AMD announces ATI FirePro RG220

Remote desktop card with multi-display support

AMD HAS ANNOUNCED a rather unusual graphics card for the workstation market today, namely the ATI FirePro RG220 with support for dual display remote desktop support. This is done with the help of a thin client and the PCoIP standard. The card also supports dual screens on the local system and can as such support multiple users on the system at once.

The RG220 is more than a graphics card though, as the remote desktop support is provided via an onboard PCoIP processor which has its own dedicated memory. The graphics card part consists of an unspecified GPU, but it’s clear that it’s not part of AMD’s 5000-series, since it only supports OpenGL 2.1 and DirectX 10.1. The GPU is paired with 512MB of graphics memory and the card draws an average of 35W, and as such the card is passively cooled.

To make it all work the card also has a PCI Express bridge chip, so the GPU most likely only has access to eight PCI Express lanes, but it shouldn’t be an issue as the card is PCI Express 2.0 compliant. In terms of ports you’re looking at two Ethernet ports – again, AMD doesn’t specify any details here – but we’re presuming these are Gigabit Ethernet ports, because the card can deliver resolutions of up to 1920×1200 pixels and the extra bandwidth is going to be needed. There’s also a DMS-59 port on the card that allows for dual DVI-D output via a dongle.

The card will also give the remote thin client USB access to the host system, which is pretty critical if you want to be able to control the mouse and keyboard. As far as thin clients goes, any PCoIP compliant model should work with the RG220 and there are a wide range of models already in the market. To get dual display support you’d need a thin client with two display interfaces. AMD also allows for two RG220 cards to be fitted to the same host system for quad display output on the remote side. Any displays attached at the local side would clone whatever is seen on the remote location.

If AMD manges to price this card keenly enough to compete with solutions from Matrox among others, we can see this card becoming quite popular, least not in trading floor environments. It should also prove to be a good solution for companies that are using high-end servers for rendering, since you’d have full control over the system from a passively cooled thin client while maintaining hardware accelerated graphics, a feature that AMD claims is unique to this card.S|A

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