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AMD Announces Radeon Vega Frontier Edition - Not for Gamers

Where is Vega? When is it launching? On AMD's Financial Analyst Day 2017, Raja Koduri spoke about the speculation in the past few weeks, and brought us an answer: Radeon Vega Frontier Edition is the first iteration of Vega, aimed at data scientists, immersion engineers and product designers. It will be released in the second half of June for AMD's "pioneers". The wording, that Vega Frontier Edition will be released in the second half of June, makes it so that AMD still technically releases Vega in the 2H 2017... It's just not the consumer, gaming Vega version of the chip. This could unfortunately signify an after-June release time-frame for consumer GPUs based on the Vega micro-architecture.

This news comes as a disappointment to all gamers who have been hoping for Vega for gaming, because it reminds of what happened with dual Fiji. A promising design which ended up unsuitable for gaming and was thus marketed for content creators as Radeon Pro Duo, with little success. But there is still hope: it just looks like we really will have to wait for Computex 2017 to see some measure of details on Vega's gaming prowess.

AMD Executives Tease Vega Reveal On Today's Event

We've recently covered how AMD was going to have a full day today, with the company's top executives present on a meeting that is expected to build on AMD's product portfolio inflection point. This meeting will bring together most of AMD's higher-ups - namely, CEO Lisa Su, head of Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri, and AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster. The purpose of this meeting seems to be to discuss AMD's inflexion point, and lay out a vision for the company's future, supported on its upcoming products: the too-long-awaited Vega, its successor Navi, and the natural evolution of the company's current Zen processors, tentatively identified as Zen+.

Don't expect this to be a full-blown, specification-laden, performance-benchmarks-driven presentation, though. That honor is probably reserved to AMD's Computex 2017 event, scheduled for May 31st from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

SK Hynix Updates Memory Catalog to Feature GDDR6 and HBM2

South Korean DRAM and NAND flash giant SK Hynix updated its product catalog to feature its latest GDDR6 memory, besides HBM2. The company had April announced its first GDDR6 memory products. The first GDDR6 memory chips by SK Hynix come in 8 Gb (1 gigabyte) densities, and data-rates of 14 Gbps and 12 Gbps, with DRAM voltages of 1.35V. The company is giving away small quantities of these chips for product development, mass production will commence soon, and bulk availability is slated for Q4-2017. This would mean actual products implementing these chips could be available only by very-late Q4 2017, or Q1-2018.

A graphics card with 14 Gbps GDDR6 memory across a 256-bit memory bus (8 chips) features 448 GB/s of memory bandwidth. A card with 384-bit (12 chips), should have 672 GB/s at its disposal. Likewise, the 12 Gbps memory chips offer 384 GB/s in 256-bit (8-chip) setups, and 576 GB/s in 384-bit (12-chip) setups. Meanwhile, SK Hynix also updated its HBM2 catalog to feature a 32 Gb (4 gigabyte) HBM2 stack, with a clock speed of 1.60 Gbps. The 2.00 Gbps stack which featured in the Q4-2016 version of this catalog is no longer available. At 1.60 Gbps, a GPU with four stacks has 819.2 GB/s of memory bandwidth. A chip with two stacks, such as the purported "Vega 10" prototype that has made several media appearances, hence has 409.6 GB/s.

AMD Vega Makes an Appearance on CompuBench

An AMD RX Vega video card has apparently made its way towards CompuBench. Granted, the no-name AMD graphics card could be an Instinct accelerator instead of AMD's consumer-oriented RX Vega graphics cards. However, the card did appear on CompuBench under the 6864:00 device ID, which had already appeared under a Vega Linux patch issued by the company. granted, this doesn't necessarily make it a consumer graphics product, so we'll have to look into this with some reservations.

Entire AMD Vega Lineup Reportedly Leaked - Available on June 5th?

Reports are doing the rounds regarding alleged AMD insiders having "blown the whistle", so to speak, on the company's upcoming Vega graphics cards. This leak also points towards retail availability of Vega cards on the 5th of June, which lines up nicely with AMD's May 31st Computex press conference. An announcement there, followed by market availability on the beginning of next week does sound like something that would happen in a new product launch.

