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.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards, Shows and Expos | September 25, 2013 - 05:23 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: radeon, R9 290X, R9, R7, GPU14, amd
The next generation of AMD graphics processors are being announced this afternoon. They carefully mentioned this event is not a launch. We do not yet know, although I hope we will learn today, when you can give them your money.
When you can, you will have five products to choose from:
- R7 250
- R7 260X
- R9 270X
- R9 280X
- R9 290X
AMD only provides 3D Mark Fire Strike scores for performance. I assume they are using the final score, and not the "graphics score" although they were unclear.
The R7 250 is the low end card of the group with 1GB of GDDR5. Performance, according to 3DMark scores (>2000 on Fire Strike), is expected to be about two-thirds of what an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 Ti can deliver. Then again, that card retails for about ~$130 USD. The R7 250 has an expected retail value of less than < $89 USD. This is a pretty decent offering which can probably play Battlefield 3 at 1080p if you play with the graphics quality settings somewhere around "medium". This is just my estimate, of course.
The R7 260X is the next level up. The RAM has been double over the R7 250 to 2GB of GDDR5 and its 3DMark score almost doubled, too (> 3700 on Fire Strike). This puts it almost smack dab atop the Radeon HD 6970. The R7 260X is about $20-30 USD cheaper than the HD 6970. The R7 is expected to retail for $139. Good price cut while keeping up to date on architecture.
The R9 270X is the low end of the high end parts. With 2GB of GDDR5 and a 3DMark Fire Strike score of >5500, this is aimed at the GeForce 670. The R7 270X will retail for around ~$199 which is about $120 USD cheaper than NVIDIA's offering.
The R9 280X should be pretty close to the 7970 GHz Edition. It will be about ~$90 cheaper with an expected retail value of $299. It also has a bump in frame buffer over the lower-tier R9 270X, containing 3GB of GDDR5.
Not a lot is known about the top end, R9 290X, except that it will be the first gaming GPU to cross 5 TeraFLOPs of compute performance. To put that into comparison, the GeForce Titan has a theoretical maximum of 4.5 TeraFLOPs.
If you are interested in the R9 290X and Battlefield 4, you will be able to pre-order a limited edition package containing both products. Pre-orders open "from select partners" October 3rd. For how much? Who knows.
We will keep you informed as we are informed. Also, the announcement is still going on, so tune in!
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 21, 2013 - 11:58 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, leak, hawaii, amd
What better way to spend your weekend than to comb over photos and graphs to try and figure out everything you can about the upcoming AMD Hawaii GPU just days before they announce it during a live stream? A collection of leaks including pictures and benchmarks made their way onto the web (they have a way of doing that) from our friends in China. I spotted a post from our buddy Hassan at WCCFTech that detailed much of the information available so far.
The first picture was actually posted by Johan Andersson, lead developer at DICE over Twitter with a not-too-vague comment about Hawaii and Volcanic Islands.
— Johan Andersson (@repi) September 21, 2013
A website with the convenient name of udteam.tistory.com posted images with quite a bit more detail including some with the cooler removed.
The GPU here is apparently going to be called the AMD Radeon R9-290X as AMD shifts to a completely new naming scheme with this generation. We already discussed an interview with AMD's Matt Skynner in which he said the die of Hawaii was 30% smaller than NVIDIA's GTX TITAN and would be more efficient per die area than the GeForce option.
Other specifications that have been compiled (that are still rumors really at this point) include a 512-bit memory interface (quad 128-bit controllers more than likely based on the memory layout), 4GB of GDDR5, 5+1 phase power and 8+6 pin power connections (very reasonable for a flagship). The die size is being estimated at 424 mm2 (larger than Radeon HD 7970 but smaller than TITAN) and price estimates are sitting at $599.
We even found a couple of benchmarks claiming to have performance results of this new beast of a GPU. Though the name of the card on the result is blocked out we are supposed to believe these are results from the AMD R9-290X and they are impressive if true. In both of the graphs here the new Hawaii GPU is faster than the $999 GeForce GTX TITAN at a significantly lower price!
