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AMD Radeon R9 Nano Preview - Fiji and HBM Go Under the Shrink Ray

AMD Radeon R9 Nano Preview - Fiji and HBM Go Under the Shrink Ray
AMD's Fiji architecture and High Bandwidth Memory gets exciting with the Radeon R9 Nano, a new super-small video card with horsepower close to Fury X.
By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Aug 27, 2015 12:18 pm

Shorty history lesson on AMD Fiji

 

AMD unveiled the new Fiji architecture at E3 2015 earlier this year, introducing three new video cards based on the Fiji architecture, all featuring High Bandwidth Memory (HBM). The flagship card was something that we had a world exclusive reveal on, the Radeon R9 Fury X, but it was the R9 Fury and R9 Nano that had us excited.

 

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Later that month, AMD had an event in Sydney where we had some hands-on time with the Fury X and R9 Nano. The Fury X, while it was the flagship card, didn't impress us much because there didn't seem to be any large performance benefit to the use of HBM, and it also required a huge AIO watercooler. Personally, I think the use of these is cheap, unless there's a huge reason for it: such as a massive increase in performance over the GeForce GTX 980 Ti from NVIDIA.

 

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But, the Fury X wasn't the big splash that AMD made it out to be, with HBM not providing any real performance benefit. We did have a flagship video card that was much smaller than the cards near it, like the GTX 980 Ti or R9 390X, but HBM didn't make a difference in performance. Physical size is something that HBM helps with, something that AMD was able to use to their advantage.

 

Fast forward to today, where AMD has made the Radeon R9 Nano official. The benefits of HBM are on show again, with the Radeon R9 Nano being one of the smallest video cards on the market. Better yet, it's also set to be insanely quiet, offering better performance-per-watt than the Radeon R9 290X. This is quite exciting, as it's also going to usher in a new class of gaming PCs which are going to be incredibly small.

 

 

Introducing the AMD Radeon R9 Nano

 

The new Radeon R9 Nano is quite the achievement for AMD, as it is one of the best examples of the benefits of HBM1. While HBM1 is limited to just 4GB right now, the R9 Nano is in a very specific place on the market, and for PC gamers.

 

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Starting with specs, the Radeon R9 Nano has virtually all of the technical specifications that the flagship Fury X has, starting with 4096 stream processors. We have 64 compute units, 256 texture units, and 64 ROPS. The Fiji GPU is clocked at up to 1GHz, while the 4GB of HBM1 is sitting at 500MHz with an effective data rate of 1GHz providing memory bandwidth of up to 512GB/sec.

 

The Radeon R9 Nano is built on the 28nm process, requires a single 8-pin PCIe power connector, and has a TDP of 175W. We have DirectX 12 and FreeSync support, Virtual Super Resolution support, and Frame Rate Target Control technology.

 

 

Fiji & HBM Recap

 

AMD's Fiji architecture is more of a refresh of the Hawaii architecture found in the R9 200 series, and the rebranded R9 300 series. We have the aforementioned support for DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs, VSR, FRTC and FreeSync.

 

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The 4GB of HBM1 is located on the Interposer, right next to the Fiji GPU itself. This saves a considerable amount of room on the PCB, as well as reducing the power and increasing the memory bandwidth. The Radeon R9 Nano features a standard cooler, ditching the massively annoying AIO cooler that the Fury X included.

 

So, now we have the R9 Fury X at the top end of things, the R9 Nano which is built by AMD, and finally the R9 Fury which goes out to AIB partners to play around with exotic coolers. We've only had our hands on the SAPPHIRE Tri-X R9 Fury, and thought it was a better overall card than the Fury X. But what about the R9 Nano? I think it's the most exciting card of the three that is powered by Fiji and HBM. Let's continue over the next few pages and learn more about it.

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