On to the meat and bones of this story, three different SKUs have been leaked, of which no details are currently known, apart from their naming and pricing. AMD's Vega line-up starts off with the RX Vega Core graphics card, which is reportedly going to retail for $399. This graphics card is going to sell at a higher price than NVIDIA's GTX 1070, which should mean higher performance. Higher pricing with competitive performance really wouldn't stir any pot of excitement, so, higher performance is the most logical guess. The $399 pricing sits nicely in regards to AMD's RX 580, though it does mean there is space for another SKU to be thrown into the mix at a later date, perhaps at $329, though I'm just speculating on AMD's apparent pricing gap at this point.

AMD Confirms Press Conference for Computex 2017 - Vega is (Almost) Here

AMD today has confirmed a highly-awaited, long-time-coming, almost too-late-to-be-true press conference on Computex 2017. Via email, the company announced their intention to share a save-the-date announcement for AMD's press conference, scheduled for May 31st from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.

The conference will be hosted by AMD's CEO Lisa Su and other key executives, and will serve as a venue to "hear more about the latest products and leading-edge technologies coming from AMD in 2017." AMD is apparently "looking forward to providing new details on 2017 products and the ecosystems, both OEM and channel, that will support them." So yeah, this is probably it. A shame about that May 25th Easter Egg with Vega's location on the star charts, but maybe we shouldn't really be complaining, or else AMD might cancel this announcement altogether. And we've waited for Vega long enough, haven't we?

Linux Drivers Point to Upcoming AMD RX Vega Liquid-Cooled, Dual-GPU Solution

Linux patches have already given us a "lot" of information (using "lot" generously there) on AMD's upcoming Vega graphics cards. I'd wager few enthusiasts would be looking towards a dual-GPU solution anymore - not with the mostly absent support from most recent games, of which Prey is a notable exception. Not unless there was some sort of hardware feature that exposed both dies as a single GPU for games and software to handle, but I'm entering the realm of joyous, hopeful thinking here.

Back to the facts, a May 10th Linux patch has added two more device ID's to a Vega family of products: 0x6864 and 0x6868. These additions bring the total number of Vega device ID's to a healthy 9, which is still less than Polaris' 12. This is in-line with the expected number of SKUs for Vega, which should be less than those available for Polaris.

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang: "Competitive Position to Remain Unchanged in 2017"

NVIDIA has been posting tremendous financial results, beating analysts' expectations on an almost quarterly basis. This stems from NVIDIA's privileged position in the graphics and computing market, with their GeForce series of consumer graphics cards having reigned almost virtually unchallenged by AMD's offerings. This happens even more distinctively on the high end of the market, where NVIDIA's halo products systematically wow consumers on a pure performance basis, and improve the company's image and market awareness absent of any competition from AMD. At the same time, the company's strong position on the AI, Deep Learning, and general computing markets ensure a strong footing should something go awry in a single market.

All of this seems to have grounded NVIDIA CEO's Jensen Huang confident posture on the company's outlook for 2017. At yesterday's earnings call, Jensen Huang was questioned whether NVIDIA's competitor's "new platform" elicited some thoughts on NVIDIA's competitiveness outlook in the second half of 2017. To this, Jensen Huang replied, in no uncertain terms, that "the competitive position is not going to change." Now naturally, a company CEO wouldn't be saying on his own company's earnings call something along the lines of "AMD's Vega platform is going to totally invert the competitive landscape and we at NVIDIA are scrambling and screaming internally at the disaster." Still, NVIDIA is probably the company that knows more about AMD's second-half 2017 efforts in the graphics space in 2017 other than AMD themselves, so this answer could also include some of Jensen's thoughts regarding that - and Volta. What do you think? Bullish posturing, or deserved confidence?

AMD Vega May Launch with Less Than 20,000 Units Available

Fresh from the rumor-mill comes a report that low HBM2 availability may cripple the Vega launch that is expected to happen in the next few weeks, if a report from TweakTown is to be believed. As far as sources, there isn't much other than TweakTown's news report and their article claiming they had been told this by an "exclusive industry source." Apply your usual grain of salt here vigilant reader, but its certainly interesting speculation, if nothing else. It may turn out to be FUD, or it may turn out to be truth. Only the coming weeks will reveal the truth.

