important announcements, primarily based around the “Vega” GPU chip architecture. This architecture sits on the much-anticipated Radeon™ Pro WX 9100 and Radeon™ Pro SSG graphics cards, both aimed at the professional user who demands more performance in memory intensive applications like Abobe® Premiere® Pro, and Autodesk® Maya®.

Dr. Su also took time to highlight the delivery of the strategy for content creators and designers within the Media & Entertainment industries, its motivation from game developers who create even more immersive worlds, to what we are doing with server farms rendering petabytes of data. Simply put, we all need more horsepower.

Some in the industry would argue we need more CPUs, and others would say more GPUs are the future to deliver this horsepower. The AMD belief that was made clear at Capsaicin and echoed by many of the attendees is that it’s a mix of both high performance solutions.

It was great to hear that many of you believe that AMD remains the only company that has both, mixed with the ability to shake up the market.

From our vision, we began to look at the key new products and the work of visionaries like Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games. We will come back to our product announcements later on in this thread as Capsaicin is all about celebrating the work of our customers and partners, so let’s start with Epic Games.

Epic Games

Tim started to share his experiences: “We are at the point of photorealism being achieved in real time.” Tim went on to explain how Rogue One: A Star Wars Story included several real-time character shots, composited into the movie. It was obvious from Tim’s passion that there is more to come and we are only just seeing the beginning of what is possible. Tim went onto to praise AMD for what has been achieved with AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ and bringing more cores to price-sensitive gamers and indie content creators.

From there we all took a closer look at AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ and the flagship Threadripper™ 1950X, but with much more performance than its competition (almost an additional 38% speed bump)1. Threadripper™ is built for people who demand the most compute, and of course, can support up to 4x GPUs. In short, it’s incredibly fast! This was highlighted when we looked at a short V-Ray rendering benchmark where we outperformed the current Intel flagship product.

From looking at V-Ray CPU rendering we heard from MAXON and GPU rendering.

MAXON Cinema 4D

Paul Babb, president of MAXON US, took time out to explain the integration of Radeon™ ProRender natively in MAXON’s Cinema4D R19 (coming September 2017). For those that aren’t aware, Radeon™ ProRender is AMD’s fast and accurate physically-based rendering engine that enables creative professionals to produce stunningly photorealistic images.

With the MAXON integration we got to hear how Radeon™ ProRender supports Cinema4D’s standard lights, cameras and materials. Radeon™ ProRender is scalable and optimized for GPU rendering power with up to 4x GPUs. In an on-stage demo, a 4X GPU setup returned the high detail, product visual in a rapid 28 seconds, allowing artists to be more creative thanks to incredibly fast rendering speed. For those of us who have spent many hours waiting for renders when the deadline approaches, we know that often we work in hours rather than minutes, so to have a highly detailed, final HD image in about 28 seconds is something we can all get excited over. You can find out more details about Radeon ProRender and Cinema4D by downloading this PDF, or by visiting the MAXON site here.

Radeon™ Pro WX 9100

For demanding GPU rendering tasks, you need a card which has more RAM and greater performance, so it makes sense we switch tack slightly and begin to look at the latest Radeon™ Pro WX 9100.

This latest addition to the Radeon™ Pro WX family has 16GB of High Bandwidth Memory, and 4096 stream processors, all powered by the “Vega” architecture. The “Vega” architecture includes the most advanced GPU memory architecture, and is revolutionizing the GPU market, capable of leveraging system memory.

But it offers more than just performance, with technology such as High Bandwidth Cache Controller (HBCC). In case you weren’t aware, HBCC is a feature designed to improve memory management. It intelligently decides on the fly and helps ensure you have a great experience without worrying about the fine tuning.

As you would expect, the Radeon™ Pro WX 9100 is designed for OpenCL™ 2.0 workflows like Radeon™ ProRender in Cinema4D, so no matter what your workflow, be it animation, editing or compositing, the Radeon™ Pro WX 9100 will be optimized for a broad range of OpenCL software with its incredible throughput.

You can read more about what makes the Radeon™ Pro WX 9100 so powerful here.

After some time looking at technology, we revisited the creative side and explored how AMD works with industry leaders like RED digital cameras.

Radeon™ Pro SSG and RED Digital Cinema Cameras

I’m sure RED doesn’t need an introduction to many of you, but just in case, RED remains a revolutionary force within the professional camera market, by offering ultra-high definition, 6K or 8K recording at up to 100fps. Jared Land, president and CEO of RED Cameras, took time to explain to the audience why 8K should be important to us as creatives: “Just like 4K was important 10 years ago, 8K is the next logical step and we thought we were on this path alone.” Jared passionately explained why 8K real-time workflows are important to him, RED, AMD and Hollywood. We then explored another live presentation of 8K R3D footage being played and edited on the Radeon™ Pro SSG, using RED’s special codec. What I often forget is that 8K has four times as many pixels as 4k. That’s big! A Radeon™ Pro SSG keeps that huge playback real-time.

As we heard and saw, film directors need the top-of-the-line hardware. From there we heard how Dell is offering the Radeon™ Pro SSG as part of its configuration options.

