Even though AMD was the first with a professional-grade capable graphics (Llano APU), it was Intel that first launched a Xeon E3 Series processor with professional OGL-certified graphics. Now, AMD is taking it back with the Trinity-based FirePro APU.
From the looks of it, it looks like AMD wants to return to its winning ways. Wanting and realizing are two different things, though. The company wasn't without big setbacks, such as the one which happened in May 2011. Due to GlobalFoundries supply issues, the company narrowly missed from becoming a standard processor behind Apple's MacBook Air (and subsequently, MacBook Pro and iMac computers), after which a brain-drain ensued.
However, the company decided to use SIGGRAPH 2012, annual convention in computer graphics – to announce its fight back. The company launched several FirePro cards, but they're typical professional versions of their HD 7000 series consumer products fitted with custom drivers. AMD FirePro A300 Series APU is whole another ballgame, though. According to the official press release, the FirePro A300 APU features are as follows:
AMD FirePro™ A300 Series APUs deliver incredible performance for the entry-level and mainstream workstation segments, providing a perfect blend of CPU and GPU performance and industry-leading features to keep design professionals efficient:
• Support for AMD Eyefinity Technology for enhanced efficiency and immersive, multi-monitor productivity;
• AMD Turbo Core technology, where CPU and GPU performance are dynamically scaled depending on workload demands, effectively providing a more responsive experience;
• Support for horizontal display resolutions up to 10,240 x 1600 pixels, enabling large desktop spaces across multiple high-resolution display devices for advanced multitasking1;
• Support for Discrete Compute Offload (DCO), allowing additional compute capability by using discrete AMD FirePro GPUs in parallel with APU graphics for extended GPGPU performance;
• 30-bit color support to enable breathtaking image and color fidelity for advanced workflows such as color correction and image processing when using displays capable of 10-bit-per-channel operation;
• Dedicated UVD (universal video decoder/VCE, or video CODEC engine) media encoding hardware for faster "fixed function" GPU processing of H.264/MPEG4 files and other motion media formats when using compatible software, to free up CPU resources for other tasks;
FirePro A300 is nothing else but a Trinity APU (Accelerated Processing Unit) combining up to four Piledriver cores with Southern Islands Video and Northern Islands (VLIW-4) GPU, all paired with professional-class drivers. The drivers are now branded as AMD Catalyst Pro. Furthermore, we saw several quite impressive features, such as the hardware acceleration for virtual desktop reaching almost 16.4 million pixels (10,240×1,600), all in 10-bit per color (30bpp) fidelity.
AMD announced that the FirePro APUs will be shipped onto market starting in August 2012, which is ahead of Desktop Fusion APUs. According to rumors in the channel, AMD delayed the availability of desktop-based Fusion processors until October 2012 to clear its slow moving Llano inventory, and to start taking back the market share against Intel Xeon E3 processors and entry Nvidia Quadro cards.
It is not known what motherboards will the FirePro A300 Series APU use, but we expect to see modified motherboards with Socket FM2, given that the APU comes with 30-bit color output.