A New GPU with the Same DNA
When we talked with AMD recently about its leaked roadmap that insinuated that we would not see any new GPUs in 2013, they were adamant that other options would be made available to gamers but were coy about about saying when and to what degree. As it turns out, today marks the release of the Radeon HD 7790, a completely new piece of silicon under the Sea Islands designation, that uses the same GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture as the HD 7000-series / Southern Islands GPUs with a handful of tweaks and advantages from improved clock boosting with PowerTune to faster default memory clocks.
To be clear, the Radeon HD 7790 is a completely new ASIC, not a rebranding of a currently available part, though the differences between the options are mostly in power routing and a reorganization of the GCN design found in Cape Verde and Pitcairn designs. The code name for this particular GPU is Bonaire and it is one of several upcoming updates to the HD 7000 cards.
Bonaire is built on the same 28nm TSMC process technology that all Southern Islands parts are built on and consists of 2.08 billion transistors in a 160 mm2 die. Compared to the HD 7800 (Pitcairn) GPU at 212 mm2 and HD 7700 (Cape Verde) at 120 mm2, the chip for the HD 7790 falls right in between. And while the die images above are likely not completely accurate, it definitely appears that AMD's engineers have reorganized the internals.
Bonaire is built with 14 CUs (compute units) for a total stream processor count of 896, which places it closer to the performance level of the HD 7850 (1024 SPs) than it does the HD 7770 (640 SPs). The new Sea Islands GPU includes the same dual tessellation engines of the higher end HD 7000s as well and a solid 128-bit memory bus that runs at 6.0 Gbps out the gate on the 1GB frame buffer. The new memory controller is completely reworked in Bonaire and allows for a total memory bandwidth of 96 GB/s in comparison to the 72 GB/s of the HD 7770 and peaking theoretical compute performance at 1.79 TFLOPS.
The GPU clock rate is set at 1.0 GHz, but there is more on that later.
Subject: Graphics Cards | February 15, 2013 - 06:50 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: southern islands, Solar System, Sea Islands, radeon, oland, mars, holycrapiamtotallyconfused, amd
Remember that story we posted last week and then discussed on the podcast about AMD not releasing any new GPUs in 2013? Today we had a call with AMD that attempted to answer some questions, clear up some confusion and give us some insight to the company's direction. I say 'attempted' because after a 53 minute discussion, we have some answers, but we also have some interesting questions that remain.
First, some definitions. If you have heard about code names like "Solar System" and "Sea Islands" you might not know what they refer to. Sea Islands is a new line that will fall into the 8000-series of products and will be a refresh, slightly different architecture based heavily on the Southern Islands parts you've come to love in the Radeon HD 7000 parts. Solar System is the name AMD has given to the sub-category of Sea Islands directly related to mobile products, the 8000M.
The slide that started this confusion - and our questions.
What might make things even more confusing is that there are some 8000-series parts that are already shipping in OEM desktops and notebooks that use verbatim HD 7000 GPU specs. So what you have is a combination series with Radeon HD 8000 that is made up of some rebrands and at least a couple of "new" chips thus far. Those two new GPUs, Mars and Oland (Radeon HD 8650 and HD 8670) depending on the mobile or desktop target, are already out and you can find them if you look hard. They are NOT available in the channel or for DIY PC users.
Our readers might be disappointed to learn that Sea Islands is heavily focused on the notebook and mobile markets though AMD did indicate that there some good things coming for the channel users in the future in 2013.
We also learned that the HD 7900-series will remain the company's high end parts through the end of 2013 but AMD said that there are new SKUs set to be released in this series sometime this year as well. Will that be the elusive HD 7990 dual-GPU product or maybe just something in the mainstream 7800 segments? They wouldn't tell us but we are definitely hoping for higher performance parts. You might also expect to see these new 7000-series parts to use Sea Islands silicon...
The Radeon HD 7970 looks like it will stay a focus for AMD throughout 2013.
Many readers might be wondering why AMD is breaking its standard cadence of near-yearly GPU releases. The answer came from AMD's Roy Taylor, VP of Channel Sales, who said that "7000 series parts are continuing to ramp UP, sales are increasing" so it is premature for AMD, as a company intending to make money, to introduce a new series or architecture.
In fact Roy was very emphatic about relieving us of potential ambiguity.
We have products, we have a road map. We are not announcing them now because we want to reposition the ones we have now. We are not sitting still, we do not lack resources, we do not lack imagination.
