While an overabundance of acronyms, the title is apt: ATI is not resting in its laurels. Rather than be content with winning the current crop of GPU wars (at least, and perhaps most importantly, in the hearts of average consumers) ATI is taking the battle straight to NVIDIA by releasing ATI Stream, a new brand identity designed to showcase how ATI video cards can be used for more than just gaming.
GPGPU computing takes video cards, which have many fast processors good at doing very specific things, and uses them to take the load off the CPU when dealing with certain kinds of problems. NVIDIA has been showing off their technology for accomplishing this feat, known as CUDA, for some time. The most famous example of graphics-assisted programming is probably the Folding@Home client, which takes advantage of certain video cards to drastically increase the amount of work a specific machine is able to accomplish. A more recent case is Adobe’s new Creative Suite 4, which uses the GPU to speed up certain tasks.
Another very useful example of when GPU-assisted tasks can save significant time and money is in the area of audio/video encoding. AMD is claiming that when using a QX9650 and Radeon HD4850, a GPGPU-variant of their Avivo Video Converter was able to convert video up to 17 times faster than when not using the GPGPU-variant. Obviously, this has the potential to shave several minutes off of a very repetitive task.
On December 10th, AMD will release the 8.12 Catalyst drivers that take advantage of the new ATI Stream technology. They plan on releasing the updated Avivo Video Converter to the general public on December 12th.
AMD news release on the ATI Stream technology