All signs are pointing to AMD's next 28nm GPU to be a high end gamer's dream graphics card. That is, IF all these rumors and leaks turns out to be accurate. We still don't know the key data points like stream processor count, but we'll know it all in due time. (Maybe next week?) We still have concerns about the status of AMD's multi-GPU fixes but if the company can get that worked out in time for this relesae, I expect AMD to make a big splash this fall with a revamped Radeon brand.
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 17, 2013 - 10:28 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon, hawaii
As we get closer and closer to the reveal of AMD's next generation graphics chip code named Hawaii, details will find their way out.
Tonight I came across an interview with AMD's Matt Skynner on Forbes.com that offered up one confirmation that we all suspected: AMD's Hawaii GPU will keep the same 28nm process technology utilized with the Radeon HD 7000 parts.
Another thing I can tell you is about the process node: this GPU is in 28nm. Some have speculated that it was 20nm and it’s not for a specific reason: At 28nm for an enthusiast GPU, we can achieve higher clock speeds and higher absolute performance.
Straight from the horses mouth. Based on those comments we can also assume that clock speeds will be higher than 1.0 - 1.1 GHz we are seeing today with the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition so performance increases will not be the sole result of shader count changes and increases.
Skynner also assures gamers they are not targeting the $999 price range, at least not initially.
They’re coming in Q4. I can’t reveal a pricepoint but we’re looking at more traditional enthusiast GPU pricepoints. We’re not targeting a $999 single GPU solution like our competition because we believe not a lot of people have that $999. We normally address what we call the ultra-enthusiast segment with a dual-GPU offering like the 7990. So this next-generation line is targeting more of the enthusiast market versus the ultra-enthusiast one.
AMD is targeting a much smaller die size that NVIDIA has with GK110, the latest iteration of NVIDIA's massive GPU offerings.
It’s also extremely efficient. [Nvidia's Kepler] GK110 is nearly 30% bigger from a die size point of view. We believe we have the best performance for the die size for the enthusiast GPU.
The rest of the interview is a little cookie-cutter though he does briefly reference some of the issues that have caught the Radeon HD 7990 by surprise.
Sorry, still no details on if/when Battlefield 4 will hit the Never Settle bundles!
Summary of Events
In January of 2013 I revealed a new testing methodology for graphics cards that I dubbed Frame Rating. At the time I was only able to talk about the process, using capture hardware to record the output directly from the DVI connections on graphics cards, but over the course of a few months started to release data and information using this technology. I followed up the story in January with a collection of videos that displayed some of the capture video and what kind of performance issues and anomalies we were able to easily find.
My first full test results were published in February to quite a bit of stir and then finally in late March released Frame Rating Dissected: Full Details on Capture-based Graphics Performance Testing which dramatically changed the way graphics cards and gaming performance was discussed and evaluated forever.
Our testing proved that AMD CrossFire was not improving gaming experiences in the same way that NVIDIA SLI was. Also, we showed that other testing tools like FRAPS were inadequate in showcasing this problem. If you are at all unfamiliar with this testing process or the results it showed, please check out the Frame Rating Dissected story above.
At the time, we tested 5760x1080 resolution using AMD Eyefinity and NVIDIA Surround but found there were too many issues and problems with our scripts and the results they were presenting to give reasonably assured performance metrics. Running AMD + Eyefinity was obviously causing some problems but I wasn’t quite able to pinpoint what they were and how severe it might have been. Instead I posted graphs like this:
We were able to show NVIDIA GTX 680 performance and scaling in SLI at 5760x1080 but we only were giving results for the Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition in a single GPU configuration.
Since those stories were released, AMD has been very active. At first they were hesitant to believe our results and called into question our processes and the ability for gamers to really see the frame rate issues we were describing. However, after months of work and pressure from quite a few press outlets, AMD released a 13.8 beta driver that offered a Frame Pacing option in the 3D controls that enables the ability to evenly space out frames in multi-GPU configurations producing a smoother gaming experience.
The results were great! The new AMD driver produced very consistent frame times and put CrossFire on a similar playing field to NVIDIA’s SLI technology. There were limitation though: the driver only fixed DX10/11 games and only addressed resolutions of 2560x1440 and below.
