Vega meets Radeon Pro
Professional graphics cards are a segment of the industry that can look strange to gamers and PC enthusiasts. From the outside, it appears that businesses are paying more for almost identical hardware when compared to their gaming counterparts from both NVIDIA and AMD.
However, a lot goes into a professional-level graphics card that makes all the difference to the consumers they are targeting. From the addition of ECC memory to protect against data corruption, all the way to a completely different driver stack with specific optimizations for professional applications, there's a lot of work put into these particular products.
The professional graphics market has gotten particularly interesting in the last few years with the rise of the NVIDIA TITAN-level GPUs and "Frontier Edition" graphics cards from AMD. While lacking ECC memory, these new GPUs have brought over some of the application level optimizations, while providing a lower price for more hobbyist level consumers.
However, if you're a professional that depends on a graphics card for mission-critical work, these options are no replacement for the real thing.
Today we're looking at one of AMD's latest Pro graphics offerings, the AMD Radeon Pro WX 8200.
Subject: Graphics Cards | December 10, 2018 - 03:28 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Vega, trademark, rumor, report, radeon, graphics, gpu, amd, 7nm
The logo, with the familiar "V" joined by a couple of new stripes on the right side, could mean a couple of things; with a possible reference to Vega II (2), or perhaps the VII suggests the Roman numeral 7 for 7nm, instead? VideoCardz.com thinks the latter may be the case:
"AMD has registered a new trademark just 2 weeks ago. Despite many rumors floating around about Navi architecture and its possible early reveal or announcement in January, it seems that AMD is not yet done with Vega. The Radeon Vega logo, which features the distinctive V lettering, has now received 2 stripes, to indicate the 7nm die shrink."
Whatever the case may be it's interesting to consider the possibility of a 7nm Vega GPU before we see Navi. We really don't know, though it does seem a bit presumptuous to consider a new product as early as CES, as Tech Radar speculates:
"We know full well that the next generation of AMD graphics will be built upon a 7nm architecture going by the roadmaps the company released at CES 2018. At the same time, it seems to all sync up with AMD's plans to announce new 7nm GPUs at CES 2019, so it almost seems certain that we’ll see Vega II graphics cards soon."
The prospect of new graphics cards is always tantalizing, but we'll need more than a logo before things really get interesting.
Subject: Mobile | November 19, 2018 - 05:12 PM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: Vega8, Vega, Smach Zero, SMACH Z, handheld, gaming, embedded, crowdfunding, APU, AMD Ryzen
A crowdfunding campaign of lengthy duration (originally known as the SteamBoy in 2014 before the name first changed to the Smach Zero the following year) the handheld gaming device now known as the SMACH Z is finally slated for production early next year as reported by ComputerBase (German language), according to an update for crowdfunding backers posted by the company.
What makes this handheld relevant to PC gamers? The SMACH Z will now be powered by an embedded AMD Ryzen processor with Vega graphics, rather than the previously announced AMD Jaguar solution, with the description on the Indigogo page offering this:
"We have chosen latest generation of AMD Ryzen Embedded processors, the Ryzen Embedded V1605B SoC with AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics. Thanks to their latest technological advances, the dream of playing your PC games on the go is becoming a reality."
What is the V1605B? It combines a 4 core/8 thread CPU clocked at 2.0 - 3.6 GHz with a Vega8 GPU offering 512 shaders and up to a 1.1 GHz core clock. The specifications on the Kickstarter page still list the AMD Merlin Falcon RX-421BD SoC with integrated Radeon R7 GPU, though the Indigogo campaign page has the updated SMACH Z announcement video (from March 2018) which refers to the V1605B instead.
The unfortunately-named SMACH Z is targeting "AAA" game support, but lower resolutions and detail settings will be required for smooth gameplay on this portable, of course (the company's video showcases Witcher 3 apparently averaging 40 FPS at 720p resolution, for example).
Subject: General Tech | November 8, 2018 - 01:54 PM | Ken Addison
Tagged: Zen 2, xeon, Vega, rome, radeon instinct, podcast, MI60, Intel, EPYC, cxl-ap, chiplet, cascade lake, amd, 7nm
PC Perspective Podcast #521 - 11/08/18
Join us this week for discussion on AMD's new Zen 2 architecture, 7nm Vega GPUs, SSD encryption vulnerabilities, and more!
