Too much power to the people?
UPDATE (7/1/16): I have added a third page to this story that looks at the power consumption and power draw of the ASUS GeForce GTX 960 Strix card. This card was pointed out by many readers on our site and on reddit as having the same problem as the Radeon RX 480. As it turns out...not so much. Check it out!
UPDATE 2 (7/2/16): We have an official statement from AMD this morning.
As you know, we continuously tune our GPUs in order to maximize their performance within their given power envelopes and the speed of the memory interface, which in this case is an unprecedented 8Gbps for GDDR5. Recently, we identified select scenarios where the tuning of some RX 480 boards was not optimal. Fortunately, we can adjust the GPU's tuning via software in order to resolve this issue. We are already testing a driver that implements a fix, and we will provide an update to the community on our progress on Tuesday (July 5, 2016).
Honestly, that doesn't tell us much. And AMD appears to be deflecting slightly by using words like "some RX 480 boards". I don't believe this is limited to a subset of cards, or review samples only. AMD does indicate that the 8 Gbps memory on the 8GB variant might be partially to blame - which is an interesting correlation to test out later. The company does promise a fix for the problem via a driver update on Tuesday - we'll be sure to give that a test and see what changes are measured in both performance and in power consumption.
The launch of the AMD Radeon RX 480 has generally been considered a success. Our review of the new reference card shows impressive gains in architectural efficiency, improved positioning against NVIDIA’s competing parts in the same price range as well as VR-ready gaming performance starting at $199 for the 4GB model. AMD has every right to be proud of the new product and should have this lone position until the GeForce product line brings a Pascal card down into the same price category.
If you read carefully through my review, there was some interesting data that cropped up around the power consumption and delivery on the new RX 480. Looking at our power consumption numbers, measured directly from the card, not from the wall, it was using slightly more than the 150 watt TDP it was advertised as. This was done at 1920x1080 and tested in both Rise of the Tomb Raider and The Witcher 3.
When overclocked, the results were even higher, approaching the 200 watt mark in Rise of the Tomb Raider!
A portion of the review over at Tom’s Hardware produced similar results but detailed the power consumption from the motherboard PCI Express connection versus the power provided by the 6-pin PCIe power cable. There has been a considerable amount of discussion in the community about the amount of power the RX 480 draws through the motherboard, whether it is out of spec and what kind of impact it might have on the stability or life of the PC the RX 480 is installed in.
As it turns out, we have the ability to measure the exact same kind of data, albeit through a different method than Tom’s, and wanted to see if the result we saw broke down in the same way.
Our Testing Methods
This is a complex topic so it makes sense to detail the methodology of our advanced power testing capability up front.
How do we do it? Simple in theory but surprisingly difficult in practice, we are intercepting the power being sent through the PCI Express bus as well as the ATX power connectors before they go to the graphics card and are directly measuring power draw with a 10 kHz DAQ (data acquisition) device. A huge thanks goes to Allyn for getting the setup up and running. We built a PCI Express bridge that is tapped to measure both 12V and 3.3V power and built some Corsair power cables that measure the 12V coming through those as well.
The result is data that looks like this.
What you are looking at here is the power measured from the GTX 1080. From time 0 to time 8 seconds or so, the system is idle, from 8 seconds to about 18 seconds Steam is starting up the title. From 18-26 seconds the game is at the menus, we load the game from 26-39 seconds and then we play through our benchmark run after that.
There are four lines drawn in the graph, the 12V and 3.3V results are from the PCI Express bus interface, while the one labeled PCIE is from the PCIE power connection from the power supply to the card. We have the ability to measure two power inputs there but because the GTX 1080 only uses a single 8-pin connector, there is only one shown here. Finally, the blue line is labeled total and is simply that: a total of the other measurements to get combined power draw and usage by the graphics card in question.
From this we can see a couple of interesting data points. First, the idle power of the GTX 1080 Founders Edition is only about 7.5 watts. Second, under a gaming load of Rise of the Tomb Raider, the card is pulling about 165-170 watts on average, though there are plenty of intermittent, spikes. Keep in mind we are sampling the power at 1000/s so this kind of behavior is more or less expected.
Different games and applications impose different loads on the GPU and can cause it to draw drastically different power. Even if a game runs slowly, it may not be drawing maximum power from the card if a certain system on the GPU (memory, shaders, ROPs) is bottlenecking other systems.
