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
esrever
by: Casecutter
While I might say some re-spins and/or re-badging of Southern Island parts is probably still viable into 2014. Although, I'm not sure why you're saying VI is "more than a year away" the article is projecting, speculation, alleging for the 4th Qtr of this year. I’m not saying your opinion can’t be valid still, but working from this AMD may have adjusted it's evolution up.
If they want to hit 20nm with VI it won't be by the end of the year. From what I read online, TSMC will make 20nm products to market early 2014, AMD is likely to have a product line refresh Q4 this year but its unlikely to be VI.
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#2
Casecutter
by: esrever
If they want to hit 20nm with VI it won't be by the end of the year. From what I read online, TSMC will make 20nm products to market early 2014, AMD is likely to have a product line refresh Q4 this year but its unlikely to be VI.
Odd that's not what I'm reading...
"TSMC would then be able to begin volume production at the end of the second quarter and ramp 20-nm production in the second half of 2013 a Focus Taiwan report said referencing unnamed sources."
http://www.eetimes.com/design/programmable-logic/4411189/TSMC-expected-to-begin-20-nm-line-early
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/20130404143508_TSMC_Is_Ahead_of_Its_Own_20nm_Roadmap_Report.html

by: Casecutter
But you can kind of feel how the camps are liking or disliking this 20Nm.

http://www.extremetech.com/computing...ally-worthless
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#3
the54thvoid
Mass hysteria from what looks like a slide from another product. Ho hum, not going to bother getting excited. Still expecting well into 2014 to be the next gpu generation release year. At least by that time the next gen consoles should be pushing a few more game developers into new territories for visual fidelity so the new gpu's can flex some mighty muscle.
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#4
esrever
by: Casecutter
Odd that's not what I'm reading...
"TSMC would then be able to begin volume production at the end of the second quarter and ramp 20-nm production in the second half of 2013 a Focus Taiwan report said referencing unnamed sources."
http://www.eetimes.com/design/programmable-logic/4411189/TSMC-expected-to-begin-20-nm-line-early
http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/other/display/20130404143508_TSMC_Is_Ahead_of_Its_Own_20nm_Roadmap_Report.html
they moved it up for apple, which probably means low volume for everyone else at first. I don't really expect 20nm gpu parts this year but maybe a paper launch in dec like they did with the 7970.
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#5
FrustratedGarrett
by: esrever
they moved it up for apple, which probably means low volume for everyone else at first. I don't really expect 20nm gpu parts this year but maybe a paper launch in dec like they did with the 7970.
They'll probably fabricate the GPUs using Glofo's 28nm HPP or LPH which are used for Kaveri and Temash SOCs. Glofo's 28nm HPP is rumored to be ~25% less power consuming at the same transistor performance level (frequency) than TSMC's 28nm HPP, which is what Nvidia uses (not AMD) for their current gen graphics chips.
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#6
RoostieJDio
Looks more like an Opteron flavour APU than a GPU.
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#7
theoneandonlymrk
by: erocker
Yeah it looks like it could be that "system on a chip" that I remember reading in the news somewhere, not a GPU... But I know very little about architecture.
After looking at a better pic it looks like the ps4s apu to me possibly nxbox ish but Vi doubt full as its also a fully capable apu with gcn gpu and x86 ,plus arm security core which has shown fused off hyper transport (which enabled would allow multisocket server cards etc) interesting though as eventually this is where gpus are going.

Also I counted 1024 shader units int array though it could obv break down further , my mind may explode 16 serial processors wtf.
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#8
mastrdrver
Everyone realizes that this picture is about a year old and posted by the same person about a year ago?
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#9
HumanSmoke
by: esrever
http://abload.de/img/volcanic-islands26iur9.jpg
doesn't seem right.
I think the DDR3 memory controllers might be a small giveaway, but you never know...maybe that's just for the enthusiast level. Hopefully they don't skimp on the EDO RAM for the mainstream cards :laugh:
by: Casecutter
Heck for all we know Nvidia out'd this information and some parts of it carry some truth....
Really? Nvidia "leak" supposed AMD next-gen GPU that based on the specs would likely crush everything in existence.
The tinfoil is for a hat...not an entire bodysuit. :laugh:
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#10
theoneandonlymrk
by: HumanSmoke
I think the DDR3 memory controllers might be a small giveaway, but you never know...maybe that's just for the enthusiast level. Hopefully they don't skimp on the EDO RAM for the mainstream cards :laugh:
Whilst I don't disagree on the pic imho this is similar to what you can expect just after gcn2 refresh ,mostly because there are bins yet to be sold surely and southern islands taped out a while ago afaik
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#11
xtremesv
This doesn't change a thing. AMD is incapable of delivering a competitive GPU relying on 28 nm process as nvidia could (not talking about pricing though). Instead of developing a more efficient GPU to fit current technology, they must wait for others to do their job. I know perhaps I'm being too hard.

AMD thinks Southern Islands are still very competitive considering current games and they may be right, nonetheless, enthusiasts and geeks always expect the next big weapon in AMD vs nvidia endless war.
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#12
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: xtremesv
This doesn't change a thing. AMD is incapable of delivering a competitive GPU relying on 28 nm process as nvidia could (not talking about pricing though). Instead of developing a more efficient GPU to fit current technology, they must wait for others to do their job. I know perhaps I'm being too hard.

