When it comes to updating your BIOS, most users would be probably thinking about their motherboards. However, graphics card also have their own video BIOS which interfaces with the system BIOS and the graphics card hardware. A new VBIOS can add support for UEFI, speed and power profiles as well as improve stability. Today, AMD released an updated BIOS for their R9 Nano and R9 Fury X graphics cards.
According to AMD, the new BIOS is meant to improve UEFI BIOS support. Normally, you would see AMD’s AiB partners release new updates for their specific card models. However, in the case of the Nano and Fury X, these are reference designed Fiji based cards. We may see the Fury cards, which are all custom, get their own BIOS updates soon.
In addition to the UEFI support, some users are reporting that overclocking stability has improved. The Fury X was not particularly well-liked due to its lacklustre overclocking abilities, something this BIOS may fix. This also suggests that the Radeon Pro Duo may also overclock better than the original Fury X.
To update your relevant graphics card, you can download the new BIOS from AMD’s website here. AMD has chosen to release the updates as .roms which will make for a more complicated flashing process. The usual cautions of flashing your BIOS apply of course.
In just under 10 days, users will finally be able to purchase their very own dual Fiji GPU. From launch, the Radeon Pro Duo would come out to a lofty $1,499 USD but given exchange rates, those in Spain will have to shell out 1696 EUR. In addition to some local pricing information, we’re also getting treated to some very nice pictures and more detailed physical specifications for the top end Radeon.
First off, confirmation has been given about the clockspeed of the dual-Fijis as 1000Mhz. This slightly lower than the FuryX which runs at 1050Mhz but the removal of PCIe latency should offset this. Memory stays the same at the standard 500Mhz though overclocking that shouldn’t be hard. Exact dimensions are 28.1 x 11.6 x 4.2 cm (length, width, height), with a 120mm as well. No word yet on the length of the tubing.
The biggest surprise is the display output which AMD told us was 4 DisplayPorts. We’re finding out now that it’s actually only 3 DisplayPort 1.2 and 1 HDMI 1.4a. Perhaps AMD misspoke display ports for DisplayPorts. Either way, it remains to be seen how well the card will sell given the hefty price tag and how close Pascal and Polaris are. Even with a strong showing from the next-gen card, though, the Radeon Pro Duo may remain the fastest single card solution.
AMD has a serious image problem with their drivers which stems from buggy, unrefined updates, and a slow release schedule. Even though this perception began many years ago, it’s still impacting on the company’s sales and explains why their market share is so small. The Q4 2015 results from Jon Peddie Research suggests AMD reached a market share of 21.1% while NVIDIA reigned supreme with 78.8%. Although, the Q4 data is more promising because AMD accounted for a mere 18.8% during the last quarter. On the other hand, respected industry journal DigiTimes reports that AMD is likely to reach its lowest ever market position for Q1 2016. Thankfully, the financial results will emerge on April 21st so we should know the full picture relatively soon. Of course, the situation should improve once Polaris and Zen reach retail channels. Most importantly, AMD’s share price has declined by more than 67% in five years from $9 to under $3 as of March 28, 2016. The question is why?
Is the Hardware Competitive?
The current situation is rather baffling considering AMD’s extremely competitive product line-up in the graphics segment. For example, the R9 390 is a superb alternative to NVIDIA’s GTX 970 and features 8GB VRAM which provides extra headroom when using virtual reality equipment. The company’s strategy appears to revolves around minor differences in performance between the R9 390 and 390X. This also applied to the R9 290 and 290X due to both products utilizing the Hawaii core. NVIDIA employs a similar tactic with the GTX 970 and GTX 980 but there’s a marked price increase compared to their rivals.
NVIDIA’s ability to cater towards the lower tier demographic has been quite poor because competing GPUs including the 7850 and R9 380X provided a much better price to performance ratio. Not only that, NVIDIA’s decision to deploy ridiculously low video memory amounts on cards like the GTX 960 has the potential to cause headaches in the future. It’s important to remember that the GTX 960 can be acquired with either 2GB or 4GB of video memory. Honestly, they should have simplified the process and produced the higher memory model in a similar fashion to the R9 380X. Once again, AMD continues to offer a very generous amount of VRAM across various product tiers.
Part of the problem revolves around AMD’s sluggish release cycle and reliance on the Graphics Core Next (GCN) 1.1 architecture. This was first introduced way back in 2013 with the Radeon HD 7790. Despite its age, AMD deployed the GCN 1.1 architecture on their revised 390 series and didn’t do themselves any favours when denying accusations about the new line-up being a basic re-branding exercise. Of course, this proved to be the case and some users managed to flash their 290/290X to a 390/390X with a BIOS update. There’s nothing inherently wrong with product rebrands if they can remain competitive in the current market. It’s not exclusive to AMD, and NVIDIA have used similar business strategies on numerous occasions. However, I feel it’s up to AMD to push graphics technology forward and encourage their nearest rival to launch more powerful options.
Another criticism regarding AMD hardware which seems to plague everything they release is the perception that every GPU runs extremely hot. You only have to look on certain websites, social media and various forums to see this is the main source of people’s frustration. Some individuals are even known to produce images showing AMD graphics cards setting ablaze. So is there any truth to these suggestions? Unfortunately, the answer is yes and a pertinent example comes from the R9 290 range. The 290/290X reference models utilized one of the most inefficient cooler designs I’ve ever seen and struggled to keep the GPU core running below 95C under load.
Unbelievably, the core was designed to run at these high thermals and AMD created a more progressive RPM curve to reduce noise. As a result, the GPU could take 10-15 minutes to reach idle temperature levels. The Hawaii temperatures really impacted on the company’s reputation and forged a viewpoint among consumers which I highly doubt will ever disappear. It’s a shame because the upcoming Polaris architecture built on the 14nm FinFET process should exhibit significant efficiency gains and end the concept of high thermals on AMD products. There’s also the idea that AMD GPUs have a noticeably higher TDP than their NVIDIA counterparts. For instance, the R9 390 has a TDP of 275 watts while the GTX 970 only consumes 145 watts. On the other hand, the Fury X utilizes 250 watts compared to the GTX 980Ti’s rating of 275 watts.
