AMD has been on the up and up this entire year, with the Radeon Technologies Group team reaching for the stars with its first new GPU architecture release under RTG: Polaris.
Polaris powered the Radeon RX 400 and Radeon Pro 400 series graphics cards, including the Radeon RX 480, RX 470, and RX 460. AMD aimed at the lower/mid-range markets where gamers are spending less than $300 on a graphics card, with around 80% of gamers falling into this category, concentrating on this market and owning it was an important first step for RTG.
But what about the high-end? The older Fiji-based Radeon R9 Fury X is an underwhelming card now with its limiting 4GB of VRAM, but impressive engineering work with the 4GB of HBM1 and the 28nm GPU on an interposer (the interposer sits under the GPU and HBM1, and is made like a chip as well). The work AMD did on the tiny Radeon R9 Nano at the time was just as great, my favorite card of the Fiji family.
Rumored Tech Specs
- 4096 cores (Vega GPU architecture)
- 14nm FinFET process
- Around 12 TFLOPs of performance (RX 480 has 5.2 TFLOPs, while the GTX 1080 has 10.8 TFLOPs)
- HBM2 (8-16GB) - offering 1024GB/sec over the 320GB/sec on the GTX 1080
- Vega 10 high-end card - 225W TDP
- 1465MHz GPU clock
Rumored Dual GPU Tech Specs
- 4096 cores (Vega GPU architecture)
- Around 24 TFLOPs of performance
- 16-32GB of HBM2 RAM
- 300W TDP (hopefully higher, letting the GPUs and HBM2 stretch their legs)
- 1100MHz GPU clock
The shift to 14nm is a big one, with AMD testing Polaris out on it to good effect. Sure, NVIDIA has been smashing the high-end market like they're King Kong, but AMD has been slow playing and getting its toes dipped into the water. They've secured another 10% or so of the discrete GPU market share in the last 9 months, and are leading up to an unveiling of the Vega architecture - and hopefully, some working next-gen Radeon graphics cards.
AMD's work on the Vega architecture has reportedly been significant, with a rumored restructuring of its SIMD units, which is said to really ramp up the efficiency and bandwidth of the GPU. The fusion of HBM2 technology into AMD's next-gen cards is going to give Team Red a big advantage in many ways, and might even be enough to hold NVIDIA back for the entire of 2017.
I'm going to write more articles covering Vega in a big way getting closer to the end of the year, leading into 2017. The graphics card market is going to have its biggest year ever in my opinion, and Vega is just the start of it. What can we expect from the Vega-based graphics cards? Well...
The Count Down
5.) Vega as a 'brand' is already known, with GPU architecture codenames known more broadly by consumers. This is something I've noticed for the last few years, especially with Hawaii, Fiji, Maxwell, Pascal, and Polaris. We're already seeing the 'general public' talking about Vega, as if its a brand like Radeon.
4.) AMD has stormed the under $300 graphics card market with the Radeon RX 400 series graphics cards, and now they need to fill the market above that with multiple SKUs. The groundwork AMD has done is going to help them in a big way, as Vega just now needs to be as good as the GTX 10 series for it to be great - but when you mix in HBM2, we could be looking at a monster.
3.) Vega GPU architecture - AMD is sure to make improvements over the Pascal architecture, but they have been reports that state the Vega architecture is a big increase bandwidth and processing power. HBM2 mixed on top, and we're looking at an exciting release.
2.) HBM2 is going to be the big marketing push behind Vega, as there'll be VRAM bandwidth numbers worth bragging over - but will the performance of games scale with the high-speed HBM2 technology? We'll have to wait and see.
1.) Price, price, price. AMD - if you can nail the Radeon RX 580 (or whatever the new cards are called) at the performance of the GTX 1080, with VRAM-intensive/4K/multi-monitor setups benefiting greatly from HBM2 - and price it at $599... you've got a winner. NVIDIA launched its GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition with 8GB of GDDR5X at $699, and partner cards were a couple of hundred dollars more in the 4-8 weeks after launch.
More Exciting Stuff
- Will we see a dual-GPU?
- Will we see R9 Nano-sized Vega 10 graphics cards?
- Will CrossFire support be great (90% GPU usage per card minimum)?
- Will CrossFire on Vega GPUs support up to 3- and 4-way setups?
We don't have long until this all happens, and when AMD finally does unveil Vega - I think we're going to be surprised. We haven't seen Radeon Technologies Group release a high-end card for the consumer market yet, we haven't seen RTG release a HBM2-based graphics card before - both first for the ATI 2.0 refresh of the GPU division.
Vega will drop right when AMD's not-so-great CPU business receives a massive glimmer of hope with the Zen architecture, which is expected to combat Intel's $999 CPU at half that price. AMD will have enthusiast CPU and GPUs released together, at a time when it needs it the most - we, need it the most.
Intel's dominance on the market has been far-reaching, and we're beginning to see no real benefits of upgrading our CPUs these days. Games don't benefit from shifting from a decent Core i5 processor to the $2000+ behemoth in the Core i7-6950X, but gamers might upgrade to a new CPU that is capable of what Intel provides at $1000, for just $500.
The same thing can be said for the graphics card market, which has seen NVIDIA utterly own the high-end market with the GeForce GTX 10 series cards, and the monster that is the Titan X. But AMD seems to be ready fight in the enthusiast arena in a big way, and I'm super-excited.
Now that's off my chest... do you guys want a similar article covering NVIDIA's next-gen Volta architecture and the current state of rumors on the new GeForce cards?