Company: ATI Technologies
Authour: Rage3D
Date: July 31st, 2006
IRC Chat with ATI's Godfrey Cheng

+ati_DC_dude] Hi I am Godfrey Cheng, director of Marketing for Platform technologies (Crossfire and Avivo)
[@Ratchet] hey Godfrey, welcome. Thanks for taking time to chat with us today

Question: With so many physics options currently available or slated for release in the near future (Havok, Ageia, NovodeX, etc.), what makes the use of ATI's graphics cards better than the rest? Granted the latest high-end cards are extremely powerful, but doesn't that power get used primarily for graphics? Essentially, what makes a graphics card such a great physics processor?

Thanks for the question. ATI GPUs have a superior architecture for physics when compared to those of nVidia. Consider that a modern GPU as having 48 little CPUs dedicated to computational processing. Not only do we have 48 little CPUs but they work in a massively parallel way, when compared to nVidia, we have the ability to process smaller threads and also we have the a parallel branch execution unit. For e.g. in any physics computation, there are alot of "if than" instructions.... if object A collides with B than execute C.... We can do this branch in parallel. So for a given instruction, we take about 14 cycles compared to nVidia's 20 cycles and then you couple our higher clocks....we rock their block

 

Question: Has the importance on physics changed the way ati looks at designing a new chip?

We saw the trend for Physics and GPGPU a couple of years ago and designed our GPUs to capitalize on it. The side benefit is that it is also a better GPU for rendering purposes. We will always consider physics and GPGPU in our design from now on.

 

Question: Dave Orton recently pointed at 9-12 months as the timeframe where he expected physics to start shifting significant quantity of ATI product. Why is that? Game availability? Vista? Something else?

I believe Dave's answer was around Physics being a significant revenue stream. The timeframe outlined by Dave is accurate. The main bottleneck will be the availability of games for the next 6 months. Our drivers are in good shape

 

Question: How is Crossfire coming along in maturity compared to SLI in your opinion?

Crossfire is the best performing multi-GPU platform available on the market. You are going to see a further improvement shortly. We are continuing to develop the platform to be more robust, user-friendly and most importantly, more flexible

 

Question: What is the purpouse of the low end cards supporting Crossfire (eg: x1300/1600)? With after getting two of such supported cards, the performance being just a bit behind that of the next higher card, at the same or higher price what was the reasoning?

Great question. This really goes to where Crossfire is heading. With Crossfire going much more flexible and scalable in the near future, you are going to see that we will offer the greatest choice for the customers. They will have the opportunity to pick and choose their budget. We are not catering to only the highend enthusiast.

 

Question: Your honored competition at Ageia has been talking some smack on dedicated hardware vs doing physics with the gpu. Would you expect we in the community would ever have the opportunity to see an apples-to-apples application or benchmark scenario to actually have a chance to get to the bottom of this question objectively, rather than just have to wade thru the posturing?

We really look forward to the day where there will be benchmark. It is not our place to comment on Ageia's performance or nVidia's performance but let's just say that we are optimistic against other platforms. We can also look at some facts and figures.... At GDC, nVidia show 10,000 objects....today we can show 25,000 objects at the same frame rate.

 

Question: When can we expect user controllable profiles for CF in the CCC? Since this is a highly touted feature of SLI over CF.

We are working on this and I am sure Terry will advise when it will be available.....

 

Question: Are there any plans for ATi to introduce a Crossfire(tm) capable laptop chipset for those ultra-expensive gaming laptops?

They exist already....they just are not public yet.

 

Question: From what I hear, physics support will be driver related (meaning all it needs is a driver release for the ability of the cards to use physics), which means most to all of the new ATI video cards will support the ability to do such things. My question is this, what will someone lose from using say an x1300 pro for physics vs someone who uses an x1900xt?

The X1300 and X1900 are completely different animals. If we normalize physics performance of the nV G70 / G71 to 100%, some of our internal analysis shows that a X1600 is 4X faster and the X1900 a whopping 15X faster. We don't expect that this will be the actual game performance but should showcase the relative performance that we are expecting. We have not fully benchmarked the 1300 yet....it may be the case that we only support the X1

 

Question: When will crossfire go dongleless or will it adapt an internal connector ala SLI?

As you may know the X1600 already supports soft-crossfire. However, we realize that customers want the best performance without the external dongle, so this is something that we are working on.... You will hear from us shortly on this.

 

Question: Apple Apple Apple.. Do we have any hope of seeing Intel Apple workstations with Crossfire cards in the future?

As an Apple enthusiasts, we hope they continue to raise this with Apple. We will support Apple however they want.

 

Question: how many game profiles are currently defined in the Catalyst drivers now?

I don't have the number off the top of my head.... I will ask Terry M to follow up

 

Question: How will ATi's GPU's compare to one of those dedicated physics processors?

ATI expects to do well against dedicated PPUs. To match ATI's performance today, they would have to show 25,000 objects / per scene....we just haven't seen that in dedicated PPUs or nvidia's GPUs. As our GPUs get more powerful, you can fully expect our physics performance to improve. We have set the mark to beat today...but we are not standing still.

 

Question: does Crossfire bring added benefits to features like AVIVO? Eg. better HD decompression, better image filtering, etc.

Crossfire today doesn't support video functionality....but there is a good reason why I am managing both platforms :)

 

Question: From when I started working with computers to now, I have seen and felt I guess you'd say a noticeable speed increase from each generation. Lately though, I haven't felt such a large increase. The games have gotten prettier and more advanced, but in your opinion, have we hit a plateau for performance in other aspects with computers?

As a hardware hack dating back to the late 80's, I totally agree with your first part of the statement. We have seen research that shows humans cannot perceive anything less than a 50% increase in performance. At ATI we have deliver 2X the performance of the previous generation and this will hold true in the future. But you need to consider as you get closer to reality, the importance of raw frame rate diminishes and much more of the computational power will be focused on the visual quality and nuances...

 

Question: With the rapid advancement of GPU technology, will 'old cards' be able to provide the necessary physics capability in the future as well, meaning can we rely on having for example an X1600 for years to come? Will future revisions of the physics code require more advanced cards to support the same level of immersion?

We are trying to ensure that we have a good base level or platform to support physics. So while the X1600 appears to be good for the next year, we may go to a different programming model to take advantage of new hardware. If your question is will we always support physics...yes and will we support physics on the mainstream GPUs....yes

 

Question: When will we see Boundless gaming for AM2 systems?

I believe the AM2 CF mobos will be out shortly

 

Question: ATi (and nVidia) partnered with Havok to bring out this physics solution, is there a chance ATi will partner with other physics engine compnies to create a universal solution?

Great question. Crossfire is an open platform, we want customers to have the choice of CPUs, GPUs and Chipsets. We are open to working with all the physics APIs and we definitely want to see an ATI solution that supports all APIs.

 

Question: With the recent mass of crossfire vs sli benchmarks recently performed by a number of websites recently shows crossfire usually lagging behind sli..any spesific plans to change this in drivers, or ways to devlop crossfire better for future products?

This is not what we see in our labs. We are always looking for speed enhancements in Software and naturally, we expect big improvements with all of the new HW that we have staged.

 

Question: Why can Crossfire not work on SLI capable motherboards?

Please ask nVidia

 

Question: How will Torrenza affect Crossfire in the future?

I cannot comment on this at this time.

 

[+ati_DC_dude] I would like to thank you guys for participating in today's session and I would like to thank you for your enthusiasm for ATI products.....
[+ati_DC_dude] I would like to announce that daPhoenix is the winner of the ATI Mystery Prize.....
[+ati_DC_dude] This was picked randomly

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