Companies spend millions of dollars on graphics solutions to become more productive as creative professionals workflow demands performance and 100% reliability. These workstation graphics cards are used day in day out and it is critical for them to be optimised for any application they may be needed.
We had a chance to talk to the Senior Manager and Product Management of AMD’s RadeonPro graphics solutions, Glen Matthews, as he presented to us what are the new things AMD’s RadeonPro Enterprise Software Suite has to offer.
“The Radeon enterprise edition try to optimize your graphics investment. These companies spends millions of dollars on the graphics solutions so what we do is we help them become more productive.”, said Glen Matthews.
AMD focuses on five aspects for their graphics solutions: Quality, Performance, Security, Simplicy, and Innovation.
“We do that in five ways. First is we focus on quality. It’s really number one because time is critical and everyone has to be working all the time. Then we focus on improving performance on every product. Then we also focus on security to make sure that the company’s intellectual property is protected. Next is we provide simplicity. We make lives easier both for the users and the I.T. Professional. And the last one is innovation. New features and functionality to help more people to be more productive.” Glen Matthews explains.
The presentation slides below is an illustration on the extensive process when a graphics driver is in development to ensure it’s quality. The extensive stability testing on the enterprise grade driver quality is designed so that people are always able to work 100%.
“So one of the reasons we focus on stress testing is so that we’re stress ready for a 24/7 environment. So as an example on how we succeeded is if you take a look at our largest lead automotive partner, their use of our products had zero end-user CAD issues. We’ve also worked closely with OEM partners. From an OEM standpoint, they also report back to us how many issues their customers had, so with our lead OEM partner, we only had one reported issue last year.”
They also work closely with ISVs (Independent Software Vendors) like Autodesk, Siemens, etc., as these drivers are submitted to different ISVs for their certification.
“We pass all these and had a 100% success rate in passing these certifications.” Glen Matthews said.
Driver development process explained
The slide below illustrates AMD’s testing process of the driver development. Inside AMD, they do Pre-planning, developer testing wave, validation testing wave, rework testing wave, final pass testing wave.
Then after that they go through testing with their partners. This process is basically the partners testing the products for themselves to make sure they’re robust. This happens inside the OEM and ISVs as well.
From there they have pool of users signed up for a closed-beta test program to test their drivers. The focus for them is largely on quality and performance as they are using it on their day to day workflow.
Then in the end of that, with everything being suitable, the product then gets launched. There is quite a long effort in creating the drivers. The last stage being the post mortem which is basically to see what the things they can improve on the next time and the cycle starts all over again.
“We do this once a quarter. The driver obviously takes a year long effort. So the key point for this is we go through a significant amount of testing so that for our customers can have confidence to have a good experience with it. If you look at the issues that has happened with the driver versus all of the users that we have, the vast majority of users reported no issues.” explains Glen Matthews.
Here are some of the major applications that matter to professional users that RadeonPro has support and certifications for.
Performance: The value of updating you graphics drivers
Driver updates provide significant performance improvements every update cycle as presented on the presentation slide below using PTC Creo, which is a CAD application for product designers.
The first set of results shown here are the performance improvements on a follow up for the life cycle of the RadeonPro W7100 compared to a previous generation product. The newer generation W7100 had 37% increase in performance compared to the old product.
After two years, a new product was introduced, the WX7100 and it had 36% increase in performance compared to the older W7100. But as a new driver update was introduced, the W7100 was able to be on par again with the latest generation product by 35%.
“Technically over that two year period, you get the performance improvement that has been worked out as you would get when you would buy the new hardware. We’re not saying that you should not buy new hardware, because it’s only so long when you can get that improvement and it has a diminishing return so early on around two years, we try to get significant gains until they start to level off. But definitely you would want to be updating your driver throughout the life cycle of your ownership of the product.” said Glen Matthews.
Gamers would regularly update their graphics drivers, but in the professional scene, you will be a little more reluctant to do that. The reason is because you don’t want to interrupt the workflow by making any changes, though there is value in making those certain changes to make your employees more productive.
You’ll typically see enterprises will update once a year. Normally you won’t expect them to update to every single driver that is released.
AMD also provides security features to help customers protect their intellectual property. There is a lot of information that gets stored in the graphics card through the GPU memory and they have to ensure that it does not get into the wrong hands.
It all starts with a Secure boot process where the firmware is validated to make sure that there is nothing malicious that’s in there. Then they have a secureprocessor that works with the device guard from Windows 10 where in the solutions standpoint. Then finally as shutting down the machine, there isa security process to make sure that anything in place will not implicate any intellectual property.
AMD has also made it easier for I.T. professionals to use their drivers and implement it. From a corporate standpoint, companies use a lot of images, software, operating systems and drivers to a point that it gets a little bit overwhelming to manage but AMD is trying make it very simple for the I.T. pro to manage that.
So first of all, the latest RadeonPro driver includes the Windows 10 April update.
Next is the provide a predictable schedule for driver updates so that enterprises can plan ahead when they can update.
Finally, AMD also has a one driver that supports all the range of our product solutions that they have. So for enterprise they can have our RadeonPro Products, Radeon products, and Virtualization products using one driver so that they won’t have to get a different one for each.
Global technical support is also available where you can get in touch with somebody and we can collect your information and help solve your problem.
Then on the innovation side, they have the RadeonPro Render solution which is a rendering tool used by professionals to create accurate photorealistic images. It uses ray tracing technology, which emulates how light travels around and meets your eye. You can read more about Ray Tracing Technology here.
What ProRenders does is every pixel on the screen is effectively simulating what the pixels would encounter. You can use how many bounces of lights you would like, typically around 50-500 bounces and each pixels will carry that information and create images with them.
To show what the Radeon ProRender can do, above is a photorealistic rendition of a dash of a car using Maxon Cinema 4D. This render engine is fast, easy, and incredible because it’s so simple to use. Additionally, plugins are available for those other applications so that professionals can download them and render with them.
Among other innovations is the RadeonPro ReLive. It is a recording tool that lets you record what’s happening on your screen and this actually helps improve communication between workers.
And then lastly, Virtualized graphics, which enables enterprises to utilise multi-GPU solutions and having multiple people serviced by one GPU. From an I.T. standpoint it helps by reducing your cost and centralising everything in the server room and allows adequate performance and improved security.
The Enterprise edition is focused on professionals and the I.T. department serving those professionals are aiming to improve productivity bringing in quality, continuing to improve performance, security features, and simplicity, and new functionality like the RadeonPro render to help them do more with that product that they have.