Topic Title: SERIOUSLY? No motherboard for dual-Opteron workstation with Crossfire Pro?
Topic Summary: Looking to build a CAD/rendering rig with a CrossfirePro-enabled motherboard for Opteron 6000 or 4000 series platform
Created On: 06/29/2013 02:21 AM
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 06/29/2013 02:21 AM
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CAA
Peon

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After days of research into this build, I have failed to turn up any results. It's looking more and more like I am going to have to abandon this system in favor of an Intel Xeon/NVIDIA-SLI platform, which to me seems ridiculous considering that AMD advertises Crossfire Pro for workstation graphics solutions!

Are they seriously sending us towards Xeon chipsets for workstation graphics? If not, why would they produce a technology that none of the motherboard manufacturers are willing to incorporate into their server and workstation boards?  

I called ASUS and Tyan. The ASUS rep told me that none of their G34 or C32 platforms support Crossfire Pro and that the boards would not operate two FirePro GPUs in a crossfire configuration. The Tyan rep told me that a few of their server/workstation boards "will run" Crossfire Pro, as they "meet the hardware requirements, but they have not been tested and certified", meaning that "support is not available" for this technology. He blamed AMD for "having a reputation for not keeping up with Intel in their testing, upgrades and certs".

So, is this true? Perhaps? After all, the link to the CrossfirePro motherboard support list is DEAD! Is this technology being discontinued or what?     



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CAA (a.k.a. the Computer-Aided-Architect)

 07/12/2013 10:04 AM
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Kent@AMD
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The CrossFire Pro page is still available (www.amd.com/cfprofeatures , http://www.amd.com/US/PRODUCTS/WORKSTATION/GRAPHICS/CROSSFIRE-PRO/Pages/crossfire-pro.aspx) but as with CrossFire on desktops, CrossFire functionality has to be enabled by the motherboard manufacturer. While this is less common on Server boards, you can still find a decent number of Opteron boards from SuperMicro supporting CrossFire, including:

SuperMicro H8DGI (2xG34) (http://www.supermicro.com/support/faqs/faq.cfm?faq=16425)

As you can see, SuperMicro supports CrossFire but makes no mention of it on their product page, yet their support team confirmed CrossFire capabilities on that board specifically. Getting in touch with them should be the easiest way to find CrossFire-capable boards, but the majority of their G34 offerings have 3+ PCIe x16 buses, so they would be a good bet.



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 07/13/2013 04:45 PM
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CAA
Peon

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Well, that is somewhat helpful and I thank you for replying to my query.

Unfortunately, the problem still remains that this SuperMicro board does not provide PCIe x16 3.0, which is required for "optimal performance" with the FirePro workstation cards (W5000 through W9000). Why would I spend all that money on AMD products for use in an outdated board and not run them at full potential?

To make matters worse for the Opteron systems, none of SuperMicro's G34 boards even have USB 3.0! Which is not the case for the dual Xeon boards, that have the 3rd generation PCIe slots and plenty of USB3.0 ports: http://www.supermicro.com.tw/products/motherboard/Xeon/C600/X9DAX-iF.cfm

As an alternative, I've been looking into the FirePro A320 APU, but so far, I have only found a Sapphire board that is optimized for a single A320, which also does not offer gen3 PCIe slots. Gigabyte makes an FM2 socket board for the A-series APUs with Radeon graphics, which also supports dual crossfire descrete graphics, but there is no mention of support for the FirePro APUs, let alone a dual APU architecture. http://www.gigabyte.com/products/product-page.aspx?pid=4652#sp 

Furthermore, I can't even find out whether or not AMD has developed a means of optimizing a system running both their integrated FirePro APUs and two Crossfire Pro Wxxxx GPUs! 

Again, there is simply too much confusion and an overall lack of information regarding your professional workstation technologies. Intel/NVIDIA are definitely more "on the ball" when it comes to CAD/rendering platforms. And even though they are considerably more expensive, I'm starting to think that they are worth every additional penny when considering the difficulty in finding published specs on the AMD platforms when researching a workstation build. 

The problem with calling phone techs is this: it all depends who answers and how willing they are to go the extra mile to make sure that the proper info is obtained and delivered. Quite often, I get bullsh*t answers from phone techs across the pacific simply because they aren't paid enough to give a damn (which is understandable).

If the information is published officially, then the information is usually more trustworthy. 

 

 



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CAA (a.k.a. the Computer-Aided-Architect)



Edited: 07/13/2013 at 05:34 PM by CAA
 07/13/2013 05:50 PM
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CAA
Peon

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Originally posted by: Kent@AMD The CrossFire Pro page is still available (www.amd.com/cfprofeatures , http://www.amd.com/US/PRODUCTS/WORKSTATION/GRAPHICS/CROSSFIRE-PRO/Pages/crossfire-pro.aspx) but as with CrossFire on desktops, CrossFire functionality has to be enabled by the motherboard manufacturer. While this is less common on Server boards, you can still find a decent number of Opteron boards from SuperMicro supporting CrossFire, including: ...

 

 

...Including all the dual Xeon boards, which also offer gen3.0 PCIe slots and USB3.0. So, I guess your workstation GPUs where intended for use on Intel platforms? LoL  Or, AMD doesn't spend enough time and money in their R&D projects, especially those projects requiring the collaboration with motherboard manufacturers? 

