I reported on HBM3 a few days ago, but all of the details weren't clear - until the Hot Chips conference in Cupertino this week, where Samsung and SK Hynix shared some more details on the next leap in HBM technology.
HBM3 will offer improvements over HBM1 and HBM2 in nearly all areas, with HBM3 offering more RAM stacks. HBM3 will feature 8 or more stacks connected via through-silicon vias (TSVs), which is up from the 2/4/8 stacks on HBM2. The upgraded HBM3 tech will see individual memory dies of up to 16Gb, up from the 8Gb on HBM2, meaning 64GB of VRAM on next-gen graphics cards will become a reality.
Lower core voltage and twice the peak bandwidth will be offered on HBM3, which is another great thing to see, but HBM3 won't be arriving until sometime in 2019-2020.
NVIDIA revealed its Tesla P100 graphics card at its GPU Technology Conference earlier this year, the first Pascal-based graphics card, and the first HBM2-powered card from NVIDIA. It was a compute monster, and it was only today during the annual Hot Chips symposium that NVIDIA revealed their first die shot of the 610mm2 GPU die.
The company released the GP100 die shot as part of their presentation on Pascal and NVLink 1.0, but die shots have not frequent from both NVIDIA and AMD, so it's nice to see the GP100 die out in the wild. GP100 is NVIDIA's first part that features HBM and NVLink, which is an important time in the company's history, as this exciting technology isn't available for the consumer GeForce graphics cards... yet.
NVIDIA's new GP100 die shot teases the HBM2 interfaces at the top and bottom of the picture, with the 4096-bit memory bus able to transfer information at over 1TB/sec.
AMD is continuing its push against NVIDIA, securing itself more discrete GPU market share from NVIDIA according to the latest data from Mercury Research, which has AMD gaining throughout 2016.
Mercury Research's data shows that AMD has gained GPU market share for the fourth consecutive quarter, driven by strong GPU sales in late 2015 and throughout 2016. AMD has pulled itself up to 29.9% market share, which is a big deal considering this time last year AMD was sitting at around 18%. This is a big deal, as Mercury Research notes in their press release that this is the first time AMD has experienced an increase since Q1 2012.
Where did AMD's gains come from? According to the report: "The decline in low-end units shipped by NVIDIA resulted in substantial unit share gains for AMD in the desktop standalone segment, though by our estimates revenue share was unaffected due to NVIDIA's strong gaming mix improvement". So AMD is hitting the lower/mid-end markets while NVIDIA doesn't just dominate, it owns the high-end market right now.
The new data has AMD sitting pretty with 29.9% market share, while NVIDIA has 70.1% discrete GPU market share.
PCIe 3.0 has been a staple of motherboards and graphics cards for close to 6 years now, but the PCI Special Interest Group (PCI-SIG) have PCIe 4.0 nearly ready, and man is it going to be a huge launch.
The upgraded PCIe 4.0 specification will allow for double the bandwidth, from 8GT/s to 16GT/s but there are a bunch of other changes we should be more excited over. As it stands, PCIe 3.0 is capable of delivering 75W of power through the connector, with most graphics cards requiring additional PCIe power connectors to get up and running. Well, PCIe 4.0 will be the end of that.
PCIe 4.0 will provide a minimum of 300W, and possibly up to 500W, which is more than enough power for any graphics card on the market. Imagine a world with a new NVIDIA GeForce Titan X graphics card, or a new Radeon RX 480 without the need of PCIe power connectors. It would be a mess-free, clean-looking gaming PC - something that is simply impossible today because there's no way around delivering power to graphics cards without the PCIe power connectors.
HBM3 is being worked on by SK Hynix and Samsung and will offer up to 64GB VRAM at higher speeds than HBM2, but a low-cost version of HBM is also in the works, which will feature less bandwidth but a lower cost point than HBM1 and HBM2.
The new low-cost HBM will feature increased pin speeds, from the 2Gbps on HBM2 to around 3Gbps on the new low-cost HBM while the memory bandwidth shifts from 256GB/sec per DRAM stack, to around 200GB/sec per stack. This means the upcoming low-cost HBM could reach the mass market, so we could be looking at HBM-powered notebooks and consumer graphics cards, more so than just the three from AMD that we have now in the Radeon R9 Fury X, Radeon R9 Fury and R9 Nano graphics cards.
When the first wave of HBM arrived, we were blown away by its bandwidth (512GB/sec) but it was the form factor that really made me take a step back, allowing for super-fast graphics cards like the Radeon R9 Nano from AMD. Well, HBM2 is already here and used by NVIDIA on their Pascal-based Tesla P100 graphics card, but not in the consumer space... yet.
