What We Know About Vega So Far
AMD has detailed its next-gen Vega architecture a fair bit already, where we know it will have HBM2 technology, High Bandwidth Cache (HBC), and up to 512TB of virtual address space - something we'll get into soon.
There's also the next-gen Compute Engine, the Drawn Stream Binning Rasterizer, and Rapid Packed Math goodness. Most of this doesn't matter, as we just want to know how fast it is - and how good it'll run the latest, and future games, right?!
Before we dive into that, here's what we know about Vega for sure:
Vega is based on the 14nm FinFET process from AMD, and is "the biggest improvement in our graphics IP in the past five years" according to Scott Wasson, from AMD. The company has completely redesigned the geometry engine, with Wasson explaining: "It now has the capability to process more than twice as many polygons per clock cycle than we could in our previous generation".
We should expect AMD to use the Vega 10 GPU for the flagship Radeon RX Vega graphics card, with 4096 stream processors, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs, 8GB of HBM2 on a 2048-bit memory bus, and a TDP of around 250-300W. Performance wise, up to 12.5 TFLOPs of compute performance is expected, beating the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti - but remember, this is the best RX Vega - there will be more than one.
AMD's Thought Process on Vega
The only thing I can think of is that AMD had a few different plans for Vega: first, I think they were looking at the GTX 1080 and seeing the $599 pricing, and thinking they could best the GTX 1080 performance. Right? Well, that was a May 2016 release - and AMD is still yet to release their Radeon RX Vega, so now we're a year on - and the GTX 1080 Ti is here for $100 more, offering up to 30% more performance at 4K and beyond.
4K and beyond is where AMD wants to nail performance, as the 1080p and 1440p markets are now saturated with their mid-range Polaris-powered graphics cards with the Radeon RX 400 and RX 500 series cards. AMD can't come out and market the Radeon RX Vega for anything less than enthusiast 4K gaming and high-end/future VR gaming. It's that simple. We saw it with the Radeon R9 Fury X and Radeon R9 390X - as I explained above, and AMD needs to not repeat that.
Secondly, HBM2 is going to be in seriously low volume throughout 2017 - and it's going to be expensive. GDDR5X isn't cheap, but HBM2 is much more expensive, and AMD won't have the HBM2 quantity it'll need - especially if Radeon RX Vega is a surprise smash hit.
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