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AMD's next-gen Polaris GPU architecture unveiled, arrives in mid-2016

By: Anthony Garreffa | AMD Radeon GPU in Video Cards | Posted: Jan 4, 2016 2:00 pm

From 90nm to 14nm in 11 years


Rewinding the clock back to 2005, we were excited with the 90nm node, and within the year, we had reached 80nm. In 2007, we saw considerable jumps to 65nm, and then quickly to 55nm. Two years later, we had reached 40nm in 2009, but it was 2011 where 28nm was reached - and where we've been, ever since.




All of the GPU technology we've seen in the last five years has been done on the 28nm process, right up to the current Radeon R9 Fury X. Even with its High-Bandwidth Memory (HBM), the Fury X was built on the 28nm process. We knew that 14nm and 16nm were coming, and here we are - Polaris is built on the 14nm FinFET process, and it will deliver some huge improvements.



Polaris - Designed for FinFET


This is where the Polaris architecture steps in, as AMD has designed it for the 14nm FinFET process.





AMD can now reduce the power consumption of a Polaris-based GPU, noting that the transistors per area have doubled effectively every two years, adding that "as we approached the sub-nanometer range, static leakage per area was also doubling". But AMD said that various techniques had been used to help this leakage.


RTG said that "multi voltage islands, back bias or advanced circuits for clock gating help reduce leakage in idle/sleep states", adding that it "doesn't help active states" and that it "can hurt performance".



FinFET Enables the Drive to 16nm and Beyond


The shift from Planar FET to FinFET is going to be huge for next-gen GPUs, with RTG detailing FinFET during the RTG Technology Summit.




As you can see, FinFETs were first designed all the way back in 1989, and then established in 2000. The first production rolled out in 2012 by Intel and has been in development ever since.




One of the big benefits of FinFET is that it offers product level performance advantages over the 28A planar, with "significant variation reduction and leakage power improvement". AMD adds that "FinFETs have fundamentally lower variation than planar bulk".




When it comes to performance improvements, the new 14nm FinFET process will allow for added performance while using less power than the previous 28nm node.

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