AMD Vega 10 3DMark Fire Strike Results Surface

Another day, another set of Vega results see the light of it. It would seem like this saga has been going on for ages, ever since we've seen AMD showcase its prototype Vega cards running Star Wars Battlefront (4K, Ultra settings at over 60 FPS) and Doom (4K, Vulcan render path at over 60 FPS on pre-production hardware). But with the lack of official information coming from AMD (let's hope this changes on May 16th), it would seem the company is content to see us hardware news sites jumping at every detail and offering free publicity.

This is known to be Vega because the device ID, 687F:C1, was spotted on AMD's own hands while running that Doom demo in 4K. The device clocks seem to be in line with previous leaks: a 1200 MHz core clock and 8GB of video memory running at 700 MHz memory clocks. With these clocks (which are expected to be extremely conservative when we take into account what we know of Vega), the Vega video card manages to deliver a 17,801 points graphics score, approximately 1,400 points more than your average Fury X, but some hundreds less than your average, current-generation GTX 1070. Remember: AMD's MI25 is expected to come in at 1,500 MHz core clocks, and this is a professional, passively-cooled graphics card. This means that unless AMD greatly overestimated the clock capability of its Vega cards, the consumer version of Vega will have necessarily higher clocks. But we'll stay here, waiting for some more details to pour our way, as always.

AMD to Detail Vega, Navi, Zen+ on May 16th - Laying Out a Vision

Reports are circling around the web regarding an AMD meeting featuring some of its higher ups - namely, CEO Lisa Su, head of Radeon Technologies Group Raja Koduri, and AMD's CTO Mark Papermaster happening on the 16th of May. The purpose of this meeting seems to be to discuss AMD's inflexion point, and lay out a vision for the company's future, supported on its upcoming products: the too-long-awaited Vega, its successor Navi, and the natural evolution of the company's current Zen processors, tentatively identified as Zen+.

Naturally, a company such as AMD has its roadmap planned well in advance, with work on next-generation products and technologies sometimes even running in parallel with current-generation product development. It's just a result of the kind of care, consideration, time and money that goes into making new architectures that makes this so. And while some would say Vega is now approaching a state akin to grapes that have been hanging for far too long, AMD's next graphics architecture, Navi, and its iterations on Zen cores, which the company expect to see refreshes in a 3-to-5-year period, are other matters entirely. Maybe we'll have some more details regarding the specific time of Vega's launch (for now expected on Computex), as well as on when AMD is looking to release a Zen+ refresh. I wouldn't expect much with regards to Navi - perhaps just an outline on how work is currently underway with some comments on the expectations surrounding Global Foundries' 7 nm process, on which Navi is expected to be built. And no, folks, this isn't a Vega launch. Not yet.

AMD Releases the Radeon Crimson Relive 17.5.1 Beta Drivers

Not to let itself be outshined by arch-rival NVIDIA, AMD today released a new driver suite that introduces support for the impending release of Arkane Studios' Prey. A totally new IP in an era of sequels and re-releases, which has been paired - even if only so slightly - with AMD's own Vega teaser campaign, Prey promises to offer a mix of Bioshock and System Shock, with Arkane's own peculiar blend of game mechanics and art direction. Go on ahead fighting the invasion - I'll be joining you shortly.

These drivers promise an up to 4.7% performance improvement measured on Radeon RX 580 8GB graphics when compared to Radeon Software Crimson ReLive edition 17.4.4, as well as multi GPU profile support. As always, you can grab these right here on your favorite hardware site on the universe. Just follow the link below, and catch some more details like fixed and current issues after the break.
Download: AMD Radeon Crimson Relive 17.5.1 Beta Drivers

AMD Works on At Least Three Radeon RX Vega SKUs, Slowest Faster than GTX 1070?