AMD thinks Southern Islands are still very competitive considering current games and they may be right, nonetheless, enthusiasts and geeks always expect the next big weapon in AMD vs nvidia endless war.
Why bother continuing the 28nm tech when the 20nm is just around the corner.
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#13
sergionography
looks nothing like a 4096 core part. more like a 16cu*64core part with 8cpu cores
xbox soc maybe? 1024gcn cores and 8 jaguar cores with 512bit width to maximize bandwidth on the slow ddr3 memory? seems like thats the most likely case since its clearly an soc distinguishing between the parallel and serial compute units

or who knows if its not kaveri with amd maybe upping the performance level on APU's with making much larger chips with more goodies(reason i think this is because since its showing each 2 cpus as one module makes me think its based on steamroller since jaguar each 4 cores has paired l2cache not each 2)
8core apu and maybe 10-12core fx on steamroller? sure bring it on why not
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#14
H82LUZ73
I have to agree with the guys saying APU/Console parts. I have seen MAY 24- 28 as release date for either XBOX 720 or PS4(but will not be until Oct -Nov this year cash cow the Christmas buyers) .Like I have been saying AMD is in a holding pattern waiting for those consoles to come out,Why release a new computer GPU card and have so called NEW consoles behind again.
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#15
Ebo
I dont care how it preforms, im still going to buy 2 for crossfire:roll:

Sam
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#16
Aquinus
Resident Wat-man
I think everyone should remember that Sea Islands is supposed to come first. This is a long ways down the road. I don't think we'll see this until at least next year at the earliest. I could be wrong and I would be more than happy to be wrong. :)
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#17
Crap Daddy
by: Aquinus
I think everyone should remember that Sea Islands is supposed to come first. This is a long ways down the road. I don't think we'll see this until at least next year at the earliest. I could be wrong and I would be more than happy to be wrong. :)
Well of course. There are two options for AMD, either launch Sea Islands as soon as they are ready with the Tahiti respin which will probably bring a a performance increase similar with what NV will offer with the GTX780, 770 and the rest or launch next year Volcanic on 20nm.
I can't imagine a 20nm monster launched this year. And that slide has nothing to do with Volcanic GPU.
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#18
jihadjoe
by: Prima.Vera
lol.

4096 stream processors??? That's double than a 7970 GPU
512-bit GDDR5??? Prepare for some records on the bandwidth

I think AMD is preparing a monster here, and I wont be off to say that this GPU will almost be as powerful as a 7990 card.
A new 5870 on the horizon?? (compared to 4870X2 that is...)
Specs actually remind me of the 2900XT, but we all know how that turned out.
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#19
cdawall
where the hell are my stars
by: jihadjoe
Specs actually remind me of the 2900XT, but we all know how that turned out.
It was fast, but a bit high on the power consumption side. Same thing with the current 7970's. AMD isn't exactly the power friendly group that being said the 3xx0 series was pretty awesome as was the 4xx0 series.
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#20
BigMack70
I'm not sure why the 7xxx series is getting blasted for power consumption... when it released, it was lauded as being quite power efficient. The fact that Nvidia managed to one-up them on power efficiency doesn't mean that AMD is terrible on power. We're not talking about the GTX 480 here.
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#21
Vinska
by: BigMack70
We're not talking about the GTX 480 here.
...the flagship GPU of the 400 series that had to have one of its SMs disabled due to being too power-hungry. ¬____¬
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#22
Casecutter
by: cdawall
Same thing with the current 7970's. AMD isn't exactly the power friendly
Go blow that smoke somewhere else. When you look at power usage in actual gaming and average the usage over those the GTX680 vs the 7970 is only using 3-4% more watts and was more often 5-7% off the GTX 680 performance. Now true the Ghz versions on synthetic tests went higher on power usage (not much fun playing synthetic tests), but looking at gaming the GHz version actual came in lower the a GTX 680 by 7 watts. In real world gaming a Ghz will in no way change what you pay in your power bill, it might by these dare I say cost you less...

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/03/22/nvidia_kepler_gpu_geforce_gtx_680_video_card_review/13

http://www.hardocp.com/article/2012/10/30/xfx_double_d_hd_7970_ghz_edition_video_card_review/10
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#23
sergionography
by: Vinska
...the flagship GPU of the 400 series that had to have one of its SMs disabled due to being too power-hungry. ¬____¬
kinda like gk110 you mean(titan) with one unit disable after a year of making
and then the 780 comming out with 2 units disabled lol
nvidia is just horrible with new process nodes, they never seem to get the hang of that, they are the ones always complaining about yield and what not simply because their engineers fail to work according to tsmc's fabs which nvidia has been using for over 10 years
amd on that front is miles ahead, always bringing excellent chips right when the fab spins, gotta appreciate amd from amd, and if this volcanic islands thing is coming out this years then it only further proves my point(though i still believe that image has nothing to do with volcanic island or the rumor itself)
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#24
Apocolypse007
Hello everyone. I haven't posted here in ages, though I still scan the articles from time to time. Anyway, here is a more clear image with text you can actually read on the specs:
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#25
Vinska
by: Apocolypse007
[...] here is a more clear image with text you can actually read on the specs:
It's nice and all, but too bad this was already posted 26 posts ago (post #74).
Here, have a cookie.
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