New AMD Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 GPU Details Emerge

Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 05:18 PM |
Tagged: rumor, Polaris, opinion, HDMI 2.0, gpu, gddr5x, GDDR5, GCN, amd, 4k

While Nvidia's Pascal has held the spotlight in the news recently, it is not the only new GPU architecture debuting this year. AMD will soon be bringing its Polaris-based graphics cards to market for notebooks and mainstream desktop users. While several different code names have been thrown around for these new chips, they are consistently in general terms referred to as Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. AMD's Raja Kudori stated in an interview with PC Perspective that the numbers used in the naming scheme hold no special significance, but eventually Polaris will be used across the entire performance lineup (low end to high end graphics).

Naturally, there are going to be many rumors and leaks as the launch gets closer. In fact, Tech Power Up recently came into a number of interesting details about AMD's plans for Polaris-based graphics in 2016 including specifications and which areas of the market each chip is going to be aimed at. 

AMD GPU Roadmap.jpg

Citing the usual "industry sources" familiar with the matter (take that for what it's worth, but the specifications do not seem out of the realm of possibility), Tech Power Up revealed that there are two lines of Polaris-based GPUs that will be made available this year. Polaris 10 will allegedly occupy the mid-range (mainstream) graphics option in desktops as well as being the basis for high end gaming notebook graphics chips. On the other hand, Polaris 11 will reportedly be a smaller chip aimed at thin-and-light notebooks and mainstream laptops.

Now, for the juicy bits of the leak: the rumored specifications!

AMD's "Polaris 10" GPU will feature 32 compute units (CUs) which TPU estimates – based on the assumption that each CU still contains 64 shaders on Polaris – works out to 2,048 shaders. The GPU further features a 256-bit memory interface along with a memory controller supporting GDDR5 and GDDR5X (though not at the same time heh). This would leave room for cheaper Polaris 10 derived products with less than 32 CUs and/or cheaper GDDR5 memory. Graphics cards would have as much as 8GB of memory initially clocked at 7 Gbps. Reportedly, the full 32 CU GPU is rated at 5.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power and runs at a TDP of no more than 150 watts.

Compared to the existing Hawaii-based R9 390X, the upcoming R9 400 Polaris 10 series GPU has fewer shaders and less memory bandwidth. The memory is clocked 1 GHz higher, but the GDDR5X memory bus is half that of the 390X's 512-bit GDDR5 bus which results in 224 GB/s memory bandwidth for Polaris 10 versus 384 GB/s on Hawaii. The R9 390X has a slight edge in compute performance at 5.9 TFLOPS versus Polaris 10's 5.5 TFLOPS however the Polaris 10 GPU is using much less power and easily wins at performance per watt! It almost reaches the same level of single precision compute performance at nearly half the power which is impressive if it holds true!

  R9 390X R9 390 R9 380 R9 400-Series "Polaris 10"
GPU Code name Grenada (Hawaii) Grenada (Hawaii) Antigua (Tonga) Polaris 10
GPU Cores 2816 2560 1792 2048
Rated Clock 1050 MHz 1000 MHz 970 MHz ~1343 MHz
Texture Units 176 160 112 ?
ROP Units 64 64 32 ?
Memory 8GB 8GB 4GB 8GB
Memory Clock 6000 MHz 6000 MHz 5700 MHz 7000 MHz
Memory Interface 512-bit 512-bit 256-bit 256-bit
Memory Bandwidth 384 GB/s 384 GB/s 182.4 GB/s 224 GB/s
TDP 275 watts 275 watts 190 watts 150 watts (or less)
Peak Compute 5.9 TFLOPS 5.1 TFLOPS 3.48 TFLOPS 5.5 TFLOPS
MSRP (current) ~$400 ~$310 ~$199 $ unknown

Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 5.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)

Another comparison that can be made is to the Radeon R9 380 which is a Tonga-based GPU with similar TDP. In this matchup, the Polaris 10 based chip will – at a slightly lower TDP – pack in more shaders, twice the amount of faster clocked memory with 23% more bandwidth, and provide a 58% increase in single precision compute horsepower. Not too shabby!

Likely, a good portion of these increases are made possible by the move to a smaller process node and utilizing FinFET "tri-gate" like transistors on the Samsung/Globalfoundries 14LPP FinFET manufacturing process, though AMD has also made some architecture tweaks and hardware additions to the GCN 4.0 based processors. A brief high level introduction is said to be made today in a webinar for their partners (though AMD has come out and said preemptively that no technical nitty-gritty details will be divulged yet). (Update: Tech Altar summarized the partner webinar. Unfortunately there was no major reveals other than that AMD will not be limiting AIB partners from pushing for the highest factory overclocks they can get).