So what can you expect for the future? Sea Islands chips will continue to be released and eventually in the desktop, channel market and some of them will be branded as 7000-series parts and some of them will be branded as 8000-series parts. They wouldn't give us information on whether or not you'll see BIGGER chips (which we would assume would be faster) than the current HD 7900 cards or if they would all be in the mainstream segment.
AMD thinks its partnerships with key games like Crysis 3 will help keep momentum in 2013.
The residual message from this call was that AMD wants everyone to know that they have the best products on the market today and to maintain that momentum, AMD will enhance drivers, establish big partnerships with gaming companies and developers and release SOME new GPUs.
AMD was cagey again when asked about the possibility of a new architecture by the end of 2013 but based on the reactions of AMD reps I tend to believe we will see it, though probably very very close to the end of that time. (Update: AMD did in fact say that an entire new product stack would be releaed by the end of 2013.)
That all clear now?
Subject: General Tech | February 5, 2013 - 07:16 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Sea Islands, radeon, GCN, amd, 8970, oland, hd 8000, RadeonSI, gallium, mesa
Phoronix has good news for Linux users about the "RadeonSI" Gallium3D driver which AMD has slowly been developing for the HD 7000 series, MESA has announced the driver is being developed for the HD 8000 series. The project commit is a candidate for MESA 9.1 and the Linux 3.9 kernel which could lead to some issues as most Linux flavours are using 3.8 or earlier but should bode well for the future. This hopefully signals a greater commitment to OpenCL and other projects AMD has started but not managed to fully develop. We also have quite a few PCI IDs from the commit statement, 0x6600, 0x6601, 0x6602, 0x6603, 0x6606, 0x6607, 0x6610, 0x6611, 0x6613, 0x6620, 0x6621, 0x6623, and 0x6631 are all listed.
"While AMD has yet to officially introduce their Radeon HD 8000 series, published today was the initial open-source Linux graphics driver support for handling the Radeon HD 8800 "Oland" graphics cards."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Dell agrees to $24.4bn buyout @ The Inquirer
- 3DMark for Windows Launches; We Test It with Various Laptops @ AnandTech
- New 3DMark Benchmark Highlights and First GPU Results @ Legit Reviews
- The next-gen 3DMark is here, we take it for a quick spin around the block @ Tweaktown
- BlackBerry 10: Good news, there's still time to fix this disaster @ The Register
- Blackberry Steelseries Free Bluetooth gamepad video demo @ The Inquirer
- BANG and the server's gone: Man gets 8 months for destroying work computers @ The Register
We are Still Among the Living
The day after the official AMD presentation we were able to sit down with Leslie Sobon for a good hour and really dig into the products we are expecting throughout this next year. AMD did not officially announce any products, but they revealed more details about products on their roadmaps.
To say that AMD is in a somewhat precarious situation is an understatement. This does not necessarily mean that they won’t survive for some years. This was never mentioned to us by AMD, but we can assume that it is not in ATIC’s best interest to let AMD flounder too much. AMD is still GLOBALFOUNDRIES largest customer, and ATIC believes that they can become a fabrication giant in the next few years. So, while AMD is hitting some hard times, they will be around for some time to come in spite of their issues.
Believe it or not, AMD is still a CPU company with some relevant producxts. While Intel has the advantage in x86 performance and process technology, AMD has a distinct advantage in the integrated graphics portion. While Trinity was a big step in the right direction in terms of performance and power consumption, it was not enough to boost their flagging marketshare. Throughout the 2013 they are working on several products that will help to change their fortunes.
The first product that we will likely see is the Jaguar core based Kabini APUs. These are the next generation, low power APUs which will replace the Brazos 2.0 products that we currently are seeing. These quad core and dual core parts are manufactured by TSMC on their 28 nm process. Kabini will be the first APU to include the new GCN architecture that we currently see in the HD 7700 series and above. AMD will be breaking new ground in offering a true quad core part at price points unseen so far.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 4, 2012 - 09:41 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: venus, Sea Islands, radeon hd 8990, hd 8990, dual gpu, 28nm
Earlier this year rumored specifications for AMD’s upcoming HD 8000-series graphics cards leaked to the Internet. Details on the 8800 and 8900 series cards have since been revealed along with rumored/estimated clock speeds and pricing. One card that has, until now, remained an unknown is the dual-GPU Radeon HD 8990, however.
The existence of a dual GPU Sea Islands card has been especially suspect as a result of the ever-elusive Radeon 7990 and its almost-certain cancellation in an official AMD-branded form. On the other hand, a road map leaked by BitDreams.se and discovered by Maximum PC seems to suggest that an HD 8990 is at least being considered.
