AMD’s Radeon RX Vega Announced

Posted on 01 Aug 2017 by
Nail Garejev

While AMD released a new generation of mid-range GPU’s last year, the wait for the competitor to Nvidia’s GTX 1080 and GTX 1070 became quite long. Fortunately, that wait is coming to an end soon with three Radeon RX Vega cards having been announced for an August 24th release date: RX Vega 56, RX Vega 64, and RX Vega 64 Liquid.

All Radeon RX Vega cards are based on 486 mm2 Vega 10 GPU with 12.5 billion transistors, manufactured on Global Foundries 14nm process. They are equipped with 8 GB of HBM2 memory and connected by a 2048-bit bus. AMD considers RX Vega 64 as a base model and their advertisements use its performance as a reference. It has a fully enabled chip with 64 CUs (Compute Units) with 4096 stream processors. It also has 256 texture units and 64 ROPs. The base clock is 1247 MHz and all cards should be able to reach at least 1546 MHz in boost clock, giving it 12.6 TFLOPs FP32 performance. It uses 1.89 Gbps HMB2, providing 483.8 GB/s of bandwidth, and its power consumption is 295 W with a recommended price of $499 USD.

For gamers who want more performance, there is the RX Vega 64 Liquid. It uses liquid cooling and increased power consumption (345 W) to hit 1406 MHz base and 1677 MHz boost clocks, providing 13.7 TFLOPs FP32 performance (9% percent increase). As the boost clocks depend on the available power and cooling, the performance delta may differ compared to the specifications. The liquid cooled version is a bit more expensive, sitting at a price of $699 USD.

The RX Vega 56 reduces almost everything compared to RX Vega 64, except the memory size. As it name implies, it has 56 CUs and 3585 stream processors, 224 texture units. It has 1156 MHz base and 1471 MHz boost clock, leading to 10.5 TFLOPs FP32 performance (83% of RX Vega 64). The memory speed is also lower, with 1.6 Gbps HBM2 providing 410 GB/s bandwidth, and the card has a lower power consumption of 210 W and is priced as the lowest of the three at $399 USD.

AMD has decided to sell RX Vega cards in an unusual way. While you can just buy air cooled RX Vega 64 and 56 by themselves with plastic shroud, you can also buy them with Radeon packs for an additional $100 over the base price. That will also give you a choice of brushed aluminium shroud. RX Vega 64 Liquid is only available as a part of a Radeon pack with brushed aluminium shroud. The Radeon pack provides two free games (region dependent) and discounts for some hardware components and the moment of purchase.

Thus those discounts cannot be saved for later and have to be properly applied immediately. Currently those discounts include $100 towards some AMD Ryzen 7 CPUs and motherboards (bought together) and $200 towards a Samsung CF791 34″ ultrawide FreeSync monitor. AMD promises to include more FreeSync monitors in the future, but those will only be available for future purchases. While this pack is a decent offer for people who want to upgrade everything, it is not so appealing for those who haven’t already planned to spend nearly $/£/€ 2k on the upgrades.

The expected performance does not look that shiny so far. AMD itself shows comparisons with FreeSync, emphasizing 3440 x 1440 performance within the bounds of smooth variable refresh. The attempts to run games on the professional RX Vega FE demonstrate performance below the GTX 1080. While it is likely that proper gaming oriented drivers will improve its performance in gaming, the pricing may not stay competitive for long. Nvidia has been selling GTX 1080 for over a year and can easily drop its price to keep outselling AMD, which are marketing currently with a focuses on the price benefits of FreeSync monitors, rather than GPU prices themselves.


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