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SIGGRAPH 2017 — Detailed Show Reports on Computer Graphics Conference and Expo

At this year’s SIGGRAPH show returned to Los Angeles, the show gained momentum in the midst of the burgeoning VR/AR explosion happening across various 3D industries as well as foundational shifts happening at the developer level as game engines grow more important and low-level graphics APIs bloom further. Lurking in the background of this year’s SIGGRAPH is AMD’s resurgence as well as Apple’s promised return to pro markets at the workstation level.

SIGGRAPH 2017 in Los Angeles with the backdrop of the city, with a skyline that is rapidly changing, was a perfect place to see a boost in attendance this year. The Exhibits floor may appear smaller but it does not mean the vendors have lost interest. They opted to rent rooms at the Convention Center and the JW Marriott. In fact, it felt like a bigger show as I walked a lot of miles to get back and forth between vendors and to see things at the show. I went to a luncheon with JPR and they showed a graph for attendance with a focus to find out how to keep people coming to SIGGRAPH and to learn what brought them to the show.

MORE: SIGGRAPH 2017—The Year of the Game Engine & Low-Level Graphics API

I wanted to showcase some of the highlights of the show running through a majority of the major vendors who made key announcements. If you have not yet read my first report (see, Architosh, “SIGGRAPH 2017—The Year of the Game Engine & Low-Level Graphics API,” 14 Aug 2017), make sure you do as it encapsulates key themes and, importantly for the architectural reader here at Architosh, discusses how the game engines are making a mark in the architectural visualization industry.

Make no bones about it; these are important shifts within the 3D industry landscape that those in charge of IT directions companies and firms need to know about. Let’s begin this multi-page report by wrapping up what happened at SIGGRAPH with the GPU folks.


July 30th evening, I attended the AMD Capsaicin Event with the press. AMD’s CEO Lisa T. Su made the first announcement about how AMD was focusing on better computing through collaboration between CPU and GPU. Here are some of the highlights…

  • AMD showed off their new Radeon Vega card line-up. The new iMac Pro will feature a Vega card GPU, it really is some cool new technology that will help those doing visualization and VR work.
  • AMD also introduced the Radeon Pro SSG card. This is M.2 solid state graphics storage, adding up to 2 TB of NAND flash massively increasing the available frame buffer for high-end rendering work.
  • AMD introduced the Radeon Pro WX 9100 card (the highest performing Radeon Pro solution based on the Vega architecture.).
  • And AMD showed off specs for their Ryzen Threadripper processor (CPU), a 16-core chip, fastest processor on the market made for consumers.
  • AMD Studios were also announced, this is a link between AMD and Hollywood Production. Hollywood pushes technology beyond its capabilities so this relationship will help bring better and more efficient products to market at a great price point.

At AMD’s 30th July event Tom Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, Paul Babb, CEO & President of Maxon Computer, USA, and Jarrod Land, President of Red Digital Cinema Camera Company, all came on stage in support of AMD’s latest efforts.

01 – AMD Radeon Vega product line was all the rage at SIGGRAPH 2017. There are different Vega architecture powered product lines planned. (Photo by Akiko Ashley for Architosh. All rights reserved.)

Jarred Land from RED said he just met with AMD recently; when he first met them he asked them if they could do 8K resolution and AMD showed him a demo that blew him away. AMD Studios will be working with a select group of projects in Hollywood to show what AMD technology can do. In conclusion, AMD’s new efforts are reigniting old relationships and new ones alike in Hollywood as they deliver market-leading high-performance products directly aimed at the type of pro markets that Architosh covers: film and VFX, visualization across multiple industries, and 3D graphics and animation.

A Note About Apple

Finally, Mac Users you should be excited as Vega graphics cards are showing great benchmarks. The collaboration with AMD and Apple on future Mac Pro products to implement some of these new products by AMD can only mean good things not just for the new iMac Pro but for the future “modular Mac Pro,” which means there is a good possibility of a kick ass Mac Pro coming in the future. Let’s hope that relationship expands.

MORE: Apple Does the Unexpected—Announces New Modular Mac Pro Design Underway

But on this note, I did hear positive feedback about the iMac Pro specs at SIGGRAPH, which should be coming this December.


NVIDIA made announcements about their AI technology. The NVIDIA GPU artificial intelligence technology is driving robot development, self-driving car development, and computer technology. NVIDIA credited their research team for the development in the AI space and showed features of AI in graphics.

02 – NVIDIA talking about how their technology is used for VR. (Photo by Akiko Ashley for Architosh. All rights reserved.)

NVIDIA also had some exciting announcements around their GPU solutions for rendering markets and even some announcements for the Mac space.

  • AI and Denoising — The AI trained the neural network to find a way to correct the Denoising in an image.
  • eGPU Titan X and Quadro cards — You can connect these high-end graphics cards to your laptop or computer through a Thunderbolt 3 connection. This could be exciting for Mac users who have had limited opportunity to use the power of NVIDIA’s Quadro cards. Today Mac users will have to explore eGPU setups with NVIDIA’s long-awaited Pascal beta drivers for Mac.
  • NVIDIA announced Optix 5.0 SDK Ray Tracing Engine. This is a new framework for optimal ray tracing performance on GPUm used by commercial rendering apps and internal apps such as Pixar’s RenderMan, with GPU accelerated

Mac users now have the option (beta that is) of running these Pro eGPU solutions not just on a Mac but also a Mac laptop giving you the workstation power of a Titan X or Quadro Card by just plugging it into Thunderbolt 3. This would level the playing field for both PC and Mac, plus it drives innovation the Mac to have some serious competition. Recall too that at Apple WWDC 2017, the company officially announced support for external GPUs in the Metal 2 Developer Kit. That was back in early June.

Architects, you must read about the Gensler design for NVIDIA’s headquarters by Hao Ko who designed this impressive building using Virtual Reality on a Quadro card, so this is indeed something you want in your arsenal of tools.

next page: Autodesk, The Foundry, and Maxon

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Reader Comments

  1. Fascinating stuff! Particularly the Chaos Group! Interesting reading!

  2. Posted by:
    Chris in NC
    September 1, 2017 11:16 pm EDT

    Awesome write-up Akiko! 🙂 So envious you get to go to these!

  3. Fascinating stuff! Particularly the Chaos Group! Interesting reading!

  4. Posted by:
    Chris in NC
    September 1, 2017 11:16 pm EDT

    Awesome write-up Akiko! 🙂 So envious you get to go to these!

  5. Thanks for the positive comments Chris in NC…we appreciate hearing this kind of feedback!

  6. Thanks for the positive comments Chris in NC…we appreciate hearing this kind of feedback!

Comments are closed.

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