SK Hynix and Samsung are working on new HBM technologies, with HBM3 sitting at the top of the hill. HBM3 will offer twice the bandwidth, but it will feature a lower cost. Right now, HBM3 is known in multiple forms - SK Hynix refers to it as HBM3 or HBMx, while Samsung calls it xHBM or Extreme HBM. Either way, the next generation HBM technology is an improvement over both of its predecessors in HBM1 and HBM2.
HBM2 offers 256GB/sec of bandwidth per layer of DRAM (1024GB/sec total), while HBM3 doubles that to 512GB/sec (2GB/sec+) of memory bandwidth. Better yet, HBM3 should usher in higher-end graphics cards with 64GB of HBM3, which will just be incredible. I don't think we'll see HBM3 on consumer graphics cards anytime soon, but the low-cost HBM technology that is on the way will instead be used - that or GDDR5 and GDDR5X which still offer great performance.
MSI has just announced its new GeForce GTX 1060 3G range of graphics cards, which will be mostly the same as the normal GTX 1060 except it has 3GB of VRAM instead of 6GB of VRAM.
There will be five different models of the GTX 1060 3GB from MSI, with the GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING X 3G, GTX 160 GAMING 3G, GTX 1060 ARMOR 3G OCV1, GTX 1060 ARMOR 3GV1, and GTX 1060 3GT OC graphics cards. There are varying clock speeds, with the GTX 1060 GAMING X 3G featuring its GP106 GPU clocked at 1594/1809MHz for base/boost, respectively. The GAMING X cards will feature MSI's infamous TWIN FROZR VI cooling technology, while the ARMOR models will feature the ARMOR 2X cooling tech.
As for pricing, we should see MSI's GeForce GTX 1060 GAMING 3G priced at around $215, while the GAMING X will be a little more expensive, and the ARMOR models a little cheaper.
NVIDIA has released its 372.54 GeForce driver, and with it comes cool feature additions and key optimizations for new and upcoming games as well as GTX-10 Series laptops.
Games helped this time are No Man's Sky (which now supports SLI, and possibly gets some general performance love), Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (general optimizations and SLI support), Obduction (which features NVIDIA VRWorks' Multi-Res Shading for better framerates), F1 2016, and Paragon (beta).
As for the laptops, you get improvements to BatteryBoost and a DPC fix for single-GPU systems.
Intel's current Extreme Rig Challenge is still going, with the biggest custom PC makers in the US competing to make the most extreme gaming PC around Intel's new Core i7-6950X processor and Intel SSD 750 Series drive. All you have to do is tweet towards whoever you think has the best PC, but now you can win a graphics card for just voting for one of the PCs.
AVADirect is sitting in fourth position under NXIC PC, Origin PC and Digital Storm - and are now giving away a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card in order to say thanks for the support during the Intel Extreme Rig Challenge. AVADirect is letting you enter the competition to win the GeForce GTX 1060 daily, so you can vote 20 more times before it ends.
AMD has now finished the launch of its entire desktop GPU stack of its Polaris-based graphics cards, with the new Radeon RX 480, RX 470 and RX 460 now released and in gamers' hands. The next thing for AMD is the next-gen Vega architecture, but before that - we'll see another release from AMD with the Polaris architecture.
Chris Hook, the Senior Director, Global Marketing and PR for Radeon Technologies Group has teased on his personal Facebook wall that the above image is from the "Vega launch venue", adding "Shh, don't tell the press...". AMD first teased the next-gen Vega architecture during the Capsaicin event at the Game Developers Conference earlier this year, and then again when RTG boss Raja Koduri celebrated a Vega development milestone in June.
Now, how close are we to the reveal of Vega? Well, I think we're a little further off than you might think. In the next couple of months, AMD will follow the release of its Radeon RX 480 with a faster version, and I don't think it'll be the Radeon RX 490 - but maybe the Radeon RX 480X. An improved graphics card after the power draw issues that plagued its launch, with a revamped PCB and cooler, alongside a more finely tuned Polaris 10 GPU. But Vega? AMD has said that Vega will use HBM2, and I can't see AMD diving into HBM2 head first anytime this year as their GPU roadmap has Vega coming in early 2017.
Maybe we'll see a launch event for Vega later this year, and then a retail launch in early-2017? For now, I'm enjoying the tease from Hook and hope that Vega can compete against NVIDIA's utterly relentless next-gen graphics card launches.