AMD Radeon 300 Series Won’t Be A Rebrand, New GPUs Coming in June
The AMD Radeon R9 300 series will reportedly contain no re-branded graphics cards from the R9 200 series. An entirely new lineup is coming at Computex. The report in question alleges that AMD’s original plan was centered around introducing a new flagship Radeon product this month and rebranding a few other R9 200 series products to R9 300 series products. Essentially making the R9 290X the new R9 380X and the R9 285 the new R9 370, so on and so forth.
To be completely honest, that’s what we had believed would happen as well. However according to the report there has been a change of plans and a massive one at that. Relatively recently AMD decided to take a different high-risk high-reward route with the R 300 series instead of the boring rebranding plan. Senior management and senior engineering heads at AMD have decided to introduce an entirely new line-up of GPUs, with no re-branding of older chips.
AMD Radeon 300 Series Won’t Be A Rebrand, Brand New GPUs Coming in June
I’m going to side-track for just a bit so bare with me. AMD’s Gaming Scientist Richard Huddy had stated on several occasions that “all of AMD’s future GPUs will support FreeSync“. The astute among you will deduce that for that to happen AMD simply cannot re-brand older Radeon 200 series GPUs to 300 series products. Purely because a significant portion of the R9/7 200 series does not support FreeSync. According to Huddy adding FreeSync support requires updating the display controller integrated into the GPU die itself, which would warrant a re-design of the die, something that’s extraordinarily expensive.
Currently AMD’s Hawaii (290 series), Tonga (285) and Bonaire (260 series) GPUs support FreeSync. This meant that AMD would have three chips which it can choose to re-brand without breaking FreeSync compatibility. There are however a few pitfalls to this strategy which may have led AMD to forgo it. One of which is the considerable gap between the Tonga chip, which is essentially an updated Tahiti (280X/280/7970/7950), and the Bonaire chip. This meant that AMD would have to design a new GPU to fill this gap anyway because it can’t use Pitcarin (270X/270/265/7870/7850) since it doesn’t support FreeSync. Another pitfall is that AMD cannot significantly improve the performance i.e. competitiveness of rebranded GPUs.
Now that we have successfully discussed what did not happen in the past and why, let’s talk about what will happen in the future. Just a couple of days ago AMD teased both its fans and the press with a yet unreleased, unannounced, ultra-enthusiast class Radeon graphics card. Which, AMD told us, was actually used to power several systems to demo Oculus VR at the GDC show floor.
Unfortunately that’s all that we’ve managed to get from the folks at AMD. Fortunately however we were told , in addition to several other journalists, that “much more” will be revealed about this mystery graphics card “soon”.
Back to the report by Kitguru. According to their information AMD’s preparing to introduce the R 300 series lineup at Computex in June. We don’t know for sure if this also includes the fabled Fiji XT AKA R9 390X. Because what we have discovered, repeatedly, is that this card’s actually ready. First when we found out that the board had passed the certification phase. Later AMD themselves said that they were “putting the finishing touches” on the new series. Once again when we had exclusively told you that the cooling design for the board had been decided upon. And finally we were reminded once more that the new chip is ready when it was used to run several public virtual reality demos at GDC. AMD can’t simply run several, performance intensive, demos publicly on a brand new chip unless it knows that it’s in tip-top stable from.
I could certainly imagine that AMD still has got some work to do on the rest of the lineup since their development has allegedly begun later, but there’s evidence that Fiji XT / R9 390X is ready for prime-time. So is it true that AMD’s holding this card close to its figurative chest until inventory levels of R 200 series cards in the channel are in a more healthy level ? That’s a tough question to answer without delving into the semantics of business practice. At this point we’re merely hoping that when AMD says “soon” it doesn’t mean three months later. This space needs more aggressive competition, the sooner the better.