The AMD Radeon R9 280X
Today marks the first step in an introduction of an entire AMD Radeon discrete graphics product stack revamp. Between now and the end of 2013, AMD will completely cycle out Radeon HD 7000 cards and replace them with a new branding scheme. The "HD" branding is on its way out and it makes sense. Consumers have moved on to UHD and WQXGA display standards; HD is no longer extraordinary.
But I want to be very clear and upfront with you: today is not the day that you’ll learn about the new Hawaii GPU that AMD promised would dominate the performance per dollar metrics for enthusiasts. The Radeon R9 290X will be a little bit down the road. Instead, today’s review will look at three other Radeon products: the R9 280X, the R9 270X and the R7 260X. None of these products are really “new”, though, and instead must be considered rebrands or repositionings.
There are some changes to discuss with each of these products, including clock speeds and more importantly, pricing. Some are specific to a certain model, others are more universal (such as updated Eyefinity display support).
Let’s start with the R9 280X.
AMD Radeon R9 280X – Tahiti aging gracefully
The AMD Radeon R9 280X is built from the exact same ASIC (chip) that powers the previous Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition with a few modest changes. The core clock speed of the R9 280X is actually a little bit lower at reference rates than the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition by about 50 MHz. The R9 280X GPU will hit a 1.0 GHz rate while the previous model was reaching 1.05 GHz; not much a change but an interesting decision to be made for sure.
Because of that speed difference the R9 280X has a lower peak compute capability of 4.1 TFLOPS compared to the 4.3 TFLOPS of the 7970 GHz. The memory clock speed is the same (6.0 Gbps) and the board power is the same, with a typical peak of 250 watts.
Everything else remains the same as you know it on the HD 7970 cards. There are 2048 stream processors in the Tahiti version of AMD’s GCN (Graphics Core Next), 128 texture units and 32 ROPs all being pushed by a 384-bit GDDR5 memory bus running at 6.0 GHz. Yep, still with a 3GB frame buffer.
AMD is up to some interesting things. Today at AMD’s tech day, we discovered a veritable cornucopia of information. Some of it was pretty interesting (audio), some was discussed ad-naseum (audio, audio, and more audio), and one thing in particular was quite shocking. Mantle was the final, big subject that AMD was willing to discuss. Many assumed that the R9 290X would be the primary focus of this talk, but in fact it very much was an aside that was not discussed at any length. AMD basically said, “Yes, the card exists, and it has some new features that we are not going to really go over at this time.” Mantle, as a technology, is at the same time a logical step as well as an unforeseen one. So what all does Mantle mean for users?
Looking back through the mists of time, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the individual 3D chip makers all implemented low level APIs that allowed programmers to get closer to the silicon than what other APIs such as Direct3D and OpenGL would allow. This was a very efficient way of doing things in terms of graphics performance. It was an inefficient way to do things for a developer writing code for multiple APIs. Microsoft and the Kronos Group had solutions with Direct3D and OpenGL that allowed these programmers to develop for these high level APIs very simply (comparatively so). The developers could write code that would run D3D/OpenGL, and the graphics chip manufacturers would write drivers that would interface with Direct3D/OpenGL, which then go through a hardware abstraction layer to communicate with the hardware. The onus was then on the graphics people to create solid, high performance drivers that would work well with DirectX or OpenGL, so the game developer would not have to code directly for a multitude of current and older graphics cards.
Subject: General Tech | September 10, 2013 - 04:10 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Steppe Eagle, SoC, Hierofalcon, GCN, Bald Eagle, amd, Adelaar
AMD have announced their new mobile roadmap and have changed their naming scheme drastically for these new processors. The first of their ARM based processors will be called Hierofalcon and feature up to eight Cortex A57 processors capable of hitting 2GHz with a pair of 64-bit ECC DDR3 or DDR4 memory channels. It will be a true SoC and feature both network and PCIe controllers as well as support for ARM's TrustZone. Bald Eagle will have Steamroller cores and will be low TDP processors with a maximum of 35W and allow you to configure the maximum TDP to even lower levels if you so wish. The final announcement dealt with the new GCN-based embedded series of GPUs called Adelaar which arrive in three different packages, a multi-chip module, a mobile PCIe module and a discrete GPU. You can glean a bit more about these new families at DigiTimes.
