Subject: Editorial, Graphics Cards | May 18, 2016 - 01:18 PM | Tim Verry
Tagged: rumor, Polaris, opinion, HDMI 2.0, gpu, gddr5x, GDDR5, GCN, amd, 4k
While Nvidia's Pascal has held the spotlight in the news recently, it is not the only new GPU architecture debuting this year. AMD will soon be bringing its Polaris-based graphics cards to market for notebooks and mainstream desktop users. While several different code names have been thrown around for these new chips, they are consistently in general terms referred to as Polaris 10 and Polaris 11. AMD's Raja Kudori stated in an interview with PC Perspective that the numbers used in the naming scheme hold no special significance, but eventually Polaris will be used across the entire performance lineup (low end to high end graphics).
Naturally, there are going to be many rumors and leaks as the launch gets closer. In fact, Tech Power Up recently came into a number of interesting details about AMD's plans for Polaris-based graphics in 2016 including specifications and which areas of the market each chip is going to be aimed at.
Citing the usual "industry sources" familiar with the matter (take that for what it's worth, but the specifications do not seem out of the realm of possibility), Tech Power Up revealed that there are two lines of Polaris-based GPUs that will be made available this year. Polaris 10 will allegedly occupy the mid-range (mainstream) graphics option in desktops as well as being the basis for high end gaming notebook graphics chips. On the other hand, Polaris 11 will reportedly be a smaller chip aimed at thin-and-light notebooks and mainstream laptops.
Now, for the juicy bits of the leak: the rumored specifications!
AMD's "Polaris 10" GPU will feature 32 compute units (CUs) which TPU estimates – based on the assumption that each CU still contains 64 shaders on Polaris – works out to 2,048 shaders. The GPU further features a 256-bit memory interface along with a memory controller supporting GDDR5 and GDDR5X (though not at the same time heh). This would leave room for cheaper Polaris 10 derived products with less than 32 CUs and/or cheaper GDDR5 memory. Graphics cards would have as much as 8GB of memory initially clocked at 7 Gbps. Reportedly, the full 32 CU GPU is rated at 5.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power and runs at a TDP of no more than 150 watts.
Compared to the existing Hawaii-based R9 390X, the upcoming R9 400 Polaris 10 series GPU has fewer shaders and less memory bandwidth. The memory is clocked 1 GHz higher, but the GDDR5X memory bus is half that of the 390X's 512-bit GDDR5 bus which results in 224 GB/s memory bandwidth for Polaris 10 versus 384 GB/s on Hawaii. The R9 390X has a slight edge in compute performance at 5.9 TFLOPS versus Polaris 10's 5.5 TFLOPS however the Polaris 10 GPU is using much less power and easily wins at performance per watt! It almost reaches the same level of single precision compute performance at nearly half the power which is impressive if it holds true!
|R9 390X||R9 390||R9 380||R9 400-Series "Polaris 10"|
|GPU Code name||Grenada (Hawaii)||Grenada (Hawaii)||Antigua (Tonga)||Polaris 10|
|Rated Clock||1050 MHz||1000 MHz||970 MHz||~1343 MHz|
|Memory Clock||6000 MHz||6000 MHz||5700 MHz||7000 MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||384 GB/s||384 GB/s||182.4 GB/s||224 GB/s|
|TDP||275 watts||275 watts||190 watts||150 watts (or less)|
|Peak Compute||5.9 TFLOPS||5.1 TFLOPS||3.48 TFLOPS||5.5 TFLOPS|
|MSRP (current)||~$400||~$310||~$199||$ unknown|
Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 5.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)
Another comparison that can be made is to the Radeon R9 380 which is a Tonga-based GPU with similar TDP. In this matchup, the Polaris 10 based chip will – at a slightly lower TDP – pack in more shaders, twice the amount of faster clocked memory with 23% more bandwidth, and provide a 58% increase in single precision compute horsepower. Not too shabby!
