First AMD Radeon 400 Series GPUs To Start Selling In April

Author Photo
Feb 23, 2016
20Shares
Submit

It has only been a couple of months since AMD revealed its next generation Polaris graphics architecture but looks like the company’s Radeon 400 series GPUs are almost ready to start shipping to customers. In fact it looks like we might be looking at April for the very first Radeon 400 series graphics cards to start shipping.

AMD Polaris 17

Lenovo has just announced it’s brand new lineup of Windows 10 YOGA laptops and tablets for 2016. Some of which as we’ve discovered feature configurations with AMD Radeon 400 series graphics cards and will start shipping this April.

AMD’s Radeon 400 Series Graphics Cards Are Almost Here

The systems in question are Lenovo’s brand new 15 inch and 14 inch YOGA 510 laptops, which will sell under the Flex 4 name in the US. Both the 15 inch and 14 inch version can be configured with dedicated AMD Radeon 400 series graphics cards. The former can be equipped with an R7 M460 and the latter with an R5 M430.

  510-14ISK 510-15ISK
CPU Up to sixth generation Intel Core i7 Up to sixth generation Intel Core i7
GPU Up to AMD Radeon R5 M430 Up to AMD Radeon R7 M460
RAM Up to 8 GB Up to 8 GB
Storage Up to 1 TB HDD or up to 256 GB SSD Up to 1 TB HDD or up to 256 GB SSD
Display 14-inch IPS touchscreen 1080p 15-inch IPS touchscreen 1080p
Camera 1 MP fixed focus CMOS 720p 1 MP fixed focus CMOS 720p
Connectivity 1x1 A/C Wi-Fi+, Bluetooth 4.1, Giga LAN 1x1 A/C Wi-Fi+, Bluetooth 4.1, Giga LAN
I/O 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0 (always-on), HDMI, SD card reader (supports MMC, SDHC, SDXC and SD), audio combo jack 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0 (always-on), HDMI, SD card reader (supports MMC, SDHC, SDXC and SD), audio combo jack
OS Windows 10 Home Windows 10 Home

Sadly we don’t have detailed specifications for these 400 series graphics cards just yet, except that they will feature 2GB of video memory. These could very well be the Radeon 400 series GPUs code named “Weston” and “Banks” that we’ve recently discovered in the Zauba shipping database. Right now we’re stuck with these code names and really don’t know much beyond in terms of specifications or performance. However, if these GPUs are indeed going to ship beginning this April it shouldn’t be too long before all of that information is made available to us.

Speaking more broadly of Polaris, AMD’s next generation 14nm graphics architecture. The company is not only promising a historic leap in performance per watt, but has also actually demonstrated this unprecedented jump in power efficiency publicly back in January at CES.

So far AMD has unveiled two 14nm FinFET Polaris GPUs, given the names Polaris 11 and Polaris 10. A small GPU meant to deliver console-class gaming performance in thin and light notebooks and a large GPU, described as a successor to the Radeon R9 Fury X.

Polaris Is Efficient, Very Efficient

AMD, has only demoed the smallest member of the Polaris family running Star Wars Battlefront at 60 FPS against an Nvidia Maxwell based GeForce GTX 950 graphics card. The Polaris GPU consumed roughly half the power to produce the same framerate.  This huge jump in power efficiency is going to play a crucial role in allowing the company to make really high performance mobile graphics cards. In fact it means a de facto doubling of graphics performance for gaming laptops and even desktops.

Naturally any improvements in performance per watt often translate directly to improvements in actual performance in all graphics card tiers whether we’re talking about high-end, mid range or entry level products. This is because the power design envelopes stay mostly unchanged for all graphics card tiers. This means that a 250W Polaris GPU should be twice as powerful as a 250W Nvidia 900 series GPU, assuming we see similar power efficiency scaling to what AMD has demonstrated. But Polaris isn’t just about power efficiency as it’s bringing several new cool features.

