Wednesday, May 8th 2013

AMD's Answer to GeForce GTX 700 Series: Volcanic Islands

GPU buyers can breathe a huge sigh of relief that AMD isn't fixated with next-generation game consoles, and that its late-2013 launch of its next GPU generation is with good reason. The company is building a new GPU micro-architecture from the ground up. Codenamed "Volcanic Islands," with members codenamed after famous islands along the Pacific Ring of Fire, the new GPU family sees AMD rearranging component-hierarchy within the GPU, in a big way.

Over the past three GPU generations that used VLIW5, VLIW4, and Graphics CoreNext SIMD architectures, the component hierarchy was essentially untouched. According to an early block-diagram of one of the GPUs in the series, codenamed "Hawaii," AMD will designate parallel and serial computing units. Serial cores based on either of the two architectures AMD is licensed to use (x86 and ARM), could handle part of the graphics processing load. The stream processors of today make up the GPU's parallel processing machinery.

We can't make out text in the rather blurry block-diagram, but are rather convinced that if it's authentic, then AMD is making some big changes. Another reason for AMD's delay could be silicon fab process. "Tahiti" as implemented on Radeon HD 7970 GHz Edition, already poses high thermal envelope. AMD doesn't want the 28 nm process to restrict its next-generation architecture development, and is holding out till the 20 nm process is in place at TSMC. The fab set Q4 as its tentative bulk manufacturing date for the process.

The source that leaked the block-diagram also posted specifications of the chip that's codenamed "Hawaii," which appears to be the flagship part.
  • 20 nm silicon fab process
  • 4096 stream processors
  • 16 serial processor cores
  • 4 geometry engines
  • 256 TMUs
  • 64 ROPs
  • 512-bit GDDR5 memory interface
Source: ChipHell. Many Thanks to SIGSEGV for the tip!
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145 Comments on AMD's Answer to GeForce GTX 700 Series: Volcanic Islands

#1
badtaylorx
oh no....i buy cards from both camps....but only on the "even" numbered series' :wtf:


not sure why...just how ive been doing it sincebeenpimpn!!!
4850 to 460 than sli to 6970 than crossfire to 670 now sli....

but this one could get expensive.....
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#3
Slacker
Getting off topic here, Hawaii isn't part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It ain't a composite volcano sow why name it that? Amd needa hire some people that really know their stuff.
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#4
Jorge
Since AMD has plenty of excellent GPU cards available right now, the Q4 of '13 release of the new series should be just fine, IMO. Only extremists buy the $300+ GPU cards. The majority of consumers including enthusiasts don't spend over ~$300 on a GPU card.

It appears to me that AMD is really ramping the good products that they have had in development for years be it GPU or CPU/APU models. This is nice to see and good for consumers.
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#6
OnePostWonder
Question for W1zzard or anyone else who might know:

Will a micro-architecture change like this dramatically affect the approach you have to take for supporting this in GPU-Z?
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#7
Casecutter
As said on 5 days ago ;)
by: Casecutter
honestly don't think AMD is being "lethargic or has console-fixation" (more banter), but saying (in an Italian accent) No please, I insist you's go first... AMD has gone first the last two times and Nvidia's just played "one-up's-man-ship". I sense AMD would rather wait and see what Nvidia does, then could they go all "4870" on them.
This is more interesting than I thought it would get, if this is true it's going to be a stagnate 6 months. And I might be wrong! Nvidia might... might wise-up and drop all their GTX7XX prices to grab sales before this information really gets traction.

If this is the course AMD is on they have been working on this for more than year... But it's hard to know how well this can be pulled off on 20Nm. Had they said 28Nm I would've seen this as simple, but to complicate it on a TSMC shrink. :twitch:

But you can kind of feel how the camps are liking or disliking this 20Nm.
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/20130404143508_TSMC_Is_Ahead_of_Its_Own_20nm_Roadmap_Report.html

http://www.extremetech.com/computing/123529-nvidia-deeply-unhappy-with-tsmc-claims-22nm-essentially-worthless

by: Slacker
Getting off topic here, Hawaii isn't part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It ain't a composite volcano sow why name it that? Amd needa hire some people that really know their stuff.
The code name is just "Volcanic Islands". Not sure who else is actual fixating on "Pacific Ring of Fire", maybe just btarunr at this point... Hawaii Islands were formed by a volcano the last I heard.
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#8
Sihastru
Relax guys, "16 serial processor core" or maybe a better term would be "16 serial and parallel processing cores" is just something similar to NVIDIA's "SMX Unit" (or "Streaming Multiprocessor Unit"). It has nothing to do with x86 or ARM.

For example GTX 680 has 8 of these "processing cores", GTX 690 has 16, GeForce TITAN has 14 enabled (from a total of 15).

All the other bling-blings, they are reserved for the "professional" FirePro series and will most likely be disabled for the mainstream Radeon series.

The good news is that it looks like a card that could compete against GTX 690. The bad news is that it's not actually going to compete against GTX 690, but something new, much more powerful, NVIDIA's next (next) gen.
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#9
BigMack70
Cool... if they do this and fix their stuttering issues, consumers win big time. Right now consumers are kinda getting screwed at the $1k price mark.

I honestly prefer this 2 year refresh cycle - I'd rather see substantive improvements ever 2-3 years than incremental improvements every 12-16 months.
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#10
FrustratedGarrett
Looks impressive, on paper. If they manage to pull this off by December and price the 2X-7970 performer at ~$400 MSRP, then AMD will have a big winner on their hands.
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#11
ST-Cyclone921R
by: Sihastru
Relax guys, "16 serial processor core" or maybe a better term would be "16 serial and parallel processing cores" is just something similar to NVIDIA's "SMX Unit" (or "Streaming Multiprocessor Unit"). It has nothing to do with x86 or ARM.

