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NVidia Ampere: A rushed response to what AMD is launching soon?

Last weekend we finally got the long-awaited launch of the new Nvidia Ampere GPU architecture which is meant to replace Volta in the segments of Cloud, AI and HPC applications, adding new features aimed at improving both energy efficiency and better use of the resources present on the chip.

The “full” GA100 GPU with 128 SMs

As very well detailed in the article presented by Nvidia on the new architecture, Ampere presents some significant changes in relation to Volta and new features aimed at improving the overall energy efficiency of the system. One of these new features is the new Multi-Instance GPU architecture (MIG), which allows the GPU to partition available computing resources into up to 7 instances for a significant improvement in the use of the resources present. A fundamental step towards the development of the foundations of a GPU architecture aimed at Exascale.

GPU Checkmate?

With this new feature, Nvidia will bring new unprecedented performance uplifts for their GPUs, allowing multiple programs to take advantage of existing resources in Ampere GPUs simultaneously and with a greater degree of freedom of resource allocation that no current AMD GPU can match. It is at this point that many readers may be asking: How can AMD respond to such an evolution provided by Nvidia? Is this the definitive end to the Radeon story? Is this Huang’s checkmate on Dr. Su?

CSP multi-user with MIG diagram. Multiple independent users from the same or different organizations can be assigned their own dedicated, protected, and isolated GPU Instance within a single physical GPU.

Well, this is where the real plot twist happens.

A few months ago, AMD published a new patent aimed at providing a multi-instance implementation in a more fine-grained way than that presented by Nvidia in the Ampere architecture. While in Ampere there is an explicit limit of resources that can be accessed by each instance, AMD’s proposal for multiple instances offers the opportunity for even more granularity in the allocation of available resources in such a way that, if an instance needs it, it can allocate for example more shader engines or more pixel engines to perform a given task dynamically for the multiple instances, thus enabling a complete use of the features present on the GPU, maximizing energy efficiency and utilization.

In addition, AMD’s patent allows the future AMD GPUs to support multiple concurrent queues, applications, draws, and dispatches from different guest OS’s. Each different workload is identified using a container ID to differentiate the workload from the other workloads. The container ID is created from a hash of the OS or virtual function ID in this implementation. This allows the GPU to support multiple concurrent queues, applications, draws, and dispatches from different guest OS’s.

A block diagram of one implementation of the virtual environment in the proposed AMD patent, showing how a typical workload source hierarchy for GPUs includes the levels of operating system (OS) and virtual function (VF), applications, queues, draw calls, and dispatches, where each queue includes any number of graphics tasks and/or compute tasks. When supporting multi-tasking, there are potentially multiple workloads from various sources that are active on the GPU concurrently.
Block diagram detailing the implementation of multiple instances proposed by AMD, which includes multi-tasking support in each pipeline stage.
A block diagram of the implementation, showing in detail the compute pipeline.
Each stage of the compute pipeline is vertically partitioned, allowing multiple compute tasks to execute concurrently.

This is just one example of what AMD has been preparing for its future generations of GPU based on RDNA / CDNA architectures. There are many more patents that could be cited along with everything we are seeing AMD bring with the new generation of consoles, to demonstrate that Ampere is actually an early (and necessary) response to what AMD is preparing to launch soon.

With Ampere’s presentation, I will now be able to research more in depth what Huang is preparing for what would become the “beyond Ampere” revenge. I hope to soon show you the results of my Nvidia patent searches.

Underfox is a Physicist, Telecom Engineering lover, HPC Enthusiast and Prog Rock/Metal fan. Underfox’s views are his own and do not necessarily reflect Coreteks’s. You can find Underfox on Twitter @Underfox3

NVIDIA Ampere Architecture In-Depth, Krashinsky et al., Nvidia, 2020;

AMD Patent: VMID as a GPU task container for virtualization – Fev. 6, 2020;


4 thoughts on “NVidia Ampere: A rushed response to what AMD is launching soon?

  1. Good reading UNDERFOX, I definitely did not expect such a twist to be honest. If I may ask you, what do you thing was the main trigger for nVidia to announce Ampere architecture? Specs of upcoming consoles?
    Anyway, keep up good work 👍

  2. If anyone is rushing, it’s AMD.
    AMD is not a cash rich company and with their notable successes with their CPU’s they are wise to strike while the iron is hot.
    With an almost unprecedented number of people unemployed, there’s a lot less potential sales as a new gpu is low on the priority list thanks to COVID-19.
    This pandemic could be the worst thing to ever happen to AMD as they simply don’t have the cash reserves to weather the potential of multiple years of uncertainty and more sales figures.
    Intel and Nvidia have the cash to ride it out. Like ‘old money’.

    But let’s not be too quick to dismiss Ampere. It’s clearly a massive evolution from their Volta architecture which was seen as bleeding edge.
    Ampere destroys it in raw performance, the presentation is crystal clear in this regard.
    If anything, perhaps your thoughts are a little out of date, Turing was the rushed product.
    Ampere is what Turing should have been, and then some.

    And what of AMD’s rushed/botched amateur attempts in recent months with their ‘secret firmware’ version they thought would counter Nvidia’s response? GPU’s overheating to the point of not working, what a PR mess.
    Now that’s what I’d call ‘rushed’.

    I do love these devil’s advocate themed stories, click bait with a clear agenda to focus on hypothetical hyperbole, instead of the facts in front of them.
    Or are you qualified to say that the Ampere architecture is fake and won’t do what they said it was capable of? Do tell.

    News seems to have forgotten it’s roots. Sensationalism is the new truth I suppose if you allow yourself to be swept along with the ‘hopeful wishers’.
    I hope AMD release something good, competition is good, and it’s why we will see Intel coming back in the coming years. A costly mistake they will never repeat.

    1. “it’s why we will see Intel coming back in the coming years. A costly mistake they will never repeat.”

      Except this is already history repeating itself.

  3. “Sensationalism is the new truth I suppose if you allow yourself to be swept along with the ‘hopeful wishers’.”
    You couldn’t say it better. I kinda feel like this is the reason, why many people are disappointed after release of real product. Lack of rational thinking.

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