This article will discuss the significance of Advanced Micro Device's latest technological breakthrough, hQ or Heterogeneous Queuing, which emanates from the Heterogeneous Systems Architecture foundation (HSA). Specifically, this article will try to explain the importance of this elegant breakthrough as it relates to the next era of computing.
The HSA foundation founders are very powerful individually, and when they work as a group, investors should pay attention, in my opinion.
The significance of the HSA is well explained in the following paragraph from a VentureBeat article written by Dean Takahashi:
The Heterogeneous Systems Architecture (HSA) is pretty arcane technical material for consumers, but if it takes off, AMD says it will lead to faster and more power-efficient personal computers, tablets, and smartphones and cloud servers. It goes hand-in-hand with hUMA, a new way for processors to access the memory inside an Accelerated Processing Unit, or a single chip that combines both a microprocessor and graphics.
The problem is that it isn't easy for programmers to harness the power of the GPU, or graphics processing unit, inside an APU. The HSA has been designed to fix this problem, making graphics an equal partner with the CPU (central processing unit) and other processors, such as a digital signal processor, inside a computing system.
Heterogeneous queuing, the latest breakthrough from AMD
Mr. Takahashi continues:
GPUs can be used for non-graphics computing tasks, but it often takes too long to route requests for data through a CPU. Most developers don't want to deal with the difficulty of optimizing their code for this kind of work. But a new technique, dubbed "heterogeneous queuing," allows applications to directly communicate with the GPU, treating it as an equal partner alongside a CPU when it comes to accessing data quickly. That means an application won't have to wait for the CPU when what it really needs to is to access the GPU.
With HSA and heterogeneous queuing, the GPU doesn't have to wait for the CPU to feed it data. It can spawn its own tasks on its own.
Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at Insight 64, calls this change the "same kind of conceptual breakthrough that the introduction of the virtual memory wrought in the 1970s," when engineers figured out a better way to manage memory in a computer.
Heterogeneous queuing and the HSA relative to the Next Era of Computing
In this article by Loyd Case, Senior Editor PCWorld, from January 2012, he concludes with the following:
CPUs will never go out of fashion. There will always be a need for linear computation, and some applications don't lend themselves to parallel computation. However, the future of the Internet and PCs is a highly visual one. Digital video, photography, and games may be the initial drivers for this, but the visual Internet, through standards like WebCL and HTML5 Canvas, will create more immersive experiences over the web. And much of the underlying programming for creating these experiences will be parallel in nature. GPUs, whether discrete or integrated on the CPU die, are naturals for this highly visual, parallel future. GPU computing is still in its infancy.
HSA and natural user interfaces
As defined by Wikipedia: A natural user interface is: "(1) effectively invisible, or becomes invisible with successive learned interactions, to its users, and (2) is based on nature or natural elements. The word natural is used because most computer interfaces use artificial control devices whose operation has to be learned."
Touching, speaking, gesturing, and eye focus, are generally considered to be the most natural means for humans to interface with computer systems.
While touch based systems do not require the parallel processing power of the GPU, speaking and gesturing are much more efficiently processed by the GPU than by the CPU.
It is obvious that user interfaces will increasingly become more natural, and therefore require more GPU usage.
AMD and its partners are working together to create the inventions, that will empower future natural user interfaces.
Natural user interfaces are a paradigm shift in computing
Touch based mobile devices are just the beginning of the shift towards increasingly more natural user interfaces.
Microsoft and Intel were the largest beneficiaries of the keyboard and mouse user interface, but they have been the biggest losers thus far, in the new touch based paradigm.
I believe that it is very significant to note that Microsoft has chosen AMD, to power their new X-box One, which uses a voice and gesture driven user interface.
The next generation of voice and gesture driven smart TV consoles is a major existential threat to Intel's hegemony, on par with that of touch based mobile devices.
AMD is much better positioned to benefit from the shift towards natural user interfaces than Intel, in my opinion.
AMD's superior GPU capabilities, combined with their success in creating relatively low priced APUs, has positioned them to benefit from the breakthroughs coming out of the HSA foundation.
AMD is actively working with the some of the most powerful technology companies, in an effort to hasten the demand for their APU chips.
The new paradigm of natural user interfaces will increasingly favor AMD.