The Radeon HD 8990 follows the dual GPU traditions of its predecessors by combining two 8970 GPUs onto a single PCB. That means, if the previously leaked 8970 specifications hold true, the 8990 graphics card will have 5,120 stream processors, 320 texture units, 96 ROPs, and a 384-bit memory bus for each GPU. The card will have between 6 and 12GB of GDDR5 memory (3GB-6GB per GPU). The dual GPU card will have a maximum TDP of 375W and will come with slightly lower GPU core and memory clockspeeds compared to two individual 8970 cards. The GPU will be clocked at 950MHz and the memory will be clocked at 1250MHz. The single GPU Radeon 8970 will come clocked at 1050MHz core and 1500MHz memory, however.
|Radeon HD 7870||Radeon HD 8870||Radeon 7950||Radeon 8950||Radeon HD 7970||Radeon HD 8970||Radeon HD 7990||Radeon HD 8990|
|Die Size||212mm^2||270mm^2||365mm^2||~400mm^2||365mm^2||~ 400mm^2||365mm^2 x2||~400mm^2 x2|
|TMUs||80||112||112||144||128||160||128 x 2||160 x 2|
|ROPs||32||32||32||32||32||48||32 x 2||48 x 2|
|Memory Interface||256-bit||256-bit||384-bit||384-bit||384-bit||384-bit||384-bit x2||384-bit x 2|
|Bandwidth||153.6 GB/s||192 GB/s||240 GB/s||322 GB/s||288 GB/s||322 GB/s||288 GB/s x 2||600 GB/s (total)|
The dual gpu 8990 card, as well as the rest of the 8000 series will support DirectX 11, Shader Model 5.0, and OpenGL 4.2. Bit Dreams lists the maximum single and double precision performance at 10.2 and 3 TFLOPS respectively, making this a rather powerful card that is not quite the same performance as two 8970s but will take up less space. Interestingly, the card would be noticeably faster than AMD’s FirePro S10000 card (essentially two 7950 gpus) at 1.48 TF double precision and 5.91 TF single precision. That would suggest that Venus is much more efficient than Tahiti, if the numbers turn out to be true.
The card will allegedly be released sometime in the second quarter of 2013 (Q2’13). Pricing is likely to be around $1,000 but so far pricing information has not leaked. Even taking these numbers with a spoon of salt, a dual GPU 8000 series card is sure to be welcome by enthusiasts. Here’s hoping it ends up being released (unlike the 7990) and is as fast as it’s rumored to be!
Subject: General Tech | September 27, 2012 - 05:46 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: tlc, ssd, Sea Islands, Samsung, PSU, podcast, nvidia, IOPS, Intel, evga, amd, 840 pro, 840, 1500W
PC Perspective Podcast #220 - 09/27/2012
Join us this week as we talk about the Samsung 840 Pro SSD, a 1500W PSU from EVGA, AMD GPU leaks, and more!
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Hosts: Ryan Shrout, Josh Walrath, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Allyn Malvantano
Program length: 1:07:28
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Subject: Graphics Cards | September 21, 2012 - 06:55 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: tenerife, Sea Islands, radeon, GCN, amd, 8970
(Updated to add additional information on the 8900 series rumors – mainly on Radeon 8950.)
Earlier this week, we reported on rumors of two upcoming mid-range AMD 8800 series graphics cards based on the Sea Islands architecture. As mentioned previously, Sea Islands is the successor to the Southern Islands architecture used on the 7000 series. It features an improved Graphics Core Next GPU processor architecture based on TSMC's 28nm process. With that said, the chip will draw less power and be faster on GPGPU workloads thanks to several efficiency tweaks. Graphics cards based on Sea Islands will support DirectX 11, and will be available early next year.
While the 8850 and 8870 are based on the Oland GPU, this newly leaked Radeon HD 8970 will use the "Sea Islands" Tenerife GPU. New information seems to suggest that AMD will actually brand it the Venus XTX for 8970 cards and Venus XT/Pro for 8950 cards, though Oland would remain the chip name for 8800 series cards.
Tenerife offers up some impressive (but realistic) specifications, including 2,560 shaders, 160 texture units, 48 ROPs, and a relatively massive 384-bit memory bus. Also impressive is an alleged transistor count of 5.1 billion, which puts it a great deal above the Radeon 7970's 4.31 billion transistors. This rumored Tenerife/Venus XTX GPU (whichever AMD ends up calling it) will have a 250W TDP and will be use in the 8970 flagship graphics card. Venus XT/Pro will scale back the chip a bit by featuring 2,304 shaders, 144 texture units, and 32 ROPs. No word yet on what the TDP will be.