One interesting note on our data compared to what Tom’s Hardware presents – we are using a second order low pass filter to smooth out the data to make it more readable and more indicative of how power draw is handled by the components on the PCB. Tom’s story reported “maximum” power draw at 300 watts for the RX 480 and while that is technically accurate, those figures represent instantaneous power draw. That is interesting data in some circumstances, and may actually indicate other potential issues with excessively noisy power circuitry, but to us, it makes more sense to sample data at a high rate (10 kHz) but to filter it and present it more readable way that better meshes with the continuous power delivery capabilities of the system.
Image source: E2E Texas Instruments
An example of instantaneous voltage spikes on power supply phase changes
Some gamers have expressed concern over that “maximum” power draw of 300 watts on the RX 480 that Tom’s Hardware reported. While that power measurement is technically accurate, it doesn’t represent the continuous power draw of the hardware. Instead, that measure is a result of a high frequency data acquisition system that may take a reading at the exact moment that a power phase on the card switches. Any DC switching power supply that is riding close to a certain power level is going to exceed that on the leading edges of phase switches for some minute amount of time. This is another reason why our low pass filter on power data can help represent real-world power consumption accurately. That doesn’t mean the spikes they measure are not a potential cause for concern, that’s just not what we are focused on with our testing.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 05:26 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: rx 480, radeon, Polaris, amd, 8gb
Having already read through Ryan's review of the RX 480 while listening to Raja on the live stream you might be curious what others thought of the card. Perhaps there was one of your preferred configurations or games we did not cover or maybe you just love to read. Do not worry as there are plenty of reviews to test out. You could start over at [H]ard|OCP, who test power usage and performance with a different technique, before moving on to other hardware sites.
"AMD's next generation GCN GPU is here! We review the AMD Radeon RX 480 and find out what kind of gaming experience it provides at 1080p and 1440p. We compare apples-to-apples with four other video cards to find out how it compares at both resolutions. We even find out how high it will overclock! Waited for benchmarks, right?"
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- AMD's Radeon RX 480 @ Tech Report
- Radeon R9 RX 480 8GB @ Guru of 3D
- AMD’s Polaris Has Landed: A Look At The $200 Radeon RX 480 @ Techgage
- AMD RX 480 review: The best budget graphics card—but for how long? @ Ars Technica
- AMD Radeon RX 480 @ TechARP
- AMD Radeon RX 480 @ Hardwareheaven
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8 GB @ techPowerUp
- AMD Radeon RX 480 CrossFire @ techPowerUp
- The Radeon RX480 8GB Performance Review @ Hardware Canucks
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB – Polaris Finally Arrives! @ Custom PC Review
- AMD Radeon RX 480 8GB @ Kitguru
- AMD Radeon RX 480 On Linux @ Phoronix
Subject: General Tech, Graphics Cards | June 29, 2016 - 12:03 PM | Ryan Shrout
Tagged: video, rx 480, raja koduri, radeon, Polaris, live, giveaway, amd
When it comes to GPU releases, we at PC Perspective take things up a level in the kind of content we produce as well as the amount of information we provide to the community. Part of that commitment is our drive to bring in the very best people from around the industry to talk directly to the consumers, providing interesting and honest views on where their technology is going.
With the pending release of the Radeon RX 480 based on AMD's latest Polaris architecture on Wednesday, June 29th, I am excited to announce that Raja Koduri, SVP and Chief Architect of the Radeon Technologies Group will be joining us in studio to talk about the RX 480 and AMD's plans moving forward.
The AMD Radeon RX 480 Graphics Card
There is much to discuss. AMD and the RTG have promised that the RX 480 will be a revolutionary product, improving on performance per watt and performance per dollar in a way that no other AMD architecture has done. And the drive to include dramatically more gamers in the rising world of VR gaming will be an impressive feat as well, if they can pull it off. Topics like architectural improvements, asynchronous compute, multi-GPU and more are on the docket. You definitely won't want to miss it.
Radeon RX 480 Live Stream with Raja Koduri and Ryan Shrout
10:30am PT / 1:30pm ET - June 29th
Need a reminder? Join our live stream notification list!
The event will take place Wednesday, June 29th at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT at http://www.pcper.com/live. There you’ll be able to catch the live video stream as well as use our chat room to interact with the audience, asking questions for me and Raja to answer live.
Raja is one of the more open and honest people in this highly competitive landscape and every time we have had the ability to do an interview he has provided insightful, and sometimes very new, information.
As a price for hosting AMD in the offices, we demanded a sacrifice: in the form of hardware to giveaway to our viewers! We'll have at least two Radeon RX 480s to giveaway during the live stream but I am pushing to get a bump in that count; we'll see if I am persuasive enough. All you have to do to win on the 29th is watch the live stream!