Also, http://www.amd.com/us/Documents/ATI_CrossFire_Pro%20_DS_2.pdf states that motherboard support is available at http://ati.amd.com/products/certification, which takes you to a dead link:http://www.amd.com/certified 

So, i guess AMD is only concerned with making new chips/chipsets and *NOT* making sure that these chips are optimized for use in the systems they were designed to run? 

 

It's a shame, really. People have good things to say about the GPUs, but they all seem to be gamers or professionals running INTEL CPUs. Ironic, to say the least. 



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CAA (a.k.a. the Computer-Aided-Architect)



Edited: 07/13/2013 at 06:07 PM by CAA
 07/15/2013 04:19 PM
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Farhad@AMD
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I wonder which CAD application you are trying to run under CrossFire Pro with our FirePro W-series.



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 07/30/2013 01:36 PM
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CAA
Peon

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Originally posted by: Farhad@AMD I wonder which CAD application you are trying to run under CrossFire Pro with our FirePro W-series.

 

 

As an advanced professional graduate degree student, I'm using a whole gamut of programs, including:

 

  1. Rhino5 with Grasshopper and V-Ray
  2. Cyclone HDS (Leica Geosystems)
  3. GeoMagic Studio
  4. Revit 2013
  5. 3DS Max Design 2013/Mental Ray
  6. Inventor Professional 2013
  7. AutoCAD 2013
  8. Maxwell Render Suite
  9. Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign CS6 (also, will soon need Premiere CS6 for editing HD animated renders)
  10. Maya 2013 (Interested in learning this as some architects prefer it to Max for specific rendering applications
  11. Google SketchUp Pro 8 with Shaderlight and/or Maxwell (I know, seems funny, but complex models can really slow down in this primitive program, especially with high number of textures and sunlight/shadows)
  12. Have plans to learn Robot Structural Analysis and SolidWorks

My models are very detailed, sometimes very complex, and I frequently incorporate mechanical designs into my architectural projects. Rendering them is a nightmare and computing multiple transformations for blocks and/or components frequently freezes my computer without me even knowing it's frozen (e.g. Rhino will tell me it's "in progress" and task manager doesn't recognize that they aren't working...same deal will AutoCAD and Revit).

So, that pretty much sums up why I need a high-performance workstation that is capable of both fast modelling and fast rendering. I'm leaning towards a Xeon 5520 platform (LGA1366), perhaps with FirePro graphics, but I was very upset to learn that the Opteron platforms are not officially compatible with CrossFire Pro and other important motherboard options: dual G34 or C32 sockets, multiple PCIe 3.0 x16 slots, USB 3.0, etc. 

 

 

 



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CAA (a.k.a. the Computer-Aided-Architect)



Edited: 07/30/2013 at 02:52 PM by CAA
 07/30/2013 02:44 PM
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CAA
Peon

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P.S. The promising features and value performance of the A320 APU platform seem drastically offset by the lowsy Sapphire motherboard (the ONLY mobo that officially supports the chip!).

The motherboard only has one PCIe x16 (2.0) slot, one PCIe x4 (2.0) slot and a legacy PCI! What the hell am I supposed to do with that? If I want "dual graphics" (paired with an ATI FirePro v4900) it means I can't run a PCIe x8 RAID controller (for RAID 5) or have the option of adding a Thunderbolt card (or anything else that may be of use to a 3D designer). And AGAIN, no option for CrossFirePro! So, this board offers next to nothing in terms of scalability/expansion. Why in hell they would try to cram a professional platform onto a micro-ATX board is beyond my peonic mind! Perhaps, PERHAPS, it makes sense to offer a smaller form-factor for more "portable" workstations, but why not offer second and third boards for the A300/A320 APUs, like an ATX and a SSI-CEB?

Can someone PLEASE tell me how this Sapphire board was given the title, "Professional Platform"? There is nothing professional about it, save its "optimization" for FirePro "dual graphics" and it's multi onboard SATA ports for integrated "hardware RAID"....scough. LoL  

And if I still wanted to give this platform a go and try it out for my design work? Oh, well, I have to contact someone at Althon (Canada) who can barely speak english and who tells me that this board is "currently, only for the Asian market", said he would look into for me....no call back. SURPRISE! AMD style "support"????? LoL  

So is the following true, or only semi-accurate? LoL "These APUs can be paired with A85X, A75 and A55 FCHs, so there’s CrossFireX capability when A85X FCH was used, while A55 limits to SATA 3.0 Gbit/s and USB 2.0 ports." [ Source: http://semiaccurate.com/2012/08/07/apus-for-workstations-launching/ ]

PLEASE tell me that this chip will run as-intended in any FM2 socket!!! PLEEEASE!!!! 

...And then tell me that CrossFirePro will run on a CrossFireX-enabled board...

...And then tell me that the A320 APU can offload to two CrossFire Pro linked FirePro cards and still give that "up to double-digit" performance increase for the linked GPUs (and NOT only work with a single v3900 or v4900)... 

....And then tell me where I can buy one without having to book a flight to Hong Kong (which, BTW, would make the Xeons look even more enticing). 



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CAA (a.k.a. the Computer-Aided-Architect)



Edited: 07/30/2013 at 04:41 PM by CAA
 08/01/2013 05:17 PM
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Farhad@AMD
Peon

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Please check with the Software vendor on CrossFire Pro support. Not all 3D aplications support CrossFire.

http://www.amd.com/us/products/workstation/graphics/crossfire-pro/Pages/crossfire-pro.aspx

Obviously our new FirePro W-Series support CrossFirePro as well.



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