"AMD has disclosed its roadmap for the embedded computing market, as it becomes the first company to offer both ARM and x86 processor solutions for low-power and high-performance embedded compute designs. The new lineup includes two x86 accelerated processing units (APUs) and CPUs, a high-performance ARM system-on-chip (SoC) and a new family of discrete AMD Embedded Radeon graphics processing units (GPUs) expected to launch in 2014."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Globalfoundries opens new office in Shanghai @ DigiTimes
- Move over, Atom; Intel's Quark is one-fifth the size @ The Tech Report
- Mcrosoft to unveil new Surface slabs at September 23 event @ The Register
- Can't get enough of flashy upstarts, can you, WD? Firm pays $685m for Virident @ The Register
- Microsoft does a U-turn, releases Windows 8.1 to developers early after all @ The Register
- Rogue Android Skype app is open to premium SMS fraud @ The Inquirer
- EA Selects New BioWare Boss @ [H]ard|OCP
- Apple Unveils iPhone 5C, iPhone 5S @ Slashdot
- iOS 7 will be released on 18 September @ The Inquirer
- How the Cable TV is Used for Internet Access @ Hardware Secrets
- The Tech ARP 2013 Mega Giveaway Contest
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 26, 2013 - 01:24 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: amd, Windows 8.1, microsoft, directx 11.2, graphics cards, gaming, GCN
Earlier this month, several websites reported that AMD’s latest Graphics Core Next (GCN) based graphics cards (7000 series and 8000 series OEM lines) would not be compatible with the Windows 8.1-only DirectX 11.2 API. This was inferred from a statement made by AMD engineer Laylah Mah in an interview with c1 Magazin.
An AMD Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition.
Fortunately, the GCN-based cards will fully support DirectX 11.2 once an updated driver has been released. As it turns out, Microsoft’s final DirectX 11.2 specification ended up being slightly different than what AMD expected. As a result, the graphics cards do not currently fully support the API. The issue is not one of hardware, however, and an updated driver can allow the GCN-based 7000 series hardware to fully support the latest DirectX 11.2 API and major new features such as tiled resources.
The updated driver will reportedly be released sometime in October to coincide with Microsoft’s release of Windows 8.1. Specifically, Maximum PC quoted AMD in stating the following:
"The Radeon HD 7000 series hardware architecture is fully DirectX 11.2-capable when used with a driver that enables this feature. AMD is planning to enable DirectX 11.2 with a driver update in the Windows 8.1 launch timeframe in October, when DirectX 11.2 ships. Today, AMD is the only GPU manufacturer to offer fully-compatible DirectX 11.1 support, and the only manufacturer to support Tiled Resources Tier-2 within a shipping product stack.”
So fret not, Radeon 7000-series owners, you will be able to fully utilize DX 11.2 and all its features once games start implementing them, and assuming you upgrade to Windows 8.1.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 16, 2013 - 05:52 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: powercolor, devil hd 7870, hd 7870, amd, GCN
Nearly a year ago, PowerColor launched the massive “Devil 13” Radeon HD 7990 graphics card. Now, the company is releasing a new Devil-series single GPU card called the Devil HD 7870. This card combines a huge dual slot, triple fan HSF with a factory overclocked Graphics Core Next-based Radeon HD 7870 GPU.
The upcoming Devil HD 7870 features a factory overclocked 7870 “Pitcairn” GPU clocked at 1100 MHz and 2GB of GDDR5 clocked at 1250 MHz. As a refresher, the 7870 has 1,280 stream processors, 80 Texture Units, and 32 ROPs along with a 256-bit memory bus. The reference AMD Radeon HD 7870 graphics card has a GPU clockspeed of 1000 MHz and memory clockspeed of 1200 MHz.
To differentiate its card, PowerColor is pairing the factory overclocked GPU and memory with a triple fan (four heatpipe and aluminum fin stack) cooler similar in design to the Devil 13’s HSF. The card also features PowerColor’s “Platinum Power Kit” which entails a 7+1+1 power phase with digital VRMs and so-called “Super Capacitors.” PowerColor claims that its triple fan cooler runs 25% cooler and 18% quieter than the reference AMD cooler.
The Devil HD 7870 offers up a DL-DVI, DVI, HDMI, and two Mini-DisplayPort video outputs. It is powered by two 6-pin PCI-E power connectors.
