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Streaming into the Future - ATI Stream Update

Streaming into the Future - ATI Stream Update



What's New with ATI Stream

What's New with ATI Stream

The first thing that was mentioned - ATI is releasing a new version of its Stream SDK, the latest being version 1.3. This is complemented by ATI bundling its Stream related technologies (like the runtime libraries for its Compute Abstraction Layer, CAL) into its Catalyst drivers, starting from Catalyst 8.12. If you have been using a Radeon HD 4600/4800 series graphics card since December last year with these drivers, you may also have noticed that there is now a free utility available for download, known as ATI Avivo Video Converter. This is the first step towards unlocking stream computing capabilities on ATI's latest consumer graphics cards.

This Video Converter is the company's second attempt at a transcoding tool to convert video formats using the stream processors in ATI graphics cards. This utility only works with ATI Radeon HD 4600/4800 series GPUs currently and we'll have more to talk about it in our hands-on testing later.

Meanwhile, ATI Stream will be adapted to work with OpenCL, the biggest development in the stream computing field recently. A new developer version of ATI Stream is expected early this year, with support for OpenCL 1.0 support. ATI has stated that it will have a public release of version 2.0 of ATI Stream SDK with the OpenCL support in the second half of the year. As it is now, ATI has already demoed its efforts in using OpenCL at last year's Siggraph Asia so we hope those plans are on track.

Besides the free ATI Video Converter, this emphasis on getting Stream into the mainstream and increasing public awareness continues with implementations of Stream in products from CyberLink and Arcsoft. Arcsoft for instance, will have a DVD upscaling feature known as SimHD in its TotalMedia Theatre that will make use of the GPU to accelerate the process, again something that the company showed off at Siggraph Asia. Other examples quoted by ATI include Adobe CS4, which from what we know, do make use of OpenGL capable graphics cards to accelerate some of the 3D related features, like image panning and previews. In which case, it won't exactly be due to stream processing and other GPUs that support OpenGL can make use of these features.

Of course, ATI is in this business to sell its hardware and the software development aspect aside, it also announced the availability of its latest FireStream GPU, which is its professional range of GPUs. While the GPU core is the familiar RV770 found in consumer Radeon HD 4800 cards, it has been buffed up to meet the demands of high performance computing applications. This means a larger memory buffer and double precision floating point hardware. ATI mentioned that for the server/workstation space, it was letting third party/OEM vendors decide how they want to configure and sell stream computing solutions unlike NVIDIA, which has its own Tesla line of assembled GPU-based systems.