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AMD makes its next step in GPU dominance with Vega

AMD makes its next step in GPU dominance with Vega
AMD makes its Radeon Vega official, boasting some seriously exciting technologies. Let's take a close look.
By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Jan 5, 2017 11:49 pm
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It feels like years since AMD has had a truly next generation GPU architecture, and while the Fiji architecture was a nice departure from the 'same old same old' architectures we've come to know and love, it didn't rattle the cage all that much.

 

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That all changes with Vega, in more ways than one. But before we get into the juicy stuff, let's talk about where AMD has come in 18-24 months. I took over as the lead GPU editor for TweakTown towards the tail end of 2014, so I've been knee deep in GPU technologies, events, architectures, graphics card reviews, monitor technology and so much more. I've been doing this for 20 years now, but writing professionally for a major tech site is a big difference.

 

 

For the first time in a very long time, I'm beyond excited about the future of GPU technology. We've been on GDDR5 memory technology for over 5 years now, we were on the 28nm node for around the same time - and only shifted to 14/16nm with AMD's newish Polaris GPU architecture, and NVIDIA's Pascal GPU architectures, respectively.

 

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At the end of 2015, NVIDIA held over 80% of the discrete GPU market - a massive strangehold and dominance that seemed like an impossible mountain that AMD had to climb. I remember sitting down with the key staff of the Radeon team during GDC 2016 and being asked "what should we do, what should AMD do to be bigger and better over the next 12-18 months?" and I remember telling AMD to "not fight NVIDIA in the high-end, and hit them in the low/mid-range market".

 

My response was met with a sly smile, and then Polaris hit the mainstream sub $300 market in a big way. Fast forward to the end of 2016 and AMD had secured itself another 10% of the GPU market, bumping them up to 30% or so of the dGPU market. This is all with mid and even lower-end graphics cards like the Radeon RX 470 and RX 460, a market that NVIDIA had to respond to with the GeForce GTX 1050 and GTX 1050 Ti.

 

 

Enter Vega... AMD's Next Big Thing

 

Whenever I say 'AMD' next to 'Vega' it always feels weird - as Radeon Technologies Group is the team behind Polaris and Vega, and you can feel it in more ways than one. Prior to that, the Hawaii and Fiji (and everything in between) were part of the old AMD.

 

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AMD spun off its GPU division into Radeon Technologies Group in late 2015, and the team has been working around the clock since. Has it paid off? You can be damn sure it has, and they're only getting started.

 

Enter Vega... where my excitement begins to swirl into a mess of enthusiasm and excitement. I can't believe I'm writing this as a 'professional', as I'm just as excited as you guys and girls are about RTG's new technology - so let's jump right into the middle of it.

 

There are some really interesting things to go through, so prepare yourself for a nice read. But I have to tease you as we go into the next page... RTG explained at its Tech Summit 2016 event that "conventional architectures are not scaling to meet needs", and they are 100% right.

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