Likely, a good portion of these increases are made possible by the move to a smaller process node and utilizing FinFET "tri-gate" like transistors on the Samsung/Globalfoundries 14LPP FinFET manufacturing process, though AMD has also made some architecture tweaks and hardware additions to the GCN 4.0 based processors. A brief high level introduction is said to be made today in a webinar for their partners (though AMD has come out and said preemptively that no technical nitty-gritty details will be divulged yet). (Update: Tech Altar summarized the partner webinar. Unfortunately there was no major reveals other than that AMD will not be limiting AIB partners from pushing for the highest factory overclocks they can get).
Moving on from Polaris 10 for a bit, Polaris 11 is rumored to be a smaller GCN 4.0 chip that will top out at 14 CUs (estimated 896 shaders/stream processors) and 2.5 TFLOPS of single precision compute power. These chips aimed at mainstream and thin-and-light laptops will have 50W TDPs and will be paired with up to 4GB of GDDR5 memory. There is apparently no GDDR5X option for these, which makes sense at this price point and performance level. The 128-bit bus is a bit limiting, but this is a low end mobile chip we are talking about here...
|R7 370||R7 400 Series "Polaris 11"|
|GPU Code name||Trinidad (Pitcairn)||Polaris 11|
925 MHz base (975 MHz boost)
|Memory||2 or 4GB||4GB|
|Memory Clock||5600 MHz||? MHz|
|Memory Bandwidth||179.2 GB/s||? GB/s|
|TDP||110 watts||50 watts|
|Peak Compute||1.89 TFLOPS||2.5 TFLOPS|
|MSRP (current)||~$140 (less after rebates and sales)||$?|
Note: Polaris GPU clocks esitmated using assumption of 2.5 TFLOPS being peak compute and accurate number of shaders. (Thanks Scott.)
Fewer details were unveiled concerning Polaris 11, as you can see from the chart above. From what we know so far, it should be a promising successor to the R7 370 series even with the memory bus limitation and lower shader count as the GPU should be clocked higher, (it also might have more shaders in M series mobile variants versus of the 370 and lower mobile series) and a much lower TDP for at least equivalent if not a decent increase in performance. The lower power usage in particular will be hugely welcomed in mobile devices as it will result in longer battery life under the same workloads, ideally. I picked the R7 370 as the comparison as it has 4 gigabytes of memory and not that many more shaders and being a desktop chip readers may be more widely familiar with it. It also appears to sit between the R7 360 and R7 370 in terms of shader count and other features but is allegedly going to be faster than both of them while using at least (on paper) less than half the power.
Of course these are still rumors until AMD makes Polaris officially, well, official with a product launch. The claimed specifications appear reasonable though, and based on that there are a few important takeaways and thoughts I have.
The first thing on my mind is that AMD is taking an interesting direction here. While NVIDIA has chosen to start out its new generation at the top by announcing "big Pascal" GP100 and actually launching the GP104 GTX 1080 (one of its highest end consumer chips/cards) yesterday and then over the course of the year introducing lower end products AMD has opted for the opposite approach. AMD will be starting closer to the lower end with a mainstream notebook chip and high end notebook/mainstream desktop GPU (Polaris 11 and 10 respectively) and then over a year fleshing out its product stack (remember Raja Kudori stated Polaris and GCN 4 would be used across the entire product stack) and building up with bigger and higher end GPUs over time finally topping off with its highest end consumer (and professional) GPUs based on "Vega" in 2017.
This means, and I'm not sure if this was planned by either Nvidia or AMD or just how it happened to work out based on them following their own GPU philosophies (but I'm thinking the latter), that for some time after both architectures are launched AMD and NVIDIA's newest architectures and GPUs will not be directly competing with each other. Eventually they should meet in the middle (maybe late this year?) with a mid-range desktop graphics card and it will be interesting to see how they stack up at similar price points and hardware levels. Then, of course once "Vega" based GPUs hit (sadly probably in time for NV's big Pascal to launch heh. I'm not sure if Vega is Fury X replacement only or even beyond that to 1080Ti or even GP100 competitor) we should see GCN 4 on the new smaller process node square up against NVIDIA and it's 16nm Pascal products across the board (entire lineup). Which will have the better performance, which will win out in power usage and performance/watt and performance/$? All questions I wish I knew the answers to, but sadly do not!!