But the story won’t end there. CrossFire and Eyefinity are still very important in a lot of gamers minds and with the constant price drops in 1920x1080 panels, more and more gamers are taking (or thinking of taking) the plunge to the world of Eyefinity and Surround. As it turns out though, there are some more problems and complications with Eyefinity and high-resolution gaming (multi-head 4K) that are cropping up and deserve discussion.
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 14, 2013 - 12:00 AM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: radeon, never settle forever, never settle, amd
It should come as no surprise to our readers that we at PC Perspective have been big fans of what AMD has been doing with game bundles over the last year. With the start of the Never Settle campaign in October of 2012, AMD began down a path to help sell Radeon cards with amazing game bundles and pack ins that NVIDIA and its GeForce brand still have yet to match. It was an amazing move for a company that really wanted to drive sales and gain market share in the discrete graphics space.
Fast forward to today, past the Never Settle Reloaded and Never Settle Level Up campaigns and AMD has another offer for gamers looking to upgrade their GPU: Never Settle Forever. The crux of this new campaign is choice. AMD is allowing gamers to select the free game or games they get out of a curated list rather than having AMD select them for you.
Depending on the card you buy and the tier it falls in, you'll be able to select 1, 2 or 3 games from a list. There are a few catches though that we need to discuss. First, the game list for each tier is NOT the same.
For example, Tomb Raider is only avaiable in the top tier. The currect tier sets work out as follows:
- Gold Tier (3 games): HD 7950 and HD 7970
- Silver Tier (2 games): HD 7800 series
- Bronze Tier (1 game): HD 7770 and HD 7790
The Radeon HD 7990 is not included on these tiers but it will continue with the "8 free games" bundle for the life of the card we were told.
When you buy a card from a participating retailer you'll get a code that you can then take to AMD's Radeon Rewards website and redemption portal. You enter your reward code, register yourself and then you get to browse the games in the available packages. Here are some of the interesting notes:
- Once you register your code, you have until December 31st, 2013 to perform your transaction.
- You can only perform a SINGLE transaction meaning you must use all of your game choices at one time. You CANNOT select one game now and another game later.
- Other games can be added or removed at any time in the Never Settle Forever bundle so once something leaves you cannot get that game anymore.
- There are no promises on what other games may or may not be added to the program between now and the end of the year.
Not being able to split up your selections is a hard pill to swallow as you means you cannot pick up Tomb Raider today and then plan on getting another title next month; if Tomb Raider is gone when a new game is added you will not have access to it. There is likely no techical reason for this restriction other than publisher and business agreements in place with AMD.
It is a letdown that AMD has not included any new games with this bundle refresh. All 9 of the available titles in the Gold tier have been bundled with AMD cards before. Even worse, arguably the two best titles from the previous campaign are missing: Bioshock Infinite and Crysis 3. We do expect other games to be added but AMD would only allude that "new retail games will be added on several occasions" before the end of the year. Does that mean Battlefield 4, Thief or watch_dogs? While I can't say for certain I think it is pretty likely.
So where does that leave us with the new Never Settle Forever bundle today? It's kind of a mixed bag as it stands with the games avaiable in the tiers today getting long in the tooth. Of the 9 games available in Gold only DMC, Tomb Raider and Blood Dragon were released this year. Dues Ex and Dirt 3 were released in 2011 and the rest were sometime in that magical year of 2012. And of those 9 games only two of them are currently for sale for the $49 value (DMC and Tomb Raider) that AMD places on a single game title. Others can be found for $39 (Far Cry 3), $24 (Hitman) or $14 (Blood Dragon).
AMD is still the leader in the bundle and add-on battle for discrete graphics cards but this particular launch is a bit less astounding than the previous ones have been. The upside though is that AMD can now very easily add other games to the mix without having to re-launch the entire program which was obviously the point of this revamp. So while Never Settle Forever doesn't have me as excited as the original campaign, I have a feeling 2013 holds some very good things for it!
Subject: Graphics Cards | August 7, 2013 - 01:05 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: amd, radeon, hd 7990, never settle, never settle reloaded
An interesting bit of information just came to PC Perspective this morning and it revolves around the price of the AMD Radeon HD 7990. If the title didn't tip you off, we have found that Newegg.com is listing various HD 7990 dual-Tahiti graphics cards for $699!!
