Specifications and Design
Just a couple of short weeks ago we looked at the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition 16GB graphics card in its air-cooled variety. The results were interesting – gaming performance proved to fall somewhere between the GTX 1070 and the GTX 1080 from NVIDIA’s current generation of GeForce products. That is under many of the estimates from players in the market, including media, fans, and enthusiasts. But before we get to the RX Vega product family that is targeted at gamers, AMD has another data point for us to look at with a water-cooled version of Vega Frontier Edition. At a $1500 MSRP, which we shelled out ourselves, we are very interested to see how it changes the face of performance for the Vega GPU and architecture.
Let’s start with a look at the specifications of this version of the Vega Frontier Edition, which will be…familiar.
|Vega Frontier Edition (Liquid)||Vega Frontier Edition||Titan Xp||GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X|
|Base Clock||1382 MHz||1382 MHz||1480 MHz||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1600 MHz||1600 MHz||1582 MHz||1582 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||-|
|Memory Clock||1890 MHz||1890 MHz||11400 MHz||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||2048-bit HBM2||2048-bit HBM2||384-bit G5X||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||483 GB/s||483 GB/s||547.7 GB/s||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|300 watts||250 watts||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||13.1 TFLOPS||13.1 TFLOPS||12.0 TFLOPS||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS|
The base specs remain unchanged and AMD lists the same memory frequency and even GPU clock rates across both models. In practice though, the liquid cooled version runs at higher sustained clocks and can overclock a bit easier as well (more details later). What does change with the liquid cooled version is a usable BIOS switch on top of the card that allows you to move between two distinct power draw states: 300 watts and 350 watts.
First, it’s worth noting this is a change from the “375 watt” TDP that this card was listed at during the launch and announcement. AMD was touting a 300-watt and 375-watt version of Frontier Edition, but it appears the company backed off a bit on that, erring on the side of caution to avoid breaking any of the specifcations of PCI Express (board slot or auxiliary connectors). Even more concerning is that AMD chose to have the default state of the switch on the Vega FE Liquid card at 300 watts rather than the more aggressive 350 watts. AMD claims this to avoid any problems with lower quality power supplies that may struggle to hit slightly over 150 watts of power draw (and resulting current) from the 8-pin power connections. I would argue that any system that is going to install a $1500 graphics card can and should be prepared to provide the necessary power, but for the professional market, AMD leans towards caution. (It’s worth pointing out the RX 480 power issues that may have prompted this internal decision making were more problematic because they impacted the power delivery through the motherboard, while the 6- and 8-pin connectors are generally much safer to exceed the ratings.)
Even without clock speed changes, the move to water cooling should result in better and more consistent performance by removing the overheating concerns that surrounded our first Radeon Vega Frontier Edition review. But let’s dive into the card itself and see how the design process created a unique liquid cooled solution.
Two Vegas...ha ha ha
When the preorders for the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition went up last week, I made the decision to place orders in a few different locations to make sure we got it in as early as possible. Well, as it turned out, we actually had the cards show up very quickly…from two different locations.
So, what is a person to do if TWO of the newest, most coveted GPUs show up on their doorstep? After you do the first, full review of the single GPU iteration, you plug those both into your system and do some multi-GPU CrossFire testing!
There of course needs to be some discussion up front about this testing and our write up. If you read my first review of the Vega Frontier Edition you will clearly note my stance on the idea that “this is not a gaming card” and that “the drivers aren’t ready. Essentially, I said these potential excuses for performance were distraction and unwarranted based on the current state of Vega development and the proximity of the consumer iteration, Radeon RX.
But for multi-GPU, it’s a different story. Both competitors in the GPU space will tell you that developing drivers for CrossFire and SLI is incredibly difficult. Much more than simply splitting the work across different processors, multi-GPU requires extra attention to specific games, game engines, and effects rendering that are not required in single GPU environments. Add to that the fact that the market size for CrossFire and SLI has been shrinking, from an already small state, and you can see why multi-GPU is going to get less attention from AMD here.
Even more, when CrossFire and SLI support gets a focus from the driver teams, it is often late in the process, nearly last in the list of technologies to address before launch.