AMD could be working on at least three SKUs based on its upcoming "Vega 10" silicon to make up its Radeon RX Vega series. Leaked 3DMark validations point to a device ID that's third in a series of possible device IDs of graphics cards based on the "Vega 10" silicon, the 687F:C1, 687F:C2, and 687F:C3. All three SKUs feature 8 GB of HBM2 memory, and according to leaked 3DMark TimeSpy scores, the "slowest" SKU is faster than NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070. The fastest SKU is in the same league as the GTX 1080 Ti.

The three SKUs could differ with core-configuration and clock speeds. AMD carved four SKUs out of its "Fiji" silicon, the liquid-cooled R9 Fury X, the air-cooled R9 Fury (with 12.5% fewer shaders), the SFF-friendly R9 Nano (full core-config, but aggressive power-management), and the halo dual-GPU Radeon Pro Duo (1st gen). AMD could take a similar approach with "Vega 10." AMD is expected to launch its Radeon RX Vega series within Q2-2017.

AMD "Vega 10" Bears Core-Config Similarities to "Fiji"

A Linux patch for AMD's GPU drivers reveals that its upcoming "Vega 10" graphics processor bears numeric core-configuration similarities to the "Fiji" silicon which drives the enthusiast-segment Radeon R9 Fury series graphics cards. The patch bears configuration values which tell the software how to utilize the resources on the GPU, by spelling them out. The entry "gfx.config.max_shader_engines = 4," for example, indicates that "Vega 10" features four shader engines, like "Fiji." Another entry "Adev-> gfx.config.max_cu_per_sh = 16" signifies the number of GCN compute units (CUs) per shader engine. Assuming the number of stream processors per CU hasn't changed from 64 in the "Vega" architecture, we're looking at a total stream processor count of 4,096. This could also put the TMU count at 256.

At earlier reveals of the "Vega 10" package, you notice a large, somewhat square GPU die neighboring two smaller rectangular memory stack dies, which together sit on a shiny structure, which is the silicon interposer. The presence of just two memory stack dies sparked speculation that "Vega 10" features a narrower 2048-bit memory interface compared to the 4096-bit of "Fiji," but since the memory itself is newer-generation HBM2, which ticks at higher clocks, AMD could run them at double the memory clock as "Fiji" to arrive at the same 512 GB/s bandwidth. The 4,096 stream processors of "Vega 10" are two generations ahead of the ones on "Fiji," which together with 14 nm process-level improvements, could run at much higher GPU clocks, making AMD get back into the high-end graphics segment.

AMD Says Vega is "On Track" for Q2 2017 Release

During its Q1 reports for fiscal year 2017 (which saw AMD's stock tumbling about, even if this Q1 only considers a single Ryzen sales-month on its accounts), AMD CEO Lisa Su referred that AMD's high-performance Vega architecture is still on track for a Q2 2017 release. The words, specifically, are these: "AMD's "Vega" GPU architecture is on track to launch in Q2, and has been designed from scratch to address the most data- and visually-intensive next-generation workloads with key architecture advancements including: a differentiated memory subsystem, next-generation geometry pipeline, new compute engine, and a new pixel engine."

So yes, AMD confirms what we suspected. This leaves a launch time-frame for Vega products until, at most, the end of June. Confirmation after confirmation, it's still a long time to wait, if you'll ask me, with little to no information in the last few months. But it's better than nothing, and I'd much prefer a real launch with retail availability than a glorified paper launch. Here's hoping Vega answers our questions and our needs. It's been a long time coming already.

AMD's RX Vega Makes an Appearance Alongside Quake Champions

The long term strategic partnership between AMD and Bethesda seems to be on full swing, with branding and marketing for both companies appearing in increasingly intertwined states (did you see that shortcut article we posted earlier in the week?) First, with Arkane Studios' Prey and Vega marketing, which gave us the first glimpse towards a release window for AMD's new high-performance graphics architecture. Now, it's another Bethesda IP, in the form of Quake Champions, that makes such an appearance.

