AMD’s Next Generation GCN Based Graphics Card Might Feature Modified Version of Radeon R9 295X2 Hydra Cooling Solution
AMD’s GCN core architecture has spanned the industry for a good three years and the latest revision, known as the Volcanic islands was launched last year during October. AMD is gradually putting new updates in their cards lineup with the new Tonga based Radeon R9 285 and the flagship Radeon R9 295X2 but it seems like we will be looking at a major update from AMD during the next couple of months.
AMD’s Next Generation GCN Based Graphics Card Might Feature Modified Hydra Cooling Solution
There are two reasons to believe this, one being the fact that a mysterious and new cooling solution just ended up on Baidu Chinese forums (spotted by Videocardz) and the second is AMD themselves who have hinted to a major launch related to graphics cards during the next two months. In October last year, AMD announced their GPU14 event where they showcased and announced their current Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series cards that feature an updated GCN core architecture. While the bulk of the graphics cards were based on an older core architecture (Southern Islands; Tahiti/Pitcairn/Cape Verde) the lineup also introduced some new parts such as the flagship Hawaii, performance oriented Tonga, budget level Bonaire and entry level Oland chips. It will be a year since AMD has introduced most of their lineup next month and will probably be the best time for AMD to offer new replacements.
But there are two speculations, whether AMD will bring up a new naming scheme for the cards or stick to the current naming. That’s the one thing we should focus on since the specifications available at the moment are very sparse since industry’s focus is shifted towards NVIDIA and their latest Maxwell cards. This could also be a main factor which drives the need for a new lineup, as everyone knows, Maxwell is a new GPU core and the preliminary data shows GM204 to be much more efficient then anything on the market matching the speeds and performance of GeForce GTX 780 Ti and even out performing it by a good margin from the final results seen. Now the question is whether AMD’s new lineup is focused to tackle Maxwell or its more of a refresh of the current Radeon R9 200 and Radeon R7 200 series cards.
First, let’s talk about the cooling scheme. I did speculate a while ago that the Radeon R9 295X2’s cooler was a great design and could be toned down to Hawaii. Looks like AMD is just doing that and learnt from NVIDIA. You may remember the famous GeForce GTX 690 cooler (first of its kind) which was toned down for the GeForce 700 series cards and we even saw a bulkier version of that cooler on the GeForce GTX Titan Z. AMD has learnt that sometimes not focusing on the reference designs will hurt you back and AMD will now offer new cards which will start to feature a hybrid and modified version of their high-end Hydra cooler. The design and theme is similar to the Radeon R9 295X2, the only difference is the positing of the cooler and a shorter length which is aimed towards single GPU cards. The fan on the Radeon R9 295X2 was placed in the center to regulate air to both fans but since the new cooler is focused for single chip designs, we are looking at the position moved to the back and it also looks like AMD will go with a blower design for this card. The side of the card features a large Radeon logo colored red which actually lits up when the card is powered on.
One good thing about Hydra is that its a hybrid cooling solution. The card may or may not ship with a OEM “ASETEK” made 120mm AIO radiator and pump which will deliver better thermals to the card compared to normal cooling solutions. This model could just be a prototype for future generation of GCN cards and we really don’t want to start talking about specifications this early. There are several rumored specifications lying around the web but I won’t take them with much credibility unless there’s a decent explanation behind the numbers.
So the main question of the day, is this the Radeon R9 300 series or the Radeon R9 200 series? To be honest, I don’t really know. Some point out to Radeon R9 390X and some point out to the much fabled Radeon R9 295X but I am not in the position to either deny them or confirm these codenames for the new card. One thing I know is that AMD only switched to Radeon R9 200 series after the HD 7990 launched in 1H 2013 after a long delay. There was no new card in the HD 7000 series after that. The Radeon R9 295X2 is also the last flagship card to launch in the lineup but AMD has updated their entry level side with a few cards and the performance sector with the latest Radeon R9 285 Tonga GPU. To rebrand it this early may make little sense but then again we are talking about a launch aimed around Q4 2014. At the end of the day, there’s so much happening in the graphics industry that it’s getting interesting day by day. If AMD does have new high-end chips ready to tackle Maxwell then that’s a good thing since competition will drive prices down.