There is no word on pricing or availability, but expect the Devil-branded card to come at a premium (possibly around $270 MSRP).
Read more about AMD’s Graphics Core Next architecture at PC Perspective.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 14, 2013 - 06:07 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: sapphire, hd 7730, GCN, cape verde le, cape verde, 7730
Sapphire has launched its own budget card based on AMD’s Cape Verde LE GPU called the HD 7730. In fact, Sapphire is launching two 7730 SKUs with differing amounts (and types) of on board memory. Specifically, Sapphire is launching a Radeon HD 7730 with 1GB of GDDR5 and a HD 7730 with 2GB of GDDR3 (yes, you read that correctly, the second SKU comes with 2GB of GDDR3 memory).
The HD 7730 is based on the Cape Verde LE GPU, which is similar to the Cape Verde chip used in the 7750 and 7770 graphics cards minus a set of stream processors. The Graphics Core Next-based HD 7730 comes with 384 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz and 128-bit memory bus. From here, the two SKUs differ. One Sapphire card comes with 1GB of GDDR5 clocked at 4500 MHz while the other version comes equipped with 2GB of GDDR3 clocked at 1800 MHz.
For comparison, the HD 7750 comes with 512 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz.
Both Sapphire 7730 graphics cards come with the same dual slot, single fan cooler. Also, both cards support one HDMI, one DVI, and one VGA video output. The cards measure 168 x 104 x 33mm and have a 47W TDP.
Sapphire has not yet announced US pricing or availability, but various sites around the web report that the cards will each cost approximately 70 Euros. That works out to about $91 USD. Unfortunately, that price will likely be hard to justify considering users can pick up a noticeably faster HD 7750 for around that same price. Users building a new system looking for similar GPU specs to the HD 7730 may also wish to look into building a system around AMD’s APUs and skip needing a dedicated card altogether.
You can find more specifications and photos on the Sapphire website. Both cards are listed on the site and can be selected via the filtering options.
Subject: Graphics Cards | July 5, 2013 - 06:19 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: R7730, msi, graphics card, GCN, 7730
If rumors hold true, consumers may be greeted with a new AMD Radeon graphics card today, in the form of a Graphics Core Next (GCN) based HD 7730. According to the leak by Videocardz, MSI will be launching a new card based on this budget GPU called the R7730-1GD5V1. It will use a shrouded fan and heatsink cooler with the company's propeller blade fan technology. Afterburner support and solid capacitors are also features of the MSI card that is rumored to use this new GPU chip. Video ouptuts include one DVI, one HDMI, and one DisplayPort connector.
The HD 7730 GPU itself is based on the same basic Cape Verde chip as the existing HD 7750 and HD 7770 GPUs. However, the HD 7730 has fewer stream processors. Specifically, the 7730 will use 384 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz. It will be paired with 1GB of GDDR5 memory on a 128-bit bus, with the memory clocked at 4.5 GHz. For comparison, the HD 7750 features 512 stream processors clocked at 800 MHz along with 1GB of GDDR5 at 4.5GHz.
This new chip will not be as fast as the similarly-clocked HD 7750, but it will also be cheaper and use less power as it is able to get all of its power from the PCI-E bus (no PCI-E power cable from the PSU required).
The MSI HD 7730 graphics card is rumored to launch sometime today for 70 Euros, or about $90 USD. (At least we will not have long to wait to see if the rumors are true!)
Kabini is a pretty nifty little chip. So nifty, AMD is actually producing server grade units for the growing micro-server market. As readers may or may not remember, AMD bought up SeaMicro last year to get a better grip on the expanding micro-server market. While there are no official announcements from SeaMicro about offerings utilizing the server-Kabini parts, we can expect there to be sooner as opposed to later.
The Kabini parts (Jaguar + GCN) will be branded Opteron X-series. So far there are two announced products; one utilizes the onboard graphics portion while the other has the GCN based unit disabled. The products have a selectable TDP that ranges from 9 watts to 22 watts. This should allow the vendors to further tailor the chips to their individual solutions.