Eventually, AMD released a brand new range of graphics cards utilizing the first iteration of high bandwidth memory. Prior to its release, expectations were high and many people expected the Fury X to dethrone NVIDIA’s flagship graphics card. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition and the Fury X fell behind in various benchmarks, although it fared better at high resolutions. The GPU also encountered supply problems and emitted a large whine from the pump on early samples. Asetek even threatened to sue Cooler Master who created the AIO design which could force all Fury X products to be removed from sale.
The rankings alter rather dramatically when the DirectX 12 render is used which suggests AMD products have a clear advantage. Asynchronous Compute is the hot topic right now which in theory allows for greater GPU utilization in supported games. Ashes of the Singularity has implemented this for some time and makes for some very interesting findings. Currently, we’re working on a performance analysis for the game, but I can reveal that there is a huge boost for AMD cards when moving from DirectX11 to DirectX12. Furthermore, there are reports indicating that Pascal might not be able to use asynchronous shaders which makes Polaris and Fiji products more appealing.
Do AMD GPUs Lack Essential Hardware Features?
When selecting graphics hardware, it’s not always about pure performance and some consumers take into account exclusive technologies including TressFX hair before purchasing. At this time, AMD incorporates with their latest products LiquidVR, FreeSync, Vulkan support, HD3D, Frame rate target control, TrueAudio, Virtual Super resolution and more! This is a great selection of hardware features to create a thoroughly enjoyable user-experience. NVIDIA adopts a more secretive attitude towards their own creations and often uses proprietary solutions. The Maxwell architecture has support for Voxel Global Illumination, (VGXI), Multi Frame Sampled Anti-Aliasing (MFAA), Dynamic Super Resolution (DSR), VR Direct and G-Sync. There’s a huge debate about the benefits of G-Sync compared to FreeSync especially when you take into account the pricing difference when opting for a new monitor. Overall, I’d argue that the NVIDIA package is better but there’s nothing really lacking from AMD in this department.
Have The Drivers Improved?
Historically, AMD drivers haven’t been anywhere close to NVIDIA in terms of stability and providing a pleasant user-interface. Back in the old days, AMD or even ATI if we’re going way back, had the potential to cause system lock-ups, software errors and more. A few years ago, I had the misfortune of updating a 7850 to the latest driver and after rebooting, the system’s boot order was corrupt. To be fair, this could be coincidental and have nothing to do with that particular update. On another note, the 290 series was plagued with hardware bugs causing black screens and blue screens of death whilst watching flash videos. To resolve this, you had to disable hardware acceleration and hope that the issues subsided.
The Catalyst Control Center always felt a bit primitive for my tastes although it did implement some neat features such as graphics card overclocking. While it’s easy enough to download a third-party program like MSI Afterburner, some users might prefer to install fewer programs and use the official driver instead.
Not so long ago, AMD appeared to have stalled in releasing drivers for the latest games to properly optimize graphics hardware. On the 9th December 2014, AMD unveiled the Catalyst 14.12 Omega WHQL driver and made it ready for download. In a move which still astounds me, the company decided not to release another WHQL driver for 6 months! Granted, they were working on a huge driver redesign and still produced the odd Beta update. I honestly believe this was very damaging and prevented high-end users from considering the 295×2 or a Crossfire configuration. It’s so important to have a consistent, solid software framework behind the hardware to allow for constant improvements. This is especially the case when using multiple cards which require profiles to achieve proficient GPU scaling.
Crimson’s release was a major turning point for AMD due to the modernized interface and enhanced stability. According to AMD, the software package involves 25 percent more manual test cases and 100 percent more automated test cases compared to AMD Catalyst Omega. Also, the most requested bugs were resolved and they’re using community feedback to quickly apply new fixes. The company hired a dedicated team to reproduce errors which is the first step to providing a more stable experience. Crimson apparently loads ten times faster than its predecessor and includes a new game manager to optimize settings to suit your hardware. It’s possible to set custom resolutions including the refresh rate, which is handy when overclocking your monitor. The clean uninstall utility proactively works to remove any remaining elements of a previous installation such as registry entries, audio files and much more. Honestly, this is such a revolutionary move forward and AMD deserves credit for tackling their weakest elements head on. If you’d like to learn more about Crimson’s functionality, please visit this page.
However, it’s far from perfect and some users initially experienced worse performance with this update. Of course, there’s going to be teething problems whenever a new release occurs but it’s essential for AMD to do everything they can to forge a new reputation about their drivers. Some of you might remember, the furore surrounding the Crimson fan bug which limited the GPU’s fans to 20 percent. Some users even reported that this caused their GPU to overheat and fail. Thankfully, AMD released a fix for this issue but it shouldn’t have occurred in the first place. Once again, it’s hurting their reputation and ability to move on from old preconceptions.
Is GeForce Experience Significantly Better?
In recent times, NVIDIA drivers have been the source of some negative publicity. More specifically, users were advised to ignore the 364.47 WHQL driver and instructed to download the 364.51 beta instead. One user said:
“Driver crashed my windows and going into safe mode I was not able to uninstall and rolling back windows would not work either. I ended up wiping my system to a fresh install of windows. Not very happy here.”
NVIDIA’s Sean Pelletier released a statement at the time which reads:
“An installation issue was found within the 364.47 WHQL driver we posted Monday. That issue was resolved with a new driver (364.51) launched Tuesday. Since we were not able to get WHQL-certification right away, we posted the driver as a Beta.