Case in point: a leaked image from Informatica Cero, which shows packaging for what seems like a bundle of Quake Champions and AMD's RX Vega, which "brings gaming to life". The joint marketing does go hand in hand with AMD and Bethesda's partnership, so there's that, though if this was to be the packaging for a RX Vega graphics card, I have to say it seems a little too heavy-handed on the Quake side of it.

AMD Backpedals on Quake Champions Promo Link with Radeon 17.4.4 Drivers

AMD made headlines yesterday (27th April), when AMD Radeon users discovered that their GPU driver update places a promotional link to a "Quake Champions" beta signup on their desktops. The Radeon Software Crimson ReLive 17.4.4 drivers leave a shortcut on your desktop which reads "Quake Champions," and has the official icon. The shortcut, however, points to a URL, which leads to a "Quake Champions" beta signup on publisher Bethesda's website. You can't opt not to see this icon during the driver setup's "custom setup" component selection page. The URL contains a referral extension, which made some people accuse AMD of trying to make money off it, a charge the company denies.

This caused major uproar in social media, with some comments calling it "adware" and AMD losing the moral high ground over NVIDIA, which marketed games through its GeForce Experience app. Sensing a PR fumble on its hands, AMD updated Radeon Software 17.4.4 drivers on its downloads page, which no longer plants the "Quake Champions" shortcut on your desktop. AMD could be testing the waters with how it could monetize its driver updates further. The company, like NVIDIA, already has game banner advertisements in the driver installer. AMD denied that it is making any money off the referral link, and that it is only using referral data to gauge activity.

AMD Radeon Vega in the League of GTX 1080 Ti and TITAN Xp

In an AMA (ask me anything) session with Tom's Hardware community, AMD desktop processor marketing exec Don Woligrosky answered a variety of AMD Ryzen platform related questions. He did not shy away from making a key comment about the company's upcoming high-end graphics card, Radeon Vega, either. "Vega performance compared to the Geforce GTX 1080 Ti and the Titan Xp looks really nice," Woligrosky stated. This implies that Radeon Vega is in the same league of performance as NVIDIA's two top consumer graphics SKUs, the $650 GeForce GTX 1080 Ti, and the $1,200 TITAN Xp.

It is conceivable that AMD's desktop processor marketing execs will have access to some privileged information from other product divisions, and so if true, this makes NVIDIA's recent memory speed bump for the GTX 1080 a failed gambit. NVIDIA similarly bumped memory speeds of the GTX 1060 6 GB to make it more competitive against the Radeon RX 580. Woligrosky also commented on a more plausible topic, of the royalty-free AMD FreeSync becoming the dominant adaptive v-sync technology, far outselling NVIDIA G-Sync.

id Software Talks AMD Ryzen, Hints at Heavily Optimized New Game Engine

id Software, the pioneering game studio behind "Doom" and "Quake," in a marketing video about how its developers and gamers are benefiting from AMD Ryzen processors, hinted that it is working on a new next-generation game engine that succeeds idTech 6, which is heavily optimized for AMD Ryzen processors. id CTO Robert Duffy spoke at length about how Ryzen is putting more CPU capabilities in the hands of gamers at attractive price-points, which is letting game developers add that much more content and production design that benefits from this level of parallelism and performance.

The most interesting part about Duffy's comment comes later in the video, where he talks about a new game engine that id is working on, which will be "far more parallel than idTech 6" (far more multi-core and multi-thread friendly), and that it will be able to consume "all of the CPU [compute power] that Ryzen can offer." Duffy also confirmed that "Quake Champions," the studio's upcoming online hero-based FPS, will be optimized for both Ryzen and Radeon Vega.
The video follows.

AMD Confirms Vega is Launching this Quarter

Via Facebook, AMD has confirmed that Vega is nearly here - at least, as nearly here as a "this quarter" can be. This means Vega will launch in two-months time (Q2 extends through the months of April, May and June, after all.) Through a post on its Facebook page, AMD replied that Vega will be coming "when it's ready... And it will be this quarter."