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Hosts: Jim Tanous, Jeremy Hellstrom, Josh Walrath, Allyn Malventano, Ken Addison, and Sebastian Peak
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Program length: 1:42:27
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Subject: General Tech | October 31, 2018 - 04:33 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: apple, amd, Vega
Among the various Apple announcements this week was a win for AMD, as Apple has renewed their agreement and will be using Radeon Pro Vega GPUs in it's soon to be released MacBook Pros. We aren't expecting any more big surprises from the release, such as the iPad Pro now sporting USB C, the updated GPU may be the largest change this generation but it will be appreciated by some content creators. You can read more about the various announcements over at The Inquirer.
"AMD GPUs are nothing new in Mac machines, given the MacBook Pros have previously rocked the Radeon Pro 560X, but Cupertino is now bringing AMD's Vega-based GPUs to its expensive laptops."
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- Helium implicated in weird iPhone malfunctions @ Ars Technica
- 50 ways to leave your lover, but four to sniff browser history @ The Register
- It's been a week since engineers approved a new DNS encryption standard and everyone is still yelling @ The Register
- OCC Reveals Its Best AMD Motherboard Picks 2018OCC Reveals Its Best AMD Motherboard Picks 2018
- Guru3D Rig of the Month - October 2018
Subject: Editorial | October 24, 2018 - 09:13 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: amd, quarterly results, Q3 2018, ryzen, EPYC, Polaris, Vega, 7nm, 12nm, Intel, nvidia
This evening AMD announced their Q3 2018 results. Things were at the lower end of the guidance scale from last quarter, but the company still had some solid results. Q3 revenue was $1.65B as compared to Q3 2017’s $1.58B. It is down from the previous quarter’s high of $1.76B. At first glance this seems troubling, but the results are not as negative as one would assume. GAAP net income was a healthy $102M. Q3 2017 was at $61M while Q2 2018 was up at $116M. Profits did not fall nearly as much as one would expect with a decrease of $110M revenue quarter over quarter.
Probably the largest factor of the decrease was the negligible sales of GPUs to the crypto market. AMD had expected such a dropoff and warned about it in their Q2 guidance. That particular drop off was sudden and dramatic. AMD looks to continue to lose marketshare in add-in graphics due to their less competitive offerings across the spectrum. GeForce RTX sales of course did not impact AMD this previous quarter, but with no new AMD offerings on the horizon users look to have been waiting to see exactly what NVIDIA would release.
Ryzen sales have been steady and strong, making up some of the shortfall from the graphics market. Desktop chips are moving briskly for the company and continues to be a strong seller historically for the company. AMD is also starting to move more mobile processors, but it seems that the majority of parts are still desktop based. AMD looks to continue moving older inventory with aggressive pricing on those and manufacturing of the new 2000 series parts has been relatively smooth sailing for the company.
Enterprise, Embedded, and Semi-Custom had a strong quarter, but with less growth as some analysts had been hoping for. Semi-Custom was weaker this quarter, but IP revenue is up. Console chips are weaker at the moment due to the platforms being relatively mature and not exhibiting the sales of the previous two holiday seasons. To further offset the decrease in Semi-Custom, AMD is reporting that the enterprise products (GPU and EPYC) have seen good growth. Overall this division was down 5% from Q3 2017, but up 7% from the previous quarter.
Perhaps the most interesting figure of this is Gross Margins. AMD was able to improve margins from 36% to 40%. This 4% increase quarter on quarter is a significant jump for the company. This means that AMD continues to keep costs under control for the company and is able to deliver product more efficiently than in the year before. It is still a far cry from Intel and NVIDIA, which typically have magins between 55% to 65%. AMD has a long ways to go before reaching that kind of level. Part of the margin offset was again due to IP licensing. If IP licensing was removed then we would see 38% margins rather than 40%.
So what are the overall lessons of the past quarter? EPYC sales are not as brisk as analysts had hoped for, but they are also not non-existent. It has shown solid growth for the company and has offset shortfalls in other areas of the company. Their IP and Semi-Custom areas are still very solid, even though AMD does suffer from console lifecycles and downturns. GPUs continue to sell, but not nearly at the rate they were due to the crypto market. Their Polaris based options are well suited to compete in the sub-$300 US market. The Vega based products were finally down to MSRP, but they had a harder time going against the mature and well liked GeForce GTX 1070 and 1080 products. This will be further compounded with the introduction of the RTX products in those price ranges.