Speaking of price and performance/$... Polaris is actually looking pretty good so far at hitting much lower TDPs and power usage targets while delivering at least similar performance if not a good bit more. Both AMD and NVIDIA appear to be bringing out GPUs better than I expected to see as far as technological improvements in performance and power usage (these die shrinks have really helped even though from here on out that trend isn't really going to continue...). I hope that AMD can at least match NV in these areas at the mid range even if they do not have a high end GPU coming out soon (not until sometime after these cards launch and not really until Vega, the high end GCN GPU successor). At least on paper based on the leaked information the GPUs so far look good. My only worry is going to be pricing which I think is going to make or break these cards. AMD will need to price them competitively and aggressively to ensure their adoption and success.
I hope that doing the rollout this way (starting with lower end chips) helps AMD to iron out the new smaller process node and that they are able to get good yields so that they can be aggressive with pricing here and eventually at the hgh end!
I am looking forward to more information on AMD's Polaris architecture and the graphics cards based on it!
- AMD Capsaicin GDC Live Stream and Live Blog TODAY!!
- AMD GPU Roadmap: Capsaicin Names Upcoming Architectures
- AMD's Raja Koduri talks moving past CrossFire, smaller GPU dies, HBM2 and more.
- AMD High-End Polaris Expected for 2016
- CES 2016: AMD Shows Polaris Architecture and HDMI FreeSync Displays
I will admit that I am not 100% up on all the rumors and I apologize for that. With that said, I would love to hear what your thoughts are on AMD's upcoming GPUs and what you think about these latest rumors!
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 16, 2016 - 03:52 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, r9 380x, crossfire
A pair of R9 380X's will cost you around $500, a bit more $100 less than a single GTX 980Ti and on par or a little less expensive than a straight GTX 980. You have likely seen these cards compared but how often have you seen these cards pitted against a pair of GTX 960's which costs a little bit less than two 380X cards? [H]ard|OCP decided it was worth investigating, perhaps for those who currently have a single one of these cards that are considering a second if the price is right. The results are very tight, overall the two setups performed very similarly with some games favouring AMD and others NVIDIA, check out the full review here.
"We are evaluating two Radeon R9 380X video cards in CrossFire against two GeForce GTX 960 video cards in a SLI arrangement. We will overclock each setup to its highest, to experience the full gaming benefit each configuration has to offer. Additionally we will compare a Radeon R9 380 CrossFire setup to help determine the best value."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- With Pascal Ahead, A 16-Way Recap From NVIDIA's 9800 GTX To Maxwell @ Phoronix
- Maxwell Quadro For All: NVIDIA Quadro M2000 Workstation Graphics Card Review @ Techgage
- Desktop Graphics Card Comparison Guide @ TechARP
- PCI Express 3.0 vs. 2.0: Is There a Gaming Performance Gain? @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: General Tech | May 12, 2016 - 01:56 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rumour, Polaris, computex, amd
There is a rumour floating around this morning and it is not good. Guru of 3D translated a story over at Nordic Hardware which suggests AMD has stated they will not have any new working cards to show at Computex. The only Polaris hardware they will have ready will be equivalent to the current R9 390 and 390X, albeit at a lower price point. The rumoured problem is that the new flagship cards simply won't hit 850 MHz reliably, which in turn means high end GPUs are right out.
This had better not be true or AMD may find themselves shoeless and GPU enthusiasts will be as disappointed as White Sox fans back in 1919, albeit for different reasons. Those in the NVIDIA camp would do well to remember this has an effect on them as well; why would NVIDIA lower the price on those shiny new 1080's or 1070's when there is nothing in the market to compete with them?
This is a rumour from an anonymous source at an AMD partner, so be sure to take it with a grain of salt and hope that it is completely unsubstantiated; or that a silicon-based miracle happens in the coming months if there is some substance to this.
