AMD Releases Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 25, 2016 - 01:46 AM |
Tagged: vulkan, radeon, overwatch, graphics driver, Crimson Edition 16.5.3, crimson, amd

AMD has released new drivers for Overwatch (and more) with Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3.

amd-2015-crimson-logo.png

"Radeon Software Crimson Edition is AMD's revolutionary new graphics software that delivers redesigned functionality, supercharged graphics performance, remarkable new features, and innovation that redefines the overall user experience. Every Radeon Software release strives to deliver new features, better performance and stability improvements."

AMD lists these highlights for Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.3:

Support for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch
  • Dota 2 (with Vulkan API)

New AMD Crossfire profile available for:

  • Total War: Warhammer
  • Overwatch

The driver is available from AMD from the following direct links:

The full release notes with fixed/known issues is available at the source link here.

Source: AMD

Podcast #400 - Talking GTX 1080 Performance, GTX 1070 specs, AMD Polaris leaks and more!

Subject: General Tech | May 19, 2016 - 04:08 PM |
Tagged: video, radeon, polaris 11, polaris 10, Polaris, podcast, pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx 1070, gtx, geforce, arm, amd, 10nm

PC Perspective Podcast #400 - 05/19/2016

Join us this week as we discuss the GTX 1080 performance and features, official specifications of the GTX 1070, new Polaris specification rumors, ARM's 10nm chip test and more!

You can subscribe to us through iTunes and you can still access it directly through the RSS page HERE.

The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!

Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, and Allyn Malventano

Subscribe to the PC Perspective YouTube Channel for more videos, reviews and podcasts!!

AMD Gains Market Share in Q1'16 Discrete GPUs

Subject: Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 10:11 PM |
Tagged: amd, radeon, market share

AMD sent out a note yesterday with some interesting news about how the graphics card market fared in Q1 of 2016. First, let's get to the bad news: sales of new discrete graphics solutions, in both mobile and desktop, dropped by 10.2% quarter to quarter, a decrease that was slightly higher than expected. Though details weren't given in the announcement or data I have from Mercury Research, it seems likely that expectations of upcoming new GPUs from both NVIDIA and AMD contributed to the slowdown of sales on some level.

Despite the shrinking pie, AMD grabbed more of it in Q1 2016 than it had in Q4 of 2015, gaining on total market share by 3.2% for a total of 29.4%. That's a nice gain in a short few months but its still much lower than Radeon has been as recently as 2013. That 3.2% gain includes both notebook and desktop discrete GPUs, but let's break it down further.

  Q1'16 Desktop Q1'16 Desktop Change Q1'16 Mobile Q1'16 Mobile Change
AMD 22.7% +1.8% 38.7% +7.3%
NVIDIA (assumed) ~77% -1.8% ~61% -7.3%

AMD's gain in the desktop graphics card market was 1.8%, up to 22.7% of the market, while the notebook discrete graphics share jumped an astounding 7.3% to 38.7% of the total market.

NVIDIA obviously still has a commanding lead in desktop add-in cards with more than 75% of the market, but Mercury Research believes that a renewed focus on driver development, virtual reality and the creation of the Radeon Technologies Group attributed to the increases in share for AMD.

Q3 of 2016 is where I think the future looks most interesting. Not only will NVIDIA's newly released GeForce GTX 1080 and upcoming GTX 1070 have time to settle in but the upcoming Polaris architecture based cards from AMD will have a chance to stretch their legs and attempt to continue pushing the needle in the upward direction.

EKWB Releases AMD Radeon Pro Duo Full-Cover Water Block

Subject: Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | May 10, 2016 - 12:55 PM |
Tagged: water cooling, radeon pro duo, radeon, pro duo, liquid cooling, graphics cards, gpu cooler, gpu, EKWB, amd

While AMD's latest dual-GPU powerhouse comes with a rather beefy-looking liquid cooling system out of the box, the team at EK Water Blocks have nonetheless created their own full-cover block for the Pro Duo, which is now available in a pair of versions.