Ryzen continues to be a very good seller across the board. I had hoped that AMD would break down numbers between Ryzen CPUs and APUs, but I have not seen numbers that hint at what ratio they sell at. In retail the Ryzen 2000 series CPUs look to be some of the most popular products based on price/performance. However, retail is only a small portion of processor sales and Intel still holds the vast majority of marketshare here. AMD is competing, but they have not taken significant chunks from their competition over the past year. They have done enough to achieve several positive quarters in a row, but this is not the slam dunk that the original Athlon 64 was back in 2003/2004.
AMD expects further weakness in their results next quarter. Guidance is for revenue around $1.45B, plus or minus $50M. This is still higher than Q4 2017 results, but it is a significant drop from Q3 results. AMD expects strong Ryzen, EPYC, and datacenter GPU growth during this time. It is expected that consumer GPU and Semi-Custom will continue to drop. There does look to be a 7nm GPU introduction this next quarter, but it is probably the long rumored Vega refresh that will be aimed directly at datacenter rather than consumer.
2018 has so far been a year of solid growth and execution for AMD on the CPU side. Their GPU side has suffered a bit of a slide, but this is to be expected by how much belt-tightening AMD has done in the past several years to get their CPU architecture back on track. The lion’s share of development resources was shunted off to the CPU side while the GPU side had to fight for scraps. I believe this is no longer the case, but when development takes years for new GPUs the injection of new resources will not become apparent for a while.
2019 continues to look better for AMD as they are expecting an early release of 7nm EPYC parts which should compete very well with Intel’s 14nm based Xeon products. AMD is expecting a significant uptick in sales due to the thermals, pricing, and performance of these new Zen 2 based parts. The company also continues to point to the end of 1H for introduction of 7nm Ryzen parts based on Zen 2. These will be showing up quite a few months before Intel’s 10nm offerings will be available. Rumors have it that the new Zen 2 based parts exhibit a significant IPC increase that should make them far more competitive to the best that Intel has on the desktop and mobile markets. Combine these IPC improvements with the 7nm boost in power and clocks for the parts, and AMD could have a very good product on their hands. AMD also is expecting a 1H release of 7nm Navi GPUs which should prove to be more competitive with current NVIDIA products that rely on 16nm and 12nm process nodes from TSMC.
While Q3 was a drop in revenue for the company, their current cost structure has still allowed them to make a tidy profit. The company continues to move forward with new products and new developments.
Subject: General Tech, Processors | September 6, 2018 - 01:22 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: amd, athlon, Zen, Vega, 200GE, PRO 200GE, ryzen, Ryzen 7 PRO 2700X, Ryzen 7 PRO 2700, Ryzen 5 PRO 2600
AMD is returning the Athlon name to active service with the arrival of the Athlon 200GE, combining their current Zen core with three Radeon Vega 3 GCUs and a GPU core of 1GHz. The dual core, multithreaded processor will run at 3.2GHz with a TDP of 35W, which should give you an idea of where you will find this new chip.
Along with the new Athlon comes four new Pro chips, the AMD Athlon PRO 200GE, Ryzen 7 PRO 2700X, Ryzen 7 PRO 2700 and Ryzen 5 PRO 2600. These will be more traditional desktop processors with enterprise level features to ensure the security of your systems as well as offering flexibility; with a cost somewhat lower than the competitions.
Subject: General Tech | August 28, 2018 - 01:21 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: Vega, Radeon Pro V340, radeon pro, amd
The new Radeon Pro V340 is designed in a way we haven't seen from AMD in a while, with dual Vega 56 GPUs sharing the same PCB with 32GB of HBM2. The card is not aimed at the same market segment as NVIDIA's new RTX cards, instead AMD is talking up its virtualisation abilities. One card can support 32 VMs, which means AMD could have perhaps picked a better name, but that does not detract from this impressive ability. This could position AMD to compete effectively against NVIDIA's GeForce Now game streaming service and offer their own service to allow you to play games over the net, independent of your own hardware. You can check out the announcement video over at The Inquirer to see how AMD is planning on positioning themselves.
