With the launch of Kaveri, some people have been wondering if the platform is suitable for HPC applications.  Floating point peak performance of the CPU and GPU  on both fp32 and fp64 datatypes is one of the considerations. At launch time, we were not clear on the fp64 performance of Kaveri's GPU but now we have official confirmation from AMD that it is 1/16th the rate of fp32 (similar to most GCN based GPUs except the flagships) and we have verified this on our 7850K by running FlopsCL.  

I am taking this opportunity to summarize the info about Kaveri, Trinity, Llano and Intel's competing platforms Haswell and Ivy Bridge on both the CPU and GPU side. We provide a per-cycle estimate for the chips as well as peak calculated in gflops. The estimates are chip-wide, i.e. already take into account the number of cores or modules. Due to turbo boost, it was difficult to decide what frequency to use for peak calculations. For CPUs, we are using the base frequency and for GPUs we are using the boost frequency because in multithreaded and/or heterogeneous scenarios the CPU is less likely to turbo. In any case, we believe our readers are smart enough to calculate peaks at any frequency they want, given that we already supply per-cycle peaks :)

The peak CPU performance will depend on the SIMD ISA that your code was written and compiled for. We consider three cases: SSE, AVX (without FMA) and AVX with FMA (either FMA3 or FMA4).


CPU floating-point peak performance
Platform Kaveri Trinity Llano Haswell Ivy Bridge
Chip 7850K 5800K 3870K 4770K 3770K
CPU frequency 3.7 GHz 3.8 GHz 3.0GHz 3.5GHz 3.5GHz
SSE fp32 (/cycle) 16 16 32 32 32
SSE fp64 (/cycle) 8 8 16 16 16
AVX fp32 (/cycle) 16 16 - 64 64
AVX fp64 (/cycle) 8 8 - 32 32
AVX FMA fp32 (/cycle) 32 32 - 128 -
AVX FMA fp64 (/cycle) 16 16 - 64 -
SSE fp32 (gflops) 59.2 60.8 96 112 112
SSE fp64 (gflops) 29.6 30.4 48 56 56
AVX fp32 (gflops) 59.2 60.8 - 224 224
AVX fp64 (gflops) 29.6 30.4 - 112 112
AVX FMA fp32 (gflops) 118.4 121.6 - 448 -
AVX FMA fp64 (gflops) 59.2 60.8 - 224 -

It is no secret that AMD's Bulldozer family cores (Steamroller in Kaveri and Piledriver in Trinity) are no match for recent Intel cores in FP performance due to the shared FP unit in each module. As a comparison point, one core in Haswell has the same floating point performance per cycle as two modules (or four cores) in Steamroller.

Now onto GPU peaks. Here, for Haswell, we chose to include both GT2 and GT3e variants.

Platform Kaveri Trinity Llano Haswell GT3e Haswell GT2 Ivy Bridge
GPU floating-point peak performance
Chip 7850K 5800K 3870K 4770R 4770K 3770K
GPU frequency 720 MHz 800 MHz 600 MHz 1.3 GHz 1.25 GHz 1.15 GHz
fp32/cycle 1024 768 800 640 320 256

fp64/cycle (OpenCL)

64 48** 0 0 0 0

fp64/cycle (Direct3D)

64 0? 0 160 80 64
fp32 gflops 737.3 614 480 832 400 294.4

fp64 gflops (OpenCL)

46.1 38.4** 0 0 0 0

fp64 gflops (Direct3D)

46.1 0? 0 208 100 73.6

The fp64 support situation is a bit of a mess because some GPUs only support fp64 under some APIs.  The fp64 rate of Intel's GPUs does not appear to be published but David Kanter provides an estimate of 1/4 speed compared to fp32. However Intel only enables fp64 under DirectCompute but does not enable fp64 under OpenCL for any of its GPUs.

Situation on AMD's Trinity/Richland is even more complicated. fp64 support under OpenCL is not standards-compliant and depends upon using a proprietary extension (cl_amd_fp64). Trinity/Richland do not appear to support fp64 under DirectCompute (and MS C++ AMP implementation) from what I can tell. From an API standapoint, Kaveri's GCN GPUs should work fine on for fp64 under all APIs.

Some of you might be wondering whether Kaveri is good for HPC applications. Compared to discrete GPUs, applications that are already ported and work well on discrete GPUs will continue to be best run on discrete GPUs.  However, Kaveri and HSA will enable many more applications  to be GPU accelerated. 

Now we compare Kaveri against Haswell. In applications depending upon fp64 performance, conditions are not generally favorable to Kaveri. Kaveri's fp64 peak including both the CPU and GPU is only about 110 gflops.  You will generally be better off first optimizing your code for AVX and FMA instructions and running on Haswell's CPU cores. If you are using Windows 8,  you might also want to explore using Iris Pro through C++ AMP in conjunction with the CPU. Overall I doubt we will see Kaveri being used for fp64 workloads.