Moving on from Polaris 10 for a bit, Polaris 11 is rumored to be a smaller GCN 4.0 chip that will top out at 14 CUs (estimated 896 shaders/stream processors) and 2.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power. These chips aimed at mainstream and thin-and-light laptops will have 50W TDPs and will be paired with up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory. There is apparently no GDDR5X option for these, which makes sense at this price point and performance level. The 128-bit bus is a bit limiting, but this is a low end mobile chip we are talking about here...

  R7 370 R7 400 Series "Polaris 11"
GPU Code name Trinidad (Pitcairn) Polaris 11
GPU Cores 1024 896
Rated Clock

925 MHz base (975 MHz boost)

~1395 MHz
Texture Units 64 ?
ROP Units 32 ?
Memory 2 or 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 5600 MHz ? MHz
Memory Interface 256-bit 128-bit
Memory Bandwidth 179.2 GB/s ? GB/s
TDP 110 watts 50 watts
Peak Compute 1.89 TFLOPS 2.5 TFLOPS
MSRP (current) ~$140 (less after rebates and sales) $?

Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 2.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)

Fewer details were unveiled concerning Polaris 11, as you can see from the chart above. From what we know so far, it should be a promising successor to the R7 370 series even with the memory bus limitation and lower shader count as the GPU should be clocked higher, (it also might have more shaders in M series mobile variants versus of the 370 and lower mobile series) and a much lower TDP for at least equivalent if not a decent increase in performance. The lower power usage in particular will be hugely welcomed in mobile devices as it will result in longer battery life under the same workloads, ideally. I picked the R7 370 as the comparison as it has 4 gigabytes of memory and not that many more shaders and being a desktop chip readers may be more widely familiar with it. It also appears to sit between the R7 360 and R7 370 in terms of shader count and other features but is allegedly going to be faster than both of them while using at least (on paper) less than half the power.

Of course these are still rumors until AMD makes Polaris officially, well, official with a product launch. The claimed specifications appear reasonable though, and based on that there are a few important takeaways and thoughts I have.

amd-2016-polaris-blocks.jpg

The first thing on my mind is that AMD is taking an interesting direction here. While NVIDIA has chosen to start out its new generation at the top by announcing "big Pascal" GP100 and actually launching the GP104 GTX 1080 (one of its highest end consumer chips/cards) yesterday and then over the course of the year introducing lower end products AMD has opted for the opposite approach. AMD will be starting closer to the lower end with a mainstream notebook chip and high end notebook/mainstream desktop GPU (Polaris 11 and 10 respectively) and then over a year fleshing out its product stack (remember Raja Kudori stated Polaris and GCN 4 would be used across the entire product stack) and building up with bigger and higher end GPUs over time finally topping off with its highest end consumer (and professional) GPUs based on "Vega" in 2017.

This means, and I'm not sure if this was planned by either Nvidia or AMD or just how it happened to work out based on them following their own GPU philosophies (but I'm thinking the latter), that for some time after both architectures are launched AMD and NVIDIA's newest architectures and GPUs will not be directly competing with each other. Eventually they should meet in the middle (maybe late this year?) with a mid-range desktop graphics card and it will be interesting to see how they stack up at similar price points and hardware levels. Then, of course once "Vega" based GPUs hit (sadly probably in time for NV's big Pascal to launch heh. I'm not sure if Vega is Fury X replacement only or even beyond that to 1080Ti or even GP100 competitor) we should see GCN 4 on the new smaller process node square up against NVIDIA and it's 16nm Pascal products across the board (entire lineup). Which will have the better performance, which will win out in power usage and performance/watt and performance/$? All questions I wish I knew the answers to, but sadly do not!!

Speaking of price and performance/$... Polaris is actually looking pretty good so far at hitting much lower TDPs and power usage targets while delivering at least similar performance if not a good bit more. Both AMD and NVIDIA appear to be bringing out GPUs better than I expected to see as far as technological improvements in performance and power usage (these die shrinks have really helped even though from here on out that trend isn't really going to continue...). I hope that AMD can at least match NV in these areas at the mid range even if they do not have a high end GPU coming out soon (not until sometime after these cards launch and not really until Vega, the high end GCN GPU successor). At least on paper based on the leaked information the GPUs so far look good. My only worry is going to be pricing which I think is going to make or break these cards. AMD will need to price them competitively and aggressively to ensure their adoption and success.  