GeForce Experience has an option to either show WHQL-only drivers or to show all drivers (including Beta). Since 364.51 is currently a Beta, gamers who have GeForce Experience configured to only show WHQL Game Ready drivers will not currently see 364.51
We are expecting the WHQL-certified package for the 364.51 Game Ready driver within the next 24hrs and will replace the Beta version with the WHQL version accordingly. As expected, the WHQL-certified version of 364.51 will show up for all gamers with GeForce Experience.”
As you can see, NVIDIA isn’t immune to driver delivery issues and this was a fairly embarrassing situation. Despite this, it didn’t appear to have a serious effect on people’s confidence in the company or make them re-consider their views of AMD. While there are some disgruntled NVIDIA customers, they’re fairly loyal and distrustful of AMD’s ability to offer better drivers. The GeForce Experience software contains a wide range of fantastic inclusions such as ShadowPlay, GameStream, Game Optimization and more. After a driver update, the software can feel a bit unresponsive and takes some time to close. Furthermore, some people dislike the notion of GameReady drivers being locked in the GeForce Experience Software. If a report from PC World is correct, consumers might have to supply an e-mail address just to update their drivers through the application.
Before coming to a conclusion, I want to reiterate that my allegiances don’t lie with either company and the intention was to create a balanced viewpoint. I believe AMD’s previous failures are impacting on the company’s current product range and it’s extremely difficult to shift people’s perceptions about the company’s drivers. While Crimson is much better than CCC, it’s been the main cause of a horrendous fan bug resulting in a PR disaster for AMD.
On balance, it’s clear AMD’s decision to separate the Radeon group and CPU line was the right thing to do. Also, with Polaris around the corner and more games utilizing DirectX 12, AMD could improve their market share by an exponential amount. Although, from my experience, many users are prepared to deal with slightly worse performance just to invest in an NVIDIA product. Therefore, AMD has to encourage long-term NVIDIA fans to switch with reliable driver updates on a consistent basis. AMD products are not lacking in features or power, it’s all about drivers! NVIDIA will always counteract AMD releases with products exhibiting similar performance numbers. In my personal opinion, AMD drivers are now on par with NVIDIA and it’s a shame that they appear to be receiving unwarranted criticism. Don’t get me wrong, the fan bug is simply inexcusable and going to haunt AMD for some time. I predict that despite the company’s best efforts, the stereotypical view of AMD drivers will not subside. This is a crying shame because they are trying to improve things and release updates on a significantly lower budget than their rivals.
With just under 2 weeks to go, pictures for AMD’s Radeon Pro Duo have started popping up. Dubbed the fastest graphics card ever, the Pro Duo is reportedly launching on April 26th later this month. While AMD did show the card off at their Capsaicin event last month, we never really got a glimpse of the card, only renders. With pictures out, we can see the card in its true glory and the nice souvenir AMD bundled in.First, the design as expected follows the Fury X design paradigm. The card looks really nice and has the thick Cooler Master radiator we’ve come to expect. The tubing is also nicely braided. The water blocks underneath have been redesigned, likely to get around the Asetek’s patents. The box takes on the new AMD branding for their graphics divisions, Radeon Technologies Group as well. Finally, we see the Fiji die that has been bundled along as a souvenir. This is a nice way for AMD to add value through a chip that likely failed to pass certification. It would make a very nice keychain or paperweight. With cards already shipped out, it looks like AMD will meet their April 26th deadline. Even then, the card is awfully close to the Pascal and Polaris launches just a month after that. It will be interesting to see how many users end up picking up a card. The Radeon Pro Duo will likely remain the fastest single card solution till Vega or GP100 launch in 2017.
AMD’s answer to the Titan lineup, the Radeon Pro Duo was first revealed last month at AMD’s Capsaicin event. Navigating a line fine line between the Radeon and FirePro lineups, the new graphics cards combines two of AMD’s top end Fiji GPUs. According to VideoCardz, we may see the first Radeon Pro Duos out in the wild sooner than expected. The chip will launch in just a couple of weeks on April 29th.
The Radeon Pro Duo features a pair of 28 nm Fiji GPUs, with two sets of 4,096 stream processors, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs, and 4 GB of 4096-bit HBM memory. This means a total of 8192 stream processors, 512 TMUs , 128 ROPs and 8GB of HBM1. While the price is a hefty $1499, you do get a very nice custom Cooler Master water cooler with it. Peak performance is a high 16TFLOPS which is still 4.4TFLOPS more than Nvidia’s Tesla P100.
From AMD’s internal benchmarks of 3DMark, the Radeon Pro Duo should smash any other card on the market by a significant margin. Games, however, tend to be more fickle and the Radeon Pro Duo does rely on CrossFire for much of its performance. Given the many issues plaguing SLI and CrossFire this year, it will be interesting to see real world performance once the card becomes available.
This year, both AMD and Nvidia will be launching their new Polaris and Pascal based GPUs. Unfortunately, it looks like the flagship chips won’t be arriving till next year. Set to arrive in early 2017, Vega, also known as Greenland, is to be the flagship replacement for Fiji. According to information 3DCenter dug up, Vega will feature 4096 GCN shaders, the same amount as Fiji currently has.
With Polaris and Vega, there are suggestions that AMD has managed to improve GCN 4.0’s performance by 30% compared to current GCN offerings. This alone should allow a significant performance increase over the Fury X. Fiji was also limited due to the design of GCN being unoptimized for massive chips with too many shaders and if AMD has managed to fix this, Vega will perform better than expected.
Furthermore, Vega will utilize HBM2 which will finally remove the 4GB cap faced by HBM GPUs as well as reduce latency. The use of 14nm as well and other Polaris improvements will also allow for a cooler and less power hungry die. We can also expect Vega to come in at a die size similar to Hawaii rather than Fiji, with a true Fiji size successor to come later on in the process cycle.
