AMD Updating Entire Graphics Line-Up In The Coming Quarters – 14nm/16nm Arctic Islands GPUs Arriving In 2016


AMD's President and CEO Lisa Su confirmed that the company plans to update its entire AIB and OEM graphics portfolio over the coming quarters. A revelation which took place at the company's Q3 2015 earnings teleconference as Su affirmed the company's commitment to graphics innovation and asserted that traditional graphics markets are still a major focus for the company. Su disclosed that AMD made good progress in growing share in traditional graphics markets in Q3 2015 and has plans in place to continue this growth over a number of quarters.

AMD Radeon
Su pointed out that the recent formation of a vertical business unit that encompasses all things graphics inside AMD dubbed the Radeon Technologies Group was driven principally by an objective to strengthen the company's competitive position in the traditional graphics markets, such as the add-in-board channel and OEM as well as accelerate growth in emerging markets such as virtual reality.

Lisa Su - Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. - President, CEO
We successfully executed many of our near-term tactical priorities in the third quarter, while also taking several key steps as a part of our longer-term strategy to focus AMD on delivering great products, driving deeper customer relationships, and simplifying our business. Highlights include delivering strong double-digit sequential revenue growth in each of our business segments; expanding our product portfolio with the introduction of several new APUs and GPUs that improve our competitive positioning in key markets; forming the Radeon Technologies Group to bring a vertical focus to our graphics business and help strengthen our performance in traditional graphics markets, while simultaneously establishing leadership initiatives in emerging -- immersive computing markets, like virtual and augmented reality.

AMD To Update Its Entire Graphics Line-Up With 14nm/16nm FinFET "Arctic Islands" GPUs

Joe Moore - Morgan Stanley - Analyst
You have had a nice sequential quarter, but I still have your GPU business down quite a lot year over year. Now that you have products that are more competitive in the enthusiast segment, can you give us an upper bound of
what you might be able to achieve there? Is there supply constraints that are keeping this small and are you going to be able to regain the levels that you were at a year ago in GPU?
Lisa Su - Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. - President, CEO
Yes, so Joe, I think one quarter is good progress. Now you will have to watch us over a number of quarters regain that graphics momentum.
And when I think about it, relative to the Fury launch we did have some supply constraints in the third quarter. They were -- they are largely solved in the fourth quarter, so I don't think there will be any supply constraints.
I think it's also fair to say that the graphics portfolio is quite broad, and so you will see us updating the entire portfolio over the coming quarters,

Su confirmed that AMD is set to update its entire graphics portfolio in 2016.  The new family of GPUs will feature significant architectural enhancements as well as cutting edge FinFET process technology to deliver twice the performance per watt of AMD's current graphics offerings.

Lisa Su - Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. - President, CEO
We are also focused on delivering our next-generation GPUs in 2016 designed to improve performance per watt by 2X compared to our current offerings, based on design architectural enhancements, as well as advanced FinFET process technology.

I should point out right away that AMD does not officially acknowledge the process technology specifics of its next generation GPUs. AMD has two foundry partners that poses FinFET manufacturing technology. Globalfoundries has 14nm 14LPE (Low Power Early/Extreme) and 14LPP (Low Power Performance). TSMC has 16nm 16FF (FinFET) and 16FF+ (FinFET+). 14LPE and 16FF are the early iterations of the technology, while 14LPP and 16FF+ are the refined, higher performance versions of the technology. Despite what the names might suggest, these 14nm and 16nm process technologies actually have nearly identical feature sizes.

AMD's CEO Lisa Su confirmed that the company's engineering teams have taped out multiple FinFET designs for both foundries in Q3 2015, but did not go into further detail.

Lisa Su - Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. - President, CEO
And in the third quarter, we also taped out multiple products in FinFET technologies across both of our foundry partners that are on track to enter production next year.

However, historical precedent - all GPUs in the company's history made their debut on a TSMC process technology - as well as numerous reports point towards TSMC's 16nm FinFET process as being the likely candidate over Globalfoundries' 14nm for AMD's next generation graphics chips. While Globalfoundries' 14nm remains the favorite for the company's future Zen based CPU and APU designs.

AMD 3rd Generation GCN Arctic Islands 2016
This new family of 16nm GPUs is informally code named "Arctic Islands". The new family will be based on AMD's 3rd generation GCN (Graphics Core Next) architecture. Interestingly -- despite the existence of three+ different iterations of GCN namely GCN 1.0 ( HD 7000 series ) , GCN 1.1 ( R9 290 series) , GCN 1.2 ( R9 285 and 380) and Fiji ( R9 Fury X, R9 Fury and R9 Nano) which is based on an updated GCN 1.2 design -- according to AMD there have only been two generations of GCN so far. With the next major iteration coming next year in the form of the "Arctic Islands" family of graphics chips.

This graphics architecture will power everything from next generation mobile and desktop GPUs to APUs and semi-custom chips. There's also strong evidence to suggest that Nindendo's next generation gaming device "Nintendo NX" - which is coming next year - will be powered by an AMD semi-custom SOC. Making it a very likely candidate to feature AMD's 3rd generation "Arctic Islands" GCN architecture.

The flagship GPU in the family has been numerously purported as "Greenland". Which is set to be AMD's most powerful and most advanced graphics chip to date. In addition to being built on an advanced FinFET manufacturing process - likely 16FF+ at TSMC, the same for Nvidia's Pascal - the Arctic Islands family will feature second generation High Bandwidth Memory Technology and as mentioned earlier an updated 3rd generation GCN architecture. These -16nm, HBM2 and GCN3- are going to be the three main performance and power efficiency driving features. Greenland specifically is rumored to feature up to 18 billion transistors and 32GB of second generation HBM with 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. Making it the largest ever graphics engine conceived by the company, at approximately twice the transistor count of AMD's current flagship code named "Fiji" powering the Fury series of Radeon graphics cards.

WCCFTechYearProcessFlagship GPUProductMemoryBandwidth
Southern Islands201228nmTahitiHD 79703GB GDDR5264GB/s
Volcanic Islands201328nmHawaiiR9 290X4GB GDDR5320GB/s
Pirate/Caribbean Islands201528nmFijiR9 Fury X4GB HBM1512GB/s
Arctic Islands201614/16nm FinFETGreenland??GB HBM21TB/s