AMD Radeon Pro Duo Preview 48

AMD Radeon Pro Duo Preview

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AMD is signing off the current-generation of graphics cards with the new Radeon Pro Duo, a dual-GPU monstrosity that packs a pair of "Fiji" GPUs, in the same configuration as the company's current flagship, the Radeon R9 Fury X. In the absence of any competition from the GeForce "Maxwell" family, it could end up being the fastest graphics card money can buy for some time. Although AMD is pricing the card at the same US $1,499 it asked for the Radeon R9 295X2, it's marketing the card in a category that's between the Radeon "consumer" and the FirePro "professional" lineup. Its marketing tagline reads "for creators who game, and gamers who create."

By "creators," AMD isn't necessarily referring to content creators in general, those who use top-of-the-line FirePro cards for their top-dollar visual effects production, but VR content creators. AMD, like NVIDIA, is betting heavily on virtual reality (VR) to become a mass-medium. Unlike TVs and other screens, VR adds a new element - the user's ability to choose which part of the content to consume by simply moving their head around.

Although the concept of VR is hardly new, the prohibitive amount of computational power it takes to present live-action and gaming VR content has kept it from consumers. Sure, your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headset has fewer pixels than a $200 monitor, but it takes a lot more computational power to make sure it responds instantaneously to your head's movements to present content like in the real world. Any latency between your input and that response could cause nausea and vertigo because beyond a certain point, your brain begins to see VR as the real world, expecting it to obey the laws of physics, and that takes a lot of GPU pixel-crunching power.

The Radeon Pro Duo currently has no competitive landscape. As we mentioned earlier, NVIDIA did not launch a dual-GPU graphics card based on its GM200 silicon, and as such, the price-cut $1,500 GeForce GTX TITAN Z is the closest competitor, though based on the older "Kepler" architecture. It could be competed with and probably even be outperformed by a pair of GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics cards, but that's a different kind of solution. People buy dual-GPU graphics cards because it gives them the convenience of a single card and because it allows them to have four GPUs in a machine with just two PCI-Express x16 slots.

Radeon Pro Duo Market Segment Analysis
GTX 980
R9 390X
R9 Fury
R9 Fury X
GTX 980 Ti
Radeon R9
Pro Duo
Shader Units2048281635844096281630722x 28162x 28802x 4096
ROPs6464646496962x 642x 482x 64
Graphics ProcessorGM204GrenadaFijiFijiGM200GM200Vesuvius2x GK110Capsaicin
Transistors5200M6200M8900M8900M8000M8000M2x 6200M2x 7080M2x 8900M
Memory Size4 GB8 GB4 GB4 GB6 GB12 GB2x 4 GB2x 6 GB2x 4 GB
Memory Bus Width256 bit512 bit4096 bit4096 bit384 bit384 bit2x 512 bit2x 384 bit2x 4096 bit
Core Clock1128 MHz+1050 MHz1000 MHz1050 MHz+1000 MHz+1000 MHz1018 MHz705 MHz+1000 MHz+
Memory Clock1750 MHz1500 MHz500 MHz500 MHz1750 MHz1750 MHz1250 MHz1750 MHz500 MHz
This preview is a compilation of all the publicly available information of AMD's exciting new graphics card, which makes its retail debut on April 26, 2016. It will be sold in retail channel through AMD's AIB partners, and factory-fitted in various high-end gaming desktops.
Card images courtesy Expreview. Press-deck slides courtesy VideoCardz.
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