EKFC-Radeon-Pro-Duo_NP_fill_1600.jpg

"Radeon™ has done it again by creating the fastest gaming card in the world. Improving over the Radeon™ R9 295 X2, the Radeon Pro Duo card is faster and uses the 3rd generation GCN architecture featuring asynchronous shaders enables the latest DirectX™ 12 and Vulkan™ titles to deliver amazing 4K and VR gaming experiences. And now EK Water Blocks made sure, the owners can get the best possible liquid cooling solution for the card as well!"

EKFC-Radeon-Pro-Duo_pair.png

Nickel version (top), Acetal+Nickel version (bottom)

The blocks include a single-slot I/O bracket, which will allow the Pro Duo to fit in many more systems (and allow even more of them to be installed per motherboard!).

EKFC-Radeon-Pro-Duo_NP_input_1600-1500x999.jpg

"EK-FC Radeon Pro Duo water block features EK unique central inlet split-flow cooling engine with a micro fin design for best possible cooling performance of both GPU cores. The block design also allows flawless operation with reversed water flow without adversely affecting the cooling performance. Moreover, such design offers great hydraulic performance, allowing this product to be used in liquid cooling systems using weaker water pumps.

The base is made of nickel-plated electrolytic copper while the top is made of quality POM Acetal or acrylic (depending on the variant). Screw-in brass standoffs are pre-installed and allow for safe installation procedure."

Suggested pricing is set at 155.95€ for the blocks (approx. $177 US), and they are "readily available for purchase through EK Webshop and Partner Reseller Network".

Source: EKWB
Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

History and Specifications

The Radeon Pro Duo had an interesting history. Originally shown as an unbranded, dual-GPU PCB during E3 2015, which took place last June, AMD touted it as the ultimate graphics card for both gamers and professionals. At that time, the company thought that an October launch was feasible, but that clearly didn’t work out. When pressed for information in the Oct/Nov timeframe, AMD said that they had delayed the product into Q2 2016 to better correlate with the launch of the VR systems from Oculus and HTC/Valve.

During a GDC press event in March, AMD finally unveiled the Radeon Pro Duo brand, but they were also walking back on the idea of the dual-Fiji beast being aimed at the gaming crowd, even partially. Instead, the company talked up the benefits for game developers and content creators, such as its 8192 stream processors for offline rendering, or even to aid game devs in the implementation and improvement of multi-GPU for upcoming games.

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Anyone that pays attention to the graphics card market can see why AMD would make the positional shift with the Radeon Pro Duo. The Fiji architecture is on the way out, with Polaris due out in June by AMD’s own proclamation. At $1500, the Radeon Pro Duo will be a stark contrast to the prices of the Polaris GPUs this summer, and it is well above any NVIDIA-priced part in the GeForce line. And, though CrossFire has made drastic improvements over the last several years thanks to new testing techniques, the ecosystem for multi-GPU is going through a major shift with both DX12 and VR bearing down on it.

So yes, the Radeon Pro Duo has both RADEON and PRO right there in the name. What’s a respectable PC Perspective graphics reviewer supposed to do with a card like that if it finds its way into your office? Test it of course! I’ll take a look at a handful of recent games as well as a new feature that AMD has integrated with 3DS Max called FireRender to showcase some of the professional chops of the new card.

Continue reading our review of the AMD Radeon Pro Duo!!

Author:
Manufacturer: AMD

The Dual-Fiji Card Finally Arrives

This weekend, leaks of information on both WCCFTech and VideoCardz.com have revealed all the information about the pending release of AMD’s dual-GPU giant, the Radeon Pro Duo. While no one at PC Perspective has been briefed on the product officially, all of the interesting data surrounding the product is clearly outlined in the slides on those websites, minus some independent benchmark testing that we are hoping to get to next week. Based on the report from both sites, the Radeon Pro Duo will be released on April 26th.