I hope that doing the rollout this way (starting with lower end chips) helps AMD to iron out the new smaller process node and that they are able to get good yields so that they can be aggressive with pricing here and eventually at the hgh end!

I am looking forward to more information on AMD's Polaris architecture and the graphics cards based on it!

Also read:

I will admit that I am not 100% up on all the rumors and I apologize for that. With that said, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on AMD's upcoming GPUs and what you think about these latest rumors!

The UHD Alliance finally gets around to creating a standard

Subject: General Tech | January 7, 2016 - 05:16 PM |
Tagged: UHD, 4k

With companies at CES showing off 8K displays it seems that the standards body for UHD felt the need to actually get around to setting a standard for what constitutes a 4K display.   Like USB.org or the IEEE, the UHD Alliance is a body which is supposed to set standards on the various devices we buy so we can know the minimum specifications of the product, unfortunately the UHD Alliance seems to suffer from input lag.  As you would expect, a resolution of 3840 x 2160 is required to bear the "Ultra HD Premium" logo, as well as 10-bit colour and minimum support for colour representation and dynamic range specifications.  The standard applies to both manufacturers and content providers such as Netflix.  You can read more about this slightly tardy standard over at The Register.

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"The UHD Alliance has delivered its promised spec setting down minimum standards for what constitutes 4K. While 4K of some kind has been around for a decade, it was only in 2015 that the industry decided standards were needed."

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Source: The Register

CES 2016: Monoprice Announces 21:9 and 4K Displays

Subject: Displays | January 7, 2016 - 07:37 AM |
Tagged: ultra wide, monoprice, monitor, ips, display, CES 2016, CES, 4k, 21:9

Monoprice announced a pair on monitors today at CES, beginning with their new ultra-wide 21:9 display.

DSC_0268.jpg

The monitor features a 3440 x 1440 IPS panel with a 75 Hz refresh rate, but the big story with this monitor is going to be cost, as Monoprice will be selling this for $499 – the lowest we’ve seen for a 3440 x 1440 by far. (LG is currently the only supplier of these curved 34-inch 3440x1440 IPS panels, so this should be the same panel found in similar monitors on the market.)

Monoprice also announced a new 27-inch 4K display at CES, and this USB-C monitor uses an LG IPS panel with 99% Adobe RGB color support. Also $499, the monitor offers 100 watt USB-C power delivery for device charging for laptops and other devices, as well as USB 3.0 connectivity. (The display was not available to photograph.)

It was a point of emphasis that Monoprice is only using A+ panels for these new monitors (which means they are the same grade as the big name brands), and the company really seems to be working to establish itself in the display space. Both of these monitors will be available in Q1 2016.

Coverage of CES 2016 is brought to you by Logitech!

PC Perspective's CES 2016 coverage is sponsored by Logitech.

Follow all of our coverage of the show at http://pcper.com/ces!

Source: Monoprice

What is this, a GPU for Seattle fans? The MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK

Subject: Graphics Cards | December 8, 2015 - 08:56 PM |
Tagged: msi, GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK, 980 Ti, 4k

[H]ard|OCP recently wrapped up a review of the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK and are now revisiting the GPU, focusing on the performance at 4K resolutions.  The particular card that they have tops out at 1340MHz base and a 1441MHz boost clock which results in an in-game frequency of 1567MHz.  For comparison testing they have tested their overclocked card against the SEA HAWK at the factory overclock and a regular 980 Ti at 4k resolution.  Read on to see if this watercooled 980 Ti is worth the premium price in the full review.

1449478389yrHHlrQR28_1_1.jpg

"Our second installment with the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK focuses in on gameplay at 4K and how viable it is with the fastest overclocked GTX 980 Ti we have seen yet. We will be using a reference GeForce GTX 980 Ti to show the full spectrum of the 980 Ti’s performance capabilities and emphasize the MSI GTX 980 Ti SEA HAWK’s value."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP

ASUS Announces New N Series Laptops with Intel Skylake and 4K IPS

Subject: Systems, Mobile | November 22, 2015 - 06:30 AM |
Tagged: Skylake, PCIe SSD, notebook, N752, N552, laptop, ips, Intel Core i7, GTX 960M, asus, 4k

ASUS has added two new laptops to their N series line up premium, entertainment-focused laptops. The new models offer Intel’s 6th-gen (Skylake) Core i7 processors and high resolution IPS displays, as well as fast PCIe storage and discrete NVIDIA graphics.

