Update - AMD has asked us to removed this content piece due to their NDA regarding the Hawaii GPU. The article and its content would go live once the NDA is over or the product has officially been launched and announced by AMD.
The official presentation for the AMD Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 graphic cards have been leaked giving us a more brief look at the specifications and the kind of performance to expect in gaming at 4K resolution. AMD Radeon R9 290 were initially announced at the GPU '14 event held last month in Hawaii but AMD never unveiled the specifications or performance numbers of these upcoming cards until today.
AMD Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 Series Official Details
So before telling you the specifications which you might already know if you have been following us of lately, both the Radeon R9 290X and Radeon R9 290 graphic cards would be based on the Hawaii GPU. This is in-fact the only new graphics chip in the Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series lineup which is not a rebrand or a refreshed part of the Southern Islands lineup.
The Hawaii graphics processing unit is specifically based on the GCN 2.0 architecture, the GCN 1.1 architecture was originally planned as the Sea Islands lineup which only launched as the Radeon HD 7790 based on the Bonaire XTX architecture. The Bonaire XTX GPU is currently featured on AMD's Radeon R9 260X graphics card which was launched yesterday. The GCN 1.0 architecture is part of the entire HD 7000 series Southern Islands lineup that is now being used inside the Radeon R9 280X GPU. The Radeon R9 270X on the other hand is a mix of both the GCN 1.0 and 2.0 architecture, it supports AMD True Audio but features specifications similar to the Radeon HD 7870 so its hard to tell what architecture line it essentially falls into. The Hawaii GPU has over 6 Billion transistors that are crammed inside a 28nm die, NVIDIA's flagship GK110 on the other hand which has a 30% larger die surface features 7.1 Billion transistors.
AMD Radeon R9 290X "Hawaii XT"
Let's get on with the specifications, the Radeon R9 290X is the flagship part featuring the full blown Hawaii chip with 2816 Stream Processors divided into 44 CUs (Compute Units). It has a clock speed of upto 1 GHz. Essentially, the graphic card features two clock speeds at which it operates. These are configured through the card's Dual BIOS switch that is located right next to the place where the CrossFire bridge is located on Radeon cards. Most reference cards don't ship with Dual BIOS support and this is probably the first flagship GPU to ship with such an option. The high stream processor and core count allows the Radeon R9 290X to deliver a compute performance of 5.6 TFlops. It features 64 Raster Operators which are twice the amount featured on the Radeon HD 7970.
In addition to the core specs, the Radeon R9 290X comes with a generous 4 GB GDDR5 memory which runs along a 512-bit interface. The clock speed for the memory is effectively maintained at 5.0 GHz that provides a bandwith of over 320 GB/s. The Radeon R9 290 Series is mainly targeted towards the Ultra High-Resolution audience who want to play the upcoming titles at 4K resolutions and beyond that since AMD were showing demo's of Eyefinity 4K monitors running over a single Radeon R9 290X GPU. The Battlefield 4 Angry Sea gameplay was also demo'd on a single Radeon R9 290X in Eyefinity. The Radeon R9 290X features Dual-DVI, HDMI, Display ports for display capability and has a single 6 Pin and 8 Pin power connector to juice it up. The Radeon R9 290X would be available next week for a price of around $649.99 US and is currently available with the Battlefield 4 bundle package that retails at Newegg for a price of $729.99.
AMD Radeon R9 290 "Hawaii Pro"
Next up we have the more cost-effective Hawaii Pro graphic card known as the AMD Radeon R9 290 (Non-X). As you might have seen, the Radeon R9 290 comes with 2560 Stream processors which means only 40 CU's enabled on this Hawaii part. As for clock speeds, we are looking at 947 MHz max frequency which is yet again adjustable from the Dual BIOS switch. For memory, we have 4 GB GDDR5 VRAM running across a 512-bit interface that will pump out 320 GB/s bandwidth at a clock speed of 5.0 GHz.
The Radeon R9 290 will be powered with an 8+6 Pin power configuration though the picture we were provided shows dual 6-Pin connectors so either there's something wrong with the picture or there seems to be a typo in the chart itself. The display outputs include Dual-DVI, HDMI and Display port with Eyefinity compatibility and just like its bigger brother, it is supposed to run games at 4K resolution with ease. The Radeon R9 290 would hit the market probably a bit later for a price of around $499.
