The most obvious announcement is the two new keynote speakers, Dave Perry and Phil Pokorny. Dave Perry is a long time game developer and founder of Gaikai, the cloud gaming service similar to Onlive. The topic of the talk was not given, but since he is listed under Gaikai, it is probably something like this. This is unfortunate because we would much rather hear Mr. Perry give a talk about his new upcoming MMORPG/Platformer/RTS based on Earthworm Jim, but that is probably not on the cards because we just made it up. Having seen Mr. Perry talk at GDC/Austin a few years ago, he is really good on stage, so if you go to AFDS, catch this one.
Similarly, Phil Pokorny, CTO of Penguin Computing does not have a topic listed, but we can’t think up a similarly thought provoking title for a made up talk, nor have we seen him talk at GDC. That said, Linux runs the overwhelming majority of cloud machines, so between a GPGPU and cloud talk, this one has potential. Then again, last year, all the keynotes were well above average even for a technical conference.
These two new ones add to the four previously announced keynotes, Phil Rogers and Mark Papermaster of AMD, Tom Malloy of Adobe, and Dr. Amr Awadallah of Cloudera. No topics are public yet, but you can speculate a bit about what will be discussed based on their companies and positions.
To change topics a bit, last year, AFDS was a very interesting conference, packed with tons of high level and very technical talks. The quality of content was quite encouraging, especially in light of it being the first year that AMD put on the show. This year, the talks look to be of similar quality, but with one big difference.
You might recall that when AMD put on AFDS last year, the OpenCL SDK had just been launched, but Llano hadn’t. Basically, it was a conference about a software package that was 90% fully baked for hardware that officially didn’t exist. You couldn’t buy a Llano notebook to run the SDK on and try the things AMD was talking about. While it was possible to do much of the work on a CPU and discrete GPU, that is, well, sub-optimal.
Stepping forward a year, we see a radical change. There have been several revisions of the AMD OpenCL SDK, Llano and Brazos devices are plentiful, and Trinity is on the verge of launching. Although neither company has publicly said anything about their plans, we have said that both the Microsoft XBox Next and Sony Playstation 4 are essentially based on the AMD Fusion architecture. Think about that in the context of this conference. Then put some odds down on how many dev kits from both sides, not to mention Nintendo, will be lurking in NDA back rooms. It may be zero, but if there was ever a place to bring devs up to speed and court the guys doing the next killer app…….
In about a year, we have gone from nothing to GPGPU being a topic of interest at GDC and other conferences. Fusion and similar OpenCL utilizing architectures have migrated from research to real devices, from phone SoCs to clouds. And you can buy them today. Hardware without software is nothing however, but luckily that has changed too. There are lots of commercial apps that use OpenCL available right now, and more coming soon. This is a sea change, islands must be purchased separately, from promises and a raw SDK last year.
In the end, AFDS looks really interesting, the keynotes, talks, and upcoming hardware all point to a lively time. SemiAccurate will be there covering as much as we can, but given the sheer number of talks, we won’t scratch the surface. If you attend, well, see you there.S|A