"Essentially squashing two Vega 56 graphics cards together, the Radeon Pro V340 sports 112 compute units and 7,168 stream processors. It also makes use of high-bandwidth memory totalling in 32GB of HBM2, which touts a bandwidth of 512GB/s"
Here is some more Tech News from around the web:
- ESXi on Arm? Yes, ESXi on Arm. VMware teases bare-metal hypervisor for 64-bit Arm servers @ The Register
- WhatsApp is storing unencrypted backup data on Google Drive @ The Inquirer
- TSMC, Foxconn 4Q18 revenues to hit new highs on iPhone shipments @ DigiTimes
- GlobalFoundries sacks off 7nm chip work due to 'lack of demand' @ The Inquirer
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | August 3, 2018 - 04:41 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: Zen, Vega, SoC, ryzen, China, APU, amd
Continuing down the path with its semi-custom design division, AMD today announced a partnership with Chinese company Zhongshan Subor to design and build a new chip to be utilized for both a Chinese gaming PC and Chinese gaming console.
The chip itself will include a quad-core integration of the Zen processor supporting 8 threads at a clock speed of 3.0 GHz, no Turbo or XFR is included. The graphics portion is built around a Vega GPU with 24 Compute Units running at 1.3 GHz. Each CU has 64 stream processors giving the “Fenghuang” chip a total of 1536 SPs. That is the same size GPU used in the Kaby Lake-G Vega M GH part, but with a higher clock speed.
The memory system is also interesting as Zhongshan Subor has integrated 8GB of GDDR5 on a single package. (Update: AMD has clarified that this is a GDDR5 memory controller on package, and the memory itself is on the mainboard. Much more sensible.) This is different than how Intel integrated basically the same product from AMD as it utilized HBM2 memory. As far as I can see, this is the first time that an AMD-built SoC has utilized GDDR memory for both the GPU and CPU outside of the designs used for Microsoft and Sony.
This custom built product will still support AMD and Radeon-specific features like FreeSync, the Radeon Software suite, and next-gen architecture features like Rapid Packed Math. It is being built at GlobalFoundries.
Though there are differences in the apparent specs from the leaks that showed up online earlier in the year, they are pretty close. This story thought the custom SoC would include a 28 CU GPU and HBM2. Perhaps there is another chip design for a different customer pending or more likely there were competing integrations and the announced version won out due to cost efficiency.
Zhongshan Subor is a Chinese holding company that owns everything from retail stores to an education technology business. You might have heard its name in association with a gluttony of Super Famicom clones years back. I don’t expect this new console to have near the reach of an Xbox or PlayStation but with the size of the Chinese market, anything is possible if the content portfolio is there.
It is interesting that despite the aggressiveness of both Microsoft and Sony in the console space in regards to hardware upgrades this generation, this Chinese design will be the first to ship with a Zen-based APU, though it will lag behind the graphics performance of the Xbox One X (and probably PS4 Pro). Don’t be surprised if both major console players integrate a similar style of APU design with their next-generation products, pairing Zen with Vega.
Revenue for AMD from this arrangement is hard to predict but it does get an upfront fee from any semi-custom chip customer for the design and validation of the product. There is no commitment for a minimum chip purchase so AMD will see extended income only if the console and PC built around the APU succeeds.
Enthusiasts and PC builders have already started questioning whether this is the type of product that might make its way to the consumer. The truth is that the market for a high-performance, fully-integrated SoC like this is quite small, with DIY and SI (system integrator) markets preferring discrete components most of the time. If we remove the GDDR5 integration, which is one of the key specs that makes the “Fenghuang” chip so interesting and expensive, I’d bet the 24 CU GPU would be choked by standard DDR4/5 DRAM. For now, don’t hold out hope that AMD takes the engineering work of this Chinese gaming product and applies it to the general consumer market.
Subject: Editorial | July 25, 2018 - 09:47 PM | Josh Walrath
Tagged: Vega, ryzen, Q2 2018, Polaris, Intel, EPYC, amd, 7nm, 12nm
Today AMD has released their Q2 results for 2018 and they have fallen in line with previous estimates. The company reported revenue of $1.76B, up $110M from last quarter’s $1.65B. Their net income is $116M which is again up significantly from last quarter’s $81M. These results dwarf Q2 2017’s $1.15B in revenue and a loss of $42M. AMD has shown steady and solid growth since the release of the Ryzen processors and their continuing evolution of the RX series of graphics cards.