For heterogeneous fp32 applications, Kaveri should outperform Haswell GT2 and Ivy Bridge.  Haswell GT3e will again be a strong contender on Windows given the extremely capable Haswell CPU cores and Iris Pro graphics.  Intel's GPUs  do not currently support OpenCL under Linux, but a driver is being worked on.  Thus, on Linux, Kaveri will simply win out on fp32 heterogeneous applications. However, even on Windows Haswell GT3e will get strong competiton from Kaveri.  While AMD has advantages such as excellent GCN architecture and HSA software stack (when ready) enabling many more applications to take advantage of GPU, Iris Pro will have the eDRAM to potentially provide much improved bandwidth and the backing of strong CPU cores.

I hope I have provided a fair overview of the FP capabilities of each platform. Application performance will of course depend on many more factors. Your questions and comments are welcome.

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  • silverblue - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Yes, but is it required for the target market?
  • jabber - Thursday, January 23, 2014 - link

    Exactly. Thing is as AMD doesn't bother marketing/advertising to the target market, it's kind of a double fail.
  • wumpus - Saturday, February 8, 2014 - link

    Hardly. Building it for the target market would increase power draw by a factor of four (well two since the GPU is half the chip). That would kill mobile sales and likely limit desktop power to Intel levels. Not going to happen.

    FP64 apps tend to be rare and price insensitive. Intel appears to be going there with the knights landing chip and AMD would get killed trying to make a chip that could compete with that *AND* fit in laptops/tablets (it would have enough trouble competing with that on the desktop).
  • Gadgety - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    Regardless of how well the A10-7850 compares to Intel's offering in terms of fp64, I'm wondering what good the extra 33% Stream Processors are bringing compared to the rest of the Kaveri range, as in the 7700k and the A8-7600?
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    That A6 is so weak that it stays pegged at 100% for much longer periods than an i3. The i3 is able to actually enter into low power states more often. Since an i3 will churn through its tasks faster, it can even result in reduced power consumption from the storage device since more I/O operations can be clustered together.
  • twoodrow - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    I am developer who frequently uses OpenCL to accelerate proprietary image processing algorithms. Their code relies on compiler to vectorize which, in my experience using AMD and Intel's OpenCL SDKs, is often a mistake resulting in subpar performance.

    I never really considered the fact that benchmark code would be this naive. I assumed that since its purpose was to give an objective standpoint of realizable performance that they would take all steps to ensure maximal numbers. I won't make that mistake again.
  • BMNify - Friday, January 24, 2014 - link

    "Their code relies on compiler to vectorize" do you also rely on the compilers abilities to vectorize or actually write your code as small independent modules with both assembly code and C code as fall back as it where x264 code style to maximize your data throughput.

    where can we find your OpenCL x264 image processing algorithms patches to improve that generic app for 1080P/UHD1 encoding
  • twoodrow - Saturday, January 25, 2014 - link

    I don't understand what you are trying to say. Can you explain it more clearly?

    There are two ways to vectorize execution: explicitly (and there a few ways to do so) or letting the compiler figure it out from vector naïve code. The source does not explicitly vectorize by using the vector data types available in OpenCL.
  • silverblue - Saturday, January 25, 2014 - link

    I'm confused about FlexFPU. Surely the idea was to allow for two SSE or one AVX instruction per cycle, and considering we're talking four units per dual module/quad core Kaveri, wouldn't that be equivalent to a Phenom II X4/Llano? The unit is supposedly designed to work in a HyperThreaded-style manner, could that be the limitation, or is it for SSE2 only?

    Also, as far as I recall, K10 doesn't support fused instructions. So, it's another reason to be confused about the results.
  • kantian - Monday, January 27, 2014 - link

    I think, there are mistakes in the table “CPU floating-point peak performance” in the column for Ivy Bridge i7-3770K processor. The 3770K has 4 cores each having 1 FPU with 2 128-bit FMA units. That is total of 8 128-bit FMA units. Steamroller A10-7850 has 4 cores, each two sharing 1 FPU with 2 128-bit FMA units. That is 2 FPU times 2 FMA units, which gives total of 4 128-bit FMA units. Hence i7-3770K has twice more AVX peak performance power than Steamroller, Richland and Trinity. Therefore the following numbers in the table corresponding to 4 times more performance power are wrong:
    - i7-3770K, AVX fp32 (/cycle) 64. Should be 32;
    - i7-3770K, AVX fp64 (/cycle) 32. Should be 16;
    - i7-3770K, AVX fp32 (gflops) 224. Should be 112;
    - i7-3770K, AVX fp64 (gflops) 112. Should be 56.

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