When the card launched in April, it had a retail price of $999 and since then had come down to the ~$880 range. Today though, AMD has definitely made an aggressive move against NVIDIA by lowering the price of its flagship product a full $300.
Not only that, but the Radeon HD 7990 6GB dual-GPU card will still include 8 free PC games, while supplies last. As part of the Never Settle series of bundles, the HD 7990 includes Crysis 3, Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider, Far Cry 3, Blood Dragon, Hitman Absolution, Sleeping Dogs and Deus Ex. If you don't own all or some of those titles, that makes the HD 7990 price drop even MORE appealing.
The Radeon HD 7990 hasn't been a card to avoid controversy. Our initial review of the card showed that CrossFire scaling was resulting in very poor perceived performance and our Frame Rating system was able to detail how and why very precisely. But on August 1st, AMD released a new Catalyst 13.8 driver that introduced a frame pacing fix for the problem for single monitor (non 4K) users.
I would highly encourage any user thinking about buying the Radeon HD 7990 to read over my Catalyst 13.8 updated article to see if the hardware makes sense for you. With a $699 price tag, compared to the $999 of the GeForce GTX 690 or GTX TITAN from NVIDIA, the product is spectacularly interesting as long as you don't use multi-display Eyefinity or one of the new 4K dual-head displays like the ASUS PQ321Q.
For gamers that are using a single panel though, hopefully at 2560x1440 or 2560x1600, this price drop might turn things around. Check out those new $699 prices at Newegg!
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | August 2, 2013 - 12:44 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: video, stutter, radeon, nvidia, hd 7990, frame rating, frame pacing, amd
Scott Wasson from The Tech Report and Ryan have been discussing the microstuttering present in Crossfire and while Ryan got his hands on the hardware to capture the raw output first, The Tech Report have been investigating this issue as in depth as Ryan and Ken have been. Their look at the new Catalyst and the effects of Frame Pacing show the same results as you saw yesterday in Ryan's article; for essentially no cost in performance you can get a much smoother experience when using a CrossFire system on a single display. In their article they have done a great job of splicing together videos of runthroughs of several games with the Frame Pacing disabled on one side and enabled on the other, allowing you to see with your own eyes the difference in game play, without having to have your own Crossfire system.
"Can a driver fix what ails the Radeon HD 7990? Will the new Catalysts magically transform this baby into the fastest graphics card on the planet? We go inside the second to find out."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- AMD Catalyst 13.8 Beta Frame Pacing CrossFire Driver @ [H]ard|OCP
- AMD Frame Pacing Explored: Catalyst 13.8 Brings Consistency to Crossfire @ AnandTech
- NVIDIA Shield Review: At the Crossroads of PC and Mobile Gaming @ AnandTech
- Gmail, Outlook.com and e-voting 'pwned' on stage in crypto-dodge hack @ The Register
- Boffins: We have FOOLED APPLE with malware app @ The Register
- iOS 7 Fix for Malicious iPhone Chargers Requires User Savvy @ DailyTech
- Happy 20th birthday, Windows NT 3.1 @ The Register
- NASA JPL boss Brian Muirhead talks about Mars exploration @ The Inquirer
- Man Builds Fully-Functional Boeing 737 Flight Simulator In His Son's Bedroom @ Slashdot
- Printing an Aston Martin DB4 @ Hack a Day
Frame Pacing for CrossFire
When the Radeon HD 7990 launched in April of this year, we had some not-so-great things to say about it. The HD 7990 depends on CrossFire technology to function and we had found quite a few problems with AMD's CrossFire technology over the last months of testing with our Frame Rating technology, the HD 7990 "had a hard time justifying its $1000 price tag." Right at launch, AMD gave us a taste of a new driver that they were hoping would fix the frame pacing and frame time variance issues seen in CrossFire, and it looked positive. The problem was that the driver wouldn't be available until summer.
As I said then: "But until that driver is perfected, is bug free and is presented to buyers as a made-for-primetime solution, I just cannot recommend an investment this large on the Radeon HD 7990."
Today could be a very big day for AMD - the release of the promised driver update that enables frame pacing on AMD 7000-series CrossFire configurations including the Radeon HD 7990 graphics cards with a pair of Tahiti GPUs.