Polaris Is Designed For And Built On Samsung’s 14nm FinFET Process Technology

AMD’s chief technology officer, Mark Papermaster, announced last year that AMD will in fact be leveraging Globalfoundries’ 14LPP process for CPU, APU and GPU products

FinFET technology is expected to play a critical foundational role across multiple AMD product lines, starting in 2016, GLOBALFOUNDRIES has worked tirelessly to reach this key milestone on its 14LPP process. We look forward to GLOBALFOUNDRIES’ continued progress towards full production readiness and expect to leverage the advanced 14LPP  process technology across a broad set of our CPU, APU, and GPU products. – Press Release

AMD later announced Polaris and confirmed that it will be manufactured using the Samsung/Globalfoundries’ 14nm FinFET process technology.

AMD’s Polaris architecture-based 14nm FinFET GPUs deliver a remarkable generational jump in power efficiency. Polaris-based GPUs are designed for fluid frame rates in graphics, gaming, VR and multimedia applications running on compelling small form-factor thin and light computer designs.

14nm FinFET will offer GPU design engineers nearly double transistors to play with in the same area as the current 28nm process. 14nm FinFET also has significantly faster switching speeds, which translates to significantly higher clock speeds compared to current 28nm based GPUs. This is all in addition to the drastic power savings enabled by the smaller feature sizes and the move from planar to 3D FinFET gates.

14nm FinFET Technology

Globalfoundries.com
14LPE – Early time-to-market version with area and power benefits for mobility applications

14LPP – Enhanced version with higher performance and lower power; a full platform offering with MPW, IP enablement and wide application coverage

4th Generation Graphics Core Next Compute Units

The name “Polaris” doesn’t just describe AMD’s 4th generation GCN architecture, but a broad collection of new visual computing intellectual property. For AMD’s 2016 graphics products the company updated all aspects of its graphics IP. Including the addition of support for DisplayPort 1.3 and HDMI 2.0a in addition to h.265 decode at up to 4K and encode at 4K and 60 FPS.

When it comes to the GCN ( Graphics Core Next ) engine itself, AMD outlined a number of fundamental features that define the architecture and they include :

– Primitive Discard Accelerator
– Hardware Scheduler
– Instruction Pre-Fetch
– Improved Shader Efficiency
– Memory Compression

AMD Polaris 5

One notable new feature is primitive discard acceleration. Which in no certain terms is AMD’s way of revealing that its upcoming GPUs will add support for additional key DirectX12 features such as Conservative Rasterization.

Furthermore, this list does a great job of showcasing just how advanced modern GPUs have become. Instruction pre-fetch is a technique that’s long been employed in CPUs and it works to improve performance by reducing stalls and unnecessary wait times. So it’s quite remarkable that this technology is now an indispensable part of modern graphics engines. That really goes to show just how complex modern GPUs have become.

It’s important to note though that instruction pre-fetching in GPUs isn’t an entirely new addition, current graphics architectures do support varied levels of pre-fetching. However, these implementations have been traditionally quite limited in nature. With Polaris, AMD is pushing for a more robust solution to more effectively tackle a broad set of scenarios in which pre-fetching can be really advantageous.

AMD Radeon Graphics Architectures

WCCFTech Year Consumer
Product
GPU Process Transistors In Billions Performance Memory Bandwidth
Southern Islands 2012 HD 7970 Ghz Tahiti 28nm 4.3 4.1 TFLOPS 3GB GDDR5 264GB/s
Volcanic Islands 2013 R9 290X Hawaii 28nm 6.2 5.6 TFLOPS 4GB GDDR5 320GB/s
Caribbean Islands 2015 R9 Fury X Fiji 28nm 8.9 8.6 TFLOPS 4GB HBM1 512GB/s
POLARIS 2016 RX 480 Polaris 10 14nm 5.7 5.2 TFLOPS 8GB GDDR5 256 GB/s
VEGA 2017 RX Vega 64 Vega 10 14nm 12.5 13 TFLOPS 8GB HBM2 480GB/s
VEGA Refresh
VEGA 2
2018

2018
TBA

TBA
TBA

Vega 20
12nm

7nm
12.5

TBA
TBA

TBA
TBA

32GB HBM2
TBA

1 TB/s
NAVI 2019 TBA Navi 10 7nm TBA TBA Nextgen Memory TBA

AMD’s New Polaris Multimedia Engines Will Allow Gamers To Stream Games At 4K For No Discernible Performance Cost

Polaris also brings a bunch of new multimedia capabilities to the table. Including the ability to stream games at 4K without any performance cost.  Something that AMD’s graphics guru and the head of the Radeon Technologies Group, Raja Koduri is very excited about.

