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.
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.
AMD has largely been building off of GCN since its initial debut in 2011, with incremental improvements made via GCn 1.1 and 1.2. Combined with the limitations of having to use the 28nm process, the GPU space hasn’t seen any great gains of late. However, that is set to change soon with the arrival of AMD’s new Greenland and Nvidia’s Pascal architectures. We’re now getting some information that Greenland will launch in Summer 2016 and what’s more, jump straight to 14nm.
Greenland was rumoured to use the 14nm process from Samsung/Globalfoundries, eschewing the 16nm from TSMC, their usual supplier. If this is the case, AMD and Nvidia’s cards will not only have different architectures but finally different process nodes. Greenland manufacturing is to begin in June with the launch to be held sometime in late summer, in time for the back to school and holiday sales.
AMD had previously confirmed that the 14nm process would be used for GPUs but this is a major change in strategy. Globalfoundries and Samsung are also expected to use the 14nm process to make AMD’s next-gen Zen CPU as well. From an integration standpoint, it does make it easier for AMD to produce APUs since both the CPU and GPU will target the same node. Combined with HBM2, next years GPU and CPU launches should be pretty eventful.
While there had been some rumours that Nvidia would turn to Samsung’s 14nm process for GPUs, it appears those were wrong. For the longest time, Nvidia has relied on TSMC to manufacture their chips and it appears this relationship is continuing. Set to launch next year, Nvidia’s Pascal architecture will reportedly use TSMC’s latest 16nm process. This will be the same process used for AMD’s upcoming Greenland GPUs.
As with AMD’s Greenland, Pascal will be a new architecture with new features and other improvements. Most notably, Pascal will be paired with HBM2, allowing for up to 16GB of VRAM and 1TB/s of memory bandwidth. Other additions include support for NVLINK, Nvidia’s GPU interconnect and mixed precision support. With Kepler and later Maxwell, Nvidia had been stripping out compute power, leading to better power efficiency but at the cost of compute performance. Pascal is set to fix this and bring Nvidia’s compute power back on par with AMD’s, though likely at the cost of efficiency.
Even though Samsung lost out this time, the simple fact that they were in competition with TSMC speaks volumes. TSMC has been falling slightly behind in terms of process technology and trying to meet Apple’s insatiable demand. In some ways, using Samsung would have made sense as Samsung is also set to be a major HBM2 supplier as well, simplifying the production for Nvidia. In the end though, it seems that TSMC’s long experience with Nvidia and GPU’s won out.
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
While SKHynix was the first to produce HBM for AMD, things may change next year. Samsung is leveraging their massive production base and getting into the HBM market with plans to start mass production in 2016. Given that Samsung is planning to provide 4Hi and 8Hi stacks, Samsung is skipping right past HBM1 and straight to the more useful HBM2. Samsung is marketing the use of HBM as a fast cache like eDRAM for both normal consumers but also targeted towards high-performance computing as well.
Having more suppliers for HBM is obviously a good thing for AMD as it ensures that SkHynix won’t become a bottleneck both for current HBM cards but also for their upcoming Greenland flagship in the future as well. This is also bad news as AMD reportedly has a priority agreement to get HBM from SKHynix. It was inferred at the time this meant that AMD could effectively lock out Nvidia from HBM for a while till production ramped up. With Samsung leveraging their massive fabs, it seems that Nvidia will probably be able to get all the HBM they want as well.
With HBM being in plentiful supply, Nvidia probably won’t face any issues on this front for their new Pascal GPUs. It’s important to note that while Samsung does plan to start mass production in 2016, when that ramp up will take place and how long that will take is still unknown. This means that AMD might still have an advantage, albeit now diminished. With widely available HBM2, a new process node and new architectures, the GPU landscape for 2016 looks very promising.
Thank you ComputerBase for providing us with this information
AMD is putting the final touches on everything and preparing to launch their new Radeon R300 series graphics cards very soon, but before it even hits the market we already get information about the next generation of AMD graphics cards. The R9 300 series is set to launch in June during Computex in Taipei and it will continue to use the 28nm process as the 20nm process just isn’t viable yet for these kind of products, the costs are just too high.
But the next generation of AMD cards from the Arctic Islands series, codenamed Greenland, will be built on the 14nm FinFET technology. This means that AMD could skip the 20nm process entirely. Another detail revealed is that the Greenland card will use the second generation of HBM memory with increased bandwidth and capacity. It is expected that AMD’s 14nm FinFET process will be produced by Globalfoundries OEM.
This could mean some promising times ahead of us with more powerful GPUs that use even less power than they do today, but also heavily improved memory in both capacity and speed. I can hardly wait to see what AMD has to offer here, although we should be looking forward to the next generation R9 300 cards instead. Computex isn’t far away, so it will be an exciting summer.
AMD’s planned 2016 next-gen APUs are rumoured to be 16-core processors, based on the Zen architecture, featuring a Greenland GPU, quad-channel DDR4 support, and HBM memory, according to TweakTown.
The forthcoming APU will replace the Godaveri platform, first introduced with the Carrizo APU. AMD is releasing a series of Carrizo notebooks later this year, likely to be launched at Computex 2015 in June.
The Greenland GPU is expected to be based around the Fiji architecture, which powers AMD’s flagship graphics card, the Radeon R9 390X. Though the 390X uses HBM1, AMD is expected to switch to HBM2 for Greenland next year.