AMD actually revealed the product and branding for the Radeon Pro Duo back in March, during its live streamed Capsaicin event surrounding GDC. At that point we were given the following information:

  • Dual Fiji XT GPUs
  • 8GB of total HBM memory
  • 4x DisplayPort (this has since been modified)
  • 16 TFLOPS of compute
  • $1499 price tag

The design of the card follows the same industrial design as the reference designs of the Radeon Fury X, and integrates a dual-pump cooler and external fan/radiator to keep both GPUs running cool.

01-official.jpg

Based on the slides leaked out today, AMD has revised the Radeon Pro Duo design to include a set of three DisplayPort connections and one HDMI port. This was a necessary change as the Oculus Rift requires an HDMI port to work; only the HTC Vive has built in support for a DisplayPort connection and even in that case you would need a full-size to mini-DisplayPort cable.

The 8GB of HBM (high bandwidth memory) on the card is split between the two Fiji XT GPUs on the card, just like other multi-GPU options on the market. The 350 watts power draw mark is exceptionally high, exceeded only by AMD’s previous dual-GPU beast, the Radeon 295X2 that used 500+ watts and the NVIDIA GeForce GTX Titan Z that draws 375 watts!

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Here is the specification breakdown of the Radeon Pro Duo. The card has 8192 total stream processors and 128 Compute Units, split evenly between the two GPUs. You are getting two full Fiji XT GPUs in this card, an impressive feat made possible in part by the use of High Bandwidth Memory and its smaller physical footprint.

  Radeon Pro Duo R9 Nano R9 Fury R9 Fury X GTX 980 Ti TITAN X GTX 980 R9 290X
GPU Fiji XT x 2 Fiji XT Fiji Pro Fiji XT GM200 GM200 GM204 Hawaii XT
GPU Cores 8192 4096 3584 4096 2816 3072 2048 2816
Rated Clock up to 1000 MHz up to 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 1050 MHz 1000 MHz 1000 MHz 1126 MHz 1000 MHz
Texture Units 512 256 224 256 176 192 128 176
ROP Units 128 64 64 64 96 96 64 64
Memory 8GB (4GB x 2) 4GB 4GB 4GB 6GB 12GB 4GB 4GB
Memory Clock 500 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 500 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 7000 MHz 5000 MHz
Memory Interface 4096-bit (HMB) x 2 4096-bit (HBM) 4096-bit (HBM) 4096-bit (HBM) 384-bit 384-bit 256-bit 512-bit
Memory Bandwidth 1024 GB/s 512 GB/s 512 GB/s 512 GB/s 336 GB/s 336 GB/s 224 GB/s 320 GB/s
TDP 350 watts 175 watts 275 watts 275 watts 250 watts 250 watts 165 watts 290 watts
Peak Compute 16.38 TFLOPS 8.19 TFLOPS 7.20 TFLOPS 8.60 TFLOPS 5.63 TFLOPS 6.14 TFLOPS 4.61 TFLOPS 5.63 TFLOPS
Transistor Count 8.9B x 2 8.9B 8.9B 8.9B 8.0B 8.0B 5.2B 6.2B
Process Tech 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
MSRP (current) $1499 $499 $549 $649 $649 $999 $499 $329

The Radeon Pro Duo has a rated clock speed of up to 1000 MHz. That’s the same clock speed as the R9 Fury and the rated “up to” frequency on the R9 Nano. It’s worth noting that we did see a handful of instances where the R9 Nano’s power limiting capability resulted in some extremely variable clock speeds in practice. AMD recently added a feature to its Crimson driver to disable power metering on the Nano, at the expense of more power draw, and I would assume the same option would work for the Pro Duo.

Continue reading our preview of the AMD Radeon Pro Duo!!

