AMD Talks Polaris, Zen, APU's At Computex

Published: June 1, 2016 12:45 AM /


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AMD has now given official details on its upcoming Polaris architecture, as well as 7th Generation APU’s. During a talk at Computex 2016, AMD’s Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect of AMD’s Radeon Technologies Group, gave details on the highly anticipated architecture.

The flagship for Polaris will be the Radeon RX 480, and will come in 4GB and 8GB SKU’s. Koduri claimed that it will be around the same raw performance as the current Radeon R9-390, but will only have a power draw of up to 150W compared to the 390’s 275W. As the first chip from AMD to use 14nm FinFET, they claimed 2.8x improvement in performance per watt over previous Tonga chips.  AMD is referring to Polaris as GCN 4.0, and it will include new features such as HDMI 2.0a, Displayport 1.3, and will support 4K H.265/HEVC encoding and decoding.

Unlike previous flagships, it will debut at the lower price of $199 US Dollars for the 4GB SKU, and AMD aims to make VR accessible to lower price tiers. AMD noted that 84% of the discrete GPU market is made up of cards costing between $100-300. Currently, both the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive require at minimum a Radeon R9-290, which is more expensive than the RX 480. Availability is planned for “mid 2016”.

AMD also took the time to announce its seventh generation APU’s, called Stoney Ridge and Bristol Ridge. Stoney Ridge is a lower-end chip for entry-level devices, and Bristol Ridge is for the mainstream. Both feature AMD’s Excavator core for the CPU, and use GCN 1.2 for the GPU’s, similar to the current Carrizo.  Unlike Carrizo, Bristol Ridge and Stoney Ridge support DDR4 memory, the first AMD processors to do so. Stoney Ridge will carry the model numbers of E2, A6, and A9, while Bristol Ridge will use A10, A12, and FX. These processors are already shipping to OEM’s and will be available in systems shortly.

AMD CEO Lisa Su also briefly talked about their upcoming Zen architecture, but details were sparse. They confirmed that Zen delivers a 40% IPC increase over Excavator, and that it would launch with an 8-core, 16-thread SKU. It was confirmed that Zen taped out earlier in the year, and that server partners will be receiving early samples soon. Su did not give any hard benchmarks, clockspeeds, or other performance estimates.

Quick Take

Polaris’ price is the most surprising thing about it. Leaks had indicated AMD was seeking 390/390X levels of performance and going after the mainstream rather than the very top, but I think the $199 pricing came as a shock to everyone. I’ll certainly be purchasing the 8GB version when it launches to replace my aging Radeon 7970, and will be sure to provide our readers with benchmarks.


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