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Anand Tours ATI and NVIDIA 220

logicalstack writes "The folks over at AnandTech have written an expose on their visits to both ATI and NVIDIA. Interestingly enough ATI's facility shrouded in secrecy and NVIDIA's is quite open, Including full color pictures of their server farm, and a pic of the NV30 test machine the 'Ikos.' The CEO even showed off the old school NV1 with 1MB of ram!"
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Anand Tours ATI and NVIDIA

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  • Here's the real link (Score:4, Informative)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:22AM (#4319452) Journal
    Here []
    • I was wondering where it was my self.
      It's like the damn submitter thought we would know where to find it at anand tech, and what's this "the folks" Why is it I imagine a bunch of geeks all wearing heard hats of one color with nvidia or ati's logo on it, Being lead around by an older fellow with a diferent color hardhat.
      Right, a tour group, It was probably just one guy who payed the guard 20$ and a bottle of jack to be let in after hours....

      I like Hard|OCP's tour of gainward. They manufacture there video cards two to a PCB and cut them down the middle. That would be cool to build two systems which where connected by the unsevered agp card.
      Like some freak siamese twin, "And here is Tommy and Timmy, identical twins sharing the same GPU'
    • Printable/Low bandwidth version []

      Though this has no banner ads, so Anand doesn't get any money if you view this one, but take your pick.
    • Maybe Anand would have a hissy fit over deep linking?
  • The link (Score:2, Informative)

    Direct link to the article []

  • by Amnesiak ( 12487 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:28AM (#4319490) Homepage
    NVIDIA programs their GPUs into the IKOS [] boxes and they run what is effectively a very large NV30 at very slow speeds. Very cool and very expensive.

    When I was there a few years ago, they would sometimes hijack all the desktops in the company for more power. If I remember correctly, they would boot them into linux at night and make (slashdot cliche imminent!) a beowulf cluster!

    -Greg Daly, formerly of riva extreme, aka
  • here []

    quote:" NVIDIA would love to move away from these costly Sun boxes altogether and transition to a much more affordable x86-linux platform, but the problem is finding a 64-bit x86 solution. NVIDIA is currently evaluating Intel's Itanium for use in their farm but as far as their needs go, AMD's Opteron would be a gift from God. NVIDIA is eagerly awaiting the launch of Opteron so that their dreams may be fulfilled with an affordable x86 solution that offers 64-bit memory addressability; until then, they'll have to stick with these million-dollar sun systems."

    could someone fill me in why million dollar ibm(linux) systems aren't an option? no 64bit(!?????)
    or other 64bit systems??

    the pictures of those big computer racks sure make me drool.. i wonder how tight their security is...............

  • Nice racks (Score:5, Funny)

    by PygmyTrojan ( 605138 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:34AM (#4319541)
    I wonder how many people are looking at those pictures like the would a playboy centerfold?
  • I wanna see some intrepid person use LN2 and overclock an IKOS NV30!

  • Since we're somewhat examining the corporate culture of ATI here, I'd like to relate an interaction I had with the graphics company at QuakeCon this year.

    ATI was a major sponsor of QuakeCon. They put up prize money for many of the competitions. On the last night of QuakeCon, there was a party in a banquet hall where a band played and the Mr. Sinus Theater 3000 [] guys performed some outstanding comedy. There was a pretty hefty line for beer. I was about 15 people deep in this line. A weasel employed by ATI (I know because I asked him afterwards if he worked for ATI) walked right past the line and asked the bartender for two beers. The bartender resisted and remarked that there were a lot of other people in front of him in line. He then said he was with ATI, a sponsor of the event. The bartender sold him the two beers. While in truth ATI actually hadn't sponsored the party is not of consequence. The real crime here is the lack of respect shown for potential customers of ATI. This was where ATI needed to seriously kiss some ass to gain respect & sales from a market dominated by Nvidia. What do they do? Cut in the beer line while wearing ATI polo shirts. I told that guy he was rudely representing his company and that I would take every opportunity to post critical rants against ATI on the interweb because of his behavior.

    Don't cut in the beer line.

    • I'm not quite sure how to put this, but you're presumably asking us to not purchase ATI products (since that's the only reason I can think of for mentioning this) because one of their drunk *engineers*, who we will *never*, *ever* see increased the amount of time until *you* got a blinking *beer* by fifteen seconds?

      Hell, there's probably NVIDIA engineers who have done equally egregious things.

      I'll bet Linus himself has pulled a fau paux once or twice. Should I not use Linux?

      Isaac Newton was supposed to be somewhat of an asshole as well. Should we not use physics or calculus?

      The original post was talking about a company policy regarding no photographs in a R&D lab. That's ludicrously generous. I've worked in an isolated R&D lab, and you do *not* get anywhere near anyone unless you have a damn good reason (sightseeing a la Anandtech doesn't count as a good reason).