Being the fastest single-card graphics card to date, we all know that AMD’s new Radeon Pro Duo is fast. Just how fast though is the dual-Fiji giant we don’t yet know though the 16TFOPs number and similar performance to 2 FuryX’s do give a rough estimate. To shed some light on the card, we do have some internal benchmarks of 3DMark AMD has run with their latest and great graphics card.
Testing conducted by AMD Performance Labs as of March 7, 2016 on the AMD Radeon Pro Duo, AMD Radeon R9 295X2 and Nvidia’s Titan Z, all dual GPU cards, on a test system comprising Intel i7 5960X CPU, 16GB memory, Nvidia driver 361.91, AMD driver 15.301 and Windows 10 using 3DMark Fire Strike benchmark test to simulate GPU performance. PC Manufacturers may vary configurations, yielding different results. At 1080p, 1440p, and 2160P, AMD Radeon R9 295X2 scored 16717, 9250, and 5121, respectively; Titan Z scored 14945, 7740, and 4099, respectively; and AMD Radeon Pro Duo scored 20150, 11466, and 6211, respectively, outperforming both AMD Radeon R9 295X2 and Titan Z.
According to AMD, the Radeon Pro Duo is undoubtedly the fastest card, at least according to 3dMark Firestrike. At Standard (1080p), the Pro Duo manages to have 134% of the Titan Z’s performance, a card that Nvidia priced at $2999 at launch. The lead only grows at Extreme and Ultra with 148% and 152% respectively.
Against the R9 295X2, the Pro Duo still manages a decent lead, with about a decent 120% lead across all settings. While lower than the 140% you might expect from a pure hardware standpoint, the 4GB of HBM1 and the limits of GCN do play a role. It does mean there won’t be any surprises fo users running 2 Fury or FuryX’s in CFX as they won’t have anything to worry about. The biggest question is if the card is worth the premium over running your own CFX solution, a question many dual-GPUs cards have faced.
After many months of waiting, AMD has finally unveiled their dual Fiji graphics card. Though not called FuryX2 as we originally expected, the name Radeon Pro Duo is just as fitting. For now, AMD still has not revealed the full specifications but the most important one, price, is a lofty $1,499 USD. For 2 Fiji GPUs and 16TFLOPs of performance, it may well be enough to entice the VR developers AMD is targeting.
As expected of the most powerful single card GPU yet, the power requirements are massive. The 2 GPUs draw power over 3 PCIe 8pin power connectors for up to 525W of power. Memory bandwidth is doubled but the memory remains split as with CFX or dual-GPU cards, with 4GB of HBM1 each over a 4096bit bus. In total, the card has 8192 Shader Cores, 512 TMUs and 128 ROPs with 4DP display connectors. Cooling is provided by a Cooler Master CLC unit with a 120mm extra-thick radiator.
Targetted towards VR and game developers, it makes sense as it offers the performance necessary to the run the most demanding of titles, especially in their unoptimized form. Furthermore, the use of AMD’s affinity multi-GPU, LiquidVR and DX12 will all serve to limit the impact of having 2 separate GPUs. This should allow for better scaling than we usually see with CFX and other solutions.
By targeting VR developers, AMD is able to get away with the hefty price tag, just as Nvidia was able to do the same with their Titan series. This may limit the market though some AMD fans and prosumers won’t mind too much. The price is only $200 more than 2 Fury X’s but it will use up fewer slots and be less of a hassle to arrange the cooling for it. The late launch however, is more of a problematic issue as Polaris and Pascal are fast approaching. It remains to be seen if AMD’s gamble will pay off.
During E3 last year, AMD displayed their revised graphics card line-up which revolved around the latest Fiji architecture and slightly tweaked 300 series GPUs. The Fury X was designed to compete with NVIDIA’s GTX 980Ti and finally offer a true alternative to the current top-end solutions. Sadly, even with the revolutionary HBM and smaller form factor, the graphics card just fell short during performance benchmarks. On another note, the Fury X has a very similar price point to a custom cooled 980Ti judging by the current market. The low yields of HBM and controversy surrounding the Cooler Master AIO patent dispute made the Fury X’s launch fairly turbulent.
AMD also announced a dual graphics card solution entitled, the R9 Fury X2. This was described as the fastest graphics card on the market, featuring 512 texture mapping units, 128 render output units, 128 GCN compute units, 8192 stream processors and a memory bandwidth of 1 Terabyte per second. Rather surprisingly, the graphics card still hasn’t been released, even though a great deal of time has passed. Furthermore, AMD is working on the Polaris range which should launch sometime later this year. Either Polaris is less powerful than we imagined, or AMD has encountered some major problems with the Fury X2 which made them delay it.
Yesterday, AMD’s corporate vice president, Roy Taylor posted a picture on social media channels of the Tiki PC. Here we can see the Fury X2 on show, which appears to adopt a traditional form factor we come to expect from GDDR5 based products. The GPU resembles two Nano cards positioned together and it will be interesting to see the thermal performance on AMD’s reference cooler design. Hopefully, this latest tease suggests the Fury X2 is launching soon, and ready to become the fastest graphics card on the market. I really think AMD has to move quickly and find a suitable price because Pascal is arguably coming in the new few months and could dethrone the Fury X2.
AMD’s Fiji architecture launched just over 7 months ago and looked set to revolutionize the GPU market due to the advent of high-speed HBM memory with a 4096-bit bus. Even though the flagship Fury X model didn’t surpass NVIDIA’s 980 Ti in most benchmarks, it showcased the possibilities of very powerful, small form-factor graphics cards. This is exemplified by the R9 Nano which recently received a fairly important price cut. During the unveiling, AMD CEO Dr. Lisa Su, displayed a dual Fiji XT model and marketed it as the fastest GPU on the market. Clearly, it uses two cores, which helps leverage the extra performance. Unfortunately, AMD still hasn’t released the Fury X2 which seems like a major error in judgement given the development of Polaris, and NVIDIA’s Pascal architecture.
