AMD at GDC 2013: Booth Toys

Company: AMD
Author: James Prior
Editor: Sean Ridgeley
Date: April 8th, 2013

AMD Elite APU and more on show

At GDC, floor space is at a premium so exhibitors have to provide eyepopping displays to capture attention while leaving space for private meeting rooms to get the most of the interested parties who wander by. The AMD booth at GDC '13 was housed in a large square espousing AMD Gaming Evolved and the partnerships AMD have built over the last few years in their quest to become the dominant force in gaming.

Five Display Eyefinity TressFX
AMD GDC Booth (Rear)

Front and center at the AMD booth: an interactive demonstration of AMD Gaming Evolved in the form of Tomb Raider running on a large five-display Eyefinity and Radeon HD 7970 setup. There really isn't anything as eye catching as that; ARM, Intel, and NVIDIA's booths looked positively pedestrian in comparison. Interested attendees could learn a little about how Square Enix and Nixxes were able to leverage the AMD Display SDK to get support for advanced enthusiast features like Eyefinity in the game simply and easily, as well as learn about TressFX.

Intel at GDC

There were three other areas in the booth offering hands-on time, one of which featured the AMD FirePro Sky series cloud gaming platform in partnership with CiiNow's Cumulus platform (covered previously). Here you could use a laptop or a tablet provided by one of AMD's newest partners, Vizio. These sleek devices are based on APUs codenamed Hondo, the first generation Bobcat x86 and VLIW5 GPU architecture embedded chips.

AMD APU tablets by Vizio
FirePro Sky powered AMD Cloud server

If you knew who to ask, you could play with a production prototype tablet that uses AMD's upcoming APU codenamed Temash. Temash is AMD's first APU SoC, is made on TSMC's 28nm process, and features the new x86 architecture codenamed Jaguar and a dual core per module design with GCN graphics. The architectural improvements in both the CPU and GPU departments promise to lift performance and efficiency over the previous generation, with increased integration of system components and a process node shrink thrown in for good measure. AMD claim the best tablet experience is provided by Temash, so I wanted to try it out.

Preproduction Temash Tablet Design
microSD and mini-HDMI

While we couldn't bench it or display framerate, I was able to play around with whatever was loaded on the device. This included DiRT Showdown, which played impressively well given the low power of the device, and felt around 50% better than my own C60 powered Acer Iconia Tab tablet, a promising sign for the new chip. The pre-production design felt high quality, very sleek, and impressively light for the performance compared to first generation tablets like the Iconia Tab.

Full HD Temash Tablet
Hondo-based Tablet

Windows 8 was the OS of choice for the test unit; its modern UI is fully GPU accelerated by the GCN architecture. The Temash APU features full DirectX 11.1 support which includes target independent rasterization and tile based deferred rendering, for smoother 2D graphics and high quality live tile updates as well as lower power use for streaming video in a window or box. Face login powered by Cyberlink YouCam -- which leverages the APU for image content recognition -- was available and working.

Eyefinity Gaming
Face track & animate

Other hands-on demonstrations included a triple display Eyefinity gaming setup for gaming; a rolling demo of Leo (AMD's showcase for a forward render engine with lighting), and an example webcam application that read facial expression and cartoonified them in real time.

Radeon powered Arcade
Click to Zoom & Enlarge

Another crowd gatherer was the retro arcade cabinets, which featured working authentic arcade controls. The classic design evokes the great 70's and 80's games, while a modern touch has been applied to the base, which runs on an AMD FX PC with Radeon graphics. The built-in display was mirrored to a second, large HDTV for crowd viewing of the games, which was enjoyed by booth visitors.

Any developer checking out AMD's wares at GDC should have been left with the impression AMD is serious about all markets, from tablet to desktop to enthusiast to cloud, and offers great relationships with partners, leading to great content.