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Thread: Best AMD OpenCL/OpenGL Budget Development Box

  1. #1
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    Default Best AMD OpenCL/OpenGL Budget Development Box

    I'm looking for an AMD system (and an Intel and an Nvidia, but those are posted elsewhere) that will provide the best range of current and near-future OpenGL/OpenCL/etc. capabilities for experimental development and testing. I am **not** looking for wicked fast gaming performance, compute performance, or anything like that. I want maximum capabilities for the least money. To put it in specifics, I want the following:

    - AMD CPU/APU
    - Motherboard for above (Assume $90.00)
    - 8GB RAM (Assume $50.00)
    - AMD GPU (Optional with APU)
    - Total Price >= $300.00 @ newegg
    - OS: (Arch) Linux with either Radeon or Catalyst

    The reason I ask is that most discussion of APUs/GPUs seems to be geared towards games or compute use. I'm just looking for a development and test box, not something for daily use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    I'm looking for an AMD system (and an Intel and an Nvidia, but those are posted elsewhere) that will provide the best range of current and near-future OpenGL/OpenCL/etc. capabilities for experimental development and testing. I am **not** looking for wicked fast gaming performance, compute performance, or anything like that. I want maximum capabilities for the least money. To put it in specifics, I want the following:

    - AMD CPU/APU
    - Motherboard for above (Assume $90.00)
    - 8GB RAM (Assume $50.00)
    - AMD GPU (Optional with APU)
    - Total Price >= $300.00 @ newegg
    - OS: (Arch) Linux with either Radeon or Catalyst

    The reason I ask is that most discussion of APUs/GPUs seems to be geared towards games or compute use. I'm just looking for a development and test box, not something for daily use.
    The price range is really restrictive, but I do know of a few good options...

    Option 1: AMD APU ( For this, Wikipedia has an excellent article over these chips. ) - I can only suggest keeping an eye out for the GCN based chips that will be released early next year. However if you don't want to wait, the following specification should work great.


    Option 2: AMD CPU w/ Radeon Graphics.



    On both systems I did choose Gigabyte because the experience I have with this maker generally has great support on linux. I don't know about the EFI/UEFI support on these boards, but it should work out well if you place the system into legacy mode.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dandel View Post
    I can only suggest keeping an eye out for the GCN based chips that will be released early next year
    I've done a bit of searching to figure out what, besides marketing hype, GCN is. And, as far as I can tell, it is an internal change from VLIW MIMD to RISC SIMD. While this may be nice for performance or efficiency, it does not seem to be at all relevant to what APIs the APU/GPU can support. Can anyone explain why, from the perspective of available APIs, GCN matters?

    The same goes for TrueAudio... From a developer's perspective, what does it offer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dandel View Post
    I did choose Gigabyte because the experience I have with this maker generally has great support on linux.
    I've only ever had trouble with laptops; but, I'll keep your recommendation in mind. I don't care about overclocking, goofy "quick boot" stuff or just about any other feature, my tendency is to assume that any board with supported IO chips is fine. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    I've done a bit of searching to figure out what, besides marketing hype, GCN is. And, as far as I can tell, it is an internal change from VLIW MIMD to RISC SIMD. While this may be nice for performance or efficiency, it does not seem to be at all relevant to what APIs the APU/GPU can support. Can anyone explain why, from the perspective of available APIs, GCN matters?
    GCN matters since it is what appears in both major consoles this time around. The XBOX One and PS4 This leads to more benefits elsewhere. As far as API Based stuff, the main things that are listed is the new Mantle API that amd is releasing for the GCN chips. This means that you haft to have any of the following...
    • Radeon HD 77xx Series or newer
    • Radeon HD 8550M ( or newer )
    • Radeon Rx 200
    • AMD APU based on Jaguar Cores



    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    The same goes for TrueAudio... From a developer's perspective, what does it offer?
    There is not a lot of information on TrueAudio yet, but I do know that it'll probably have a lot of help with improving overall Audio quality. As far as cards that support TrueAudio, the only cards I currently know that support this API are as follows... Radeon R7 260X, Radeon R9 290 and Radeon R9 290X.



    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    I've only ever had trouble with laptops; but, I'll keep your recommendation in mind. I don't care about overclocking, goofy "quick boot" stuff or just about any other feature, my tendency is to assume that any board with supported IO chips is fine. Thanks.
    I have had similar experience on laptops and the latest AMD APU based laptops work a lot better than previous generations. ( The only Tip I have is don't expect open source graphics to be fully functional for a few years seeing as how there is bugs on this ).

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    Default Mantle, TrueAudio, etc.

    Well, I seem to have mentally dismissed Mantle as I have CUDA. I know that for some problem sets, CUDA is a great tool. But, like CUDA, mantle seems to be a single-vendor lock-in attempt with limited general appeal. If Mantle support starts appearing on Nvidia GPUs or Intel CPU or a significant variety of ARM-ISA implementations, it may be of consideration **to me**. Since AMD seems to have limited ability to effectively implement software support for anything lately, I'm not willing to spend even a few dollars extra on the off chance that Mantle becomes prevalent and useful for non-Windows developers.