Raja Koduri, Senior Vice President and Chief Architect, Radeon Technologies Group

We have two versions of these FinFET GPUs. Both are extremely power efficient. This is Polaris 10 and that’s Polaris 11. In terms of what we’ve done at the high level, it’s our most revolutionary jump in performance so far. We’ve redesigned many blocks in our cores. We’ve redesigned the main processor, a new geometry processor, a completely new fourth-generation Graphics Core Next with a very high increase in performance. We have new multimedia cores, a new display engine.

In summary, it’s fourth generation Graphics Core Next. HDMI 2.0. It supports all the new 4K displays and TVs coming out with just plug and play. It supports display core 4.3, the latest specification. It’s very exciting 4K support. We can do HAVC encode and decode at 4K on this chip. It’ll be great for game streaming at high resolution, which gamers absolutely love. It takes no cycles away from games. You can record gameplay and still have an awesome frame rate. It’ll be available in mid-2016.

Second Generation Vertically Stacked High Bandwidth Memory

AMD has confirmed to us that while the company remains committed to the High Bandwidth Memory technology it co-invented with its partner Hynix and brought to the market last year, Polaris remains compatible with both HBM/HBM2 and GDDR5 memory standards. Technical marketing lead at AMD, Robert Hallock, explained that they have the flexibility to use either technology as the need arises. As such each memory technology will be employed in the market segments where it makes sense.

AMD helped lead the development of HBM, was the first to bring HBM to market in GPUs, and plans to implement HBM/HBM2 in future graphics solutions.

At this time we have only publicly demonstrated a GDDR5 configuration of the Polaris architecture.It’s important to understand that HBM isn’t (currently) suitable for all GPU segments due to the current HBM cost structure. In the mainstream GPU segment, GDDR5 remains an extremely cost-effective, efficient and viable memory technology.

Polaris graphics cards are set to launch this summer, before the back to school season, on both desktops and gaming notebooks.

WCCFTech Polaris Polaris AMD Radeon R9 Fury X AMD Radeon R9 Fury AMD Radeon R9 290X
GPU Polaris 11 Polaris 10 Fiji XT Fiji Pro Hawaii XT
Stream Processors A lot A Bunch 4096 3584 2816
GCN Compute Units Many Plenty 64 56 44
Render Output Units Loads Several 64 64 64
Texture Mapping Units Those Too That's Right 256 224 176
GPU Frequency Really High High Up to 1050Mhz Up to 1000 MHz 1000Mhz
Memory Many GBs Enough GBs 4GB HBM 4GB HBM 4GB GDDR5
Memory Interface Really Wide Wide Enough 4096bit 4096bit 512bit
Memory Frequency Fast Fast Enough 500Mhz 500Mhz 1250Mhz
Effective Memory Speed Just as fast No Really 1Gbps 1Gbps 5Gbps
Memory Bandwidth Many GBs/s Plenty Of GBs/s 512GB/s 512GB/s 320GB/s
Cooling Very Red Red Liquid, 120mm Radiator Air, Custom AIB Solutions Air, Single Blower Fan
Performance (FP32) Many TFLOPS A Decent Amount 8.6 TFLOPS 7.2 TFLOPS 5.6 TFLOPS
TDP Efficient Very Efficient 275W 275W 250W
GFLOPS/Watt Double Twice As Much 31.3 26.2 19.3
Launch Price TBA TBA $649 $549 $549
Launch Date 2016 2016 24th June 2015 10th July 2015 24th October 2013
Submit