However, during VRLA, a “Prototype Tiki” gaming system was used to demo Virtual Reality tasks with a HTC Vive head mounted display. The system in question is powered by a dual-Fiji graphics card, and able to fit in a 4-inch wide chassis. This demonstrates the marvellous size to performance ratio and efficiency from AMD’s top of the range dual GPU. As a result, the Fury X2 should be released very soon, and it’s already well behind schedule. I’m not convinced the timing is right and many users might simply wait for Polaris or Pascal.
Clearly, it’s going to depend on the price point and performance. Currently, the Fury X hovers between the £500-550 mark, which already costs more than some custom cooled GTX 980 Tis. Perhaps, AMD could launch the X2 in the UK for around £799, and it might appeal to some extreme gamers, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be close to £1000. Here we can see the system in question, but sadly, it’s a major teaser and there’s no direct photographs of the installed GPU.
When AMD launched their Fiji based lineup last year, many were pleased with the performance. The use of HBM helped the Fiji cards helped them achieve better power efficiency while still maintaining the advantages of GCN. The biggest concern at the time was that Nvidia had just cut prices on their GTX 980 and 980Ti, making the Fury and Fury X somewhat disadvantaged. With the launch and holiday season behind us, it looks like AMD is finally deciding to cut prices on the vanilla Fury.
According to the rumours, this price drop is set to happen imminently and meant to better position the Fury against the GTX 980. That card currently retails about 10-20% cheaper than the Fury though the Fury does manage about 10-15% better performance overall. If the price drop comes, the Fury may offer more value relative to the GTX980.
A price drop now does make sense as Polaris is going to arrive in a few months. Cutting the prices to get rid of some inventory will help AMD and their partners be better prepared once Polaris arrives. AMD also recently cut prices on the R9 Nano as well so a cut for the Fury isn’t out of the question. Who knows, maybe the Fury X may its prices slashed as well.
When AMD launched the Radeon R9 Nano mini-ITX graphics card back in September 2015, the card gained a lot of popularity for several reasons. It was one of the smallest graphics cards available and at the same time delivers a punch that is similar to other high-end cards. The performance is thanks to the HBM memory and Fiji GPU while the small size was made possible by the use of optimal clocking of both the GPU and memory for both power consumption and heat. However, the card did have one fault and that was the price. At a price of $649, the AMD R9 Nano was a hard pill to swallow.
It is now January 2016 and it looks like AMD wants a larger cut of the GPU market. Maybe the manufacturing process has caught up and has been refined for cheaper productions costs, or something else. We don’t know why, but that doesn’t matter anyway as long as the result comes in. And it does and AMD announced a price cut from $649 and all the way down to $499. The $150 price cut equals about 23 percent which is quite nice.
There is no doubt that this price cut on the AMD Radeon R9 Nano will convince quite a few people to get this card that previously wanted it but thought it was too expensive. I am sure there will be quite a few more hardcore mITX gaming builds out there this coming time, and most of them will be powered by this little marvel of a graphics card.
After all, the R9 Nano has a peak power draw of 175W and only measures 6-inch while delivering a level of performance that are on par with larger and more power-hungry GPUs. It also blows the GTX 970 Mini-ITX away with up to 30 percent better performance.
Is this enough to convince you to switch to an AMD Radeon R9 Nano graphics card? $499 is still a respectable price and it might not be in everyone’s budget. Oh, and we should naturally consider that these are the manufacturers suggested retail prices. We have previously seen the cards drop in price at various outlets.
Originally set to debut before the holiday season, it’s no surprise now that AMD is delaying their R9 Gemini Fury X2 to 2016. AMD is officially confirming that the delays in shipping and launching the Fury X2 are not due to supply issues but rather due to their perceived market being unready.
According to AMD, the Fury X2 is meant to be targeted towards VR (Virtual Reality) users like those using Oculus Rift or Steam VR. Those project however, have faced delays that pushed them into 2016. Because of this, AMD has decided to hold back Fury X2 so they can launch their dual-GPU at the same time as VR headsets are released. AMD probably wants some of the synergy the VR headsets will bring since it requires a higher level of graphics power to properly utilize VR. AMD has confirmed that various press and engineering samples are already in circulation.
The product schedule for Fiji Gemini had initially been aligned with consumer HMD availability, which had been scheduled for Q415 back in June. Due to some delays in overall VR ecosystem readiness, HMDs are now expected to be available to consumers by early Q216. To ensure the optimal VR experience, we’re adjusting the Fiji Gemini launch schedule to better align with the market. Working samples of Fiji Gemini have shipped to a variety of B2B customers in Q415, and initial customer reaction has been very positive.
While AMD undoubtedly did their own calculations, it seems that holding back Gemini may hurt AMD int he long run. The firm has been bleeding market share for the past while and a new launch with Fury X2 could have given them vital sales. A late Gemini launch also runs smack into Pascal and Greenland, both set to feature copious amounts ofHBM2, while Gemini remains limited to the 4GB of HBM1. With this in mind, it really seems that AMD should have launched Gemini earlier if they could and when VR did launch, there would be nothing stopping users from picking up Fury X2 then as well.
It looks like AMD are cooking up a big product launch for December, one that could knock Nvidia into the stone age! The as yet un-named graphics card from the red team is currently not officially named, but let’s call this powerhouse the Fury X2 for conversations sake. We’ve already known about this card for a little while now, as Lisa Su was keen to show off a PCB that had not one, but two Fiji GPUs on board. The only problem is when, where and how much it will be, are still unknown.
AMD are to hold a special event in December, where it is believed the Fury X2 will be released. With no rumours pointing to a similar dual-GPU monster from the Nvidia camp, a dual Fiji and HBM equipped card could quickly put AMD back at the top of the GPU power food chain.
The first new teaser comes courtesy of Johan Andersson of DICE, always a reliable source for leaks as he previously teased the 295X2 and the R9 290X. Unfortunately for Johan and no doubt AMD, it seems his “pre-release GPU” had some leaks of its own.