AMD Radeon Crimson Edition drivers continue quality improvement

Subject: Graphics Cards | April 11, 2016 - 03:23 PM |
Tagged: rtg, radeon technologies group, radeon, driver, crimson, amd

For longer than AMD would like to admit, Radeon drivers and software were often criticized for plaguing issues on performance, stability and features. As the graphics card market evolved and software became a critical part of the equation, that deficit affected AMD substantially. 

In fact, despite the advantages that modern AMD Radeon parts typically have over GeForce options in terms of pure frame rate for your dollar, I recommended an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 970, 980 and 980 Ti for our three different VR Build Guides last month ($900, $1500, $2500) in large part due to confidence in NVIDIA’s driver team to continue delivering updated drivers to provide excellent experiences for gamers.

But back in September of 2015 we started to see changes inside AMD. There was drastic reorganization of the company and those people in charge. AMD setup the Radeon Technologies Group, a new entity inside the organization that would have complete control over the graphics hardware and software directions. And it put one of the most respected people in the industry at its helm: Raja Koduri. On November 24th AMD launched Radeon Software Crimson, a totally new branding, style and implementation to control your Radeon GPU. I talked about it at the time, but the upgrade was noticeable; everything was faster, easier to find and…pretty.

Since then, AMD has rolled out several new drivers with key feature additions, improvements and of course, game performance increases. Thus far in 2016 the Radeon Technologies Group has released 7 new drivers, three of which have been WHQL certified. That is 100% more than they had during this same time last year when AMD released zero WHQL drivers and a big increase over the 1 TOTAL driver AMD released in Q1 of 2015.

crimson-3.jpg

Maybe most important of all, the team at Radeon Technologies Group claims to be putting a new emphasis on “day one” support for major PC titles. If implemented correctly, this gives enthusiasts and PC gamers that want to stay on the cutting edge of releases the ability to play optimized titles on the day of release. Getting updated drivers that fix bugs and improve performance weeks or months after release is great, but for gamers that may already be done with that game, the updates are worthless. AMD was guilty of this practice for years, having driver updates that would fix performance issues on Radeon hardware for reviewer testing but that missed the majority of the play time of early adopting consumers.

q1driver-2.jpg

Thus far, AMD has only just started down this path. Newer games like Far Cry Primal, The Division, Hitman and Ashes of the Singularity all had drivers from AMD on or before release with performance improvements, CrossFire profiles or both. A few others were CLOSE to day one ready including Rise of the Tomb Raider, Plants vs Zombies 2 and Gears of War Ultimate Edition.

 

Game Release Date First Driver Mention Driver Date Feature / Support
Rise of the Tomb Raider 01-28-2016 16.1.1 02-05-2016 Performance and CrossFire Profile
Plants vs Zombies 2 02-23-2016 16.2.1 03-01-2016 Performance
Gears Ultimate Edition 03-01-2016 16.3 03-10-2016 Performance
Far Cry Primal 03-01-2016 16.2.1 03-01-2016 CrossFire Profile
The Division 03-08-2016 16.1 02-25-2016 CrossFire Profile
Hitman 03-11-2016 16.3 03-10-2016 Performance, CrossFire Profile
Need for Speed 03-15-2016 16.3.1 03-18-2016 Performance, CrossFire Profile
Ashes of the Singularity 03-31-2016 16.2 02-25-2016 Performance

 

AMD claims that the push for this “day one” experience will continue going forward, pointing at a 35% boost in performance in Quantum Break between Radeon Crimson 16.3.2 and 16.4.1. There will be plenty of opportunities in the coming weeks and months to test AMD (and NVIDIA) on this “day one” focus with PC titles that will have support for DX12, UWP and VR.