"Okay before I start on this news-item, I really need to state that this is based on a vague rumor, nothing has been confirmed or denied otherwise. Here's the story, some reports say Polaris 10 can't hit 850 MHz reliably and that availability will be pushed back to October. I sincerely hope the rumor is not true."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Intel Is Preparing A Major Restructuring Of Their Graphics Driver @ Phoronix
- Google Chirp To Rival Amazon Echo @ Slashdot
- Blocking ads? Smaller digital publishers are smacked the hardest @ The Register
- Criminals exploit zero day Flash vulnerability @ The Register
- Android VR: Google to launch mid-range Gear VR rival at I/O next week @ The Inquirer
- Microsoft new Surface Book said to be delayed @ DigiTimes
- How-To: Configuring Linux Usage Limits with Docker and AWS ECS @ Linux.com
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 11, 2016 - 11:53 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, crimson, graphics drivers
For the second time this month, hence the version number, AMD has released a driver to coincide with a major game release. This one is for DOOM, which will be available on Friday. Like the previous driver, which was aligned with Forza, it has not been WHQL-certified. That's okay, though. NVIDIA's Game Ready drivers didn't strive for WHQL certification until just recently, and, even then, WHQL certification doesn't mean what it used to.
But yeah, apart from game-specific optimizations for DOOM, 16.5.2 has a few extra reasons to be used. If you play Battleborn, which launched on May 3rd, then AMD has added a new CrossFire profile for that game. They have also fixed at least eleven issues (plus however many undocumented ones). It comes with ten known issues, but none of them seem particularly troubling. It seems to be mostly CrossFire-related issues.
You can pick up the driver at AMD's website.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Cases and Cooling | May 10, 2016 - 08:55 AM | Sebastian Peak
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.
"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!"
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!).
"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".
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 9, 2016 - 02:05 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: amd, graphics drivers, crimson
This is good to see. AMD has released Radeon Software Crimson Edition 16.5.1 to align with Forza Motorsport 6: Apex. The drivers are classified as Beta, and so is the game, coincidentally, which means 16.5.1 is not WHQL-certified. That doesn't have the weight that it used to, though. Its only listed feature is performance improvements with that title, especially for the R9 Fury X graphics card. Game-specific optimizations near launch appear to be getting consistent, and that was an area that AMD really needed to improve upon, historically.
There are a handful of known issues, but they don't seem particularly concerning. The AMD Gaming Evolved overlay may crash in some titles, and The Witcher 3 may flicker in Crossfire, both of which could be annoying if they affect a game that you have been focusing on, but that's about it. There might be other issues (and improvements) that are not listed in the notes, but that's all I have to work on at the moment.
If you're interested in Forza 6: Apex, check out AMD's download page.
Podcast #398 - AMD Radeon Pro Duo Review, Godavari Refresh, ECS Z170-Claymore, ICY DOCK hot-swappable SSDs, and more!
Subject: General Tech | May 5, 2016 - 05:33 PM | Allyn Malventano
Tagged: Z170, video, radeon pro duo, podcast, nvidia, nfme, microsoft, icy dock, Hot swap, GTX 1080, Godavari, freesync, ECS, Claymore, Antec P9, amd, a8-7670k, A10-7860K
PC Perspective Podcast #398 - 05/05/2016
Join us this week as we discuss the AMD Radeon Pro Duo Review, Godavari Refresh, ECS Z170-Claymore, ICY DOCK hot-swappable SSDs, and more!
The URL for the podcast is: http://pcper.com/podcast - Share with your friends!
- iTunes - Subscribe to the podcast directly through the Store (audio only)
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This episode of the PC Perspective Podcast is sponsored by Lenovo!
Hosts: Allyn Malventano, Jeremy Hellstrom, and Josh Walrath
Program length: 1:29:10
Lower Power, Same Performance
AMD is in a strange position in that there is a lot of excitement about their upcoming Zen architecture, but we are still many months away from that introduction. AMD obviously needs to keep the dollars flowing in, and part of that means that we get refreshes now and then of current products. The “Kaveri” products that have been powering the latest APUs from AMD have received one of those refreshes. AMD has done some redesigning of the chip and tweaked the process technology used to manufacture them. The resulting product is the “Godavari” refresh that offers slightly higher clockspeeds as well as better overall power efficiency as compared to the previous “Kaveri” products.