For example GTX 680 has 8 of these "processing cores", GTX 690 has 16, GeForce TITAN has 14 enabled (from a total of 15).

All the other bling-blings, they are reserved for the "professional" FirePro series and will most likely be disabled for the mainstream Radeon series.

The good news is that it looks like a card that could compete against GTX 690. The bad news is that it's not actually going to compete against GTX 690, but something new, much more powerful, NVIDIA's next (next) gen.
emmm .. not really....

nVidia's term "SMX" is their marketing name for blocks stream processors (shader units, ALU's...etc.) Building block with its own front end (rasterizer) and back end (ROPS). And they are massively parallel processors. ;)

Serial Units Above, are from their name; Serial. and AMD has two "serial" architecture licenses, x86 and ARM, and its not hard to guess which they opted for :D
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#12
BigMack70
by: FrustratedGarrett
Looks impressive, on paper. If they manage to pull this off by December and price the 2X-7970 performer at ~$400 MSRP, then AMD will have a big winner on their hands.
Did I miss something about performance being at 2x7970 levels? I would be really surprised if they pulled that off... it would mean that they have a chip ~40%+ faster than the Titan. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see that, but that sounds a little extreme to me.

I would expect them to do something more like match the Titan, i.e. 7970 + 40% performance.
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#13
Mathragh
by: BigMack70
Did I miss something about performance being at 2x7970 levels? I would be really surprised if they pulled that off... it would mean that they have a chip ~40%+ faster than the Titan. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see that, but that sounds a little extreme to me.

I would expect them to do something more like match the Titan, i.e. 7970 + 40% performance.
Pure theoretical peak performance would be around 2x the 7970 on parallel execution units alone( 7970 has 2048 shaders, this chip has 4096). On top of that I suppose all the other changes in the architecture are there to further improve performance, not decrease it, resulting in over 2 times 7970 performance.
Add in some overhead, and we're back at 2x 7970(with a major grain of salt)


sooo, 2x 7970 doesnt sound that far off(as said with a major grain of salt).
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#14
BigMack70
by: Mathragh
Pure theoretical peak performance would be around 2x the 7970 on parallel execution units alone( 7970 has 2048 shaders, this chip has 4096). On top of that I suppose all the other changes in the architecture are there to further improve performance, not decrease it, resulting in over 2 times 7970 performance.
Add in some overhead, and we're back at 2x 7970(with a major grain of salt)


sooo, 2x 7970 doesnt sound that far off(as said with a major grain of salt).
Interesting. Well, I guess we'll know in a few months! At least now I know what timeframe I need to sell off my 7970s in :cool:
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#15
Casecutter
Just wondering could this be on GlobalFoundries 20nm? A year ago the process was "crowning"; may have AMD been working on this with them? AMD really just needs a card to off-set Titan LE at the high-end the rest of the Southern Island 7XXX still rivals the re-branded GTX770 on down. That could mean AMD has perhaps time to nurture the relationship with the new partner?
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#16
FrustratedGarrett
by: BigMack70
Did I miss something about performance being at 2x7970 levels? I would be really surprised if they pulled that off... it would mean that they have a chip ~40%+ faster than the Titan. Don't get me wrong, I would love to see that, but that sounds a little extreme to me.

I would expect them to do something more like match the Titan, i.e. 7970 + 40% performance.
Actually, they would have a product that's (2x / 1.3x ~ 1.55) ~55% faster than Titan.
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#17
BigMack70
by: FrustratedGarrett
Actually, they would have a product that's (2x / 1.3x ~ 1.55) ~55% faster than Titan.
I was just thinking of the regular 7970, not the GHz edition
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#19
TheHunter
Nice this looks like a perfect upgrade.


There is never enough powaah!! Yes even at 1080P and newer titles. ;)



Although im a bit confused about this part

16 serial processor units
4 geometry engines

So in reality it will have 16*4 = 64 CU?


by: Casecutter
Just wondering could this be on GlobalFoundries 20nm? A year ago the process was "crowning"; may have AMD been working on this with them?
I read it once that AMD has 3 fabs to chose from and there wont be any delays because of it.
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#20
tastegw
Looking great so far, looks like Godzilla is coming. If its better than my titan, I'll be selling when it comes out.
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#21
TheHunter
Of course it will be better then Titan, Titan looks like a joke compared to this :P :D
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#22
drdeathx
[quote="Pandora's Box, post: 2898937"]Sorry but if this is indeed a new architecture I will be going with Nvidia. AMD has barely got the 7xxx Series working properly and theres still the microstutter issue.[/quote]That's ludicrous untill you see the performance IMO. Looks like this may blow Nvidea out of the water.
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#23
W1zzard
by: TheHunter
Of course it will be better then Titan, Titan looks like a joke compared to this :P :D
you can buy titan today, and it's tested to be fast and stable with decent power consumption, low fan noise and no coil noise.

this slide might be a pipedream of some chinese forum user who's laughing his ass off now
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#24
TheHunter
True, but what if you're not in a hurry? Why cash out absurd 1000$ and if a ~600$ gpu later stomps all over it :p


Imo VI vs GK110 is like GK110 vs GF110, if not even a bigger gap.
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#25
m1dg3t
Raising the bar, AGAIN!

Goddamn you ATi/AMD! :banghead: Hopefully i can still fetch a pretty penny for my 5870 when these drop so it would make transitioning a little easier... :rolleyes:

5870 - Out of 775 sys. and for sale or donate to relative, or just add to my GPU collection :twitch:
7950 - Out of 1155 sys. and into 775 sys.
8950? - Into 1155 sys.

Sounds good! :rockout:

GFX makers; Give me MoBo style GFX solution! One board, with swappable GPUs! :pimp:
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