AMD beats Nvidia to 2.5-D graphics

Technology News |
By eeNews Europe

The new Radeon R9 300 series is based on AMD’s new Fiji GPUs and High Bandwidth Memory (HBM) chip stacks from SK Hynix. “Fiji is the most complex and highest performance GPU we’ve ever built — it is the first with High Bandwidth Memory,” AMD CEO Lisa Su told attendees.

AMD described the 2.5-D HBM stack earlier this month but did not say which GPU would use the next-generation memory developed with SK Hynix. Its flagship Radeon Fury X uses 4GB of HBM memory, delivering up to 512 Gbits/second of memory bandwidth — an increase of around 63% over the previous generation Radeon R9 290X, principal analyst Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy wrote — to reach a 1.5x improvement in performance per watt.

The 28nm Fury X is a liquid cooled card with 4,096 stream processors and 64 compute units at clock speeds up to 1.05 GHz. Fury X can perform at up to 8.6 GFLOPS, a 65% over the previous generation, to display games at 45 frames per second (FPS) for 4K and 65 fps on future 5K displays.

“The AMD R9 Fury X offers a brand new architecture to entice even gamers with the latest cards to upgrade,” Moorhead continued. “AMD’s new GPU offerings are part of the company’s effort to push for more power efficiency and performance while still adding new and beneficial features with HBM enabling new form factors as well as DX12 and new drivers to improve performance.”

Lisa Su unveiled the new AMD GPU at E3.

Lisa Su unveiled the new AMD GPU at E3.

Fury X offers three times the performance per watt of GDDR5 with 94% less surface area, said Joe Macri, an AMD corporate fellow and product CTO. It also has 400 amps of power, so gamers “can overclock this thing like there’s no tomorrow,” he added.

Fury X was released alongside the the Fury, an air-cooled chip with 56 updated compute units operating at 1 GHz; an air-cooled R9 Fury Nano; and an in-house designed Fiji PC. Nano uses HBM to enable a smaller card, Su said.

“HBM is special because it gives you power and performance, but also allows you to reduce board space,” she said. Nano is a 6-inch card with a Fiji GPU and twice the performance per watt of the Radeon 9 290x card.

AMD’s monster Fiji-based PC is called Project Quantum. Although AMD was sparse on details, Su said the prototype Quantum packs two Fury X cards into a sleek box with a mini-ITX board and no proprietary components.

“The Quantum PC is exactly what is needed to get some excitement into the slumping PC business and I applaud AMD for doing it,” Moorhead told EE Times, adding that AMD isn’t getting into the PC business but attempting to “inspire people in the PC business to create their own awesome designs.”

AMD will be the first to market with a HBM stack, beating competitor Nvidia in a race for next generation memory. Moorhead believes gaming is the right spot to introduce HBM, but said he expects applications in the workstation and high performance computing markets as well. Su said Fiji will expand into more discrete GPUs as applications like virtual reality require advanced display technologies and more memory.

Fury X will be widely available on June 24 for $649 and Fury will hit store shelves on July 14 for $549; Fury Nano is due out in the late summer and Project Quantum is expected next year. Best Buy has jumped the gun, according to reports, and has already started selling the Radeon 300 series.

— Jessica Lipsky is Associate Editor of EE Times


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