One of the first refreshes was the A8-7670K that hit the ground in November of 2015. This is a slightly cut down part that features 6 GPU compute units vs. the 8 that a fully enabled Godavari chip has. This continues to be a FM2+ based chip with a 95 watt TDP. The clockspeed of this part goes from 3.6 GHz to 3.9 GHz. The GPU portion runs at the same 757 MHz that the original A10-7850K ran at. It is interesting to note that it is still a 95 watt TDP part with essentially the same clockspeeds as the 7850K, but with two fewer GPU compute units.
The other product being covered here is a bit more interesting. The A10-7860K looks to be a larger improvement from the previous 7850K in terms of power and performance. It shares the same CPU clockspeed range as the 7850K (3.6 GHz to 3.9 GHz), but improves upon the GPU clockspeed by hitting around 800 MHz. At first this seems underwhelming until we realize that AMD has lowered the TDP from 95 watts down to 65 watts. Less power consumed and less heat produced for the same performance from the CPU side and improved performance from the GPU seems like a nice advance.
AMD continues to utilize GLOBALFOUNDRIES 28 nm Bulk/HKMG process for their latest APUs and will continue to do so until Zen is released late this year. This is not the same 28 nm process that we were introduced to over four years ago. Over that time improvements have been made to improve yields and bins, as well as optimize power and clockspeed. GF also can adjust the process on a per batch basis to improve certain aspects of a design (higher speed, more leakage, lower power, etc.). They cannot produce miracles though. Do not expect 22 nm FinFET performance or density with these latest AMD products. Those kinds of improvements will show up with Samsung/GF’s 14nm LPP and TSMC’s 16nm FF+ lines. While AMD will be introducing GPUs on 14nm LPP this summer, the Zen launch in late 2016 will be the first AMD CPU to utilize that advanced process.
Subject: Displays | May 2, 2016 - 05:53 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: freesync, amd, about damn time
Better late than never, our friend Robert Hallock has informed the world that AMD has updated their FreeSync display list with response ranges and panel types. Having the physical size of the display, the resolution and the accepted inputs are necessary but this update offers a much better look at the displays you will be getting. If you are unwilling to give up the colour reproduction of a IPS panel for the speed of an TN this is invaluable to you, as is pointing out the few VA based monitors.
Listing the top and bottom frequencies of the variable refresh displays is arguably even more important. We now know that currently only the Acer XR341CK and BX340CK, the Nixeus NX-VUE24 and the Viewsonic XG2701 are capable of dropping to 30Hz and that a total of 17 models can reach 144Hz. Check out the list for the available 4K displays as well as regular 1440p and ultra-wide 1440p displays in the list and refer back to it regularly as there are a few monitors awaiting final specifications and more coming out in the near future.
Subject: General Tech | April 30, 2016 - 12:33 AM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: SoC, nfme, gpu, cpu, amd
Nantong Fujitsu Microelectronics Co., Ltd. (NFME) is a Chinese company that packages and tests integrated circuits. Recently, AMD has been working with China to reach that large market, especially given their ongoing cash concerns. This time, AMD sold 85% of its stake in two locations, AMD Penang, Malaysia and AMD Suzhou, Jiangsu, China, to NFME and formed a joint venture with them, called TF-AMD Microelectronics Sdn Bhd.
I see two interesting aspects to this story.
First, AMD gets about $320 million USD in this transaction, after taxes and fees, and it also retains 15% of this venture. I am curious whether this will lead to a long-term source of income for AMD, even though the press release claims that this structure will be “cost neutral”. Either way, clearing a third of a billion dollars should help AMD to some extent. That equates to about two-to-three quarters of net-loss for the company, so it gives them about six-to-nine extra months of life on its own. That's not too bad if the transaction doesn't have any lasting consequences.
Second, NFME now has access to some interesting packaging and testing technologies. NFME's website claims that this allows them to handle dies up to 800mm2, substrates with up to 18 layers, and package sizes up to 75mm. These specifications sound like it pulls from their GPU experience, which could bring all of that effort and knowledge to completely different fields.
The press release states that 1,700 employees will be moved from AMD to this venture. They do not state whether any jobs are affected over and above this amount, though.