Some Radeon RX 480s will be up for grabs!!
If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below and we'll look through them just before the start of the live stream. Of course you'll be able to tweet us questions @pcper and we'll be keeping an eye on the IRC chat as well for more inquiries. What do you want to know and hear from Raja or me?
So join us! Set your calendar for this coming Wednesday at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT and be here at PC Perspective to catch it. If you are a forgetful type of person, sign up for the PC Perspective Live notification list that we use exclusively to notify users of upcoming live streaming events including these types of specials and our regular live podcast. I promise, no spam will be had!
Polaris 10 Specifications
It would be hard at this point to NOT know about the Radeon RX 480 graphics card. AMD and the Radeon Technologies Group has been talking publicly about the Polaris architecture since December of 2015 with lofty ambitions. In the precarious position that the company rests, being well behind in market share and struggling to compete with the dominant player in the market (NVIDIA), the team was willing to sacrifice sales of current generation parts (300-series) in order to excite the user base for the upcoming move to Polaris. It is a risky bet and one that will play out over the next few months in the market.
Since then AMD continued to release bits of information at a time. First there were details on the new display support, then information about the 14nm process technology advantages. We then saw demos of working silicon at CES with targeted form factors and then at events in Macau, showed press the full details and architecture. At Computex they announced rough performance metrics and a price point. Finally, at E3, AMD discussed the RX 460 and RX 470 cousins and the release date of…today. It’s been quite a whirlwind.
Today the rubber meets the road: is the Radeon RX 480 the groundbreaking and stunning graphics card that we have been promised? Or does it struggle again to keep up with the behemoth that is NVIDIA’s GeForce product line? AMD’s marketing team would have you believe that the RX 480 is the start of some kind of graphics revolution – but will the coup be successful?
Join us for our second major graphics architecture release of the summer and learn for yourself if the Radeon RX 480 is your next GPU.
Subject: Graphics Cards, Processors | June 29, 2016 - 07:27 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: RX 490, radeon, processors, Polaris, graphics card, Bristol Ridge, APU, amd, A12-9800
AMD's current "We're in the Game" promotion offers a glimpse at upcoming product names, including the Radeon RX 490 graphics card, and the new Bristol Ridge APUs.
Visit AMD's gaming promo page and click the link to "check eligibility" to see the following list of products, which includes the new product names:
It seems safe to assume that the new products listed - including the Radeon RX 490 - are close to release, though details on the high-end Polaris GPU are not mentioned. We do have details on the upcoming Bristol Ridge products, with this in-depth preview from Josh published back in April. The A12-9800 and A12-9800E are said to be the flagship products in this new 7th-gen lineup, so there will be new desktop parts with improved graphics soon.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 28, 2016 - 10:26 AM | Sebastian Peak
Tagged: nvidia, GeForce GTX 1060, GTX1060, rumor, report, leak, pascal, graphics card, video card
A report from VideoCardz.com shows what appears to be an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 graphics card with a cooler similar to the "Founders Edition" GTX 1080/1070 design.
Is this the GTX 1060 reference design? (Image via VideoCardz.com)
The image comes via Reddit (original source links in the VideoCardz post), and we cannot verify the validity of the image - though it certainly looks convincing to this writer.
So what does VideoCardz offer as to the specifications of this GTX 1060 card? Quoting from the post:
"NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 will most likely use GP106 GPU with at least 1280 CUDA cores. Earlier rumors suggested that GTX 1060 might get 6 GB GDDR5 memory and 192-bit memory bus."
We await official word on the GTX 1060 from NVIDIA, which VideoCardz surmises "is expected to hit the market shortly after Radeon RX 480".
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 27, 2016 - 04:55 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: pascal, nvidia, GTX 1080, gtx, GP104, geforce, founders edition
You have already seen our delve into the frame times provided by the GTX 1080 but perhaps you would like another opinion. The Tech Report also uses the FCAT process which we depend upon to bring you frame time data, however they present the data in a slightly different way which might help you to comprehend the data. They also included Crysis 3 to ensure that the card can indeed play it. Check out their full review here.
"Nvidia's GeForce GTX 1080 is the company's first consumer graphics card to feature its new Pascal architecture, fabricated on a next-generation 16-nm process. We dig deep into the GTX 1080 to see what the confluence of these advances means for the high-end graphics market."