ASUS_N552_001.jpg

The new models are the 15.6-inch N552 and 17.3-inch N752, and both sizes offer wide-gamut IPS display options up to 3840x2160 with 100% sRGB coverage. The displays are powered by graphics up to a discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. Quad-core Intel Core i7 processors power both models, with a generous 16GB of RAM standard. Storage is provided via PCIe x4 storage with speeds of 1500 MB/s with capacities up to 512 MB, and external connectivity includes a USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C port.

ASUS_N552_003.jpg

While boasting powerful specs these N-series laptops are also geared toward entertainment, with ASUS drawing attention to the sound from their “SonicMaster” audio system, which boasts powerful B&O ICEpower class-D amplification for the laptop’s front-facing speakers. Other features include backlit keys which offer 1.8 mm travel, and aluminum covering the keyboard area and lid.

The new models haven’t shown up on the U.S. product pages just yet, so pricing and availability are not yet known.

Source: TechPowerUp

ASUS Zen AiO Pro All-in-One Desktop Features 4K IPS and Intel Skylake

Subject: Systems | November 14, 2015 - 03:25 AM |
Tagged: Zen AiO Pro, UHD, its display, Intel RealSense, desktop computer, Core i7-6700T, asus, all-in-one, AIO, 4k

ASUS has announced their newest all-in-one desktop PC, the Zen AiO Pro, featuring a 24-inch 4K IPS display and 6th-gen Intel Skylake processors.

unnamed.jpg

"The Zen AiO Pro is a masterpiece of craftsmanship and design, with a slim unibody shell and integral stand forged from aluminum. The sophisticated appearance is enhanced by a layer of edge-to-edge glass covering the display, while the rear cover has a brushed-metal finish that complements the spun-metal concentric circles on the front fascia. A vision of elegance, the Zen AiO Pro’s exterior is anodized a stylish yet subtle Icicle Gold color that adds a touch of beauty to any space."

Beyond the (very gold) industrial design this PC features some pretty impressive specs depending on how you choose to configure it. The 23.8" IPS screen is available both 1920x1080 and a multi-touch 4K (UHD) 3840x2160 as well. CPU options include the Intel Core i7-6700T, a 4 core/8 thread part, and the AiO Pro features discrete graphics up to an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M. The inclusion of an Intel RealSense camera allows features like facial recognition, with plenty of rear I/O connectivity that includes USB 3.1 Type-C.

unnamed-2.jpg

Zen AiO Pro Specifications:

  • Display: 23.8in IPS 4K/UHD 3840×2160 with 10-point capacitive multi-touch; 23.8in IPS Full HD 1920x1080
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-6400T; Intel Core i7-6700T
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GTX 950M, 1GB GDDR5; NVIDIA GTX 960M, 2GB GDDR5
  • Memory: 8GB or 16GB dual-channel DDR4 at 2133MHz
  • Storage options: 512GB PCIe SSD + 1TB HDD; 1TB SSHD; 1TB HDD
  • Wireless: 802.11ac + Bluetooth 4 (M.2, 2T2R), supports Intel WiDi
  • Ethernet: 10/100/1000Mbit/s
  • Cameras: Intel RealSense camera, 1MP 720P webcam
  • Audio: 8W Stereo Speakers
  • I/O ports: 1x USB 3.1 (Type-C); 4x USB 3.0; 1x USB 2.0; 1x microphone; 1x headphone; SD card slot; 2x HDMI; LAN
  • Power Supply: 180W
  • Operating System: Windows 10

The Zen AiO Pro starts at $999 (which includes a matching wireless keyboard and mouse) and is available now, with additional configurations to follow.

Source: ASUS

ASUS ROG is Swiftly filling the monitor market; meet the PG27AQ

Subject: Displays | November 2, 2015 - 10:23 PM |
Tagged: asus, ASUS ROG, ROG Swift, swift PG27AQ, ips display, 4k, 60hz

The 165Hz G-SYNC compatible ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q was recently on the PCPer review bench, garnering a Gold Award for its performance.  Kitguru recently wrapped up a review of a slightly different model, the ROG Swift PG27AQ.  Like the other model it is a 27" IPS display which supports G-SYNC, however only to 60Hz as it is a 4K (3840×2160) monitor.  The bandwidth required to provide adaptive refresh at higher than 60Hz on a 4K display just isn't really available yet, so you have to make a choice between a high resolution or a high maximum refresh rate.  Next year we will see monitors capable of this as the DisplayPort interface is updated.  For now take a look at the review to see which you prefer between resolution and refresh rate.