It's not perfect yet and there are some things to keep an eye on. For example, this fix will not address Eyefinity configurations which includes multi-panel solutions and the new 4K 60 Hz displays that require a tiled display configuration. Also, we found some issues with more than two GPU CrossFire that we'll address in a later page too.
New Driver Details
Starting with 13.8 and moving forward, AMD plans to have the frame pacing fix integrated into all future drivers. The software team has implemented a software based frame pacing algorithm that simply monitors the time it takes for each GPU to render a frame, how long a frame is displayed on the screen and inserts delays into the present calls when necessary to prevent very tightly timed frame renders. This balances or "paces" the frame output to the screen without lowering the overall frame rate. The driver monitors this constantly in real-time and minor changes are made on a regular basis to keep the GPUs in check.
As you would expect, this algorithm is completely game engine independent and the games should be completely oblivious to all that is going on (other than the feedback from present calls, etc).
This fix is generic meaning it is not tied to any specific game and doesn't require profiles like CrossFire can from time to time. The current implementation will work with DX10 and DX11 based titles only with DX9 support being added later with another release. AMD claims this was simply a development time issue and since most modern GPU-bound titles are DX10/11 based they focused on that area first. In phase 2 of the frame pacing implementation AMD will add in DX9 and OpenGL support. AMD wouldn't give me a timeline for implementation though so we'll have to see how much pressure AMD continues with internally to get the job done.
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 26, 2013 - 06:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: Windows 8.1, radeon, amd
You should be extremely cautious about upgrading to the Windows 8.1 Release Preview. Each of your apps, and all of your desktop software, must be reinstalled when the final code is released later this year; it is a detour to a dead end.
If curiosity overwhelms reason, and your graphics card was made by AMD withing the last few years, you will at least have a driver available.
It would be a good idea to refer to the AMD article to ensure that your specific model is supported. The driver covers many graphics cards from the Radeon, APU, and FirePro product categories. Many models are certified against Windows Display Driver Model version 1.3 (WDDM 1.3) although some, pre-Graphics Core Next architecture (as far as I can tell), are left behind with WDDM 1.2 introduced with Windows 8.
WDDM 1.3, new to Windows 8.1, allows for a few new developer features:
Enumerating GPU engine capabilities
- A DirectX interface to query card capabilities
- Helps schedule work, especially in "Linked Display Adapter" (LDA, think Crossfire) configurations.
Using cross-adapter resources in a hybrid system
- For systems with both discrete and embedded GPUs, such as an APU and a Radeon Card
- Allows for automatic loading of both GPUs simultaneously for appropriate applications
- Cool, but I've already loaded separate OpenCL kernels simultaneously on both GTX 670 and Intel HD 4000 in Windows 7. Admittedly, it would be nice if it were officially supported functionality, though.
Choice in YUV format ranges, studio or extended, for Microsoft Media Foundation (MMF)
- Formerly, MMF video processing assumed 16-235 black-white, which professional studios use.
- Webcam and Point-and-Shoot use 0-255 (a full byte), which are now processed properly.
Wireless Display (Miracast)
- Attach your PC wirelessly to a Miracast display adapter attached to TV by HDMI, or whatever.
Multiplane overlay support
- Allows GPU to perform complicated compositing, such as video over a website.
- If it's the same as proposed for Linux, will also allow translucency.
AMD's advertised enhancements for Windows 8.1 are:
- Already covered, a part of WDDM 1.3.
48 Hz Dynamic Refresh rates for Video Playback
- Not a clue, unless it is part of an upcoming HFR format for consumers.
Aggressive V-sync interrupt optimization
- Again, not a clue, but it sounds like something to be Frame Rated?
Skype/Lync video conferencing acceleration
- ... just when we move to a dual-machine Skype broadcasting setup...
DX 11.1 feature: Tiled Resources
- Some sources claim DirectX 11.2???
- Will render the most apparent details to a player with higher quality.
If you own Windows 8, you can check out 8.1 by downloading it from the Windows Store... if you dare. By tomorrow, Microsoft will provide ISO version for users to create install media for users who want to fresh-install to a, hopefully unimportant, machine.