Both the HD 8970 and HD 8950 are said to support 3GB of GDDR5 memory running at 6GHz on a 384-bit bus, which works out such that the cards have approximately 322 GB/s of bandwidth! Further, the 16 additional ROP units in the Radeon HD 8970 will give it a nice performance boost over the 8950 and 8800 series, especially when running multiple monitors in Eyefinity configurations.
As far as specifications go, we do not yet know the die size of the GPU or what the GPU base (and boost) clockspeeds are beyond a source indicating the boost frequency of the 8970 will be above 1050 MHz. According to PC Perspective's GPU
packrat reviewer Josh Walrath, the Tenerife GPU will have a much larger die than that of Oland. Because it will feature a sizeable increase in number of transistors, but still be based on a 28nm process, the die size will be somewhere between 380mm^2 and 420mm^2.
To put that in perspective, the 8850/8870 has a die size of 270mm^2, and the current generation predecessor (7950/7970) has a die size of only 365mm^2.
The following chart compares the various rumored Radeon 8000-series graphics cards to their previous generation counterparts.
|Radeon HD 7850||Radeon HD 8850||Radeon HD 7870||Radeon HD 8870||Radeon 7950||Radeon 8950||Radeon HD 7970||Radeon HD 8970|
|Die Size||212mm^2||270mm^2||212mm^2||270mm^2||365mm^2||~400mm^2||365mm^2||~ 400mm^2|
|Bandwidth||153.6 GB/s||192 GB/s||153.6 GB/s||192 GB/s||240 GB/s||322 GB/s||288 GB/s||322 GB/s|
*Tenerife die size is estimate only, actual die size is still unknown.
The AMD Radeon HD 8970 will be AMD's next generation single-GPU flagship graphics card, and it looks to offer up some respectable hardware. The Radeon HD 8950 should be a decent step up in performance versus the 7950, though it would have been nice to see the 8970's additional ROP units stick around in the 8950. Unfortunately we do not know what this Tenerife (aka Venus) GPU-based graphics card will be priced at. For now, we will just have to be cautiously optimistic and wait a few months to see how much this card will cost. The wait should not be very long either, if rumors are true as they seem to indicate that the 8970 will enter manufacturing in late 2012 and launched in early (January/February) 2013.
Are you excited for AMD's next-generation flagship?
Subject: Graphics Cards | September 18, 2012 - 10:34 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: Sea Islands, oland, hd8870, hd8850, gpu, amd radeon, amd
AMD beat NVIDIA to the punch with its 7000-series “Southern Islands” graphics cards, and if the rumors hold true the company may well accomplish the same feat with its next generation architecture. Codenamed Sea Islands, the architecture of AMD’s 8800-series is set to (allegedly) debut around January 2013 time frame. Featuring DirectX 11, GPGPU and power efficiency improvements, 3.4 billion transistors on a 28nm process, and a rumored sub-$300 price, will the 8850 and 8870 win over enthusiasts?
AMD launched its Southern Island graphics cards with the Graphics Core Next (GCN) architecture and Pitcairn GPU in March of this year. Since then NVIDIA has moved into the market with the 660 and 660Ti, and budget gamers have lots of options. However, yet another budget gaming GPU from AMD will be coming in just a few months if certain sources' leaks prove correct. The 8850 and 8870 graphics cards are rumored to launch in January 2013 for under $300 and offer up some significant performance and efficiency improvements. Both the 8850 and 8870 GPUs are based on the Oland variant of AMD’s Sea Islands architecture. As a point of reference, AMD’s 7850 and 7870 are using the Pitcairn version of AMD’s Southern Islands architecture – thus Sea Islands is the overarching architecture and Oland is an actual chip based on it.
Sea Islands is essentially an improved and tweaked Graphics Core Next design. It will continue to utilize TSMC's 28 nm process, but will require less power than the 7000-series while being much faster. While the specifications for the top-end 8900-series is still up in the air, Videocardz is claiming sources in the know have supplied the following numbers for the mid-range 8850 and 8870 Oland cards.
Videocardz put together a table comparing AMD's current and future GPU series.
The GPU die size has reportedly increased to 270mm^2 (squared) versus the 7850/7870’s 212mm^2 die. This increase is the result of AMD packing an additional 600 million transistors for a total of 3.4 billion. 3D Center further breaks the GPU down in stating that the 8870 will feature 1792 shader units, 112 texture manipulation units (TMU), 32 ROPs, and support a 256-bit memory interface. The 8850 graphics card will scale the Oland GPU down a bit further by featuring only 1536 shader units and 96 TMUs, but keeping the 32 ROPs and 256-bit interface.