Dat feeling when your just arrived closed liquid cooling pre-release GPU turns out to not be so closed after all pic.twitter.com/umpVUtdVwc
According to Japanese sources, AMD is set to unveil a multitude of new products in the coming week. Set to occur in an event on November 20th, AMD will be showing off their new Crimson software suite, various partner products as well a new GPU.
While Crimson is undoubtedly a major release and an important release for AMD, the graphics card launch will probably take center stage. After the complete Fiji lineup launched, there are only two main candidates for a new GPU. These are the Fury Gemini which is expected to be a Fijix2 part or the much-leaked 380X which we pretty much already know all about.
For the past month or so, the leaked launch dates for the 380X have come and gone many times. This time around though, given the multitude of leaks we have seen, may finally see the card launch. With Black Friday coming up soon as well as the rest of the holiday season, a 380X launch could capitalize on the increased spending in the United States. On the other hand, the flagship dual Fiji part will probably sell well enough on its own given its premium status. We will could see the FijiX2 part before the end of the year, but given past timeframes on AMD launches, that is unlikely.
Following on from our highly popular ’12K’ (Triple 4K Monitor) Upgrade, we have new graphics cards which we can update the results with. Since the original article, things got a bit hectic and cards were coming and going extremely quickly. This meant that we didn’t have enough time in one sitting to correctly configure and run the tests as the second (or even third) card needed to be sent on to another media. We are now happy to bring you a long-awaited update featuring graphics cards such as the R9 Fury, R9 Nano and SLI GTX 980Ti’s. The list still isn’t complete with gaps such as SLI Titan X and CrossFire R9 Fury, but once we get these cards in for long enough, we will carry out another update.
With 4K monitors becoming the norm in today’s enthusiast gaming set-up, thanks to the ever decreasing price of these monitors and the increasing performance supplied by single cards; it’s not surprising that some users are combining multiple units. Some will have these monitors for the simply epic screen size and productivity potential, others will simply use them for an upgrade to the current surround gaming experience. Personally I don’t like 4K resolution unless it’s on a large screen, anything under 32″ makes the pixels so small they are hard to see and then you would just have to increase the sizes of font, which defeats (some of) the object.
Here at eTeknix, we strive to give the consumer the best possible advice in every aspect of technology. Today is no different and we are excited to bring you the CrossFireX review of the highly anticipated R9 Nano 4GB graphics cards.
The R9 Nano is the third release in the Fiji GPU core range and the third official graphics card to utilise High Bandwidth Memory (HBMv1). We’ve been impressed with the performance of the Fiji range so far with the fully unlocked R9 Fury X providing a good alternative to the NVIDIA GTX 980Ti, the R9 Fury providing a good step up from the R9 390X and the GTX 980 and the R9 Nano being the perfect option for small form factor builds. A single R9 Nano provides the perfect balance of performance, power consumption and mobility, but will combining two still be a worthwhile option?
When we test in CrossFireX, we aim to use two identical graphics card to ensure that everything is as similar as possible. When using the same cards, you can almost guarantee the same cooling capabilities, power draw, core clock and other variables. This then gives us the best possible outcome for maximum performance as the computer does not need to compensate for any differences.
While we’ve long know that AMD was preparing a dual Fiji GPU, we’re now getting some hints that the card will be launched and revealed imminently. According to a shipping manifest, a “Fiji Gemini” has just left AMD’s Canada headquarters. AMD Canada has always been the site that handled more graphics since it used to be ATI, and with the Gemini headed off, it probably means the card is done most of its testing is off and ready to be launched soon.
Previous names for the card have revolved around R9 Fury X2 or some variation thereof, but R9 Gemini might now be a contender. The shipping manifest also shows an attached Cooler Master heatsink. Given that ongoing litigation between Cooler Master and Asetek, AMD either has a deal going on with Asetek or they know something we don’t. The card is expected to pack a total of 8192 shader processors and 8GB(2x4GB) of HBM1. While 4GB of VRAM shouldn’t hold things back at 4K, the advent of unified memory with DX12 may help alleviate issues in the future.
With Nvidia also set to launch their own dual-GPU graphics card and having shown off their HBM2 Pascal card, AMD only has a narrow window in which to launch this card. Hopefully, we will be hearing more about Gemini in the days to come. The launch of R9 Gemini may also bring about better Crossfire performance and quality, something which has been lacking a bit.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
AMD has been jumping right onto the water-cooling bandwagon lately with their reference cards. Both the R9 295X2 and the R9 Fury X featured superb liquid-cooling in order to keep their hot chips cool. Even Nvidia cards have seen some liquid cooled options like the MSI Sea Hawk 980Ti. Now XFX is joining in with their own liquid-cooled solution for the R9 Fury.
Based off the same Fiji die as the Fury X, the Fury features a cut-down version with only 3,584 stream processors. Despite this, the Fury performs quite close to its older sibling. Another differentiator is that the Fury X is non-customizable by the AIB partners, meaning the stock liquid cooling cannot be changed. With the Fury though, AIB partners are free to do what they want and it looks like XFX has gone this route.
XFX has pretty much taken a Fury X card but swapped out the chip for the Fury and overclocked it. Essentially, this is what you would get when you buy a Fury X but with the Fury inside instead. This is quite interesting as the other Furys have all been air-cooled so far. This card will have to navigate the narrow gap between the Fury and Fury X in order to be viable. It will be interesting to see where XFX will price this card.
Thank you Videozardz for providing us with this information
Over the next few weeks, both PowerColor and XFX are expected to launch their own R9 Fury GPUs. Based off AMD’s cutdown Fiji die, the Fury initially only launched with cards from ASUS and Sapphire. With AIB partners joining in, it looks like the supply issues behind the Fury may finally have been resolved.