According to previous leaks (and our own deep dive on Vega's architecture), Vega should go a long way towards bridging the power/performance gap between AMD and NVIDIA's GeForce series. It will be the first time since Fury that AMD will have a competitive, high-performance graphics design (expectedly, and hopefully, since no-one likes to buy over-priced graphics cards.) The fact that AMD has teased Vega in two different pieces of media that come out in May (Arkane Studios' Prey, which comes out on May 5th, and Alien: Covenant, which also comes out during the month of May.) I've previously posited that AMD wouldn't tease Vega's launch alongside one of the most promising games of the year without giving us the chance to power it through Vega come launch day, but as Prey's release date approaches and there is no more information on Vega (much less an announcement), it's looking increasingly likely that we'll have to wait until we can see that universe in all of its Vega-rendered glory.

PowerColor Teases New Red Devil Graphics Card - Probably RX 580

PowerColor has pulled some images out of its teaser hat, bringing us some classy, though ultimately uninformative pics of an upcoming Red Devil card. The details that can be gleaned point to a dual-fan design and some semblance of LED illumination (which should always be expected in any recent product launch).

Though we can't know for sure what graphics card this Red Devil tease refers to, logic would dictate that it's the best-performing, upcoming card that we know off. Pulling a publicity stunt for the second-fastest card to arrive (RX 570) just wouldn't make sense, and the timing puts this teaser much closer to (what is expected to be) the rebranded RX 500 line than to the much-awaited RX Vega line of graphics cards. The latter will probably drop in around the same time as Arkane's Prey, which launches on the fifth of May.

AMD's RX Vega to Feature 4 GB and 8 GB Memory

It looks like AMD is confident enough on its HBC (High-Bandwidth Cache) and HBCC (High-Bandwidth Cache Controller) technology, and other assorted improvements to overall Vega memory management, to consider 4 GB as enough memory for high-performance gaming and applications. On a Beijing tech summit, AMD announced that its RX Vega cards (the highest performers in their next generation product stack, which features rebrands of their RX 400 line series of cards to th new RX 500) will come in at 4 GB and 8 GB HBM 2 (512 GB/s) memory amounts. The HBCC looks to ensure that we don't see a repeat of AMD's Fury X video card, which featured first generation HBM (High-Bandwidth memory), at the time limited to 4 GB stacks. But lacking extensive memory management improvements meant that the Fury X sometimes struggled on memory-heavy workloads.

If the company's Vega architecture deep dive is anything to go by, they may be right: remember that AMD put out a graph showing how the memory allocation is almost twice as big as the actual amount of memory used - and its here, with smarter, improved memory management and allocation, that AMD is looking to make do with only 4 GB of video memory (which is still more than enough for most games, mind you). This could be a turn of the screw moment for all that "more is always better" philosophy.

AMD Sends Required Patches for Vega Support in Linux

AMD has recently sent out around a hundred patches, which amount to over 40 thousand lines of code, so as to allow developers to integrate support for its upcoming Vega GPU architecture under Linux. The new code is essential towards baking support for Vega under Linux, considering the many changes this architecture entails over AMD's current-generation Polaris 10 (soon to be rebranded, if sources are correct, to the new RX 500 series.) Also of note is the existence of seven different device IDs for Vega-based products, though this really can't be extrapolated to the amount of SKUs under the Vega banner. For now, that really is just a number.

AMD's Upcoming RX Vega Card Pictures Surface

It would seem that AMD has been making internal, top-secret demonstrations of its upcoming RX Vega GPUs. The company was in Beijing, China yesterday, sowing some thoughts and knowledge on its upcoming Ryzen 5 line of processors. Yet AMD apparently also found the time to tease its upcoming high-performance GPU (which apparently, and unlike it's competitors GPUs, also carries a soul.)

From what can be gleaned from the pictures, this physical manifestation of Vega does away with AMD's Fury X small size (achieved through water cooling). Instead, the coolers seems to be a monolithic piece which totally encloses the card, in an attractive, white and red color scheme with AMD's Vega branding etched on for good measure. We can also glean from the pics that AMD's RX Vega doesn't drop the tachometer feature that allows you to look at the operating LED's to glean the amount of workload on the GPU, with switches that are likely to allow for "OFF/ON" positions for the LED's and for "RED/BLUE" coloring.
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