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AMD launches £2,500 W9000 GPU as FirePro line gets APU treatment

Advanced Micro Devices has some new professional-class FirePro graphics cards, including the first pair of cards to utilise an AMD accelerated processor unit (APU) combining central processing and graphics processing functionality on a single chip.

AMD's FirePro A300 Series APUs are aimed at entry-level and mainstream desktop workstations, the company said. It was a busy day for high-performance discrete graphics products — rival Nvidia on Tuesday also unveiled its new Kepler-based Quadro and Tesla cards for Maximus desktop workstation configurations, plus some Quadro mobile GPUs.

Those next-gen Nvidia products won't be available until October at the earliest, however. AMD's new FirePro A300 and FirePro A320 arrive this month, the company said.

"Design professionals demand workstation-class tools that enable productivity and flexibility in their workflow, and the AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs enable workstation integrators and OEMs an exciting new computing platform on which to design and build powerful, entry-level desktop workstation configurations that deliver unbeatable value for CAD and M&E workflows," AMD Graphics general manager Matt Skynner said in a statement.

"The AMD FirePro A300 Series APUs combine AMD FirePro graphics technology with advanced CPU technology, delivering incredible compute performance, refined design flexibility and outstanding efficiency," he added.

The FirePro A300, which runs at 65 watts, has a quad-core CPU with a 3.4GHz base clock to go with its 384 AMD stream processors and 760GHz GPU clock. The FirePro A320 runs a bit hotter at 100 watts but its four CPU cores spin at 3.8GHz plus the same 384 graphics cores benefit from a slightly faster 800MHz GPU clock.

AMD's Turbo Core technology dynamically cranks the FirePro A300's clock to as high as 4GHz and the A320's to 4.2GHz in certain workload conditions. Both A300 Series APUs support Eyefinity, AMD's high-res multi-monitor technology.

"AMD is targeting the entry-level workstation market with their new FirePro APU. Because the APU has the fastest integrated graphics core and has the major ISV certifications, this could be very compelling for customers on an entry-level budget," said Patrick Moorhead, lead analyst for Moor Insights & Strategy, and a former marketing executive at AMD.

"Entrenched workstation market share leaders Intel and Nvidia will of course continue to pose a major challenge to AMD in this space," he continued.

AMD also lifted the curtain on several traditionally architected GPUs on Tuesday, including the FirePro W9000 with a whopping 4 teraflops (TFLOPs) of single-precision performance and 1 TFLOP of double-precision performance — making it the company's most powerful professional-class discrete GPU to date.

The chip maker's new high-end FirePro lineup is led by the W9000, which packs 6GB of high-speed GDDR5 memory and is priced at $3,999 (£2,560). The FirePro W8000 has 4GB of GDDR5 memory and carries a price tag of $1,599 (£1,025), while the FirePro W7000 also has 4GB of GDDR5 memory and will set buyers back $899 (£575). All original figures are US dollars, and their pound sterling equivalents are based on the current exchange rate.

The FirePro W9000 and W8000 cards are aimed at high-performance CAD engineers, media designers, and digital signage professionals, while the W7000 is a mid-range solution for those visual computing pros, AMD said. The FirePro W8000 is billed as being capable of 3.23 TFLOPs of single-precision performance and 806 gigaflops of double-precision performance, while the W7000 isn't capable of double-precision but does rate at 2.4 TFLOPs for single-precision work.

The chip maker also pitched its FirePro M6000, M4000, and M2000 mobile workstation GPUs, which can be bought in standalone cards from AMD channel partners or in new laptop workstations from Hewlett-Packard and Dell.