For comparison, here’s a handy table comparing the 8850/8870 to the current-generation 7850/7870 (which we recently reviewed).
|Radeon HD 7850||Radeon HD 8850||Radeon HD 7870||Radeon HD 8870|
|Bandwidth||153.6 GB/s||192 GB/s||153.6 GB/s||192 GB/s|
So while the memory bus and number of ROP units is staying the same, you are getting more shaders and texture units along with a boost to the overall memory bandwidth with the larger die size – sounds like an okay compromise to me!
AMD has managed to increase the clock speeds and GPGPU performance with Oland/Sea Islands as well. On the clockspeed front, the 8850 has a base boost GPU clockspeed of 925 MHz and 975 MHz respectively. Further, the 8870 has base/boost clocks of 1050 MHz/1100 MHz. That is a nice improvement over the 7850’s 860 MHz clockspeed, and 7870’s 1000 MHz clockspeed. AMD is also adding its PowerTune with Boost functionality to the Oland-based graphics cards which is a welcome addition. The theoretical computational power of the graphics chips has been increased as well, by as much as 75% for single precision and 60% for double precision (7870 to 8870). The single precision performance has been increased to 2.99 TFLOPS on the 8850 (1.76 TFLOPS on the 7850), and 3.94 TFLOPS on the 8870 (7870 has 2.25 TFLOPS). The single precision numbers are relevant to gaming and general applications that consumers would run that are GPU accelerated. The figures are not really suited/representative of high performance computing (HPC) workloads where precision is important (think simulations and high-end mathematics), and that is where the double precision numbers come in. The 8800 series gets a nice boost in potential performance as well, topping out at 187.2 GFLOPS for the 8850 and 246 GFLOPS for the 8870. That is in comparison the 7850’s 110 GFLOPS and 7870’s 160 GFLOPS.
The sources also disclosed that while the 8850 would have the same TDP (thermal design power) rating as the 7850, the higher-end 8870 would actually see a decreased 160W TDP versus the previous generation’s 175W. Unfortunately, there were not any specific power draw numbers talked about, just that the cards were more power efficient, so it remains to be seen just how much (if at all) less power the GPUs will need. The sources put the 8870 at the same performance level as the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680, which would mean that this will be an amazing mid-range card if true. Especially considering that the cards have a rumored price of $279 for the 8870 and $199 for the 8850. Granted, those prices are likely much lower than what we will actually see if AMD does indeed launch the cards in January as the company will not have competition from NVIDIA’s 700 series right away.
In some respects, the rumored specifications seem almost too good to be true, but I’m going to remain hopeful and am looking forward to not only seeing the mid-range Oland GPU coming out, but the unveiling of AMD’s top-end 8900 series (which should be amazing, based on the 8800-series rumors).
What do you think of the rumored 8850 and 8870 graphics cards from AMD? Will they be enough to temp even NVIDIA fans?
AMD Gives a Glimpse of the Near Future
AMD has released an updated roadmap for these next two years, and the information contained within is quite revealing of where AMD is going and how they are shifting their lineup to be less dependent on a single manufacturer. The Financial Analyst Day has brought a few surprises of where AMD is headed, and how they will get there. Rory Read and Mark Papermaster have brought a new level of energy to the company that seemingly has been either absent or muted. Sometimes a new set of eyes on a problem, or in this case the attitudes and culture of a company, can bring about significant changes for the positive. From what we have seen so far from Rory and company is a new energy and direction for AMD. While AMD is still sticking to their roots, they are looking to further expand upon their expertise in some areas, all the while being flexible enough to license products from other companies that are far enough away from AMD's core competence that it pays to license rather than force engineers to re-invent the wheel.
The roadmaps cover graphics, desktop, mobile, and server products through 2013.
This first slide is a snapshot of the current and upcoming APU lineup. Southern Islands is the codename for the recently released HD 7000 series of desktop parts. This will cover products from the 7700 level on up to the top end 7990. Of great interest are the Brazos 2.0 and Hondo chips. AMD had cancelled the "Krishna" series of chips which would have been based on Bobcat cores up to 4 on 28 nm. Details are still pending, but it seems Brazos 2.0 will still be 40 nm parts but much more refined so they can be clocked higher and still pull less power. Hondo looks to be the basic Brazos core, but for Ultra Low Power (lower clocks, possibly disabled units, etc.) which would presumably scale to 5 watts and possibly lower.