The X1150 is the GPU-less product with adjustable TDPs ranging from 9 to 17 watts. It is a native quad core product with 2 MB of L2 cache. It can be clocked up to 2 GHz, which we assume is that 17 watts range. The X2150 has an adjustable TDP range from 11 to 22 watts. The four cores can go to a max speed of 1.9 GHz while the GPU can go from 266 MHz up to a max 600 MHz.
The Architectural Deep Dive
AMD officially unveiled their brand new Bobcat architecture to the world at CES 2011. This was a very important release for AMD in the low power market. Even though Netbooks were a dying breed at that time, AMD experienced a good uptick in sales due to the good combination of price, performance, and power consumption for the new Brazos platform. AMD was of the opinion that a single CPU design would not be able to span the power consumption spectrum of CPUs at the time, and so Bobcat was designed to fill that space which existed from 1 watt to 25 watts. Bobcat never was able to get down to that 1 watt point, but the Z-60 was a 4.5 watt part with two cores and the full 80 Radeon cores.
The Bobcat architecture was produced on TSMC’s 40 nm process. AMD eschewed the upcoming 32 nm HKMG/SOI process that was being utilized for the upcoming Llano and Bulldozer parts. In hindsight, this was a good idea. Yields took a while to improve on GLOBALFOUNDRIES new process, while the existing 40 nm product from TSMC was running at full speed. AMD was able to provide the market in fairly short order with good quantities of Bobcat based APUs. The product more than paid for itself, and while not exactly a runaway success that garnered many points of marketshare from Intel, it helped to provide AMD with some stability in the market. Furthermore, it provided a very good foundation for AMD when it comes to low power parts that are feature rich and offer competitive performance.
The original Brazos update did not happen, instead AMD introduced Brazos 2.0 which was a more process improvement oriented product which featured slightly higher speeds but remained in the same TDP range. The uptake of this product was limited, and obviously it was a minor refresh to buoy purchases of the aging product. Competition was coming from low power Ivy Bridge based chips, as well as AMD’s new Trinity products which could reach TDPs of 17 watts. Brazos and Brazos 2.0 did find a home in low powered, but full sized notebooks that were very inexpensive. Even heavily leaning Intel based manufacturers like Toshiba released Brazos based products in the sub-$500 market. The combination of good CPU performance and above average GPU performance made this a strong product in this particular market. It was so power efficient, small batteries were typically needed, thereby further lowering the cost.
All things must pass, and Brazos is no exception. Intel has a slew of 22 nm parts that are encroaching on the sub-15 watt territory, ARM partners have quite a few products that are getting pretty decent in terms of overall performance, and the graphics on all of these parts are seeing some significant upgrades. The 40 nm based Bobcat products are no longer competitive with what the market has to offer. So at this time we are finally seeing the first Jaguar based products. Jaguar is not a revolutionary product, but it improves on nearly every aspect of performance and power usage as compared to Bobcat.
Subject: General Tech | May 11, 2013 - 08:12 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: radeon hd 7850, ICEQ Turbo, his, hd 7850, GCN, amd
HIS has launched a new factory overclocked graphics card based on AMD's Radeon HD 7850 "Pitcairn" GPU called the IceQ X^2 Turbo. The new card uses a custom PCB and IceQ X^2 cooler.
The IceQ X^2 cooler uses two 75mm fans to cool an aluminum fin stack that is connected to the copper GPU contact plate with copper heatpipes. The HSF is surrounded by a black shroud. HIS claims that its custom cooler runs at a quiet 28dB when the card is idle.
The HIS HD 7850 IceQ X^2 Turbo is a factory overclocked card. HIS has taken a standard HD 7850 GPU with 1024 stream processors and clocked it at 1GHz, which is a 140MHz overclock over the reference 7850 clockspeed. The card is further paired with 2GB of GDDR5 memory clocked at the reference 1200MHz (4800MHz effective) on a 256-bit bus. An 8-phase VRM keeps the overclocked components fed with stable power. It offers up a single DVI, one HDMI, and two mini-DisplayPort video outputs.
Because of the custom cooler, it should be possible to push the HD 7850 GPU even higher, although exactly how much higher will depend on the individual card.
The HIS IceQ X^2 Turbo does not have any official pricing information yet, but it should be priced somewhere around $220 since the already-available single fan IceQ X Turbo card is currently priced at approximately $210 at online retailers.
Also read: The AMD Radeon HD 7850 gets frame rated!
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