First off, we have PowerColor’s card which has been revealed on their website. At 3584 shaders, 224 TMUs and 64 ROPs, the cut-down Fiji will be clocked at 1000Mhz with the 4GB of HBM untouched. Connectivity features 3 DisplayPort and 1 HDMI output. The card measures 320mm x 125mm x 45mm which is a tad larger than the Sapphire Fury Tri-X overall while only a bit longer than the ASUS Fury Strix. Like the aforementioned cards, the PowerColor features 3 fans which speaks to the level of cooling required for Fury.
Moving on, we have XFX’s implementation which is also based off 3 fans. Interestingly, it looks like the XFX model is essentially the same as the PowerColor one, at least judging from the heatsink and shroud. It may be that the two firms are using the same cooling solution from an OEM. Like the PowerColor, it looks to have 3 DP and 1 HDMI as well.
Rounding off the major partners, we still have no word yet from MSI nor Gigabyte about when their cards might arrive. Given that Sapphire and PowerColor are AMD exclusive partners, it’s not surprising that they are moving in ahead of the last two.
Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information
A week after AMD first revealed their new R9 Nano graphics card, we’re receiving more details about partner versions of the card. Unlike the flagship R9 Fury X, the R9 Nano, based off the same Fiji chip, will feature custom solutions. According to the source, the custom cards will arrive sometime in Q4 2015, or within the next 3 months.
Given that Fury X is locked down in terms of custom cards, many were hoping that custom R9 Nanos would allow have allowed full Fiji cards with better VRMs and PCBs, tuned to allow better overclocks. Unfortunately, our information suggests that AMD is restricting any changes to the specifications, only allowing changes to the cooling. This means that overclocking on the Nano will probably be limited by the 8pin connector and VRM solution before running into any thermal issues.
One of the reasons AMD is restricting modifications is they want to keep the TDP and power consumption in check. This is probably due to the heavy marketing that AMD has done for the Nano, with a focus on efficiency and the form factor. Allowing custom solutions that give off too much heat, hurt efficiency and are too large would defeat much of the niche the Nano resides in. Another reason is that AMD probably doesn’t want the Nano to surpass the flagship Fury X, at least not out of the box.
With all this in mind, the R9 Nano shouldn’t be limited by the VRM or PCB in most overclocking scenarios. If custom coolers are able to outperform the stock heatsink, they should offer more overclocking headroom. However, these custom cards would run smack into the Fury X which costs the same as a reference Nano. Partners will need to find a thermal solution that can at least match the Fury X, without being overly larger or more expensive than the stock Nano heatsink to be competitive. While AMD is following the lead of Nvidia in restricting changes to the flagship cards, it remains to be seen if this strategy will pay off.
Later today, AMD is expected to finally launch their much-anticipated R9 Nano GPU. Based off of the full Fiji die, the small form factor card will be a sure hit with the HTPC crowd. Having already had some of their slides with benchmarks and images of the card leak, we’re now getting word on the pricing situation. According a report, AMD is setting the price pretty high, with the Nano set to launch with an MSRP of $649 USD. Keep in mind that this is still unconfirmed right now and AMD may yet launch the card at a different price.
To put that in perspective, the R9 Fury, with a slightly higher clocked but gimped Fiji comes in at $549 while the full Fiji flagship R9 Fury X costs about $649. This puts the R9 Nano in a tough spot despite having a full Fiji. Even with similar top clocks as the Fury X, the Nano is still limited by its cooling, 42dB sound rating and its 75C temperature target. This means the Nano will probably perform closer to the vanilla Fury. Against the green side, the Nano does offer 30% more performance than the competing SFF GTX 970, but will set you back double the price.
With those numbers in mind, it really seems that AMD wants to maintain their margins on the Fiji die and HBM. The serious binning they are doing to get such efficient chips also means the Nano is a rarity. The biggest question is whether or not users are willing shell out top cash to get the fastest and most efficient mini-ITX card on the market or will they simply settle for something else. At this price though, there is little chance the Nano will cannibalize the Fury’s so AMD has at least got that covered.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
AMD’s official marketing material surrounding the upcoming R9 Nano has been released and makes bold claims about being “The fastest Mini-ITX Card”. Recently, we reported on the confirmed technical specifications of the R9 Nano which features 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM. This means the R9 Nano utilizes Fiji’s full core but in an incredibly small form factor without the need for water cooling. Interestingly, AMD appears to be targeting ITX versions of the GTX 970 and their leaked press release suggests the R9 Nano is 30% faster.
However, the benchmarks were recorded at 4K resolutions and it’s important to remember that the GTX 970 isn’t really geared towards this resolution. Furthermore, the furore surrounding NVIDIA’s 4GB VRAM implementation can cause issues at huge resolutions. On another note, there’s no specific information regarding what settings were used which can easily skew the final results. As always, it’s wise to take any marketing benchmarks with a pinch of salt.
Aesthetically, the GPU is gorgeous and adopts a more premium design compared to ITX varients of the GTX 970. There’s no denying how appealing the R9 Nano is to system builders looking for an attractive and portable LAN rig.
The press documentation provides information about the Dual Vapor Chamber and overall cooling solution. By default, the card is clocked at 1000MHz, and I’m interested to see the operating temperatures under full load. Does the Fiji chip require a liquid-based GPU cooler to reach its full potential? Another factor to take into account is price, as the GTX 970 retails between £230-330 depending on the aftermarket model and offers an incredible price to performance ratio. HBM is expensive, and in low yields, so can AMD realistically get close to this price?
Do you think the R9 Nano is powerful enough or have too many concessions been made?
Thank you VideoCardz for providing us with this information.