      Frankly, I think NVIDIA is simply crazy for letting people wander around and shoot photos, but that's just me.
    • by NerdSlayer ( 300907 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @12:22PM (#4319847) Homepage
      This is not meant to be flame, but it will be modded as such

      This is the dumbest thing I've ever read. The situation you describe is not ATI selling you a shitty product. It's not ATI stealing from shareholders. It's not ATI killing your dog.

      What it sounds like is some guy getting two beers without waiting like the rest of the tools in line. And you are one of the tools.

      You see, this is one random guy who happens to be at a trade show, probably one he doesn't want to be at. He's been drinking. He's in a position of power, so he uses it to get what he wants. This is how the world works.

      Now, insofar as my inflammatory comment about your status as a tool, let's review the facts:

      1. You're at quakecon
      2. You don't understand that life's not fair, and rich/powerful people get stuff that you don't.
      3. You wasted your breath telling this guy off.
      4. You posted a stupid rant on Slashdot.

      No further questions, your honor.
    • George Lucas could come over with a bunch of muppets and gang rape our mothers and we'd still go see the next Star Wars movie 5 times. That some guy cut you in line once isn't gonna make any bit of difference in our video card purchases.
    • beer wants to be drank, free beer doubly so.

      Thatsa great line, I should put it on a bumper sticker.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday September 24, 2002 @11:55AM (#4319671) Homepage
    Mostly, they run Verilog simulations, probably using the Synopsis [] simulator. The design, written in Verilog, goes through a Verilog simulation generator, which generates huge files of C or C++ code, which is then compiled for the target machine. The farm of target machines can be almost anything that runs C, which is why you see all those different kinds of compute farms.
  • Each one of the cabinets pictured above were full of hard drives providing an almost unfathomable amount of storage to NVIDIA's servers

    I can fathom it, How much storage DO they have?? They have 2.1TB RAM

  • That ATI was cloaked in secrecy, and NVIDIA was
    very open considering the absolute opposite is
    true when considering XFree support for operating
    systems. And before someone replies, YES I KNOW
    NVIDIA has some sort of corporate sob story for
    why they do things the way they do. I don't
    need to hear again why money ultimately is the
    reason they/whoever can't be more open with
    their/whoever's standards.
  • most of the things they use and discussed in the article - methodologies/ tools they use, flow... etc etc are pretty standard - not just graphic chip companies, but pretty much all semiconductor companies. i was working at PMC-sierra [] and that's pretty much what they do there.

    i was surprised that nvidia opened up their arms and welcomed you since those guys were the most arrogant bastards at the career fair. they used to literally tell you to fuck off if you dont have a 3.5 GPA. now it's just a "you'll have no chance" comment from them - as if i would jump off a building if i cant work for them (but in times like this, we are dying to find jobs.)

    i've had friends that worked there before giving nasty feedback about the people there of having to work overtime pretty much everyday and having to come in weekends all the time. ATI, for some reason never show up at job fairs in montreal.

    like all companies you apply to online, you just get the normal immediate automated response from them that they've placed my cv on file and would contact me as soon as there's something available - which never happens.
  • I got to work on such a box (an IKOS Voyager) a few years ago. They're impressive. Either you can use the supplied tools which compile VHDL or Verilog "into" the box, or you can even program it directly ! Basically it's like a (very big) bunch of 4-inputs gates you can connect as you want. You can choose the behavior of each gate from a library of predefined behaviors, or even redefine yours.

    My project was to map efficiently a big processor on the IKOS box. As compiling it from the VHDL design resulted in something too big to fit the box, I had to extract the logical function of the design (generate a binary decision diagram from the transistors netlist) and generate the good gates to map that on the box. I won't bore you with the details, but I really enjoyed that job !

  • Sorry if this is offtopic, but I've just upgraded my 2+ year old Mac G4 to OSX 10.2, and I really haven't seen any big performance gain by doing so. From what I've read, if your hardware can do Quartz Extreme, you should be able to get much better performance, but it seems like my graphics card is too old for it, and so Jaguar hasn't been able to perform significantly better than 10.1.

    So, any suggestions about what the best, cheap upgrade car for a two year old Mac would be? It's not worth it to me to shell out $200 or more for the top of the line hardware -- I don't play video games or anything like that -- but if a video card in the say $50 to $75 range would give a noticeable boost then it might be worthwhile.

    Does anyone know what the minimum video hardware is to get QE running and how much it would cost to get that hardware costs these days? On the same lines, given similar hardware, have people seen better gains by upgrading graphics hardware or adding more ram? For the money I'm willing to spend right now, I could throw in half a gig of ram, but I've heard that upgrading the video card could be almost as much of a performance boost. It would be nice to get a few more opinions on which upgrade path makes more sense...


  • ATI didn't want pictures taken (maybe ATI does more hardware dev at Thornhill than NVidia does in Santa Clara?).

    But giving access to the chip architects (more than a lunch meeting anyway) is cooler than a bunch of fuzzy pictures with Anand's thumb in front.

The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the fabricator and impossible for the serviceman.