With that in mind, we all should understand the results we are going to show you might be indicative of the CrossFire scaling when Radeon RX Vega launches, but it very well could not. I would look at the data we are presenting today as a “current state” of CrossFire for Vega.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 30, 2017 - 02:17 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Vega, radeon, Frontier Edition, amd
Hopefully you have already read up on my review of the new Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card; it is full of interesting information about the gaming and professional application performance.
But I thought it would be interesting to share the bare card and GPU in its own post, just to help people find it later on.
For measurements, here's what we were able to gleam with the calipers.
(Editor's Update: we have updated the die measurements after doing a remeasure. I think my first was a bit loose as I didn't want to impact the GPU directly.)
- Die size: 25.90mm x 19.80mm (GPU only, not including memory stacks)
- Area: 512.82mm2
- Package size: 47.3mm x 47.3mm
- Area: 2,237mm2
Enjoy the sexy!
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- There is a LOT of empty PCB space on the Vega FE card. This is likely indicative of added area needed for a large heatsink and fan to cool 300-375 watt TDP without throttling.
- Benefits of the smaller HBM-based package appears to be at a cost of SMT components on the GPU substrate and the PCB
- The die size of Vega is large - bigger than GP102 even, despite running at a much lower performance level. It will be interesting to see how AMD answers the question of why the die has expanded as much as it did.
Feel free to leave us some comments if anything stands out!
An interesting night of testing
Last night I did our first ever live benchmarking session using the just-arrived Radeon Vega Frontier Edition air-cooled graphics card. Purchased directly from a reseller, rather than being sampled by AMD, gave us the opportunity to testing for a new flagship product without an NDA in place to keep us silenced, so I thought it would be fun to the let the audience and community go along for the ride of a traditional benchmarking session. Though I didn’t get all of what I wanted done in that 4.5-hour window, it was great to see the interest and excitement for the product and the results that we were able to generate.
But to the point of the day – our review of the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition graphics card. Based on the latest flagship GPU architecture from AMD, the Radeon Vega FE card has a lot riding on its shoulders, despite not being aimed at gamers. It is the FIRST card to be released with Vega at its heart. It is the FIRST instance of HBM2 being utilized in a consumer graphics card. It is the FIRST in a new attempt from AMD to target the group of users between gamers and professional users (like NVIDIA has addressed with Titan previously). And, it is the FIRST to command as much attention and expectation for the future of a company, a product line, and a fan base.
Other than the architectural details that AMD gave us previously, we honestly haven’t been briefed on the performance expectations or the advancements in Vega that we should know about. The Vega FE products were released to the market with very little background, only well-spun turns of phrase emphasizing the value of the high performance and compatibility for creators. There has been no typical “tech day” for the media to learn fully about Vega and there were no samples from AMD to media or analysts (that I know of). Unperturbed by that, I purchased one (several actually, seeing which would show up first) and decided to do our testing.
On the following pages, you will see a collection of tests and benchmarks that range from 3DMark to The Witcher 3 to SPECviewperf to LuxMark, attempting to give as wide a viewpoint of the Vega FE product as I can in a rather short time window. The card is sexy (maybe the best looking I have yet seen), but will disappoint many on the gaming front. For professional users that are okay not having certified drivers, performance there is more likely to raise some impressed eyebrows.
Radeon Vega Frontier Edition Specifications
Through leaks and purposeful information dumps over the past couple of months, we already knew a lot about the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition card prior to the official sale date this week. But now with final specifications in hand, we can start to dissect what this card actually is.
