AMD’s Graphics Core Next successor could give a big boost to parallel computing

ces 2019 amd announces radeon vega vii gpu 7

A patent application filed by AMD in July 2017 has just been published and it’s given us our first hints of what its next-generation graphics architecture might be. We don’t mean the newly announced Radeon VII, nor the upcoming Navi, but whatever comes after that. It could be the 7nm+ architecture allegedly code-named Arcturus, but whatever badge you slap on it, the patent hints at what AMD has planned beyond its aged Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture, which has been at the core of its graphics card technologies since 2012.

The patent in question is for a new “Stream processor with high bandwidth and low power vector register file.” It was originally spotted by Twitter user @Komachi and reveals a number of intriguing details about what may come next among AMD’s graphics developments. At its core, the updated design should make AMD’s graphics cards more powerful and more efficient at the same time, by making the individual compute units far more capable at independent operation.

The GCN architecture AMD currently employs in all of its graphics cards utilizes compute units which share a lot of their resources, as PCGamesN explains. In some instances, that can be a limiting factor on performance as the resources can only be doled out to respond to one instruction at a time. The high bandwidth stream processors that the AMD patent discusses would circumvent this problem by giving each compute unit its own instruction queue, cache, and buffer. That would allow them to perform tasks individually, without waiting for resources to be freed up elsewhere.

This improvement in parallel processing capability would not only make AMD’s new graphics cards more capable for gaming, but would make them much more capable at general compute tasks, too. AMD’s GCN is already fantastically capable in that sense and that’s why Radeon cards are popular for cryptocurrency mining, rendering, and other enterprise tasks. If this new stream processor design does make its way into Arcturus, that could make AMD’s graphics cards even more popular for those sorts of tasks.

As with all patent filings though, there is no guarantee that this is a technology AMD will actually make use of. It’s equally possible that it was filed just to stop someone else from using a similar design, or to provide a licensing revenue stream. In any case, it’s still an intriguing technological innovation that we’d be interested to see more of if it does make its way into some real-world silicon in the future.

Updated on Janaury 23, 2019: Updated headline.

Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Computing

Microsoft's latest Surface Laptop 2 runs past the updated MacBook Air

Apple recently updated its venerably MacBook Air, giving it a sleeker and more modern design. That pits it against the Surface Laptop 2, Microsoft's update of its own traditional laptop.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Computing

RTX 2070 is the most popular Turing GPU for Steam gamers

Nvidia's RTX graphics cards might not be selling like hotcakes, but they are selling and they're more popular than AMD's Vega GPUs. The most popular entry in the lineup is the RTX 2070, beating out its stronger and weaker contemporaries.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? Try the best free media players for your local music

Rather than using music-streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Mobile

Need speed? Qualcomm unveils the Snapdragon X55, the world’s fastest 5G modem

Qualcomm is preparing for an even faster future: The silicon giant just unveiled a second generation 5G modem for smartphones, promising blistering download speeds as high as 7Gbps.
Mobile

Barbie’s Corvette ain’t got nothing on Sphero’s fully programmable robot car

Sphero is known for devices like the Sphero Bolt and BB-8 Star Wars toy, but now the company is back with another addition to its lineup -- the Sphero RVR. The RVR is a fully programmable robot car that can be expanding with different…
Photography

Luminar’s libraries gain speed, drop need for you to manually import images

Luminar 3 just got a performance boost. Skylum Luminar 3.0.2 has improved speed over December's update, which added the long-promised libraries feature giving editors a Lightroom alternative.
Computing

Keep your portable computer safe and shiny with the best laptop bags for 2019

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Computing

Like to be brand loyal? These tech titans make some of our favorite laptops

If you want to buy your next laptop based around a specific brand, it helps to know which the best brands of laptops are. This list will give you a good grounding in the most reliable, quality laptop manufacturers today.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Computing

Microsoft extension adds Google Chrome support for Windows Timeline

The Windows Timeline feature is now much more versatile thanks to the added support for Google's Chrome browser. All you need to do to increase its functionality is to download the official Chrome extension.
Computing

Google Earth spills the beans, reveals Taiwan’s secret military bases

Google Earth 3D Maps has spilled the beans on Taiwan's deepest secrets. The locations available in full three-dimensional detail include a facility which houses Patriot missiles and the country's National Security Bureau.