We then had a passionate overview of trends and predictions for the Media and Entertainment industry from Roy Taylor. Open source remains key to this ethos, and a good example of this is AMD’s work with Blender™ on integrating Radeon™ ProRender for advanced GPU rendering.

In addition to AMD’s work with Blender that was highlighted, Roy also discussed our advancements with Foundry on Nuke and OpenCL support. But to really highlight the work on Nuke, we wanted to have another customer share their experiences. We were pleased to be joined by Jellyfish Pictures. Jellyfish is a name you may not know, but you will certainly have seen their work when streaming TV programs or movies on the big screen.

Behind the Scenes of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”

Jeremy Smith, CTO of Jellyfish Pictures, shared an overview and breakdown of how they extensively used Foundry’s Nuke on “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”, their experiences with the then-beta version of Nuke 11 and their excitement around the upcoming AMD EPYC™ and AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ processors for super-fast rendering. Jellyfish is based in London, with a team of over 200 specialists, and has been working closely with AMD on the latest version of Nuke 11, as well as on SideFX’s Houdini.

Nuke 11 remains an industry standard for compositing and editing, and this year brings an important update for enhanced performance on complex tasks. This has been achieved by adding core code support for OpenCL on Linux® and Windows®. Ultimately this means that we, as users, can now take advantage of AMD GPUs when using Nuke’s GPU accelerated nodes.  But don’t just take our word for it, Foundry states that just by enabling GPU support, some Nuke nodes like MotionBlur and ZDefocus run 200 -300% faster than on the CPU alone.

For more info on these features and extra improvements, you can download a free PDF that covers an overview as well as giving a more detailed insight into Jellyfish Pictures.

“Star Wars” is a hard act to follow, but Capsaicin managed it with a number of further insight presentations, all ending with the big finale of the P47.

Project 47

The theme of big data and performance continued at Capsaicin, with Project 47. The Project 47 machine offers a 1 petaFLOPS computer, powered by Radeon™ Instinct GPUs and AMD EPYC™ processors. But just to put this into context, a petaFLOPS is one quadrillion operations per second!

In one rack, we had 20x AMD EPYC™ CPUs, 80x Radeon™ Instinct GPUs and 10x terabytes of DDR4 memory, together delivering 1 PetaFLOPS of single precision performance. What makes Project 47 special is the lack of complex components and additional connectors to power the system. To showcase the future of rendering and connected virtualized studios, we were treated to an overview of how each GPU can host 4x users via remote access a range of applications. In this case, we looked at Autodesk Maya, Blender, Foundry Nuke and Adobe Premiere Pro all running in a virtualized environment. Project 47 can support up to 1280 simultaneous user sessions. This is because each GPU can support up to 16x users via the individual AMD GPUs within the rack. To wrap up the presentations we saw the performance of 80x GPUs on one image.

The full recording of the Capsaicin presentation is available to watch here:

Following AMD SIGGRAPH Capsaicin, the conversations ultimately turned to discussing what we wanted to see on the show floor and the presentations we were most looking forward to.

SIGGRAPH on the Show Floor 

The next few days were all about the SIGGRAPH booth and spending time with everyone who wanted to explore hands-on, the interactive demos and presentations AMD had on offer.

The buzz following Capsaicin continued to the show floor and the three main discussions were certainly focused on AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™,  Radeon™ ProRender and the “Vega” chip architecture within Radeon™ Pro SSG and the Radeon™ Pro WX 9100.

Radeon ProRender

Once again, we were joined by our friends from MAXON, who were showing off live demos of the performance and interactivity of Radeon ProRender within Cinema4D R19. MAXON has been showcasing the work they have done on the integration of Radeon ProRender for some time now, but the real showstopper was the quality and interactivity it offers its users.

Up until now, Radeon ProRender has not been experienced by many end-users outside of the beta, and the excitement from the install base and students was hard to miss, particularly around the powerful, and physically based workflows.

*Image courtesy of MAXON

The MAXON system was running on three Radeon™ Pro WX 9100s, and easily rendered HD resolution images in just a few seconds.

CPU Rendering via Arnold and V-Ray

To really showcase how AMD is opening the possibilities of faster renders to the community, we worked with a number of leading rendering professionals in creating some production-ready renders using the latest versions of Arnold and V-Ray. Below is an image of an Arnold rendering from Alex Hugeut, and the show floor attendees got to see the rapid speed it would render from within Autodesk Maya, using this CPU only renderer.

*Image courtesy of MAXON

I’m sure many of you by now would have ordered your AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper™ or AMD Ryzen™ 7 processor to speed rendering workloads. But if you haven’t, then this image from LUXX shows you what they experienced when they swapped to AMD Ryzen 7 for their latest film project using V-Ray, currently in production.

*Image courtesy of LUXX

Ultimately with AMD Ryzen™ and AMD Threadripper, you benefit from multiple cores and threads across the entire family for computationally intensive M&E workflows. Moving away from AMD Ryzen Threadripper, we have the datacenter processor called AMD EPYC™, a single socket and dual socket processor, solving today’s datacenter challenges. AMD EPYC offers up to 32 cores and 64 threads. As a reminder, AMD Ryzen Threadripper offers us 16 cores, 32 threads for rendering on the processor. AMD Ryzen Threadripper remains the highest performing processor in market for the desktop, built for content creators.