With AMD virtually confirmed to launch their SFF R9 Nano tomorrow, we’re getting word that the Fiji GPU onboard won’t be cut down. Unlike the R9 Fury, the Nano will be like it’s older R9 Fury X sibling and feature the complete Fiji die. This means that the Nano will have the same 4096 shader cores, 256 TMUs, 64 ROPs and 4GB HBM as the full fledged Fury X flagship. The Nano may also feature HDMI 2.0 which will allow 4K 60hz for TVs, something the Furys lacks and great for a card that is perfect for high-end HTPC gaming
What is even better news for SFF fans is that the Nano will feature a top speed of 1000Mhz on the core, giving it the potential to nearly match the Fury X. If the card manages to somehow not throttle (ie under water probably), the performance should be pretty much on par with the Fury X, in a much more compact form factor. The card also features the same display setup as it’s Fury siblings, all in a row which can allow for a single expansion card slot under a watercooling. Stock cooling probably is a combination vapor chamber and several heatpipes though we’ll know more once the card arrives.
The biggest question though is how the stock power limits, the 8pin connector, and the heat sink will impact the card. While the 8pin connector in tandem with the PCIe slot should allow plenty of power, the stock power limits may serve to limit the speeds you’ll get at full throttle. Another issue is whether or not the cooling system can keep up with a full Fiji, keeping in mind that AMD went with watercooling for the Fury X which also features full Fiji at similar speeds. Some sources are saying that at full load the card will usually throttle to about 800mhz with the peak speed only being seen in some lighter loads. Noise levels will also be interesting to see. AMD did run into some serious problems with the stock cooling for the R9 290X, leading to heavy throttling. Hopefully, the lesson has been learned.
With a full Fiji core, AMD can’t afford to sell the card too low but it also somehow has to fit in with the Fury siblings. Given that performance should hover around that of the Fury, AMD will have to price the card carefully to ensure that it does sell, but also preventing it from cannibalizing the rest of the lineup too much. With just a day to go, we hope to bring your more information as it arrives.
Thank you Videocardz for providing us with this information
Small form factor fans should block off some time on August 27th because AMD is set to launch their R9 Nano on that day. We’ve long known that the R9 Nano would arrive before September so August 27th next week isn’t too much of a surprise. The biggest question is whether or not supply will turn the hard launch into a paper one.
Being such a tiny card, SFF aficionados will be sure to love it given that it will probably offer GTX 980 level performance in an efficient and tiny package. At only 175W, the Nano should offer 2x the power efficiency of the R9 290X, making it one of the most efficient cards AMD has in their lineup; this is what allows AMD to pack a full Fiji die under such a tiny cooler.
Hopes are high for the card and hopefully the supply situation will be better than its other siblings which have been severely supply constrained. AMD needs this card to perform and sell well if they are to hope to regain some marketshare. No word has been released about pricing, but it should fall near the R9 Fury given that the Fiji die and the HBM don’t come free. Hopefully, the card will deliver on the high expectations many are holding.
Thank you WCCFTech for providing us with this information
A new utility has emerged, entitled, “CUINFO” on Overclock.net which outlines how many compute units are enabled on Fiji, Hawaii and Tonga GPUs. The tool is designed to provide information on your card’s capabilities and offer the ability to unlock specific disabled compute units. However, many CUs are hardware locked and cannot be enabled using this software. According to VideoCardz, if the hardware message resembles the text below, you cannot perform a manual unlock or overriding might cause some kind of component failure:
Adapters detected: 1
Card #1 PCI ID: 1002:7300 – 174B:E329
DevID  Rev [CB] (0), memory config: 0x00000000 (unused)
Fiji-class chip with 16 compute units per Shader Engine
SE1 hw/sw: 00030000 / 00000000 […………..xx]
SE2 hw/sw: 02400000 / 00000000 [……x..x……]
SE3 hw/sw: 90000000 / 00000000 [x..x…………]
SE4 hw/sw: 00090000 / 00000000 […………x..x]
56 of 64 CUs are active. HW locks: 8 (R/W) / SW locks: 0 (R/W).
8 CU’s are disabled by HW lock, override is possible at your own risk.
The developer of this tweak, who goes by the name of TX12, said:
“In general, you can try to unlock some cores ONLY if you have at least one of the two rightmost columns filled with ‘x’-es.”
“On this example map, rightmost column (#1) is filled with ‘x’-es only, but second (#2) is not.”
“If none of the two rightmost columns is filled with ‘x’, you’re most probably out of luck and shouldn’t try this unlock method.”
“Or just try all the roms to catch some luck (not recommended).”
TX12 explained the entire process in a lengthy forum post and is available here. Interestingly, he created a script which creates three unique ROMs, and one of these called ALL will instigate the entirety of Fuji’s cores. Although, this hasn’t been achieved as of yet.
Preliminary benchmarks indicate a clear increase in graphical horsepower after applying the tool.
Please note that this doesn’t mean your card will be compatible and you should proceed with caution.
Thank you Video Cardz for providing us with this information.
Despite launching earlier this month, AMD has been suffering from low stocks of their new R9 Fury and Fury X GPUs. In many cases, the cards have sold out quickly, meaning many of those looking to go with the red team have been turned away. In an effort to get ahead of demand, it looks like AMD to turning to more sources to get Through Silicon Vias (TSV).
As we all know, AMD uses a silicon interposer to connect the HBM DRAM stack to the GPU die. In order to connect all three parts together, Through Silicon Vias are required, which is an extra step that is not normally required. While there was speculation that AMD was doing this either with Hynix or TSMC, the more likely solution, as we now know, is to get a third-party silicon fab to handle it, in this case, United Microelectronics Corporation. UMC is producing the silicon interposer that the HBM and GPU die are placed, and that is also going into volume production.
It seems that AMD was a bit premature in launching their Fiji lineup with the critical part still in limited production. With the silicon interposer now in full production, the bottleneck to Hynix or TSMC, helping improve the supply situation. Given that it will take some time for the completed dies to be shipped to AIBs and then sent to retailers, it still be may some time till the R9 Fury and Fury X are fully in stock. Hopefully, AMD’s upcoming R9 Fury Nano will arrive in a much better supply situation.