Cloudy with a Chance of Games

In this most recent discovery, we see that AMD have a job listing for a DataCenter GPU – Customer Engineering- Program Manager.

Now that mouthful is out of the way, what will this person actually do?

“Join us, it is an exciting time. We are growing and seeking a hardworking technical program manager with Server industry experience! As our new Technical Program Manager, you will own customer account(s) and be responsible to bring a portfolio of next generation Server Platforms to market using AMD’s Radeon Instinct™ Accelerators.”

AMD LinkedIn Job Listing

You may be asking at this point, even if you’ve read the title of the article. Why on earth are Cloudy covering this in an article?

Well, the starting point is the direct mention of Google Stadia in the personal section of the job listing.

“Take a look at our EPYC class server CPUs, and our in-market Radeon Instinct™ Accelerators for a clue on the technology that powers the new era of cloud computing, machine learning, and virtualization. Our technology powers Google Stadia, Microsoft Azure, Cray Computing exascale machine for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

AMD LinkedIn Job Listing

What is AMD Radeon Instinct?

The first thing to note is that Radeon Instinct is not new. In fact Radeon Instinct was first announced late 2016 and the products in the range became available in the 2017.

In generic terms Instinct is a compute card that’s designed with high performance in mind for such scenarios as cloud computing, rendering systems to name a few.

Select models were among the World’s first PCIe Gen 4 x16 capable GPU and coupled with AMD Infinity Fabric Link technology where you can directly connect multiple GPU’s to run in a singular server instance.

It paved the way for trailblazing speeds and processing power, combined with the use of AI, it was something to behold and sits in direct competition with NVIDIA’s Ampere or at least later models do.

Why Is This So Relevant to Stadia?

There are a number of reasons that make this relevant or should I say potentially relevant.

If we cast our minds back to AMD revealing their AMD Pro V series, an image of the GPU was shown on screen with Google’s Project Stream branding next to it.

There’s been much debate as to exactly what powers Stadia, we know that it sports a custom X86 processor for it’s CPU, along with it sporting 16GB RAM and a GPU that delivers 10.7 teraflops power but more importantly HMB2 memory.

This tells us clearly that whatever is powering Stadia is of a data centre class, something that was always going to be vital to the performance it was going to deliver as a game streaming service.

Fast forward to 2020 and as you will have seen from the second quote in the job listing, it clearly infers that Google Stadia is already powered by Radeon Instinct.

When we looked at the specs of say the MI50 (32GB) we can see where the Radeon Instinct range was heading, with an increased memory bandwidth of up to 1TB/s and a solid TFLOP performance (Numbers vary depending on areas of stats you look at), it had a number of use cases and clearly cloud computing is one of them.

As we close in on the end of 2020, AMD is going through the motions of revealing their new CPU’s, GPU’s (RX6000 or ‘Big Navi’ Event 28th October).

AMD 6000 series ‘Big Navi’

The extension to that is the much rumoured AMD Radeon Instinct MI100. Whilst there is no confirmed release date and specification for this as of yet, it is set to be a marked improvement over the MI50 and even the somewhat absent MI60, which is still being supplied to AMD’s customers.

What Could It Mean For The Future of Stadia?

Disclaimer: From here it’s speculation, theory and nothing other than an attempt to connect the dots.

This started with a job listing, it now moves to how the technology in the hands of AMD could help Stadia take the next steps in the development of the platform.

Some out there may refer to this a Gen 2. For the purposes of this article, we’re entirely classifying it as the development of the platform.

If you cast your mind back to April of this year, an unnamed developer told Stadiacast that generation 2 was in testing for developers and that now famous quote

“Gen 2 runs our games better than Xbox Series X”

Anonymous Developer

Couple that with twitter communication from 15th of October by Deep Silver Fish Labs that stated to a user questioning whether Chorus would support Ray Tracing on Stadia, that they should refer to the previous answer of

“”We’ve been testing and exploring RT and we’re working hard to bring graphical improvements to the next level. Chorus is becoming a visual delight!”

Deep Silver Fish Labs Twitter

As Stadia moves in to year 2, a year that includes Chorus being released on the platform, just what would it take to deliver some of those killer visuals and increased frame rates?

Well based on an in depth look at the tech specs for Radeon Instinct and of course not ruling out the up and coming RDNA2 from AMD, the answers could well be right in front of us.

Early benchmarks are indicating that the next range of GPU’s are going to be competing on the closest to a level playing field with NVIDIA’s 3000 series.

Harness that with the incredible use of AI/Deep Learning with Radeon Instinct, it’s entirely possible that from April time this year, game developers have been working not only with a future variant of Stadia, but also feeding the AI an enormous amount of data in order for it to be ready for a future point in time when Stadia are ready to unveil it.

Ray Tracing is entirely possible on Stadia, in it’s simplistic form, it boils down to an algorithm that delivers it within an image but it needs the subsequent hardware to be able to truly deliver it and reproduce it’s best results despite being around for a number of years in a software based form.

It’s important to highlight that ray-tracing should not be confused with RTX on NVIDIA which is more a technology that delivers ray-tracing via NVIDIA’s architecture.

So at it’s core, in Stadia’s roadmap, they already outlined a vision for 8K resolution and 120FPS+ but without making improvements to the hardware infrastructure running the platform it won’t happen.

Enter the a new AMD DataCenter GPU – Customer Engineering- Program Manager, who is responsible for bringing the next generations of Radeon Instinct to market, who could be well placed to assist with a wider scale upgrade/rollout to AMD’s partner, Google Stadia.

Stadia as platform coupled with Radeon Instinct could bring an interesting dynamic to game developers being able to work with a scenario of Multi-GPU, which ordinarily would be too costly in the mainstream for gamers to access but may prove to be a viable test bed with Stadia and therefore more accessible for end users.

In the continued theme of theory and speculation, if we were to hazard an educated guess at when we are likely to see these sorts of improvements rolled out and available for end users, it would be in the first half of 2021.

Does this mean ‘Gen 2’ is close? No, like we said, all we have done is simply take aspects of public information and try to make sense of them towards interpreting what it could mean for Stadia’s development as a platform, especially as we go into a period now where Next-Gen consoles will be launching in the coming weeks.

All of this of course doesn’t include that secret sauce that Google may be adding to the recipe that could just make Stadia even better.

In short it’s all theory, we may be right, we may be wrong but that just adds to the fun.

The one thing we would say is, that it’s something to watch out for and something we’ll certainly be monitoring closely for any further developments or signs of an impending announcement.

Keep an eye out for more news and updates from all of the team at Cloudy with a Chance of Games.

By Barry Jackson

My first gaming experience was on a ZX spectrum, from there I've gone through every Nintendo system, Playstation , Xbox up until the last generation of the consoles and of course PC. I finally seen the light earlier in 2020 and made the move to Cloud Gaming and quite genuinely it was the best thing I've ever done. The future of gaming is here and with my deep passion for gaming I can't wait to experience where it's going.

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