The Journey To Radeon RX Vega
The journey to Radeon RX Vega has been a very long one, but the wait is worth it in quite a number of ways. AMD flew out nearly 100 journalists, YouTubers, and analysts to the Ryzen Tech Day 2017 in Los Angeles, California.
Leading up to this event, I've made my thoughts on AMD and its new Radeon RX Vega clear: they needed to beat NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 1070 and GTX 1080 and be cheaper. It became clear months ago that AMD wasn't ready to combat the GTX 1080 Ti, and that is definitely the case. AMD doesn't have an answer for the GTX 1080 Ti, yet.
The rumors of a massive $850 price point on Radeon RX Vega was so wrong in comparison because AMD is in a unique position. A position so good that NVIDIA is not capable of offers gamers a deal like AMD is providing with RX Vega.
AMD reiterated its position in being a company that thinks about the value of the ecosystem, and not just their graphics card and display. NVIDIA can only offer gamers a graphics card and G-Sync range of displays, while AMD can shake the entire market by offering incredible value across graphics cards, CPUs, motherboards, and displays. A much larger market than NVIDIA has control over, and AMD really put its foot down in the sand and really pressed it down, hard.
Vega GPU: AMD Goes Next-Gen
AMD has put an incredible amount of work into the Vega architecture, with 12.5 billion transistors on the 14nm FinFET LPP process. 45MB of SDRAM is featured, while AMD has deployed their exciting new Infinity Fabric technology onto the new Radeon RX Vega cards (more on that soon).
Here we have the skinny on Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, Vega 64 Air Cooled Edition, and Vega 56.
Starting with Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, AMD's work on the Vega NCU really pays off with a huge bump to 1677MHz Boost GPU clock, while the base GPU clocks sit at 1406MHz. This is impressive considering AMD's recent Radeon Vega Frontier Liquid Edition has a 1382/1600MHz GPU clock configuration.
AMD climbs over the 1600MHz limit on the Radeon Vega Frontier Liquid Edition with Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition, and at a much more stable GPU clock (without it dropping under 1600MHz like the air-cooled Vega variants).
AMD has crammed 4096 stream processors inside of the new Vega 10 NCU, with 13.7 TFLOPs of peak SP performance and 27.5 TFLOPs of half precision compute performance. AMD has used 8GB of HBM2 on all Radeon RX Vega graphics cards, with 484GB/sec of memory bandwidth over the 2048-bit memory interface.
The Radeon RX Vega 64 and its stock air cooler has larger drops in GPU clocks, down to 1247/1546MHz with base/boost GPU clocks, respectively. This also has a big effect on the TDP, with the Liquid Cooled Edition ramping up to a huge 345W, while RX Vega 64 consumes 295W.
Comparing the 295W on the RX Vega 64, this is pretty damn high considering the GeForce GTX 1080 has a TDP of just 180W.
Introducing the Radeon RX Vega 64
Radeon RX Vega 64
This is what we're here for: the new Radeon RX Vega 64, with 8GB of HBM2 and the next generation Vega NCU. AMD has crammed 4096 stream processors into the 14nm FinFET-based Vega 10 NCU, with 8GB of HBM2 that is capable of 484GB/sec, matching the 483.8GB/sec (virtually the same) as the GTX 1080 Ti (that uses GDDR5X and not HBM2).
AMD cut the HBM2 bandwidth to 2048-bit, with earlier reports stating we'd see a 4096-bit memory bus mixed with HBM2 would've resulted in up to 1TB/sec memory bandwidth (double what RX Vega 64 is capable of). I'm hoping we see a refresh in the next 6-8 months, or earlier, that competes with GTX 1080 Ti - or beats it.
AMD has managed a rather large 400MHz increase in GPU clocks over the Polaris architecture, a large achievement that saw AMD needing to redesign and re-architect the Vega NCU in order to push the additional 400MHz that sees the Radeon RX Vega 64 hitting 1.7GHz or more.
Rewinding back to Fiji which was capable of only 1GHz, and Polaris at around 1.3GHz, Vega's circuit design has been built for higher frequencies. The NCU physical layout is optimized with shorter wire lengths for performance critical paths, too.
AMD teamed up with the Zen CPU division on the custom SRAM, which was engineered to improve efficiency with 8% less delay, 18% savings in die area, and 43% less power consumption. There's also enhanced L2 cache and twice as much (4MB now) that reduces external bandwidth requirements.
Cooling Tech & Detailed Look
Engineered For Serious Gamers
AMD has crafted one of the most beautiful reference cards even made, making a better look reference card than NVIDIA's current-gen GeForce GTX 10 series cards.
The new Radeon RX Vega 64 features a beautiful silver/red/black theme with an illuminated 'R' logo and pixel on the card, an isothermic vapor chamber, 30mm fan, and a solid metal construction with premium 240 grit brushed finish. It looks GREAT.
AMD has made one of the best-looking reference graphics cards at all time, being the Kanye West of GPUs and pushing Taylor Swift (NVIDIA in this case) with "imma sorry, we have the best-looking reference graphics card of all time."
Seriously, how can you not love it? Silver, red, black. UGH. SO GAWD.
The back looks just as good.
The Radeon branding lights up, while AMD requires 8+8-pin PCIe power connectors for the 295W TDP on Radeon RX Vega 64.
The more I look at the card, the more I want it - AMD continues its tradition of including the GPU Tach on the RX Vega 64.
You can turn the LEDs off, and change the color from red to blue... such a great touch, AMD.
Another shot from the back.
And again from the back.
Now we have the faster, and better Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition - similar to the Fury X, but a much longer card.
Nearly identical in looks to the RX Vega 64.
Still lookin' good.
It just looks great from all angles.
Here we have the large water cooler.