    As far as TrueAudio goes, I spent last winter building an almost-audiophile grade subwoofer (~12 foot horn) and FFTFF center-channel. I was sufficiently motivated to write a plugin for pulseaudio to handle the crossover digitally, but I cannot fathom what AMD can do to improve the "quality" of the bitstream on S/PDIF? Either the bits arrive at the amplifier's decoder as intended or they do not. 1990's technology can handle this. Sh|t, even well designed analog equipment can do extremely well. Just like friggin $100/ft gold plated Cat6 will not make gigabit ethernet faster, I'm pretty sure that nothing AMD has to offer will improve audio in any noticeable way. And, if there happens to be some API attached to "leverage" TrueAudio, what other hardware is it useful for?

    Besides, I've already got a system for actual daily use and one as a media center. I'm just looking for a test box to do compile/debug/profile cycles on.

    I appreciate the info, though!

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    I would get a good FM2+ motherboard along the lines that Dandel suggested, fast RAM, and either wait for Kaveri or put a basic Trinity or Richland APU in for now then drop in a Kaveri when they become available. I wouldn't bother with a separate GPU unless you want to do graphics driver development.

    From a development perspective, GCN is better suited for complex arbitrary compute kernels/shaders and has more versatile memory addressing. Kaveri should be a good platform for OpenCL 2.0 features.

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    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    Well, I seem to have mentally dismissed Mantle as I have CUDA. I know that for some problem sets, CUDA is a great tool. But, like CUDA, mantle seems to be a single-vendor lock-in attempt with limited general appeal. If Mantle support starts appearing on Nvidia GPUs or Intel CPU or a significant variety of ARM-ISA implementations, it may be of consideration **to me**. Since AMD seems to have limited ability to effectively implement software support for anything lately, I'm not willing to spend even a few dollars extra on the off chance that Mantle becomes prevalent and useful for non-Windows developers.
    I agree with you on this point, and I honestly do not believe AMD would limit mantle to windows developers only. I just don't know a lot about this.
    Quote Originally Posted by justinzane View Post
    As far as TrueAudio goes, I spent last winter building an almost-audiophile grade subwoofer (~12 foot horn) and FFTFF center-channel. I was sufficiently motivated to write a plugin for pulseaudio to handle the crossover digitally, but I cannot fathom what AMD can do to improve the "quality" of the bitstream on S/PDIF? Either the bits arrive at the amplifier's decoder as intended or they do not. 1990's technology can handle this. Sh|t, even well designed analog equipment can do extremely well. Just like friggin $100/ft gold plated Cat6 will not make gigabit ethernet faster, I'm pretty sure that nothing AMD has to offer will improve audio in any noticeable way. And, if there happens to be some API attached to "leverage" TrueAudio, what other hardware is it useful for?

    Besides, I've already got a system for actual daily use and one as a media center. I'm just looking for a test box to do compile/debug/profile cycles on.

    I appreciate the info, though!
    I understand, and I will say to look at exactly What I pointed out regardless. This is to guarantee you have a lot of leeway. Since the system is for testing you can get a cheaper cpu and motherboard on both cases, and this should drop the cost to a lot closer to the range you where asking for originally.



    Also, This should provide a good test platform since the APU uses a similar architecture to the Radeon R6900 line, and the R7 260X is the latest GCN chip with as many features as possible.

    Also I believe it is worth noting that AMD has a lot better graphics support overall at least on open source drivers that matches ( or exceeds) intel since AMD has regular gpu documentation releases.

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    Default Nice analysis!

    Thanks. I appreciate your insight. Now, someone please fix the Hynix fire related DRAM price issue. I hate buying when I know prices are temporarily inflated.

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    Honestly, if you want an APU, wait for next month because early in January the first HSA APU goes on sale, Kaveri. That's when OpenCL will really kick off with OpenCL 2.0. The single greatest issue with OpenCL and APUs today is that there is no HSA hardware yet.

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    Default HSA sans Intel and Nvidia

    Quote Originally Posted by mmstick View Post
    Honestly, if you want an APU, wait for next month because early in January the first HSA APU goes on sale, Kaveri. That's when OpenCL will really kick off with OpenCL 2.0. The single greatest issue with OpenCL and APUs today is that there is no HSA hardware yet.
    [link]http://hsafoundation.com/[/link] The one thing that I note is that Neither Intel or Nvidia are members of HSA; and, since they are huge players in the financial, scientific and entertainment compute markets, I question what HSA will amount to. And, it seems to be significantly led my Microsoft and their track record is not encouraging.

    Another thing that I am not clear about is what HSA provides -- in real terms -- to open source developers. From what I can tell, it is simply a shim layer that distributes ready-compiled compute tasks to various hardware devices. Which seems like a solution in search of a problem. Or a replacement for an integrated MMU.

    Add to that that newly released chip families are always marked up to take advantage of price-insensitive early adopters, I wonder what the specific advantage is.

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