AMD Could Already Have A Radeon R9 290X Successor – Hawaii XT Also Not Full Chip, Planning To Tackle GeForce GTX 780 Ti

Hassan Mujtaba

Reports from Overclockers.Co.Uk have emerged which seem to indicate that successor of AMD's flagship Radeon R9 290X graphics card might possibly in-development. The new graphics card is being positioned to tackle NVIDIA GeForce GTX 780 Ti which still holds the single-chip performance crown whereas the dual-chip throne is held by AMD's Radeon R9 295X2.AMD Radeon R9 290X Successor Hawaii XTX

Image Credits: TechSpot

AMD Could Already Have A Radeon R9 290X "Hawaii XT" GPU Successor

In comments posted by overclocker 8Pack over at OCUK forums which were spotted by Videocardz, the user tells that the Radeon R9 290X successor is definitely on the way. Surprisingly, if you take a closer look at the comment, 8Pack seems to confirm the existence of not one but two separate chips. In the original thread, 8Pack mentions that AMD already have their next-generation high-end part ready for a while and that AMD also have a Hawaii chip fully enabled, in-development under their sleeves. We might have not taken this seriously if this was a post from a random forum but this coming out from 8Pack who's a renowned overclocker and has links with several tech companies is quite surprising indeed.

Now you may remember my old article which explicitly mentioned that the Hawaii GPU may have extra compute units left disabled? The article being a rumor was quickly debunked by AMD's Dave Baumann (Technical Marketin Manager at AMD) at Beyond3D Forums. The report which was posted by industry insider Dr.Lee or DGLee  unveiled some critical details of the fully enabled Hawaii chip and mentioned that the Hawaii GPU actually holds 48 compute units which amount to 3072 stream processors. If AMD does have this chip prepared for launch, then this could be a major attack on the GeForce GTX 780 Ti which has no successor in sight planned till Q4 2014 as hinted in the recent rumors. The upcoming GeForce GTX 880 and GeForce GTX 870 which are expected to launch with the latest Maxwell core and at lower cost than the GeForce 700 series cards will arrive in either October or November time-frame.

The fully enabled Hawaii GPU might have 48 Compute Units, 192 Texture Mapping Units and 64 Raster Operators. The 48 Compute units amount to a total of 3072 stream processors. That’s the same number of cores once featured on AMD’s Radeon HD 6990 dual-chip graphics card and also the same number of cores which are currently available on NVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 690 dual-chip card. Although there’s no comparison between the cores since all cards are based on different architectures but its still a surprise that AMD can integrated such a high number of cores in their flagship chip, NVIDIA’s GK110 has a maximum 2880 Cuda core count on the high-performance GeForce GTX 780 Ti and its Tesla/Quadro variants. The official naming scheme for the new card is not known but there's a possibility that we may see a Radeon R9 295X branding as AMD has released Radeon R7 265, R7 255, R9 295X2 so a similar naming scheme should be expected. As for pricing, we may see a price of around $599-$649 for this variant pitting it close to the GeForce GTX 780 Ti which retails at $699 US and offer more performance.

The card might even get a new cooling scheme as 8Pack goes on to mention that they have been in-talks with AMD around the temperature issue which plagued the original Hawaii chips until they were cooled by custom cooling from AIC partners. I still don't know why didn't AMD release this chip earlier since it could have been used in both the new FirePro W9100 and Radeon R9 295X2 GPUs which were launched a few months back.

AMD Radeon R9 290 Series Specifications:

  AMD Radeon R9 290 AMD Radeon R9 290X AMD Radeon R9 295X AMD Radeon R9 295X2
GPU Codename Hawaii Pro Hawaii XT Hawaii XTX? Vesuvius
GPU Process 28nm 28nm 28nm 28nm
Stream Processors 2560 2816 3072 5632
Base Clock 800 MHz 900 MHz TBC 1018 MHz
Turbo Clock 947 MHz 1000 MHz TBC 1018 MHz
VRAM 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB 4 GB x 2
Memory Bus 512-Bit 512-Bit 512-Bit 512-Bit x2
Memory Clock 5 GHz (effective) 5 GHz
5 GHz (effective) 5 GHz (effective)
Power Configuration 8+6 Pin 8+6 Pin TBC 8+8 Pin
PCB VRM 5+1+1 5+1+1 TBC 5+1+1
Die Size 438mm2 438mm2 438mm2 438mm2
Launch Date 31st October 2013 24th October 2013 2H 2014? 8th April 2014
Launch Price $449 $549 $599 -$649? $1499

AMD Already Has Hawaii GPU Successor Planned For Launch?

But the biggest revelation of this report is not the new Hawaii GPU that will soon replace the R9 290X as the flagship single chip but the Hawaii GPU successor itself. As 8Pack mentions, the GPU has been in-development for a while now and for all we know, the Hawaii and Bonaire GPUs were already in-plans for quite a while before their launch and were part of the GCN 1.1 family. The actual GCN 2.0 or the next generation Radeon GPU family based cards are still under-development such as Tonga, Iceland, Maui which will replace the three year old rebrands based on Tahiti, Pitcairn and Cape Verde. So this might be an indication that we might see new additions to the Radeon family or a new Radeon family series sooner or later around the same time NVIDIA plans to unveil Maxwell GeForce 800 series cards.

We know that AMD has already started sampling first generation HBM with their graphics cards. The specifications of the HBM memory are interesting featuring a voltage of 1.2 – 2.5V with the DRAM Die density of 2 Gb per stack, each stack featuring 4 DRAM modules. The bus interface would be 1024-bit wide and the command interface would be the traditional DDR (GDDR for graphics units). Each stack would be made up of a logic die which will feature a 2.5D or 3D interface on which four DRAMs would be stacked. This stacked layer would be fused on the PCB just like the regular memory chips but would deliver high performance as the name suggests (HBM = High Bandwidth Memory). The slide is from December 9th 2013 and is called “Die Stack is Happening” which might give an idea why we have seen so many rebrands within the initial Volcanic Islands launch lineup till now. The following chart shows some difference between GDDR5 and HBM Stacked memory designs:

 GDDR5  2-Hi HBM ‘Stacked DRAM’  4-Hi HBM ‘Stacked DRAM’
 I/O  32  512  1024
 Max Bandwidth Per Pin  7 Gbps  1 Gbps  1 Gbps
 Max Bandwidth  28 GBps  64 GBps  128 GBps
 Voltage  1.35 – 1.65  ~1.2  ~1.2
 Command Input  Single  Dual Dual
 Layers   1  2 + 1  4 + 1

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