The software team at RTG has also added quite a few interesting features since the release of the first Radeon Crimson driver. Support for the Vulkan API and a DX12 capability called Quick Response Queue, along with new additions to the Radeon settings (Per-game display scaling, CrossFire status indicator, power efficiency toggle, etc.) are just a few.

q1driver-4.jpg

Critical for consumers that were buying into VR, the Radeon Crimson drivers launched with support alongside the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. Both of these new virtual reality systems are putting significant strain on the GPU of modern PCs and properly implementing support for techniques like timewarp is crucial to enabling a good user experience. Though Oculus and HTC / Valve were using NVIDIA based systems more or less exclusively during our time at the Game Developers Summit last month, AMD still has approved platforms and software from both vendors. In fact, in a recent change to the HTC Vive minimum specifications, Valve retroactively added the Radeon R9 280 to the list, giving a slight edge in component pricing to AMD.

AMD was also the first to enable full support for external graphics solutions like the Razer Core external enclosure in its drivers with XConnect. We wrote about that release in early March, and I’m eager to get my hands on a product combo to give it a shot. As of this writing and after talking with Razer, NVIDIA had still not fully implemented external GPU functionality for hot/live device removal.

When looking for some acceptance metric, AMD did point us to a survey they ran to measure the approval and satisfaction of Crimson. After 1700+ submission, the score customers gave them was a 4.4 out of 5.0 - pretty significant praise even coming from AMD customers. We don't exactly how the poll was run or in what location it was posted, but the Crimson driver release has definitely improved the perception that Radeon drivers have with many enthusiasts.

I’m not going to sit here and try to impart on everyone that AMD is absolved of past sins and we should immediately be converted into believers. What I can say is that the Radeon Technologies Group is moving in the right direction, down a path that shows a change in leadership and a change in mindset. I talked in September about the respect I had for Raja Koduri and interviewed him after AMD’s Capsaicin event at GDC; you can already start to see the changes he is making inside this division. He has put a priority on software, not just on making it look pretty, but promising to make good on proper multi-GPU support, improved timeliness of releases and innovative features. AMD and RTG still have a ways to go before they can unwind years of negativity, but the ground work is there.

The company and every team member has a sizeable task ahead of them as we approach the summer. The Radeon Technologies Group will depend on the Polaris architecture and its products to swing back the pendulum against NVIDIA, gaining market share, mind share and respect. From what we have seen, Polaris looks impressive and differentiates from Hawaii and Fiji fairly dramatically. But this product was already well baked before Raja got total control and we might have to see another generation pass before the portfolio of GPUs can change around the institution. NVIDIA isn’t sitting idle and the Pascal architecture also promises improved performance, while leaning on the work and investment in software and drivers that have gotten them to the dominant market leader position they are in today.

I’m looking forward to working with AMD throughout 2016 on what promises to be an exciting and market-shifting time period.

AMD launches dual-Fiji card as Radeon Pro Duo, targeting VR developers, for $1500

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: VR, radeon pro duo, radeon, Fiji, dual fiji, capsaicin, amd

It’s finally here, and AMD is ready to ship it, the much discussed and often debated dual-Fiji graphics card that the company first showed with the launch of the Fury series of Radeon cards way back in June of last year. It was unnamed then, and I started calling it the AMD Fury X2, but it seems that AMD has other plans for this massive compute powerhouse, now with a price tag of $1,499.

Radeon_Pro_Duo_01.jpg

As part of the company’s Capsaicin event at GDC tonight, AMD showed the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, calling it the “most powerful platform for VR” among other things. The card itself is a dual-slot configuration with what appears to be a (very thick) 120mm self-contained liquid cooler, similar to the Fury X design. You’ll need three 8-pin power connectors for the Radeon Pro Duo as well, but assuming you are investing in this kind of hardware that should be no issue.

Even with the integration of HBM to help minimize the footprint of the GPU and memory system, the Radeon Pro Duo is a bit taller than the standard bracket and is more analogous the length of a standard graphics card.

Radeon_Pro_Duo_02.jpg

AMD isn’t telling us much about performance in the early data provided, only mentioning again that the card provides 16 teraflops of compute performance. This is just about double that of the Fury X, single GPU variant released last year; clearly the benefit of water cooling the Pro Duo is that it can run at maximum clock speeds.