Here are some more Graphics Card articles from around the web:
- Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 G1 Gaming Review @HiTech Legion
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080 SLI @ techPowerUp
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 Review: A Look At 1440p, 4K & Ultrawide Gaming @ Techgage
- Asus Republic Of Gamers Strix GTX 1070 Aura RGB OC @ Kitguru
- MSI Gaming 3 and 4-way SLI Bridge Connector Review @ OCC
- Radeon R9 380 vs. GeForce GTX 960 @ Hardware Secrets
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2016 - 04:18 PM | Jeremy Hellstrom
Tagged: xfx, sapphire, Radeon RX 480, powercolor, gigabyte, asus, amd
An astute reader spotted several more RX 480's on Newegg, lacking clock speeds but providing physical dimensions, albeit with what looks to be a stock image. All three cards seem to be dual slot designs, XFX's card measuring 10" x 5", ASUS' at 11.8" x 5.4" and Sapphire's a wide bodied 11.8" x 6.5". This could indicate a custom cooler or merely that the cards have rough dimensions listed as opposed to the exact size.
Unfortunately the comparison and details page is unavailable so we don't have a way to see the listed clock speeds but we can be sure that they will have three DP 1.2 ports and an HDMI out. We will keep an eye out for any more leaks we can share with you.
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 22, 2016 - 02:40 AM | Tim Verry
Tagged: SLI HB, nvidia, EVGA SLI HB
Earlier this month we reported that EVGA would be producing its own version of Nvidia's SLI High Bandwidth bridges (aka SLI HB). Today, the company unveiled all the details on its new bridges that we did not know previously, particularly pricing and what the connectors look like.
EVGA is calling the new SLI HB bridges the EVGA Pro SLI HB Bridge and it will be available in several sizes to accommodate your particular card spacing. Note that the 0 slot, 1 slot, 2 slot, and 4 slot spacing bridges are all for two graphics card setups; you will not be able to use these bridges for Tri SLI or Quad SLI setups. While Nvidia did not show the underside of the HB bridges when it first announced them alongside the GTX 1080 graphics card, thanks to EVGA you can finally see what the connectors look like.
As many surmised, the new high bandwidth bridges use both fingers of the SLI connectors on each card to connect the two cards together. Previously (using the old-style SLI bridges), it was possible to connect card A to card B using one set of connectors and Card B to Card C using the second set of connectors for example. Now, you are limited to two card multi-GPU setups. That is the downside; however, the upside is that the HB bridges promise to deliver all of the necessary bandwidth to allow for high speed 4K and NVIDIA Surround display setups. While you will not necessarily see higher frame rates, the HB bridges should allow for improved frame times which will mean smoother gameplay on those very high resolution monitors!
The new SLI bridges are all black with an EVGA logo in the middle that is backlit by an LED. Users are able to use a switch along the bottom edge of the pcb to select from red, green, blue, and white LED colors. In my opinion these bridges look a lot better than the Nvidia SLI HB bridge renders from our computex story (hehe).
Now, as for pricing: EVGA is pricing its SLI HB bridges at $39.99 with the 2 slot spacing and 4 slot spacing bridges available now and the 0 slot and 1 slot spaced bridges set to be available soon (you can sign up to be notified when they are available for purchase). Hopefully reviews will be updated shortly around the net with the new bridges to see what impact they really have on multi-GPU gaming performance (or if they will just be better looking alternatives to the older LED bridges or ribbon bridges)!
- GeForce GTX 1080 and 1070 3-Way and 4-Way SLI will not be enabled for games
- EVGA Forum Discussion on Pro SLI HB Bridges
Subject: Graphics Cards | June 21, 2016 - 08:49 PM | Scott Michaud
Tagged: rx 480, Radeon RX 480, polaris 10, Polaris, amd
The AMD Radeon RX 480 is set to launch on June 29th, but a VisionTek model was published a little early (now unpublished -- thanks to our long-time reader, Arbiter, for the heads up). Basically all specifications were already shared, and Ryan wrote about them on June 1st, but the final clock rates were unknown. The VisionTek one, on the other hand, has it listed as 1120 MHz (5.16 TFLOPs) with a boost of 1266 MHz (5.83 TFLOPs).
Granted, it's possible that the VisionTek model could be overclocked, even though the box and product page doesn't mark it as a factory-overclocked SKU. Also, 5.16 TFLOPs and 5.83 TFLOPs align pretty close to AMD's “>5 TFLOPs” rating, so it's unlikely that the canonical specifications slide underneath this one. Also, TFLOP ratings are basically a theoretical maximum performance, so real-world benchmarks need to be considered for a true measure of performance. That said, this would put the stock RX 480 in the range of a GTX 980 (somewhere above its listed boost clock, and slightly below its expected TFLOP rating when overclocked).
There is no price listed for the 8GB model, but the 4GB version will be $199 USD.