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AMD Confirms Polaris GPU Positioning – Polaris 10 Aims The Mainstream Desktop/Notebook Market, Polaris 11 Targets Notebook Market


In their Q1 2016 earnings call, AMD confirmed the market positioning of their next-gen Polaris GPUs. We know that AMD Polaris products will be launching in mid of 2016, this statement was confirmed once again by CEO of AMD, Lisa Su, in the earnings call. The Polaris family will include two products, a small chip known as the Polaris 11 and a big chip known as Polaris 10. Yesterday, AMD confirmed what products their Polaris 10 and Polaris 11 chips will be featured inside.

AMD Polaris Product Positioning Confirmed in Q1 2016 Earnings Call

The AMD Q1 2016 Earnings call finally gave us a hint at what products the Polaris GPUs will be aimed at. The quote from AMD's commentary can be seen below:

AMD demonstrated its “Polaris” 10 and 11 next-generation GPUs, with Polaris 11 targeting the notebook market and “Polaris” 10 aimed at the mainstream desktop and high-end gaming notebook segment. “Polaris” architecture-based GPUs are expected to deliver a 2x performance per watt improvement over current generation products and are designed for intensive workloads including 4K video playback and virtual reality (VR). via AMD

AMD's Polaris 10 Will Be Aimed at Mainstream Desktop and High-End Gaming Notebook Markets

The AMD Polaris 10 GPU is known to be the flagship chip based on the GCN 4.0 architecture. The Polaris 10 will remain the flagship until Vega arrives which is launching in 2017. AMD demoed a Polaris 10 based graphics card at Capsaicin 2016 in Hitman running in DirectX 12 at 1440P resolution and delivering a steady 60 FPS. Polaris 10 sounds like a replacement to the Fury X but in fact, it is replacing the mainstream lineup.

According to AMD, the Radeon R9 Fury series cards are enthusiast grade products. Everything below them that includes the Radeon R9 390 and Radeon R9 380 series are mainstream cards. AMD will be filling this market to dispose off their older cores and replace them with new power efficient products. We know that Polaris 10 will either be the Radeon R9 490 or the Radeon R9 480 series but we can't be so sure as this information is still part of a rumor.

AMD Polaris 10 Demo at AMD Radeon Pro Duo event (via Gamer.tw)

AMD confirmed that Polaris 10 is aimed at both mainstream desktop products and high-end notebook products which means that this chip is quite fast. The Polaris 10 could be similar to NVIDIA's GM204 which servers both a high-end mobility lineup and the mainstream desktop lineup while staying competitive in terms of performance and efficiency.

The AMD Radeon R9 Fury cards are the only products which ship with HBM memory! (Credits: MaverickGeek)

Previous leaks confirm that AMD is leaving out space for two GPUs in the mobility lineup. The Polaris 10 could be featured on the top-end Radeon R9 M490 series family which will be included in high-performance laptops. AMD also mentions a 2x performance per watt increase over current generation cards which is thanks to a new process node and a improved GCN architecture.

AMD's Polaris 11 Will Be Aimed at Notebook Market - Efficiency Will Lead To Great Mobility Products

The AMD Polaris 11 was demoed back at CES 2016 and we have since known this as the baby Polaris chip. The chip is small but is extremely efficient against current gen cards from AMD and NVIDIA. AMD has already shown the Polaris 11 GPU to journalists and demoed it against a GeForce GTX 950 to showcase a 50W difference in the 14nm and 28nm process technologies.

AMD Polaris 11 Demo at AMD Radeon Pro Duo event (via Gamer.tw)

The AMD Polaris 11 GPU however is said to be aimed at the notebook market. The chip is said to have wattage under 50W so it makes sense to include this in laptops as its efficiency and performance stats will prove great but this also means that we may or may not see a desktop graphics card based on Polaris 11 for a while or one at all. Right now, according to the official statement from AMD, Polaris 11 seems to be a mobility focused GPU.

AMD Radeon M400 Series Lineup:

GPU NameSKU NamesGPU Series RebrandedGPU Specs (SPs/TMUs/ROPs)
Polaris 10Radeon R9 M495X
Radeon R9 M490X
Polaris 11Radeon R9 M485X
Radeon R9 M480X
Bonaire XTRadeon R9 M470XRadeon R9 M385X896 / 56 / 16
Topaz XTRadeon R7 M460
Radeon R7 M440
Radeon R5 M445
Radeon R8 M445DX
Radeon R7 M270DX
Radeon R7 M260
Radeon R7 M265DX
Radeon R7 M360
Radeon R7 M340
384 / 24 / 8
Sun XTRadeon R5 M430
Radeon R6 M435DX
Radeon R5 M330320 / 20 / 8
Jet ProRadeon R5 M430Radeon R7 M260DX320 / 20 / 8

AMD Polaris 10 Allegedely Performs Close To A GTX 980 Ti, Extremely Efficient and Competitive Design

We also want to share some information we learned from our sources about Polaris 10. AMD recently hosted a event in Taiwan to showcase their Polaris GPUs (Polaris 10 and Polaris 11) along with the Radeon Pro Duo card to journalists. We shared slides of the Radeon Pro Duo from that event yesterday. People were able to get some info out of AMD and it seems like the Polaris 10 can be an extremely competitive product.

The AMD Polaris 10 GPU has a maximum TDP of 175W but cards will actually consume much less than that. The GPU was initially built to support HBM memory but AMD chose to go the GDDR5/X route since it offers a better value currently. We will get to see HBM on AMD GPUs when Vega launches but until then, only Fury series will have HBM support. The Polaris 10 GPU is said to have 3DMark Firestrike Ultra performance around 4000 points which is about what a Radeon R9 Fury X and GeForce GTX 980 Ti score. By 4000 points, we don't mean exactly 4000 but it's actually a bit less than that.

If AMD can manage to launch a card at around $329 US with better efficiency and performance close to 980 Ti with twice the VRAM of Fury X, they can have a great product in their hands which many users will be willing to upgrade to. AMD Polaris looks to be an incremental step for team red in the efficiency game, it will be great to see competitive products from AMD in the coming months which will be built for DirectX 12 and VR Gaming. You can see the leaked specifications in the table below:

AMD Polaris Radeon 400 Series "Preliminary" Specs:

WCCFRadeon R9 480 SeriesRadeon R9 480 SeriesRadeon R9 380 SeriesRadeon R9 470 SeriesRadeon R9 470 SeriesRadeon R7 370 Series
GPUPolaris 10Polaris 10TongaPolaris 11Polaris 11Pitcairn
Fabrication Process14nm FinFET14nm FinFET28nm14nm FinFET14nm FinFET28nm
Compute Units403632201616
GCN GenerationGCN 4.0GCN 4.0GCN 3.0GCN 4.0GCN 4.0GCN 1.0
Stream Processors2560 SPs2304 SPs2048 SPs1280 SPs1024 SPs1024 SPs
Memory Bus256-bit256-bit256-bit128-bit128-bit128-bit