With just about 2 months to launch, it is inevitable that more details about Polaris are going to leak out. According to a patch submitted by AMD, it appears that Polaris 10 and 11 are the same chips previously leaked as Ellesmere and Baffin respectively. Furthermore, it appears that Ellesmere will be an R9 390/390X configuration replacement but offer Fury X like performance.
According to the patch, Polaris 10, the top end Polaris chip is codenamed Ellesmere while Baffin is Polaris 11. This collaborates previously released information that Ellesmere, Baffin and Greenland would be launching soon. While Baffin has been spotted shipping, Ellesmere has not, suggesting it is either a bigger more complex die or the higher end product AMD wants to keep under wraps.
Finally, we are getting some more specifications for Polaris 10. According to benchmarks spotted online, one Ellesmere configuration will be 2304 GCN cores in 32CUs running at 800-1000mhz. The chip will also have a 256bit memory bus and 8GB of VRAM running at 1500Mhz (7500Mhz effective). This places the card as a solid replacement for the 390/390X segment with a 2560 core unit being the top model. The reduced memory bus width is offset by AMD’s lossless texture compression and increased GDDR5 clocks.
Given the gains from 14nm and the new Polaris GCN architecture, it wouldn’t be unexpected for a 2560 core unit to beat Fury X as shown in the Hitman demo. This means AMD has managed to bump GCN performance by about 30%, the biggest from them since GCN was originally launched. With Pascal not expected to give much of a boost, AMD may finally seize the performance/efficiency crown from Nvidia.
AMD looks to be preparing things behind the scenes for their Radeon 400 series of GPUs. After a number of AMD GPUs have been spotted shipping out of Hong Kong and India, a number of new GPUs have shipped out of Canada where AMD has their Markham office with the telltale AMD labelling. Of course there is the flagship Polaris part, the Baffin XT but also the yet to be revealed Banks Pro and Weston[XT] and Weston Pro. Both Weston and Banks are northern islands in the Artic, right in line with the Northern Islands lineup for the 400 series.
Carrying the C981 label, Baffin XT is exactly what I suspected it to be, an R9 390X replacement part. This is because it carries a G5 moniker with 4GB of memory, pointing to either GDDR5X or GDDR5. The most likely configuration in my mind is GDDR5X with 256bit bus which should be enough considering AMD’s new delta colour compression techniques. The 4GB VRAM buffer does cast doubt though if it will be a Hawaii class chip, rather it may be a Tonga replacement.
Moving on we have two Weston hips, both based on the C729 die, with one being the XT and the other the Pro variant. The Banks is based off the C728 die instead but all three chips utilize GDDR5(X) and have 2GB’s worth. These 3 actually first appeared back in September 2015 and the C7xx moniker gives it away as either 28nm parts or pre-GCN 4. The 4500Mhz GDDR5 clock gives these cards away as either Oland or Cape Verde, probably making them rebrands for the budget segment. Either way, it looks like AMD will be making some major announcements at GDC next month.
More and more information is pointing to the state of readiness for AMD’s upcoming Polaris GPUs. According to information spotted in AIDA64 and HWiNFO Changelog, support for 3 new GPUs, Ellesmere, Baffin and Greenland has appeared. As these nomenclatures predate AMD’s Polaris announcement, we can assume that Greenland is Vega 10 while Baffin and Ellesmere are one of Polaris 10 and 11. With AMD going around and handing out the PCI-e ID for Polaris, this means engineering samples are just around the corner.
Switching away from the Islands based noncom lecture, the new architecture maintains it’s GCN roots but is otherwise heavily improved. Graphics guru Raja Koduri noted that the new GCN 4.0 is built purposefully for use with the new 14/16nm process and FinFETs. Combined other redesigned blocks and units on the GPU, the new cards will offer a revolutionary improvement over the past. The use of HBM2 and GDDR5X also means these cards will be both more power efficient and able to push higher resolutions easier.
With Polaris set to arrive in mid-2016, it’s only a matter of time before we get more information and leaks out of AMD. Once launched, the new architecture will usher in a new era for GPUs and hopefully for AMD as well.
According to multiple sources, AMD is working on 3 new GPUs as part of their 2016 lineup. Likely part of the Arctic Islands release, the 3 chips all fit the theme being called Greenland, Baffin and Ellesmere. Greenland is set to be the flagship product while Baffin and Ellesmere will probably target other segments like performance and mainstream.
While we’ve already gotten some information about what Greenland will look like, we’re also learning that the ISA (Instruction Set Architecture) is undergoing major changes. Since 2011, AMD has been working with GCN, or Graphics Core Next. There have been several iterations from the original GCN 1.0 like 1.1 which powers the R9 290/290X and GCN 1.2 which is found in the R9 285 and Fury/Fiji. With this latest ISA change, AMD is moving beyond GCN to “post-GCN” on a radically new architecture. In some ways, the time spent with GCN highlighted how AMD has a slower cycle than Nvidia but also showcased the staying power of the architectures, which is finally seeing AMD’s early invest pay off with DX12.
This new ISA is also set to net AMD massive gains in the power efficiency department. While Nvidia showed strong gains moving from Kepler to Maxwell, AMD is reporting that their new ISA will double power efficiency. This should leapfrog Maxwell and will likely be a strong competitor to Pascal. Given the use of either 14nm or 16nm FinFETs as well, we may well see even more massive power savings. Combined with up to 32GB of HBM2 which is also pretty power efficient, 2016 looks to be a pretty big year.
Both Baffin and Ellesmere are also expected to be entirely new cards as well. This will bring a much-needed refresh to the AMD lineup which largely consists of rebrands at this point. Hopefully, these new cards and Zen will bring enough to the table and turn things around for the beleaguered firm.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information