|Vega Frontier Edition||Titan Xp||GTX 1080 Ti||Titan X (Pascal)||GTX 1080||TITAN X||GTX 980||R9 Fury X||R9 Fury|
|GPU||Vega||GP102||GP102||GP102||GP104||GM200||GM204||Fiji XT||Fiji Pro|
|Base Clock||1382 MHz||1480 MHz||1480 MHz||1417 MHz||1607 MHz||1000 MHz||1126 MHz||1050 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Boost Clock||1600 MHz||1582 MHz||1582 MHz||1480 MHz||1733 MHz||1089 MHz||1216 MHz||-||-|
|Memory Clock||1890 MHz||11400 MHz||11000 MHz||10000 MHz||10000 MHz||7000 MHz||7000 MHz||1000 MHz||1000 MHz|
|Memory Interface||2048-bit HBM2||384-bit G5X||352-bit||384-bit G5X||256-bit G5X||384-bit||256-bit||4096-bit (HBM)||4096-bit (HBM)|
|Memory Bandwidth||483 GB/s||547.7 GB/s||484 GB/s||480 GB/s||320 GB/s||336 GB/s||224 GB/s||512 GB/s||512 GB/s|
|TDP||300 watts||250 watts||250 watts||250 watts||180 watts||250 watts||165 watts||275 watts||275 watts|
|Peak Compute||13.1 TFLOPS||12.0 TFLOPS||10.6 TFLOPS||10.1 TFLOPS||8.2 TFLOPS||6.14 TFLOPS||4.61 TFLOPS||8.60 TFLOPS||7.20 TFLOPS|
The Vega FE shares enough of a specification listing with the Fury X that it deserves special recognition. Both cards sport 4096 stream processors, 64 ROPs and 256 texture units. The Vega FE is running at much higher clock speeds (35-40% higher) and also upgrades to the next generation of high-bandwidth memory and quadruples capacity. Still, there will be plenty of comparisons between the two products, looking to measure IPC changes from the CUs (compute units) from Fiji to the NCUs built for Vega.
The Radeon Vega GPU
The clock speeds also see another shift this time around with the adoption of “typical” clock speeds. This is something that NVIDIA has been using for a few generations with the introduction of GPU Boost, and tells the consumer how high they should expect clocks to go in a nominal workload. Normally I would say a gaming workload, but since this card is supposedly for professional users and the like, I assume this applies across the board. So even though the GPU is rated at a “peak” clock rate of 1600 MHz, the “typical” clock rate is 1382 MHz. (As an early aside, I did NOT see 1600 MHz in any of my testing time with our Vega FE but did settle in a ~1440 MHz clock most of the time.)
Subject: Graphics Cards | May 16, 2017 - 07:39 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Vega, reference, radeon, graphics card, gpu, Frontier Edition, amd
AMD has revealed their concept of a premium reference GPU for the upcoming Radeon Vega launch, with the "Frontier Edition" of the new graphics cards.
"Today, AMD announced its brand-new Radeon Vega Frontier Edition, the world’s most powerful solution for machine learning and advanced visualization aimed to empower the next generation of data scientists and visualization professionals -- the digital pioneers forging new paths in their fields. Designed to handle the most demanding design, rendering, and machine intelligence workloads, this powerful new graphics card excels in:
- Machine learning. Together with AMD’s ROCm open software platform, Radeon Vega Frontier Edition enables developers to tap into the power of Vega for machine learning algorithm development. Frontier Edition delivers more than 50 percent more performance than today’s most powerful machine learning GPUs.
- Advanced visualization. Radon Vega Frontier Edition provides the performance required to drive increasingly large and complex models for real-time visualization, physically-based rendering and virtual reality through the design phase as well as rendering phase of product development.
- VR workloads. Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is ideal for VR content creation supporting AMD’s LiquidVR technology to deliver the gripping content, advanced visual comfort and compatibility needed for next-generation VR experiences.
- Revolutionized game design workflows. Radeon Vega Frontier Edition simplifies and accelerates game creation by providing a single GPU optimized for every stage of a game developer’s workflow, from asset production to playtesting and performance optimization."
From the image provided on the official product page it appears that there will be both liquid-cooled (the gold card in the background) and air-cooled variants of these "Frontier Edition" cards, which AMD states will arrive with 16GB of HBM2 and offer 1.5x the FP32 performance and 3x the FP16 performance of the Fury X.
Radeon Vega Frontier Edition
- Compute units: 64
- Single precision compute performance (FP32): ~13 TFLOPS
- Half precision compute performance (FP16): ~25 TFLOPS
- Pixel Fillrate: ~90 Gpixels/sec
- Memory capacity: 16 GBs of High Bandwidth Cache
- Memory bandwidth: ~480 GBs/sec
The availability of the Radeon Vega Frontier Edition was announced as "late June", so we should not have too long to wait for further details, including pricing.