The computing group which includes CPUs and GPUs showed a small drop in revenue due to multiple factors. CPU ASPs are steadily dropping for AMD since the original introduction of the Ryzen processors. The top end R7 1800X was introduced at $499 and has slowly dropped in price as the year wore on. This year AMD released the successor to the 1800X in the R7 2700X, but it was released at a $329 price point. We can see that the pricing mix of these CPUs is not as rich as they were on Ryzen’s initial release. The play here seems to be AMD improving efficiency of production as well as a willingness to sacrifice ASPs to gain any kind of marketshare.
GPUs have suffered as well due to the drop off in mining based purchases due to cryptocurrency dropping in value as well as the continued introduction of specialized ASICs performing better in those particular workloads. AMD claims a fairly palatable drop of only around 4% in sales due to the decrease in mining demand. It is likely that partners are feeling more of a pinch in this instance as the selling prices of these cards are finally reaching introductory MSRP levels as well as seeing reasonable availability. We do not know the specifics of AMD’s GPU sales to partners, but it seems like that price has been stable since introduction with the partners and resellers profiting to a greater degree than AMD.
The bright spot for this quarter was that of Enterprise and Semi-Custom. AMD switched around accounting on how it handles Semi-Custom so that accounted for some of the positive gains this quarter saw. AMD also started its collaboration with the Chinese for their own version of a Zen CPU. AMD continues to provide console makers with SoCs in two of the three major product lines out there. AMD is also likely currently contracted by both Sony and Microsoft for the next generation of consoles which will be released in the next two years, though none of the parties involved in such speculation has verified that information. I have a hard time considering that both Sony and Microsoft would abandon what has been a very beneficial partnership to create cutting edge products for their marketplace.
The Enterprise group has also seen sales increase on the EPYC processors. EPYC was released last year, but it was not until this year that actual sales occured. While AMD did not provide specific numbers or guidance here, reading between the lines it looks as if EPYC is starting to gain traction and is shipping in more significant numbers. AMD was very careful in talking about this, as EPYC still has a long ways to go before it can claim to have gained significant marketshare. Lisa Su mentioned earlier that the real ramp for EPYC should occur in 2H 2018. This makes quite a bit of sense as the hardware and software environment for enterprise level products is tremendously different from when AMD was last competitive there. Validation of parts and platforms takes more time, and there are more complex software components involved that have to be updated to work effectively and efficiently on the new Zen architecture and EPYC chips. In the year since EPYC was launched a lot of work has been going on in the background by AMD, their hardware partners, and the software vendors to make sure that when EPYC hits volume production that most of the kinks will be worked out and it is truly enterprise production ready. This isn’t wishful thinking or excuse making. This is simply how a modern enterprise platform evolves and why product cycles are elongated as compared to what we see on the desktop and mobile spaces.
Guidance for next quarter will be disappointing for some investors and readers. AMD claims it will be flat between Q2 and Q3. This is not entirely surprising. Gaining desktop CPU marketshare has not been a slam dunk for AMD with Ryzen. The product stack has made it competitive with Intel and its offerings, and has in fact provided excellent value in terms of IPC and core count. Ryzen is not an Athlon 64. Ryzen was merely competitive with what Intel currently offers as compared to Athlon 64, which was head and shoulders more advanced than what Intel offered at the time with the Pentium 4. AMD is finding advances in marketshare in both desktop and mobile to be slow, but steady. Each quarter since Ryzen was released and the mobile parts being introduced earlier this year, the results have been trending in a positive direction even though ASPs on desktop parts have dropped (though mobile ASPs have increased).
AMD obviously does not expect big gains this next quarter, and are in fact a little behind the ball when it comes to graphics. NVIDIA is poised to release a new generation of products within the next few months addressing the upper midrange and high end offerings that will erode AMD’s effectiveness with their Vega parts. So while EPYC products will increase in sales, AMD looks like it will be shipping fewer GPUs, at least in the high end. We probably will see Polaris based products have price drops applied to them to keep the meat of the market satisfied with AMD product, but do not expect next generation desktop graphics from AMD until 2019.
This was a productive and solid quarter for AMD. It is hard to argue against that. Their financial house is in far greater order and a solid revenue stream heading towards the company. They are keeping costs under control while aggressively pursuing the markets they have a strong history in. They have continued to leverage their IP with the Semi-Custom group and that provides a steady income from both historical partners and new ones. AMD is not seeing a breakaway quarter or year, but they are building a much more solid foundation and executing on their primary markets while competing effectively with Intel. This is certainly not 2003/2004, but it is a new chapter for AMD as they continue to provide new and interesting products to a market that continues to expand.