Fusion Opens New Doors
X-bit labs: What types of new applications do you think GPGPU and Fusion computing may create?
Neal Robison: A lot of tasks that we currently do on the CPU certainly will be optimized and accelerated. But the question seems to be talking about new types of experiences.
We addressed a little bit of that earlier this month with an application like wireless display, when you have a notebook and you want to have the "screen" of your notebook onto a larger display and in better resolution, e.g., TV. GPU computing capability would be able to accelerate the encoding of that video signal and then will be able to move that across Wi-Fi so that it appears wirelessly on that screen. This is a very interesting experience! This could be enabled by something like Fusion architecture.
Another interesting area is security. Right now the amount of processing power that is required for some kind of virus checking or even performance of higher-level of behaviour analysis is a little bit limited on lower-power devices (notebooks, etc.). Fusion-based architecture with GPU-compute and OpenCL will unlock a lot of security features that I think will be of interest for both commercial and consumer clients.
I see a lot more [opportunities] with multimedia creation and manipulation applications; for example, consumers will get enough horsepower to do pro-like things with audio, video or even stereo-3D objects.
X-bit labs: Do you think that natural user interfaces like Microsoft Kinect will require those large amounts of compute horsepower.
Neal Robison: I do. This is another interesting thing. In the Xbox 360 right now a lot of the processing is done to interpret what the Kinect cameras see in the 3D environment is performed on the ATI Xenos GPU! I see that unlocked even further on a consumer PC. Changing the human computer interface whether it is motion control, whether it is different types of devices that are used as the interface [and require compute horsepower], Fusion architecture with GPU compute would absolutely unlock a lot of new experiences.
APUs Set to Challenge CPUs
X-bit labs: A general stupid question that you have received for a million of times, but a little bit paraphrased. Do you think that APUs will challenge - eventually - standalone CPUs and GPUs?
Neal Robison: I think APUs will definitely challenge standalone CPUs. I believe that the future of consumer as well as commercial computing environments are characterized by the ability to present a compelling visual experience. Taking a GPU core and a CPU core and using them together on one chip will definitely challenge standalone CPUs.
I do not think that APUs will challenge discrete GPUs on anything, but on the lowest-end systems. When you look at adding a discrete GPU that enhances performance of the graphics side, it makes a huge amount of sense as it scales [performance] on a wide amount of applications because of the rich visual experience that everybody expects now when they are actually using their computing device.
X-bit labs: But do you think there is a place for standalone CPUs for consumers in the next five years?
Neal Robison: Definitely! In the short-term future there will be standalone CPUs without graphics cores. [...] [It is in our interest] that the transition from [CPUs to APUs] happens as quickly as possible because of the obvious benefits of combining a CPU and GPU together.
X-bit labs: Thank you for your answers, Neal!