We all have a lot of chips inside our systems, but companies such as AMD and Nvidia rarely show us what that looks like and we have to rely on third-parties such as ChipWorks to show us what the insides look like. They have now done that with the Fiji chip from the Radeon R9 Fury series and we finally get to see a die shot of it.
A lot of the time this isn’t that interesting as they’re using the same old technology, but this time it is particularly interesting because the Fiji chip is the first to use the HBM JEDEC standard for stacked memory. While the GDDR5 standard has been great for many years, it is getting old and has more or less reached its limit. Granted, a GDDR5x standard has been rumoured for a release next year, but HBM is the future.
HBM offers extremely high memory bandwidth at a considerably lower thermal and power cost than GDDR5, and it was also said to require fewer transistors than GDDR5. That was a thing that we hadn’t been able to verify up until now, but it looks like it was correct. Below we see the Fiji chip next to the Tonga chip and in size relation. While the Fiji HBM bus takes up a little more overall space, it also provides a lot more with its 1024bit over the 64bit GDDR5 bus.
AMD and SK Hynix have spent seven years on the development of the HBM standard and it looks like it’s going to pay off, especially with what we’ve already heard of the HBM2 generation that will take the whole thing to a completely new level.