Probably the biggest change from what we learned about the dual-GPU card in June to today is its target market. AMD claims that the Radeon Pro Duo is “aimed at all aspects of the VR developer lifestyle: developing content more rapidly for tomorrow’s killer VR experiences while at work, and playing the latest DirectX® 12 experiences at maximum fidelity while off work.” Of course you can use this card for gaming – it will show up in your system just as any dual-GPU configuration would and can be taken advantage of at the same level owning two Fury X cards would.

Radeon_Pro_Duo_03.jpg

The Radeon Pro Duo is cooled by a rear-mounted liquid cooler in this photo

That being said, with a price tag of $1,499, it makes very little sense for gamers to invest in this product for gaming alone. Just as we have said about the NVIDIA TITAN line of products, they are the best of the best but are priced to attract developers rather than gamers. In the past AMD had ridiculed NVIDIA for this kind of move but it seems that the math just works here – the dual-Fiji card is likely a high cost, low yield, low production part. Add to that the fact that it was originally promised in Q3 2015, and that AMD has publicly stated that its Polaris-based GPUs would be ready starting in June, and the window for a consumer variant of the Radeon Pro Duo is likely closed.

"The Radeon Pro Duo is AMD's evolution of their high-end graphics card strategy with them positioning the Radeon Pro Duo more towards a content creator audience rather than gamers. This helps justify the higher price and lower volumes as well as gives developers the frame of mind to develop for multi-GPU VR from the get go rather than as an afterthought." - Anshel Sag, Analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy

For engineers, developers, educational outlets and other professional landscapes though, the pure processing power compressed into a single board will be incredibly by useful. And of course, for those gamers crazy enough out there with the unlimited budget and the need to go against our recommendations.


Update: AMD's Capsaicin livestream included some interesting slides on the new Pro Duo GPU, including some of the capabilities and a look at the cooling system.

PRO_DUO_GPU.png

The industrial design has carried over from the Fury X

As we see from this slide, the Pro Duo offers 2x Fiji GPUs with 8GB of HBM, and boasts 16 TFLOPS of compute power (the AMD Nano offers 8.19 TFLOPS, so this is consistent with a dual-Nano setup).

PRO_DUO_GPU_BLOCK.png

The cooling system is again a Cooler Master design, with a separate block for each GPU. The hoses have a nice braided cover, and lead to a very thick looking radiator with a pre-attached fan.

PRO_DUO_COOLER.png

From the look of the fan blades this looks like it's designed to move quite a bit of air, and it will need to considering a single (120 mm?) radiator is handling cooling for a pair of high-end GPUs. Temperatures and noise levels will be something to look for when we have hardware in hand.

AMD claims 83% VR market share, shows VR on Polaris

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 14, 2016 - 11:00 PM |
Tagged: VR, radeon pro duo, radeon, capsaicin, amd

As part of AMD’s Capsaicin event in San Francisco today, the company is making some bold statements around its strategy for VR, including massive market share dominance, new readiness programs and the future of VR with the Polaris architecture due out this year.

The most surprising statement made by AMD at the event was the claim that “AMD is powering the overwhelming majority of home entertainment VR systems around the world, with an estimated 83 percent market share.” This is obviously not based on discrete GPU sales in the PC market alone, but instead includes the sales of the PlayStation 4 game console, for which Sony will launch its own PlayStation VR headset later this year. (Side note, does JPR not include the array of Samsung phones to be “home entertainment VR” systems?)

maxresdefault.jpg

There is no denying that Sony's install base with the PS4 has put AMD in the driver seat when it comes to global gaming GPU distribution, but as of today this advantage has not amounted to anything noticeable in the PC space – a stance that AMD was selling hard before the consoles’ launch. I am hesitant to put any weight behind AMD’s PS4 integration for VR moving forward, so the company will have to prove that this is in fact an advantage for the chip maker going into 2016.