Performance... Good, But No GTX 1080 Ti Killer
Radeon RX Vega 64 Performance = Beats GTX 1080
AMD isn't targeting the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti with the new Radeon RX Vega 64, and more the GTX 1080 - which is exactly where I think they need to fight.
AMD needs to collect itself after spreading itself so thin across Ryzen, Ryzen ThreadRipper, Radeon Vega Frontier, and now Radeon RX Vega. New CPU architecture. New GPU architecture. It's a lot.
Back to GTX 1080 performance, with AMD demonstrating (without benchmarks) some performance on Radeon RX Vega 64. On an UltraWide monitor (3440x1440) we're looking at much higher minimum FPS than the Radeon R9 Fury X, and the GTX 1080.
While AMD isn't able to best the GTX 1080 Ti with their new RX Vega 64, thanks to HBM2, HBCC, and the new Vega GPU architecture, RX Vega 64 seems damn good at 4K gaming.
AMD Intros Radeon Packs, Major Discounts For Gamers
AMD's New Radeon Packs - Amazing Deals For Gamers
One of the much bigger surprises was AMD's introduction of Radeon Packs, a new deal for gamers who are pushing into a new AMD ecosystem. It might sound weird at first, but hear me out.
New gamer goes into a store and wants a new high-end gaming PC, but doesn't want to spend $5000 on a new 18C/36T processor from Intel (Core i9-7980XE = $1999) and a $500+ motherboard and 2 x GTX 1080 Ti cards ($700+ each) and a $1000+ display.
There's now the option of $200 off a Radeon FreeSync enabled gaming monitor, $100 off a Ryzen 7 CPU and motherboard combo, and $120 in free games: Wolfenstein II and Prey (varies by region).
I worked in IT retail for ten years before I started writing for TweakTown, and I know that I could sell the crap out of these bundles. Gamers can save $420 on a bundle with a new monitor, CPU and motherboard, and free games - thanks to the purchase of a new Radeon RX Vega 64 graphics card.
Pricing & Final Thoughts
The New Fight Begins @ $399 and $499... oh and $599
AMD is heating up the entire GPU market with their Radeon graphics card line up, with the new Radeon RX Vega 64 priced competitively at $499. It's not the perfect graphics card - requiring 2 x 8-pin PCIe power connectors, high power draw - and right now, unknown temps and power consumption data without proper testing.
The $499 price is a big deal, especially with the rumors of the $850 pricing which would've seen RX Vega 64 being DOA at that price. But at $499, and the fact that FreeSync displays are radically cheaper than competing G-Sync displays making AMD an amazing price/performance champion.
If you were in the market for a higher-end card, better than the RX 580, but didn't have the extra $100 for the RX Vega 64, there's the new RX Vega 56.
AMD is introducing what will be, in my opinion, a massive seller at $399 - the Radeon RX Vega 56. AMD is offering up a huge 10.5 TFLOPs of performance and mixed with 1080p/1440p 60FPS+ gaming with cheaper FreeSync displays, or one of the new Radeon Packs.
Lastly, there's the Radeon RX Vega 64 Liquid Cooled Edition which comes in at $599, offering the highest clock speeds thanks to its water cooler and higher TDP. This will be the flagship Vega card, something I can't wait to test at 8K.
All in all, I'm excited. I'm a major enthusiast, and I will be pumped to install Radeon RX Vega 64 into my system, especially with some major GPU clock differences between the air-cooled and liquid cooled versions of AMD's new cards.
The major change in the market is that AMD is the only one in the world that can offer this type of deal, and is in an exclusive spot for a considerable amount of time.
Intel can't do this. NVIDIA can't do this.
Intel doesn't have anything that comes within light years of AMD's great GPU technology. NVIDIA doesn't have anything close to AMD's great CPU technology.
There is no bias here. There is no special deal. There is no exclusivity. This is me, to you - our readers. I'm not paid to give you a message from any company; this is my opinion. But the facts remain: Intel and NVIDIA cannot bundle anything like this.
AMD: this is your chance. Do not rest. You cannot sit here and expect to win. HBM2 yields are low, I know this - and you need to know this. AMD needs to refresh Vega as soon as possible, get those power numbers down even more (sub 200W for air cooled, sub 250W for water cooled) and then keep those 295/345W TDPs for a refresh.
On the refresh, Vega GPU clocks can increase, and hopefully HBM2 bandwidth can increase to closer to 1TB/sec with a 4096-bit memory bus. NVIDIA is going to react, and AMD needs to be ready. AMD still has an amazing deal even with whatever NVIDIA reacts with unless G-Sync displays drop in price by large amounts.
FreeSync displays are super-cheap, making Radeon RX Vega 64 an even better option for gamers that don't want to spend $1200+ on a GPU/LCD combo as an enthusiast (GTX 1080/1080 Ti and 1440p 144Hz LCD). AMD is also unleashing their new Ryzen Threadripper CPUs, offering incredible value for money that Intel has no chance of matching right now.
Wrapping up, AMD is in a position that it has never been in before. Unbelievable CPU performance with the Ryzen Threadripper which also doubles as a champion in price/performance and their new X399 chipset offers 64 PCIe 3.0 lanes which blows away the 44 PCIe 3.0 lanes on X299 from Intel.
NVIDIA, on the other hand, has better enthusiast graphics card options with GTX 1080 Ti and TITAN Xp, and AMD simply can't match that yet. But... I think the tide is turning. We're going to turn away from pure enthusiast cards to much better price/performance combos from AMD - but I still want to see crazy high-end Vega from AMD. Something that truly lays the performance, and not just price/performance smack down.
All in all, AMD has effectively changed the game with Radeon RX Vega 64, and it is an enormous achievement.
Now I just need to get Vega into my hands...
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