ROG_Swift_PG27AQ650px.jpg

"The ROG Swift PG27AQ is a 4K gaming monitor from Asus that supports Nvidia G-Sync up to 60Hz. It’s a 27-inch IPS display with a 4ms response time and a 10-bit colour panel. Add on a flexible stand with pivot, tilt and rotate support, with a redesigned software interface, and it could be a contender for the best gaming display on the market."

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Source: Kitguru

ASUS Officially Launches ROG Swift PG27AQ, 4K IPS G-Sync Monitor

Subject: Displays | October 9, 2015 - 10:13 PM |
Tagged: asus, ROG, swift, pg27aq, 4k, g-sync, gsync

Back at CES we first got to see the ASUS ROG Swift PG27AQ, a 4K resolution IPS G-Sync enabled gaming monitor with all the fit and finish we came to love with the first ROG Swift display. Today, as part of the ROG Unleashed event being held in San Jose, the monitor has been officially unveiled.

pg27aq-2.jpg

The build and specifications remain pretty much unchanged though pricing and availability are still up in the air. 

pg27aq-1.jpg

The ASUS PG27AQ updates and changes the ROG Swift design and style in small areas including adding an illuminated Republic of Gamers logo to the base along with the red circle. The stand includes supports for height adjustment, rotation, and tilt - basically mirroring the capability of the original ROG Swift.

pg27aq-3.jpg

Seeing a 4K IPS G-Sync monitor warms my heart though I wonder if we will need the next generation of NVIDIA GeForce GPUs to be able to power it effectively with a single card. G-Sync variable refresh rate technology does mean that gamers will be able to run at lower frame rates without the worry of screen tearing or judder.

Finally, even though the display has support for HDMI, it will only run at 4K / 24 Hz or 1080p / 60 Hz - there is no true HDMI 2.0 support to be found. The full resolution and refresh rate, as well as G-Sync support, are enabled through the DisplayPort connection only.

Source: ASUS

MSI shows off their Tetris skills with the GS60 6QE gaming laptop

Subject: Mobile | October 9, 2015 - 07:24 PM |
Tagged: msi, GS60 6QE, gaming laptop, 4k

Inside the impressively thin 15.6" GS60 6QE, 390x266x20mm is a Skylake based i7-6700HQ, a 3GB GTX970M and 16GB of DDR4-2133 along with a 256GB M.2 SSD for your OS plus a 1TB HDD for long term storage.  The integral display does indeed have a resolution of 4K, for external connectivity you can use either the HDMI v1.4b which supports 4Kx2K output or the Mini-Display port that supports 1080p @ 120Hz or 4K @ 60Hz.  For fans of gaming in the dark it sports  SteelSeries FULL back lit keyboard, programmable with the SteelSeries Engine and there is a single USB 3.1 Type C connector if you happen to have a compatible peripheral.  Check out the performance at Kitguru but only if you can stomach the $1800 price tag and the fact that Norton comes pre-installed.

AS7V3033.jpg

"There is no doubt that MSI have been releasing some of the most exciting, feature-laden laptops in the last 24 months. Today we take a look at the new GS60 6QE which incorporates a Intel Core i7 6700HQ Skylake processor, 8GB of DDR4 memory, Nvidia GTX970m, M.2 SSD and 4K Ultra HD panel. MSI have managed to cram all this tasty hardware into a chassis that measures only 20mm at the thickest point."

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Source: KitGuru

4K performance when you can spend at least $1.3K

Subject: Graphics Cards | October 6, 2015 - 06:40 PM |
Tagged: 4k, gtx titan x, fury x, GTX 980 Ti, crossfire, sli

[H]ard|OCP shows off just what you can achieve when you spend over $1000 on graphics cards and have a 4K monitor in their latest review.  In Project Cars you can expect never to see less than 40fps with everything cranked to maximum and if you invested in Titan X's you can even enable DS2X AntiAliasing for double the resolution, before down sampling.  Witcher 3 is a bit more challenging and no card is up for HairWorks without a noticeable hit to performance.  FarCry 4 still refuses to believe in Crossfire and as far as NVIDIA performance goes, if you want to see soft shadows you are going to have to invest in a pair of Titan X's.  Check out the full review to see what the best of the current market is capable of.

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"The ultimate 4K battle is about to begin, AMD Radeon R9 Fury X CrossFire, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980 Ti SLI, and NVIDIA GeForce GTX TITAN X SLI will compete for the best gameplay experience at 4K resolution. Find out what $1300 to $2000 worth of GPU backbone will buy you. And find out if Fiji really can 4K."

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Source: [H]ard|OCP