Telling New Stories, Immersive Experiences

Many of the visitors to our stand told us of their own pipeline experiences. Whether you were using Autodesk Maya, Modo®, Cinema 4D, Houdini, or Blender, each of you stated how your files are getting bigger, and your clients’ expectations were getting more complex.

Whilst mentioning Modo, we also offered a sneak peek on our stand of the Radeon ProRender Technology Preview within Modo. Within the Modo community this offered increasing realism and interactivity, but was clear the early path was the correct one, but as expected with a beta required some tuning to match the standard set by the more established C4D integration. Watch this space for more news soon as the preview develops.

Another highlight that had the show buzzing was a technology preview of AMD’s Radeon ProRender ray-tracing plugin for Epic’s Unreal Engine.  Unreal Engine is used by many in the visualization industry as well as architecture, and even visual effects, as noted by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney at our Capsaicin event earlier during SIGGRAPH.

The Radeon ProRender ray-tracing plugin for Unreal Engine automatically translates most Unreal material definitions into equivalent Radeon ProRender physically correct materials and creates stunningly photorealistic renders with precise shadows, reflections, caustics, and all of the other lighting effects that matter for highly accurate still imagery.

Harnessing the scalability of OpenCL, this particular demo ran on a beast of a machine powered by a Threadripper CPU and four(!) Radeon Pro WX9100 GPUs rendering full resolution images from a highly detailed multi-gigabyte Unreal scene in a matter of minutes.

Entering beta later this year, Radeon ProRender for Unreal will enable photorealistic renders while keeping the simplicity of Unreal Engine’s workflow for all users.

Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe After Effects with Radeon Pro SSG

The final highlight for attendees was to experience what Jared Land from RED had showcased at Capsaicin a few days before. As part of our ongoing strong partnership with Adobe, we showcased in our booth the 8K native R3D footage playing back in real-time whilst interacting. Importantly, this included forward and backward scrubbing and no behind-the-scenes tricks. Many who explored the demo and got to try the workflow, saw that it was as it said, a real life project, matching the typical tasks an editor completes hundreds of times a day.

As a quick reminder, the Radeon Pro SSG offers 2TBs of solid state graphics memory directly on board the GPU. This allows the artist and the application to treat it as they would an SSD, and load the content directly onto the drive, but without the delays and slow-downs today’s workflows can cause. This optimized route was a key talking point for many of you who had to fight with large datasets on a daily basis. Building on the work with Adobe, you can now natively take advantage of much larger datasets and footage, with almost no frames being dropped.

You can read more about the technology behind Radeon Pro SSG here.

SIGGRAPH and Capsaicin reinforced AMD’s position on Open Standards, developing break through hardware, as well as disrupting the market with cost-sensitive solutions for the professional M&E community. We are proud of the announcements and work we have achieved since SIGGRAPH last year, but most of all proud of the work you create with our software and hardware. For inspiring us to accept the challenges of today’s M&E workflows and break them down, we thank you.


See you next year in Vancouver!

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1. Testing by AMD Performance labs as of July 22, 2017 on the following systems. PC manufacturers may vary configurations yielding different results. Results may vary based on driver versions used. System Configurations: AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X and 1920X processors on an ASUS ROG X399 Zenith Extreme motherboard, Intel Core i9-7900X processor on an X299 AORUS Gaming9 motherboard. All systems equipped with 32GB (4 x 8GB) DDR4-3200 RAM, Samsung 850 PRO 512GB SSD, Windows 10 RS2 operating system, Geforce TX 1080 Ti graphics adapter, Graphics driver 384.76 :: 7/22/2017.Cinebench R15 nT is used to simulate multi-threaded CPU performance; the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper 1950X scored 3042, while the Intel Core i9-7900X Extreme (Intel’s fastest consumer desktop processor) scored 2212 for a benchmark score comparison of 3042/2212 = 1.38× or 38% more on AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X; the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper 1950X scored 2451 for a benchmark score comparison of 2451/2212 = 1.11× or 11% more on AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X. Cinebench R15 1T is used to simulate single-threaded CPU performance; the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper 1950X scored 167, while the Intel Core i9-7900X Extreme (Intel’s fastest consumer desktop processor) scored 197 for a benchmark score comparison of 167/197 = 0.85× or 15% less on AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X; the AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper 1950X scored 167 for a benchmark score comparison of 167/197 = 0.85× or 15% less on AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1920X. The AMD Ryzen™ Threadripper 1950X scored 3042, while the AMD Ryzen 7 1800X (AMD’s fastest consumer desktop processor prior to Threadripper) scored 1601 for a benchmark score comparison of 3042/1601 = 1.90× or 90% more on AMD Ryzen Threadripper 1950X. RZN-45

OpenCL is a trademark of Apple Inc. used by permission by Khronos. Other product names used in this publication are for identification purposes only and may be trademarks of their respective companies.

Use of third party marks/names is for informational purposes only and no endorsement of or by AMD is intended or implied.