Before moving into the performance, have a look in the following chart for the complete Radeon R9 290 series specification round-up:
|AMD Radeon R9 290X||AMD Radeon R9 290||GeForce GTX 780||GeForce GTX Titan|
|Base Clock||800 MHz||900 MHz||863 MHz||837 MHz|
|Turbo Clock||1000 MHz||947 MHz||902 MHz||876 MHz|
|VRAM||4 GB||4 GB||3 GB||6 GB|
|Memory Bus||512-Bit||512-Bit||384-Bit||384 Bit|
|Memory Clock||5 GHz (effective)||5 GHz
|6 GHz (effective)||6 GHz (effective)|
|Power Configuration||8+6 Pin||8+6 Pin||8+6 Pin||8+6 Pin|
|Launch Date||15 th October 2013||Q4 2013||23rd June 2013||21st February 2013|
So now we get on with the more juicy bits, let's start this talk with the API support. AMD will fully offer support with three major APIs - DirectX 11.2, OpenGL 4.3 and last but not least Mantle. Microsoft DirectX 11.2 and 4.3 OpenGL have showed their advantages and already being utilized with some of the upcoming titles. Mantle API was something unknown to the tech and software industry till its announcement by DICE's John Andersson at the Hawaii event.
The AMD Mantle API is being exclusively developed for GCN enabled Radeon graphic cards. This would allow developers to dig deep into the metal to bring console-level optimizations through ease of programming and faster optimizations over a coherent GCN chip architecture. This means that we would see better performance on the entire GCN architecture enabled AMD graphic card lineup ranging from the top Radeon R9 290X to the bottom R7 250X. We had a really brief and detailed article about the Mantle API which sums it up pretty nicely, so do head over to this link to check it out. The great thing about Mantle is that is such a good thing for any PC gamer that its not only being utilized by Frostbite 3 but other developers such as Infinity Ward, the creators of the upcoming Call of Duty: Ghosts have also hopped aboard to support Mantle API from AMD and feature it in their game.
Before moving into performance, there's one last thing i want to talk about and that's the new CrossFireX technology. Some of you might have noticed that the new Radeon R9 290 series doesn't feature any sort of CrossFire bridge, the thing is that it doesn't require one anymore. You can head over to our main article which gives a thorough insight on the new CrossFireX Technology by AMD.
AMD mentions that the new CrossFire technology for AMD Radeon R9 290X is designed to for AMD Eyefinity and UltraHD (4K) resolution setups. The new technology, as mentioned before allows for direct access between GPU display pipelines over PCI-Express hence no external connectors are required. The technology is fully compatible with AMD’s Catalyst frame pacing technologies which help reduce frame pacing issues faced with Multi-GPU setups which have been a massive problem with the Radeon 7000 series. Lastly, the slide mentions that users would face no performance penalty by with Sideport versus traditional used external bridges for CrossFireX.
Finally, we come to talk about the details all of us have been waiting for aka the performance numbers. The slide can be seen below:
As you can note and as we have been talking about, the Radeon R9 290 series is going to specifically target the high-end and enthusiast crowd delivering amazing performance in 4K resolution (3840 x 2160). There are only a few single chip solutions that offer this kind of gaming performance at 4K, the GeForce GTX 780 and GeForce GTX Titan which stays slightly on top due to the higher 6 GB VRAM but overall these cards are built for the enthusiast crowd and they do an amazing job showcasing the true power of what PC gaming and gamers are capable to do with their PC rigs or Battle Stations. From the slide, you can see that the Radeon R9 290X delivers over 30 FPS in Aliens vs Predators, Bioshock Infinite, Crysis 3, Tomb Raider while managing an even better 60 FPS in Battlefield 3, FarCry 3 and Skyrim.
Above, we have some CrossFire scaling numbers from AMD which show that two of the Radeon R9 290X deliver 1.87X accurate scaling in 3DMark FireStrike and upto 2.60X accurate scaling with triple CrossFire configuration and no CrossFire cable needed as detailed above. AMD has already told that the new GPUs would be compatible with the AMD Catalyst frame pacing technologies so issues such as stuttering and high latency wouldn't be much of an issue with the new series as it was on the last generation cards. If you want more detailed benchmarks then i would advise you to head over to the previously leaked benchmarks posted here and here.
Yesterday, AMD announced their Radeon R9 and Radeon R7 series cards which included the Radeon R9 280X, Radeon R9 270X and Radeon R7 260X. You can check up our round-up in this page. Next week, AMD will show case the first reviews of their new flagship Hawaii part.