AMD is talking up other partnerships as well, including those with HTC and Oculus for their respective headset launches, due in the next 30 days. Beyond that, AMD hardware is being used in the just announced Sulon Q wireless VR headset and has deals in place with various healthcare, media and educational outlets to seed development hardware.

side_0.jpg

For system vendors and add-in card builders, AMD is launching a certification program that will create labels of “Radeon™ VR Ready Premium” and “Radeon™ VR Ready Creator”. The former will be assigned to graphics cards at Radeon R9 290 performance and above to indicate they are capable of meeting the specifications required by Oculus and HTC for their VR headsets; the latter is going to be assigned only to the Radeon Pro Duo dual-Fiji graphics card, meant to target developers that need maximum performance.

Finally, AMD is showing that its next generation graphics architecture, Polaris, is capable of VR as well.

AMD today demonstrated for the first time ever the company’s forthcoming Polaris 10 GPU running Valve’s Aperture Science Robot Repair demo powered by the HTC Vive Pre. The sample GPU features the recently announced Polaris GPU architecture designed for 14nm FinFET, optimized for DirectX® 12 and VR, and boasts significant architectural improvements over previous AMD architectures including HDR monitor support, industry-leading performance-per-watt 2, and AMD’s 4th generation Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture.

We are still waiting to see if this is the same silicon that AMD showed at CES, a mainstream part, or if we might be witnessing the first demo of a higher end part, wetting the appetite of the enthusiast community.

AMD Announces XConnect Technology for External Graphics

Subject: Graphics Cards | March 10, 2016 - 06:27 PM |
Tagged: XConnect, thunderbolt 3, radeon, graphics card, gpu, gaming laptop, external gpu, amd

AMD has announced their new external GPU technology called XConnect, which leverages support from the latest Radeon driver to support AMD graphics over Thunderbolt 3.

AMD_SCREEN.png

The technology showcased by AMD is powered by Razer, who partnered with AMD to come up with an expandable solution that supports up to 375W GPUs, including R9 Fury, R9 Nano, and all R9 300 series GPUs up to the R9 390X (there is no liquid cooling support, and the R9 Fury X isn't listed as being compatible). The notebook in AMD's marketing material is the Razer Blade Stealth, which offers the Razer Core external GPU enclosure as an optional accessory. (More information about these products from Razer here.) XConnect is not tied to any vendor, however; this is "generic driver" support for GPUs over Thunderbolt 3.

AMD has posted this video with the head of Global Technical Marketing, Robert Hallock, to explain the new tech and show off the Razer hardware:

The exciting part has to be the promise of an industry standard for external graphics, something many have hoped for. Not everyone will produce a product exactly like Razer has, since there is no requirement to provide a future upgrade path in a larger enclosure like this, but the important thing is that Thunderbolt 3 support is built in to the newest Radeon Crimson drivers.

Here are the system requirements for AMD XConnect from AMD:

  • ​Radeon Software 16.2.2 driver (or later)
  • 1x Thunderbolt 3 port
  • 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3 cable
  • Windows 10 build 10586 (or later)
  • BIOS support for external graphics over Thunderbolt 3 (check with system vendor for details)
  • Certified Thunderbolt 3 graphics enclosure configured with supported Radeon R9 Series GPU
  • Thunderbolt firmware (NVM) v.16

AMD_SLIDE.png

The announcement introduces all sorts of possibilities. How awesome would it be to see a tiny solution with an R9 Nano powered by, say, an SFX power supply? Or what about a dual-GPU enclosure (possibly requiring 2 Thunderbolt 3 connections?), or an enclosure supporting liquid cooling (and the R9 Fury X)? The potential is certainly there, and with a standard in place we could see some really interesting products in the near future (or even DIY solutions). It's a promising time for mobile gaming!

Source: AMD