AMD says the majority of its buyers prefer GPUs in the $100-$300 price-range, and as such, the company has shifted its launch away from “halo” products and toward that affordable segment. The focus for the RX 470 is on players sticking with 1080p, allowing the RX 480 to focus on the 1440p gamers.
The RX 470 uses the Polaris 10 GPU and has the same architecture as the RX 480, including compute pre-emption and asynchronous shaders, but is cut-down in stream processor count and clock-rate. The RX 470 will host 32 CUs, as opposed to the 36 CUs of the RX 480, and that puts us at 2048 stream processors. Knowing that each CU has 64 stream processors, none of this is actually new information yet – we'd already reported/calculated all this in our RX 480 review.
The past week has been major for hardware news. We've seen the announcement of the Titan X and AMD's new Radeon Pro SSG with 1TB extended framebuffer (learn about that here), but there's also been news of Intel's Kaby Lake shipping to OEMs, and of AMD's boosted earnings.
AMD's new GPU news is interesting in its own way, and so we produced a separate video for that content. The new Radeon Pro SSG ("Solid-State Graphics") is coupled with a 1TB extended framebuffer that operates via PCIe, and bypasses some of the slow-downs encountered when dealing with memory transactions that exceed normal on-card memory. As for the rest of the week's news, our hardware recap below will run through it all swiftly. The topics include: (1) Kaby Lake architecture CPUs shipping to OEMs, (2) AMD earnings recovery, (3) DDR3 price drops, (4) Titan X announcement, (5) Phanteks 1080 waterblock with LEDs.
The video transcript is located below that, if you'd prefer written content.
Sapphire, a Hong Kong technology company, has been making Radeon video cards for the better part of a decade. Leaked details about Sapphire’s RX 470 Platinum Edition and RX 460 have been reported by Videocardz.com, whose track record on reporting similar leaks has been generally reliable.
The leaked Sapphire RX 470 Platinum Edition photos show a cooler that looks almost identical to AMD’s RX 480 reference design. The RX 470 Platinum Edition has a silver-colored reference blower cooler and includes a custom backplate. One last difference is Sapphire’s name branding, which is printed in white on the side of the RX 470 Platinum instead of AMD’s red Radeon logo. You can read our thoughts on the RX 480 reference cooler in our review here.
Prominent GPU and CPU company AMD has recently released its financial results for the second quarter of 2016. In the past, AMD has struggled to stay out of the red financially, and the results today aren’t very different, but AMD has improved its posture over 1Q16.
As seen in the table below, AMD’s revenue has grown from $823 million to $1.027 billion, rivaling revenue of 1Q15. The net loss is a net loss of $40 million, up from a net loss of $109 million in 1Q16, and $180 million in 1Q15. Similarly, the operating loss for 2Q16 is $8 million, compared to Q1’s $68 million and 1Q15’s $137 million. This change is primarily due to lower operating expenses and layoffs.
Intel and AMD dominated the entire CPU market in the 90s and early 2000s, but ARM-based SOCs have taken a large chunk of their business. The ARM architecture and RISC instruction set is used in almost every phone today and can be found in Chromebooks, tablets, TVs, and servers.
ARM is a unique company as it licenses its patents to technology companies to use for a fee; in turn, ARM often receives royalties from these deals. The company actually doesn’t make any physical CPUs like Intel and AMD, so almost all of its money comes from patent deals with other companies to take its designs and create SOCs, which are then put into tablets, phones, or other products.
One of newest memory technologies on the market is HBM (High Bandwidth Memory), introduced on the R9 Fury X. HBM stacks 4 memory dies atop an interposer (packaged on the substrate) to get higher density modules, while also bringing down power consumption and reducing physical transaction distance. HBM is not located on the GPU die itself, but is on the GPU package – much closer than PCB-bound GDDR5/5X memory modules.
Benchmarking in Vulkan or Dx12 is still a bit of a pain in the NAS, but PresentMon makes it possible to conduct accurate FPS and frametime tests without reliance upon FRAPS. July 11 marks DOOM's introduction of the Vulkan API in addition to its existing OpenGL 4.3/4.5 programming interfaces. Between the nVidia and AMD press events the last few months, we've seen id Software surface a few times to talk big about their Vulkan integration – but it's taken a while to finalize.
As we're in the midst of GTX 1060 benchmarking and other ongoing hardware reviews, this article is being kept short. Our test passes look only at the RX 480, GTX 1080, and GTX 970, so we're strictly looking at scalability on the new Polaris and Pascal architectures. The GTX 970 was thrown-in to see if there are noteworthy improvements for Vulkan when moving from Maxwell to Pascal.
This test is not meant to show if one video card is “better” than another (as our original Doom benchmark did), but is instead meant to show OpenGL → Vulkan scaling within a single card and architecture. Note that, as with any game, Doom is indicative only of performance and scaling within Doom. The results in other Vulkan games, like the Talos Principle, will not necessarily mirror these. The new APIs are complex enough that developers must carefully implement them (Vulkan or Dx12) to best exploit the low-level access. We spoke about this with Chris Roberts a while back, who offered up this relevant quote:
The only widespread implementation of Vulkan that presently exists is The Talos Principle, which offers both the Vulkan and DirectX 11 APIs. We've mostly seen negative scaling in the Talos Principle when switching to Vulkan, but id Software's DOOM promises gains in framerate by switching from OpenGL (4.3 & 4.5) to Vulkan.
AMD's panoply of RX 480 news announcements teased superior performance to the then-new GTX 1080 when paired in CrossFire. We decided to buy a second RX 480 8GB card for $240, put it into CrossFire with our sample that we reviewed, and validate those claims.
Multi-GPU configurations are tough to benchmark. We need to perform all the same thermal, noise, power, and FPS analysis as with other devices – but special attention must be paid to 1% and 0.1% low frame values, and more attention still paid toward plotting metrics versus time. Frequency, temperature, and fan RPM have some fluctuations that appear with multi-GPU configurations which are only truly visible when plotting versus time, rather than averaging a set of thousands of points of data.
In our performance review of CrossFire RX 480 8GB cards, we test FPS in Mirror's Edge, The Division, GTA V, and more, alongside temperature, noise, and power performance. We understand that thermals, noise, and power are sometimes less exciting to readers than raw FPS output, but would strongly recommend looking into our results for this benchmark – multi-GPU setups put greater emphasis on such testing. Some games show negative scaling, some positive, and some which are nearly unchanged. All of that below.
Before proceeding: This endeavor is entirely at the risk of the user, and there is a possibility of “bricking” or permanently damaging the hardware during this process.
In 4GB vs. 8GB AMD RX 480 benchmarking, our testing uncovered improvement in just a few titles – but the improvements were substantial when present. It is no mystery that early press samples of the card allowed for flashing to 4GB, which resulted in a 1750MHz memory clock and locked 4GB of the VRAM. This is reasonable, as media obviously wanted to test both versions of the card, but AMD wanted to limit sampling. We actually liked the way this was handled, given the option between a flashable sample and strictly an 8GB sample.
But there's more to it than that: Consumers have reported success flashing VBIOS from sold 4GB retail samples, resulting in 8GB cards. Let's talk about why AMD's shipping of “locked” cards makes sense, risks, and how to perform the procedure.